By Nick Talbot and Angel Verdejo
Harker Heights Herald
Harker Heights sophomore running back Marcus Anderson II was named the District 12-5A offensive newcomer of the year on Wednesday.
Anderson made his mark by helping the Knights overcome injuries and giving them a spark down the stretch. Anderson carried the ball 71 times for Harker Heights and ran for 436 yards and five touchdowns, mostly in the final five games.
"Everybody had a one-two punch and we felt good with Marvin (Jackson) and Marcus, but then when Marvin went down, we just had a one-punch," Heights coach Mike Mullins said. "But (Anderson) had to carry the load for awhile and he just did a super job. He was just so mentally and physically mature for being a sophomore."
Others earning all-district superlatives included Copperas Cove quarterback Orlando Thomas and linebacker Darius McClinton and Shoemaker sophomore linebacker Malik Clemons, who was the district's defensive newcomer of the year. Clemons led a Shoemaker defense that made it a threat again in 12-5A and eventually helped the Grey Wolves snap a 31-game losing streak.
"He was a big part of it. We had a good defense, a senior-led defense but he stood his ground and did his part within that defense and that says a lot about him," Shoemaker coach Channon Hall said.
Thomas was the catalyst in a Bulldawg offense that averaged more than 44 points and 420 yards per game during the regular season. The future Texas Longhorn was arguably the best athlete on the field every Friday night.
"He was just everywhere for us and guys like that, they make such a team impact because they do so many things," Welch said. "That shows character that they do whatever it takes to help the team."
This season, Thomas lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back, return specialist and punter.
McClinton will likely join his teammate in the major college ranks one day - the linebacker is just a junior. But he still made play after play for Cove, which captured its first outright district championship since 2005.
Johnny Jefferson was an all-district first-team unanimous selection at running back but was at his best late in the season when he ran the Grey Wolves' offense out of the wildcat formation, he joined Copperas Cove back Brandon Hamilton and Belton back Donavan Williams in the 12-5A backfield.
Other area first-teamers included Belton wide receivers Derick Bates and Levi Jordan, tight end Durham Smythe and quarterback Peter Shelburne. Harker Heights offensive lineman Camrhon Hughes, who will graduate in Dec. to start his college career with the Texas Longhorns early, was a unanimous selection and joined Copperas Cove linemen Isreal Hamm and Foster Brown and Knights junior center Darius James on the team.
Belton's Darius Ewing and Cove's Chans Colbert made it as first-team fullbacks and Eli Kuhns was named the first-team kicker.
Cove defensive linemen Josh Lyons led the first team defensive selections and he was joined by Ellison defensive end Wesley Washington, James, Belton linebackers Ryan Stinson and Tyler Santellana, Cove linebacker Jalen Gilbert, Heights linebacker Naashon Hughes and Cove safety Chris Rhodes. Also making the first team were Ellison defensive back Sean McBryde, Heights safety Tyrel Stokes, Belton cornerback Kyle Battle, Belton punter Levi Jordan and Belton deep-snapper Michael Gall.