The All-County Football Team is chosen through a combination of statistics, personal observation and coaching suggestions. Final decisions are made by News-Herald sports writer Nick Davis. He can be contacted at 865-635-0841 or email@example.com.
Braden Carnes transferred to Greenback School from Maryville High School in the summer and made an immediate impact for the Cherokees’ offensive attack.
He completed 196 passes for 4,141 yards, 52 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He set several school and Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association records in his one year as a Cherokee, becoming only the second quarterback in TSSAA history to throw for more than 50 touchdowns in a season.
Carnes was also an effective runner, rushing 70 times for 304 yards and five touchdowns and helped guide the Cherokees to their fourth Class 1A state championship appearance in the last five years.
Carnes was named the Region 2-1A Offensive Player of the Year.
After taking over the offense midseason in 2018, Keaton Harig developed into one of the best quarterbacks in Class 3A.
The sophomore gunslinger completed 147 passes for 2,080 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushed 81 times for 272 yards and eight touchdowns.
Harig helped guide the Redskins to a historical 13-1 season and the program’s first semifinal appearance since 2014. In addition, he was named the Region 3-3A Offensive Player of the Year.
Lenoir City, Junior
Mason Stanley knew he had some big shoes to fill after the graduation of quarterback Gabe Williams and performed above expectations in his first season as starter.
Stanley proved a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, throwing for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns and rushing for 714 yards and three scores.
He was named the Region 4-5A Newcomer of the Year.
After missing most of the 2018 season with a leg injury, talented running back Drew Jackson was poised to have a breakout year for the Redskins in 2019.
Jackson carried the ball 167 times for 1,415 yards and 21 touchdowns, while also adding four more scores as a receiver. He was also an impact player on defense as a cornerback and came away with two crucial interceptions in the 33-14 win over the Red Bank High School Lions in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Jackson was named the Region 3-3A Most Valuable Player and participated in the Tennessee East-West All-Star Classic as the East team’s starting running back.
Former William Blount High School star athlete Wyatt Rutgerson moved to Greenback during the offseason and made an incredible difference for the Cherokees as an all-purpose back.
Rutgerson served as the team’s starting running back and led the Cherokees with 873 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, but he was also a dynamic receiver out of the backfield with 33 receptions for 559 yards and four touchdowns.
Rutgerson also started as a defensive back and finished the year with 45 tackles, 28 assists, five tackles for loss and five interceptions and was named the Region 2-1A Defensive Back of the Year.
Holden Willis has always been a playmaker for the Cherokees with his size, speed and natural ability, but he finally put it all together for a record-breaking senior season.
Willis was a mismatch for opponents and capped off the season with 73 receptions for 1,729 yards and a TSSAA record 28 touchdowns. He also started at safety for the Cherokees, finishing with 45 tackles, 34 assists, five tackles for loss and an interception.
In addition, Willis proved one of the best special teams players in East Tennessee, totaling 1,050 punting yards with an average of 40.4 yards per punt.
He was named the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Award winner for Class 1A, Region 2-1A Player of the Year and is also the 2019 All-County Player of the Year.
With the graduation of brothers Cole and Seth Riddle last year, Duke Stinnett stepped up and became one of the Cherokees’ primary targets on offense.
Stinnett’s speed and awareness allowed him to get open against any defender, which equated to 50 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. One of his best performances came Dec. 6 in the Class 1A state championship game when he hauled in four catches for 116 yards.
Stinnett was also a starting defensive back and totaled 41 tackles, 26 assists and 3.5 tackles for loss.
He was named the Region 2-1A Wide Receiver of the Year.
Lenoir City, Sophomore
Despite his small frame, sophomore Dusty Clevenger quickly emerged as one of the Panthers’ go-to playmakers on the outside.
Clevenger topped off the season with 19 receptions for 244 yards and added 24 yards on the ground. He also started in the secondary, totaling 30 tackles, a tackle for loss, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.
He was named to the All-Region 4-5A team as an honorable mention selection.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Loudon senior tight end Noah Burnette proved a big threat for opposing teams.
He finished the year with eight catches for 101 yards and three touchdowns, but played a major role in opening holes for the Redskins’ potent rushing attack. He was also a starting defensive end and consistently disrupted the backfield with six sacks and four tackles for loss.
Burnette was named the Region 3-3A Tight End of the Year.
Lenoir City, Senior
Jonah Rittenhouse has been a key player for LCHS head coach Jeff Cortez the last three seasons and again proved one of the best tight ends in Region 4-5A this year.
He recorded 21 catches for 288 yards and three scores but also started on defense, racking up 44 total tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack.
Rittenhouse was named to the All-Region 4-5A first team.
Similar to Wyatt Rutgerson, Tyler “Bubba” Jeffries transferred from William Blount and saw plenty of action along the offensive and defensive lines in his two seasons at Greenback.
Jeffries’ raw size and strength proved beneficial for the offense, especially in the run game. He graded out as the best offensive lineman for the Cherokees and was a force on the defensive line as a tackle, totaling 47.5 tackles, 61 assists, two sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
He was named the Region 2-1A Offensive Lineman of the Year and has already received an offer from Mississippi State University.
Emerson Tripp has been a mainstay on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Redskins over the last three seasons.
He was a two-way starter this year for the Redskins at offensive tackle and defensive end. On defense, he finished the season with 43 total tackles.
Tripp was named to the All-Region 3-3A first team.
Lenoir City, Junior
After a promising sophomore campaign, Tucker Yancey emerged as one of the best linemen for the Panthers this season.
He graded out as the team’s best offensive lineman but also started at defensive end and finished the season with 41 total tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks.
Yancey was named to the All-Region 4-5A first team.
Jesse Robinson stepped up as a junior for the Redskins and became one of the most productive offensive linemen in Region 3-3A.
Grading out as the team’s best and most consistent offensive lineman at guard, Robinson helped pave the way for the Redskins’ record-breaking offense that scored 530 total points.
Robinson was named to the All-Region 3-3A first team.
Derrell Bailey Jr.
Derrell Bailey Jr. has been a problem for opposing defenses since he arrived at Greenback four years ago from Montgomery, Ala.
With his 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame, Bailey Jr. exploded through offensive lines all year and totaled 40 tackles, 46 assists, 11.5 tackles for loss and an interception.
He was named the Region 2-1A Defensive Player of the Year and will continue his playing career at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Tyler Whitfield exudes a quiet personality off the field, but his play on the field this year spoke loudly.
Whitfield consistently created chaos in the backfield at defensive end and played a crucial part in solidifying the Redskins’ historic defense en route to the Class 3A semifinals. He finished the season with 49 tackles, seven sacks and an interception, but he also saw action as a receiver and tight end and scored three touchdowns.
He was named the Region 3-3A Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Lenoir City, Junior
LCHS head coach Jeff Cortez was in need of linemen this season and found a gem in Matthew Wright.
Wright graded out as the team’s second best offensive linemen. As a defensive end, he tallied 37 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack.
He was tabbed an All-Region 4-5A honorable mention nominee.
Alex Belcher has been a reliable two-year starter for the Cherokees, and his presence was often felt on defense.
As a starting outside linebacker, Belcher totaled 69 tackles, 64 assists, 1.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. He also split time at tight end, hauling in 11 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
Belcher was selected to the All-Region 2-1A first team.
Koby Dockins showed drastic improvement from last season and became a leader on the Redskins’ defense.
He led the team with 121 total tackles with 52 assists and returned an interception for a score. He was named an All-Region 3-3A linebacker.
Devan Nichols stepped up this year to command the Redskins’ defense at middle linebacker and played a key part in stopping opposing offenses.
Nichols finished the season with 90 tackles and led the defense in allowing an average of 8.5 points per game.
He was selected to the All-Region 3-3A first team.
Lenoir City, Senior
Johnathon Miller has been a consistent workhorse for the Panthers the last three seasons, seeing most of his action on defense and special teams.
As a starting linebacker, Miller totaled 40 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack and two interceptions. He also served as the Panthers’ long snapper and was named the Region 4-5A Special Teams Player of the Year.
Kyle Smallen missed the majority of his junior season in 2018 but came out firing in 2019.
Smallen primarily started at safety for the Redskins and capped off the season with 46 tackles and six pass breakups. He was also one of the team’s leading receivers, totaling 22 receptions for 389 yards and eight touchdowns.
He was named the Region 3-3A Safety of the Year.
Blake Fields was another William Blount transfer that made an immediate impact for the Cherokees this season.
A dynamic athlete with speed and height, Fields started as a wide receiver and defensive back. He racked up 36 tackles, 24 assists, one tackle for loss and two interceptions, while hauling in 17 catches for 412 yards and six touchdowns.
Fields was named to the All-Region 2-1A first team.
McKenzie Lunsford received the majority of the carries last season for the Redskins in the absence of Drew Jackson and showed potential heading into 2019.
The combination of Jackson’s power and Lunsford’s speed proved a dangerous offensive threat, and Lunsford carried the ball 107 times for 812 yards and three touchdowns. He started every game at safety and totaled 25 tackles.
Lunsford was also a dynamic offensive and special teams weapon, hauling in 11 catches for 98 yards and tallied 390 return yards and two kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a 98-yard return on the opening kickoff in the Redskins’ 56-7 win over Sequoyah High School.
He was named to the All-Region 3-3A first team.
Lenoir City, Senior
LCHS head coach Jeff Cortez often utilized Cody Wilhite as a “Swiss Army knife” that impacted all three phases of the game.
Wilhite missed several games this season due to injury, but bounced back as one of the Panthers’ go-to weapons on offense. He totaled 34 carries for 171 yards on the ground and caught 14 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
He also started on defense and racked up 45 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery. Wilhite totaled 450 return yards on kickoffs and was named to the All-Region 4-5A team.
The 2017 Region 3-3A Kicker of the Year missed the entire 2018 season with a leg injury but bounced back with a stellar senior campaign.
Ridenour’s leg proved a vital part of the Redskins’ success, as he recorded 39 touchbacks and scored 77 total points as a kicker. Offensively, he tallied 29 catches for 419 yards and eight touchdowns. He also racked up 34 tackles and six interceptions as a starting defensive back, including a 70-yard interception return against Smith County High School in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Ridenour was named the Region 3-3A Special Teams Player of the Year.
Lenoir City, Senior
Despite being the only female on the team, Maddie Williams has proven a tough competitor and asset in special teams.
The senior goalie for the Lady Panthers soccer team put her leg to good use and went a perfect 16-for-16 on extra-point attempts this year, which led all kickers in Loudon County.