Here’s hoping Christmas was a happy, safe and festive time for everyone. And now the moment area football fans have been waiting for.
The Daily Corinthian sports department is proud to present the 2020 All Area Football Teams. Each first teamer is listed with bio’s and season stats plus any and all postseason awards. Second team and honorable mention selections can be found on the second sports page.
As usual, these teams – first and second teams along with honorable mentions – were selected based on several criteria. First and foremost, they must be nominated by their respective coaches. Other data used for selection and placement included season stats, all region and all state honors and how they affected their teams performance.
With Biggersville advancing to the Class 1A state championship game, Corinth winning their second consecutive Division 1-4A title, and Booneville coming up just short of their third straight Division 1-3A title, those three teams were well represented on both the first and second teams. But other local squads were well represented as well.
Let’s take a look at the DC All Area First Team.
Overall Most Valuable Player
Cayden Betts (SR) – RB, Corinth
Betts’ numbers and results speak for themselves: 1,561 rushing yards (ranking seventh overall in Mississippi) with 21 touchdowns and 279 receiving yards with three touchdowns. He amassed 2,485 all purpose yards and 28 TDs, including 498 kick return yards, taking four back for scores as he set a new school record with five kick return touchdowns in a career.
Betts’ averages of 248.5 all purpose yards per game and nine yards per rushing attempt were among the best marks in the state. For good measure the senior multi-purpose player had 24 total tackles with 3.5 TFL, an interception and two fumble recoveries from his defensive back position and converted three two-point conversions.
Betts was named Region 1-4A Most Valuable Player as well as the Mississippi Class 4A Most Valuable Player by the MAC (Mississippi Association of Coaches) as he helped guide the Warriors to the Class 4A North Half semifinals.
The most impressive thing about Betts’ performance this season is that he produced at the highest level while every team the Warriors faced game-planned their defenses around him.
The former Naval Academy commitment reopened his recruitment in the fall and has yet to decide where he will play collegiately. He is a two-sport standout and desires to attend a school that will allow him to play both football and baseball.
Goldman Butler (SR) – RB, Biggersville
Butler produced similar numbers to Betts in several categories and led his team to the Class 1A state championship game where they came just seconds from overtime and a shot at the gold.
The senior Lion all-purpose standout had 215 carries for 1,800 yards (an 8.3 yards per carry average) with 27 touchdowns while passing for 223 yards and four TDs. He added four receptions for 30 yards and a score and recorded 24 total tackles from his linebacker slot with 14.5 TFL and a sack. Butler also converted 15 two-point conversions. His rushing total ranked third overall in Mississippi.
Butler was rewarded for his outstanding achievements on the field this season by being selected as the Region 1-1A Player of the Year as well as first team All-State at the running back position by the MAC. He holds multiple collegiate offers with more hopefully to come before National Signing Day in February.
Di’Renzo Shields (SR) – DL, Biggersville
Shields was known as a defensive enforcer before the season began and that didn’t change as the Lions dominated Class 1A all the way to the state championship game where they dropped a heart breaker to Lumberton.
Shields had 25 tackles, including 13 TFL, and five sacks while adding two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
With Shields it wasn’t all about numbers. Much of his reputation came as a disruptor for opposing offenses which many times doesn’t show up in stats. He was constantly in the opposing teams backfield, altering plays and creating stats for fellow defensive teammates.
Shields was named first team All-State defensive lineman by the MAC along with Region 1-1A Defensive Player of the Year. He has yet to make his collegiate choice.
Athlete of the Year
TJ Colom II (SR) – ATH, Walnut
Opposing defensive coordinators on the Wildcats schedule next season will likely be happy campers to look across the field and not see Colom on the other sideline.
Walnut head coach John Meeks was blessed to have the services of Colom the past two years after the dynamic playmaker transferred from county rival Falkner. The senior do-it-all player concluded his most successful season to date this fall with 1,601 rushing yards (fifth overall in Mississippi) with 31 touchdowns and 2,525 all-purpose yards with 38 total touchdowns, which ranks No. 1 in the state. Colom also led Mississippi in total points with 240. His stats include three receiving TDs and four scores on kickoff and punt returns.
He added nine two-point conversions while recording 23 tackles and three interceptions from his defensive back position.
For his efforts Colom II was named Region 1-2A Co-Most Valuable Player while also being tabbed as second team All-State at the running back position by MAC. He has multiple collegiate scholarship offers, including one Division I school. He has yet to commit and will reportedly make his decision on National Signing Day in February.
Coach of the Year
Stan Platt, Biggersville HS
Platt, in simple terms, made a winner out of the Biggersville football program over his five-year tenure.
He is retiring at the end of the school year.
Not only did he surround himself with knowledgable and effective assistant coaches, he took a dormant program – which was in his own terms everyone’s homecoming opponent – and in less than five full seasons produced 47 wins against 16 losses, two consecutive Region 1-1A championships, the 2020 1A North Halftitle and the school’s first appearance in the state championship game in their 50-year history.
It was by far the best five-year stretch in BHS gridiron lore.
Let’s talk turnaround numbers. The year before Platt took over, the Lions went 3-9 and were outscored by an average of 38-16 per contest. In his first season (2016) Biggersville improved noticeably, going 4-7 overall and winning three of their last four games.
In 2017 the Lions finished 8-4 overall with a 5-3 division record and a third place region finish which produced the school’s first playoff berth in 20 years. Platt’s 2018 edition began to show the signs they were a program to be reckoned with as they went 12-2 overall, 7-1 in division play and a close second place finish in Region 1-1A following a last-second regular season-ending loss to division champion Smithville.
The past two years have been extra special as Biggersville has won two straight Region 1-1A titles, gone 23-3 overall (10-0 in division play) and added a North Half championship and a state title game appearance.
Platt guided the Lions to a 47-16 overall record and a 24-9 Region 1-1A slate.
Platt and his staff were named as the Region 1-1A Coaching Staff of the Year.
First Team Offense
QB: John Daniel Deaton (SR), Booneville
For the second straight year Deaton is being recognized as the Daily Corinthian All-Area quarterback after sharing the honor in 2018 with former McNairy Central QB Cole Kirk who is now on the roster at Delta State.
Deaton’s 2020 stats were a bit down from the past two seasons overall, but are still good enough to take top honors as the Blue Devils came oh-so-close to a third straight Region 1-3A championship.
He finished the season 86-146 for 1,662 yards (an average of 19.3 yards per completion) and 10 touchdowns against five interceptions, most of which came early in the season. He added five more scores on the ground. Deaton was named first team punter in Class 3A by MAC, averaging just shy of 40 yards per punt with 16 downed inside the 20.
He was honored as Region 1-3A Offensive MVP.
RB: Zamarius Alexander (SR), Kossuth; Gavin Crocker (SR), Tishomingo County; Nazarius Jones (SR), Corinth
Alexander capped his career as an Aggie with his best season, producing 1,182 yards on 173 rushing attempts with 14 touchdowns while catching eight passes for 115 yards and three more TDs. He was named to the Region 1-3A first team this fall.
Crocker was the workhorse out of the Braves backfield for coach Richard Russo, finishing with 781 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns along with 14 receptions for 116 yards and two TDs. He was named to the Region 1-4A first team.
A second team selection last year, Jones is being upgraded to first team All Area status. He was second to Betts in the CHS backfield that averaged 274 yards per game in 2020, with 619 yards on 93 carries while producing nine touchdowns. He also recorded 213 yards and two TDs on 13 receptions. His 1,000 all-purpose yards were second on the team. Jones was honored as the Region 1-4A Athlete of the Year.
WR: Keb Brawner (SR), Kossuth; Jasper Sanders (SR), McNairy Central; Jackson McCoy (SR), Booneville
Brawner was the leader of the Aggies receiving corp with 42 receptions for 488 yards and two touchdowns. He was named to the Region 1-3A second team.
Sanders had 451 receiving yards on 16 catches with three touchdowns while adding 130 rushing yards and another TD. He was named to the All-Region first team.
McCoy was on the receiving end of 18 Deaton passes in 2020, producing 440 yards and four touchdowns. He was named second team Region 1-3A at wide receiver.
ATH: Brock Seago (SR), Kossuth
Seago has quarterbacked the Aggies the past two seasons, guiding them to a pair of playoff berths. This season he completed 79-167 passes with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 579 yards and nine TDs on 128 attempts. Seago was named to the Region 1-3A first team.
OL: Parker Little (SR), Corinth; Jim Riley (SR), Tishomingo County; Bryson Pollard (SR), Biggersville; Billy Johnson (SR), Booneville; Logan Turnbough (JR), Biggersville
Little was the anchor of a Warrior line that paved the way for an offense that averaged 274 yards on the ground per contest. He was named first team All-Region and first team All-State. He recently played in the Bernard Blackwell Classic and has yet to commit collegiately while holding multiple offers.
Riley was the leader of the Braves offensive line and recently signed with Mississippi State as a preferred walk-on. Riley was named the Region 1-4A Super 22 team and also played in the Bernard Blackwell Classic. He graded out at 74 percent for the season and produced 24 pancake blocks.
Pollard is a repeat selection having been named first team All Area in 2019. He anchored the Lions line which fronted an offense that averaged 256 yards per game on the ground. Pollard is a two-time Class 1A All-State choice and was a member of the Region 1-1A Super 22 offense at the center position. Pollard also played defensive end and recorded 33 tackles with 14.5 TFL and a sack this season.
Johnson was first team All Area on the defensive line in 2019 and this year earns first team honors on offense. He helped anchor the Blue Devils line that led the way for a well-balanced BHS offense to average 156 rushing yards and 170 passing yards per game. Johnson was a three-year starter for coach Mike Mattox and was named first team Region 1-3A and honorable mention All-State.
After earning honorable mention status last year Turnbough, achieves first team honors in 2020 after a season in which he was named to the Region 1-1A Super 24 for the second straight time.
KICKER: Eli Burciaga (FR), Corinth
For a young soccer player who didn’t begin the 2020 season as the starter, Burciaga had perhaps the best season of any freshman kicker in recent memory. All he did, after being asked to assume the starters role in week two, was connect on 33 of 34 PATs while drilling four of his five field goal attempts with a long of 34. Burciaga missed Corinth’s final two games having been placed in quarantine. He was selected as the kicker for the Region 1-4A Super 22 team.
First Team Defense
DL/DE: Ben Mauney (SR), Booneville; C.J. Johnson (SR), Biggersville; Mac Shinault (JR), Booneville; Kameron Starks (SR), McNairy Central
Mauney, a 6-1, 315-pound enforcer for the Blue Devils defense, finished the season with 30 tackles, nine TFL, a pair of sacks and four forced fumbles. The senior three-year starter was recognized as a first team All-Region 1-3A selection as well as honorable mention All-State.
Johnson was a leader on a Biggersville defense that led the state in total defense and points allowed most of the season. The senior recorded 12 tackles with a TFL and was named to the Region 1-1A Super 24 team at defensive end.
Shinault teamed with Mauney and Johnson to form one of the top 3A defensive lines in north Mississippi. The junior produced 61 tackles, six TFL, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. For his efforts Shinault was selected to the Region 1-3A first team.
Starks was a leader for a Bobcats defense that showed steady improvement as the year progressed in a region many consider the toughest in Tennessee 3A football. The senior finished the season with 40 tackles, including seven TFL and five sacks. He was named second team All-Region.
LB: Jay Cummings (SO), Corinth; J.D. Nanney (JR), Booneville; John Eaton (SR), Biggersville; Tyriek Duckett (SR), Tishomingo County; Ethan Tucker (SO), Kossuth
Cummings led the Warriors in total tackles with 42 while producing three TFL and two passes defended. The sophomore was selected to the Region 1-4A Super 22 team while being named second team All-State in Class 4A by MAC.
Nanney could arguably have been the Defensive Player of the Year had it not been for Shields. It was a close call. The junior two-way player for the Blue Devils finished the 2020 campaign with an area high 122 tackles with 10 TFL, three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. The three-year starter averaged 13.6 tackles per game and was honored as the Region 1-3A Defensive Player of the Year along with being named second team All-State by MAC.
Eaton, who’s twin brother Jack is on the second team, had 26 total tackles, eight TFL and five sacks for the top-ranked Lions defense. He was rewarded with Region 1-1A first team honors as well as first team All-State by MAC.
Duckett was all over the field for the Braves, leading the defense with 116 total tackles, 23 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 20 hurries three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception and a defensive touchdown. He was named to the Region 1-4A Super 22 team as well as honorable mention All-State by MAC.
Tucker was a bright spot on a sturdy Aggies’ defense. The sophomore made 83 total tackles while adding four TFL, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He was named to the Region 1-3A first team for his efforts.
DB: Zae Davis (JR), Biggersville; Tavarius Brown (JR), Booneville; Chris Rodgers (SO), Corinth; Parker Rushing (SR), Alcorn Central
Davis was valuable on both sides of the ball for the Lions, but he earns first team status for the 2020 All Area team. The junior spark-plug led the state in interceptions with eight while finishing with 12 total tackles and two TFL. Davis also added 1,120 all-purpose offensive yards with 15 touchdowns coming in four different ways: rushing, receiving, kickoff and punt returns. He was named to the Region 1-1A Super 24 team as well as first team defensive back by MAC.
Brown recorded 31 tackles while collecting four interceptions and was named to the Region 1-3A first team for the Blue Devils.
Rodgers was a dual-threat for head coach Todd Lowery as he posted 38 total tackles, 5.5 TFL and three interceptions along with three passes defended and a fumble recovery that he returned 59 yards for a TD. Rodgers also added 218 all-purpose yards on offense with a rushing touchdown.
Rushing was in on 40 tackles while making three interceptions and defending nine passes. He was named to the Region 1-3A second team.
UTILITY: Zyonn Mayes (JR), Biggersville
Mayes is a pure athlete. The junior collected 17 total tackles while making two interceptions, one of which he returned 100 yards for a pick-6 against TCPS in the season opener. He added 1.5 TFL and a sack to his resume while producing 373 all-purpose yards with 207 of those coming on 14 receptions and two TDs. Mayes was named to the Region 1-1A Super 24 team as an athlete and was second team All-State strong safety by MAC.
PUNTER: Scott Robinson (SR), Tishomingo County
Robinson was also the Braves place kicker. The senior kicking specialist averaged 38 yards per punt, with a long of 59, and was named first team All-State 4A punter by MAC. He also was successful on 28-29 extra point attempts and three field goals and produced 13 touchbacks on kickoff attempts. Robinson was also recognized as the Super 22 punter for Region 1-4A.