MIDLOTHIAN — The athletic directors and head coaches of District 10-5A named 12 Ellis County athletes from 5A rival cities Midlothian and Waxahachie to its All-District teams when lists were released on Dec. 13.
Midlothian quarterback Jarreth Sterns, running back Landry Songer, offensive guard Sammy Carreon and punter Nolan Samek were named to the exclusive committee of the district's best players.
"I've always done everything with a chip on my shoulder. I think the guys to my left and right had the same mentality this year," said Carreon, a senior at Midlothian High School about he and his brother Panthers rise in the eyes of their district rivals. "Even if I'm going into a fight I might not win, I prepare mentally as if I were the baddest dude on the planet and went into every game knowing I was gonna punish any man put in front of me. For people to vote for me at random because of my dominance on the field, is such an amazing honor I couldn't put into words and made me feel that more confident in my athletic potential. In total honesty, I didn't play for me, or for colleges, when I got out there, I knew I had a job to do for the greater good of my team. So despite the 1-9 season, I played my heart out and I'm honored that other teams noticed and rewarded my effort."
The selection was Songer and Sterns' second and Carreon's first. Sterns was named the 8-6A Sophomore of the Year in 2015, joining former Panthers Marquise Edwards (Utility, Superlatives), Dillion Arie (G, 1st Team), Songer (FB, 2nd Team), Garrett Hopgood (DT, 1st Team), Connor Henderson (P, 1st Team), Choyce Redmond (CB, 2nd Team), Blake Gardner (OLB, 2nd Team), Brandon Cansalus (ILB, 2nd Team) and Drake Wayland (DE, 2nd Team).
Guard Cameron Kennally, tackles Parker Rampy and Jake Brown, linebacker Dalton Samek and defensive backs Zeke Brown and Cedric Whitaker were honorable mentions.
While Waxahachie quarterback Bryse Salik (121-217, 1,868 yds, 23 TDs, 7 INTs) beat Mansfield Lake Ridge's Jason Bean for first-team signal caller duties, Midlothian's Landry Songer and former Panther Jarreth Sterns helped carve a path to becoming one of 10-5A's most dominating offenses and fill out the All-District backfield.
Jarreth and his younger brother Josh Sterns transferred from Midlothian (1-9) to Waxahachie (6-4) on Dec. 1 after alleged racist comments were made during the 2016 football season.
As double-edged weapons for Head Coach Doug Wendel's triple-option offense, Jarreth (321 pass, 773 rush) and Songer (1,025 rush) combined for 2,119 total yards despite the former missing three games because of a collarbone injury against Mansfield Lake Ridge High School on Oct. 14.
"We felt that our running game was very dangerous, especially with how well our offensive line performed," Songer said about the danger of underestimating he and Sterns' one-two punch out of the backfield. "Defenses always had to respect Jerreth's illusiveness and break-away speed, which would occasionally opened up the inside for me. The triple option offense is tough for teams to prepare for because not a lot of teams run our offense and they only have a week to prepare for it, which makes it difficult even though they have film to watch on us."
Waxahachie's Jalen Reagor joined Mansfield Legacy High School's Kendall and Jalen Catalon and Lancaster High School's Trevor Hatton on the four-boy superlative list. Reagor was named the Offensive MVP, Kendall and Jalen earned District and Defensive MVP honors and district decision makers tabbed Hatton as the Newcomer of the Year.
Reagor finished the season 15th in receptions (52), seventh in receiving yards (1,008) and eighth in touchdowns (14). His 19 yards per catch was second to only Lancaster Tiger receiver Cartrell Thomas.
Kenedy Snell, the Indians' lightning-quick "Green Flash," rounded out an All-District receiving corps of Thomas (Lancaster), Zachary Jackson (Lake Ridge), Omar Manning (Lancaster) and Jalen Knox (Timberview). Arguably the most versatile of the five boys, Snell ran 49 times for 645 yards (13 YPC) and 11 touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns.
His 1,685 total yards were at least 300 yards higher than any of the other receivers named to the first or second teams.
Carreon and Waxahachie offensive tackle Jack York secured two of the three Ellis County 5A offensive line picks and two of seven overall offensive line selections, joining the likes of Timberview center Dakoda Newman, Legacy tackle Clayton Franks and Lancaster guard Christian Hill.
Carreon and York helped the Panthers and Indians gain 3,905 (423 pass, 3,482 rush) and 3,580 (1,910 pass, 1,670 rush) yards, respectively.
Indian running back Eris Miles (742 yds, 10 TDs), who led his team in rushing yards, and offensive tackle Caleb Carlile garnered two of Ellis County's five offensive second-team All-District selections. No Midlothian player made the second team.
OFFENSE WINS GAMES, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Though neither Midlothian or Waxahachie had a defensive first-team selection — there was only one player that collected that honor — the boys in blue and green more than made up for their disappearing act when decisions about what players would make the second team came into play.
Waxahachie inside linebacker Caleb High and safety Demani Richardson and Midlothian defensive back and punter Nolan Samek were three of the six second-team defensive selections given to Ellis County teams.
High, a hard-hitting presence in the middle of an improved Indian defense, led the team in tackles and had a season-high 21 tackles during Waxahachie's 42-35 loss to Lancaster High School. Richardson's ball-hawk tendencies helped him become one of the most feared 10-5A defenders outside of shut-down defensive backs Jarreth, Jale and Indian cornerback Trey Jackson.
Richardson had both an interception and a fumble recovery — two of the Jaguars and quarterback Brysen McKinney's four total turnovers — during the Indians' 41-17 district opening win against Mansfield Summit High School.
Samek, who had 15 punts for 522 yards, led every District 10-5A punter not named Chris Bugg in average yards per punt. He averaged 34.8 yards per punt during the 2016 season, including five punts greater the 50 yards and two greater than 40.
"I knew being a punter was an important job, but this year it had a big effect on the team. Getting in was fun," Samek said. "I've always been good at punting and kicking, my brother Cody was a kicker and punter in college and he taught me how. I didn't know me being a sophomore that I would make all-district honors, but now that I have, I strive to be first team next year."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.