The 2021 All-County Football Team is chosen through a combination of statistics, personal observations and coaching suggestions. Final decisions are made by News-Herald sports writer Timothy Belin. He can be contacted at 865-635-0841 or email@example.com.
Keaton Harig became Loudon’s starting quarterback his freshman year after an injury to his predecessor forced him into the fray. Four years later, he has made a lasting imprint on the program and was undoubtedly the Redskins’ most valuable player as another strong season saw them reach the third round of playoffs.
This season, Harig completed 234 passes for 3,394 yards and 52 touchdowns, while also leading the team in rushing yards with 1,071 yards and 13 touchdowns. Harig also played safety for the Redskins, a role in which he recorded 28 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Harig was a finalist for the Tennessee Titans’ Class 3A 2021 Mr. Football Award, was named to Region 3-3A’s all-region team as its MVP, was an East Tennessee All-Star in the Rivalry Showcase All-Star Game and made the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Class 3A All-State team. He is the 2021 All-County Player of the Year.
Brett Cortez was thrust into quarterback early in his freshman year after an injury to Zane Ward. Now in his sophomore season, he has made the position his own. This year, Cortez totaled 1,785 passing yards for 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for an additional 134 yards.
Cortez was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region Second Team.
Originally a running back when he transferred from William Blount High School before his junior year, Franklin made the move to quarterback midway through the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Under a new coach this season, he maintained his position and became one of his team’s leaders, contributing to 1,300 yards on offense for 13 touchdowns despite playing only eight games.
Franklin was named Region 2-1A Offensive Back of the Year and made both the All-Region first team and All-Academic team.
After playing a variety of positions last season for the Panthers, Jordy Carroll proved his worth and versatility again this year. Featured primarily as a slot or strong safety, he was second on the team for both receptions and rushing yards, with 250 and 208 yards, respectively. He also totaled 52 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
Carroll was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region First Team and picked as his team’s MVP, earning the 2021 Panther Award.
Despite his diminutive frame, Kaden Dockins has established himself as one of the best wide receivers around and was a standout on the field all season for the Redskins. Loudon’s leading receiver this year, he caught 68 passes for 1,217 yards and five touchdowns, as well as adding nine carries for 44 yards. On defense, Dockins served as a defensive back, contributing 50 tackles for the season.
Dockins made Region 3-3A’s All-Region team and received the region’s Offensive MVP award. He was also named to the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Class 3A All-State team.
One of several sophomores given plenty of playing time this year for the Cherokees, Connor James impressed at wide receiver. He was often the outlet for Greenback’s two-point conversions and totaled 34 receptions for 400 yards.
James was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team.
Though he ended the season at quarterback after an injury to Franklin, Kooper Williams showed his true worth as a wide receiver. With 22 receptions and seven touchdowns for the Cherokees, he looks set to be a key player for Greenback the next two years.
Williams was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team.
Last season’s Region 3-3A’s Co-Tight End of the Year repeated his standout performance to earn the title all to himself this time around. Gonzalez got 30 receptions for 439 yards and 10 touchdowns on offense, as well as 38 tackles, six assists, three sacks and one fumble recovery on defense.
Gonzalez was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team as Tight End of the Year.
One of only three seniors for the Cherokees, Jeremiah Cope was an ever-present fixture in his team’s offensive line. After Cope played every game at guard, Greenback head football coach Ethan Edmiston described him as the team’s “best overall lineman.”
Cope was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team.
Playing left tackle, Leo Gonzalez made a habit of pancake blocks, averaging over three a game for a total of 32 over the season. He also served as the team’s kicker and punter.
Gonzalez was Region 3-5A’s All-Region Punter of the Year, earning him a spot in the All-Region First Team. He was also voted team Lineman of the Year by his coaches.
An offensive and defensive lineman, Logan Haggas totaled 47 tackles, six sacks and one forced fumble this season.
Haggas was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team.
A four-year, two-way starter, Eli Rittenhouse had another excellent season for the Panthers in 2021. A towering figure at both offensive and defensive tackle, he nearly doubled his tackles tally for 2020, going from 38 to 70. He also had five tackles for loss and three sacks.
Rittenhouse was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region First Team and was voted team Iron Man by his coaches. His performances also earned him an invitation to the Rivalry Showcase All-Star Game.
In only his second year as a Redskin and his first as a starter, Demarcus Williams impressed at offensive tackle and earned a spot in Region 3-3A’s All-Region team.
Hank Brewer totaled 29 tackles at nose guard, while also getting 22 pancake blocks.
Brewer was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region Second Team and received his team’s Coaches Award.
Kwynton Chenault led the Redskins in sacks this year, getting eight during the season. He also contributed 47 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Chenault was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team as Defensive End of the Year.
A key component of Lenoir City’s defensive line, Egan Rains led the Panthers in sacks with six. He also added another 69 tackles.
Rains shined in the classroom as well, earning a place in Region 3-5A’s All-Academic All-Region Team with a 4.3 GPA.
After transferring from Elizabethton High School in the summer, Gabe Sturgill made a seamless transition to the Redskins’ defense. With 35 tackles and two sacks, he was vital to his new team’s success.
Sturgill was selected in Region 3-3A’s All-Region team.
Another one from Greenback’s sophomore class, Eli Tyson showed plenty to be excited about. Over the course of the season, he completed 34 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three sacks and forced two fumbles.
Tyson was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team.
After making All-Region first team in his sophomore year, much was expected of Isaac Chavez this season. Moved to the middle linebacker position, he may not have matched last year’s numbers, but Chavez still totaled 51 tackles and one sack. As a running back on offense, he had 11 carries for 51 yards.
Chavez was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team.
Landon Clifford was one of Greenback’s main threats at running back this season, but it was in his role as a linebacker that he impressed the most. With 36 tackles, three tackles for loss and one forced fumble, he was one of his team’s leading tacklers.
Clifford was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team.
Dalton Dukes was understandably chosen as the Panther’s Most Improved player by his coaches after emerging as a key defensive cog for LCHS this season. His 96 tackles were the second-best total on the team, and he added another three sacks and three tackles for loss.
Dukes was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region first team.
Dillon Handshey established himself as a crucial component of Loudon’s defense this year, leading the team in tackles with 75. He also added one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery to his stats. Playing tight end on offense, he made one catch for 19 yards.
Handshey was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team.
Greenback’s leading linebacker was back at it this year to defend his 2020 Region 2-1A Linebacker of the Year title. With a team-best 52 tackles in addition to eight tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles, he did not disappoint.
Matoy was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team as Co-Linebacker of the Year.
After getting the nod and impressing as starting middle linebacker last season, Cole Richards was an ever-present fixture for the Panthers this season. He led the team in tackles, totaling 110, and added one sack and one fumble recovery.
Richards was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region First Team and was voted the Panthers’ Back of the Year.
Loudon’s second-leading tackler, Hayden Brown had a senior season to remember. With 58 tackles, one sack and three interceptions, he was instrumental to his team’s success on the field. His contributions were not limited to defensive duties, as Brown also played wide receiver for the Redskins, getting 21 receptions for 266 yards and seven touchdowns.
Brown was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team.
Though he missed some time to injury, Caden Lawson made the most of his opportunities on the field. A wide receiver and backup quarterback on offense, it was on defense that he earned recognition with 30 tackles, three pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Lawson was named to Region 2-1A’s All-Region first team.
Michael Payne made it a season to remember playing defensive back and wide receiver for the Cherokees. Specializing in interceptions, he collected five for the season as well as an additional 26 tackles.
Payne was named to Region 2-1A All-Region first team as its Co-Defensive Back of the Year and made the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Class 1A All-State team as an athlete.
Semy Turner had a standout season playing wide receiver and defensive back for the Redskins. On offense, he totaled 53 receptions for 709 yards and nine touchdowns, making him Loudon’s second-best receiver. He also had 12 carries for 73 yards. On defense, Turner made 35 tackles and three interceptions.
Turner was named to Region 3-3A’s All-Region team as Corner of the Year.
Trey Wilhite burst onto the scene his freshman year with speed and athleticism and did not disappoint in the sequel. Playing free safety, he completed 93 tackles, seven pass deflections and two sacks. As a wide receiver, he totaled 264 receiving yards for three touchdowns, with an additional 82 rushing yards for two more touchdowns.
Wilhite was named to Region 3-5A’s All-Region Second Team.