Ladorian Leonard, P.J. Lucas lead strong senior showing on All-County Defense

Defensive lineman: Ladorian Leonard, Sr., Stanhope Elmore Stanhope Elmore’s defensive line made plenty of noise this season and Leonard was always the first name mentioned. He finished with 68 total tackles, including 31 for a loss, and led the Mustangs with 11 sacks. “He is so quick off the ball,” Bradford said. “He could make […]

Defensive lineman: Ladorian Leonard, Sr., Stanhope Elmore

Stanhope Elmore’s defensive line made plenty of noise this season and Leonard was always the first name mentioned. He finished with 68 total tackles, including 31 for a loss, and led the Mustangs with 11 sacks. “He is so quick off the ball,” Bradford said. “He could make so many plays because he was a step ahead of everyone else. He would be in the backfield before the other guy would be out of his stance.”

Defensive lineman: P.J. Lucas, Sr., Wetumpka

Lucas, an Ole Miss signee, made a big impact in his only season at Wetumpka. Just his presence on the defensive line was enough for opponents to adjust their playbooks to avoid Lucas. He led the Indians with 21 quarterback hurries and four sacks, and finished the season with 45 total tackles and two forced fumbles. “When he came in, it was like he had been here the whole time,” Perry said. “He was not afraid of hard work and that gained him respect. He pushed himself and his teammates saw that.”

Defensive lineman: Hunter Martin, Sr., Holtville

Martin spent more time in the backfield this season than most players do in their careers. He finished with 32 tackles for a loss and 13 total sacks. In Holtville’s playoff-securing win over Talladega, Martin had four sacks and a blocked punt. He finished the season with 64 total tackles and forced two fumbles. “The majority of his sacks came in the third and fourth quarters,” Franklin said. “Other people were getting tired but his motor kept going. He was able to come through for us in those big moments.”

Defensive lineman: Cade Bazzell, Jr., Edgewood

Bazzell was a force at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats. His ability to read the game made him stand out from the competition. Bazzell finished the season with 43.5 tackles and 14.5 tackles for a loss. “He was one of the smartest guys we had on the team,” Free said. “When he was on defense, we knew whoever he was lined up against would have trouble with it because of his knowledge of the game.”

Linebacker: Trey Hardy, Sr., Stanhope Elmore

The Mustang defense revolved around Hardy and his versatility, as he could line up at the line of scrimmage or in the middle of the defense. Hardy finished the season with 81 tackles and made plays for Stanhope in crucial moments. He recorded 27 tackles for a loss, forced two fumbles and had a blocked punt. “He was our best all-around player this season,” Bradford said. “We could put him on the edge or put him into coverage and he could do it all. He has a very high football IQ.”

Linebacker: Tyler Abernathy, Sr., Edgewood

There was never any question about the impact Edgewood’s seniors made on the team this season. Abernathy played on both sides of the ball but after taking a backseat in the rushing attack, he showed his strength as a linebacker. He finished with 58.5 tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss. Abernathy also recorded an interception in the regular-season finale at Success Unlimited. “His speed allowed us to do numerous things as a defense,” Free said. “He could be put in coverage, on the edge or reading what was happening in the backfield. He would just naturally go make the play.”

Linebacker: Hayden Bass, Sr., Elmore County

Bass was everywhere on the defensive side of the ball for the Panthers. He finished the season with a team-high 107 tackles in 10 games. Bass intercepted two passes, including one at Dallas County which he returned 45 yards for a touchdown. “He’s performed very well even before his senior season but this was a breakout for him,” Cantrell said. “There were some games that he was banged up but he was still able to make big plays for us.”

Defensive back: Marlon Hunt, Sr., Stanhope Elmore

Hunt moved from cornerback to safety this season, and recorded 37 tackles, two interceptions and seven pass breakups. Hunt’s season will be remembered by one specific play though. After a swing pass in the backfield, he collapsed on the line of scrimmage, stripped the opposing receiver, then took the ball 85 yards for a touchdown with less than a minute to go to defeat No. 1 Wetumpka. “He was our quarterback on defense,” Bradford said. “He called out all of the coverage and is another guy with a high football IQ. And he plays at 100 percent every single time.”

Defensive back: Hezekiah Nowden, Jr., Wetumpka

Wetumpka’s secondary was filled with playmakers this season but Nowden may have shown the most consistency throughout the year. The junior tied with Trey Jones to lead the Indians with three interceptions, including two in the postseason. “We knew he was a talented athlete but he worked extremely hard to get stronger and more physical,” Perry said. “We put him in there and he started making plays on Friday nights. He made plays we needed him to make and we’re proud of the progress he made.”

Defensive back: JaDarius Carter, Sr., Holtville

Carter found a new way to play the safety position and the Bulldogs benefited from it this season. His aggression often brought him to the line of scrimmage to make big plays and he was also reliable in pass coverage. Carter led the team with 109 tackles and forced three fumbles, made two interceptions and had 16 pass deflections. “He has come a long way since joining the team before his junior year,” Franklin said. “We felt comfortable with him on the back end of our defense and with him coming up to the line of scrimmage to make plays.”

Defensive back: Shakwan Bickley, Sr., Elmore County

Bickley used an aggressive playstyle which allowed him to make a big impact on the game defensively for the Panthers. He finished with 91 tackles and was a ball hawk from the secondary. He forced five fumbles, recovered two of them and intercepted three passes. “This was his breakout year for us,” Cantrell said. “He was an absolute force on defense. He was making plays at the line of scrimmage like a linebacker from the safety position.”

Athlete: Trent Cochran-Gill, Sr., Tallassee

There was not much Cochran-Gill missed out on this season, as he was on the field for nearly every play. The senior finished with 572 yards of offense and eight total touchdowns. His impact on defense may have been more impressive, recording 72 tackles, two interceptions and a blocked punt. “We knew he would have to have a good year for us to be successful this season,” Battles said. “He can do a lot on the field. He’s got great speed and moves to the football really well. You can plug him in anywhere.”

Honorable Mention: 

DL: Kamyron Jackson, Sr., Wetumpka

DL: Drew Nobles, Sr., Holtville

LB: Darren Nolen, Sr., Wetumpka

LB: Derrick Butler, Sr., Stanhope Elmore

LB: Andy Baker, Sr., Tallassee

DB: Trey Jones, Sr., Wetumpka