The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 11, 2013

Westside’s Mullens runs to all-state

Class AA’s top rusher joined by Grizzlies’ Hill, Warriors’ Saunders, Bobcats Lindsey on list of area first-teamers

From Staff Reports

— Three area playoff teams have earned a first- and second-teamer on the Class AA All-State football teams, as named today by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

n Nicholas County placed defensive lineman Austin Hill on the first team and linebacker Will Mayes on the second.

“Austin was our nose guard, and was very good at rushing the passer and controlling the gaps,” coach Gene Morris said.

Hill, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior, was a four-year starter on defense, and also played center on offense and did the kicking and the punting. Early in his career he played fullback and quarterback.

Mayes, a 5-11, 190 pound junior, commanded the 9-3 Grizzlies’ defense and was also a standout at running back.

n Wyoming East’s Casey Saunders led the Warriors in tackles and interceptions. He has earned a first-team spot at defensive back, while teammate Ryan Cantrell is a second-team offensive lineman.

“Casey is very instinctive and tackles well,” coach Gary Poindexter said. “He’s not big (5-foot-9, 150 pounds), but he’s a great cover guy.”

Cantrell, a 5-7, 300-pound senior, improved every year for East, and was a line and team leader.

n Summers County received huge defensive plays each game from hard-nosed linebacker Erik Lindsey, who earned a spot on the AA first team.

The 5-9, 180 senior made the key tackle with the game on the line in the 9-2 Bobcats’ two biggest victories, over Wyoming East and Greenbrier West. He also scored three defensive touchdowns.

“Erik just has a nose for the ball, and he’s all over the place,” coach Nate Tanner said. “He’s a smart and heady player.

Bobcats senior running back-flanker Isaiah Brown earned a utility spot on the AA second-team offense. He had 1,050 yards rushing and 300 receiving, and scored 16 touchdowns.

“Isaiah was an explosive playmaker, for sure,” Tanner said. “He also was vital on kick and punt returns.”

n Westside’s Mike Mullens, who ran for 1,654 yards and 18 touchdowns, is a first-team running back. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry.

“Mike worked really hard in the weight room to go from 145 pounds to 175,” coach Larry Cook said. “This year, with the injuries we had, he really carried the load on offense for us.

“He’s not a slasher, but he’s got speed, and once he gets to the secondary, he’s hard to catch.”

n n n

After an ankle injury wiped out virtually all of his junior season, there were some questions as to how effective Anthony Bonamico would be in 2013 as Bridgeport's featured running back in an offense that was being tweaked from the school's traditional stick-I to a power pistol formation.

The new look resulted in a school record for points scored, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and paved the way to a Class AA state championship for the Indians.

Bonamico was at the forefront with 2,180 rushing yards on 205 attempts (an average of 10.6 per carry) and 33 total touchdowns. He captains the Class AA first-team all-state offense.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season,” Bonamico said. “To come back from that injury and for us to win the title with the group of guys I had as teammates. The individual honors are great but what we accomplished with a collective effort as a team is what matters most.”

Two of his teammates joined him as first-team honorees in Tyler Morgan as an offensive lineman and A.C. Caldera as a defensive back. Caldera, who ran for 1,188 yards and 21 touchdowns — including both in the 14-13 AA title game victory — was considered even more important on the other side of the ball by his coaching staff, where he had 36 tackles and five interceptions to help lead a Bridgeport defense that allowed just 11.6 points per game this season. Morgan was also a huge part of the defense as the team's leading tackler from his middle linebacker spot.

Wayne, which extended its overall win streak to 36 consecutive games before falling to Bridgeport in one of the most memorable state title games Wheeling Island Stadium has seen, had four players earn first-team honors in offensive lineman Alex Elkins, defensive lineman Curtis Followay, linebacker Mason Hodge, who was named the first-team defensive captain, and defensive back Grant Ferguson.

This year’s All-State team also comes with a little bit of history. Lincoln's Emily Knight is the first female player ever in West Virginia to earn first-team honors. Knight was selected as the first-team kicker after leading Class AA through the regular season in made field goals with six. She also converted 32 PATs and handled kickoff duties for the Cougars.

“Since I was a sophomore and started playing football, my teammates, the coaches and the community have been supportive of me and didn't signal me out for being a girl,” Knight said. “For people throughout the whole state to treat me equal is an unbelievable feeling. I'm so thankful and grateful for this honor.”

Joining Bonamico as first-team running backs are Westside’s Mullens and Bluefield's D.J. Stewart (1,312 yds, 23 TDs).

Fairmont Senior's Austin Norman completed 113-of-190 passes for 2,119 yards with 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions to be named as the first-team quarterback.

The first-team wide receivers are Lincoln's Dillon O'Dell (52 receptions, 1,234 yds, 8 TDs) and Bluefield's D.J. Edwards (57 rec., 1,010 yds and 10 TDs).

Joining Morgan and Elkins on the offensive line are Robert C. Byrd's Justin Noble, Ravenswood's Kyle Hickman and Mingo Central's Zach Hott.

Ritchie County dual-threat QB Alex Lipscomb was selected as the offensive utility player after throwing for 1,606 yards with 20 touchdowns and running for 1,161 yards with 10 rushing TDs.

Along with Follaway, Nicholas County’s Hill and Fairmont Senior's Vince Delligatti were selected as defensive linemen.

Delligatti’s teammate Luke Hrapchak is a linebacker along with Hodge and Summers County's  Lindsey.

Philip Barbour's Al Johnson (five interceptions with four defensive/special teams scores among his 14 total TDs) joins Caldera and Ferguson at defensive back along with Wyoming East’s  Saunders.

Ravenswood’s Isaac Crow was picked as the punter, while Sissonville's Nathan Miller nabbed the defensive utility spot.

Frankfort’s Brady Watson and Mingo Central's Alex Lee were named the second-team captains.

— Chris Johnson of The Exponent-Telegram and Dan Stillwell of The


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