MARION – Pleasant junior quarterback Joe Craycraft passed for more than 1,000 yards to just one receiver this season.
Imagine if he had two more standouts from Marion County on his receiving corps.
With the Marion Star’s 2015 All-Marion County team, that would be possible with the additions of wide receivers T.J. Jefferson of Marion Harding and Carson Parsell of River Valley.
Craycraft had quite a year with just one veteran to throw to. With his additional passing yardage to various other Spartans, the Pleasant signal caller accumulated 2,082 yards through the air on 158-of-289 passing. He threw for 20 touchdowns, and he also ran for 668 yards and nine more scores.
His senior teammate, Nico Sansotta, led the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference in receptions with 60 and in yards with 1,008. He caught seven TD passes.
Jefferson, a junior, hauled in 42 passes for 489 yards and three scores. Parsell, a senior, grabbed 28 for 394 yards and seven touchdowns.
A special-mention nod goes to River Valley senior Bailey Cole, who caught 36 passes for 361 yards and seven TDs in the nine games in which he played.
If Craycraft decided his Star team would run the ball, it would have the services of one senior, one junior and one sophomore in the backfield.
Harding sophomore Titus Douglas led that group in rushing this season with 959 yards in 142 carries, and he scored 11 touchdowns. Elgin senior Zach Murdock gained 835 yards on 188 attempts and tallied nine TDs while Ridgedale junior Hunter Boyd ran for 627 yards on 172 tries and hit the end zone five times.
That offense would percolate behind the team’s front line made up of senior Mike Davis of Harding, juniors Ethan Springer from River Valley and Alex DeJonge of Pleasant, and Elgin sophomore Jordan Brown.
The team’s placekicker is Pleasant senior Brady Thompson, who booted 30-of-34 PATs. It’s punter is Ridgedale senior Duvan Bautista, who averaged 35 yards on 37 kicks and had only four returned.
Harding junior quarterback Ryan Sayre receives special recognition for completing a league-high 65 percent of his passes this fall.
The Star’s defensive team is led by four stout players chosen for the linebacker position.
They are Harding seniors Jordan Scott and Roger Hamon, and senior Aaron Berg and junior Nash Fry from River Valley.
Scott recorded 93 tackles, including 17 for loss, and posted 8.5 quarterback sacks. Hamon had 87 tackles, with 11 going for losses, while Fry had 100 stops and six sacks and Berg notched 91 tackles.
They would operate behind a defensive line of River Valley seniors Brock Wooten and Evan Main, Harding senior Keyan Herrell, and Pleasant sophomore Kory Pytlarz.
Wooten had 59 solo tackles, eight tackles for loss, and five sacks while Main recorded six sacks. Herrell totaled 72 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and nine sacks. Pytlarz sacked the opposing quarterback five times.
This squad’s defensive backfield is a notable one as well. Its members are senior Devin Hessler of River Valley, Harding junior Nick Middlesworth, and Pleasant sophomore Matt Chase.
Hessler had five interceptions and 195 return yards with those pickoffs to go with 58 solo tackles. Middlesworth made 86 tackles while Chase recorded 88 stops.
A special nod at defensive back goes to Harding freshman Noah Thompson and his 84 tackles, including 13 for losses, this fall.
The Star’s coach of the year is Harding’s John Brady.
Brady’s Presidents went from 0-10 last year to 4-6 this season, and they broke a 16-game losing streak.
Brady and his staff of youthful assistants guided a Harding team which started 0-3 against a bunch of heavyweight opponents, including two which made the playoffs, to a 4-3 record to close out the campaign. Brady’s club also defeated county rivals Pleasant and River Valley in the process.
Two of Harding’s losses were by three points in the final minutes to playoff participant Galion and a five-win Buckeye Valley team. It’s other defeat in the latter stages of the season was to a 9-1 playoff-bound Jonathan Alder squad which Harding led at halftime.