The following is the Opelika-Auburn News 2020 All-Area Defensive Team for small schools (AHSAA Classes 3A-1A & AISA).
Nominations were submitted by coaches and the staff of the Opelika-Auburn News.
Rayshaun Butts, Sr., Loachapoka
>> 5-11, 155
>> Butts was part of a Loachapoka defense that faced several true tests this fall but proved themselves capable time and time again. He ended his senior season with 99 total tackles, 16 pass break-ups, six interceptions, six tackles for loss and three sacks.
Jackson Griner, Sr., Glenwood
>> 6-2, 200
>> Griner made plenty of plays at quarterback for the Gators, but he was no slouch in the Glenwood secondary either. The Austin Peay signee had 56 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and four interceptions on defense to go with 21 total touchdowns and 1,809 total yards of offense.
Larontavious Hurston, Sr., Lanett
>> 5-7, 155
>> The Panthers had yet another elite defense in 2020, and Hurston was a key reason why. The senior had 30 tackles, 17 pass break-ups and six interceptions for a Lanett defense that only gave up 7.8 points per game.
Skyler Trimble, Sr., Notasulga
>> 5-9, 155
>> Trimble had no interest in allowing any passes to be caught in his vicinity. He ended his time as a Blue Devil by racking up 18 pass break-ups, 15 tackles and one forced fumble while only allowing two completions all season.
Gabe Bryant, Jr., Reeltown
>> 6-3, 190
>> Bryant established himself as a stud quarterback for the Rebels, but he also made countless plays as a member of the secondary. Bryant had 16 tackles with one tackle for loss and one interception to help the Rebels give up just under 19 points per game.
Philstavious Dowdell, So., Dadeville
>> 5-8, 135
>> Dadeville had no shortage of young studs in 2020, but none may have been more dynamic than Dowdell. Dowdell was a constant playmaker on both sides of the ball and held his own in the secondary for a Tigers team that posted its best record in five years.
J.C. Hart, So., Loachapoka
>> 6-2, 165
>> Hart may have been a 10th grader this fall, but he played like a veteran in the backside of the Indians’ defense. He racked up 53 total tackles, 11 pass break-ups and four interceptions as Loachapoka ended its playoff drought.
Marcus Haynes, Jr., Reeltown
>> 6-2, 192
>> Haynes was a star on both sides of the ball for the Rebels in 2020. Defensively, he had 30 tackles and one tackle for loss to go with 13 receptions for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
Jordan Holley, Sr., Loachapoka
>> 5-11, 195
>> Holley was a one-man wrecking crew in the middle of the Indians’ defense this fall. When it was all said and done, Holley had 83 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, five pass break-ups and three interceptions.
Seidrion Langston, Sr., Lanett
>> 6-2, 190
>> Langston was simply not going to be stopped when a ball carrier came his way. He ended his senior season with 81 total tackles, six pass break-ups, six forced fumbles, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
B.J. Snellgrove, Sr., Glenwood
>> 6-3, 235
>> Snellgrove not only looked the part of a standout linebacker for the Gators, but he showed up ready and willing to make plays every Friday night. He ended his time at Glenwood by racking up 91 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception for a Gators defense that was dominant throughout the fall.
Kelvin Zachery, Sr., Lanett
>> 6-0, 210
>> The Panthers had several defensive studs on the field in 2020, and Zachery was certainly among the most destructive. As a senior, Zachery recorded 102 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, nine quarterback pressures, six sacks, three pass break-ups and and one interception.
Alanteo Cheeks, Jr., Lanett
>> 6-0, 190
>> Cheeks lived up to the challenge of playing linebacker at Lanett and came through with his fair share of big moments. By the end of his junior season, Cheeks had 78 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, six pass break-ups, four sacks and two interceptions.
Jquavious Green, Sr., LaFayette
>> 5-8, 215
>> Green was hard to miss on the field for the Bulldogs, and when it came to making plays he took advantage of almost every opportunity. Green racked up 74 total tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks in 2020.
Logan Lee, Sr., Reeltown
>> 6-0, 185
>> Lee contributed to the Reeltown offense, but it was his play on the defensive side for the Rebels that really stood out. Lee recorded 55 total tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks and one interceptions to go with his seven receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns at tight end.
Cade Tarver, Sr., Chambers Academy
>> 5-10, 175
>> Tarver manned outside linebacker for the second straight year and was again a difference maker for the Rebels. He ended his high school career by piling up 63 tackles with seven tackles for loss, four sacks and one interception.
Ceddricko Billingsley, Sr., LaFayette
>> 6-1, 220
>> Billingsley found a way to make a play up front on the Bulldogs’ defense game after game in 2020. When it was all said and done, Billingsley had 62 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and one fumble recovery.
Rondarius Griffin, Jr., Reeltown
>> 6-1, 235
>> Griffin played both ways for Reeltown, and his play on defense was simply outstanding. Griffin recorded 83 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss and four sacks while also grading out at 82 percent on the Rebels’ offensive line.
Jacob Oliver, Sr., Chambers Academy
>> 6-2, 240
>> When a tackle was made by the Chambers Academy defense this fall, odds were pretty high Oliver was involved. Oliver ended his time as a Rebel by making 121 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, six sacks and two fumble recoveries while also making 85 pancake blocks on offense.
Caden Story, Jr., Lanett
>> 6-4, 260
>> Story has plenty of colleges clamoring for him, and rightfully so with the way he played this fall. Story constantly created mayhem on defense and ended the year with 58 total tackles, 26 quarterback hurries, 18 tackles for loss and 15 sacks.
Kross Colley, Jr., Chambers Academy
>> 6-2, 220
>> Colley made it a habit of finding the ball and leaving opponents picking themselves off the turf. He ended his junior campaign with 108 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and two tackles for loss — which included a career-high 12 tackles in the AISA Class AA state title game.
Keith Heard, Jr., Notasulga
>> 6-4, 235
>> Heard may have only been a junior in 2020, but he was as disruptive as they come in east Alabama. At the conclusion of the season, Heard had 45 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles.
Hunter Knox, Jr., Chambers Academy
>> 6-1, 265
>> Knox was yet another crucial piece on a Rebels’ defense that was simply unrelenting throughout the season. At the end of his junior season, Knox had 55 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and one sack.
Andre Mills, Sr., Springwood
>> 5-10, 225
>> Mills was a mauler on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats in 2020. He handled his own on the defensive line and ended his high school career by recording 74 total tackles and seven tackles for loss.
A.J. Harris, So., Glenwood
>> 6-2, 180
>> Harris may have been one of the youngest Gators on the field in 2020, but he sure didn’t play like it. Harris had eight total special teams touchdowns, five touchdowns on offense and two pick-sixes to help Glenwood reach the AISA Class AAA title game for the second straight year.
Ja’Mariae Daniel, Sr., LaFayette
>> 5-9, 180
>> Daniel was willing to do anything and everything to help the Bulldogs fight for victories this fall. He racked up 113 carries for 826 yards and seven touchdowns, 18 receptions for 206 yards and one touchdown, and 31 total tackles and four interceptions.
Antavious Woody, Jr., LaFayette
>> 6-5, 252
>> Woody is a ferocious defensive lineman, but his punting ability was otherworldly this fall. He had 25 punts for 1,021 yards — a 40.8 average — along with 12 kickoffs for 498 yards and 53 tackles, nine tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Drell Cox, So., Dadeville
>> 5-8, 165
>> Cox handled the punting duties for the Tigers in 2020 and did his part to consistently flip the field and keep Dadeville in the hunt throughout the fall.
HONORABLE MENTION: Terel Crayton, Notasulga; Daquan Doss, Dadeville; Damarcus Holloway, LaFayette; Gavin Kight, Chambers Acad.; Keylun Powell, LaFayette; Tyvon Waver, Reeltown; Avonta Wilson, Dadeville