The two most successful area high school football teams during the 2020 season were the Spring Garden Panthers (12-2) and Piedmont Bulldogs (12-2). Panther senior linebacker Luke Welsh, Bulldog senior defensive end Sean Smith, and Bulldog sophomore quarterback Jack Hayes were big reasons for their respective team’s success.
All three first-team all-state performers have now been selected for another honor: The Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Linemen/Backs of the Year. It’s the third straight year Smith has been bestowed the honor and the second for Hayes.
Welsh is a Class 2A Linemen finalist along with Abbeville’s Rico Dozier and Lanett’s Caden Story.
Dozier, a senior linebacker for the state runner-up Yellow Jackets (12-2), posted 136 total tackles (56 solo, 80 assists) with 36 tackles for loss. He also had five sacks and an interception.
Story, a junior defensive lineman for the Panthers (10-3), accumulated 58 total tackles (41 solo, 17 assists) with 18 tackles for loss. He also registered 15 sacks and had 26 quarterback pressures.
Smith is joined in the Class 3A Linemen category by Fyffe’s Caleb Lyles and Wellborn’s Jett Smith.
Sean Smith collected 127 total tackles, including 30 for loss, with 13 sacks, blocked two punts, had four pass breakups, caused a fumble and had a fumble recovery.
Lyles, a senior, was the state champion Red Devils’ (15-0) top offensive lineman with 26 pancake blocks on a predominantly run-oriented offense.
Jett Smith, a senior multi-purpose threat for the Panthers (9-2), had 154 total tackles on defense as a linebacker and defensive back. He caused four fumbles, had two fumble recoveries, blocked two punts and returned an interception for a touchdown.
Hayes completed 157 passes in 244 attempts for 2,408 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also rushed for 577 yards and eight more scores on 134 carries for the Bulldogs last season.
Rowell, a senior quarterback, ran for 1,328 yards and 26 touchdowns on 143 carries. He also completed 15-of-19 pass attempts for 373 yards and nine scores.
Butler, a senior wide receiver for the state runner-up Knights (12-3), caught 58 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also had 10 punt returns for 191 yards and a touchdown.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the method of announcing the winners will be announced at a later date.
Each of this year’s class finalists is listed below.
Armoni Goodwin, Hewitt-Trussville
Conner Harrell, Thompson
Joseph McKay, Central-Phenix City
Jeremiah Alexander, Thompson
Terry Kirksey, Baker
Ian Jackson, Prattville
Reginald Davis, Lee-Montgomery
Trey Higgins, Oxford
GaQuincy McKinstry, Pinson Valley
Anquin Barnes, Lee-Montgomery
Lee Hunter, Blount
JonDarius Morgan, Huffman
Javonte Graves-Billips, St. Paul’s
Chris Lewis, Pleasant Grove
Zyquez Perryman, Pleasant Grove
Jay Ford, Central-Clay Co.
Lucas Taylor, St. Paul’s
Jeremiah Williams, Ramsay
Trent Davis, Etowah
Kamari Lassiter, American Chr.
Tae Meadows, Handley
Dylan Brooks, Handley
Deontae Lawson, Mobile Chr.
Robert Woodyard, Williamson
Myles Butler, Catholic-Montgomery
Jack Hayes, Piedmont
Ike Rowell, Fyffe
Caleb Lyles, Fyffe
Jett Smith, Walter Wellborn
Sean Smith, Piedmont
Kelston Fikes, Leroy
Martavious Glanton, Abbeville
Peyton Higgins, Mars Hill Bible
Rico Dozier, Abbeville
Caden Story, Lanett
Luke Welsh, Spring Garden
Devontae Causey, Millry
Rashaad Coleman, Florala
Brayden Kyle, Decatur Heritage
Carson Jones, Brantley
Zacchaeus Reese, Florala
Jamarcus Williams, Linden
Payton Allen, Chambers Aca.
Landon Sims, Escambia Aca.
Mayes White, Pike Liberal Arts
Reid Compton, Crenshaw Chr.
Eli Richey, Southern Aca.
BJ Snellgrove, Glenwood