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Buford leads all-state football team

It's not unusual to find a representative from Buford among the superlatives in Class AA in Georgia Sports Writers Association's All-State high school football teams each season.

However, this year's Wolves superlatives -- Class AA Defensive Player of the Year Jessel Curry and Class AA Coach of the Year Jess Simpson -- may be among the more satisfying to the program.

Those two joined two other Buford players and 19 other players from eight different schools in three different classifications to be honored by the state's sports writers with the release of its All-State teams today.

This particular honor came with Buford winning its third straight Class AA state championship -- and sixth of the decade -- with a 13-10 win over previously top-ranked Calhoun on Dec. 11 at the Georgia Dome.

And it came with a team that, while not devoid of stars, did not have the same dominating presence as past Buford title teams.

The Wolves (14-1) overcame the loss of its 32-game overall winning streak and 49-game region winning streak in an early-season setback to Lovett, plus a strong group of contenders like Jefferson, Fitzgerald and Calhoun to take home the school's seventh overall state title.

"This was one of our better coaching jobs," Simpson said. "My staff and our seniors did as good a job of piecing together (a team) as we've ever done."

Curry, one of the Wolves' 16 seniors, was perhaps the important piece in keeping the team together throughout the season.

The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder, who recently graduated from Buford and will enroll at Auburn for the winter semester, filled a variety of roles.

On offense, he led the team with 709 yards and 17 touchdowns on 112 carries, and finished third on the team with 18 pass receptions for 284 yards and a team-high 7 TDs, including a 5-yard scoring catch in the title game against Calhoun.

He also averaged a solid 35.3 yards on 36 punts, including pinning opponents inside their own 20-yard line 13 times.

But it is defensively where Curry stood out the most, finishing second on the team with 118 tackles, including six for losses and a sack, and added a team-high five interceptions, two forced fumbles -- including one in the title game -- and two fumble recoveries.

Curry was out of town this week and could not be reached for comment, but Simpson couldn't think of a better choice for the classification's Defensive Player of the Year.

"Jessel -- the way he played for us this year and all the things he did -- was amazing," Simpson said. "He just played great the whole season, and he did it a lot of different ways."

Joining Curry on the AA first-team were a pair of Buford teammates also headed to SEC programs next fall in offensive linemen Kolton Houston (committed to Georgia) and Du'Von Millsap (South Carolina).

A total of 12 players from Gwinnett were included on either the first-team or honorable mention in Class AAAAA.

Grayson, which was ranked No. 1 much of the year in the classification and eventually finished at No. 5, had the largest contingent with four players, all on the first team -- running back Ean Pemberton, defensive lineman Shawn Green, linebacker Terry Williams and defensive back Kori Gaines.

Other county representatives on the Class AAAAA first team included North Gwinnett offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James and Peachtree Ridge receiver/defensive back Brad Roby.

Norcross punter Connor Hawk, Chris Caspari and Charles Perkins of Collins Hill, Geremy Davis of Norcross, Jonathan Krause of South Gwinnett, Austin Shepherd and C.J. Uzomah of North Gwinnett and Andre Sims of Brookwood were honorable mention selections.

In Class A, Wesleyan had four honorees, led by the classification's Defensive Player of the Year Bobby Fulton.

The 6-1, 205-pound senior linebacker recorded 130 tackles, including four for losses, with an interception, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries as the Wolves (12-1) advanced to the Class A state quarterfinals.

Other Wolves honored by the AP were running back Kyle Karempelis on the first team and quarterback Conor Welton and linebacker Merritt Hall as honorable mention selections.

Apalachee had three members of its historic 12-1 team honored in Class AAAA, including first-team offensive lineman Shaun Hill and honorable mention running back Jon Lee and linebacker Jeff Haney, while Winder-Barrow receiver Trent Demeritte was also an honorable mention selection.

The Georgia Sports Writers Association all-state football team, with players listed by name, school, height, weight and class:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

QB Hutson Mason, Lassiter, Sr.

Class AAAAA

Offensive Player of the Year: Rajaan Bennett, McEachern

Defensive Player of the Year: Alec Ogletree, Newnan

Coach of the year: Jeff Herron, Camden County

QB: Hutson Mason, Lassiter, Sr., 6-3, 190

RB: Rajaan Bennett, McEachern, Sr., 5-11, 210

RB: Ean Pemberton, Grayson, Sr., 5-4, 145

WR: Griffin Roelle, Lassiter, Sr., 5-9, 190

WR: Quin Roberson, Colquitt County, Sr., 6-0, 180

TE: Jay Rome, Valdosta, Jr., 6-6, 240

OL: Ed Christian, Lowndes, Sr., 6-5, 310

OL: JaWuan James, North Gwinnett, Sr., 6-6, 305

OL: Jeremiah Booth, Camden County, 6-0, 305

OL: Thomas O'Reilly, Pope, Jr., 6-4, 313

OL: Donnie Werden, Northside-Warner Robins, Sr., 6-0, 225

K: Matt Ehasz, Camden County, Jr., 5-11, 150

ATH: Bradley Roby, Peachtree Ridge, Sr., 6-0, 185

DL: Tavontae Drake, McEachern, Sr., 6-1, 285

DL: Shawn Green, Grayson, Sr., 6-0, 280

DL: Michael Thornton, Stephenson, Sr., 6-1, 273

DL: Cameron Erving, Colquitt County, Sr., 6-5, 280

LB: Rip Rowan, Lassiter, Sr., 6-1, 230

LB: Telvin Smith, Lowndes, Sr., 6-3, 200

LB: Adam Strakose, Newnan, Sr., 5-11, 225

LB: Terry Williams, Grayson, Sr., 6-0, 280

DB: Alec Ogletree, Newnan, Sr., 6-3, 210

DB: Brian Randolph, Kell, Jr., 6-0, 170

DB: Brison Williams, Northside-Warner Robins, Sr., 6-0, 180

DB: Kori Gaines, Grayson, Sr., 5-10, 174

P: Connor Hawk, Norcross, Sr., 5-9, 165

RET: Ean Days, Camden County, Sr., 5-11, 190

Honorable mentions: DL Jonathan Bermudez, Woodstock; DB Detrick Bonner, Luella; WR Chris Boyd, Roswell; RB Mack Brown, M.L. King; LB Corey Carmichael, Woodstock; ATH Chris Caspari, Collins Hill; WR Patrick Cosgrove, Walton; WR Geremy Davis, Norcross; RB Greg Franklin, Marietta; LB Jamie Grable, Milton; WR Jonathan Krause, South Gwinnett; OL Thomas Martin, Camden County; RB Charles Perkins, Collins Hill; K Devon Pike, Northside-Warner Robins; OL Grant Ramsey, Pope; RB Raymond Sanders, Stephenson; DL Derrick Saulsberry, Camden County; OL Austin Shepherd, North Gwinnett; WR Andre Sims, Brookwood; LB Michael Taylor, Westlake; QB C.J. Uzomah, North Gwinnett; OL Reid Webster, Etowah; DL Jeffrey Whitaker, Warner Robins; DL Anthony Williams, Union Grove; RB Tay Willis, East Coweta.

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Class AAAA

Offensive Player of the Year: Rajion Neal, Sandy Creek

Defensive Player of the Year: Isaiah Johnson, Sandy Creek

Coach of the year: Chip Walker, Sandy Creek

QB: Ronnie Bell, Sandy Creek, Jr., 6-0, 180

RB: Rajion Neal, Sandy Creek, Sr., 5-11, 205

RB: Storm Johnson, Loganville, Sr., 6-0, 215

WR: Dmitri Holmes, Clarke Central, Sr., 6-1, 180

WR: Chris Conley, North Paulding, Jr., 6-3, 180

TE: Logan Winkles, Upson-Lee, Sr., 6-0, 240

OL: Morgan Bailey, Loganville, Sr., 6-5, 290

OL: Watts Dantzler, Dalton, Jr., 6-8, 320

OL: Shaun Hill, Apalachee, Jr., 6-3, 240

OL: Alan Posey, Clarke Central, Jr., 6-6, 310

OL: Tim Wynn, Mays, Sr., 6-3, 270

K: Justin Moore, Marist, Sr., 5-11, 160

ATH: Jerrick McKinnon, Sprayberry, Sr., 5-11, 185

DL: Xzavier Dickson, Griffin, Jr., 6-3, 240

DL: Allen Stripling, Southwest DeKalb, Sr., 6-6, 215

DL: Grady Jarrett, Rockdale County, Jr., 6-1, 275

DL: Owen Williams, Westside-Macon, Jr., 6-3, 250

LB: Cartavious Woods, Griffin, Sr., 5-10, 208

LB: Clinard Stokes, Sandy Creek, Sr., 5-11, 195

LB: Blake Young, Sprayberry, Sr., 6-0, 167

LB: Bobby Liggins, Hephzibah, Sr., 5-11, 210

DB: Isaiah Johnson, Sandy Creek, Sr., 6-2, 185

DB: Sharrod Golightly, Southwest DeKalb, Sr., 5-10, 180

DB: Ryan Ayers, South Paulding, Sr., 5-10, 175

DB: Demetruce McNeal, Banneker, Sr., 6-0, 176

P: Keenan Adams, Bainbridge, Jr., 5-8, 162

RET: Marques Dixon, Southwest DeKalb, Sr., 5-10, 182

Honorable mentions: RB Jerrel Anderson, Richmond Academy; DB D Alvarez Antwine, Sprayberry; RB Robert Brown, Westside-Macon; DL Jabari Carney, Southwest DeKalb; WR Ronnie Carswell, Westside-Macon; WR Jarrett Davis, Sandy Creek; DL Nermin Delic, Northwest Whitfield; WR Trent Demeritte, Winder-Barrow; DL Ray Drew, Thomas County Central; DL Jalen Fields, Dalton; LB Leighton Gasque, Hiram; RB Terrance Gore, Jones County; DL Seth Grummer, Sequoyah; LB Jeff Haney, Apalachee; DB Tres Houston, Banneker; RB Clarence Jackson, North Clayton; RB John Lee, Apalachee; OL Dylan Leonard, Ola; RB Ken Malcome, Southwest DeKalb; QB Martay Mattox, Clarke Central; ATH DeMarco McNeal, Banneker; DB Jonathan Mincey, Southwest DeKalb; LB Kendal Parker, Lakeside-Evans; QB Marcus Waller, Griffin; OL Charlie Zemko, Sandy Creek.

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Class AAA

Offensive Player of the Year: Blake Sims, Gainesville

Defensive Player of the Year: Thomas Sprague, Gainesville

Coach of the year: Chad Campbell, Peach County

QB: Connor Shaw, Flowery Branch, Sr., 6-2, 200

RB: Git Aiken, Eastside, Sr., 5-9, 170

RB: Isaiah Crowell, Carver-Columbus, Jr., 5-11, 190

WR: Tai-ler Jones, Gainesville, Sr., 6-0, 185

WR: Lamar Zanders, Peach County, Sr., 6-3, 185

TE: Jrametries Kirksay, Washington County, Jr., 6-0, 250

OL: David Beasley, Carver-Columbus, Sr., 6-4, 287

OL: Renard Williams, Peach County, Jr., 6-2, 210

OL: Jadarius Dean, Baldwin, Sr., 6-3, 255

OL: Daniel Blitch, North Hall, Sr., 6-6, 320

OL: Chartavious Danzy, Washington County, Jr., 6-2, 260

K: Joe Mansour, LaGrange, Sr., 6-2, 180

ATH: Blake Sims, Gainesville, Sr., 6-1, 180

DL: Corey Crawford, Carver-Columbus, Sr., 6-5, 235

DL: Kelcey Lewis, Peach County, Sr., 6-2, 200

DL: Sterling Bailey, East Hall, Jr., 6-6, 250

DL: Denarrious King, Baldwin, Sr., 6-0, 230

LB: Thomas Sprague, Gainesville, Sr., 6-0, 215

LB: A.J. Johnson, Gainesville, Jr., 6-3, 220

LB: Luke Crowell, Peach County, Sr., 5-8, 185

LB: Ryan Holmes, Creekview, Sr., 5-10, 200

DB: Nathan Jones, North Hall, Sr., 5-11, 185

DB: Jontavious Davis, Peach County, Jr., 5-11, 150

DB: Damian Swann, Grady, Jr., 6-0, 175

DB: Deion Bonner, Carver-Columbus, Soph., 5-11, 185

P: Chisel Flores, East Hall, Sr., 5-10, 245

RET: Caddarius Warthen, Washington County, Sr., 5-9, 180

Honorable mentions: DL Charlie Aly, Jackson; DL Henry Anderson, Woodward Academy; DL Neiron Ball, Jackson; QB Terrell Brigham, Burke County; QB Devin Burns, Carver-Columbus; WR Vincent Dallas, Cedar Grove; LB Tevin Davis, Mary Persons; RB Martez Eastland, Ringgold; RB Ben Emert, West Forsyth; DL Wesley Evans, Washington County; LB Clarence France, Carver-Columbus; RB Montravious Gladdin, Washington County; QB Miles Gooch, Towers; DB Byron Isaac, Dunwoody; DL Derrick Laney, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe; ; RB Quint McKibben, Jackson; OL Quincy McKinney, Carver-Columbus; P Will Monday, Flowery Branch; FB Cole Moon, St. Pius X; LB Tommy Sanders, Crisp County; QB Shunquez Stephens, West Hall; QB Patrick Taylor, Peach County; RB Juwan Thompson, Woodward Academy; RB Shadrach Thornton, Liberty County; WR Rodney Young, Flowery Branch.

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Class AA

Offensive Player of the Year: Da'Rick Rogers, Calhoun

Defensive Player of the Year: Jessel Curry, Buford

Coach of the year: Jess Simpson, Buford

QB: Nash Nance, Calhoun, Sr., 6-3, 200

RB: Marquis Terrell, Callaway, Jr., 5-8, 160

RB: Ralph David Abernathy IV, Westminster, Jr., 5-7, 165

WR: Da'Rick Rogers, Calhoun, Sr., 6-3, 205

WR: Markeith Ambles, Henry County, Sr., 6-2, 215

WR: Blake Gowder, Union County, Sr., 6-2, 200

OL: Kolton Houston, Buford, Sr., 6-5, 285

OL: Caitlin Alford, Adairsville, Sr., 6-4, 280

OL: Andrew Bridges, Westminster, Sr., 6-4, 255

OL: Du'Von Millsap, Buford, Sr., 6-5, 333

OL: Kyle Harris, Pepperell, Sr., 6-4, 255

K: Adam Griffith, Calhoun, Soph., 5-10, 180

ATH: Barry Bostic, Jefferson County, Sr., 5-11, 170

DL: Jeremy Phillips, Blessed Trinity, Sr., 6-0, 200

DL: Dale Howard, Appling County, Sr., 6-1, 280

DL: Matthew Hardeman, Avondale, Sr., 6-0, 215

DL: Jesse Webb, North Oconee, Sr., 6-3, 200

LB: Jessel Curry, Buford, Sr., 6-2, 217

LB: Victor Beasley, Adairsville, Sr., 6-5, 225

LB: Lucas Redd, Jefferson, Sr., 6-1, 195

LB: Lanoris Christopher, Thomasville, Sr., 5-9, 190

DB: Kedron Aker, Calhoun, Sr., 6-0, 200

DB: Deon Smalls, Fitzgerald, Sr., 5-9, 160

DB: Andre Jefferson, Southwest-Macon, Sr., 5-10, 175

DB: Fred Holton, Thomasville, Sr., 6-1, 200

P: Dylan Shaddix, Henry County, Sr., 6-2, 210

RET: Senorise Perry, Chattooga, Sr., 6-1, 190

Honorable mentions: QB Devon Blankenship, Brantley County; ATH Mike Bloodser, Lamar County; RB Zach Boden, Lovett; ATH Quan Bray, Callaway; QB Jonathan Carkhuff, Lovett; RB Dustin Christian, Calhoun; RB Keith Christopher, Brooks County; OL William Dunn, Jefferson County; QB Malcolm Eady, Swainsboro; RB Greg Gates, Manchester; WR Quantavious Leslie, Callaway; ATH Taylor Mack, Lovett; LB Taylor Maxey, North Oconee; DB Donovan McCloud, Dublin; QB Chris Milton, Charlton County; QB Darius Minor, Jefferson; QB Kaleb Nobles, Fitzgerald; QB Kolt Owenby, Union County; ATH Mike Palmer, Northeast-Macon; ATH Trenton Pruitt, Fitzgerald; DB Jake Skole, Blessed Trinity; WR Shavarez Smith, Henry County; RB Max Thompson, Avondale; DL Dalvin Tomlinson, Henry County; WR Max Williams, Lovett.

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Class A

Offensive Player of the Year: Nick Marshall, Wilcox County

Defensive Player of the Year: Bobby Fulton, Wesleyan

Coach of the year: Mark Ledford, Wilcox County

QB: Nick Marshall, Wilcox County, Sr., 6-2, 190

RB: Kyle Karempelis, Wesleyan, Jr., 5-10, 170

RB: Chris Barnwell, Savannah Christian, Sr., 5-11, 190

WR: Kevin Blackburne, Savannah Country Day, Jr., 6-0, 160

WR: Zack Walker, Johnson County, Jr., 6-1, 175

TE: Kennard Backman, Whitefield Academy, Jr., 6-3, 225

OL: Kenarious Gates, Greenville, Sr., 6-5, 300

OL: Morgan Clemm, Savannah Country Day, Sr., 6-3, 310

OL: Colby Nelson, Taylor County, Sr., 6-0, 255

OL: Dylan Turner, ECI, Jr., 6-2, 240

OL: Chris Ross, Twiggs County, Sr., 6-1, 250

K: Ryan Thames, Landmark Christian, Jr., 5-10, 150

ATH: Niko Jones, Chattahoochee County, Sr., 5-10, 170

DL: Octavious Gordon, ECI, Jr., 6-2, 225

DL: Thad Mathis, Darlington, Sr., 5-11, 255

DL: Keith Paisley, Clinch County, Sr., 6-1, 245

DL: Juwan Jones, Miller County, Jr., 6-2, 220

LB: Bobby Fulton, Wesleyan, Sr., 6-1, 205

LB: Austin Goodlet, Gordon Lee, Sr., 5-11, 180

LB: Robert Cooper, Chattahoochee County, Sr., 5-11, 185

LB: Tavious McGahee, Lincoln County, Sr., 5-11, 190

DB: Fred Marshall, Irwin County, Sr., 5-11, 190

DB: Jeremy Stanley, Twiggs County, Sr., 5-10, 175

DB: Nate Moorhouse, Wilcox County, Sr., 5-8, 175

DB: Tev'n Hamilton, Darlington, Jr., 5-11, 175

P: Joseph McAllister, GMC, Jr., 6-3, 180

RET: Kevious Robinson, Irwin County, 5-10, 170

Honorable mentions: QB Mario Alford, Greenville; ATH Willis Aitkens, Holy Innocents'; DB Peter Allen, Holy Innocents'; RB Maricio Askew, Bowdon; LB Dennis Benning, Greenville; RB Deon Brock, Commerce; RB Earnest Butts, Twiggs County; QB Vintavious Cooper, Clinch County; DB Darqueze Dennard, Twiggs County; DL Josh Gebhardt, Landmark Christian; WR Teddy Gibson, Chattahoochee County; RB Keyante Green, Eagle's Landing Christian; LB Merritt Hall, Wesleyan; WR Bernardis Hughes, Wilkinson County; DB Evan Kasian, Walker; ATH Cameron Lemons, Whitefield Academy; RB Nolan Moran, Mount Paran Christian; WR Lonnie Outlaw, Wilcox County; OL Tyler Pitt, Telfair County; WR Tay Porter, Wilcox County; QB D.J. Rozier, Johnson County; ATH Cosby Salter, Miller County; TE Rusty Scott, Lincoln County; LB Quayshon Simmons, Wilkinson County; QB Conor Welton, Wesleyan.