GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — Another season of high school football. Another season of passing out accolades to the Big Blacks.
Point Pleasant once again dominated the selection process while landing an area-best nine choices on the 2017 Ohio Valley Publishing Super 25 Football Team, as voted on by the sports writers for the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel publications.
The OVP Super 25 team consists of only players on programs within Gallia, Mason and Meigs counties, and the selection process was based on overall contributions to each individual’s team — whether it be on offense, defense or special teams.
This area “all-star” squad was also assembled to reward and acknowledge some of our finest local athletes for another memorable season of high school football.
There were 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players chosen, as well as three all-purpose choices for players that did a little bit of everything well. A spot was also reserved for a special teams player, rather it be a placekicker or a punter.
A player of the year was chosen on each of side of the ball and a coach of the year was also honored by OVP.
In all, the overall goal for the selection committee was to come away with the tri-county’s 25 best football players. There were also several very good football players who did not make this list, though all were given consideration.
We’ll start this list, however, by announcing that 11th-year Point Pleasant football coach Dave Darst won OVP Super 25 Coach of the Year honors for a third consecutive season.
Darst guided PPHS to its 10th consecutive postseason appearance while putting together an area-best 8-2 overall record.
In fact, the Big Blacks were one of only two programs in the nine-team area that put together a winning season — with Southern (7-3) being the other.
Gallia Academy and Wahama finished even with identical 5-5 marks, while Meigs (4-6) and River Valley (3-7) came in just ahead of both South Gallia (2-8) and Hannan (2-8) in the win column.
The selections mimicked those final records, with PPHS and the Tornadoes accounting for a dozen of the 25 spots on the 2017 squad.
The Blue Devils, Marauders and White Falcons were next with three selections apiece, while the Eagles and Rebels each earned one spot on the list. The Wildcats were the only local program not to have a selection.
On the offensive side of the ball, PPHS junior quarterback Cason Payne was again named the Offensive Player of the Year.
After becoming the first QB in Point history to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season as a sophomore, the southpaw signal-caller followed up with an impressive junior campaign that resulted in almost 2,600 yards of total offense.
Payne set a school record for passing yards in a season by completing 119-of-181 passes for 1,653 yards, which led to 18 TD tosses and just one interception. Payne also ran for 925 yards and 16 TDs on 118 carries.
The offensive line selections included four seniors in Wahama’s Christopher Hesson, Nathan Mitchell of Gallia Academy, Eastern’s Wyatt Bissell and Point’s Alex Gibbs. Southern junior Austin Arnold completed the five-man front.
A pair of seniors landed in the starting backfield, with Southern’s Riley Roush and Point Pleasant’s Justin Brumfield earning those coveted spots.
Brumfield amassed 1,234 rushing yards and 16 TDs on 127 carries in the regular season, while Roush had 1,170 yards and 23 scores on 174 attempts.
Underclassmen filled the two wideout spots chosen, with Meigs and the Big Blacks each coming away with one choice apiece.
Junior Josh Wamsley hauled in 49 passes for 732 yards and seven touchdowns for Point Pleasant, while sophomore Weston Baer had 517 yards and seven scores on 22 catches for the Marauders.
Wahama senior Christian Thomas, Gallia Academy junior Justin McClelland and Meigs junior Zach Bartrum were the three all-purpose selections for their overall contributions to their respective programs.
South Gallia senior exchange student Sviatoslav ‘Savat’ Hryhorenko was the special teams honoree after successfully booting 13-of-15 point-after tries and also converting four field goals for the Rebels.
Payne, Bartrum, Roush and Bissell were also repeat selections to the OVP Super 25 offensive unit.
The defensive player of the year award also went to a Point Pleasant for a third straight year as senior linebacker Tucker Mayes won the honor this fall.
Mayes led the PPHS defense in almost every phase of its scoring system, including big plays and overall results. Mayes had more than twice as many points from sacks, fumble recoveries and interceptions this fall than any other player on the Point roster … as well as a 21-point lead in the final defensive chart.
Mayes was joined at the linebacker spot by Wahama senior Johnnie Board, Meigs senior Lane Cullums, Gallia Academy junior Jacob Campbell and River Valley sophomore Cole Young.
The defensive line consisted of senior Cameron Nott and sophomore Nate Barth of Point Pleasant, as well as Southern junior Sean Myers.
The defensive backfield was made up of Point Pleasant senior Alec Smith, River Valley senior Patrick Brown and Southern senior Dylan Smith.
Both Campbell and Alec Smith were repeat selections to the OVP Super 25 defensive unit.
It was the third consecutive year that the Big Blacks swept all of the special player honors. Payne and Cody Mitchell have served as the last three offensive players of the year, while Mayes joins Grant Safford (2016) and the 2015 Point duo of Tanner Hill and Cody McDaniel as defensive players of the year.
Darst was the 2016 outright coach of the year and also shared the honor with River Valley’s Jerrod Sparling in 2015.
Excluding Coach Darst, the Big Blacks have still had 26 players chosen for 75 of the OVP Super 25 spots over the last three years. The next closest area programs are Southern with 11, Meigs with nine and River Valley with eight.
2017 OVP Super 25 Football Team
QB: Cason Payne (PP)
RB: Riley Roush (SHS) and Justin Brumfield (PP)
WR: Josh Wamsley (PP) and Weston Baer (MHS)
OL: Christopher Hesson (WHS), Nathan Mitchell (GA), Wyatt Bissell (EHS), Austin Arnold (SHS) and Alex Gibbs (PP)
DL: Cameron Nott (PP), Sean Myers (SHS) and Nate Barth (PP)
LB: Johnnie Board (WHS), Jacob Campbell (GA), Tucker Mayes (PP), Lane Cullums (MHS) and Cole Young (RV)
DB: Alec Smith (PP), Patrick Brown (RV) and Dylan Smith (SHS)
Christian Thomas (WHS), Zach Bartrum (MHS) and Justin McClelland (GA)
Sviatoslav ‘Savat’ Hryhorenko (SG)
Offensive Player of the Year
Cason Payne (PP)
Co-Defensive Players of the Year
Tucker Mayes (PP)
Coach of the Year
Dave Darst (PP)
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.