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Bryan County All-Region Picks for 2023
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As befitting a team which won the region championship and advanced to the Final Four of the Class A-D1 state playoffs, Bryan County took home all but one of the major awards when the Region 3A honors were announced.

Coach Cherard Freeman was named Coach of the Year, Austin Clemons was Player of the Year, Tanner Ennis was Defensive Player of the Year and Jacari Carney was Offensive Player of the Year. Metter kicker Fidel Esquivel was Special Teams Player of the Year. Region coaches did the voting.

The Redskins (12-2) registered numerous school firsts highlighted by posting the most wins ever, winning a first region championship, earning their first playoff win, first back-to-back winning seasons, and longest winning streak (eight games) while averaging a school record 33 points per game.

Clemons, who played only three games a year ago after suffering a broken leg, had an outstanding season as he rushed for a school record 1,803 yards while scoring 21 touchdowns on 236 attempts. He missed one game with a shoulder injury. Nick Scott had the previous rushing record with 1,595 in 2013.

Carney, too, had a big year despite sitting out four games due to a hamstring injury. The 165-pound senior, who started as a 135-pound freshman, gained 951 yards on 119 carries with 10 touchdowns.

With Clemons sidelined, Carney had his biggest night of his career when he had 36 carries for 220 yards in a 34-13 win over Screven County that proved to be the region championship winning game.

Ennis, perhaps the best all-around athlete in school history as evidenced by his being an all-region player in football, basketball and baseball, excelled on both sides of the ball. He led the team in tackles with 139, receptions with 14 for 313 yards and six touchdowns, had 122 yards rushing and added 146 on kick returns and 30 on punt returns.

This marked the second straight year Ennis was the region Defensive POY and the third consecutive year he, Carney and tight end Kris Martin were all-region picks. Center Jett Lewis and quarterback Sean Kelly Hill were all-region last year, Hill as a defensive back.

All-in-all in addition to Clemons, Ennis and Carney 17 other Redskins earned all-region honors led by Hill at quarterback He had 679 yards passing with 10 touchdowns and also had 58 tackles as a cornerback while leading the team in interceptions with three.

Others making first team offense were linemen Allen Williams, Jon Good and Lewis; tight ends Martin and Trevor Lanier and running backs Erin Greene and Carson Nunn. Second team picks were linemen Nathan Long, E’Savion Rivera and Zane Renteria.

On defense lineman Luke Holcombe, who had 83 tackles and anchored a defense which gave up only 12 points per game, was a first team pick along with Chris Winfree (84 tackles), Carlin Covington, Matthew Huff, Gerbrae’vion Collins and Elijah Mincey.

Mincey, a junior who was an all-region selection in basketball as a freshman and sophomore and has scored over 1,000 points, was playing football for the first time. He proved to be a quick learner and had two interceptions as did Clemons and Greene.  

When Freeman was hired four years ago, he was the school’s fourth coach in five years. In four seasons he has accomplished what many said couldn’t be done:  make a winner of Bryan County football.

Freeman knows what it is to enjoy the highs of playing football:  he was a starting running back on an FCS national championship team at Georgia Southern and played on two state championship teams at Lincoln County, captaining the 1995 team.

However, he said winning championships as a coach is far more satisfying than doing it as a player.

“As a player it’s great,” Freeman said, “but when you work and coach with a group of coaches like I’ve got and watch us and this team grow over the four years and watch this coaching staff grow closer I think it’s better being a coach.

“As a player you’re just doing what your coach says and that means you’ve got good coaches when you make it to a state championship,” Freeman said. “When you make it to the Final Four you’ve got good coaches.

“I feel like every coach on this coaching staff could be a head coach right now. We have about 140 years of coaching experience. We’ve got coordinators and assistant coaches right now that are ready to be a head football coach. We’ve got great coaches and I’m just glad they’re with me.”


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