The end of high-school football’s regular season came last week, and while Liberty County will see some action in the playoffs, all three local prep teams did well statistically — with some even climbing the state rankings.
Long County moved up four spots in the state ranking system to end the year ranked 377th despite a 2-8 overall record and 1-8 Region 2-AA mark.
The Blue Tide relied heavily on the ground game, putting up 2,066 yards on 309 attempts for 23 rushing touchdowns. Senior Vanda Vareen Jr. led with 899 yards on 127 carries for 15 touchdowns. The good news for the Blue Tide’s future is that sophomores Brendon Scott and Jaquarius Harrison were just behind Vareen and likely will return next season. Scott rushed for 615 yards on 146 carries with four touchdowns, and Harrison had 243 yards on 45 attempts and one touchdown.
In passing, the Blue Tide completed 8-of-30 passes for 29 yards. Most of those went to junior Mike Abram, who had 38 yards on two receptions.
Bradwell Institute posted a 4-6 record this year and moved up five notches in the state rankings to 279th.
Senior quarterback LaBaron Anthony finished 64-of-120 passing for 576 yards and two touchdowns and also leading the team with 529 rushing yards on 120 carries with six touchdowns. Hubert Anderson had 508 yards on 92 carries and 12 touchdowns, and Sammi Clayton had 513 yards on 85 carries and three touchdowns. Both are seniors. As a team, the Tigers rushed for 1,770 yards and 23 touchdowns on 343 carries.
Junior wide receiver Michael Burnett had a good season with 13 receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Deion Stewart also posted good numbers, catching 15 passes for 159 yards.
Defensively, junior Isaiah Barnes led the team in tackles with 43 solo and 43 assists, including three tackles for loss of yards.
Playoff-bound Liberty County started the season ranked 194th in the state and ended with an 8-2 overall record and 2-2 Region 3-AAAA mark, which ranked it 116th, according to maxpreps.com.
The offense was a balanced attack this season. Quarterback Jordan Waters broke the school’s passing record against Wayne County by going 13 of 27 for 301 passing yards and three touchdowns. Waters finished the regular season going 58-of-130 for 980 yards and 10 touchdowns.
After missing several games last year, running back Trentice Williams came back healthy and closed out the regular season with 889 yards on 137 carries and nine touchdowns. And while everyone is recruiting Raekwon McMillan for his defensive skills as a linebacker, the versatile athlete proved he can power through tackles by posting 608 yards and eight touchdowns on 67 carries. Waters rushed for 325 yards on 57 carries and a touchdown. McMillan, Williams and Waters will graduate this year, but the Panthers are developing several underclassmen for next season. Junior JaMarcus Latson had 247 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, and sophomore Jacquez Williams had 226 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. Freshman Richard LeCounte had a standout year in which he grabbed the attention of several colleges. LeCounte primarily played defense, but did post 192 yards on 14 carries. Sophomore Jacari Roberts earned some accolades late in the season by rushing for 91 yards and five touchdowns on 14 carries.
Jacquez Williams showed he had good hands, too, by catching 15 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown. LeCounte nabbed 11 receptions for 203 yards. Jeremy Caldwell-Fabregas had 10 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Trentice Williams made 10 catches for 109 yards, Freddie McSwain had seven receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and McMillan had three catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
McMillan and Kharn Collier-Ellison led the team in pancake blocks with 13 and 10, respectively. As expected, McMillan led the defense in tackles with 112 solo, 40 assists, including 33 tackles for loss. Fabregas had 73 solo and 31 assists with 20 TFL, and LeCounte tallied 57 solo and 32 assists.
McMillan also led in sacks with 7.5, with Fabregas just behind with seven. LeCounte led in interceptions nabbing five for 154 yards. He also had 16 kickoff returns for 407 yards and 19 punt returns for 324 yards.
The Panthers’ stats will continue to climb as they chase a state title. Their first hurdle comes Friday in Albany against Westover High School. See Friday’s Coastal Courier for a preview of the playoff game.