By Steve Williams

Kalib Fortner broke out on the prep football scene as a sophomore two years ago and capped the 2018 season by being selected the Most Valuable Player in Central’s Class 5A state championship win at the BlueCross Bowl in Cookeville.

Over the next two seasons, the Bobcats’ outside linebacker continued to play the game with great passion.

One might say he never pushed the “cruise control” button. Instead, he pushed the pedal to the metal.

For his hard-hitting style of play, Fortner has been selected the Player of the Year on The Focus / Coaches’ 2020 All-Knox County team. He received six votes in the balloting.

Kalib’s brother, Liam, a senior wide receiver and strong safety who also ran a lot out of the wildcat position this season, finished runner-up with three votes. Both have committed to sign with Army.

Others receiving votes for the award included West senior running back Isaiah Mattress (two votes), CAK junior running back JD Dunn (two), Karns sophomore running back De’Sean Bishop (one), Farragut senior linebacker Eli Purcell (one) and Knoxville Catholic receiver Tommy Winton (one).

“Throughout Kalib’s career at CHS he has been tenacious about how he approaches every part of being successful,” said Central Head Coach Nick Craney after learning Kalib had been voted the award.

“From committing himself to working extremely hard in the weight room to develop his body to studying and learning our defense and his position inside and out, he also has been determined to succeed in the classroom and in service to our school and community. I am so proud of all he has accomplished on and off the field in his time at Central.

“However, in this crazy 2020 season and my first year as Kalib’s head coach, I am most grateful for his leadership,” added Craney. “He is the type of young man that understands what it takes to be successful and is unashamed of holding all of those around him accountable to that standard of success.”

Kalib, who added 25 pounds of muscle during the off-season, also saw action as a tight end this year.

He finished the season with 62 solo stops, 23 assists, 17 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, six hurries, two interceptions, 67 interception return yards, six pass break-ups, one blocked punt, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Offensively, he had 10 receptions for 134 yards.

Fortner is one of three finalists for the TSSAA Class 5A Mr. Football award, which will be announced Tuesday.

The Focus / Coaches’ 2020 All-Knox County Team



Position, Name, School, Class

OL: David Hull, South-Doyle, Sr.

OL: Kane Lewis, West, Sr.

OL: Jackson Bradley, Webb, Sr.

OL: Tavian Goodwin, South-Doyle, Jr.

OL: Cameron Stokes, Fulton, Jr.

TE: Terrell Brown, South-Doyle, Sr.

WR: Matt White, Farragut, Sr.

WR: Jayden Collins, Powell, Jr.

QB: Jordyn Potts, Powell, Soph.

RB: JD Dunn, CAK, Jr.

RB: De’Sean Bishop, Karns, Soph.

ATH: Liam Fortner, Central, Sr.

PK: Ewan Johnson, South-Doyle, Sr.

KR: Marcellus Jackson, Fulton, Soph.


Position, Name, School, Class

DL: Malachi Harrison, CAK, Jr.

DL: Andrew Gilbert, West, Sr.

DL: Seth Vaughn, Fulton, Jr.

DE: Levi Herald, South-Doyle, Jr.

DE: Xander Allen, Powell, Sr.

LB: Kalib Fortner, Central, Sr.

LB: Eli Purcell, Farragut, Sr.

LB: Noah Myers, South-Doyle, Sr.

DB: Conner Williamson, Farragut, Sr.

DB: Preston Sisler, South-Doyle, Sr.

DB: Carson Whitehead, Powell, Jr.

P: Ryan Bolton, Central, Jr.



Position, Name, School, Class

OL: Zach Dyer, Gibbs, Sr.

OL: Brady Cash, Central, Jr.

OL: Jake Rogers, CAK, Sr.

OL: Ethan Fogle, CAK, Sr.

OL: Garrett Staley, GCA, Sr.

TE: Bryson Shown, Gibbs, Sr.

WR: Grant Sterchi, CAK, Jr.

WR: Jason Foust, Powell, Soph.

QB: Dawson Moore, Farragut, Jr.

RB: Shawn Gary, South-Doyle, Jr.

RB: Makai Williams, Bearden, Sr.

ATH: Brandon Winton, Webb.

PK: Ross Badgett V, CAK, Sr.


Position, Name, School, Class

DL: Gabe Neubert, Central, Sr.

DL: TaShawn Patrick, South-Doyle, Sr.

DL: Trevor Linderman, Halls, Sr.

DE: Logan Sims, CAK, Sr.

DE: Mark Adams, Central, Jr.

LB: Johnny Eller, GCA, Sr.

LB: Chi McNeil-Harrison, CAK, Jr.

LB: Luke Myers, CAK, Jr.

DB: Lex Scott, South-Doyle, Sr.

DB: Mason Collins, Farragut, Jr.

DB: Brody Blankenship, Carter, Fr.

P: Brady Hodges, Farragut, Sr.


AUSTIN-EAST: Ke’on Smith, WR.

BEARDEN: Christian Spining, LB; Reed Frederick, DB; Jalen Nevels, OL; Ty Seritt, LB; Kam Smith, DE; James Milazzo, DL.

CAK: Ryan Degges, QB, Sr; Caleb Sparkman, WR, Sr;

Knox Woidtke, LB, Sr; Austin Delp, DL, Fr; Denzel Jackson, DB, Jr; JD Presley, Athlete, Sr; Garrett Brady, OL, Jr; Jaqueze Turman, OL, Soph; Eli Milam, OL, Soph.

CARTER: Anthony Stocker, Athlete, Sr; Chandler Wilson, QB, Soph; Maurice Sylvia, OL, Sr; Tim Flack, DL, Sr.

CENTRAL: Deon’tae White, WR, Sr.

FARRAGUT: Carter Schuermann, OL; Trey Nesbitt, DE; Camden Kuhn, DB; Trace Corum, WR; Carter Nussbaum, LB.

FULTON: Bill Anderson, OL, Jr; Tommy Sweat, QB, Sr; Keenan Vaughn, DE, Jr.

GIBBS: Colton Qualls, QB, Sr; Mason Cole, DE, Sr; John-Aidan Pittman, PK, Sr; Luke Warwick, LB, Sr; Bryson Walker, WR, Sr; Ethan Coppinger, WR, Jr.

GRACE CHRISTIAN: Cooper Riggs, QB, Sr; Pierce Browning, WR, Soph; Michael Human, WR, Sr.

HALLS: Hayden Woods, LB, Sr; Ty Humphrey, QB, Sr; Seth Simpson, DB, Sr; Zach Plunk, OL, Jr.

HARDIN VALLEY: Braden Schloff, WR; Zach Passafume, KR; Michael Spurgeon, LB.

KARNS: Cameron Glenn, DL, Sr.

KNOXVILLE CATHOLIC: JT Quinones, LB, Sr; Tommy Winton, WR, Jr; Daven Cozart, DL, Soph; Hayden Todd, OL, Jr; Javis Mynatt, DB, Jr.

POWELL: Cannon Lusby, LB, Jr; Jordan Brown, RB, Sr; Ayden Greene, WR, Soph; Brycen Hodges, OL, Sr; Camron Gann, OL, Jr.

SOUTH-DOYLE: Nick Martin, QB, Jr; Curtis Young, LB, Jr; Anthony Berrier, WR, Sr; Mason Chandler, Holder, Sr; Almarion Greer, DB, Soph; Lavolius Johnson, DL, Sr; Cameron Monday, LS, Jr; Tajaun Owens, RB, Soph; Hunter Simpson, HB, Jr; Andrew Denas, OL, Soph; Tate Hunter, OL, Jr; Max Hull, OL, Soph; Weston Parker, OL, Sr.

WEBB: Brik Boruff,  OL; Leo Bonifacio, LB; Charlie Robinson, QB; Otto Niendorff,  PK; Joey Bonifacio, LB; Corey Williams, DL; Jackson Baker, WR; Joseph Moore, DB; Bradee McCoy, DB; Joey Fulcher, DE; Elijah Bane, RB; Dominic Vance, RB; Ford Wagner, TE; Luke Julian, OL; Tabb Layton, OL; Steven Beaty, OL.

WEST: Trevon Barfield, RB, Soph; Isaiah Mattress, RB, Sr; Shannon Blair, WR, Jr; Tyson Siebe, PK, Soph; Baker Dance, QB, Sr; Jack Eggleston, LB, Sr; Elijah Rogers, DB, Soph.