By Gabriel Stovall
Recruitgeorgia.com has released its preseason all-state football teams, and the four-county Southern Crescent area is well represented.
In all, 16 athletes from the area were named to class-specific preseason rosters, with Class AAAAA holding top designation with eight.
Five of them came on offense: RB Jalen Holston (Stockbridge), RB Chris Rodriguez (Ola); WR Marquez Ezzard (Stockbridge); OL James Ohonba (Woodland); OL Dylan McCloud (Ola), while three defensive players — LB Tre’ Allen (Woodland); DB Yusuf Corker (Woodland); DB Trey Dean (Dutchtown) — were named.
Class A, with its seven representatives, was next as 2015 state champion ELCA’s Trevor Gear (RB) and kicker Alex Usry were named on offense and DBs Tre’ Douglas and Khaleb Hood were selected on defense.
The rest came from Landmark Christian, and they were tailback Lofton Tidwell, offensive lineman Al Hogan and DB Joey Blount.
Stockbridge’s Holston and Ezzard may be the most potent offensive weapons coach Kevin Whitley’s had in his six years coaching the Tigers, who usually field a defensive juggernaut.
Holston, a 5-foot-11, 200 pound balanced back, rushed for almost 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging over eight yards per carry last year. The senior has received 28 offers from the likes of North Carolina, South Carolina, Duke and Georgia Southern, while 247sports.com lists Virginia Tech as his favorite.
Meanwhile Ezzard, a junior, comes back as one of the Crescent’s leading receiver — impressive, considering he operates out of a primarily wing-t scheme. Ezzard snagged 36 catches for 746 yards with nine scoring grabs in 2015. He averaged over 20 yards per catch.
The Tigers’ city rival, Woodland have boasted of their potentially game changing defense during the offseason, and the selections of Allen and Corker seem to verify that.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Woodland and Stockbridge will lock horns on October 7 in a game that will likely have major region championship implications.
Ola’s two offensive nominees seem to validate the gradual rise in talent the Mustangs have experienced with coach Jared Zito. Rodriguez rushed for 1,401 yards and 15 touchdowns on 175 carries in 2015. He’ll be buoyed in 2016 by a solid offensive line anchored by McCloud.
Other South Metro area playmakers include Class AAAAA Woodward Academy defensive stars Terry Myrick (DE) and K.J. Phillips (LB), as well as speedster wideout Josh Johnson.
In Class AAA Grant Walker (RB), Justin Shaffer (OL), Netori Johnson (OL), Tre’ Shaw (DB) and Korey Hernandez (DB), all from Ellenwood’s Cedar Grove, were tabbed.
Another notable, Rico Frye, made the preseason list in Class AAAAAA by virtue of his 1,726-yard, 25 touchdown season in 2015 with Starr’s Mill. Frye transferred to Creekside during the offseason, in search of “an offense more suited to him,” according to the ajc.com. 247sports has him listed as the No.9 running back nationally for the class of 2018.