Timberwolves, Highlanders lead HD All Tri-State Team
HUNTINGTON - The Herald-Dispatch All Tri-State High School Football Team is so talented even its honorable mention selections are receiving college scholarship offers.
The star-studded squad features multiple NCAA FBS- and FCS-bound players along with dozens of others going to NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA programs. More difficult in many senses to make than an all-state team, the 2018 All Tri-State unit is highlighted by an astoundingly talented offensive line.
All five players on the offensive front have received major college offers. Spring Valley senior guard/tackle Doug Nester (6-foot-6, 317 pounds) committed to Ohio State before re-opening his recruitment upon the retirement of Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer. Huntington High senior tackle Darnell Wright (6-6, 307) is one of the top-rated blockers in the country and owns offers from the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, Tennessee and virtually every other major college power. Spring Valley senior tackle Zach Williamson (6-6, 275) has committed to Louisville and sophomore Wyatt Milum (6-7, 245) from the Timberwolves has offers from Ohio State, Georgia, Penn State, Marshall and West Virginia among others. Huntington High’s Max Howell (6-4, 265) committed to East Tennessee State on Thursday.
Even the utility player on the first team is an offensive lineman, Huntington High junior guard Terrance Pankey (6-1, 240).
Adding to the powerful blocking unit is Cabell Midland junior tight end Zach McCoy (6-3, 220), who caught three passes for 51 yards last season and was a blocker for first team senior running back Ivan Vaughn (5-10, 190), who rushed for 1,740 yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. Joining Vaughn as first team running backs are Spring Valley senior and West Virginia University commitment Owen Chafin (5-10, 200), who ran 187 times for 1,355 yards and 12 touchdowns to help the Timberwolves to the Class AAA state championship game and Hurricane junior Christian Hill (5-8, 181), who ran for 1,525 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Quarterbacking the first team is Fairland senior Joel Lambiotte (6-2, 192), who completed 170 of 262 passes for 2,580 yards and 32 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Lambiotte also starred as a safety and punter while helping the Dragons to the Ohio Division IV playoffs. One of Lambiotte’s favored targets, sophomore Gavin Hunt (5-11, 150) made the first team at wide receiver after catching 40 passes for 803 yards.
The other receiver on the first team is The Herald-Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year Graeson Malashevich (5-10, 165), a Spring Valley senior who caught 34 passes for 883 yards and 14 touchdowns. Malashevich is a dynamic receiver, but is more than that. He rushed 86 times for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns and completed 5 of 7 passes for 98 yards and four TDs. Malashevich also long snapped, started at defensive back and returned punts. As a defensive back, Malashevich made 38 tackles and intercepted four passes to go with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He won the Fulton Walker Award as the special teams player of the year in West Virginia.
“He has some moves,” Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess said of Malashevich. “He’s so versatile and we can do so many things with him to get him the ball. He can do it all. Anything you ask him to do, he’d do it and wouldn’t say anything. He’d always volunteer, too. He’s one player everybody wishes they had. He’d get mad if you take him out. Every time he touches the ball, something good happens. He’s a big-game player.”
Malashevich has received preferred walk-on offers from NCAA Division I programs Marshall, West Virginia, Penn State, Louisville and Virginia Tech. He’s also open to scholarship offers from smaller schools.
“Right now, I’m taking it slow to see if anything pops open,” he said, “and go from there. I’m open to all recruitment. I’m still looking at smaller schools around here to see what’s best for me, to see what they have to offer.”
The first team defense is stout, with a pair of Huntington High standouts in senior Bryce Damous (6-3, 230) and junior Steven Perrine (6-2, 220) joined by Spring Valley senior Cody Stanley (6-2, 235) and Cabell Midland senior Nevin Ferguson (6-3, 260). All four of those players are versatile enough to play other positions and have, but make up The Herald-Dispatch defensive front four.
The quartet of linebackers is quick and tough, headed by Brocton Blair (6-2, 225), a Huntington High junior, who was picked as The Herald-Dispatch Defensive Player of the Year. Blair was strong against the run and the pass. Hurricane senior J.T. Cooper (6-2, 230) appeared to spend as much time in opposing backfields as some running backs. Wayne two-way senior star Mike Bartram (6-foot, 215) is a fast, hard-nosed player who dominated last season. Ironton senior Ethan Duncan (6-foot, 210) is a run stuffer who can clog the middle or chase running backs down sideline to sideline.
Point Pleasant senior Cason Payne (6-2, 205) was one of the area’s premier quarterbacks, but the Class AA all-state first team player is even better at safety. He is joined in the secondary by Cabell Midland speedy senior Griffin Adkins (5-10, 155) and Spring Valley junior ball hawk David Livingston (6-3, 201).
The first-team utility player is Chesapeake senior Austin Browning (6-2, 190), who could have started for nearly any team in the Tri-State at safety, linebacker, quarterback or running back.
The first-team kicker is Hurricane senior Timothy McCutchen (5-11, 185), who not only was a threat from 45 yards on field goals, but frequently tilted field position in the Redskins’ favor by sending kickoffs through the end zone. He is joined on special teams by Russell senior punter Grant Wilburn (6-1, 200) averaged 40 yards per punt and was adept at placing the ball inside opponents’ 20-yard line.
The HD All Tri-State second team likely could give the first unit quite a battle.
Spring Valley senior quarterback Will Adkins, who has committed to Glenville State, heads the offense after completing 43 of 76 passes for 1,056 yards and 17 touchdowns with one interception. Adkins’ passing ability opened up the Timberwolves offense and prevented defenses from stacking against the run.
Adkins’ teammate, senior Isaac Howard, ran for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns in a loaded Spring Valley backfield. He is joined on the second team by Huntington High senior Ty Wilcoxon and Ironton sophomore Reid Carrico.
The wide receivers are a fast, sure-handed bunch led by Fairland junior Reilly Sowards. He is joined by Spring Valley junior Nate Ellis and Huntington High junior Kris Brown.
The offensive line is formidable with Cabell Midland seniors Logan Osburn and Brayden Simmons joined by Spring Valley senior Luke Jarrell, Wayne senior Hunter Watts and Gallia Academy sophomore Riley Starnes.
Cabell Midland senior wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner Carlito Carter is the second team offense utility player.
A pair of Huntington High players, senior Christian Hanna and junior B.J. Summerlin, anchor a defensive line that includes Ironton senior Brady Rowe and Spring Valley senior Cody Sharp. They are backed by linebackers A.J. Prestera and Malik Johnson of Huntington High, a senior and junior respectively, junior Kamren Harless of Chesapeake and junior Jacob Campbell of Gallia Academy.
Spring Valley senior Tyson Hall, Coal Grove senior Aaron Music and Cabell Midland junior J.J. Roberts comprise the secondary. Josh Wamsley, a Point Pleasant senior, is the defensive utility player.
Huntington High senior Isaaiah Carpenter and Spring Valley junior Zane Porter are the second team kicker and punter respectively.
HD All Tri-State Coach of the Year honors went to Spring Valley’s Brad Dingess for the third consecutive season. Spring Valley played in the Class AAA state finals for the third year in a row. Dingess was selected over a lineup of stiff competition that included Gallia Academy’s Alex Penrod, Ironton’s Teevon Pendleton and Lincoln County’s Randy Adkins.