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Jackets, Vols garner all-region football honors

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By Robert Howey

Region IV-AA football champion Buford High School earned its share of awards as the Class AA Upper State league honored its all-region team for the 2018 regular season.
BHS fifth-year head coach Tripp Watts, who guided the Yellow Jackets to an unbeaten mark in Region IV-AA play at 6-0, was named the Region IV-AA Coach of the Year.
He guided BHS to the region title for the first time since the 1997 season and first as a Class AA school.
Two county athletes, one from Buford and one from Andrew Jackson, were honored as the Region IV-AA Players of the Year.
BHS senior running back Tyheim Miller, who topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in the Jackets’ 21-0 win over North Central High School on Oct. 25, was selected as the Region IV-AA Offensive Player of the Year.
AJ’s Ben Hinson, a stalwart for the Volunteers’ in the offensive and defensive trenches, was named the co-Region IV-AA Defensive Player of the Year with Jamel Jones, a North Central High School Knights’ senior linebacker.
Buford had a host of players to reap first-team all-region honors.
Junior quarterback Brayden Phillips, who threw for more than 1,000 yards this season, was the all-region first-team signal-caller in his first season as a transfer player.
Junior Tanner Funderburk, who led the Jackets’ offensive line play with produced a 1,000-yard runner and 1,000-yard passer, was an all-region pick along with junior receiver Webber Moore, who came back from an off-season injury to be a key contributor for the Jackets on both sides of the ball.
Jackets’ senior ace Dwayne Bufford, a standout on both sides of the football, was selected as an athlete – defensive back and wide receiver.
The Jackets had four players tabbed for the first-team all-region defensive team including crackerjack senior linebacker Tyler Griffin along with defensive lineman Javon Nicholson and defensive backs Tanner Vespe and Toot Curry.
The 7-3 Jackets will open the playoffs Friday night when they host C.A. Johnson High School of Columbia in a first-round home game.
Andrew Jackson, under second-year head coach Todd Shigley, had five players reap first-team all-region honors, including Ben Hinson, the region co-defensive player of the year, as an offensive and defensive lineman.
Senior Luke Faulkenberry, who has rushed for 260 yards with a 5.2-yard rushing average and four touchdowns, was selected as a running back. He also has one catch for 28 yards.
OJ White, a sophomore receiver, was named to the all-region first team with 38 catches for 621 yards, 16.3 yards per catch, and five touchdowns. White has also rushed for 361 yards on 41 carries – 8.8 yards per carry average, and six touchdowns.
AJ senior kicker Avery Funderburk was selected as the all-region kicker and Jamie Hinson, a Vols senior, was chosen as an athlete.
Funderburk has scored 32 points in 10 games, hitting 26-28 extra points and two field goals, including a 43-yarder. He is also averaging 34 yards a punt.
Hinson, on offense, has rushed for 563 yards, a 5.6-yards a carry average, with seven touchdowns as the Vols’ top rusher. He has eight catches for 91 yards, an 11.3 average, and a touchdown. He has two interceptions, with one pick six.
Hinson is averaging 30.4 yards on kickoff returns with a touchdown, and 16 yards on punt returns with a touchdown.
AJ, which earned a Class AA Upper State playoff bid as the fifth seed out of Region IV-AA, will open the playoffs with a trip to Abbeville High School on Friday night.
The Vols, who just missed earning a postseason bid last season, are in the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

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