Player Of the Year Gibson Heads Region Honors
Kolten Gibson was spectacular this season on the gridiron and was awarded Region 4-5A Player of the Year honors for his 39 touchdown performance. He has the chance to finish his career next season among some of the best all-time quarterbacks in Tennessee. (Banner File Photo)
After stellar seasons on the gridiron, several Bradley County standouts were awarded postseason honors and selected to all-star games over the weekend.
Walker Valley junior quarterback Kolten Gibson took home the Region 4-5A Player of the Year honors with 3,004 yards passing and 39 total touchdowns (29 pass, 10 rush).
Gibson is expected to be a Mr. Football favorite next season, which is the award for the top player in the state on offense or defense in a certain classification. In his record-breaking career he has 5,116 passing yards and 57 touchdown passes.
In a 68-36 win against Cleveland on Sept. 30, Gibson completed 27-of-38 for 420 yards and five touchdown passes while totaling 92 rushing yards and three scores. His eight touchdowns are the third most ever in a single game in the state record books.
Gibson may also join the state’s all-time elite quarterbacks with a healthy senior campaign. He sits 26 touchdown passes away from tying for the fifth most touchdown passes in a career. He also needs 2,593 yards through the air to crack the top 10 in all-time state passing yardage.
Also receiving postseason awards for the Mustangs were seniors Cooper Melton and Skyler Swafford, who took home wide receiver and linebacker of the year awards. Melton finished with 61 receptions for 1,123 yards and 13 touchdowns while Swafford racked up an area-leading 158 tackles to go with three sacks. Melton had five games with over 100 yards receiving this season and Swafford had a season-best 23 tackles in a loss against McMinn County on Sept. 2.
All-Region team selections for Walker Valley were the senior wide receiver/defensive back duo of Bryce Nunnelly and Zach Eslinger along with senior tackle/defensive end Chris Ogle and Swafford as the team’s academic selection. Nunnelly and Eslinger combined for 1,423 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Nunnelly provided the biggest single game performance for WV receivers this season with a 12 catch, 206-yard, two touchdown performance against Cleveland.
With a school record 501 points scored this season, Walker Valley’s Todd Burkhart was recognized as the Offensive Assistant of the Year. On three different occasions WV’s offense scored more than 59 points.
The Mustangs finished 7-5 overall and stunned Oak Ridge in the playoffs for their first program win in the TSSAA playoffs.
Walker Valley also picked up its 10th and final game for the season next year, which will be a home game against Stone Memorial on Sept. 8.
Cleveland senior Skyler Davis was selected as the Ironman Award winner after team injuries forced the stellar wide receiver to switch over and play quarterback. In just five games at receiver, Davis had 23 receptions for 584 yards (25.4 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. He also threw for four scores and ran for two.
Blue Raider sophomore running back Micaleous Elder was named co-Newcomer of the Year along with Ooltewah’s Sincere Quinn. Elder rushed for 663 yards on 66 carries and scored on the ground 10 times. He also had 10 receptions for 119 yards and a score.
Cleveland also had junior wide receiver/safety Romeo Wykle (32.5 yards per catch, 5 TD, 49 tackles), junior running back Keegan Jones (658 total yards, 7 TD) and senior linebacker River Shaffer (50 tackles; academic selection) named to the All-Region team.
The Blue Raiders started 3-0 and finished the season 5-5 and look forward to next season with a lot of returning talent.
Polk County also had several postseason honorees.
Sophomore lineman Skyler Camp won Newcomer of the Year after gathering 48 tackles, with 11 of those behind the line of scrimmage.
The senior trio of linebacker Seth Sloan (58 tackles, 7 TFL), lineman Jarrett Blackburn and running back Logan Griswold (11 touchdowns) were all named to the Region 3-2A team. Griswold led area rushers with 1,082 yards on 236 carries for the 3-7 Wildcats.
Cleveland’s Skyler Davis and Bradley Central’s Cason Still were selected to play for the 2016 Toyota East All-Stars, set to be played at Tennessee Tech Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
The Bradley Central Region 1-6A postseason honors have yet to be announced.