The 2015 Pensacola News Journal’s All-Area football team, as selected by members of the PNJ sports staff:
Most Valuable Player
Sawyer Smith, Tate
Smith capped off his senior year with what was a historic season for Tate. Smith helped lead the Aggies to their first state semifinal appearance in over a decade. He threw for 2100 yards (16 touchdowns) and rushed for 334 with six scores. The Troy University commit finished with a 27-9 record as a starter at Tate — 11-3 this season.
Offensive Player of the Year
Xavier Saulsberry, Pine Forest
The dual-threat QB was a stat-producing machine throughout his junior year. Saulsberry finished with a 120.8 QB rating and totaled 27 touchdowns (16 pass, 11 rush). He aired it out for 1602 passing yards and was Pine Forest’s second-leading rusher with 1158 yards. Saulsberry finished with just four interceptions and recorded three 200 yards-plus passing performances.
Defensive Player of the Year
Alonte Thompson, Tate
Thompson caused headaches for opposing offenses week in and week out on Friday nights. Constantly breaching the backfield from the defensive line, Thompson frequently beat double teams to get the job done. The senior finished his season with 16 sacks (100 yards lost) and 69 tackles (second for Tate). Thompson showed one of the best individual performances Tate had in the Aggies’ semifinal loss to 6A runner up Armwood.
Coach of the Year
Jay Lindsey, Tate
The rookie head coach took over an experienced group at Tate and helped them take their season a few steps further in 2015. The offensive-minded head coach showcased what was arguably the most balanced attack in the area. Lindsey and Tate finished 11-3, with losses to Niceville, Pine Forest and Armwood. The Aggies avenged the losses to Niceville and Pine Forest in the playoffs.
First Team Offense
QB – Sederick Smith, Pensacola
Smith put up strong numbers (1470 pass yards, 680 rush) under a new head coach and a new-look PHS team in 2015. Though the Tigers failed to reach the postseason, Smith’s play helped keep the Tigers in the district chase until their final loss. The senior produced 19 total touchdowns this year.
RB – Anthony Johnson Jr., Pace
After a solid sophomore campaign, Johnson Jr. exploded in his junior year and lead the area with 2114 yards on the ground. He rushed for 25 TDs and had eight games of 100 yards or more. A valuable option as a receiver, he averaged 11.4 yards-per-catch.
RB – Alondo Thompkins, Tate
Thompkins was an absolute force in Tate’s backfield, producing more touchdown runs of 50 yards or more than any player in the area. Despite suffering a heartbreaking knee injury in Tate’s playoff-win over Niceville and missing the state semi game, Thompkins finished with 1180 yards (six 100+ yard games) and 14 TDs. Thompkins was Tate’s third-leading receiver, hauling in 14 catches for 252 yards and two scores.
RB – Hasaan Williams, Navarre
Despite becoming a starter in Navarre’s fourth game this season, Williams averaged 7.6 yards-per-carry (1355 total rushing yards) to lead an injury-riddle team to its first 10-0 regular season in school history. Williams showcased seven games of 100 yards or more and led the Raiders with 12 TDs.
WR – Damond Johnson, West Florida
The speedster ran a 4.28 40-yard-dash at the University of Florida over the summer and lived up to the hype this season. Johnson snagged 38 passes for 761 yards and 12 TDs this season, leading West Florida into the postseason.
WR – Jake Henry, Tate
With sure hands and great run-after-catch ability, Henry hauled in 45 catches for 10 touchdowns while producing 970 yards for the Aggies. Henry also stood out as defensive back for Tate.
WR – Jacob Copeland, Pine Forest
With an offer to the University of Florida in his sophomore season, Copeland was a key ingredient of Pine Forest’s explosive offense this year. He caught 39 passes for 771 yards and seven TDs. Copeland also produced 174 yards and three TDs on the ground.
OL – Corey Copenia, Navarre
The two-year starter never shied away from contact during his senior season. Capenia holds four offers including the University of South Alabama.
OL – Alex Leatherwood, Washington
The University of Alabama commit was a key leader for the Washington Wildcats. Leatherwood also doubled up as a defensive lineman for the Wildcats.
OL – Gavin McAnally, Tate
Few new Tate’s system better than “Aggie Mac,” Tate’s most experienced offensive lineman. McAnally started every game for the Aggies since his junior year and also chipped in on D-Line.
OL – Chris Tubbs, Pine Forest
Tubbs was a key factor in Pine Forest’s lethal running attack, racking up 17 pancake blocks over the year. Tubbs was graded out a 62 percent by his offensive line coaches at Pine Forest.
OL – Braden Richardson, West Florida
As the Jaguars adjusted to a new-look offensive line, and battled injury adversity, Richardson proved to be consistently reliable for the Jags’ throughout their season. He is being recruited by UWF, Birmingham Southern and Millsaps.
PK – Emilio Maldonado, Escambia
After a monster junior year and a solid senior season, Maldonado is off to Mississippi State next fall to start his collegiate kicking career.
ATH – Jabir Frye, Escambia
Frye lined up as a running back, wide receiver, quarterback and defensive back for Escambia this year. Frye finished with 1586 all-purpose yards, despite being banged up in the latter portion of his senior season. In the open field, there are few that can put on a better show that Frye.
First Team Defense
DL – Anthony Miller, Navarre
A two- year starter for Navarre, “The Unit” set the tone for the Raiders defense. Miller finished with 65 tackles and seven sacks (40-yards lost)
DL – Vidal Scott, West Florida
Up front for one of the stingiest defenses in the area, Scott recorded 40 tackles and five sacks for the playoff-breaching Jaguars.
DL – KeShawn Showers, Pine Forest
Showers used his length, speed and strength to frustrate offenses on the way to a District 1-6A championship for the Eagles. Showers finished with 95 tackles – four for loss.
DL – Kenneth Greer, Pensacola
A key leader for the Tigers, Greer posted 52 solo tackles and 45 assists. Greer had no issue getting to the quarterback, producing nine sacks in his senior season.
LB – Dallas Ditto, Tate
Tate’s leading tackler was an absolute force at middle linebacker. Ditto recorded 165 tackles and three sacks. The senior had a knack for creating turnovers, gaining two fumble recoveries and snagging an interception this season.
LB – Ty Howard, Pine Forest
Howard was the regular-season tackling king of the area for the second straight season. After Pine Forest’s playoff run, Howard finished with 153 tackles — four for loss, one sack, one interception and one caused fumble.
LB – Kalia Davis, West Florida
As a junior, Davis led the Jaguars in tackles with 114, accented by three sacks. The Tulane commit will aim to take it one step further in his senior season.
DB – Michael Sandle, Navarre
Sandle played defense, offense and returned kicks for the Raiders, but he proved to be one of the area’s top DB’s in 2015. Sandle recorded seven interceptions, two caused fumbles and one block field goal. Sandle finished with 31 tackles.
DB – Tino Espinoza, West Florida
Another standout year for “Espo Island”, the senior snagged four picks and recorded 53 tackles for the ‘Jags. Espinoza put together a series of highlight plays as a wide receiver for West Florida as well.
DB – Martavious Odom, Milton
Odom and Milton’s secondary were key in the 5-0 start for the Panthers. Odom deflected six passes, grabbed four interceptions and finished his junior year with 46 tackles.
DB – Simeon Smiley, Catholic
With multiple Division I offers, teams repeatedly shied away from Smiley during his senior year. Smiley also contributed as a running back for a banged-up Crusader offense.
P – Evan Legassey, Tate
A key ingredient of Tate’s deep playoff run, Legassey averaged 39.8 yards-per-punt with a long of 68. Legassey placed 16-of-46 punts inside of the opposition’s 20.
RS – Kobi Floyd, Milton
Floyd showed plenty of sauce on kickoffs, finishing with 320 kick-return yards and one KR touchdown this year. Floyd hauled in 50 passes for 9 TDs as a receiver.
ATH – Khyri Loveless
The 6-1, 215-pound speedster forced most teams to run away from him this season. Loveless was one-of-two area players selected to the FACA All-Star game. Loveless finished with 79 tackes and nine sacks. Loveless lined up as a RB in Escambia’s goal line package and racked up 59 rushing yards.
Second Team Offense
QB – Erick Antoine, West Florida
RB – Jaden Gardner, Pine Forest
RB – Dee Thompson, Tate
RB – Tyree Jackson, Washington
WR – Parker Baynes, Gulf Breeze
WR – Callif Gossett, Pensacola High
WR – Deandre Norman, Pensacola High
OL – Brent Short, Navarre
OL – Blake Brazwell, Catholic
OL – Cade Diamond, Jay
OL – Derrick Clark, Pine Forest
OL – Keith Waitman, Milton
PK – Billy Harris, Catholic
ATH – Ladarius Wiggins, Pine Forest
Second Team Defense
DL – Austin Travis, Escambia
DL – Angelo Garay, Pine Forest
DL – Tyler Wallace, Milton
DL – Jamarqus Miller, Pine Forest
LB – Xavier Fernandez, Navarre
LB – Ricky Richardson, West Florida
LB – Wesley Philpot, Pine Forest
DB – Martin Emerson, Pine Forest
DB – Brandon Bell, Pensacola High
DB – Monty Brown, Tate
DB – Dajonti Donaldson, Escambia
P – Mohamed Kader, Pine Forest
RS –Martin Hendricks, Pine Forest
ATH – Jake Wright, Catholic