11 Eagles named 4-AAA All-Region
Defensive POY Crowder, Carnes headline All-Region team
At the end of the 2008 high school football season, on the day Eastside was about to make its playoff debut under Rick Hurst, defensive end Jerrell Crowder was in then school principal Bob Daria's office. It was at the end of the day no less — hours before kickoff at Sharp Stadium against Creekview.
Later that night, the Eagles celebrated their first playoff victory in a decade. All of them except Crowder. There was no more football for him. He was done and on his way out of Eastside.
Fast forward to 2011 and Crowder is smiling again. He was named Region 4-- AAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year and was one of 11 Eagles to be recognized.
"We got to talking with all the coaches and everyone was talking about how good Sheldon (Rankins) was then someone said, 'what about No. 53?' They all said he caused so much havoc that they had to game plan for him as much if not more," Eastside coach Rick Hurst said. "If you look back at film he probably flushed a lot to Sheldon (Rankins) that he cleaned up. He definitely deserved the honor."
Crowder, Rankins and fellow defensive lineman Shaquille Huff all garnered First-Team honors. Crowder finished with 67 tackles, eight sacks and a team-high 20 tackles for a loss. He also forced one fumble and batted down two balls. Rankins led the team in sacks with 15 and 14 of his 53 tackles were for a loss. Huff was Eastside's best run stopper. He finished with 58 tackles — 15 for a loss and five sacks.
"That's probably the strength of this region is defensive lineman," Hurst sad. "I definitely think all three of them earned the honor. For them to all get first-team, that shows you the respect they had in the region."
Kevis Bell was the other defensive star to earn FirstTeam defense. Bell finished with 70 tackles — 13 for a loss and a sack and an interception. Bell was instrumental in Eastside's defensive play calling and the
unit's leader on the field.
"They (coaches) all spoke of him (Bell) and said they had to account for him," Hurst said. "You had to know where he was on the field. He was a leader on defense and called all of our plays. He played hard every down and deserved to get the recognition. It shows when the rest of the coaches feel that way."
Quarterback Califf Carnes was Eastside's lone representative on the region's First-Team offense. Carnes completed 93 of 186 passes for 1,465 yards and 17 touchdowns against only four interceptions.
"Everybody was complimentary of how well he (Carnes) ran the offense and the decisions he made and some of the throws he made this year were big- time throws," Hurst said. "Even the Sandy Creek coach said if he didn't get hurt in that game, it could have been a different outcome."
Carnes was saddled with taking over the quarterback position from the Region Player of the Year and current Appalachian State University star Justin Wray. He struggled to start his career as the starter, throwing four interceptions in losses to Newton and Alcovy in 2009. But he evolved into perhaps and even better quarterback than Wray.
"His numbers will be an indication of how well he played and led our team," Hurst said. "He worked so hard the two years he was our starter. He made so many improvements after the rough start. He's a great leader and a great kid. He was kind of an afterthought after Justin Wray but he's going to go down as the best quarterback Eastside had."
First-year starting tailback Alex Smith was named to the All-Region Second Team as was wideout Donte Blackmon. Smith ran for a team-high 729 yards and eight touchdowns. He also caught 17 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns. Blackmon was Carnes' favorite target, especially in the second half of the season. He led the team with 29 catches for 607 yards and eight touchdowns. He had two touchdown catches of more than 80 yards and averaged 21 yards per reception.
Offensive linemen Andrew Heilsen and Lincoln Temple were also named All-Region Second Team on offense. On defense, Blake Rouse garnered Second Team honors. Only a junior, Rouse led the team in tackles with 116 and 28 quarterback pressures. Rouse forced a team-high three fumbles and picked off one pass.
Cody Sandler earned Second Team honors at kicker. He made 35 of 37 extra point attempts and pinned teams on touchbacks on 27 of 53 kickoffs.
Of the group of players named to the All-Region team, only Carnes, Bell, Temple and Crowder are seniors. For Crowder especially, it's likely to be an unforgettable honor.
"It speaks a lot for him and how hard he works on the field and the type of kid he is," Hurst said. "It shows you if you give someone a second chance, sometimes they make the best of it."
Take a bow: Eastside defensive end Jerrell Crowder invoked fear in the opposition in 2010 and people took notice. Crowder was named Region 4-AAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year and was one of 11 Eagles honored
Leaving his mark: Eastside quarterback Califf Carnes was named All-Region 4-AAA First Team Thursday.