Two of the three high schools in Stokes County welcomed two new head football coaches this past season. Mike Holmes was introduced as the Sauras coach and led them to a first round state playoff game at home and Frank Sessoms returned to North Stokes after a six year absence. As for the Wildcats, Jimmy Upchurch just completed his 15th year as the head man with a second round playoff loss. All three schools featured individual talents that helped their respected teams on the field. The Stokes News along with the area high school coaches selected the 2017 football all-county team.
West Stokes senior Tyler Walker just finished up a stellar career with 224 tackles this season and broke the career mark for the Wildcats with 563 tackles in four years. He had 46 tackles for a loss this season, a school record, and was named WPAC All-Conference for a third time and voted as the conference defensive player of the year by the coaches for 2017.
Other Wildcats making the all-county team on the defensive side of the ball were Julius Smith (WPAC All-Conference) with 60 tackles and 23 for a loss, Parker Pratt (WPAC All-Conference) 108 tackles, 30 for a loss, and he led his team with 10 sacks, Tyler Little (WPAC All-Conference) 84 tackles and seven interceptions, Jordan Smith (WPAC All-Conference) 95 tackles and 13 for a loss, Tristan Carter 82 tackles, and Zan Sandlin with 25 tackles and 10 passes defended.
The Sauras had seven players to make the team on defense. The linebacker duo of Steven Fatz and Cooper Ross was considered two of the best in the Northwest Conference and both were selected all-conference. Fatz finished with a team high of 146 tackles, while Ross had 99. Defensive back John Williams was a repeat all-conference player with 75 tackles and Paul Thomas Fischer was first on the team with four interceptions and tallied 55 tackles. The other three players came from the defensive line. Dalton Slate was all-conference and added 59 tackles from various positions this season. Kaleb Bratton and Lucas Covington were the final two Sauras selected for defense. Bratton had 76 tackles, while Covington added 74 and five sacks.
North Stokes added three players to the defensive team and all will return next season. Linebacker Dylan Mabe was voted all-conference and led the team with 105 tackles. Defensive lineman Jackson Boles and defensive back Tyler Dodson were selected honorable mention all-conference. Boles added 57 tackles, while Dodson contributed 61 tackles and seven passes defended in the secondary for the Vikings.
The offensive team was led by several talented players throughout the county. West Stokes quarterback Tyler Smith and running back Chris Brown made WPAC All-Conference for West Stokes, while running back dynamic duo of Adam McMillian and Ryan Moses of South Stokes were selected as Northwest honorable mention all-conference. Smith had 1,134 yards of passing with 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 571 yards and nine scores. Brown added 1,024 yards rushing with 14 touchdowns and 343-yards receiving and three more scores. McMillian led the county with 1,590 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, while Moses dashed for 1,085 yards and six. Mark Shaw was the lone running back from North Stokes that made all-county. He accounted for more than half the Vikings offense with 501 total yards of offense in rushing and receiving.
Four receivers were selected all-county, two from each South and West Stokes. Avery Wood and Zach Slate from South Stokes were selected along with Kelin Parsons and Dustin Blevins from West Stokes. Wood had 202 yards receiving, while Slate had 18 receptions for 114 yards. Parsons had 188 yards on 12 catches and Blevins added 126 yards receiving and 197 yards rushing.
The offensive line is the position that seems to get overlooked the most in football. The coaches wanted to recognize eight players from the three schools for their efforts. West Stokes added Landon Wilkins (WPAC All-Conference), Lathan Kiser (WPAC All-Conference), Brendan Beavers, and Luke Mickey. South Stokes added two Northwest All-Conference linemen in Jacob Smith and Keylan Coe. The Vikings also had two players in sophomores Noah Smith and Orion Martin.
The last two players awarded all-county were from the forgotten special teams area. These players are relied on heavily. Kickers Caleb Peters from West Stokes and Ivan Caro from South Stokes made the all-county list. Peters connected on 37 extra points with five field goals. Caro added 15 extra points and four field goals for the Sauras.
All three teams will continue to build on their youth and look to contend in their respected conferences next season as all the schools will return more than half their teams.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.