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Miles, Murray honored

Each was expected to carry a bigger load for his football team this season.

Brookwood's Kenny Miles, a reserve in 2006, was a first-year starter. Buford's Demetris Murray, who shared carries last season with Quentin Cantrell, was now the feature back.

Neither running back disappointed as both had outstanding seasons, which were rewarded Thursday when they were named the state's offensive players of the year in their respective classifications - Miles in Class AAAAA and Murray in AA - by the Georgia Sports Writers Association. A total of 12 Gwinnett players made the GWSA's All-State first teams.

"I think (Miles) is humbled by all the awards," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "You're literally talking about a guy coming out of nowhere this season. He's very thankful for all the awards and accolades he's gotten."

In only 12 games this season, Miles had 273 carries for 2,544 yards (9.3 per carry) and 25 touchdowns. A South Carolina commitment, the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder had the third-highest season rushing total in Gwinnett history this season, which also put him ninth on the state's all-time rushing leaders for yards in a season.

Although Murray was Buford's No. 1 back this season, he also proved just as valuable to the Wolves' defense as the starting free safety. The South Florida commitment also had a standout year on defense for the Class AA state champions.

"(Murray) was so willing and had such a desire to play defense this year," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "That was one of the keys to us winning a state championship. He played awesome. He could have been a running back the whole time and carried it 30 times a game, but that wasn't what made our team the best it could be."

Murray comes from a Buford family. His father played for the Wolves, as have his cousins, including star defensive lineman Omar Hunter and past running back Ricky Mobley.

He enjoyed a strong senior season at the school he's followed all his life, rushing 145 times for 1,278 yards (8.8 per carry) and 24 TDs. He had 14 carries for 193 yards and a TD in Buford's 50-0 victory over Lovett in the state championship game.

"He's probably one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached," Simpson said. "He loves a challenge and he loves playing on the big stage."

Miles also was named a first-team All-State selection in AAAAA, an honor he shared with teammates Eric Grube, an offensive lineman, and Dawson Zimmerman, a punter. The other local first-teamers in AAAAA were North Gwinnett quarterback Michael Tamburo, offensive lineman Clint Duggan and defensive lineman Eric Eberhardt, Norcross wide receiver Brice Butler and Grayson linebacker Tristan Strong.

In AA, Murray was all-state along with teammates Melvin Harris at wide receiver, Omar Hunter at defensive line and T.J. Pridemore at linebacker. Greater Atlanta Christian's Christian Robinson also was a first-teamer at wide receiver.

SideBar: AREA HONOREES

Gwinnett area selections for the Georgia Sportswriters Association All-State Teams:

Class AAAAA

Offensive Player of the Year

RB Kenny Miles, Brookwood

Offense, First Team

' QB Michael Tamburo, North Gwinnett

' RB Kenny Miles, Brookwood

' WR Brice Butler, Norcross

' OL Clint Duggan, North Gwinnett

' OL Eric Grube, Brookwood

Defense, First Team

' DL Eric Eberhardt, North Gwinnett

' LB Tristan Strong, Grayson

' P Dawson Zimmerman, Brookwood

Honorable mention: OL Nick Amon, Grayson; WR/DB Devonta Bolton, Norcross; WR/DB Derrick Bryant, Peachtree Ridge; LB Dion Dubose, Norcross; LB Kevin Minter, Peachtree Ridge

Class AAA

Honorable mention: RB/LB Chaun Gresham, Apalachee; RB Jon Lee, Apalachee

Class AA

Offensive Player of the Year

RB Demetris Murray, Buford

Offense, First Team

' RB Demetris Murray, Buford

' WR Melvin Harris, Buford

' WR Christian Robinson, GAC

Defense, First Team

' DL Omar Hunter, Buford

' LB T.J. Pridemore, Buford

Honorable mention: WR Julian Horton, GAC