Editor's note: The All-Commonwealth football team is the area all-star team that is picked by Sports Editor Bill Burrus and Sports Writer Calvin Stevens from the six Greenwood-area high schools. Area coaches also help in the selection process.
J.Z. George overcame early injuries, eligibility problems and a shortage of numbers to finish second in Division 4-3A and make the North 3A playoffs.
Third-year Jaguar head coach Claude Elam did a great job with a short deck and has been named the 2003 Commonwealth Coach of the Year. The Jaguars started the season with low expectations after a disappointing 3-6-1 mark in 2002.
George finished 5-6, but the Jaguars were in every game they lost to the end but one. Their season ended with a tough 21-14 playoff loss to Ripley.
Pillow Academy senior Sam Fonda helped his team end a two-year playoff drought, rushing for a team-high 944 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 185-pounder finished tied for first on the team in scoring with 60 points.
Fonda led the Mustangs to a 7-5 season with his performance on the field and his leadership off the field. He received the 2003 Stewart Patridge Award, which is named in honor of the former Pillow quarterback, who set many school records and left a legacy of hard work and determination.
"He has worked hard all summer and fall to get where he is now," Myers said before Fonda was honored during Pillow's final home game. "He never has a bad attitude and never quits working. Sam is a leader by example."
Fonda also had four catches for 18 yards. Defensively, he played linebacker at times, and finished seventh on the team in tackles with 40.
Here's a look at the rest of the All-Commonwealth football team:
Louis Coleman, quarterback, Pillow Academy, 6-3, 180, junior - Coleman split time with Matthew Malouf, finishing the year as the team's top passer by completing 46 of 89 passes for 585 yards and five touchdowns. He also had four rushing touchdowns. He had 36 points kicking, tying him for the team's scoring lead at 60.
Mario Harris, running back, Leflore County, 5-10, 190, senior - Harris rushed for a team-high 1,074 yards and scored eight touchdowns as the Tigers made it to the North 2A playoffs. Second straight year for Harris to make the team.
William Mitchell, running back, J.Z. George, 5-8, 230, junior - Mitchell proved to be a load for defenders with his upper body strength. Rushed for 639 yards on 111 carries and scored seven touchdowns. Was named to the All-Division 4 team as a running back. Also had 23 tackles as a defensive lineman.
Bryce Daves, running back, Pillow Academy, 5-9, 165, junior - A solid player on both sides of the ball, but he led the Mustangs with a 7.9 yard-per-carry average. Finished second in rushing with 458 yards and four scores. Had five catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns. Finished fourth in scoring with 42 points. As a strong safety, he finished third in tackles with 46 and picked off a team-high three passes.
LaTrent Brock, running back, Leflore County, 6-0, 200, senior - Bruising runner who is able to pick up the short yards. Brock ran for 724 yards and scored five touchdowns for Leflor, which finished the season 5-6.
DeMarcus Clark, wide receiver, Amanda Elzy, 6-0, 180, senior - Clark was a standout player for the 1-9 Panthers on both sides of the ball. He led team in receiving, which included four touchdown receptions and 2 two-point conversion catches. A first-team selection on the All-Division 4 team in the secondary, made 78 tackles, intercepted four passes and recovered two fumbles.
Ezzard Crain, offensive line, Greenwood, 6-1, 245, senior - Only returning starter for the Bulldogs on the offensive line. Played well despite Greenwood going just 2-7 this past season.
Patrick McCaskill, offensive line, J.Z. George, 5-9, 230, senior - Played on both sides of the ball for the Jaguars. Made All-Division 4 team as a defensive lineman. Finished the season with 54 total tackles and one fumble recovery.
Matthew Chambliss, offensive line, Pillow Academy, 6-3, 198, senior - Hard worker who developed into strong player. A two-year starter.
Ryan Taylor, offensive line, Pillow Academy, 5-8, 180, junior - Aggressive blocker with good leg drive and low center of gravity. Also saw action on the defensive line.
Casey Andrews, offensive line, Carroll Academy, 6-0, 260, junior - Andrews was an All-District 2-AA selection as an offensive and defensive lineman. Works hard on the offensive line. Finished the season with 42 tackles for the 3-7 Rebels.
Matthew Malouf, all-around player, Pillow Academy, 6-2, 200, sophomore - Excellent athlete who did it all for the Mustangs. Completed 17 of 46 passes for 289 yards and five touchdowns. Rushed 72 times for 408 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and scored six times. Averaged 30.9 yards on 14 kickoff returns, including a 89-yarder for a touchdown. Finished third on the team in scoring with 48 points and also showed off his strong leg by kicking off.
Reginald Freeman, defensive line, Leflore County, 6-2, 285, junior - Freeman missed three games with a knee injury, but still finished with 63 solo tackles, four quarterback sacks and three hurries.
Ellis Nelson, defensive line, Leflore County, 6-0, 195, senior - Stepped up to fill gap left by Freeman's injury. Finished with 48 tackles and six sacks for the Tigers.
Lee Leflore, defensive line, Pillow Academy, 5-10, 205, senior - As a part-time defensive player, he finished sixth in tackles with 54, including one tackle for a loss of yardage. Had one fumble recovery. Also a solid blocker on the offensive line.
Matthew Raby, defensive line, Carroll Academy, 6-0, 210, senior - Raby earned All-District honors as a defensive lineman. Made 46 tackles and recovered three fumbles.
Kwanz Skinner, linebacker, Greenwood, 5-11, 190, senior - Was a steady performer for the Bulldogs. Finished the season with 79 tackles.
Leroy Collins, linebacker, Greenwood, 5-10, 190, junior - Led Bulldogs in tackles with 110. Turned in a season-high 19-tackle performance against Yazoo City.
Kerrin Fleming, linebacker, J.Z. George, 6-0, 180, junior - Selected to All-Division 4 first team as a linebacker. Had 50 total tackles and one interception. Also played running back for Jaguars. Fleming had 651 yards on 111 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Jeremy Robinson, linebacker, J.Z. George, 6-0, 180, sophomore - Robinson spearheaded the Jaguars defense from his middle linebacker spot. He finished with 80 solo tackles, assisted on 47 other tackles, recovered two fumbles, made one interception and recorded four quarterback sacks.
Drake Thornburg, defensive back, Carroll Academy, 5-8, 160, senior - Thornburg did a little of everything for the Rebels. Played running back, quarterback, defensive back and on special teams. Made All-District team as a running back and cornerback. Finished the season with 858 yards rushing on 117 carries, and caught 15 passes for 163 yards. Also had 26 tackles, and returned 21 punts for 211 yards and nine kickoffs for 78 yards.
Kendrick Gaston, defensive back, Leflore County, 5-11, 180, junior - Gaston made the All-Division 4 team as a defensive back. Made 37 tackles and picked off four passes.
LaTrence Prayer, defensive back, Greenwood, 5-8, 155, senior - Prayer finished the season with 45 tackles and five interceptions for Greenwood.
Henry Jackson, kicker/punter, J.Z. George, 5-9, 160, senior - Played running back, defensive back, and did the punting and kicking for the Jaguars. Averaged 44.5 yards per punt on 33 punts with a long of 67 yards. Also made one field goal and one extra point for a team that very seldom kicks the ball. Rushed for 123 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns.