The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Associated Press announced their all-state teams on Christmas Day. This week, GHSF Daily will go through each classification, one per day, and look at some of the choices and provide some insight on how these teams are chosen.
The AJC’s all-state team was picked this year by GHSF Daily. Todd Holcomb, a former AJC sports writer, has coordinated the selection of the AJC’s team the past three years. The AP team is chosen by a panel of Georgia sports writers.
Here are players who made first-team all-state in Class AAAAA:
Coach of the year: Jeff Herron, Camden County (AP, AJC)
Player of the year: Rajaan Bennett, McEachern (AP)
Player of the year: Hutson Mason, Lassiter (AJC)
QB: Hutson Mason, Lassiter (AP, AJC)
RB: Rajaan Bennett, McEachern (AP, AJC)
RB: Ean Pemberton, Grayson (AP)
RB: Charles Perkins, Collins Hill (AJC)
WR: Quin Roberson, Colquitt County (AP, AJC)
WR: Griffin Roelle, Lassiter (AP)
WR: Brad Roby, Peachtree Ridge (AJC)
TE: Jay Rome, Valdosta (AP, AJC)
OL: Ed Christian, Lowndes (AP, AJC)
OL: Ja’Wuan James, North Gwinnett (AP, AJC)
OL: Thomas O’Reilly, Pope (AP, AJC)
OL: Jeremiah Booth, Camden County (AP)
OL: Donnie Werden, Northside (AP)
OL: Austin Shephard, North Gwinnett (AJC)
OL: Reid Webster, Etowah (AJC)
K: Matt Ehasz, Camden County (AP)
K: Devon Pike, Northside (AJC)
Player of the year: Alec Ogletree, Newnan (AP, AJC)
DL: Shawn Green, Grayson (AP, AJC)
DL: Michael Thornton, Stephenson (AP, AJC)
DL: Cameron Erving, Colquitt County (AP)
DL: Ta’Vontae Drake, McEachern (AP)
DL: Garrison Smith, Douglass (AJC)
DL: Anthony Williams, Union Grove (AJC)
LB: Telvin Smith, Lowndes (AP, AJC)
LB: Terry Williams, Grayson (AP, AJC)
LB: Rip Rowan, Lassiter (AP)
LB: Adam Strakose, Newnan (AP)
LB: Tyrone Cornelius, Stephenson (AJC)
DB: Alec Ogletree, Newnan (AP, AJC)
DB: Brian Randolph, Kell (AP, AJC)
DB: Brison Williams, Northside (AP, AJC)
DB: Kori Gaines, Grayson (AP, AJC)
RET Ean Days, Camden County (AP)
ATH Brad Roby, Peachtree Ridge (AP)
ATH Ean Days, Camden County (AJC)
P: Connor Hawk, Norcross (AP)
P: Richie Leone, Roswell (AJC)
AP honorable mention: DL Jonathan Bermudez, Woodstock; DB Detrick Bonner, Luella; WR Chris Boyd, Roswell; RB Mack Brown, M.L. King; LB Corey Carmichael, Woodstock; ATH Chris Caspari, Collins Hill; WR Patrick Cosgrove, Walton; WR Geremy Davis, Norcross; RB Greg Franklin, Marietta; LB Jamie Grable, Milton; WR Jonathan Krause, South Gwinnett; OL Thomas Martin, Camden County; RB Charles Perkins, Collins Hill; K Devon Pike, Northside; OL Grant Ramsey, Pope; RB Raymond Sanders, Stephenson; DL Derrick Saulsberry, Camden County; OL Austin Shepherd, North Gwinnett; WR Andre Sims, Brookwood; LB Michael Taylor, Westlake; QB C.J. Uzomah, North Gwinnett; OL Reid Webster, Etowah; DL Jeffrey Whitaker, Warner Robins; DL Anthony Williams, Union Grove; RB Tay Willis, East Coweta.
AJC honorable mention: QB Kent Rollins, South Gwinnett; RB Zack Amey, Creekside; RB Ean Pemberton, Grayson; RB Tay Willis, East Coweta; RB Greg Franklin, Marietta; RB Raymond Sanders, Stephenson; WR Griffin Roelle, Lassiter; WR Michael Bennett, Alpharetta; WR Chris Boyd, Roswell; WR Jonathan Krause, South Gwinnett; OL Justice Ejike, Newton; OL Max Garcia, Norcross; DL Jeremiah Booth, Camden County; DL Michael Copeland, Lowndes; DL Cameron Erving, Colquitt County; DL Ta’Vontae Drake, McEachern; DL Derrick Saulsberry, Camden County; LB Tanner Botts, Peachtree Ridge; LB Corey Carmichael, Woodstock; LB Michael Taylor, Westlake; LB Rip Rowan, Lassiter; LB Adam Strakose, Newnan; DB Detrick Bonner, Luella; DB Kenneth Ladler, Stephenson; DB Darius Robinson, Westlake.
Rajaan Bennett vs. Hutson Mason (OPOY): This isn’t really a disagreement. The AP also would have chosen Mason as offensive player of the year except that Mason was the AP’s all-class player of the year. (We picked Da’Rick Rogers from Class AA). That opened up a spot for Bennett to get this award in AAAAA. Mason set the state record for passing yards (4,560) and passing touchdowns (54) in a season for 12-1 Lassiter. Bennett rushed for 1,857 yards for 10-1 McEachern.
Ean Pemberton vs. Charles Perkins (RB): Grayson halfback Pemberton finished with 1,775 yards rushing, the most in Gwinnett County, and led his team to a region title and the quarterfinals. He also was named the athlete of the year, the top award, by the Gwinnett Touchdown Club. Hard to argue with that. Perkins of Collins Hill had more yards rushing per game (149.6) and touchdowns (23 overall). Pemberton, at 5 feet, 4 inches, is a great high school player and medium-sized recruit, as he recently committed to Austin Peay. Perkins is committed to Georgia Tech.
Griffin Roelle vs. Brad Roby (WR): Lassiter’s Roelle (pronounced Raleigh) led Class AAAAA with 76 catches. If you’re going strictly by accomplishments as a receiver, he’s the choice. We had a dilemma because the AJC team calls for only 25 players instead of the AP’s 27. The AP picks a fourth linebacker and a return man. Space issues forced us to squeeze out Roelle in favor of Roby, who had only 29 catches (in a running offense, we might add) but was perhaps the state’s most versatile player. Roby scored touchdowns five ways. We could’ve put Roby at athlete, but that would’ve bumped Ean Days, Camden County’s best player. We could’ve put Roby at defensive back, too. In the end, we favored all-around contribution.
Jeremiah Booth/Donnie Werden vs. Austin Shepherd/Reid Webster (OL): The AP rewarded the best linemen off the best two teams in the state, Booth of Camden County and Werden of Northside. Good choices. We picked two guys who are more highly recruited – Shepherd (Alabama commit) and Webster (Clemson) – but who also have a history of performance. Shepherd was the Gwinnett TD Club’s lineman of the year, ahead of teammate Ja’Wuan James, who the AP and AJC both picked as first-team all-state. Booth was the player we most regretted leaving off the team. But he started only part of the season on the OL, so we didn’t feel we could put him there. He was a better DL, but that position in AAAAA is thoroughly loaded.
Cameron Erving/Ta’Vontae Drake vs. Garrison Smith/Anthony Williams (DL): Again, the AP rewarded the best linemen off very good teams. Each had monster seasons and deserved recognition. We went with bigger-name players in Smith (committed to Georgia and largely regarded as the best DL prospect in Georgia) and Williams (committed to Georgia Tech). They were co-defensive players of the year in Region 2-AAAAA.
Rip Rowan/Adam Strakose vs. Tyrone Cornelius (LB): The AJC has only three linebackers, and we went with Cornelius, a more high-profile recruit (committed to Miami) who was the second-leading tackler for Stephenson, one of the best defenses we saw. Rowan of Lassiter had a million tackles for the second consecutive year. Strakose is the top LB on the Class AAAAA’s stingiest defense, Newnan.
Matt Ehasz vs. Devon Pike (PK): Ehasz (10-of-12 FG) and Pike (9-of-12) were pretty similar. The AP chose the one who didn’t miss three games with an injury. We chose the senior, a quality that we believe is underrated.
Connor Hawk vs. Richie Leone (P): Hawk, of Norcross, is a great kicker and punter who was not at his best because of a leg injury. He still averaged 40 yards per punt. Leone, who has committed to Houston, has the stronger leg.
1-AAAAA: AP: 7; AJC: 6
2-AAAAA: AP: 1; AJC: 4
3-AAAAA: AP: 3; AJC: 1
4-AAAAA: AP: 2; AJC: 1
5-AAAAA: AP: 2; AJC: 2
6-AAAAA: AP: 5; AJC: 4
7-AAAAA: AP: 3; AJC: 3
8-AAAAA: AP: 4; AJC: 4