Tigers dominate All-Region squad
The 2015-2016 football season was one of improvement, success, and achievement for the Marshall County Tigers under the tutelage of second-year head coach Thomas Osteen.
The Tigers ended the regular season with a 9-1 record and completed a perfect region schedule, earning the program its first outright Region Championship in 13 years.
MCHS advanced to the semifinals of the 4A state playoffs, losing to eventual State Champions Knoxville Catholic in a 54-35 shootout on November 30.
The Tigers' tremendous season brings with it all the expected post season accolades, including Region Coach of the Year, both Offensive and Defensive players of the Year, Offensive Lineman of the Region and 16 All-Region selections.
Osteen has led the Tigers to consecutive playoff berths in his first two seasons, an undefeated Region 4-4A Championship and a state semifinal game.
Ashton Posey represented Tiger football as the runner-up for Mr. Football 4A Back of the Year, leading a prolific offense that totaled 6,544 yards and 78 touchdowns.
"The 2015 MCHS Football team has established themselves as one of the best teams in school history," said Osteen. "This team, through their perseverance and hard work, has undoubtedly raised the bar extremely high for the program. They have "left a mark" that is extremely deep."
Headlining the Tiger's representation on the 4-4A All-Region Team are both the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
Posey was voted Offensive Player of the Region after leading a potent attack that averaged 247 passing yards, 42 points and lead the state in total yardage.
Individually, Posey had a phenomenal year completing 233 of his 334 pass attempts (70 percent completion rate) for 3,215 yards and 28 touchdowns, while throwing only nine interceptions.
Posey also proved to be a dynamic running threat, carrying the ball 116 times for 457 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Year honors went to senior defensive lineman Payton Hood.
Hood was a the anchor for a tough defense that allowed just 18 points a game and tallied a staggering 85.5 tackles for loss and 25.5 quarterback sacks. Hood played a major role in stopping opposing offenses, totaling 73 tackles, 50 of which were solo stops, 15.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a fumble recovery
Hood's biggest moment may be his game winning tackle in overtime at Maplewood on an attempted 2-point conversion play that would have given the Panthers a victory.
Both young men had tremendous careers as Tigers, which culminated in an outstanding senior campaign in which their level of play and leadership allowed them to experience a level of success that had not been enjoyed in Lewisburg in many years.
"I will forever be thankful for the 17 seniors that have done so much for Tiger football and the fact that we have so many players to be voted onto the All-Region Teams speaks volumes to the multitude of fantastic individuals that we have on our team," Osteen said. "These young men have dedicated themselves to being the best they can be, on and off the field, and I am thrilled that they are being honored for their achievements."
The Tigers added eight more players to the First Team All -- Region list including Posey, Hood and Offensive Line MVP Steven Clemmons.
Joining Clemmons on the OL honorees is senior guard Johnathan Johnson, who were both voted to the all-region squad last season.
Johnson proved to be the most dynamic in a group of lineman that allowed the Tigers to average an impressive 221 rushing yards per game.
Sophomore running back Kamron Liggett powered his way onto the list by rushing for 996 yards on 139 carries and 18 touchdowns, many of which were plays that left defenders laying behind him. Liggett was also highly efficient in the passing game with 19 receptions for 279 yards and two touchdowns.
Liggett totaled 1,275 yards and 20 TD for the season.
Posey had the privilege of throwing to not only one, but two of the top receivers in the state in junior wide outs Jay Howard and Tre Crutcher.
Crutcher led the Tigers in receiving with 66 receptions, 1181 yards and 11 touchdowns, proving time and again to be hard to cover and that much more difficult to tackle after the catch. Howard is listed as a receiver, but he was more of a do-it-all threat this season as he scored touchdowns by rushing, receiving and passing. Howard caught 82 passes for 920 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 41 carries, 377 yards, and five touchdowns on the ground, and one touchdown pass on a trick play to Posey.
Defensively, three more Tigers were named to the first team as junior defensive lineman Tae Tae Lyttle, senior safety Curtis Keiler and junior cornerback J.Q Haislip got top billing.
Lyttle started all 14 games at the nose tackle position, providing a solid point of attack to make running the ball a formidable task. Lyttle made 46 total stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, half a sack and one fumble recovery.
Both Haislip and Keiler led a defensive secondary that provided great coverage and a physical run support that held Region 4-4A opponents to just 11.6 points per contest.
Haislip led the team in tackles with 87 stops, 72 of which were solo, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and seven pass break-ups. Keiler finished second in tackles with 82, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Caleb Estes was named to the First Team as a kicker, proving to be accurate and effective all season making 57-out-of 60 point after attempts and 9-out-of 10 on field goals with a long of 43- yards that sent the Tigers into overtime at Maplewood in a game which the Tigers would eventually win in double overtime.
Six more players were named to the 4-4A All-Region Team with senior center Peyton Brown and junior offensive tackle Hayes Crosslin making the list.
Brown, a 2014 All-Academic selection, anchored the veteran group with his great leadership and communication, while Crosslin was the only non-senior on this year's line.
Crosslin was a regular starter at right tackle, but was most valued for his versatility as he could play all five positions along the front.
Senior tailback Josh Franklin was recognized as an All-Region running back after rushing for 1110 yards and 10 touchdowns on 116 carries and adding two receiving touchdowns. Franklin was also active defensively, totaling 42 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, one pass break up, one fumble recovery, a blocked punt and a blocked extra point.
Senior cornerback Steven Dangerfield led the team with three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, made 42 total tackles, one for loss, three passes defended and a fumble recovery.
Senior defensive end Prentice Davis caused havoc all season by making big plays behind the line of scrimmage, posting a team-high 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 47 total tackles.
Back in action
Junior Defensive Tackle Blair Conger recovered from off-season surgery and helped strengthen an impressive group of defensive lineman. Conger added 48 tackles, 6.5 for loss, a sack and blocked field goal versus Lawrence County.
Two more Tigers were honored for their outstanding efforts during the 2015 season as senior linebacker Tanner Clark was named to the Region 4-A Academic Team.
A first-year starter at linebacker, Clark tied for the team lead with 87 total tackles, 3.5 for loss and maintains a 3.9 GPA. Tanner provided on field leadership and direction as he acted as the quarterback of the defense.
Senior Manager Jamie May was honored for her three years of service to the football program at Marshall County, reinforcing the fact that there are many more people whose efforts are necessary in order to maintain the level of success the Tigers achieved in 2015.
"The Marshall County Football Tigers would like to extend a long list of appreciation and gratitude to the countless numbers of fans and supporters that made every part of this special season possible," Osteen said. "There would be no opportunity for the type of success that the team enjoyed this season without the unrivaled support of the community."