Medley, Riner named All-State
Two local gridiron standouts recently received a prestigious honor, as Marshall County senior kicker and Cornersville senior quarterback Stone Riner were named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State football team for their respective classifications.
Medley was selected to the Class 4A team as a punter, while Riner was chosen to Class A squad as an athlete.
Having already committed to play football at the University of Tennessee, Medley is considered one of the top kickers in the country and has received several honors over the past two years, but still appreciated being named to the TWSA All-State team.
"It's a great honor. After playing four years, it's good to reap some rewards for all of the work I put in," said Medley. "My preseason goal was to have a good season and I figured the awards would come. It's very humbling to receive this kind of honor."
At the end of his junior year, Medley was selected to the Tennessean's All-Midstate Team before he was named to the Second Team Defense of MaxPreps Medium Schools All-American Football Team as a punter.
Medley is currently listed as a three star prospect by recruiting services such as Rivals, Scout, ESPN, and 247 Sports, and recently participated in the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game, which was played on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was also one of three finalists for this season's Mr. Football Kicker of the Year Award along with Memphis University School's Gary Wunderlich and Baylor's Rafael Gaglianone, who ended up taking home the prize.
During his senior season, Medley averaged 37.3 yards per kick on his 33 punts while converting 33-of-35 extra points, making 3-of-6 field goals, and booming 46-of-52 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks as well en route to helping the Tigers qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
"Aaron is a weapon and he changes the game plan for teams in terms of kickoffs. He puts most of his kickoffs through the end zone and makes the other team drive 80 yards," said MCHS coach Aaron Pitts. "Offensively, you know you only have to get to the 30-yard line before you're in field goal range. We didn't try that many field goals this year because of various circumstances, but he definitely has the ability to make them."
After hauling in 62 passes for a school record 1,011 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, Riner was expected to have another big year at wide receiver and was named to Murphy Fair's Preseason Class A All-State Team before the start of the 2013 campaign.
Riner, however, was asked to switch positions early in the season when starting quarterback Jamie Crowell went down with a season ending elbow injury in the third game of the year.
Despite having little experience at the quarterback position, Riner still managed to put up impressive numbers. Along with tallying 18 receptions for 201 yards and two scores as a wide receiver, Riner rushed for 1,253 yards and 10 touchdowns on 162 carries while completing 63-of-114 passes for 843 yards and 11 TDs. Riner was also a threat in special teams and returned four kickoffs for touchdowns during the season.
"Stone obviously was a major part of our success and accounted for almost 3,000 all-purpose yards," said Cornersville coach John Denton. "What I'm most proud of was that Stone was selfless for switching to quarterback because he was a preseason All-State pick at wide receiver. He got better each week and really grew into the position. That shows how good of an athlete he is and it's a great example for the rest of the kids."
Riner played his best during the stretch run of the season, as he accumulated at least 330 all-purpose yards in each of the Bulldogs last five games. Aided by Riner's stellar senior campaign, Cornersville finished with a winning record on the gridiron for the first time in 19 years and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
"This creates some excitement right now for our program. Joe Stocstill was preseason All-State before he got hurt and now Stone made the All-State team this year," said Denton. "Coach (Ray) Stocstill laid a good foundation and I think we have one of the better coaching staffs around. Hopefully it will help get more kids out for football and help us keep the kids that are already out. It's creating a lot of great things for us."
With Medley and Riner both set to graduate in May, their successors will have big shoes to fill at the start of next season.