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ATG main course: Taters for Thanksgiving

Douglas Fritz • Nov 28, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Most people like Taters, especially around Thanksgiving.

Who doesn’t like Taters? Offenses who saw the undersized linebacker — a sometimes one-man wrecking crew — across the line of scrimmage.

Cherokee’s Tater Haun spent Friday evenings making tackles. That would be every Friday evening for 11 weeks. And it wouldn’t be surprising if he tackled a few folks on the Chiefs’ bye week just for kicks.

For his weekly display of hard-nosed efforts, Haun was chosen as the captain of the annual Times News All-Tough Guy team.

Joining Haun at the top of honor roll was the ATG coach of the year. Daniel Boone’s Jeremy Jenkins kept this team fighting, scratching and battling despite the loss of star player Charlie Cole. And the Trailblazers turned what could have been a fruitless season into a year to remember.

Here’s a look at this year’s ATG team:

TATER HAUN

Cherokee

Numbers might fib a little at times, but they do not for Haun.

The generously listed 5-foot-8, 165-pounder got his hands on ballcarriers 152 times during the course of Cherokee’s 6-5 season. He had 12 tackles for loss, broke up two passes and recovered a fumble.

Simply put, he was pound for pound the area’s toughest player.

CAM NECESSARY

Sullivan South

Need an offensive line block? Cam had it. Tackle for loss on the other side? Cam. Line up at tight end and nearly shock the top-ranked team in the state? Yep. Cam.

JET HARRIS

Dobyns-Bennett

The Indians struck fear into the hearts of opposing offenses this season. Defenders came from every angle and made scoring points a difficult proposition. And one of the ring leaders was Harris, a true ATG linebacker.

BRAXTON KULBACKI

Dobyns-Bennett

There were a lot of hungry mouths to feed on the Tribe’s defensive side. So producing stats had to be accomplished by way of determination and toughness. Kulbacki produced such stats.

DEVON WHITE

Daniel Boone

When a football team is backed to the wall and finds it way to greener pastures, usually there’s an ATG-level linebacker making his presence felt. That was the case this year for White and the Trailblazers.

WILL NOTTINGHAM

Sullivan Central

For almost 300 snaps, the Cougars’ quarterback was either running or throwing the football, dodging defenders and taking hits. Through it all, Nottingham stayed ATG tough and helped Central become a more competitive team.

CAMERON JOHNSON

Volunteer

The Falcons had a tougher defense this season, with Johnson causing problems from his linebacker position. And he added to his resume with ATG-pounding strides as a running back.

DALE POTTER

Sullivan North

When it came time to get things done in a physical way, the Raiders turned to Potter. He was a tough runner and a tackle-producing defender with ball skills. Toughness squared.

CHRIS THOMAS

Science Hill

It wasn’t a fun year for the Hilltoppers when it came to wins and losses, and Thomas got beat up quite a bit as defenses keyed on him. Despite a midseason shoulder injury, Thomas came back and kept grinding out the ATG-worthy yardage from his running back position.

KODY LEWIS

Unicoi County

The Blue Devils’ bread was buttered in the backfield with a trusted workhorse, averaging 17 carries per game. But Lewis was also a big-time factor as a defensive back, especially considering his ability to make ATG-tough tackles from the secondary.

CONOR JONES

Hampton

Combined with his high-usage workload on offense as a quarterback, Jones consistently earned four to six stops per game on defense from his secondary position. His both-sides-of-the-ball effort was noteworthy — and tough.

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