Four players make first team All-District football
|Middlesex High football players who earned All-Tidewater District honors are, front from left, Corey Keeling, Jake Pender, Dale Smith, Chuckie Morris and Markus Hammond; and back row, Matt Duke, Malik Henderson, Scott Payne, Bryan Engle, Brandon Eanes, Ryheem Lockley, and coach Heath Cockerham. (Photo by Larry Chowning)|
Eleven players from Middlesex High School earned All-Tidewater District football honors as selected last week by the district coaches.
Dale Smith was a unanimous pick for first team running back. Smith was the leading rusher in Tidewater District with 1,260 yards on 180 carries. He scored 15 touchdowns.
For Smith to gain that many yards he had to have a strong offensive line, and MHS offensive tackle Brandon Eanes was named first team All-District by a unanimous vote.
Charger Markus Hammond was a unanimous first team All-District pick at both defensive back and as a punter. He was the leading kicker in the district, averaging 39.7 yards per punt on 62 attempts. He also had a fake punt that he ran for a touchdown.
Middlesex nose guard Bryan Engle was named first team All-District on the defensive line.
Middlesex’s Scott Payne was named to the All-District second team at both offensive guard and defensive end. On defense, Payne was the top player on the Middlesex team with 103 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks, one pass interception for a touchdown, and one safety.
MHS head coach Heath Cockerham thought Payne should have been a first team selection, or even better. “Scott had the kind of stats for Defensive Player of the Year,” said Cockerham. “We were very disappointed with the coaches’ selection there.”
Middlesex wide receiver Matt Duke made the second team. Duke caught 6 passes for 85 yards during the season. “Matt is the best blocking wide receiver that I have ever coached,” said Cockerham.
Charger Jake Pender made second team at tight end. Pender did not catch a pass all season but had 12 blocking “pancakes,” said Cockerham. A pancake is when an offensive player blocks a defensive player to the ground.
Other Chargers to receive All-District honors were Corey Keeling, second team, offensive guard; Malik Henderson, second team, defensive lineman; Ryheem Lockley, second team, linebacker; and Chuckie Morris, second team, linebacker.
Keeling was a strong blocker on offense and registered 14 pancakes. Henderson had 36 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks, caused 3 fumbles, recovered a fumble, and intercepted a pass for a touchdown.
Lockley was the second leading tackler on the team behind Payne. He missed two games and still registered 76 tackles, an interception, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Morris had six pass break-ups and 36 tackles from his free safety position. “Chuckie was like having a coach on the field,” said Cockerham. “We were a much better team when he was on offense and defense.”
The Chargers ended their season with a 5-5 overall record and a 2-2 Tidewater District mark. Middlesex High is the smallest Group A Division 2 school in the state.
“It all goes back to a ‘Hail Mary’ pass at Northumberland when the Indians beat us in the final seconds,” said Cockerham. “If we had won that game, we probably would have made the playoffs.”
The district’s Offensive Player of the Year was quarterback Lewis Redman of King William, and the Defensive Player of the Year was linebacker Antonio Jones of King William.
Coaches of the Year were John Faulks of Division 1 West Point (10-1) and Zack Just of Division 2 King William (9-2).
King and Queen won the team Sportsmanship Award.