Callaway players dominate all-region team
Published 8:06 pm Sunday, December 25, 2016
By Kevin Eckleberry
HOGANSVILLE – He did it all.
During his time as a Callaway High football player, Dylan Johnson was a defensive standout, he was a punter, and most notably, he was a play-making quarterback who led one of the state’s most dynamic offenses.
As a senior, Johnson started all 14 of Callaway’s games at quarterback, and he enjoyed a remarkable season in helping lead his team to a 13-1 record and a spot in the Class AA final four.
After his sensational senior season, Johnson was selected as the Region 5-AA player of the year.
Callaway, which won the region championship with a perfect record, had 18 players on the all-region team.
Joining Johnson on the team was fellow senior Braylon Sanders, who was picked as the specialist of the year after his extraordinary season.
Junior running back DJ Atkins was the offensive player of the year, Michael Freeman won the region’s ironman award, and Keegan Woods was the all-region snapper.
Other first-team players were offensive linemen Keiondre Jones and John Curtis, defensive lineman Lichon Terrell, linebacker Jonathan Leonard, and defensive backs Courtney Williams and Dominic Copeland.
Second-team players were offensive lineman Dominic Carter, fullback Jibrell Jackson, wide receiver DQ Wilkerson, kicker Noah Stephens, defensive lineman Jamie Sellers, linebacker Qua Hines and defensive back Kobe Jackson.
Johnson played parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons at quarterback after other players went down with injuries, but he took every meaningful snap at that position this year.
Johnson was phenomenal.
He threw for more than 1,700 yards with 25 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and he set single-season school records for touchdowns and yardage.
He was at his best in the playoffs, and that included a five-touchdown performance in the first round against Model.
Johnson’s shining moment came in the quarterfinals against Screven County, though, when he led the team on a 98-yard touchdown drive in the closing moments.
On the final play of that epic drive, Sanders completed a 47-yard touchdown pass to Sanders on fourth down to lift his team to a 35-34 victory.
Johnson completed 10-of-17 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns in that game.
The man that Johnson threw that game-winning scoring pass to, Sanders, was one of the state’s best players.
He had 16 touchdown catches, including two in that memorable Screven County game, and he finished the year with more than 40 catches, and he eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in the final game against Benedictine.
Sanders also had a kickoff return for a touchdown against Screven County, he returned a fumble for a touchdown in an earlier playoff game, and he threw three scoring passes.
Atkins had his way with opposing defenses, running for more than 2,000 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Freeman was given the ironman award because of the excellence he displayed while rarely leaving the game.
Freeman was the Cavaliers’ leading tackler from his linebacker position, and he was also a play-making tight end who twice in a game had two touchdown catches.
Woods was honored as the region’s top snapper, and he was also a staple on a dominant defensive line.
The all-region offensive linemen, Jones, Curtis and Carter, helped give Johnson time to throw, while opening up big holes for Atkins to run through.
Also on offense, Jackson was a blocking machine from his fullback position, and he was also an effective runner who scored multiple touchdown, and Wilkerson was a big-play wide receiver who had a scoring catch against Screven County.
On defense, Freeman, Leonard and Hines were part of a formidable group of linebackers, Terrell and Sellers were dominant defensive linemen, and Williams, Copeland and Jackson were ball-hawking defensive backs