Thursday, January 2, 2014
The Stratford Knights have claimed the top three honors in the Gazette's annual All-County Line football team.
Knights coach Ray Stackley was named Berkeley County Coach of the Year after guiding Stratford to a 12-3 record and an appearance in the Class AAAA Div. II state championship game.
Quarterback Jacob Park was named the Berkeley County Offensive Player of the Year and outside linebacker Michael Simmons was named the Berkeley County Defensive Player of the Year.
The All-County Line football team is a collaborative effort between the sports departments of the Summerville Journal Scene, The Gazette and The Berkeley Independent. Every effort was made to recognize as many players from as many different teams as possible from programs in Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
In Dorchester County, Summerville coach John McKissick was named coach of the year, while Wave quarterback Sawyer Bridges was named offensive player of the year and Kawuan Cox the defensive player of the year.
The Green Wave advanced to the Class AAAA Div. I state semifinals before losing a heartbreaker.
In Berkeley County, a number of teams had excellent seasons. The Knights won 12 games and advanced to the state final. Goose Creek (12-1, Class AAAA Div. II) and Hanahan (11-1, Class AAA) were both unbeaten before upset losses in the second round of the playoffs. Timberland finished 10-3 and made it to the state semifinal in Class AA.
Individually, it was a special season for Park on the gridiron.
The University of Georgia commitment threw for nearly 3,700 yards and 34 touchdowns in his final campaign on Crowfield Boulevard. Park is the lone four-year starter at quarterback in the school's history and finished his career with 9,441 yards of total offense and 96 total touchdowns in earning the state's Mr. Football Award.
“He was very deserving of (winning Mr. Football),” SHS coach Ray Stackley said.
Park represented the state in the Shrine Bowl game and will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4 in San Antonio.
Simmons was an outside linebacker for the Knights and made over 90 tackles on the strong side of the defense. He was equally as productive in the leadership category and could often be seen giving teammates pep talks on the sideline and firing them up at other times.
“He was the leader of our defense both physically and emotionally,” Stackley said. “The players fed off of his enthusiasm and his verbal leadership.”
Simmons has been offered by Presbyterian College and Kennesaw State and should get some more offers as signing day approaches.
In Dorchester County, McKissick guided the Green Wave to an 11-3 record and Bridges had a lot to do with that success. Though only a sophomore, the second-year starter showed great composure and did a fine job of game management in 2013.
Bridges passed for 2,248 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. He also rushed for 289 yards and four TDs, averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
Cox, a junior, had 95 tackles, including 64 unassisted, and led the Green Wave in sacks with 14 and QB hurries with 23. The pressure the second-year starter managed to consistently apply was also a factor for many plays for which he didn't make the tackle.
Park, Simmons, Bridges and Cox are not listed with the first team but should be considered first-team selections.
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