By Jamie Combs
ornerstones for a resounding turnaround by Cloudland High’s football program, Brock Pittman, Taylor Whitehead and Mason Carnett recently saw their outstanding work draw the Mountain East Conference seal of approval.
Pittman was named league Coach of the Year, Whitehead its Co-Player of the Year and Carnett the Co-Defensive Player of the Year. For MEC champion Hampton, Lane Smith got the nod as Offensive Player of the Year while Boo Dugger was honored as Lineman of the Year.
Inheriting a team that had gone 1-9 in 2011, Pittman directed the Highlanders to an 8-4 mark that included a second-place conference finish and playoff victory over Midway. The postseason win was Cloudland’s first since 2005.
The on-field catalyst for the ’Landers was Whitehead, a senior tailback/defensive back who rushed for exactly 1,800 yards. Sharing the POY award with Cosby quarterback Drew Schreder, Whitehead also amassed 169 points (25 TDs, 19 PATs), 81 tackles and six interceptions.
As for Carnett, he proved to be a force at linebacker — with the junior collecting a team-high 134 stops (29 for lost yardage) and five fumble recoveries. The defensive honor was split between he and North Greene LB David Driantes.
Clearly Hampton’s best offensive player, Smith was a tour de force at quarterback, passing for 1,148 yards and rushing for 802 as the Bulldogs captured the league crown for the seventh consecutive season. He totaled 13 rushing TDs and 12 through the air.
Dugger, a junior end, emerged a physical and technically sharp blocker. Moreover, he served as an outstanding defender, packaging 12 sacks into a 75-tackle year (17 stops behind line of scrimmage).
Earning first-team honors for the Bulldogs were tailback B.J. Taylor (Sr.), center Koty Scalf (Sr.), wide receiver Mark Ailport (Sr.), defensive end Tre Brown (Jr.), inside linebacker Tristan Robinson (Jr.) and outside linebacker Chris Ellis (Sr.).
Making the cut for Cloudland were quarterback Jeffrey Rhinehart (Sr.), tackle Asley Haynes (Jr.), guard Bret Hicks (Sr.), defensive ends Devin Whitehead (Sr.) and Alex Heaton (Jr.), Carnett, defensive tackle Ethan Lusk (So.) and sophomore defensive back Zac Benfield.
Unaka garnered spots for a pair of its seniors: linebacker Tyler Hatfield and wide receiver Cody Harding.
Located on the second team are Hampton’s Tyler Chambers (Sr.), Steven Hall (Sr.), Jacob Smith (Sr.), Brady Tolley (Sr.), Darian Balado (Sr.) and Aaron Coleman (Jr.). While Cloudland’s representatives include Hez Street (So.) and freshmen Colby Birchfield and Austin Whitehead, Unaka has Weston Colbaugh (Sr.), Tyler Carrier (Jr.), Thomas Hardin (Jr.), James Grindstaff (Sr.) and Austin Anderson (Jr.) on this year’s list.