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ITG Next Hosts 2023 South Georgia High School Football Banquet

Hundreds Gather to Recognize Top Players From 2023 Season

The 16th annual ITG Next South Georgia High School Football Banquet, presented by Georgia Sports Medicine, returned to The Patterson in downtown Valdosta in 2023, with hundreds of high school football players from across south and middle Georgia, along with their coaches, parents, and event sponsors, gathering to celebrate another successful season.

ITG Next founder Mark Dykes opened the evening by welcoming everyone and talking about how the event has grown over the years. Former FCA area director Bobby Willis gave the invocation before attendees enjoyed a dinner.

The keynote speaker for the 2023 ITG Next South Georgia High School Football Banquet, presented by Georgia Sports Medicine, was Georgia Tech head football coach Brent Key. Key had the crowd hanging on his every word as he talked about the dedication it takes to build a winner on and away from the field and the many lessons he learned from those who made an impact on him growing up.

Following Key’s address, the event recognized the top offensive and defensive players from more than 30 schools, as well as several major award winners, including the top overall offensive and defensive players and the Coach of the Year. All award winners were selected by the ITG Next staff, and they ranged from clear-cut choices to a couple that required some candid conversations before a consensus was reached.

Taking home the Offensive Player of the Year award was Coffee High running back Fred Brown, while Defensive Player of the Year went to Valdosta High defensive end Eric Brantley. The Forward Progress Award winner was Brooks County running back Chris Cole, and Perry High tight end Donovan Funsch took Scholar Athlete of the Year honors. The Top Middle School Player award went to Hahira Middle School two-way standout Malik Roman. Colquitt County kicker Brett Fitzgerald was named the Special Teams Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

A championship feel permeated this year’s event, with a total of five state champion teams in attendance. The group included the GISA Class 3A state champion Valwood Valiants, along with the GHSA Class 5A state champion Coffee Trojans, Class 2A state champion Pierce County Bears, Class 4A state champion Perry Panthers, and Class 6A state champion Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets.

With so many state championship teams and their coaches present, it made our last major award – the Hughston Clinic Coach of the Year – a tough choice. After considering each of the state championship head coaches and the fine work they did in leading their teams to a title, the ITG Next staff selected Thomas County Central head football coach Justin Rogers as our Hughston Clinic Coach of the Year. In just his second season as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, Rogers led them to the school’s first state championship since 1997 and the sixth in school history.

ITG Next looks forward to next year’s South Georgia High School Football Banquet, and we thank the sponsors who make this great event possible each year.

Major Award Winners

SGMC Middle School Player of the Year
Malik Roman, Hahira Middle School

Farah & Farah Forward Progress Award
Chris Cole Jr., Brooks County High School

ICB Construction Group Scholar Athlete of the Year
Donovan Funsch, Perry High School

Vereen Sports Medicine Special Teams Player of the Year
Brett Fitzgerald, Colquitt County High School

Valdosta Toyota Defensive Player of the Year
Eric Brantley, Valdosta High School

Orthopedic Surgeons of Georgia Offensive Player of the Year
Fred Brown, Coffee High School

Hughston Clinic Coach of the Year
Justin Rogers, Thomas County Central High School

Team Award Winners

Appling County High School
Offense: Jamarion Williams
Defense: Tre’Shawn Moore

Bainbridge High School
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Cam Sanders
Defense: AJ McKay

Berrien High School
Presented by: Berrien Touchdown Club
Offense: Josiah Davis
Defense: Shon McQueen

Brooks County High School
Presented by: Vereen Sports Medicine
Offense: Javen Watts
Defense: Markel Best

Brookwood School
Presented by: South Georgia Spine, Joint & Rehab Center
Offense: Rodge Waldrop
Defense: TJ Thomas

Cairo High School
Presented by: Ross Advisory Group
Offense: Cade Puckett
Defense: Jeremiah Williams

Camden County High School
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Jaden Dailey
Defense: Cooper Thornhill

Clinch County High School
Presented by: Farmers and Merchants Bank
Offense: Jeremy Bell Jr.
Defense: Jashaun Raymond

Coffee High School
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Maurice Hansley
Defense: Anthony Paulk

Colquitt County High School
Presented by: Vereen Sports Medicine
Offense: Neko Fann
Defense: Nick Pace

Cook High School
Presented by: Adel Dental Associates
Offense: Drew Folsom
Defense: Jakori Jones

Crisp Academy
Presented by: Crisp Regional
Offense: Wyatt Youngblood
Defense: Hagan Smith

Crisp County High School
Presented by: Crisp Regional
Offense: Deshaun Fedd
Defense: Omarion Young

Dooly County High School
Presented by: Crisp Regional
Offense: Antwuan Clayton
Defense: Kwylek Woodham

Fitzgerald High School
Presented by: Astro Exterminating Services
Offense: Calvin Tillman
Defense: Brandon Brown

Frederica Academy
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Jordan Triplett
Defense: Hamp Thompson

Irwin County High School
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Jaken Thomas
Defense: Javion Woodard

Lanier County High School
Presented by: Farmers and Merchants Bank
Offense: Damarcus Eubanks
Defense: TreQuan Charles

Lee County High School
Offense: Braxton Honer
Defense: Jase Angry

Lowndes High School
Presented by: Farmers and Merchants Bank
Offense: Jacarre’ Fleming
Defense: Coleman Lewis

Mitchell County High School
Presented by: Vereen Sports Medicine
Offense: Knowledge Williams
Defense: Quinton Mccraw

Pelham High School
Presented by: Vereen Sports Medicine
Offense: Ken Williams
Defense: Freddie Williams

Perry High School
Presented by: ICB Construction Group
Offense: Colter Ginn
Defense: Tavares Simmons

Pierce County High School
Offense: Hudson Boatright
Defense: Dixon Morris

Thomas County Central High School
Presented by: FieldTurf
Offense: Trey Brenton
Defense: Caleb Anderson

Thomasville High School
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Cole Shaw
Defense: Keshawn Jordan

Tift County High School
Presented by: Prince Automotive Group
Offense: Damion Moate
Defense: Jaden Nelson

Tiftarea Academy
Presented by: Prince Automotive Group
Offense: John Jackson
Defense: Temond Marcus

Valdosta High School
Presented by: CBC Bank
Offense: Todd Robinson
Defense: Jaylen Bentley

Valwood School
Presented by: Valwood Valiant Club
Offense: De’Mar Riley
Defense: Dallas Hatfield

Veterans High School
Presented by: Pepsi
Offense: Jake Maxwell
Defense: Kane Byrd

Warner Robins High School
Presented by: ICB Construction Group
Offense: Isiah Canion
Defense: Rasean Dinkins

Worth County High School
Presented by: Sunbelt Ford
Offense: Kaden Chester
Defense: Andrew Dixon

 

Story by:
ITG

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