The 2012 football season was a special one for Tanner with the school winning its first state championship. Accordingly, the Rattlers are well represented with eight selections on the News Couier All-County team.
While the other six high schools did not enjoy the seasons they would have liked, there were good athletes on every team. The following is a brief description of why each player made the all-county team:
Jonathan Fletcher, Tanner: Tanner’s signal caller was not asked to win games on his own, which allowed the sophomore to improve as the season progressed. Fletcher could have easily been the 2A Super Six MVP with a rushing touchdown and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Fletcher averaged 17.5 yards per completion and 9.7 yards per rush this season.
Torren Haley, East Limestone: Haley never let his feet stop moving this season and kept East Limestone in many games with his bruising running style. Haley eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in the final game of the season again Auburn. The senior finished with 158 carries for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns in one of the toughest regions in the state.
Hayden Stephens, Tanner: The all-state selection averaged nearly nine yards per carry and scored 31 touchdowns for the Rattlers this season. Stephens carried the ball for a Super Six record 29 times for 139 yards to lead Tanner in the championship game. The junior finished with 1,963 rushing yards.
Tristian Mathews, East Limestone: The two-way player was the Indians top deep threat on play-action passes this season, averaging 22.8 yards per catch. Mathews caught two passes for touchdowns.
Aaron McWilliams, West Limestone: McWilliams also specialized in catching the deep ball, averaging more than 21 yards per catch this season. The senior caught 24 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns, along with one rushing touchdown.
Hayden Durrett, Ardmore: Durrett mainly served as blocking tight end in Ardmore’s run-heavy offense. The junior played both ways as a defensive end on the other side of the ball.
Trey McWilliams, Athens: McWilliams has started on the Eagles’ offensive lineman since arriving as a freshman. The junior anchored Athens’ line this season, playing center and tackle.
Sean Cole, East Limestone: Cole had 27 pancake blocks playing guard for the Indians and had an 81 percent grade on his blocking assignments for the season.
Carson Pack, Ardmore: Pack led an offensive line that paved the way for the Tigers’ rushing attack to run for more than 300 yards five times this season.
Hunter Rouse, West Limestone: Rouse anchored West Limestone’s offensive line from his center position. A two-year starter, Rouse never missed a game this season.
Tray Fletcher, Tanner: Described by his teammates as the “nastiest” player on the team, Fletcher could have made the all-county team on either side of the line.
Demarcus Johnson, Clements: Johnson was the Colts biggest weapon, playing wide receiver and running back. In the season opener against West Limestone, Johnson accounted for 268 total yards and four touchdowns.
Mitchell Mathis, East Limestone: Mathis connected on 32-of-34 extra point attempts this season and made a crucial field goal that helped East Limestone beat Athens.
Kyle Shoulders, Tanner: Shoulders played both ways as a fullback and on defensive line. On defense, Shoulders terrorized offensive backfields and finished with 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles, all while being double-teamed throughout the season.
Baltazar Rubio, Tanner: Anchoring the interior of Tanner’s defensive line was Rubio, a force to be reckoned with one-on-one for teams that chose to double team Shoulders. Rubio finished with 51 total tackles and four interceptions.
Ernie Hendrix, Athens: Hendrix played against some of the best offensive lineman in North Alabama in Class 5A Region 8. Hendrix finished with 61 tackles, including 6 tackles-for-loss, two sacks and three quarterback hurries.
Dexter Douglas, Tanner: Douglas led the team with 72 tackles and an interception, but no statistic can categorize how important the senior was to the team. The linebacker was the vocal leader of the defense.
Bolton Patton, Athens: Patton recorded the most tackles of any player in the county with 102 from his middle linebacker position. Patton had four tackles-for-loss, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, two pass break-ups and an interception.
Tucker McCormick, West Limestone: McCormick played in only eight games due to injury but still led the team with 81 tackles and a sack.
Chase Kesler, East Limestone: Kesler led perhaps the best group of linebackers in the county with teammates Wyatt Hazellief and Kennon Moses. Along with his 79 total tackles, Kesler recorded four tackles-for-loss, four forced fumbles, an interception and a fumble recovered.
Greg Maclin, Tanner: One of the best all-around athletes in the county, Maclin covered the field from sideline to sideline from his free safety position. Maclin led the team with six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.
Johnnie Anderson, Athens: Any team that played Athens knew where No. 5 for the Golden Eagles was on defense. Anderson delivered hits as hard as anyone in North Alabama, but his real strength is his football instinct. Anderson had 88 tackles, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, three pass break-ups and a fumble recovery for touchdown.
Mathew Franks, East Limestone: Another hard-hitting safety, Franks had 50 tackles, four interceptions and a fumble recovery for the Indians.
Mathew Barnes, Elkmont: Mathews did a little of everything for the Red Devils in the secondary, registering 25 tackles and two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. Barnes also had a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal this season.
Fred Rich, Tanner: Listed as an athlete because of the senior’s versatility, Rich could have legitimately played any position on defense and excelled. The MVP of the 2A Championship game recorded 69 total tackles and two interceptions.
Dustin Ward, Elkmont: Ward was perhaps the Red Devils best player at any position this season, playing runningback, defensive end and punter. As a punter, Ward posted a 35 yard net average for the season.