The All State award recipient list has a decidedly purple flare to it as five members of the 15-0, Class 4A state champion Bearcats have earned the award.
Seniors Cody Harrel and Dalton Gray earned an All State award for the second straight season and this time they also earned the right to represent Booneville and Conference 4A-4 in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All Star game that will be played this summer at the University of Central Arkansas.
Also All State were Bryson May, Justin Shackleford, and Damon May. In addition to the five, Matt Berry was an honorable mention to the all state team as well.
Those half dozen, along with Tanner Elliott, James Ray, Josh Smith and Joseph Saldana made sure the All District list for Conference 4A-4 was likewise awash in purple.
Another four players, Michael Drawbaugh, Michael Springs, Wade Weaver and R.J. Haynes were named honorable mention all district.
That’s 14 different players earning at least one post season award.
Harrel finished his high school career with 3,013 rushing yards after piling up 1,345 yards this season. The quarterback ran for 15 touchdowns and threw for six more as he was 24-of-44 through the air for 407 yards.
Gray, a two-way headache for opposing coaches, anchored the offensive and defensive lines at tackle. Offensively, the unit led the way to 5,072 yards on the ground.
On defense Gray had 50 tackles with 6.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He also returned fumble for a touchdown.
Bryson May set a school record by scoring 29 touchdowns this season. He did most of that damage at fullback where he ran for 1,394 yards and scored 27 times. On his only reception, he took a screen pass 71 yards for another score.
The remaining touchdown came on defense on a fumble return for a touchdown. May also had 48 tackles with 2.5 sacks and three interceptions.
Shackleford was for most of the year the Bearcats leading tackler from the nose guard spot. He finished with 70 stops and a team high 7.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for a loss and more disruptions than could be qualified.
A back in the “Thunder” package, Shackleford also scored seven touchdowns with 32 carries for 298 yards.
Damon May who overtook Shackleford in the final game. The senior linebacker had 77 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss.
May also had three catches, two in the state title game win.
Berry was dangerous in all three phases of the game. The junior ran 81 times for 739 yards and eight touchdowns. He made 27 tackles and picked off eight passes — two in the title game win — taking one back 91 yards for a touchdown.
The speed merchant also ran back a pair of kickoffs — 96 and 97 yards — to start games. The leading receiver as well, Berry had 1,263 all purpose yards.
Elliott, like Gray, took up a tackle spot on both sides of the ball. Defensively Elliott had 33 tackles with 2.5 sacks and six for a loss.
Ray started a couple of games at quarterback and threw a touchdown pass but it was on defense where Ray made his mark. The junior had 38 tackles and intercepted two passes.
Smith was almost deadly in the kicking game, connecting on 42 of 44 tries after taking over the duty, not to mention a punt return for a touchdown for the first points of the season. He also ran for 637 yards on 65 carries and scored eight touchdowns.
Saldana, or “Dirty 30,” played at tight end and defensive end where he had a team high 81 total tackles with five sacks and 13.5 for a loss.
Drawbaugh was a guard for the Bearcat offense; Springs played some at halfback but left a mark on defense with 55 tackles including 6.5 sacks; Weaver was the starting center; and Haynes, the other junior, was the lone junior lineman and will be the only returning starter up front next season.