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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
You could say that high school football in Washington County is a lot like agriculture in Washington County. For one particular year, there’s a bumper crop, and then some years, there are rough patches. While the varsity Commanders finished 2009 with a 3-8 record, the seeds have already been planted for future harvests as the JV squad went 6-0, taking the Heartland Conference title and the freshman team finishing at a respectable 4-2. As one chapter in WC football closes, head coach Mark Perry sees good things ahead for his team.
“There’s a lot of promise,” said Perry. “We have a lot of good young players who got a lot of experience this season. Obviously we’re disappointed with the way this season went. We didn’t play our best football, but hopefully a year like this makes you hungry and makes you see what you have to do to accomplish goals. We have to be excellent in everything we do, be it the classroom, the weight room or on the field. We have some leadership in the youngers players that are committed to winning and that’s what we’re going to build on.”
The 2009 season had its share of thrills on the gridiron. Junior running back Qwan Turner led Commander rushing with 1,122 yards on 165 carries on the year, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Senior Tyree Railey placed second in rushing with 144 yards on 27 carries in just four games, followed by sophomore Trae Abell, who netted 118 yards on 46 rushes on the season.
Rounding out the ground attack was sophomore Tyler Coulter with 103 on 25 carries, junior Trampus Montgomery with 61 yards on 12 carries, sophomore Marcus Reardon, who had 28 yards on 20 carries, and freshman Tyler Loving with eight yards on four rushes.
Through the air, Washington County receiving was led by junior Ben Simms, who had 300 yards on 23 receptions, averaging 13 yards per catch. Sophomore Kyle Curtsinger had 236 yards on 26 catches, while Abell followed with 226 on 17 receptions. Sophomore Connor Riney had 177 yards on nine catches, while senior Tyler Smith racked up 141 yards on 10 catches, sophomore John Morrison had 101 yards on five catches, Turner had 86 yards on 14 catches, Reardon had 29 yards on five catches, Railey had eight yards on two catches and Loving had five yards on one catch. Senior Alex Simms, who missed all but one game with an injury, had one catch for nine yards.
Senior Michael Gash passed for 1,092 yards, completing 94 of 199 attempts for 47 percent while throwing nine touchdowns. Abell had 229 yards in the QB slot, completing 22 out of 46 attempts for 43 percent and one TD.
On the defensive side, Coulter led the Commanders with 90 solo tackles and 37 assists. Senior Evan Warner had 59 tackles and 11 assists, while sophomore Jacob Settles had 41 stops with 11 assists.
Other defensive highlights include senior Steven Sexton, who had 40 tackles and 13 assists, but also recovered a fumble for a 42-yard TD against Fort Knox, and Ben Simms, who led WC with three INTs, including one for a 23-yard touchdown at Lincoln County.
Senior Cory Milburn and Montgomery each had two fumble recoveries for the Commanders, while Turner, Curtsinger, Settles, Warner, Sexton and junior Ta Epps each had one.
Collectively, the Commanders totaled 2,881 yards in 2009, 1,563 by the run and 1,318 by the pass. They were outscored 362-212 in 11 games.
As another season for Washington County football comes to a close, it’s now up to the underclassmen to grab their opportunity and build on what they have learned this past season. There were good times and bad times, but they were all important learning experiences that will only serve to build a better, stronger team in the years ahead.