Cloudland trio spearheads All-Carter/Johnson

from staff reports

   White hot Cloudland Highlander excellence spearheads this year's version of the All-Carter/Johnson County football team, as seniors Mark Byrd, Dakota Benfield and Dane Christman find themselves sweeping the top three player awards.
   Following another season of eye-popping numbers, Byrd captures Most Valuable Player recognition for the third straight season, while Christman, Cloudland's highly productive linebacker, takes the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second straight year.
   The two all-staters were recently named Mr. Football award winners for 2003.
   As for Benfield, he gets the nod as Offensive Player of the Year.
   As a quarterback, Byrd gained 1,482 yards and ran for 25 touchdowns on just 93 carries, and completed 49 of 68 passes for 963 yards and seven TDs.
   In the defensive backfield, he had 71 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery. He also totaled 605 return yards, scoring nine times (six on punts, two on kicks, one on interception).
   Christman led the 'Landers in tackles for the third straight season, collecting 142, and tied for the club lead in sacks this year with six.
   Benfield ran wild from his tailback slot, gaining 1,624 yards and totaling 26 touchdowns on 148 rushes. He also racked up 22 two-point conversions.
   Earning designation as Coach of the Year is Happy Valley's Stan Ogg, who guided his Warriors to a 9-1 regular-season finish, a nice improvement over 2002's 6-4 record.
   A new honor, Underclassman of the Year, goes to Unaka sophomore Charles Lee Guinn, who carried the bulk of his team's offensive lead. Rushing the ball 132 times, Guinn accumulated 1,118 yards and 18 TDs in a sparkling effort.
   On the first team at the quarterback position is Happy Valley sophomore Todd Caldwell, who passed for 874 yards and six TDs, and added five TD runs.
   Elizabethton's Lester Bailey, after rushing for 1,131 yards and 15 TDs, is at tailback, with Hampton's Justin Waycaster at fullback. Waycaster ran for 841 yards and seven TDs.
   A talented offensive line consists of Jordy Harrison, Happy Valley; Jake Jenkins, Elizabethton; Kasey Garland, Unaka; Adam Potter, Hampton; John Stout, Johnson County; and Chris Sheets, Cloudland.
   Aaron Stocton, following a solid 11-catch, 247-yard season, nabs the tight-end slot. Elizabethton's Adam Turley is at wideout following a tremendous year (36 receptions, 548 yards) at the position, and Jeremy Cornett, Johnson County's top receiver with 198 yards on 14 catches, draws the other receiver spot.
   The first-team defense sees the Longhorns' Adam Johnson (87 tackles, 6 sacks) and Cloudland's Jeff Lunsford (57 tackles, 6 sacks) on the ends, and Hampton's Eddie Lance (63 tackles), Cody Bunton (All-Mountain Lakes) of Elizabethton, Daniel Dover of Happy Valley (All-Watauga), and Johnson County's Daniel Cranford (MLC and NET 4A-5A Defensive Player of the Year) in the middle of the line.
   Cranford made a good bid for All-Carter/Johnson Defensive Player of the Year. He made 96 tackles (9 for loss), seven sacks, caused four fumbles and also recovered four.
   The linebackers are Elizabethton's Derek Nave (team-high 115 tackles), Happy Valley's Tim Whaley (Watauga Co-Defensive Player of the Year) and Unaka's Andrew Richardson (All-Mountain East).
   The Warriors' Drew Davis, who topped the Watauga with seven interceptions, heads up the secondary. He is joined by teammate Michael Everhardt (All-Watauga) and Elizabethton's Charles Peters and Nathan Bishop, both All-MLC picks.
   Happy Valley's Casey Shatley, who booted 33 extra points and two field goals, seizes first-team place-kicking designation. Elizabethton all-stater Brandon Blevins is the No. 1 punter after getting off a 69-yard punt and averaging 41.6 yards an attempt over the course of the season.
   Taking back two kicks for scores this year, Hampton's Cody Walsh is the first-team return man.
   A second team, which is listed under the scoreboard section on this page, was also named.