Houston County’s Wesley Steiner preparing for final season before heading to Auburn
It’s almost time for Friday night high school football in Middle Georgia. Last season, three area teams made it to the state title game.
This season, each squad is setting out to achieve a state title and will need big performances from their key players.
Here are 10 prep football players to watch.
Marcayll Jones, Warner Robins WR: 115 catches, 2,072 yards, 31 TDs
A season ago, Jones, then a junior, set the Georgia state record for most receiving yards in a season. He is back for his senior season and while his former quarterback, Dylan Fromm, is at Mercer, Jones will still be looking to put up huge numbers.
Some pressure will be lifted for the Demons wide reciever this year, as he’s already committed to play college football at Memphis.
Jones will hopefully break some of his own records on the gridiron this season.
Wesley Steiner, Houston County LB: 42 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, blocked a punt, Auburn commit
These next four players exemplify how good the linebacker position is in the Middle Georgia area, as all of them have signed with Power 5 programs. They each possess a skill set that translates well at the college level.
Steiner is one of the most athletic players in the entire country, as seen by his performance at The Opening Finals. He took home the top spot in the competition.
Steiner also ranks in the top 50 nationally on ESPN. He has been featured on SportsCenter after a video of him lifting over 400 pounds went viral.
As a senior, he will be asked to lead the Houston County Bears defense. The Bears struggled last season, as they finished 2-8 on the season. Steiner could lead a resurgence in the program in his final year.
Sergio Allen, Peach County LB: 122 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, Clemson commit
The speedy Allen patrols the middle of the field and is excellent at tracking where the football is at all times. He was the leader on a Peach County defense that made it all the way to the state title game.
The Trojans use him in a variety of ways. He plays running back, tight end, defensive end and linebacker.
His linebacker abilities are what got him offers from Georgia, Alabama, Auburn and his eventual choice, Clemson. Allen is impressive because he can effectively stop the run and defend the pass. The Trojans will be looking for another big season from him as they look to compete in a state title game for the third year in a row.
Romello Height, Dublin LB: 53 tackles, 4 sacks, 6 tackles for a loss, Miami commit
Height was the star of a defense that held opponents to under 10 points per game last season. The Fighting Irish were one of the best teams in the Middle Georgia a season ago but fell in the quarterfinals to Heard County, the team that went on to capture the state title.
Heard County’s 18 points were the most Dublin gave up in a single game last season. Height, now a senior, will be called upon to lead the defense this season for a team loaded with talent that could make a run at a state title.
Height is ranked in the top 30 in the state of Georgia by 247 Sports and has already committed to play for the Miami Hurricanes. He is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and also plays wide receiver. He had offers from Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Jayland Parker, Westside LB: 58 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, Colorado commit
Parker possesses elite closing speed when tracking down a ball carrier. He is also a heavy hitter who makes his opponent pay for catching the football or running in his direction.
Westside is still looking to break through for its first state title in school history. This senior class is loaded with players like Parker who are heading to play D-1 football.
Parker will need to be one of the key players on the defensive side of the ball if the Seminoles want to make it all the way this season.
Jontavis Robertson, Jones County WR: 53 catches, 921 yards, 10 TDs
Robertson is one of the top wide receivers in the state. He also has an outstanding rapport with quarterback and fellow senior Hunter Costlow.
Costlow has proven himself to be one of the top passers in the area. He had 30 TDs and over 2,400 yards last season.
Insert new head coach Mike Chastain and this combination might be even better this season. Chastain just left Warner Robins where he coached Jones and Fromm to one of the most prolific offensive showcases in the state’s history.
Chastain might be able to recreate some of that magic at Jones County with Costlow and Robertson.
Robertson is a highly sought after recruit. He ranks in the top 75 players in the state of Georgia, according to 247 Sports. He has offers on the table from Power 5 schools like Tennessee, Duke, Indiana and Kentucky.
Jaydon Gibson, Peach County QB: 2,329 yards, 179 of 254 passes, 19 TDs; 122 carries, 403 yards, 9 TDs
The true definition of a dual-threat quarterback, Gibson led the Trojans to the state title game last season. Peach County once again walked away with a devastating loss after Cedar Grove found the end zone in the waning moments of the game.
This team is still favored to get back to the title game for the third-straight season with Gibson under center.
He will have plenty of weapons around, with guys like Noah Whittington and Tijuah Woolfolk at the skill positions. Expect for Gibson to finish out his high school career strong and potentially walk away as a champion.
Dexter Williams, Mount de Sales QB: 2,580 total yards, 32 total touchdowns, Indiana commit
Williams is another dual-threat quarterback who consistently found a way to make a play when the Cavaliers needed it last season. He led them to one of the best seasons in school history and began to pick up steam as a recruit.
He got offers from Navy, Georgia Southern and Army before he settled on Indiana, where he will play in the Big 10 conference.
William’ ability to make plays with his legs and arm makes it hard to plan against him. He took home The Telegraph Player of the Year award and will be looking to repeat as one of the top players in Middle Georgia.
Enrico Harden, Mary Persons RB: 36 carries, 414 yards, 9 TDs
The stats might not pop off the paper like some of the others on the list, but that’s because Harden is waiting for his turn. Quen Wilson took 177 carries last year for the Bulldogs and paced the backfield with over 1,500 rushing yards, finding the end zone 25 times.
Harden should be in line for a major jump in carries since Wilson graduated. Harden’s yards-per-carry last season was 11.5, the highest on the team.
Mary Persons will be replacing 17 of its 22 starters from a season ago, so new stars will emerge from one of the most consistent programs in Middle Georgia.
Deondre Duehart, Northeast RB: 114 carries, 755 yards, multiple TDs
Duehart played for the Warner Robins Demons last season and helped the team reach the state title game against Bainbridge. He transferred over to Northeast this season, who could use a spark on offense since starting quarterback Nolan Ussery graduated.
He was productive at Warner Robins but wasn’t featured because it was a pass-first offense and he was locked into a timeshare with running back Jahlen Rutherford.
Duehart has the ability to be the lead back in this offense and could be featured heavily each week at Northeast. The Raiders will need him to be one of the best in the Middle Georgia area if they hope to get back to the playoffs this season.