Dante Blackmon, pictured taking a pass in a game during the 2011 season, was one of 19 Eastside High School football players who were named who made it to the was named to the All-Region 4-AAA team. Blackmon was was named to the first team on offense and defense. Teammate Shaquille Huff was named regional Defensive Player of the Year.
COVINGTON -- Eastside's football team was well represented in the All-Region 4-AAA team with 19 players on the list including Shaquille Huff who was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
"We're glad to get those guys on there. A lot of people stepped up when we had guys go down so that's a good thing. If you could find a silver lining (injuries) to what happened, that would be it," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. "Guys stepped in and made some plays and a lot of people took notice because of it, that was good."
Huff, who led Eastside with 41 solo tackles with 12 for a loss, finished the season with a total of 50 sacks, nine assists, five sacks, deflected a pass and hurried the quarterback three times.
"It was deserving," Hurst said of Huff. "He's a very hard person to block. Anybody that tried to block him one-on-one throughout the year lost. He's an amazing athlete for as big as he is and the way he moves."
Hurst knew he that he had a special player in Huff but it wasn't until the Sandy Creek game when he realized exactly how special he was.
"They ran the toss sweep in the first series and he ran it down from the nose and alienated the back. When I looked back on film, I noticed they didn't run it again. When you run a toss sweep and you can't outrun the nose guard you know he's good." Hurst said. "It's great to see him have that type of success."
Another player that made his mark on the region was Dante Blackmon who made it to the was named to the first team on offense and defense.
Offensively, Blackmon, who had one touchdown against Locust Grove, caught 35 passes for 430 yards averaging 12.3 yards per catch. On defense, he led Eastside with three interceptions. He also deflected six passes and had 18 tackles -- 12 solo and six assists.
"I think he's one of the better players in the state, I really do. It's awesome to see him have the kind of year that he had. He's been here since his sophomore year when he transferred in. He's played in a lot of football games. He became a starter halfway through his sophomore year, the year we went to the semifinals. He's been a constant on both sides of the ball," Hurst said. "I think he finished second all time with in yards behind Andrico (Bailey). He had a great year and a great career."
Joining the first team on defense with Blackmon were Blake Rouse, Sheldon Rankins and Justin Bates.
Rouse's (linebacker) numbers were impressive with 57 total tackles -- 30 solo and 27 assists -- with three sacks. He also deflected a pass and forced two fumbles.
Rankins, who led the team with seven hurried passes and six sacks, deflected two passes, forced two fumbles while recovering two more and intercepting two passes from the defensive end position. Of his 39 total tackles, eight for a loss, he had 26 solo and 13 assist.
Bates, who played in the secondary, led the Eagles with seven deflected passes. He also had an interception, 15 solo and six assist tackles for 21 tackles.
Offensively, the Eagles had three first team players with running back Chavis Griggs, center Paul Hardaway and Blackmon.
When the season started, Griggs was going to share the duties in the secondary with Alex Smith. After Smith was lost for the season on the first play of the year, Jamondi Smith shared in the responsibilities. Of course, he ended up getting hurt as well leaving Griggs as the main target for the defense on all running plays. Even with all eyes on him, Griggs was able to rush for 573 yards on 129 carries and six touchdowns while catching 19 passes for 168 yards.
"There was a game or two when he was the only back. He stayed healthy and ran the ball extremely hard and I thought he did a good job of learning the zone scheme. He really started being more patient and trusting it and letting it develop as he ran," Hurst said. "To be the main guy that everybody was looking at every game is an accomplishment to him and to our offensive line. I was really proud of him and the opportunity that he got. He took advantage of it."
Making it on the defensive second team were linebacker Marcus Griffieth (who led the with 31 assists as part of his team-leading 59 tackles), defensive end Antonius Sims and strong safety Bryant Johnson.
On the honorable mention for offense were Quon Moton (WR), Jamondi Smith (RB), Jaren Jackson (OL) and Obie Mash (OL). The defensive honorable mention were Bryson Malcolm (LB) and Jamaal Hardge (FS). Special teams honorable mention players were kicker Colton Smith and punter Damario Terrell.