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11 Players All-State

Unfortunately for Demopolis and Sweet Water, the 2005 football season didn’t end as brightly as did their 2004 state championship seasons. But that didn’t keep several members of both teams from receiving the same kind of All-State recognition from the Alabama Sports Writers Association as seen last year.

Four Tigers and four Bulldogs were each cited by the ASWA on their 2005 All-State teams, which were announced last week. 11 different area players from four schools were recognized.

A finalist for AHSAA Class 4A Back of the Year, Demopolis quarterback and defensive back Dontrell Miller was named first-team All-State for the second straight year. After being recognized at safety last season, Miller was named All-State at the offensive “Athlete” position for his efforts in guiding the Tigers to a 12-1 season and fourth straight undefeated regular season.

Miller finished the year with 2,208 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and a 55 percent completion rate while throwing only eight interceptions. He added 894 yards and nine touchdowns rushing.

The ASWA chose Alexandria running back Chris Evans as the 4A Back of the Year over Miller, and selected Fayette Co.’s Seth Harkness as its All-State QB.

Three different Tigers were named 4A All-State Honorable Mention. Inside linebacker Jacob Smelley was recognized for leading Demopolis in tackles with 131, an average of more than 10 stops a game. Outside linebacker Ezell Braxton was second in tackles with 83, registered a team-high 10.5 sacks, and even contributed two interceptions and six pass breakups on the season. Senior guard Zach Landerfelt anchored an offensive line that powered the Tigers to 3,343 rushing yards on the season, an average of 257 yards a game and 6.8 yards a carry.

Two Sweet Water Bulldogs were named to the Class 1A All-State team on each side of the ball. On offense, 6-2, 300-plus senior center Steven Etheridge was cited for leading a Sweet Water line that made the Bulldogs’ rushing attack arguably the state’s most dangerous. He was joined by sophomore standout Anthony Landrum, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher, named All-State as an “Athlete” after being recognized at running back in 2004.

On defense, junior linebacker Dominic Holt received his first All-State mention while senior defensive back Deon Williams received his second in a row. Thanks in large part to the effort of their All-State players, the Bulldogs held their opponents to an average of 14.08 points per game.

In addition to AISA All-State running back and AISA Back of the Year Wallace Drury, Southern Academy had two more players, one lineman on each side of the ball, honored for their contributions to the Cougars’ second straight state title. Senior defensive lineman Andy Wheeler was named AISA All-State while junior guard Adam Brown was given Honorable Mention.

The only area player not from the above three schools to receive mention was Marion Military Institute’s jack-of-all-trades Jovaris Smith. Smith, who played a multitude of positions for the Tigers and was a dangerous returner of kicks, was named AISA Honorable Mention at defensive back.