Ryan Smith remained on the sideline, injured for much of the 2008 season as the FPD Vikings stumbled to a 3-8 record.
So he was ready for a bounce-back campaign in 2009, both for himself and for his team. The Vikings accomplished that with an 8-3 record as Smith thrived at quarterback in a new FPD offense.
After his strong senior season, Smith has been named the All-Middle Georgia GISA Football Player of the Year.
“It was a great year overall for me and for our team,” Smith said. “Last year was tough, and it was really important for us as a senior class to go out with a bang and have a successful year. We really wanted to leave this program on solid footing in its final year in the GISA and let them move forward in the GHSA.”
The Vikings will move to the GHSA next year, and they will do so with plenty of momentum from the 2009 campaign.
FPD started the season with six straight wins and ended up reaching the quarterfinals of the Class AAA playoffs before losing to Deerfield-Windsor.
Smith was a big key to that success. He finished the year with 749 yards and seven touchdowns passing while rushing for 1,064 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“Ryan was voted a team captain very early back during the summer, and that reflects what all his teammates thought about him,” FPD head coach Greg Moore said. “They had seen him prepare on the field during the summer and in the weight room and all the way back to the spring, and they had a lot of trust in him and his leadership.”
That trust was evident as Smith took the reins of the Vikings’ new triple-option offense, which Moore said was a good fit for Smith and the entire offense.
“I loved running the option,” Smith said. “I really felt comfortable in it the entire season, but it was good for our entire offense. We had good speed on the line and great running backs and wide receivers, and it was just a good fit for us.”
All-Middle Georgia GISA Football Team
Player of the Year: Ryan Smith, FPD
Coach of the Year: Barney Hester, Tattnall Square
QB Ryan Bartholomew, Tattnall, Sr., 5-10, 165
Passed for 986 yards and 14 TDs with 4 INTs and rushed for 430 yards and 9 TDs.
QB Bradley Smith, Mount de Sales, Jr., 5-11, 165
Passed for 1,300 yards and 11 TDs with 5 INTs and rushed for 319 yards and 3 TDs.
RB Marquez Lemon, Stratford, Jr., 5-11, 195,
Had third straight 1,000-yard season with 1,495 rushing yards and 17 TDs.
RB Blake Hammock, Piedmont, Jr., 5-6, 135
Led area-GISA rushers with 1,676 yards and 18 TDs.
RB John Lee, Westfield, Jr., 5-9, 160
Rushed for 1,432 yards and 21 TDs to receive all-state honors for the second straight year.
WR Ham Goodner, Tattnall, Sr., 6-2, 188
Caught 43 passes for 552 yards and 6 TDs.
WR Josh Abrams, Mount de Sales, Soph., 6-4, 195
Caught 24 passes for 553 yards and 5 touchdowns.
OL Hunter Hawkins, FPD, Sr., 6-1, 220
Hawkins received a consistent high grade for each game and earned all-state honors.
OL Daniel Anderson, Brentwood, Sr., 6-1, 195
Top blocker and all-state leader up front for the Class AA runners-up.
OL John Byron Strauss, Stratford, Sr., 6-1, 245
The Eagles’ top-blocker often led the way for Lemon.
OL Jared Johnson, Robert Toombs, Sr., 6-3, 245
Johnson has been one of the top GISA linemen over the past three seasons.
OL Drew Payne, Westfield, Sr., 6-2, 185
Guards are the most important part of the wing-T, and Payne might be the top guard in the GISA.
K Nathan Duffield, Tattnall, Sr., 6-0, 190
Made 4-of-5 field goals and all but two of his 37 extra point attempts.
ATH Ryan Smith, FPD, Sr.
Rushed for 1,180 yards and 19 TDs. Passed for 846 yards and 7 TDs. Averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
DL Hank Avery, Tattnall, Sr., 6-3, 219
Finished with 129 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 2 fumble recoveries.
DL David Lambert, FPD, Sr., 6-2, 225
Finished with 93 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles.
DL Nic Bekkers, Westfield, Sr., 6-1, 195
Described by coaches as a late bloomer, Bekkers had 88 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 4 forced fumbles.
DL Hunter Wilkinson, Tattnall, Jr., 5-10, 218
Finished with 97 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 3 fumble recoveries.
LB Kyle McCallum, FPD, Sr., 5-10, 160
Finished with 122 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 interceptions.
LB Drew Akacki, Stratford, Jr., 6-3, 215
Finished with 100 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and 4 sacks while being switched between LB and DE.
LB Rob Knight, Gatewood, Sr., 6-2, 180
Finished with 112 tackles and 1 sack while serving as a very good tight end for the Gators.
LB Tyler Ward, Tattnall, Fr., 5-11, 185
Finished with a GISA-best 139 tackles to go with 13 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and 2 INTS.
DB Tucker Cobb, Brentwood, Sr., 5-10, 150
Helped lead War Eagles to championship game with 75 tackles and 5 interceptions.
DB Chris Geeslin, Stratford, Sr., 6-1, 205
Led the Eagles with 5 interceptions and added 59 tackles. Also a standout punter and receiver.
DB Gregory Manley, Gatewood, Sr., 5-9, 170
Played all over the field for the Gators, but probably made his biggest impact at DB where he intercepted two passes.
P Wayne O’Neal, Westfield, Fr., 6-0, 185
Averaged 38.4 yards per punt on 33 punts.
UTIL Jamiah Walker, Mount de Sales, Sr., 5-11, 165
Excelled at multiple positions for the Cavaliers, including at cornerback where he had 40 tackles and an interception.
RET Caleb Frenchko, Fullington, Sr., 5-9, 185
Accumulated more than 700 return yards in an all-state season.
Brentwood: QB Nick Burgamy, Sr.; FB Evan Wiggins, Jr.
Covenant: QB Andretti Loyd, Jr.; RB Gunnar Mendiola, Sr.
FPD: DL Nathan Reed, Sr.; RB Ben DuBose, Soph.
Fullington: LB Brandon Bailey, Soph.; DE Joseph Lamberth, Jr.; OL Stephen Simmons, Sr.
Gatewood: RB Lanier Bonner, Sr.
Mount de Sales: LB Chris Swain, Jr.; OL Warren Brooks, Sr.; LB Myles Swain, Soph.
John Milledge: LB Cole Breiner, Jr.; RB Josh Hartzell, Sr.; WR Johnny Pittman, Sr.
Piedmont: OL Luke Harvey, Sr.; LB Austin Mitcham, Sr.
Robert Toombs: RB Justin Brinson, Jr.
Stratford: OL Matthew Waldorf, Sr.
Tattnall: RB John Rader, Soph.; DT Tyler Heath, Sr.; OL Kris Brooks, Jr.; RB Andrew Layson, Soph.
Westfield: DL Ashton Leavengood, Sr.; LB Andrew Peake, Sr.; QB Wesley Rust, Jr.