Kendrick piles up nearly 3,000 yards, takes offensive POTY honors

Published 2:04 pm Friday, December 22, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

If anyone thought Isabella High School quarterback Eli Kendrick’s 2022 season could not be outdone, they were mistaken. Kendrick utilized both his arm and legs throughout the 2023 season to capture the 2023 The Clanton Advertiser Offensive Player of the Year. It is the second consecutive year Kendrick has won the award.

The senior accounted for 2,916 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2023, 246 more yards and nine more touchdowns than his 2022 season. While he threw for 500 less yards in 2023, he added 746 more rushing yards to add a completely new dimension to his game, and the Mustangs’ offense. One that was not needed in past years.

“He obviously had more production this year on touchdowns and rushing because last year he did not have to run,” Isabella head coach Tate Leonard said. “We knew his legs would be a big part this year, so it was definitely easier to let him loose and to do his thing on designed calls, run-pass options and all those types of plays.”

While Kendrick is a more subdued, calm presence in the locker room than some players, Leonard was able to get him to become more vocal, and as the 2023 season rolled on, Kendrick responded.

“He is naturally quiet, and we pushed him to be better at being vocal, and as the season went on he did,” Leonard said. “He took more ownership throughout the season as well, putting himself in on defensive situations, and he really wanted to put the team on his back. As the year went on, he did that more and more. I was pleased to see that.”


Honorable mention: Coden Cummings, Thorsby High School

When Coden Cummings transferred from Jemison High School to Thorsby prior to the 2023 season, no one knew what to expect from the rangy, then, wide receiver. The senior played most of his snaps at Jemison at wide out, but Thorsby head coach Daryl Davis remembered two instances where he felt Cummings could be best used.

“We did not really know what to expect from him, and the only thing I knew was that (Jemison) put him at running back for two plays against us the year before (in 2022), and he scored both times,” Davis said. “I kept going back to that in my mind, so we started trying to work him in more at running back. You could not get much better (than him this season), and his yards per carry was way up there in the state. He did a really great job for us.”

Cummings ran for 1,159 yards on 116 carries and 15 touchdowns in his new position in the Rebels’ backfield, averaging around 11 yards per carry. His old receiver skills pulled in eight catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns as well.


Honorable mention: Grayson McManus, Thorsby High School

Thorsby quarterback Grayson McManus’ growth from his sophomore to junior year was hard to ignore in 2023. McManus became a true dual threat under center for the Rebels accounting for over 1,000 passing and rushing yards.

While his stats improved, his IQ, ability to read defenses and overall comfortability in the offense also did, and it was glaring in his play that led Thorsby to a 9-3 record and playoff win.

“He got a lot better, and that is the case with most 10th graders when you have to start at quarterback. Very rarely do you have one that has it all together as a 10th grader,” Davis said. “What is great is he has another year, and I look for him to improve even more going into his senior year.”

McManus’ 143 carries yielded 1,117 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he was 63-for-116 passing for 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns in 2023.


2023 All-Advertiser Team, Offense

Quarterback: Grayson McManus, Thorsby — 143 rushes, 1,117 yards, 13 touchdown and 63-for-116, 1,026 yards, nine touchdowns, six interceptions

Quarterback: Eli Kendrick, Isabella — 1,411 rushing yards, 27 TDs and 1,505 passing yards, 16 TDs

Running Back: D.J. Jackson, Chilton County — 137 rushes, 1,059 yards, 11 touchdowns and 15 catches, 241 yards, one touchdown

Running Back: Coden Cummings, Thorsby — 116 rushes, 1,159 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight catches, 119 yards, two touchdowns

Running Back: Nehemiah McCary, Maplesville — 141 rushes, 1,037 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven catches, 144 yards, one touchdown and one kickoff return touchdown

Wide Receiver: Aidan Abbott, Maplesville: 38 catches, 617 yards, 13 touchdowns

Wide Receiver: Dre’Von Lee, Isabella: 615 yards receiving, six touchdowns and 346 yards rushing, three touchdowns

Tight End: Hunter Ousley, Chilton County: 26 catches, 314 yards, five touchdowns, one rushing touchdown

Athlete: Kintre Jackson, Jemison: 69 rushes, 244 yards, three touchdowns and 30 catches for 347 yards, eight touchdowns and one passing touchdown

Athlete: Nate Thomas, Thorsby: 62 rush, 545 yards, 11 touchdowns and 21 catches, 396 yards, four touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns

Offensive Line: Brody Mazingo, Jemison

Offensive Line: Ryne Jones, Thorsby

Offensive Line: Rashun McCary, Maplesville

Offensive Line: Owen Littleton, Isabella

Offensive Line: Zach Barber, Verbena

Kicker: Jorge Castillo, Chilton County: 41 points scored, 29-for-31 on PATs, 4-for-6 on field goals (Long of 39 yards), 18-for-44 on touchbacks