MIDLOTHIAN — Twenty-seven of Midlothian Heritage High School's history-making Jaguars received All-District honors from a consortium of District 6-4A-1 coaches and athletic directors last week.
Three of those 27 received superlatives.
Junior wide receiver Kerrion Fields was tabbed as the MVP and senior linebacker Preston Smith was named the Defensive MVP while junior Jack Freeman was named the Offensive Line MVP.
"There are a lot of great players on this team and in our district," Fields said. "To receive All-District MVP is a huge honor and a reward I never expected to get. It shows the work we put in and how my brothers and coaches influenced me to be better than I was yesterday."
"If you had told me that I was going to win that award at the beginning of the year when I was flipping through Dave Campbell's looking at the guys who won it last year, I wouldn't have believed," Smith added. "I am truly blessed and honored. None of this would have happened if it wasn't for the people that support me. My coaches and my mom for always gave me the strength and said the right words to motivate me to do my best. My brothers gave me memories I wouldn't trade for anything and will carry with me for the rest of my life.
"This has been a great season. I think that I finally realized that this year was going to be special during the Sanger game. We walked into the game an underdog and completely outperformed a fantastic team that's an established program."
Freeman echoed Fields' and Smith's thoughts, noting that he wouldn't have been as good as he was if it wasn't got coaches like Lee Wiginton and Craig Carpenter or each of the boys that either received honors or should have.
Senior Hogan Keasler, whose 102 total points earned him the nation's eighth-best kicker MaxPreps rating, joined sophomore Noah Parker and junior Nathan Gaskamp as All-District First Team kicker, wide receiver and running back. Senior and junior offensive linemen Christian Anglemyer, Tanner Whitehead and Cody Ashmore, junior fullback Nolan Ast, junior running back Raja Banks and freshman wide receiver Jay Wilkerson earned second team All-District selections.
Senior defensive end Jorden "Jet" Thompson and sophomore linebacker Dre Washington received first team defensive selections and junior linebacker Nathan Texada, defensive linemen senior Isaiah McCrary and junior Garrison Espinoza and sophomore defensive back Brayden Wright rounded out the team's second team defense.
"I never thought that I would be playing linebacker as a sophomore given my size and always thought that I would be better at cornerback or safety," Washington said. "It was because of coach Edwards who gave me the tools and the confidence to be able to compete on a varsity level and make an impact on our defense."
The team also received six All-District selections, athletes Wiginton, the head coach at MHHS, said are athletes put in many hours to help achieve these accomplishments. While Parker was honored for his play as a safety, junior defensive back Nathan Ast and defensive lineman Talon Berg, senior defensive back Seth Terrell, offensive lineman Payton Parker and outside linebacker Rodney Richmond were tabbed as District 6-4A-1 honorable mentions.
"To receive a mention as an outside linebacker made me feel a lot better about the season," Richmond said with a smile. "Throughout the season I was moved everywhere possible on defense, so I understood I couldn't be an All-district selection for one position. I'm just glad I could be a versatile player that helped us win games."
Midlothian Heritage's final two awards —given to the best underclassmen prospects in the district — went to Landon Ledbetter and Jon Sanders. Ledbetter, a sophomore quarterback, earned Offensive Newcomer of the Year and Sanders, a sophomore defensive lineman, earned Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
"Well newcomer of the year has been the goal set for me by Coach Carp(enter) since day one and I've worked my tail off since last offseason to receive this. It means a lot to me because it showed me hard work pays off and what can happen when people believe in you and pushing you past your limits every day."
"Receiving Offensive Newcomer of the Year represents the hard work that I put in to overcome being younger than most of the players," Ledbetter added. "It really shows the hard work the whole offense put in throughout the year. I couldn't have done it without the hard coaching to get me better each day and my hard-working brothers."
The Jaguars ended their first varsity season 11-2 overall and 5-0 in District 6-4A-1 play and was the first Midlothian team to make the regional round of the UIL postseason in more than a decade and last Ellis County football team to fall in the playoffs in 2016.