The countywide All-Decade Team…kind of [Part 2]

Published 9:40 am Friday, September 20, 2019

Last week, I took the notion to go back in time and select my version of the countywide All-Decade team. The selections were made across the span of when I covered sports for the Daily News, 2011-2018. As promised in that article, which focused on the offensive side of the ball, this week we will select defense players to the list.

Similar to last week, here are the ground rules I followed to establish the list:

• Considering the layout of most of our football teams, most athletes play both sides of the ball. With that in mind, a player will not be named to both offense and defense;

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• Suggestions were based on either junior or senior seasons;

• Due to time and complexity, the offensive and defensive line will be collectively awarded instead of on an individual basis;

• Three linebackers and four defensive backs will be selected in addition to the defensive line;

• No players that currently play will be on this list;

• This list is subjective, but I do consider stats, strength of schedule and importance to the team.

Now, here we go:

First Team

Linebacker — Andrew Douglas: Pineville, 2012

Many remember Andrew Douglas as one of the feature backs in Bart Elam’s system. The bruising back was always a goal line threat. But, he should be remembered for his time on defense with the Mountain Lions. During his senior season, Douglas tallied a team-high 109 tackles while helping Pineville to a 6-6 season.

With Douglas on the field, the Lions held teams to 125.9 rushing yards per game. He registered a season-high 18 tackles against Harlan and registered double-digit stops five other times — Lynn Camp, Paintsville, Allen Central, Jenkins and Campbellsville.

Linebacker — Justin Green: Bell County, 2014

On a team that advanced to the second round of the playoffs, Justin Green was a dominant force. Easily hauling in the most tackles on this list, Green finished his senior season with 120 total tackles (90 solo, 30 assisted). With him guiding the defense, the Bobcats held opponents to just 109 yards per game on the ground.

One of Green’s standout performances came against Harlan County at the end of the regular season. The senior racked up a game-high 23 tackles as Bell defeated the Black Bears 35-14. Two weeks later, he tallied 18 tackles in a losing effort against Central in the second round of the playoffs. He recorded double-digit tackles against Middlesboro, Knox Central, Casey County and South Pittsburg, Tenn.

Linebacker — Sebastian Wagoner: Middlesboro, 2017

2017 wasn’t the best year for Middlesboro football. The team went 2-8 in the regular season before being eliminated by Prestonsburg in the opening round of the playoffs. But, that didn’t stop Sebastian Wagoner from showing off his defensive capabilities. The then-junior led the Jacket defense with 117 tackles on the year.

Wagoner got off to an impressive start recording double-digit numbers in the first six games of the season. He tallied a season-high 20 tackles against Bell County, 12 against Claiborne, 13 against Clay County, 15 against Harlan, 11 against Pineville and 12 against South Laurel. After that stretch, he tallied 10 tackles against Danville.

Defensive Back — Lee Cox: Pineville, 2018

Pineville’s Lee Cox is listed as a defensive back but played like a linebacker, often sniffing out tackles on the regular. Last season, Cox led an impressive, young Mountain Lion team with 110 tackles. That’s over 100 tackles for a defensive back. While not grabbing any interceptions, he helped limit passing yards to 77 yards per game.

The senior recorded double-digit tackle numbers in five games — Paris, Middlesboro, Thomas Walker, Lynn Camp and Harlan. His best performance out of those games came in a losing effort to Paris, where he tallied a team-high 20 tackles.

Defensive Back — Antonio Zachery: Bell County, 2017

Often times lining up as a safety, Antonio Zachery proved to be a ball hawk during his junior season with the Bobcats. He was second on the team in tackles with 82 and hauled in a team-high six interceptions on the season. He finished the year with 123 interception return yards with one interception being returned for a touchdown.

Zachery picked up his first interception of the year during a 28-7 victory over Letcher County Central. He followed that up with two interceptions against McCreary Central with one being returned for a touchdown. He also had interceptions against Jackson County, Breathitt County and Clay County.

As far as tackles are concerned, Zachery recorded 19 against Casey County. He also recorded double-digits numbers against Whitley County and McCreary Central.

Defensive Back — Dylan Pratt: Middlesboro, 2015

My most memorable moment of Dylan Pratt came during Middlesboro’s 56-13 loss against Shelby Valley. The kid played his heart out before a concussion ultimately ended his football career with the Jackets. In a year where Middlesboro only won one game, the senior was a bright spot for the team.

The senior safety, who doubled as a quarterback following multiple injuries, led Middlesboro in tackles with 109. In the team’s only victory of the year, Pratt tallied 19 tackles against Harlan. The following week, he brought down 16 runners in a losing effort to Lexington Christian. He recorded 13 tackles against Bell County, 11 against Pineville, 14 against South Laurel and 11 against Somerset.

Defensive Back — Justin Warwick: Bell County, 2012

The man with the second most interceptions on this list, Justin Warwick helped hold opponents to just under 55 yards passing through the air. The then-junior led the team in interceptions grabbing five throughout the season. He didn’t stop there as he grabbed 44 tackles on a team that contained Corey Lee and D.J. Warwick, who tallied the majority of the stops on the season.

Warwick picked up his first interception of the year in a 50-6 win over Middlesboro. After four games without a pick, the then-junior went off against Corbin grabbing three interceptions in a 34-0 victory. He tallied his final interception of the season in a 47-0 playoff victory over Elizabethtown.

Defensive Line — Bell County, 2015

Led by standout Marcus Collins on the edge, the Bell County defensive line was quite the force in 2015. In a system designed for linebackers to rule, a five-man line rotation hauled in a combined 259 tackles on the year. Collins tallied a team-high 90 tackles on the year with 73 being solo.

George Philpot brought down 56 defenders, Jacob Sutton tallied 49 tackles and Nick Tolliver grabbed 36. Casey Cox, who was also a threat on the offensive line, finished the year with 28 stops.

With several run-heavy teams on the schedule, the defensive line helped contain teams to 164.7 yards per game on the ground.

Second Team

Linebacker — Evan Brock: Middlesboro, 2016

Linebacker — Matt Hubbard: Pineville, 2013

Linebacker — Corey Lee: Bell County, 2012

Defensive Back — Jake Brock: Middlesboro, 2014

Defensive Back — Dakota Collett: Bell County, 2011

Defensive Back — Jared Philpot: Pineville, 2012

Defensive Back — Issac Munsey: Bell County, 2015

Defensive Line — Pineville, 2016