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Region 8 champs Heritage send five to college

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS -- It was another big day for the Heritage football team Wednesday.

During National Signing Day, five players from the 2011 Region 8-AAAA title-winning team signed college scholarships, led by Ryan Watson. The defensive end, who last season was the region's defensive player of the year, inked a scholarship with the Air Force Academy.

"I think it's great fit. I think he'll have a chance to play early, I think he'll fit in extremely well with their scheme," said Heritage coach Chad Frazier. "As far as the military lifestyle and the strict regimen, he's certainly put together for that. (Watson is) just a phenomenal player, very good work ethic, high character kid with a great motor and relentless pursuit to be excellent. What every coach dreams of having in his program."

Running back Quami Stanley, a first-team all-region performer in 2011, will continue his football career at Fort Valley State after rushing for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. Stanley will be joined by teammate Jamaal Lane, who will also head to Fort Valley in the fall.

"Quami's speed and his skills at running back played a huge part of our success. He allowed us to do some things in the past we weren't able to do," Frazier said. "(Going to Fort Valley is) going to give him a chance to compete early and hopefully play early. I don't know what they have depth-wise at their position, (but) I think he's going to go and be a success."

A pair of Patriot running backs -- Dominic Craft and Robert Boddie -- signed with Dean Junior College in Massachusetts. Frazier said a relationship he began building in 2007, his first year at Heritage, with Dean head coach Todd Vasey helped give Craft and Boddie a chance to play at the next level. The four signings capped a memorable season for Frazier and the Heritage football program.

"My first year we got connected with them. It's one of those things where a relationship had built between the head coach and I, every year he would recruit our school," Frazier said. "We didn't have any players for him from 2007 to 2010, but this year we thought we had a couple guys that would be a good fit. To see these guys come through our program and help us achieve ... it puts a nice cap on the season. I'm really proud of them."

The Heritage girls soccer team also had a pair of soccer players sign letters of intent Wednesday. Senior Arielle Gunderson, who missed her entire junior season with a torn ACL, signed with the University of Florida, while Courtney Hodges inked a deal with nearby Clayton State University. Jordan Martin, expected to be a big part of the 2012 Heritage baseball season, will sign with Georgia Southwestern College in April.

At Salem, three football players signed with colleges. Jahaad Coleman, who led the Seminoles in rushing a year ago, signed with Alabama State, while Brandon Culler officially inked a deal with Lagrange College and Terence Duke signed with Reinhardt College. Twin sisters Alayna and Mariel Smith will both sign soccer scholarships with Alabama State on Friday.