COLUMBUS — One local player and coach were deemed worthy of the highest honors in the Central District when the All-District Football teams, as voted on by members of the media, were released on Thursday.
Mount Gilead senior running back Jonah Barnett was selected as the Division V Offensive Player of the Year as a member of the District First Team. Barnett had the greatest rushing year in Mount Gilead history, gaining 2,443 yards on 266 carries for an average of 9.2 yards per carry, and also scored 220 points to lead the area by 70 points. He was also a threat at punter, averaging 35.6 yards per kick.
East Knox head coach Joe Ulrey was chosen as the Division VI Coach of the Year. The Highland High School graduate guided the Bulldogs to a 6-4 record in his third season at the helm after two 1-9 seasons. It was the best East Knox season since a 5-5 mark in 2012, and the first winning season since the Bulldogs’ playoff year of 2005.
Division VI teams were loaded with area players, including nine on the First Teams alone. Centerburg boasted five of those, including First Team offensive lineman C.J. Hardin, RB Jacob Rings, kicker Sterling Armstrong, defensive lineman Trey Purdy and linebacker Michael Collins.
Hardin, who also played on the defensive line, led an offensive line that led the way for Rings, who finished fourth in the area with 1,510 rushing yards and third with 132 points. Armstrong made 39 extra-points and four field goals as a kicker, and added 10 touchdowns and a twopoint conversion as a receiver for 113 total points. He could have easily made the list as a receiver with 51 catches for 780 yards.
Purdy, also a two-way player, was the Trojans’ best pass rusher with 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season. Collins finished with four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Cardington had three players on the First Team, receiver Devin Pearl, quarterback Luke McCarrell and defensive back Daniel Kill; while Ethan Beckett of East Knox was chosen as a linebacker. Pearl was a touchdown threat any time he touched the ball, grabbing 51 passes for 875 yards and 15 touchdowns. He led area punt returners with a 14.1-yard average, and also in kickoff returns with a 31.6 average and two touchdowns. McCarrell was the top-rated QB in the area (160.7) after completing 136 of 256 passes for 2,122 yards. He threw for 30 TDs against only six interceptions, ran 117 times for 643 yards, scored 78 points and averaged 35.2 yards on 29 punts. Kill was one of the leading tacklers on defense with 7.5 tackles for loss and one sack, and intercepted one pass.
Beckett had 6.5 tackles for loss for the Bulldogs, and also had a nose for the ball with an area-best five interceptions. He also led the area with a punting average of 38.6 yards.
Centerburg had two players chosen to the Second Team in offensive lineman John LeChard and defensive back Sam Backiewicz. RB Kasson Krownapple, defensive lineman Drake Pence and linebacker Ryan King were East Knox’s representatives, and Northmor and Fredericktown had one player each, receiver Demetrious Johnson and linebacker Braden Morey, respectively.
Those earning Special Mention were as follows: Gunnar Gregory, Jesse Johnston, Centerburg; Pistol Haralson, Colin Rhea, East Knox; Marshall McKinley, Fredericktown; Matthew Ross, Northmor; and Brandon Steckel, Garrett Wagner, Cardington.
Taking Honorable Mention were Dalton David, Wade Duston, Kadden Lester, Brant Moreland, East Knox; Cole Bebout, Jack Fitzpatrick, Fredericktown; Clayton Clark, Cardington; and Kolton Smith, Conan Becker, Jordan Wiseman, Northmor.
Fourteen players on Division VII teams belong to Mid-Buckeye Conference champion and Regional semifinalist Danville. Receiver Tyler Mickley, lineman Brant Neitzelt, QB Skyler Durbin and kicker Reese Dorsey made the First-Team offense, and lineman Dylan Wilson and linebacker Zach Winings are on the First-Team defense.
Mickley was the area’s top pass catcher with 53 receptions for 583 yards and four TDs, and also caught five on defense as interceptions. Neitzelt led the line in front of Durbin, who followed in the footsteps of his All-State brother, Ridge. Skyler Durbin was the area’s only dual 1,000-yard player with 1,837 passing yards (149-271) and 1,108 rushing yards (5.7 ypc). He threw for 14 TDs and ran for 11, finishing the season with 70 total points. Dorsey, the only female on the Central District list, made a field goal and 28 extra-points for 31 points, third on the team.
Wilson had eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks for a defense that allowed just 29 points in its final five-game winning streak that got Danville to the playoffs, and Winings posted nine tackles for loss and two interceptions.
Due to a low number of teams in Division VII, there was no Second Team, but eight more Blue Devils were chosen Special/Honorable Mention: Brice Berger, Chris Greenwalt, Corbin Hazen, Seth Karn, Trevor Payne, Drew Printz, Jordan Stimpert and Marshall Stull.
Division IV teams featured players from Highland and Johnstown. The Johnnies, who were No. 1 in the state for much of the season, had lineman Jeff Nogai and RB Justin Franklin on the First-Team offense and lineman Hunter Alley and Brandon Siegfried and punter Cody Workman on the First-Team defense. Scots’ RB Jared Limings made the First Team, as did defensive lineman Zach Baker.
Nogai’s blocking was key for a Johnstown team that passed the ball only 38 times all season, helping spring Franklin for 1,895 yards on 205 carries (9.2 ypc) and QB Workman for 786 yards. Limings gained 1,648 yards on 247 carries, and scored 25 touchdowns for 150 points, second in the area. Baker had 11 tackles for loss, but more importantly took the double teams that allowed teammates to record double-digit TFL totals as well.
Javier Vasquez was the only Highland player on the Second Team, as tight end. Austyn Albanese and Satchel Denton were chosen Special Mention, and Dylan Tuggle was Honorable Mention. Joshua Ashbrook and Kyle Carpenter were Special Mention selections for Johnstown.
In Division V, Northridge, Mount Gilead and Utica each had players earn First-Team honors. Lineman Danny Williamson joined Barnett on the First-Team offense for the Indians, as did lineman Trevor Roach and RB Logan Garee for the Vikings. Utica’s lone First-Teamer was defensive back Mack Marston, joined by Mount Gilead’s Tyler Bland.
Williamson helped Barnett to his record yardage total, and on defense made 15 tackles for loss for the year, and teammate Bland, also the Indians’ QB, had a teambest four interceptions. Garee ran 171 times for 1,213 yards, a 7.1-yard average.
Redskins’ receiver Tony Hoover and lineman Gavin Posey were named to the Second- Team offense, and lineman Jarrett Miller earned selection to the Second-Team defense. Gage Linkous, a linebacker, was a Second Teamer for Northridge. Utica also had Matt Moore, Brad Potes and Chase Smith named Special/Honorable Mention, as was Anthony Clark for Mount Gilead.
Mount Vernon’s top player was defensive lineman Marcus Shellenbarger, who was named to the Second Team in Division II based on his seven sacks. Jacob Tiell was selected Special Mention, and Freddie Hart and Jack Rummel were each chosen Honorable Mention.