Stratford quarterback Jacob Park is Post and Courier Player of Year for 2013
One day, Jacob Park will be able to sit down and savor his senior season as a member of the Stratford Knights' football team. For now, Park is a man in motion as he completes a whirlwind month that comes with being the state's top football player and one of the nation's top quarterbacks.
Quarterback, Stratford, 6-4, 210, Senior
About Park: One of the most honored and recruited players in Stratford history, Park led the Knights to a 12-3 record and a berth in the Division II-AAAA state championship. The Mr. Football award winner completed 55 percent of his passes for 3,640 yards and 34 TDs. He was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and will also play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He will enroll at Georgia in January.
Running back, Goose Creek, 5-10, 187, Senior
About Kinlaw: Slowed by injuries this fall, Kinlaw still managed to rush for 1,000 yards for the third straight season and repeated as a first-team All-Lowcountry selection. He carried 129 times for 1,154 yards, averaging 9.0 yards per carry, and scored 20 touchdowns. He finished his career with 4,175 yards rushing and 51 touchdowns. He has committed to Wisconsin. He was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl.
Running back, Bishop England, 5-11, 200, Senior
About Shiver: Perhaps no player in the Lowcountry meant more to his team's offense than Shiver did. He accounted for 46 percent of the Bishops' 3,460 total yards, rushing for 1,486 yards and adding another 120 yards in receptions. He averaged 11.5 yards per carry for the Bishops, who went 10-3 this fall. He scored 25 touchdowns this fall and also had key roles in the Bishops' state championships in 2011 and '12.
Wide receiver, Hanahan, 6-4, 190, Senior
About Green: Slowed by an injury last season, Green was more than healthy for the Hawks, a top 10 Class AAA team that went 11-1. Green ran routes well, was able to separate himself from defenders and demonstrated good leaping ability. His skills resulted in 36 catches for 775 yards and 11 touchdowns. Green was selected to play in the North-South Game and is getting recruited by Charleston Southern, Newberry and Tusculum.
Wide Receiver, Stratford, 6-1, 170, Senior
About Thompson: An outstanding route runner with good hands and an eye for the ball, Thompson was Jacob Park's favorite deep-threat target. He caught 63 passes for 1,425 yards and 14 touchdowns. He had a big effort in the state championship with nine catches for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thompson, who averaged 24 yards a catch, is also a standout basketball player.
Tight end, Summerville, 6-6, 215, Senior
About Smith: He's built like a lineman but runs like a wide receiver. Smith was the Green Wave's possession receiver. He caught a team-high 44 passes for 443 yards and three touchdowns. Twenty-five of Smith's catches went for first downs and 98 of his yards came after contact. He was selected to play in the North-South Game. Smith has committed to play for Middle Tennessee State.
Lineman, Wando, 6-6, 285, Senior
About Kelleher: One of the top players in the state and one of the top 30 tackles in the country, Kelleher concluded his career with 43 pancake blocks and 32 knockdowns his senior season and led a line that helped the Warriors average 6.2 yards per carry. Kelleher was one of the top recruits in the Southeast and committed to play for the Florida Gators over the summer. He played in the Shrine Bowl.
Lineman, Summerville, 6-5, 310, Junior
About Bailey: He is listed as the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country for the Class of 2015, and the 97th player overall, according to Rivals. Bailey has good size, skills and technique, and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds, which is good for a big man. He has offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and The Citadel.
Lineman, West Ashley, 6-7, 265, Senior
About Toth: He began his career as a tight end, but Toth found a home by moving inside to left tackle. He has good technique, agility and speed. He was an all-region selection after only two years at tackle, and was selected to play in the North-South Game. Toth heads into the final weeks of the recruiting process with six offers, ranging from The Citadel to Army.
Lineman, Beaufort, 6-2, 245, Senior
About Seabrook: One of the strongest and most athletic players on the Beaufort roster, Seabrook rarely came off the field as he played both sides of the line. The North-South selection had 21 pancake bocks and 12 knockdowns, grading out to 85 percent on the offensive line. He was just as effective on defense with 69 tackles, including nine for a loss and four sacks.
Lineman, Goose Creek, 6-2, 290, Senior
About Hood: A two-year starter, Hood was the anchor of the Goose Creek line. He was the leader of a line that helped Goose Creek lead the state with 382 yards rushing per game. He also helped the Gators set school records with 48.1 points and 504 total yards per game. He graded out to over 80 percent. He and his fellow linemen allowed only three sacks in 184 passing plays.
Kicker, Summerville, 5-10, 165, Senior
About Kennedy: One of the top kicker/punter prospects in the state, Kennedy had a big season to help the Wave to an 11-3 record. He connected on 50 of 52 PAT attempts and made 15 of 19 field goals with a long of 45 yards. He was consistent on kickoffs with 61 percent of his kicks going for touchbacks. He also handled punting duties and averaged 39.1 yards per punt. He was selected to play in the North-South Game.
Lineman, Goose Creek, 6-5, 210 Senior
About Ritchie: He began the season as one of the top tight ends in the country and ended it as a defensive end for the Gators, who went 12-1. He recorded 41 tackles, including 18 solo stops. He tallied 11 tackles for a loss and three sacks. Ritchie was selected to play in the Shrine Bowl and the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl. He was highly recruited and committed to South Carolina.
Lineman, Hilton Head, 6-0, 285, Senior
About Ford: The No. 6 player in the state and No. 22 tackle in the country according to 24/7 Sports, Ford had a big senior year for the Seahawks. He recorded 135 tackles, including 28 for a loss, to be selected to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. Ford, who scored seven touchdowns as a fullback, committed to Louisville. He also had offers from Arizona, Arkansas and Georgia Tech.
Lineman, Fort Dorchester, 6-2, 320, Junior
About Bryant: He was usually double-teamed, but Bryant managed 50 tackles, including 20 for a loss, and six sacks. He also came in on offense when the ball was close to the goal and ran for six touchdowns. Bryant promises to be one of the Lowcountry's top recruits in 2015 and already is getting looked at by such schools as South Carolina, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and North Carolina.
Lineman, Woodland, 6-4, 250, Junior
About Barnett: One of the top juniors in the state, Barnett is the No. 11 strongside defensive end in the country for the Class of 2015, according to 24/7 Sports. Barnett has outstanding speed and range and that resulted in 89 tackles, including 31 tackles for a loss. Barnett was offered by Virginia Tech after his freshman season and committed last month. He had numerous offers including Clemson and Florida State.
Linebacker, Stratford, 6-2, 221, Senior
About Smith: One of the leaders of the state's top scoring defense in the regular season, Smith had a big year for the Knights, who finished as the Division I-AAAA state runners-up. Smith, who played in the North-South Game, finished the season with 112 tackles, including 77 solo stops. Smith tallied 12 tackles for a loss and had 5.5 sacks. He also was a state finalist in the shot put last spring.
Linebacker, Summerville, 6-0, 210, Junior
About McCurry: One of the top tacklers in the state, McCurry was credited with 245 tackles, including 144 solo stops, to earn all-Region 8-AAAA honors. McCurry had five tackles for a loss and two sacks. He also was credited with 17 quarterback hurries. One of the top players in the state for 2015, McCurry is getting interest from Cincinnati, Duke, Georgia Tech, Missouri and North Carolina State.
Linebacker, Timberland, 5-10, 175, Senior
About Harmon: Extremely athletic, fast and strong, Harmon left his mark on both sides of the ball for the Wolves, who were Region 7-AA champs. He logged 122 tackles, including 15 for a loss. He also had a big season on offense, rushing for a team-high 1,586 yards while scoring 28 TDs. Last winter, he became the first Timberland wrestler to win an individual state title.
Back, Goose Creek, 5-8, 170, Senior
About McRae: One of the Gators' team leaders, the hard-hitting McRae had another solid season to repeat as a first-team All-Lowcountry pick. He recorded 89 tackles, including 68 solo stops. He intercepted five passes and broke up another 10. McRae also was effective in the return game, averaging 36.1 yards per kickoff return and 10 yards a punt return. He was selected to play in the North-South Game.
Back, Bishop England, 5-10, Senior
About Fosberry: A three-year starter and the leader of an impressive secondary, Fosberry recorded 76 tackles for the second straight season. He tallied three tackles for a loss and intercepted five passes and broke up another five. Fosberry ended his career with 283 tackles and 14 interceptions. He also played quarterback and compiled 957 yards in total offense while accounting for 13 touchdowns.
Back, Cross, 5-10, 198, Senior
About Shepherd: One of the top two-way players in Cross history, Shepherd had another solid season to earn all-state honors for the second straight year. He recorded 77 tackles and caused three fumbles, recovering two. He tallied five sacks and three interceptions. Shepherd also topped the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season and finished with 4,220 yards rushing for his career.
Back, Hanahan, 5-9, 150, Junior
About Thompson: Hanahan had one of the top defenses in the state this past season, allowing only 108 points in 12 games. Thompson, a lockdown cornerback, was one of the reasons. The junior finished with 44 tackles, including 34 solo stops. He also had six interceptions and scored a touchdown to earn all-Region 8-AAA honors.
Punter, Fort Dorchester, 6-1, 180, Senior
About Rawlings: An outstanding athlete blessed with speed and strength, Rawlings played several positions for the Patriots, including punter. He averaged 40.0 yards per punt with no return yards. Rawlings also handled kickoffs and PATs. He also fared well as a wide receiver with 26 catches for 458 yards and five touchdowns. Rawlings, who also is an excellent baseball player, played in the North-South Game.
Park, a 6-4 senior, had a December that might rival Santa's in terms of being busy (though Santa does have that unenviable all-nighter).
In the first week of this month, Park played in the Division II-AAAA state championship in Columbia.
The next week, he was in Myrtle Beach to accept the Mr. Football award, given to the top player in the state.
In the third week, Park ventured to Spartanburg to play in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
He's in the midst of a four-day break, and then it's on to San Antonio to play in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl, held Jan. 4.
Four days after that, Park will be sitting in a classroom in Athens, Ga., his college career in full force.
"It's moving fast, sometimes it seems faster than the speed of sound," Park said. "It's happening so fast that it's hard to process. I have mixed emotions right now. One day, I'm sure I will be able to sit down and smile. That one day, that's when I can take it all in."
Park is The Post and Courier's Player of the Year and heads up the 2013 All-Lowcountry football team. And Park did it in style. He passed for 3,640 yards and 34 touchdowns to lead the Knights to a 12-3 record and their third berth in a state title game. He'll go down as one of the top recruits from the Lowcountry in the last decade, even though he wasn't recruited by the top schools in the Palmetto State: South Carolina and Clemson.
"It's quite an honor to win Mr. Football and all of the other honors," said Park, who began his senior season high on the recruiting radar after an impressive performance at the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, a preseason combine that features the most promising signal callers in the country. "But nothing's really sunk in just yet."
Park will enroll early at Georgia to give himself a head start in the classroom and on the football field when the Bulldogs hold spring practice. He will be on campus for nearly a month when National Signing Day rolls around the first Wednesday in February.
Ray Stackley, who led the Knights to the state championship game, is the coach of the year. He's been in the business for 29 seasons and is one of the best in state history. He led the Knights to a 12-3 record to push his career mark to 277-100.
Park is one of three Knights to make the All-Lowcountry first team. The other players are wide receiver Thad Thompson, who had nearly 1,000 yards receiving, and linebacker Cecil Smith, a tackling machine.
Goose Creek and Summerville led the way with four players earning first-team All-Lowcountry honors.
Goose Creek running back Caleb Kinlaw, who is a repeat first-team selection, topped 1,000 yards rushing for the third time in his career and finished with more than 4,000 yards. He is committed to play for Wisconsin. Defensive back Omar McCrae also is a repeat first-team selection. Tight end/defensive end Kalan Ritchie, who will sign with South Carolina, and offensive lineman Tyler Hood are the Gators' other picks.
Summerville's picks are offensive lineman Zack Bailey, linebacker Mac McCurry, tight end Sean Smith and kicker David Kennedy.
Bailey is one of the top junior linemen in the state and will be a major recruit next year.
McCurry led the Lowcountry with 245 tackles, while Smith and Kennedy both played in the North-South game.
Bishop England, Hanahan and Fort Dorchester all had two players earn first-team recognition.
Bishop England's picks include running back Nick Shiver and defensive back Reed Fosberry. Hanahan's picks are wide receiver Terrell Green and defensive back Deandrea Thompson.
Fort Dorchester's picks are defensive lineman Eurndraus Bryant and punter Corey Rawlings.
The other first-team offensive selections include Wando lineman Nolan Keller, who is headed to Florida, West Ashley lineman Brett Toth and Beaufort lineman Kentrell Seabrook.
The other first-team defensive selections include Hilton Head lineman Poona Ford, Woodland lineman Michael Barnett, Timberland linebacker Bernard Harmon and Cross back DeVontae Shepherd.