Johnson Among 7 Players Named to All-SAC Preseason Team

(courtesy Mars Hill Sports Information)


Zach Johnson Named to Second Team All-SAC Preseason Defensive Team (Phillip Greene Photo)

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Mars Hill places seven players on the All-SAC Preseason Football Team. Defending South Atlantic Conference champion Carson-Newman College leads the 2009 preseason All-Conference football team with 11 selections.

The Eagles had seven players named to the first team, including quarterback Alex Good and running back Buck Wakefield. Good was a second-team All-Conference pick in 2008, while Wakefield returns as a first-team running back.

Newberry College had nine named to the preseason All-Conference team. Newberry had four first-team selections, including wide receiver Kelton Tindall and defensive back Kamaal McIlwain.

Tusculum College had eight on the preseason All-Conference team. The Pioneers had four named to the first team, including returning All-American tight end Jarrell NeSmith and wide receiver Ryan Tallent, who led the conference with 92 catches last season.

Wingate University had six preseason All-Conference selections. The Bulldogs had three first-team selections, including running back Nelson Woods, who led the conference with 1,238 yards rushing last season.

Mars Hill College placed seven on the preseason squad, including three on the first team. The Lions return a pair of first-team standouts on the defensive side in linebacker Stan Galbraith, who registered six sacks last season, and defensive back Deshun Nesbitt.

Catawba College and Lenoir-Rhyne University each placed six on the preseason All-Conference team.

The Catawba Indians had three first-team selections, including returning All-American offensive lineman Terence Crosby.

The Bears had three first-team selections, and all on the offense, including the conference’s top kicker last season in Colin Corpe.

Brevard College had three preseason All-Conference selections, including a pair of first-team defensive selections in linebackers Stanley Jones and Brandon Rawls.

2009 SAC Preseason All-Conference Football Team

First Team
QB – Alex Good, Carson-Newman
RB – Buck Wakefield, Carson-Newman
RB – Nelson Woods, Wingate
RB – Marcus Foster, Tusculum
WR – Reggie Hubbard, Carson-Newman
WR – Kelton Tindal, Newberry
WR – Ryan Tallent, Tusculum
TE – Jarrell NeSmith, Tusculum
OL – Terence Crosby, Catawba
OL – Chandler Rearden, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Josh Sims, Mars Hill
OL – Matt Holmes, Newberry
OL – Ross Shaffer, Carson-Newman
PK – Colin Corpe, Lenoir-Rhyne
LS – Jordon Simmons, Lenoir-Rhyne

Second Team
QB – Brandon Gantt, Newberry
RB – Ricky Harris, Carson-Newman
RB – Anthony Silvers, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Gerald Legree, Newberry
WR – Nate Binder, Tusculum
WR – John Brown, Mars Hill
WR – Calvin Britt, Tusculum
TE – Ryan Webber, Wingate
OL – Hunter Carnes, Catawba
OL – Harrison Smith, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Walter Simmons, Newberry
OL – Josh Stone, Tusculum
OL – Ben Benshoof, Wingate
PK – Michael Pinkerton, Mars Hill
LS – Kyle Davis, Wingate

First Team
DL – Melquan Fair, Catawba
DL – Brandon Harmon, Carson-Newman
DL – Brandon Sutton, Catawba
DL – Lance Clark, Newberry
LB – Brian Brown, Carson-Newman
LB – Stanley Jones, Brevard
LB – Brandon Rawls, Brevard
LB – Stan Galbraith, Mars Hill
DB – Mario Russell, Carson-Newman
DB – Deshun Nesbitt, Mars Hill
DB – Kamaal McIlwain, Newberry
DB – Tylan Merkerson, Wingate
P – John Gregory, Tusculum
RS – Patrick Pinchinat, Wingate

Second Team
DL – Marqus Davis, Catawba
DL – Maurice Harris, Mars Hill
DL – Marcus Nelums, Newberry
DL – Brandon Kelley, TusculumLB – Lakeem Perry, Catawba
LB – Zach Johnson, Mars Hill
LB – Ben Hinson, Wingate
LB – Aaron Plyler, Wingate
DB – Marcus Shuford, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Andre Moyd, Newberry
DB – Michael Gist, Brevard
DB – Denares Waites, Carson-Newman
P – Chris Jones, Carson-Newman
RS – Reggie Hubbard, Carson-Newman


Six Mountaineers Named Pre-Season All-America

(courtesy Appalachian Sports Information)

Armanti EdwardsPHILADELPHIA — Led by 2008 Walter Payton Award winner Armanti Edwards and ‘08 Buck Buchanan Award finalist Mark LeGree, six Appalachian State University football players earned 2009 preseason all-America recognition from The Sports Network on Thursday.

First-team selections Edwards and LeGree are joined on the preseason all-America squads by second-team honorees Mario Acitelli, Cortez Gilbert and Jacque Roman and third-team selection D.J. Smith.Mark LeGree

A senior quarterback, Edwards threw for 2,902 yards, rushed for 941 more and racked up a Southern Conference-record 41 touchdowns responsible for (30 passing, 11 rushing) a season ago, en route to winning the Payton Award (presented to the nation’s top FCS player) in a landslide. He ranked second nationally with a 170.19 pass-efficiency rating, seventh with 3,843 yards of total offense and 58th in rushing. Additionally, he threw only two interceptions in 224 regular-season pass attempts, with a school-record string of 176 passes without an interception.

LeGree, a junior defensive back, led the nation with 10 interceptions in ‘08. His 10 INTs broke the 45-year-old school record of eight (Larry Harbin, 1963) and tied the SoCon record that hadn’t been matched in 33 seasons. In addition, he ranked second in the SoCon and 10th nationally with 17 passes defended and finished fifth on the squad with 58 tackles, including three for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. He placed third in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the nation’s top FCS defensive player.

#40 Jacque Roman #54 Jabari FletcherRoman, a senior linebacker, racked up 130 total tackles (9.3 per game) as a junior, good for 28th nationally and second in the SoCon. He led the Apps with eight double-digit tackle performances and four fumble recoveries and added three sacks, two interceptions, five quarterback hurries and two pass break-ups.

A senior defensive back, Gilbert led the SoCon and tied for second nationally with 19 passes defended (17 pass break-ups and two interceptions) a season ago. Additionally, he ranked fourth on the team and led all ASU defensive backs with 72 tackles and recorded the squad’s only blocked kick of the season.

Cortez GilbertAcitelli, a senior offensive lineman, was a leader on an offensive line that helped Appalachian to top-10 national rankings in scoring, rushing, pass efficiency and total offense in 2008. After playing left guard as a junior, he is expected to move back to the left tackle position that he has occupied for much of his collegiate career in ‘09.

Smith, a junior linebacker, ranked second on the squad behind Roman with 123 tackles last year. His 7.5 tackles for loss were second on the squad while his seven pass break-ups ranked second among ASU’s non-defensive backs in ‘08.

Appalachian’s six overall honorees were the second-most in the nation, behind only Weber State’s seven. ASU, Weber, Villanova and Richmond led the way with two first-teamers apiece.

Coming off an 11-3 season and its fourth-straight SoCon championship, ASU opens the 2009 campaign on Sept. 5 at former conference rival East Carolina. Kickoff is set for noon and the contest will be televised regionally on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).

Edwards Among 21 Finalists for Unitas Golden Arm Award

(courtesy Appalachian Sports Information)

036aBOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University quarterback Armanti Edwards is the lone NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS — formerly Division I-AA) representative among the 21 players nominated for the 2009 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation announced on Thursday. The Unitas Golden Arm Award is presented annually to college football’s top senior quarterback.

Edwards racked up 2,902 passing yards, 941 rushing yards and a SoCon-record 41 touchdowns responsible for (30 passing, 11 rushing) as a junior last season. He ranked second nationally with a 170.19 pass-efficiency rating, seventh with 3,843 yards of total offense and 58th in rushing. He threw only two interceptions in 224 regular-season pass attempts, with a school-record string of 176 passes without an interception that spanned over two months — eight full games and parts of two others.

Thanks to his outstanding junior season, Edwards was a consensus first-team FCS All-American and won the 2008 Walter Payton Award (nation’s top FCS player) in a landslide, becoming just the sixth underclassman in the 22-year history of the Payton Award to receive the honor.  He enters his final collegiate season as ASU’s all-time leader in total offense (10,783 yards), touchdown passes (62) and touchdowns responsible for (109).

The Unitas Golden Arm Award is named after the man that many refer to as the finest quarterback ever, former University of Louisville and Baltimore Colts great Johnny Unitas. The winner of the award is recognized not only for athletic accomplishments, but also for character, citizenship, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities. This year’s winner will be announced in November.

Twenty-one of the award’s previous 22 winners have come from the six conferences that comprise the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) or BCS member Notre Dame (the only exception being Fresno State’s David Carr in 2001). Seven of the 22 winners — Gino Torretta (Miami (Fla.) — 1992), Charlie Ward (Florida State — 1993), Danny Wuerffel (Florida — 1996), Chris Weinke (Florida State — 2000), Carson Palmer (Southern California — 2002), Jason White (Oklahoma — 2004) and Matt Leinart (Southern California — 2005) — took home the Heisman in the same year. Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell won the Golden Arm Award last season.

Other notable nominees for this year’s award include 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of Florida and a trio of in-state contenders — Duke’s Thaddeus Lewis, East Carolina’s Patrick Pinkney and Wake Forest’s Riley Skinner.

Edwards will discuss the nomination and other topics regarding the fast-approaching football season on Friday morning when he appears live on the “Murphy in the Morning” radio show on 107.5 FM in Greensboro/Winston-Salem. He will join host Jack Murphy on the program at approximately 8:30 a.m.

Avery High Volleyball Camp

Team 004The Avery High School Volleyball Camp will be held Tuesday, July 28 thru Friday, July 31st at Avery County High School.

9 AM – 11:30 AM:  3rd Grade thru 5th Grade

9:30 AM – 12 Noon: 6th Grade thru 8th Grade

2 PM – 4 PM and 6 PM – 8 PM: High School

The Camp is open to the public, for more information on this camp please call Avery County High School at 733-0151, or contact the Avery Parks and Recreation Department at 733-8266.

Just a reminder:

Tommy Burleson Basketball Camp – July 20-24

Baseball Camp – July 27 – 31: 9 AM – Noon (K-5th) 1-4 PM (6th – 9th)

Chesnut Continues Winning Ways

565Mary Chesnut Smith has done just about anything you could imagine in a Lady Viking uniform, placing well in both regional and state track competitions, doing very well in cross country meets, and leading the Lady Viking Soccer team into the playoffs this season…and now she has another jewel in her crown, Highland Games Champion.  Smith took the women’s Track and Field Athlete of the Games honor by placing first in the 1 mile, 2 mile, 880-yard run and also competed in the women’s long jump.

Smith put together a phenomenal day on the track at McCrae Meadows, placing first in all three of the running events she was scheduled in, taking the 880 in a time of 2:54.00 edging her sister in the event.  Smith also put together quite a display in the mile, coming in under the 6 minute mark, well on her way to victory.  Smith then ran in the 2 mile race, putting up a great time of 13:40.72, earning her to top spot, and clinching the overall women’s title in her favor.  Chesnut’s time in the two mile would have been enough to earn her the second spot in the men’s 2 mile race, which was great to see her in running shape, and putting up enough to gain top honors.

Smith is a rising junior at Avery County High School, and looks to build off of her summer success during the fall as part of the Viking Cross Country team.  Smith has already seen many successes as a Lady Viking, and hopes to see many more over the next couple of years as part of the Viking Athletic Program.

Smith was not the only former Avery athlete competing in the games this year, as former Viking, Joe Welliver also took to the field, looking to defend his title in the A-class of the Scottish Athletic Events.  Welliver entered the games this year with hopes of continuing his success from a year earlier, where he was able to put together a fine performance earning the plate.  He fared well during the competition, putting up a Personal Record in the 56 lb weight for height, posting 15’ placing him second.

Welliver, a ’01 graduate of Avery High, found his way back up to the Games as an athlete last year, and loves the opportunity to come home and perform in front of his hometown crowd.  Welliver is now living in Wilmington with his wife Amanda, and is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Welliver of Banner Elk.

Joe Welliver

Joe Welliver

Edging out Welliver for second in the A-class was Wes Kiser a former Track and Field Athlete for Appalachian State.  Kiser placed 2nd overall in the A-class, putting together an impressive showing that included his first turn of the caber in A-class competition.

Another Former Appalachian Athlete took the overall professional crown in the Scottish Athletic Events; Larry Brock, former offensive lineman for ASU, battled tough, wrapping up the overall crown in the professional competition.  Other Appalachian, Avery and Watauga athletes were present and competing in the Games, putting on a great showing for area athletes.  Congrats to Smith, Welliver and all the others who competed in this years’ Games.

LLBB: 9-10’s Drop 2, 11-12’s Fall to Morganton

Jacob Daniels took one off the helmet early in Avery's match-up with Wilkes #2, Daniels was shaken but not stirred as he went on to have an outstanding game, driving in a run and making two spectacular catches for the 9 and 10 y/o team. (Phillip Greene Photo)

Jacob Daniels took one off the helmet early in Avery's match-up with Wilkes #2, Daniels was shaken but not stirred as he went on to have an outstanding game, driving in a run and making two spectacular catches for the 9 and 10 y/o team. (Phillip Greene Photo)

Avery’s 9 and 10 year old Baseball squad took to the field twice last week to get their post-season underway.  They traveled to Wilkes County to take on one of the Wilkes American teams, finding themselves locked in a tough battle, and unable to get anything going with the bats; falling 10-0 in five innings.

Avery came home to try and get things right, hoping to seek redemption against another of the Wilkes teams.  Avery battled back and forth with the Wilkes 2 team before finally taking the lead at 7-5 in the fifth inning.  Due to the structure of the tournament bracket, however, Avery had to serve as the away team, which would prove to be their culprit, as Avery was able to head into the bottom half of the final inning with a 2 run lead.

Wilkes would get things started with a lead-off walk, and then benefit from an inside the park homerun to tie the game.  The Wilkes 2 team then loaded the bases and took advantage of a bases loaded walk to end the game and earn the victory over Avery.

“I’d rather lose by 15 or 20 than on a bases loaded walk,” stated Head Coach Kevin McClellan.  “The boys played their hearts out, it hurts to finish one like that.”

Avery’s 11 and 12 year old boys also played over the past week, falling in a tough game against a powerhouse squad from Morganton.  The Avery team will return to action on Saturday at 4 PM in hopes of turning their post season into a couple of wins, and to move on in Regional play.  Good Luck and Congrats to all of Avery’s All-Stars.

LLSB: 11-12 y/o Wins 2 of 3 to Move On

Emily Brown took the circle for Avery against Ashe in 11 and 12 action

Emily Brown took the circle for Avery against Ashe in 11 and 12 action

Last week got started with Avery’s 11 and 12 traveling to Colletsville, NC to take on the West Caldwell LLSB team.  The Avery Ladies got the game started with Ashlie Yoder taking to the circle looking to get things started in an exciting way for Avery.  After a scoreless first and two runs posted by the West Caldwell Ladies, Avery put three on the board in the top of the second to grab the 3-2 lead.

Momentum would sway in favor of both teams, with West battling back to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the frame.  Another back and forth inning in the third, but Avery was able to move into the lead in the top of the fourth inning, popping out to a 10-6 advantage heading into the bottom of the inning.   West refused to let go, putting up two more in the bottom of the inning, cutting the Avery lead to 10-8 after four complete.

Five runs for Avery in the top of the 5th inning would give them a 7 run cushion, but West would battle to gain one in the bottom of the inning, and the teams would go into the final stanza with Avery holding a 15-9 margin.  In the sixth, Avery’s bats would stay hot, as the girls would put up 6 more runs, pushing their lead to a 21-9 margin, which would prove to be more than enough for relief pitcher Ellie Lecka, as the girls from West were unable to overcome the 12 run deficit, falling 21-14 in six.

“We hit well,” stated Head Coach Kevin Brown, “defensively we played great too, not allowing a run on a walk, which was a concern we had.”

On Wednesday, July 1, the girls from Ashe County looked to wreck the Avery party, as they made the trek from Jefferson to Newland to face off with Avery.  Emily Brown took the ball for Coach Brown to open Avery’s second contest of the tournament.  Avery came out strong, keeping the contest close, and keeping Ashe at bay for much of the first two innings.  Brown battled with the Ashe bats, and found a rhythm which kept her on top of the Ashe hitters early, but adjustments by the Ashe line-up got the rally started and some key errors put Ashe up by a 6-1 margin.

Avery was able to cut the lead to 10-3 late in the game, but another rally from Ashe, and Avery was unable to get out of the 15-3 hole they found themselves in.  “Ashe is a good team,” stated Brown, “they took advantage of our mistakes.”

Avery traveled to Watauga County on Friday night, to take on Lenoir, looking to get things righted, and get a second victory of the post season.  Avery got things started in the top of the first, plating a run as Makayla Clark was able to muster a base-hit, and then steal her way around the bases earning Avery’s first run of the game.  In the bottom of the inning Avery was able to get two outs quickly in the first three batters, but Lenoir was able to rally with two outs, batting around and plating four runs before Avery was able to log the third out.

In the second inning Avery plated 8 runs of their own, taking the lead over Lenoir 9-4 with some great hitting.  Jerrica Reiger plated 3 runs on a double with the bases loaded, with Lecka and Yoder each finding a way to get across more runs.  They would then give up 3 runs in the bottom of the inning, but would hold on to a 9-7 lead.  Avery scored 5 runs in the first 5 batters of the 3rd inning, capped off by an inside the park grand slam from Ashlie Yoder, plating 4 of her 8 RBI for the game.  Yoder would strike out the side in the bottom of the third, and plate 5 more, with Yoder’s second inside the park grand slam of the evening.  Morgan Lecka would come in to replace Yoder in the circle in the bottom of the 4th, allowing 1 run and striking out 2, to give Avery the 19-8 victory over the Lenoir All-Stars.  Eight of the ten Avery players found their way around the bases, with Makayla Clark scoring 4 of their 19 runs.  Yoder drove in 8 while Reiger added 3 and 6 of the players found home base two or more times.  Avery hopes to continue their dominance into the next round, playing on Saturday, July 11 at 2 PM in Boone for a chance to continue on in regional play.

The 9 and 10 year-old ladies took the field also hoping to move on and continue play in their respective bracket.  They took to the field to take on the Ashe County team, displaying some great strides that had been made since the season ended.  Based solely on physical size and ability it appeared that the Ashe team had more to offer, but mostly based on age, with the age requirements of League, they were an older team than was Avery.

Kesha Garland peeks in toward the plate while stealing third against Ashe in 9 and 10 y/o action (Phillip Greene Photo)

Kesha Garland peeks in toward the plate while stealing third against Ashe in 9 and 10 y/o action (Phillip Greene Photo)

The Minor League Ladies would battle tough, but were unable to pull out the victory, falling 19-3 over a clearly under matched Ashe County squad.  They will be looking to continue their run later in the week.  For more information go to the Little League website at for the latest news and updates, Great Job and Good Luck ladies!