By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Editor-in-chief
With the high school football season behind us, the rewards continue to pile up for the top players of the 2021 season, and four local players continued to be recognized on Sunday, December 26.
These four athletes, who were also named to the All-County and All-State teams, have now been named finalists for the Class 7A Back and Lineman of the Year awards.
Nominees include Thompson’s Conner Harrell, Ryan Peppins and Jeremiah Alexander, as well as Oak Mountain’s Evan Smith.
This made each of them one of the top six players in the 7A rankings during the season, as they will also be vying for a spot on the Super All-State Team and the coveted Mr. Football Award. , which goes to the best player in the state regardless of the ranking.
Harrell and Alexander both hope to repeat after winning the Class 7A awards a season ago, with Harrell taking home the Back of the Year award and Alexander the Lineman of the Year. The two also earned a spot on last year’s Super All-State squad as two of the state’s top 12 players.
Harrell finished this season with 3,126 passing yards and 47 touchdowns this season on 163 of 232. He also had 405 rushing yards and five more rushing touchdowns.
It’s 279 yards shorter than he totaled last season, but he did so with 66 fewer passing attempts after missing two games this season. He’s averaged 13.5 yards per pass this season, up from 11.4 yards per pass this season.
Harrell also finished with seven more passing touchdowns this season and added 100 more rushing yards.
Alexander also recorded staggering numbers in his final season for the Warriors with 54 solo tackles, 29 assisted tackles, 28 loss tackles and nearly 20 sacks, while also adding up to a pick of six.
This year, these two Thompson players will not only be looking for a spot on the Super All-State squad, but one of them hopes to win the Mr. Football award as the best player in the state.
Another Peppins teammate will also be up for the same honor.
The Warriors’ senior wide receiver ended the season as one of the best receivers in the state after racking up 1,564 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns on 80 receptions.
He totaled 1,239 yards before Thompson’s semifinal game against Hoover and finished strong after that. He totaled 121 yards against Hoover and 204 yards in the State Championship game, winning the Game MVP award. This year’s footage ranks ninth in state history.
Smith, this year’s Shelby County Player of the Year, will look to add the honor to his playoff accolades after completing four stellar years as a starter for the Oak Mountain Eagles with his best season yet. day.
He finished the season with 1,110 rushing yards on 98 carries, which was good enough for 11.3 yards per carry and 123.3 yards per game, with 17 touchdowns. He also had his best season as a passer, throwing 1,184 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He did it all in nine games, missed three, and each opponent focused on his elimination.
Shelby County’s four finalists are now 48 of the state’s top players.
An awards banquet and luncheon will be held on January 13 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel to announce the winners and recognize the finalists.