Cullman County has been blessed with an abundance of running backs during the past few football seasons.
Hanceville’s Diamond Simmons sprinted his way into the county record books in 2011, only for Vinemont’s Ty Jones to take defenders head on and swipe each of the top spots in rushing yards and touchdowns for himself the very next year.
After that kind of two-season tear, who would’ve thought the county could crank out another nearly 2,000-yard runner for a third straight fall? Even more, who would’ve thought most of those yards could be churned out by a player taking a majority of his snaps from directly behind center.
Rod Elliott, that’s who.
With Logan Campbell at his disposal, the coach knew he could get the most out of his Cold Springs squad by shifting the senior signal-caller around the offensive backfield, defensive secondary and special teams, where the superstar served as a return man and long snapper.
Not only did Campbell wear all those hats, but he did so in style, putting together an all-around season that surely won’t be forgotten by the Cold Springs community any time soon.
In 10 games, the speedster rushed 155 times for 1,873 yards and 22 touchdowns, completed 15 of 23 passes for 229 yards and three scores, returned six interceptions for 212 yards and a touchdown, and racked up 593 total return yards and one final trio of six-point plays.
Those kinds of eye-popping stats — they add up to 2,907 total yards and 29 touchdowns — weren’t just noticed by Elliott, either. The Eagle coach’s six county counterparts took heed, too, choosing Campbell as the Overall MVP of the 2013 All-County Football Team.
The other player-based prizes went to West Point’s Bryant Farley (Offensive MVP) and Good Hope’s Alex Cofer (Defensive MVP).
Elliott, who rounded out the honorees as the Coach of the Year, is confident Campbell is the best football player to come through Cold Springs during his six seasons atop the program.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” Elliott said. “We’ve been able to coach some good players over the years, but the numbers — it’s hard to argue with numbers. That’s kind of the facts of football, and his numbers are as good as anybody’s.”
He might be just a tad biased, but when it came time to pick the county’s top athlete, quarterback, running backs and defensive backs, Elliott couldn’t help but think of Campbell as the No. 1 choice in each category. The only other player Elliott compared Campbell to as a threat to “stick it in the end zone” every time he touched the ball — on offense or defense — was Ivan Fields, who he coached as an assistant at Hanceville in the 1990s.
“It makes coaching a whole lot easier when you’ve got a player that when you just give him the ball, there’s a chance he might score,” Elliott said of Campbell, who kicked off award season over the weekend with a first-team athlete selection in Class 2A on the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s All-State Football Team. “It’s easy to call plays when that happens, that’s for sure (chuckles).”
Campbell and Elliott have been largely to thank for Cold Springs’ quick turnaround following a 35-game losing streak that stretched from 2008-11.
In his first season back with the Eagles since 2005, Elliott led the team to a much-improved 3-7 showing in 2012. The progression continued this fall, resulting in a 6-4 campaign that came oh-so close to including the program’s first postseason berth since 2004.
It seems like just yesterday a preseason injury to Mark Laney left Farley to take the reins of West Point’s offense.
In the three seasons since, the elusive quarterback has quietly transformed from a “game manager” to a rising star the Warriors ask a lot of in order to put the team in positions to win.
Farley has taken the challenge in stride, too, beefing up in the weight room — he’s an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than the 5-foot-8, 130-pound version that took the field as a freshman — and putting in the reps to excel in an option offense that requires reads to be made on each and every snap.
Those decisions paid off big time for Farley in his junior year. The signal-caller used his fleet feet to reel off 1,055 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 147 carries, as well as his upgraded arm to complete 66 of 140 pass attempts for 1,010 yards and another three scores.
Last but not least, Farley returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown in a 41-14 win against Fairview that capped his team’s campaign at 4-6. The Warriors had quite the late-season run with victories in three of their last five games.
“We always felt the physical part was the biggest aspect for him to overcome,” first-year West Point coach Don Farley said of the All-State honorable mention athlete in 5A. “As far as the mental aspect goes, you can see that the game has slowed down for him the past couple years. Before, we were counting on his athleticism. Now, his experience is what we’re counting on.”
Speaking of experience, that’s one facet Good Hope coach Chris Moss didn’t have to worry about when it came to Cofer.
Picked as a preseason member of the All-Rocket City Team in the Friday Night Football magazine, the linebacker lived up to all the hype in 2013. Wherever Moss asked him to move, Cofer never so much as issued an objection, even punting a few times when the Raiders were going through a spell in special teams.
As booming of a leg as he proved to have, the silent leader was obviously at his best on defense, piling on 151 total tackles (123 solo and 28 assisted), seven sacks and one pick-six in his senior send-off.
Those massive contributions undoubtedly played a part in Good Hope’s best season since 2008. With Cofer’s help, the Raiders finished 7-4, were region title contenders until Week 9 and snapped the program’s four-season playoff drought.
“He’s a great kid, one of the best kids you ever want to be around. I wish we had more like him,” Moss said of Cofer, an All-State honorable mention linebacker in 3A. “He never complains. He just goes and does what he’s supposed to and had a great year.
“He was our leader on defense. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he’s just a tough, selfless kid. He always stepped up.”
Cofer was accompanied on the All-County first team, which was voted on by the county coaches, by seven other Raiders. Including Farley and Campbell, West Point, Hanceville and Fairview were next with seven selections, followed by Cold Springs and Vinemont, four apiece. Holly Pond had one.
Quarterback-wide receiver combo Sebastion Fendley and Austin Crumbley made the first team for Good Hope, as did Jared McClure (running back), Daniel Moss and Riley Hancock (offensive line), Zac Witcher (defensive line) and Justin Turner (defensive back).
Offensive linemen Chandler Nelson and Zack Tilley cleared the way for the Warriors’ group of first-teamers, which also included Ryder Jones (tight end), Tristan Dubberly (receiver), Trent Campbell (defensive line) and Tristin Skinner (kicker).
The Bulldogs, who wrapped up 9-2 with a third consecutive postseason berth and second region title in the last three years, were led into the first team by Brontae Harris in the sole athlete spot. The two-way threat was joined by teammates Garrett Masters and Isaac Hardin (offensive line), Charles Tatro (defensive line), Blake Purifoy (linebacker), Jose Orozco (defensive back) and Caleb Hurst (punter).
The Aggies, who went 5-6 and reached the playoffs for the sixth time in a row, were ushered into the first team by sophomore Austin Harris. Other Fairview inclusions were Ethan Widner and Bailey Strong (receiver), Dakota Smith (defensive line), and C.J. Waters and Christian Seals (linebacker).
Vinemont (3-7) cleaned house in the linebacker department with Sam Wood and Kurtis Brawner earning first-team status. Austin Blair (offensive line) and Trey Guthery (defensive back) were the team’s other representatives.
Bruising running back Caleb Ellison collected first-team honors for Cold Springs, as did Austin Richard (defensive line) and Austin Moore (defensive back).
The Broncos’ Jacob Jones closed out the All-County list as a first-teamer at linebacker.
Hanceville’s Harris and Hurst, as well as Cold Springs’ Campbell, were designated All-County first-teamers for the third year in a row. Hurst put together his best season as a punter to date, averaging a hefty 40 yards per kick.
The Times’ 2013 All-Area Football Team, which also includes players from Cullman and Addison, will be released in Jan. 1’s print edition.
See below for the entire 2013 All-County Football Team, including second-team selections and honorable mentions.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at email@example.com.
2013 All-County Football Team
Overall MVP: Logan Campbell, Cold Springs
Offensive MVP: Bryant Farley, West Point
Defensive MVP: Alex Cofer, Good Hope
Coach of the Year: Rod Elliott, Cold Springs
Quarterback: Sebastion Fendley, Good Hope
Offensive line: Garrett Masters and Isaac Hardin, Hanceville; Chandler Nelson and Zack Tilley, West Point; Daniel Moss and Riley Hancock, Good Hope; Austin Blair, Vinemont
Tight end: Ryder Jones, West Point
Receiver: Ethan Widner and Bailey Strong, Fairview; Austin Crumbley, Good Hope; Tristan Dubberly, West Point
Running back: Austin Harris, Fairview; Jared McClure, Good Hope; Caleb Ellison, Cold Springs
Defensive line: Charles Tatro, Hanceville; Trent Campbell, West Point; Zac Witcher, Good Hope; Austin Richard, Cold Springs; Dakota Smith, Fairview
Linebacker: C.J. Waters and Christian Seals, Fairview; Sam Wood and Kurtis Brawner, Vinemont; Blake Purifoy, Hanceville; Jacob Jones, Holly Pond
Defensive back: Justin Turner, Good Hope; Jose Orozco, Hanceville; Trey Guthery, Vinemont; Austin Moore, Cold Springs
Kicker: Tristin Skinner, West Point
Punter: Caleb Hurst, Hanceville
Brontae Harris, Hanceville
Quarterback: Hayden Maples, Fairview
Offensive line: Austin Sisco, Collin Day and Riley Garmon, Cold Springs; Marcus Clarke, Vinemont; Jonathan Grigsby, Good Hope; Riley Howse, Fairview; Kyle Butler, West Point
Receiver: Dant’e Reese, Hanceville; Will Wrenn, West Point; Kainan Smith, Good Hope
Running Back: Torrey Green and Carlos Chacon, Hanceville; John Michael Dye, Vinemont
Defensive line: Heath Dean, Hanceville; Dakota Burney, Good Hope; Delton Cooke, West Point; Taylor Evans, Vinemont; Ethan Hopson, Fairview; Zac Leach, Holly Pond
Linebacker: Austin White and Lee Whisenant, Good Hope; Levi Laney and Austin Young, West Point
Defensive back: Dalton Harbison and Garrett Boland, Vinemont; Jonathan Burnette, Good Hope; Hunter Brewer, Fairview
Kicker: Kolby Smith, Hanceville
Punter: Blake Melton, Vinemont
Michael Lambert, Holly Pond
Cold Springs: Zac Ellison, Elisha Crandall, Devin Pace, Corey Moore and Drew McClendon
Fairview: Sambo Woods, Ethan Waddell, Ethan Arbet, Ragan Ashley, Cody Nichols and Adam Johnson
Good Hope: Chris Raper, Blake Watson, Anthony Harlan, Luke Calvert and Collin Harris
Hanceville: Josh Mentzer, Blake Miller, Chris Nelson, B.J. Smalls, Kody Smith and Tanner Waldrop
Holly Pond: Trey Jowers, Mitchell Naler, Jordan Patterson, Justin Woodruff, Dylan Morton, Alex Diaz, Zac Naler and Dustin Pierce
Vinemont: Tyler Boland, Mason Lindsey, Orey Woods, Garrett Sipe, Josh Chambers and Kyle Weems
West Point: Blake Yearwood, Lance Ray, Jacob Perez, Jacob Daniel and Kobe Smith