The COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 a historic year for all the wrong reasons, but the town of Hawthorne will remember it for a much different reason: sports championships.
After the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams won state titles in early March, the football team advanced to its first 1A state championship game right before Christmas.
Hawthorne’s historic season helped put four Hornets on the small school offense for the inaugural Mainstreet Daily News/Prep Zone All Area Football Team. A panel of local sports writers and coaches chose offensive and defensive teams for both small and big schools in our eight-county coverage area. All 48 players and two coaches will receive commemorate plaques to recognize their accomplishments.
Headlining the small school offense is Hawthorne’s junior quarterback, Chaz’ Mackey, who transferred from North Marion before the season. He was the offensive leader for the 10-3 Hornets, throwing for over 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns, including a career-high 219 yards and two touchdowns in the state championship game loss to Baker.
But Mackey came up big in the playoff run, too, leading Hawthorne to wins over Fort Meade, at Wildwood, and then in the state semifinal at home against three-time defending 1A state champion Madison County. He cut down on turnovers and made big throws when necessary for a team led by its defense.
“He’s a great kid who works hard on and off the field,” said Hawthorne head coach Cornelius Ingram. “He’s probably the mentally toughest kid I ever coached.”
Joining Mackey on the offensive squad is his teammate, senior running back Dre Lawrence.
Lawrence rushed for just short of 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Hornets in 2020.
Bronson senior Xavier Guyton joins Lawrence as the other running back on the small school offense. In a historic season that saw Bronson win their first playoff game, Guyton led the Eagles and the area in rushing with 1,306 yards. He averaged 8.1 yards per carry—119 yards per game—and scored 17 touchdowns.
“Xavier is an extremely hard runner with outstanding vision who also possesses deceptive speed—one of the best I have seen in 36 years of football,” said Bronson coach Russell Holley.
Dixie County junior Brenden Hall and Union County senior Cortez Slocum are the team’s wide receivers. Hall averaged 24 yards per reception on his way to 504 yards and six touchdowns for the 5-3 Bears, who lost in the opening round of the 1A playoffs at Madison County.
“He is explosive off the snap,” Dixie County football coach L.B. Cravey said about Hall. “He is very good at beating defenders off the ball and probably has the best hands I’ve seen since I’ve been at Dixie.”
Slocum averaged nearly 19 yards a catch for 511 yards with 10 touchdowns and a long of 70 yards for the Tigers, who were 8-4 and advanced to the 1A region final in their first year under coach Andrew Thomas.
Hawthorne senior Thurman Mills anchors the All Area offensive line. Mills helped lead a Hawthorne rushing attack that ran for 132 yards a game.
Mills is joined on the line by Oak Hall senior Brian Storey, Newberry junior Lennie Boykin, Chiefland senior Landon Weatherford, and Union County junior Alex Dure.
Union County sophomore Manny Covey is a double threat and is the athlete on this offense. Covey rushed for 810 yards, an average of 6.6 a pop, with four 100-yard rushing games and 10 touchdowns on the ground, but he also caught 15 passes for 299 yards and three more scores.
Hawthorne’s senior Jarrett Hughes, who punted 33 times with an average of 28 yards and a long of 50 yards, is the small school All Area punter, and Trenton’s Preston Blankenship is the kicker.
Bell: Jordan Hernandez (RB, Sr.), Caden Hastings (ATH, Sr.); Branford: Seth Heiderman (QB, Sr.), Bodhi White (RB, Jr.), Colton Allen (OL, Sr.); Chiefland: Dakota Fisher (RB, Fr.), Paul Davis (RB, So.), Lawrence Rivers (RB, Fr.); Dixie County: Sam Cannon (QB, Sr.); Hawthorne: Anthony Morgan (WR, Jr.), Johnquavis Jones (WR, Sr.), Camren Cohens (WR, Jr.); Newberry: Makai Johnson (QB, Sr.), Kobe Delima (RB, Sr.), Justen Crews (WR, Sr.), Harley Zilcosky (OL, Sr.), Perry Sylvester (TE, Sr.); Oak Hall: Carter Coleman (RB/LB, Jr.); P.K. Yonge: Aaron Small Jr. (QB, Jr.), Taylor Kendrick (RB, Sr.), Jontez Williams (WR, Jr.); St. Francis Catholic Academy: Trevor Spencer (WR, Sr.) Omarion Littles (WR, Jr.); Trenton: Tristan Sloan (RB, Jr.), Kyle Pollock (TE, Jr.), Tyler Perry (ATH, Jr.); Union County: A.J. Cortese (QB, So.), Cade Vaughn (RB, Sr.); Williston: Eli Davis (OL, Sr.), Marland Williams Jr. (ATH, Sr.)
Between now and Friday we will unveil the 2020 All Area Football Team in five stories that recognize 48 total players and two coaches. We begin today with the small school offense and will continue tomorrow with the small school defense.