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Ellijay, GA
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Pictured are GHS award winners. Front row, l to r, are Luke Davenport, Jay Shockey, Manny Lopez, Connor Webber, Marlen Hensley and Cameron Kephart. Back row, William Gudger, Garrett Ralston, Corey Waters, Will Ralston, Tyler Bertolini, Austin Cole and Colt Henderson. Not pictured, Chaz Reimer. (Contributed photo by Stacey Lanning)
by Robbie Bills

Gilmer Bobcat football players, coaches, family and fans joined for a final time Jan. 22 to remember the Bobcats’ 8-3 season.

David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives,   kicked off the banquet and addressed the room about leadership and the characteristics competent leaders posess. He encouraged the players to go forth and become future leaders of the community and state.

Gilmer Touchdown Club President Frankie Ridgon and GHS Head Coach Wes Tankersley recognized club members, and Tankersley also  thanked the community, assistant coaches and team managers, Jamie Richardson, Jenna Shiver, Kayla Shelly, Jordan Starks and Abby Collins.

Letter and participation certificates were awarded to qualifying players and Tankersley also recognized the season’s players of the week, as well as senior team captains Luke Davenport, Marlen Hensley and Will Ralston.

The first honor of the night was the Academic Award, which was earned by senior Jay Shockey, junior Tyler Bertolini and sophomore William Gudger.

Shockey also received the Coaches Award and fellow senior Chaz Reimer was named Scout Team Player of the Year. Junior receiver Corey Waters was named Most Improved and kicker Manny Lopez was named Special Teams Player of the Year.

Lopez converted 4/8 field goals attempts and 44/47 extra points.

Bertolini finished the season with 841 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and was named Best Offensive Back. Davenport took home the Best Offensive Lineman Award with an average game grade of 82.7.

Senior Connor Webber nabbed the Best Wide Receiver Award. He caught 36 passes this year for 682 yards and seven touchdowns.

Best Defensive Lineman Award was split between cousins Will Ralston and Garrett Ralston. Will tallied 40 total tackles while Garrett recorded 30.

Senior Colt Henderson made 58 tackles from his safety position and also intercepted a pass to take home the Best Defensive Back Award.

Junior Austin Cole led the team with 93 total tackles and also recorded two and 1/2 sacks to capture the Best Linebacker Award.

The final four awards were the Top Kat Award, the Gudger-Sluder Award, the Huff-Mosley Award,  and the MVP, also known as the Golden Helmet Award.

The Top Kat Award is given to the player who accumulated the most “production points” during the season. Points are earned  based on game performance. This season the award went to senior Cameron Kephart.

From his wingback position, Kephart rushed for 591 yards with an 8.8 yard-per-carry average. He scored nine total touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 169 yards. At cornerback he intercepted three passes and made 60 tackles. 

The Gudger-Sluder Award is named in honor of former coaches John Sluder and the late Don Gudger. It’s given to the player who exemplifies traits such as unselfishness, a strong commitment to the team, a great attitude and work ethic. Receiving the Gudger-Sluder Award for the 2012 season was senior Luke Davenport.

The Huff-Mosley Award is named in the honor of the late Sonny Huff and Mel Mosley. The award goes to the player who best exemplifies high standards of character, leadership, scholarship and sportsmanship. Marlen Hensley won the award for the second year in a row. 

The MVP Award was given to all of GHS’ 16 senior players, which included Marlen Hensley, Cameron Kephart, Colt Henderson, Connor Webber, Luke Davenport, Will Ralston, Garrett Ralston, Austin Sprayberry, Jesse Christa, Jason Dover, Jay Shockey, Drew Morgan, Devon Merrell, Austin Garner, Derek Vanover and Chaz Reimer.

Seasonal records were set by Hensley with 1,619 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns. He also tied a school record with four touchdown passes in a game, which he achieved twice.

Lopez set a school record for longest field goal with a boot of 44 yards and Cole tied GHS’ single season touchdown receptions mark with eight.

The Bobcats scored 344 points, which is the most in school history. Its 8-3 final record was GHS’ best since the 1997 season and its trip to the state playoffs was the Bobcats’ second in three years.

Gilmer defeated Pickens for the fourth time in a row and the 2013 senior class ended their careers with a four-year record of 24-18, which included a 15-6 record over the past two seasons.

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