By Steve Williams
Thirty players make up the “first team” on The Knoxville Focus / Coaches’ 2021 All-Knox County high school football squad.
The offensive and defensive units include 13 players each plus there are four “special team” players.
Head coaches at the county’s Division I and II high schools were requested by The Focus to nominate players off their team the week after regular season play ended and include statistics and comments in regard to their players.
State champion Powell, which defeated Page 42-34 in The BlueCross Bowl Class 5A finals at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga on Dec. 3, has the most representatives on the first team with five.
Fulton ranks second with four first-teamers. Catholic, Karns, South-Doyle and West each have three players on the first team and 12 of the 17 Knox County teams are represented.
Twenty-nine standouts are on the “second team” and another 65 players received honorable mention.
This is the sixth consecutive season The Focus has recognized an All-Knox County team and the selection process has changed over the years. The biggest difference this fall was basing the team on regular season play.
The voting for the 2021 Player and Coach of the Year awards also were based on the regular season. Karns junior running back De’Sean Bishop and Karns Head Coach Brad Taylor were the recipients of those awards that were announced in The Focus earlier.
The position of a long snapper also was added to this season’s first team offense and resulted from Webb School Coach David Meske nominating the Spartans’ senior Ford Wagner, who Meske noted “is a 4-star long snapper and a very good tight end.”
So you’ll see Wagner’s name as the first team “LS” among the Special Team positions. And a third WR position was added to the first team in place of a tight end this year as Wagner was the only TE submitted.
In this day and age of the shotgun formation and zone read running offenses, no bruising fullback was nominated either.
You might say the closest to that type of player on the 2021 All-Knox County team is defensive lineman Walter “the Refrigerator” Nolen, who Powell used several times in the Wildcat position in its goal-line attack. The 6-4, 325-pounder scored six touchdowns in that role.
Other special team players on the All-Knox County squad are freshman place-kicker Dylan Stooksbury of Powell, return specialist Will Siaway of Central and Farragut punter Reese Keeney.
During the regular season, Stooksbury was successful on 43 of 45 point-after-touchdown kicks (96 percent) and made six of 11 field goal attempts with his longest being a 40-yarder.
Siaway had an 85-yard kickoff return and a 50-yard punt return for TDs. He averaged 32 yards on his kickoff returns. The Central senior also was a standout wide receiver.
Keeney averaged 39.6 yards on 37 punts and put 13 of them inside the 20-yard line. He also was an accurate place-kicker for the Admirals.