Region 4-AAA has officially recognized what most Jackson fans already knew: There was a wealth of talent that drove the Red Devils to an 8-4 record and the second round of the state playoffs.
Anthony Henderson was named the region’s Athlete of the Year in the season immediately following his transfer from Lovejoy. It’s not quite the same as being named the region’s top player, but as far as the Red Devils are concerned, it’s a distinction without much of a difference.
Henderson had 277 yards and five touchdowns on 25 carries, 762 yards and five touchdowns on 35 catches, nine interceptions (including two pick-sixes) and two punt returns for touchdowns. His tackle totals are still being enumerated, but any time the Red Devils needed a big play, Henderson always seemed to be in the neighborhood.
“His stat line was ridiculous,” Jackson coach Dary Myricks said. “He did everything except drive the bus.”
Athlete of the Year is given to the jack-of-all-trades player who does a little of everything, while Player of the Year goes to one who is more dominant in one area, as Peach County running back Noah Whittington, this season’s recipient, was.
Seven Red Devils earned first-team all-region honors: running back Alex Patrick, center Nick Johnson, defensive linemen Tyler Scott and Felix Hixon, linebacker Antavious Fish, and defensive backs Bo Mosteller and Traylan Jones.
Five more were named to the second team: linebackers Ryan Langley and Jalen Medlock, defensive back Gavin Glass, defensive lineman Trey Butler and offensive lineman Darrell King.
All told, that’s 13 players, only two fewer than vaunted Peach County had. It’s also the most the Red Devils have had honored since the 2015 region-championship team had 14 honorees, including Offensive Player of the Year Antavius Grier (who went to Kennesaw State) and Defensive Player of the Year Jeffrey Burley (Wake Forest).
Having that much talent goes a long way toward explaining why the Red Devils finished second in the region. The Red Devils beat Liberty County in the first round of the playoffs before losing at North Murray in the next.
“I’m just so pleased and happy for these kids,” Myricks said. “Probably the leadership and character meant more to me than anything else. The way they came together as a senior group and how that filtered down to the rest of the guys, that’s what you want to see as a coach. I think that was evident in what we did and how far we went.”