Coach T. McFerrin and leaders of the Jefferson High School football team earned top honors as Class AA’s best.
The Georgia Sports Writers Association named Bryant Shirreffs and Wesley Simonton as the offensive and defensive players of the year out of all the players who competed in the same division.
Linebacker Kody McDonald was also named to the first-team defense. All three players are seniors.
McFerrin called the players individually to report the news. He said he could not think of another of his teams that had three players named to the select all-state lineup.
“This is just a tremendous accomplishment,” McFerrin said. “They were just exuberant, every one of them. It’s great for them, and it’s great for the program to have three guys make all-state.”
Shirreffs, the team’s quarterback, carried the ball 177 times for 1,372 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He completed 174 passes of 267 attempts with seven interceptions for 2,369 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Simonton, a linebacker, made 189 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups, one interception, two fumble recoveries and one blocked field goal.
McDonald, a linebacker, produced 173 total tackles, four sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, one pass break-up and one fumble recovery.
McFerrin called McDonald a “miraculous” example of success and hard work, given his 155-pound frame. Shirreffs has been offered scholarships to continue playing football in college. Simonton also is likely to play at the next level.
McFerrin nodded to the team’s success as leading to his being named as coach of the year. He also praised his assistant coaches for their tireless efforts.
“That would not have happened, if we had not won a state championships. That (coach of the year honor) is just a result of the team winning,” he said. “I don’t consider it a personal honor at all.”
It was McFerrin’s second state championship, the first coming in Elbert County in 1995.
The coach, Shirreffs and Simonton were named to the same top spots for Region 8-AA before being singled out by the GSWA last week.
“It’s a great honor. I really could not have done it without my team, if we didn’t win the state championship,” Simonton said. “I’m honored that I could play for Jefferson and get that award .... Honestly, I still think I’m in shock. All-state, state championship, I’m living a dream, am on cloud nine I guess you could say.”
Both he and Shirreffs nodded to their unique time with teammates as one of the most significant happenings of the unexpected season.
“They all deserve it,” Simonton said. “If we would not have made it that far, I don’t think we would have got it. We all deserve it so much. I am glad that I could share this experience with them.”
Shirreffs and Simonton also mentioned the awards as payoff in a way after lots and lots of sweat and study in the field.
“It really feels good to see all the hard work you’ve dedicated actually pay off,” Shirreffs said. “It is just awesome. The season is a team effort. As far as getting personal accolades, it just feels good being rewarded for hard work, especially with the state championship. It was a great season.”
McFerrin said pictures of Shirreffs, Simonton and McDonald will be hung at the field-house, joining a permanent tribute to all the Dragon players who made all-state teams over the course of the program’s history.