Allison, Clark headline departing senior QBs with lasting legacy
Legacy is defined as: “a thing handed down by a predecessor.” That “thing” that local players hand down to the next man up is typically a leadership by example on the field (which shows up as statistics within a box score), or in some of these cases, leadership off the field. For the very rare, this is a combination of both, as well as the wins that come along with it. Here are the legacies left by senior QBs who leave behind more than just an empty locker and vacant jersey number.
PIERSON ALLISON (UNION COUNTY)
The Pierson Allison-era at Union went by in a flash, as the signal-caller got just 2 years as the starting quarterback to show what he could do. He was the third in line after 2 stellar QBs before him (Joseph Mancuso and Cole Wright). Allison put up numbers, especially in 2018 and 2019.
The senior QB threw for 6,090 yards and 56 TD over his time for the Panthers, and rushed for 1,172 yards and another 16 TD. That’s a grand total of 7,262 yards and 72 TD. His 6,090 passing yards is enough to get him on the state’s all-time leaderboard (QBs with a minimum of 5,000 passing yards) in 43rd place.
The lefty recorded 3 400-yard passing games in his career, including 490 against Monticello this season, and recorded a 6-TD passing game this season against Putnam County. His record as a starter was 19-4, which included being ranked as high as #6 in the state, and culminated in the program’s first-ever playoff win in 2019.
TOTAL STATS: 6,090 PASS YDS, 56 TD // 1,172 RUSH YDS, 16 TD
WHO’S THE NEXT MAN UP? Sophomore Logan Helcher stepped in for Allison during a one-game absence, leading the Panthers to a win. In little time at QB, he threw for 345 yards and 3 TD and completed 62% of his passes.
COLBY CLARK (JEFFERSON)
The Dragons were blessed to have a Colby Clark. The quarterback was a 4-year starter, but missed the bulk of his junior year to injury, and as a sophomore played almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball after getting some good time at QB as a freshman.
Clark helped guide Jefferson to exactly 40 wins over his 4 years, which included 3 playoff runs to the quarterfinals or deeper, which contained a semifinal appearance in 2016. Clark’s Dragons won 2 region titles, and were ranked as high as #3 in the state.
Clark had a monster senior year with 1,671 total yards and 33 TD in an option-based offense. He rarely threw the ball, but did well when he did. He completed about 55% of his passes for 563 yards and 9 TD against just 1 interception. On the ground in 2019, he pounded out 1,108 yards and 24 TD. He finished his career with 1,559 pass yds and 19 TD, as well as 2,501 rushing for 46 TD. That adds up to 4,060 total yards and 65 TD.
His record as a starter was 24-5, and on the defensive side of the ball he racked up 155 tackles (99 solo) and 15 tackles for loss to go with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery.
TOTAL STATS: 1,559 pass yds, 19 TD // 2,501 rush yds, 46 TD
WHO’S THE NEXT MAN UP? Probably Carter Stephenson, who filled in for Clark during the 2018 season and did VERY WELL! He’ll be a senior next year, and as a sophomore passed for 474 yards and 5 TD, while rushing for 319 and 5.
NATE RAY (COMMERCE)
For Nate Ray, he has been the starter for the Tigers since 2017 (3 year starter), going 27-9 as a starter in leading Commerce to the playoffs each year, including a quarterfinal run in 2018. Ray’s junior 2018 season was his best statistically, where he put up 1,339 total yards and 20 TD.
His career includes 2,098 passing yards and 22 TD against 9 interceptions, and 1,288 rushing yards and another 15 scores. That totals to 3,386 total yards and 37 scores.
TOTAL STATS: 2,098 pass yds, 22 TD // 1,288 rush yds, 15 TD
WHO’S THE NEXT MAN UP? Landon Bunn! The sophomore has played backup, and appears to have the best arm of any Commerce QB we’ve seen in quite awhile. He has rushed for 306 yards and 4 TD, and threw for 23 yards on only 3 attempts in backup duty over the past 2 seasons.
RYTE WOODRUFF (HABERSHAM CENTRAL)
Ryte Woodruff’s numbers spoke for him as a player in 2019. Since the Raiders didn’t make the playoffs, his line of 1,797 passing yards doesn’t jump out the way others’ do, but that was in 10 games. He had 12 passing scores, and rushed for 699 yards and 15 TD on the ground. That was a total of 2,496 yards and 27 TD in just 10 games.
Woodruff patiently awaited his opportunity to start for Habersham Central, watching transfers AJ Curry (2017) and Tre Luttrell (2018) come in from outside to start for one-year stints. Woodruff’s team-first attitude and his gritty work ethic will be what the program will remember most about him. He played his heart out every game.
TOTAL STATS: 1,797 pass yds, 12 TD // 705 rush yds, 15 TD
WHO’S THE NEXT MAN UP? We have NO IDEA. Habersham has had a senior QB calling the shots for 4 straight seasons. It’s possible that star athlete Joshua Pickett, who in some trick plays showed the ability to throw the ball, could be thrust into this role.
SAWYER PACE (BANKS COUNTY)
Sawyer Pace didn’t run an offense that would allow him to put up big numbers, but that doesn’t mean his impact was any less. He was a leader for the Leopards vocally and how he went about his business.
His total stat line (of known numbers) includes 612 passing yards and 4 TD, as well as 356 rushing yards and 6 TD. That’s a total of 968 yards and 10 TD.
TOTAL STATS (published): 612 pass yds, 4 TD // 356 rush yds, 6 TD
TUCKER KIRK (LUMPKIN COUNTY)
Tucker Kirk’s numbers for 2019 showed his ability to throw the ball in a new offensive system. He passed for 755 yards and 3 TD for the Indians, and rushed for 84 yards on the season with 2 more TD.
Kirk’s previous numbers are unpublished, but he was a starter as a junior in 2018 as well, and like Woodruff for Habersham, worked hard with a team-first approach.
TOTAL STATS (published): 755 pass yds, 3 TD // 84 rush yds, 2 TD
WHO’S THE NEXT MAN UP? Maybe freshman Cooper Scott, who saw time at the position this season. He was 4-for-8 passing for 42 yards, and ran once for 16 yards. Of the 5 Lumpkin players who attempted a pass this season, he’s the only one returning.