The AJC has published their ‘Best Player in School History’ list, releasing each day an entire new list by current region alignments.
To date, all of our local teams have already been included. Here are the names that AJC has picked for our local 10 football programs. Do you agree with their selections?
Banks County: Terry Allen (1985)
Terry Allen of Banks County rushed for more than 8,000 yards in a 10-year NFL career. Until Jamal Lewis came along, Allen had the most NFL rushing yards of any former Georgia high school player.
OUR ASSESSMENT: Allen had an impressive NFL career, but we haven’t seen his high school numbers. While they’re probably stellar, we can’t say that anyone in the last 10-15 years at Banks County has had as much success as Terry Allen, so we agree with this.
Commerce: Monte Williams (2000)
It’s one of the greatest records in Georgia high school history – 8,844 yards rushing for a career.
Monte Williams of Commerce reached that total in four seasons that culminated with the Class A championship in 2000. Williams’ 8,844 rushing yards – on an average of 9.3 yards per carry – ranked fourth in history nationwide when it was set, and it’s still more than 1,000 yards better than the runner-up total of 7,841 by Worth County’s Robert Toomer.
Williams rushed for 1,875 yards as a freshman, 2,505 as a senior. In the 2000 championship game against Buford, he rushed for 287 yards and caught a 41-yard TD pass.
“He was the most elusive, zigzagging, side-stepping, dodging water bug of a player that I have ever seen,” said Commerce football historian Jeff Prickett, who compiled Tigers statistics from 1972 to 2016. “No matter where the Tiger team was on the field, they were in scoring position if Williams was in the backfield.”
Williams is the marquee name among the best players in the history of current Region 8-A schools, and one of the older ones, as it’s a region with young members.
OUR ASSESSMENT: No argument here whatsoever…we dare you to come up with 8,844 yds in a career in a video game.
Dawson County: Michael Turner (1970)
Michael Turner helped start Dawson’s program in 1968 and made first-team all-state twice.
OUR ASSESSMENT: Hard to argue Turner, but we’ll take Coey Watson, who just eclipsed 100 career touchdowns. That in itself is ELITE! A mainstay at QB over the past four years, he doesn’t get as much national attention as he is “undersized” according to recruits. Make no mistake though, he makes up for that with his athleticism and tenacity. He’s a leader, and his stats speak for themselves. Watson has led the Tigers to the playoffs in three straight seasons, including a quarterfinals run in 2015. Worth noting here are the 2012 Tigers, led by Tyler Dominy, Will Anglin, Zach Martin and Bruce Clark who really helped get Dawson on the map.
Habersham Central: Tavarres King (2007)
OUR ASSESSMENT: 100% accurate on this pick. TK was incredible to watch, and he seemed to blow past his defenders at will when running his routes. He was on another level, and went on to star at UGA and now in the NFL. For argument sake, you could consider Kevin Ellison, who is among the all-time leaders in all-purpose yards and TDs in the state.
Lumpkin County: Brian Raber (1982)
Brian Raber played at Clemson.
OUR ASSESSMENT: Raber did go on to a level that not many have from Lumpkin County. So there’s that. We really like Zach Matthews here, however. The RB/LB was a power back who wasn’t stopped very often. He is the all-time leading rusher and TD leader for the Indians. Another favorite of ours was QB Taylor Guthrie, and WR/RB/DB Ian McIntosh.
Rabun County: Charlie Woerner (2015)
Charlie Woerner’s career ran deep and strong. Rabun County was 6-34 in the four seasons before Woerner. It was 34-13 when he was there. Woerner got his first all-state recognition as a freshman. He was a first-team pick each season after that, including being an AJC Super 11 pick prior to his 2015 senior season.
Woerner’s career numbers are astounding for their volume and their versatility – 2,358 rushing yards, 2,703 receiving yards, 5,426 all-purpose yards, 67 touchdowns, 295 solo tackles (448 total), 12 interceptions and five blocked kicks. And he threw a TD pass.
“Charlie had a tremendous impact on a football program, school and community,” Rabun County coach Lee Shaw said. “He propelled Rabun County football into the records books and set the standard for giving a championship effort for all that will play for the Wildcats.”
OUR ASSESSMENT: This one is right on the money, but we’d make this a tie with QB Bailey Fisher; he’s so underestimated by college recruiters, that whoever does take him will be getting a great player and even better person. Woerner and Fisher played together, and we wish their careers lined up for those four years. Fisher in the past two seasons has rarely had to play a full four quarters. If he did, he’d be the career passing yards leader and TD leader in all of Georgia history. No doubt about that! Woerner was unbelievable, and so is Bailey Fisher (31-3 record as a starter entering final regular season game of 2017).
Stephens County: Pat Swilling (1981)
At Stephens County, Pat Swilling is easily the most accomplished player, a star at Georgia Tech and the NFL, although Ken Swilling as a more decorated high school player.
OUR ASSESSMENT: Can’t deny the impact and success of Pat Swilling, but we’re still mesmerized by the career of RB Chaz Thornton, who was electric, rushing for 6,309 yds, which is more than Herschel Walker tallied in high school. His impact was felt with four straight playoff trips and 30 wins for the Indians.
Towns County: Chase Ellis (2008)
OUR ASSESSMENT: Chase Ellis dates to the year prior to BLITZ covering that school, so we’re not too familiar with him. In the past 10 years, however, there have been a few that come to mind as potentially being up for this consideration. Shea Underwood is now punting at Georgia Tech and guys like Zach Davenport this season have been very good, as was Kobe Denton a year ago.
Union County: Joseph Mancuso (2015)
Joseph Mancuso helped put his program on the map in recent years and was all-state three times.
OUR ASSESSMENT: No complaints here or disagreement. Mancuso is one of the all-time leaders in passing yards, total offense and touchdowns. A true gamer. We’ll add two other names that are close to that level: TE Blake Gowder, who is among the state leaders in receiving yards in a career, and current QB Cole Wright, who, if given another year or two, would have put up similar numbers as Mancuso. He backed up Mancuso in 2014 and 2015.
White County: Jesse Dorsey (1972)
OUR ASSESSMENT: Dorsey is a great pick here. However, we’d argue in favor of Ashely Lowery (2010 RB/S) who was a rare breed of power, athleticism and speed as we’ve seen. He almost never took a play off, playing both sides of the ball, and led White County to its first-ever home playoff game (a win over LaGrange). You could also argue that Dalton Whitfield is a candidate for this, as well as Kaleb Crane, who’s currently having an Ashely Lowery-type season.