All-Area football team
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
A coach whose varsity career started off with a bang, a sophomore who rose to the occasion and a junior who dominated on both sides of the ball – these are the centerpieces of this year's Hartselle Enquirer All-Area football team.
Coach of the Year – Neil Estes, Falkville
Neil Estes, first-year varsity coach of the Falkville Blue Devils, is this year's Coach of the Year. Estes took a Falkville squad that went 0-10 in 2004 and turned them into a playoff team.
The Blue Devils showed in their very first game that they would be a force to be reckoned with in 2005, giving Danville a scare in a 6-0 Hawks' victory. Falkville dropped its next game as well, but then broke a 15-game losing streak with a 15-7 victory over Cold Springs Sept. 9.
The biggest win of the season for the Blue Devils came on Oct. 7, when Falkville dominated Priceville 28-14 on the road. When Falkville and Priceville ended the season with identical 3-4 region records, the Blue Devils' win over the Bulldogs gave them the tiebreaker.
Although Falkville would lose 56-20 to Lexington in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs, it was still a solid season for the Blue Devils and a great start for a rookie head coach.
Runner-up: Bob Godsey, Hartselle
Offensive Player of the Year – Montrel Murphy, Hartselle
Following in the footsteps of a great player is never a difficult thing to accomplish. It is perhaps even harder to do when you are just a sophomore. But excuses didn't stop Montrel Murphy, who burst on to the scene in his first game and continued to shine throughout the season and is this year's Offensive Player of the Year.
In 2004, the Tigers were led by senior running back Justin Youngblood, who finished the season with 1,842 yards and was named to the Class 5A All-State team. Murphy, just a sophomore and seeing his first action at running back in his playing career, had some big shoes to fill.
He answered the call. Murphy opened his varsity career with a 250-yard, two-touchdown performance against Austin, and continued to shine throughout the year with 1,629 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry.
Runner-up: Joseph Burton, Brewer
Defensive Player of the Year – Chris Humphries, Brewer
When you look at Chris Humphries' stats from this season, one number particularly jumps out at you – 123. That's the number of total tackles the junior had this season for Brewer, and the reason that he is this year's defensive player of the year.
Humphries finished the year with 78 solo tackles and assisted on 45 others. Although the Patriots finished the season with just two wins, Humphries still deserves credit for averaging over 12 tackles a game, even while playing on both sides of the ball. The junior was a fine tight end for the Patriots as well, finishing the year with 420 yards and two touchdowns on 22 catches.
Runner-up: Johnny Jones, Hartselle
First Team Offense:
Quarterback – Priceville's Hunter Teague was a threat with both his feet and his arm throughout the season. He finished the year with six passing touchdowns and 570 yards passing and 10 rushing touchdowns and 648 yards rushing.
Running back – Brewer's Joseph Burton was a standout on a 2-8 team, finishing the year with 1,060 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. He was named to the "Best of the Week" for his performance against Russellville, where he finished with 197 yards and two touchdowns.
Murphy lines up with Burton to form a potent backfield attack in this year's All-Area team.
Tight end – Hartselle's Justin Billings was a frequent target for Tiger quarterbacks. He finished the season with 165 yards on 18 catches.
Receivers – Brewer's Rodney Childs had a solid season at wideout, finishing the year with seven touchdowns and 26 catches for 460 yards. Falkville's Cody Simpson also stands out with 42 catches and four receiving touchdowns.
Offensive line – Brewer senior John Shivers had a solid season at offensive line, as did Brad Eubanks of Hartselle and Falkville's Alex Holt.
A pair of Priceville linemen close out the unit. The Bulldogs' John Miller graded out at 85 percent and his teammate Wesley Long had a 90 percent grade.
First Team Defense:
Linebackers – Humphries leads a group of punishing linebackers on this year's first-team defense.
Hartselle's Johnny Jones and Travis Clemons were the stalwarts of a Tiger defense that held opponents to 14.6 points per game this season. Clemons led the Tigers with 79 total tackles, including 20 solo tackles. He had 6.5 tackles for a loss and added 1.5 sacks.
Jones also had a solid year, finishing with 68 total tackles (18 solo) and 3.5 sacks.
Falkville's Aaron Allen had 78 total tackles during the season, including 42 solo tackles.
Defensive line – Hartselle's Joe McClanahan had a dominating season at defensive line for the Tigers, finishing the year with 53 tackles (10 solo) and 1.5 sacks. Falkville's Jonathan Lindsey and Danville's Danny Pepper and Jesse Murphy complete the defensive line unit.
Defensive backs – Danville's Tyree Murphy finished the season with 69 tackles and picked off four passes, leading the area in that category. Falkville's Cody Simpson finished with three interceptions and returned one of those picks for a touchdown.
Hartselle's Quinn Dunlap had a fine year, finishing with two interceptions and 55 total tackles.
Ray Canafax had a solid year at kicker for the Tigers, finishing 18-of-19 on extra points and 9-of-12 on field goals. His longest of the year was a 42-yarder against Florence.
Danville's John Dalton played running back, quarterback and defense for this year's Hawks, but was perhaps most impressive as the team's punter. He averaged 38.7 yards per kick.
Although Travis Clemons didn't serve as the primary kick returner for Hartselle this season, he still gets the nod as this year's returner of the year. Clemons had only one kick return this season, but made the most of it as he returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown against Curry.