The high school football season ended on Friday for all Aiken-area teams, but the honors are just starting to be handed out. On Monday, Region 5-AAAA announced its honor roll for the 2012 campaign and several players and coaches from the area were recognized for outstanding efforts in the recently completed season.
Eight North Augusta players were singled out as members of the All-Region 5-AAAA team. Trey Morgan, the player who did a little of everything for the Yellow Jackets, was recognized for his tremendous performance on defense and was named the region's Defensive Player of the Year. In addition to being a top-flight wide receiver, Wildcat quarterback and dangerous kick returner, Morgan is an outstanding safety who anchored the back line of North Augusta's defense. For the season, he had 119 tackles and three interceptions – totals that put him among the area's best in both categories.
“Trey getting Defensive Player of the Year is a big, big honor for him and the program and says a lot about the direction we're going in,” said North Augusta head coach Dan Pippin, who was named the Region Coach of the Year. “It's nice to be recognized by your peers, but it's a bigger deal getting those kids on the All-Region team.”
Morgan's teammates and fellow defensive backs Devin Grimes and Robert Morgan were also named to the All-Region defense, as was linebacker Kris Howard who led all local players with 182 tackles this season.
While the Yellow Jackets' talented secondary was recognized for its strong efforts, so too was the offensive line, which had three players named to the All-Region offense. Center Alex Picciano was sighted for his fine play along with bookend tackles Parker Collins and Jake Whitley. The big athletic linemen did a fine job protecting their quarterbacks and opening holes for ball carriers. DeVonte Pressley was one running back who had an especially good season running behind the decorated offensive line. He ran for 1,940 yards and 18 touchdowns on 258 carries, an average of better than 7.5 yards every time he ran with the ball, and was also recognized as a member of the All-Region offense. Those totals are a massive jump for a player who saw limited action a year ago and didn't even run for 100 yards.
“It says a lot about kids who didn't even start last year, that's real good,” said Pippin, who was honored for helping produce such strong performances from so many players and guide North Augusta to a 9-4 record, including a 4-1 mark in region play that was good enough to secure second place.
Pippin's Yellow Jackets accomplished that in spite of returning few experienced players and further established North Augusta as one of the premier programs in South Carolina, with 51 wins in the past five seasons. Overall, the Yellow Jackets only had six starters back from last season and four of them were honored Monday.
“It's the next man up philosophy, and its helped us be successful because the kids have bought in,” Pippin said of replacing seniors with seniors. “It's a testament to these kids and the coaches. It's a big honor.”
While South Aiken hasn't enjoyed as much success recently as North Augusta, several Thoroughbreds were honored for their fine performances this season. DeAndre Schoultz, like Trey Morgan, is a player who contributes in lots of areas for South Aiken. He's a defensive back, kick returner and is a threat anytime he touches the ball in the offensive backfield as a Wildcat quarterback and running back. But he was recognized for his contributions as a receiver, where he had 50 catches for 734 yards and two touchdowns.
Schoultz was joined on the All-Region team with offensive tackle Justin Day, a Kentucky commitment who was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Two other T-Breds joined Day and Schoultz – a North-South All-Star Football Game selection, as well as Trey Morgan and Parker Collins – on the All-Region team and will have the chance to capture the honor again next season. Sophomore defensive lineman Rasool Clemmons is a 6-foot-6 playmaking machine who, if he is healthy, could be a force to be reckoned with. Will Holbrook is a junior who's the quarterback of the T-Breds' defense from his post at middle linebacker and was also the quarterback when starter Bo Baldwin was sidelined with a broken hand. But it was Hobrook's work as tight end that made him an All-Region selection.
“I can't thank him enough,” South Aiken head coach Jeremy West said of Holbrook.
Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.
Editor's note: This version of this story has been updated to correct the name of North Augusta offensive lineman Jake Whitley. The Aiken Standard regrets the error.