When I launched LowcoSports.com in 2017, I knew one of the things I wanted to carry on was the tradition of picking an all-area football team, a process both I and The Island News editor Mike McCombs participated in as staffers at The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.
It was always a way to honor the very best in this oft-forgotten corner of the state and shine a light on the successes of our kids, and that goes directly toward the mission of LowcoSports.
As I recall, my first all-area football meeting at the old Upper Crust Pizza in Moss Creek (or was it at the one on Lady’s Island that year?) involved the sports staff of the then-distinct newspapers picking an all-area team of players from just eight schools — four “South of the Broad” and four “North of the Broad,” which included Jasper County.
This year’s All-Lowco Football Teams honor players from four counties — Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton, and Hampton — and 18 schools, making it our most difficult task in picking the team yet, but also elevating the prestige of making the list.
Certainly, there are deserving players who were left off this list and picks you will want to quibble with, but remember that there is a high school kid on the other side of every argument. To move someone up, you have to take someone down.
These guys gave their best effort all fall and provided one of the most thrilling high school football seasons we’ve seen in the Lowco. This is our best effort at recognizing them.
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COACH OF THE YEAR
Greg Langdale | Colleton Prep
11-2, SCISA 2A Runner-Up
After posting losing records in back-to-back seasons and four of the previous five, Colleton Prep wasn’t expected by many to be much of a factor in the realigned SCISA 2A classification, but Langdale knew better. He knew he had a robust senior class with the leadership and determination to propel a massive turnaround.
With Cole Davis adding a second dimension to the offense and leading a dynamic ground game behind a veteran offensive line, the War Hawks had enough firepower to outscore people, but their defense proved good enough that they rarely needed to win a shootout.
Building around senior leaders Gus Warren and Noah Catterton and breakout junior Raleigh Obenaus, Langdale and his staff did a terrific job of developing role players to round out a ragtag defense that put everyone on notice with a strong showing against eventual SCISA 3A runner-up Florence Christian.
The War Hawks came up short against a determined Williamsburg Academy team in the title game, but it didn’t take anything away from a masterful job turning around a once-proud program.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Christian Tilton | Jr. | John Paul II
1,750 rush yds, 19 TDs; 904 pass yds, 10 TDs, 10 INTs
63 tkls, 12 TFL, 2 INTs, FF, FR, DEF TD
The Golden Warriors only won four games this season, but they wouldn’t have won any without Tilton, and he kept them in a bunch they had no business being in.
It is not rare in SCISA football to find players who play both ways and contribute on special teams, but it is exceedingly rare to find a starting quarterback who does so, especially at the level Tilton did during his stellar junior campaign.
Tilton was the workhorse on offense, accounting for more than 70 percent of the team’s offensive production and 30 touchdowns — scoring 19 times on the ground, throwing 10 TD passes, and catching one — and he also took a kickoff and an interception to the house.
But despite handling 200 of the team’s 462 rushing attempts — and taking hits on many others just after making a pitch on the option — Tilton played nearly every snap on defense. And when he didn’t, the Golden Warriors were in trouble. He finished third on the team in tackles and led the team in tackles for loss (12), interceptions (2), and blocked kicks (2).
He was much more than a quarterback.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Cole Davis | Jr. | Colleton Prep
1,108 pass yds, 13 TDs, 5 INTs; 1,761 rush yds, 22 TDs
Davis waited for his turn under center by running behind previous quarterback Drew Murdaugh as a sophomore, so we knew he could do damage on the ground, but his development into a legitimate dual-threat propelled the War Hawks all the way to the SCISA 2A title game.
A weight room junkie with a wicked work ethic, Davis is a handful to bring down for SCISA defenses, and he runs with a ferocity that belies his background as a tailback. Allowing Davis to go beast mode proved to be Colleton Prep’s most effective offensive strategy most of the time, but his ability to hit the deep ball to speedster Caden Crosby and find twin brother Caleb Davis out of the backfield added a missing element to the War Hawks’ scheme.
Davis won’t have the benefit of a veteran offensive line next season, but he went right to work after the season to try to ensure he’s prepared to carry even more of the load if necessary.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Anthony Fripp | Sr. | Thomas Heyward
91 tkls (38 solo), 9 TFL, 3 QBPs, INT, PBU, 3 FRs, DEF TD (863 rush yds, 15 TDs)
Fripp was one of several Thomas Heyward defensive standouts who helped the Rebels return to the SCISA 1A title game, but it became apparent that he was the most critical piece when the senior was injured in the first quarter of the championship game against Lee Academy and forced to watch the rest of the game, helplessly, from the sideline on crutches.
The Rebels looked listless without their leader, who had ceded more of the rushing load to Tony O’Banner down the stretch to allow both to play more on defense and form a dominant duo.
Fripp was a rock in the middle, lurking behind the line to deliver punishing hits to ball carriers who penetrated the first level of the defense or using his quickness to dart into the backfield and cause havoc.
And he did it while also punishing opponents on offense. A hard-nosed runner with a low center of gravity, he piled up 863 rushing yards (7.8 per carry) and 15 touchdowns.
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ALL-LOWCO 1st TEAM (SCISA)
QB: Dylan Clark | Jr. | HHCA
2,407 pass yds, 24 TDs, 9 INTs;
RB: Devonte Green | Jr. | Beaufort Academy
1,396 rush yds, 18 TDs
RB: Jaxen Porter | Jr. | Beaufort Academy
1,029 rush yds, 12 TDs
WR: Gage Zatalokin | Jr. | HHCA
754 rec. yds, 5 TDs
WR: Tyshon Mansell | Jr. | Thomas Heyward
847 rec. yds, 10 TDs
OL: AJ Jarrell | Soph. | Patrick Henry
Could be hot prospect in ‘25 class
OL: Walker Nettles | Sr. | Colleton Prep
Anchor of dominant OL
OL: Brady Bagenstose | Sr. | HHCA
Senior leader on strong OL
OL: Alex Williams | Jr. | Beaufort Academy
Paved way for dominant run game
OL: Joshua Alfonso | Sr. | Thomas Heyward
Center anchored Rebels’ ground game
TE: Walker Bryan | Soph. | Colleton Prep
321 rec. yds, 4 TDs; 268 rush yds, 3 TDs
K: Zeke Gonzalez | Jr. | Beaufort Academy
P: Tucker Tevepaugh | Jr. | HHCA
21 punts, 37.4 avg, 61 long, 6 inside 20
ATH: Tony O’Banner | Fr. | Thomas Heyward
88 tkls (50 solo), 11 TFL, 4 sacks, 14 QBPs, INT, 6 PBU, 2 FFs, FR
DL: Lawson Hewlett | Sr. | Thomas Heyward
120 tkls (54 solo), 8 TFL, 1 sack, 8 QBPs, 4 PBUs, FF, FR
DL: Raleigh Obenaus | Jr. | Colleton Prep
103 tkls (52 solo), 2 FRs
DL: Noah Catterton | Sr. | Colleton Prep
90 tkls (48 solo), FR
DL/LB: Sebastian Slusne | Fr. | John Paul II
87 tkls, 11 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 FFs, FR
LB: Zane Wilson | Jr. | HHCA
123 tkls (78 solo), 4 TFL, INT, FF
LB: Gus Warren | Sr. | Colleton Prep
80 tkls (44 solo)
LB: Braydon Dineen | Sr. | Beaufort Academy
88 tkls, 12 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INTs, 2 FFs, FR
LB: Sam Rembaugh | Sr. | John Paul II
87 tkls, 5 TFL, INT, FR
DB/LB: Nic Robinson | Soph. | Thomas Heyward
76 tkls (41 solo), 11 TFL, 4 sacks, 8 QBPs, INT, 3 PBUs, 4 FFs, FR
DB: Forest Fairey | Jr. | Patrick Henry
17 tkls (14 solo), 4 TFL, 6 INTs, 9 PBUs, 2 FRs
DB: Cutter Williams | Jr. | Thomas Heyward
33 tkls (22 solo), INT, 5 PBUs, 3 FRs
ALL-LOWCO 2nd TEAM (SCISA)
QB: Dietrich Shuford | Soph. | Thomas Heyward
1,686 pass yds, 18 TDs, 6 INTs;
RB: Caleb Davis | Jr. | Colleton Prep
907 rush yds, 11 TDs
RB: Mikell Tucker Mathis | Soph. | Patrick Henry
861 rush yds, 9 TDs
WR: Caden Crosby | Sr. | Colleton Prep
652 rec. yds, 6 TDs
WR: Te’Shaun Heyward | Jr. | Beaufort Academy
470 rec. yds, 5 TDs; 167 rush yds
OL: Andy Searles | Jr. | Patrick Henry
Two-way standout in trenches
OL: Eddie Gonzalez | Soph. | Beaufort Academy
Key part of Eagles’ strong OL/DL
OL: Connor White | Jr. | HHCA
Hard-nosed center was key piece
OL: Joe Bennett | Sr. | Thomas Heyward
Part of strong senior core on OL/DL
OL: Kohl Woodham | Sr. | John Paul II
Veteran leader on both sides of line
TE: Tripp Gregory | Jr. | Beaufort Academy
72 rec. yds, 2 TDs
K: Cole Lindstedt | Fr. | HHCA
P: Donovan Robinson | Soph. | Thomas Heyward
15 punts, 33.3 avg
ATH: Jackson Ogden | Sr. | John Paul II
365 rec. yds, 3 TDs; 234 rush yds, 4 TDs
DL: Isaiah Anderson | Jr. | HHCA
48 tkls (29 solo), 9 TFL, 3 sacks
DL: Matt Scarpa | Sr. | HHCA
41 tkls (24 solo), 4 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FFs, FR
DL: Colton Freeman | 8th | Thomas Heyward
57 tkls (27 solo), 5 TFL, 3 sacks, 14 QBPs
DL/LB: Beau Pinckney | Soph. | Thomas Heyward
68 tkls (33 solo), 6 TFL, 3 QBPs
LB: James Crosby | Jr. | HHCA
79 tkls (37 solo), 4 TFLs, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, FF, 3 FRs
LB: Keene Reese | Jr. | HHCA
63 tkls (32 solo), 4 TFL, sack
LB: Cayson Warner | Soph. | Colleton Prep
83 tkls (35 solo)
LB: Drew Rushton | Sr. | Colleton Prep
75 tkls (35 solo), 5 PBUs, 2 FRs
DB/LB: Seth Garvin | Sr. | Patrick Henry
34 tkls (22 solo), TFL, INT, 11 PBUs, FR
DB: Wells Sharpe | Sr. | HHCA
43 tkls (31 solo), 2 INTs, 2 FFs
DB: AJ Barger | Jr. | Hilton Head Prep
Carried young Dolphins team on both sides of ball
ALL-LOWCO HONORABLE MENTION (SCISA)
Morgan Bedenbaugh | DB/WR | Sr. | HHCA
Latham Brabham | TE/DE | Sr. | Patrick Henry
Loncelle Daley | RB/DE | Sr. | Hilton Head Prep
Tres Delaney | OL/DL | Fr. | Beaufort Academy
Hugh Fairey | QB/DB | Jr. | Patrick Henry
Cohen Freeman | OL/DL | Jr. | Patrick Henry
Jose David Garcia | OL/LB/K | Soph. | Cross
Josh Gibson | DB/WR | Fr. | Thomas Heyward
Sean Graham | DB/WR | Sr. | Hilton Head Prep
William Hazel | FB/LB | Sr. | Patrick Henry
Tony Hill | RB/DB | Sr. | John Paul II
Brandyn Horton | WR/DB | Jr. | John Paul II
AJ Houpt | WR/DB | Jr. | HHCA
Hampton Lane | OL | Sr. | Beaufort Academy
DJ Lewis | OL/DL | Fr. | John Paul II
Rivers Palmer | DB/WR | Jr. | Cross
Liam Peeples | TE/DB | Sr. | Patrick Henry
Eli Rowe | DB | Jr. | Colleton Prep
Jake Sheahan | LB | Soph. | Hilton Head Prep
Hayden Williams | DB/WR | Sr. | Colleton Prep
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