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Bryan County All-Staters named
BCHS Redskins

Post-season honors continue to roll in for Bryan County football players Austin Clemons and Tanner Ennis and Coach Cherard Freeman.

Clemons and Ennis were both named all-state selections in Class A-D1 by the AJC and Freeman earned Georgia state Coach of the Year honors for the classification.

Also recognized as an all-stater was Richmond Hill’s Nick Bliss who earned honorable mention status for Class 7A, the state’s highest classification. The AJC only selects one team --- there is no second, third team, etc., --- with all other players being named honorable mention and they are thus recognized as all-state players, too.

This is the second straight year Ennis earned such honors. The 6-foot-0, 195-pound senior was picked as a linebacker this year after being named honorable mention as a defensive back last year.

The newspaper names a coach of the year and all-state team for each of the state’s eight classifications. Freeman was one of three coaches whose teams did not win a state championship who was recognized.

In his fourth year with the Redskins the former Georgia Southern player guided Bryan County to a record-setting season as the team posted a 12-2 mark in advancing to the Final Four of the state playoffs while winning the school’s first ever region championship in the process.

Previously Freeman had been named the Region 3A-D1 Coach of the Year and will soon be recognized at a luncheon in Macon on Feb. 6 by the Georgia High School Football Daily and the Atlanta Falcons for having the most improved team in the Class A-D1 classification.

While this most recent award, like the others, has his name on it Freeman said it is one which belongs to his staff, his players, school administration, the Board of Education and the community.

“It says a lot about the growth of our program,” Freeman said. “Even though I’m the one getting the accolades I can’t be where I am without a great coaching staff. I’m just the CEO of this outfit. We’ve got a great mix of really good young coaches and really good experienced coaches.

“These guys give up every Sunday during the season to break down film, game plan and set up the week’s schedule,” Freeman said. “They make a lot of sacrifices.”

Still, Freeman said, the Redskins couldn’t have the success they had without the players totally buying in along with the support of the administration, the Board of Education and the community.

“Awards like this really belong to the community and the school,” Freeman said. “Our administration has really been supportive and the Board of Education has been a big help in improving our facilities, especially in doubling the size of our weight room.

“I can’t say enough about the community. They’ve provided meals, bought equipment and showed up at games to support us. We’ve got tremendous people up here.”

Clemons played in only five games last year as he suffered a broken leg against Portal, a game which the Redskins went on to win putting their record at 4-1. They finished 6-5 and lost in the first round of the state playoffs at Heard County.

“You can’t say for sure but I think we would have won a few more games,” Freeman said. “I think we might have beat Heard County if we had him. He had a great year this year as did Tanner and several others.”

Clemons is tentatively scheduled to sign a national letter of intent with Middle Tennessee State University this Friday at the school. In doing so he will become the first Bryan County player to ever sign with an FBS school.

“This is a great accomplishment for Smush and Tanner, for the work they’ve put in” Freeman said. “They are great players but more importantly they are great role models. They’re great kids, great students and hard workers.

“I’m really proud of them and our other seniors,” Freeman said. “They stuck with the process the last four years. They’ve showed the younger guys how it’s supposed to be done.

“They showed how a program is built. Now at Bryan County we’ve got a program, not a season. We’ve now got a program established and it’s because of these seniors.”

Clemons rushed for a school record 1,803 yards while scoring 21 touchdowns and being named the region Player of the Year. Ennis had a team high 139 tackles while catching 14 passes for 313 yards and six touchdowns.

Bliss did a little bit of everything for Richmond Hill as he helped lead the Wildcats to a 5-6 record and a berth in the Class 7A state playoffs.

The 5-9, 170-pound dynamo led Region 1-7A in all-purpose yards with 1,489 while scoring 126 points. He had 602 yards rushing and 546 receiving. He had 20 touchdowns and scored four different ways: 14 rushing, four as a receiver, one on a kickoff return and scooped up a blocked punt for another.

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