Bradley Central’s Austin Sanders, C.J. Bryant of Cleveland High, and Polk County’s Zach Miller were listed by the TSWA as the top gridiron players in the state.
A two-time all-state team member, Sanders became the first in Bear history to earn Mr. Tennessee Football honors last month as the top class 6A lineman in the state.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle helped lead Bradley to its third straight TSSAA playoff appearance this past season.
The first in University of Tennessee history to be offered a football scholarship before his junior season, Sanders finished his senior campaign with 47 pancake blocks and graded out at 91 percent.
Despite the changes in Knoxville with the firing of Derek Dooley and the hiring of former University of Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones, Sanders has stayed firm in his commitment to the Vols, despite numerous calls from other schools including national champion Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan just to name a few.
McMinn County defensive lineman Aaron Kimpson was the only other southeast Tennessee player to be named to the Class 6A all-state squad. He finished with 15 sacks and 23 tackles for loss for the District 5-AAA champion Cherokees.
Bryant had an outstanding gridiron season on both sides of the ball, but was named to the Class 5A team as a defensive back.
With eight takeaways (interceptions, fumble recoveries, caused fumbles), Bryant led the area, plus had 51 solo tackles, 23 assists and three for loss yardage.
On the offensive side of the ball, the speedster had 864 yards on 119 carries, for an average of 7.3 yard per attempt. He also scored 13 times.
Bryant also caught 18 passes for another 147 yards and a score. Altogether he found the end zone 15 times this season.
Ooltewah running back Desmond Pittman didn’t become a starter until the sixth game of the season, but ran for more than 200 yards in just his second game as the Owls’ main ball carrier.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound junior finished with more than 1,300 rushing yards as the Owls advanced to the Class 5A playoff quarterfinals.
Miller carried the load for Polk County the entire season, posting more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and finding the end zone 23 times as the Wildcats made the TSSAA post-season for the 12th straight year.
The 6-foot, 210-pound junior bruiser bulled for 1,930 yards on 257 carries, for a 7.5 average. He also averaged 16 yards per catch on nine receptions for 144 yards and a TD.
Adding a trio of two-point conversions to his touchdown total, Miller finished with 144 points.