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West honors football team that made history

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

 The West Brunswick High School football team had its awards banquet Friday, and coaches honored many players on a history-making 2012 team that won the county championship and a conference championship.

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Coach Jimmy Fletcher said this senior football class was the largest senior football class in the history of the school.  Those seniors led the Trojans to a conference championship for the first time in 15 years and won a county championship—after starting the season 0-4. West finished 5-1 in the conference, tying for first with South Columbus.

“What I think is really amazing,” Fletcher said, “is if somebody would have told you after four games what would happened by the end of year, I don’t think anybody would have (believed it). But because of your leadership, we were able to do what we did.”

To the seniors, Fletcher gave each of them a Trojan-green hooded jersey that had this inscription: We made history.

The West Brunswick Special Teams Award went to senior Phillip Gause. Despite playing with a hurt shoulder and in pain for most of the season, he made nine tackles on kickoffs, four inside the 20. He made three tackles on punt coverage.

The West Brunswick Defensive Awards went to junior Gary Darling and senior Hunter Howard. Darling led the team interceptions (four). Howard made 66 tackles and 11 assists. He made three sacks.

The West Brunswick Offensive Awards went to senior lineman John Shipman and senior fullback Khalil Gause. The offense had two running backs each gain more than 1,000 yards, something not done in recent memory. The team averaged 6 yards a carry, nearly 30 points a game and rushed for nearly 250 yards a game.

The West Brunswick Iron Man Award went to senior lineman Bobby McRainey, who suffered a broken leg but returned a game earlier than expected to finish the season.

The West Brunswick Coaches’ Awards went to senior lineman Caleb Dispirito, senior linebacker Quentin Ash and senior linebacker Jaleel Bryant. Ash made 51 tackles and had seven assists. He made six sacks. Bryant was the second-leading tackler. He made 62 tackles and assisted on 12. Dispirito was the fourth-leading tackler. He made 42 tackles and assisted on 10.

The Weight Room Award went to junior Dylan Darguzas and junior lineman Marquis Brown. Darguzas, coach Sam Hanks said, “is probably one of the most competitive people on our team.” Brown, Hanks said, “pushed through a lot of adversity and got to be one of the strongest kids on our team.”

The Farm Bureau Insurance Player of the Year went to senior running back Markel Jones. Despite not playing his junior year, Jones came back this year gained 1,243 yards on 193 carries (6.44 yards per carry). He scored 15 touchdowns as a running back, 17 in all. He also caught 10 passes for 104 yards, which led the team.

“What I like about him is the impact he had on the team and how quickly he impacted team,” said Rodney Brown, Shallotte agency manager of Farm Bureau Insurance. “I came (to his first) game and I think I was 26 seconds late and he was in the end zone doing a touchdown dance. He maintained that type of impact for the team the entire year.”

Making first-team all-conference are Markel Jones, Khalil Gause, Hunter Howard, Gary Darling, Phillip Gause, John Shipman, Bobby McRainey, Daniel Locklear and Trevor McKenzie.

Making second team all-conference are Marquis Brown, Josh Dispirito, Quentin Ash, Jaleel Bryant, Matt Brayboy, Kavonte Gore and Shermonde Fulwood.