Player of the Year Watch for classes 3A to A

Oct. 23, 2020 - Norcross, Ga: Cedar Grove running back Rashod Dubinion (7) gets past a GAC defender for yardage in the second half at Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday, October 23, 2020 in Norcross, Ga.. Cedar Grove won 33-6. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Oct. 23, 2020 - Norcross, Ga: Cedar Grove running back Rashod Dubinion (7) gets past a GAC defender for yardage in the second half at Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday, October 23, 2020 in Norcross, Ga.. Cedar Grove won 33-6. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

With the regular season three-fourths done, here are some leading candidates for players of the year in classes 3A to A. Those highlighted aren’t necessarily the best individually but stand out in the context of how the 2021 season is playing out. Classes 7A to 4A were covered last Wednesday and can be found on the GHSF Daily website by clicking here.

Class 3A

1. Rashod Dubinion, Cedar Grove: Dubinion, a running back committed to Arkansas, has rushed for 908 yards and 12 touchdowns on 105 carries for the No. 1-ranked team. He’s done that against a schedule that includes Lowndes and Colquitt County.

2. Darius Johnson, Oconee County: He’s not the Warriors’ best offensive player, or defensive player, but probably their most productive all-around. A wide receiver/cornerback, Johnson has 474 yards and six touchdowns receiving, one TD pass, 26 tackles and three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Oconee County is 7-0 and ranked No. 2.

3. Daytin Baker, Pierce County: The Bears’ do-it-all guy has two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two blocked punts, 410 yards rushing, 284 passing, 83 receiving and 163 returning. He scored all three Pierce County touchdowns in a 28-21 loss to Rabun County. Pierce is he defending 3A champion.

4. Selation Straughter, Monroe Area: Straughter, a three-year starter, has passed for 1,631 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 932 yards and 11 touchdowns for a 7-0 team.

5. Geimere Latimer, Sandy Creek: Latimer has thrown for 1,713 yards and 16 touchdowns for a 7-0 team. He’s rushed for 236 yards, and he scored three touchdowns in each of his last two games.

Class 2A

1. Gunner Stockton, Rabun County: Stockton, the quarterback committed to Georgia, is averaging 332.6 yards passing per game – up 109 from last season. He’s thrown 36 touchdowns with only one interception for a 7-1 team ranked No. 1.

2. E.J. Lightsey, Fitzgerald: Easily the best player on the No. 2 team in the class, Lightsey had a typical game last week – 10 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, plus a touchdown. He’s committed to Florida.

3. Clay Hyatt, Haralson County: The class’s most impactful two-way player, QB/LB Hyatt has rushed for 1,296 yards and 19 touchdowns, passed for 470 yards and made 74 tackles, including five sacks, for a 6-1 team ranked No. 9.

4. Ty Anderson, Thomasville: A two-time first-team all-state player and three-star recruit, Anderson leads No. 3 Thomasville in solo tackles (56), tackles for losses (11) and sacks (nine).

5. Keyjuan Brown, South Atlanta: Brown, a returning first-team all-state player, has rushed for a classification-leading 1,434 yards and 20 touchdowns for a 6-1 team.

Class A Private

1. David Dallas, Trinity Christian: It’s not just the passing yards (1,882), it’s the efficiency. He’s been good on 76.4% of his passes at 17.1 yards per completion for 23 touchdowns and two interceptions. Trinity is 7-0, crushing all in its path. Dallas is committed to Western Michigan.

2. Aaron Philo, Prince Avenue Christian: The successor to Brock Vandagriff at Prince Avenue and the state’s leading passer, Philo has thrown for 2,600 yards. He was intercepted four times in the opener, but he’s thrown only three since while completing 72.5% of his passes. Prince Avenue is 7-1 and ranked No. 3.

3. Jake Merklinger, Calvary Day: A sophomore with Division I offers, Merklinger has thrown for 1,515 yards and 13 touchdowns for an 8-0 team ranked No. 2.

4. Aaron Gates, Trinity Christian: Gates has 677 all-purpose yards and locks down a cornerback spot on defense. A junior, he’s committed to Florida.

5. Patrick Shelly, Darlington: He has missed time injured, but probably no other top-10 team gets more from a single player. The QB/DB last week passed for a touchdown and scored touchdowns rushing and receiving, forced a fumble and had a game-ending interception.

Class A Public

1. Omari Arnold, Brooks County: Arnold went over 1,000 yards rushing for the season and 5,000 for his career with a 209-yard effort last week against Charlton County. Brooks County is ranked No. 2.

2. Ken’wan Felton, Macon County: Felton has 15 sacks and 21 tackles for losses for a 7-0 team ranked No. 3.

3. Dalen Cobb, Washington-Wilkes: Cobb, the classification’s 100 meters champion, has rushed for 800 yards and passed for 810 with a hand in 21 touchdowns for a 6-1 team ranked No. 9.

4. Zayden Walker, Schley County: A 6-3, 220-pound freshman RB/LB, Walker has 833 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns on 93 touches and 11 tackles for losses for a 6-1 team ranked No. 5. His brother is Auburn DT Zykeivous Walker.

5. Robert McNeal, Bowdon: McNeal has passed for 1,110 yards and rushed for 449 with 18 TD responsibilities for a 6-1 team ranked No. 7.

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