All three choices for All-Observer players and coach of the year had memorable, remarkable seasons.
The offensive player of the year, Charlotte Catholics Elijah Hood, had the best single season ever by a Mecklenburg County running back.
The defensive player of the year, Butlers Peter Kalambayi, was so good teams often ran away from him, and he still had more than 100 tackles.
The coach of the year, East Lincolns Mike Byus, led his team to the best season in school history.
Each year, The Observers high school sports staff names three all-star football teams. All-Region is for the best players outside of Mecklenburg County who play in the newspapers 133-school coverage area in North and South Carolina. All-Mecklenburg is for the top players inside the county.
All-Observer is for the best players, period.
Byus, named N.C. Associated Press state coach of the year, watched his team beat three-time N.C. 2A champ Tarboro to win its first state championship and polish off a 16-0 season.
The right place, the right time, the right group of kids combined with the right coaching staff, Byus said. If you do something like this, obviously you get a break here and there. You cant do something like that without getting the breaks to bounce your way a few times.
Byus, 51, is in his eighth season at East Lincoln (16-0), which averaged nearly 41 points and won games by an average margin of 24 points. The team continued to thrive all season, even after losing senior quarterback Garrett Young for two games because of a knee injury.
East Lincoln trailed only three times all season, the last coming in the 2A final before scoring the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Byus credited his players, saying they always put in the work to prepare for any opponent.
I talked to them all year about reaching their ceiling, Byus said. I said, Guys, I dont know how good we can be, but I want you to be as good as you can be. So after the (final) game, my quarterback came up to me and said, Hey coach, did we reach our ceiling? I said, I think we pretty much did about all we could do
Hood, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior, ran for a Mecklenburg County record 3,309 yards and a record 48 touchdowns. Hes well on pace to set county career rushing marks in both categories next season.
In the past two seasons, Hood has rushed for 5,291 yards and 83 touchdowns.
At school, Hood is as well known for being an outgoing and friendly student as he is the best athlete in the hallways.
Hes really nice, Catholic freshman Emily Daly said. The kids here, they all look up to him because hes such a good role model. Hes huge here.
Kalambayi is also huge at Butler.
At 6-4 and 240 pounds, he has the speed of a running back and great strength. Kalambayi had 101 tackles and six sacks. But he was so good this year that Butler defensive coordinator Steve Shaughnessy said teams often ran away from him.
In the Bulldogs 56-28 state championship win against Fayetteville Britt earlier this month, Britt continually ran away from Kalambayi, who still made several breathtaking plays at the line of scrimmage and after running down ball carriers.
He is one of five finalists for the national high school linebacker of the year award and a Stanford recruit.
He doesnt always get the credit he deserves, Butler coach Brian Hales said. Any great athlete like him who makes things look easy, sometimes that can happen, but hes every you could want in a football player.
Note: The Observers All-Mecklenburg and All-Region football teams are at charlotteobserver.com/preps. Also at the website are All-Observer teams for other fall sports: soccer, volleyball, cross-country, tennis and golf.
The Associated Press contributed .
2012 Charlotte Observer All-Observer Football Team
QB: Will Grier, Davidson Day, 6-3, 190, Jr.: Gatorade N.C. player of the year and Associated Press all-state pick threw for county record 5,785 yards and county record 69 touchdowns. Accounted for nearly 7,000 yards in offense and 77 scores. Committed to Florida.
RB: Elijah Hood, Charlotte Catholic, 6-1, 215, Jr.: Rushed for county records in single-season yards (3,309) and touchdowns (48). Led his team to the N.C. 3A state finals and has scholarship offers from Charlotte, Clemson, ECU, Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
RB: Tyler Bray, South Point, 6-0, 185, Jr.: Rushed for Gaston County record 2,556 yards and 36 touchdowns. Offensive player of the year in Big South 3A.
TE: Jeb Blazevich, Charlotte Christian, 6-5, 230, Jr.: Offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others. Caught 30 passes for 379 yards and five touchdowns for the N.C. Independent Schools state champions and was an all-conference and all-state pick.
WR: Uriah LeMay, Butler, 6-3, 205, Sr.: Georgia recruit is ranked among the nations best at his position. Caught 52 passes for 1,041 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed 27 times for 264 yards and 16 touchdowns. Has a school-record 2,510 career receiving yards.
WR: Alex Asbury, Concord, 6-2, 175, Sr.: Caught 62 passes for 1,443 yards and 15 touchdowns for N.C. 3A state championship finalist.
OL: Collin Porter, Charlotte Catholic, 6-4, 270, Sr.: Right tackle was top lineman on a team that averaged more than 370 yards offense per game and had 5,500-plus yards for the season and 68 rushing touchdowns. Being recruited by Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Richmond.
OL: Joseph Moody, Butler, 6-2, 265, Sr.: 2012 Southwestern 4A all-conference pick was a three-year starter. This season, played tackle, guard and center for the N.C. 4AA champions.
OL: Schuyler Coleman, Davidson Day, 6-5, 330, Sr.: UNC recruit was a private school and N.C. Associated Press all-state pick. Graded out better than 98 percent and was a punishing blocker.
OL: Roger Prince, Albemarle, 6-8, 315, Sr.: N.C. AP All-State pick will play at UNC. Prince was Shrine Bowl pick and was selected for the Offensive/Defensive Bowl in Houston.
OL: Adam Reece, South Caldwell, 6-2, 280, Sr.: Top lineman on 12-1 conference champion that averaged 432.3 yards per game, including 366.7 rushing. Left tackle had an average grade of 90 percent.
SPEC: Mason Rudolph, Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-4, 210, Jr.: QB has offers from LSU, Virginia Tech and threw for 3,990 yards and 41 touchdowns. Rushed for 604 yards and 10 scores. Also had a 36.8 yard punt average in 34 attempts.
K: Wes Medeiros, Charlotte Christian, 5-8, 150, Sr.: Made 49 of 49 PATs and was 12 of 17 on field goals with a long of 51. Scored 85 points and finished career by making 105 straight PATs. He also averaged 42.3 yards on 20 punts and put 10 punts inside the opponents 20.
DL: Jalen Cousar, Butler, 6-0, 245, So.: All-conference pick in the Southwestern 4A had 87 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 12.5 additional tackles for loss for the N.C. 4AA state champs.
DL: Stephan Askew, Mallard Creek, 6-0, 215, Jr.: Tallied 17.5 sacks plus 10 tackles for loss on a defense that allowed just seven points per game. Also had 47 tackles for a team that was nationally ranked during the season.
DL: Julius Bowe, South Iredell, 6-2, 250, Sr.: Conference defensive player of the year had 65 tackles, 19 for a loss and 4.5 sacks while being constantly double-teamed.
DL: Darian Roseboro, Lincolnton, 6-4 260, So.: Had 107 tackles, including 28 for loss and eight sacks. Also forced four fumbles, recovered four fumbles and had four pass deflections. Offers from UNC and Duke.
LB: Peter Kalambayi, Butler, 6-4, 240, Sr.: Finalist for Dick Butkus national linebacker of the year award. Stanford recruit had 101 tackles, 11 for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass blocks.
LB: Larenz Bryant, Vance, 6-1, 215, Sr.: South Carolina recruit rushed 183 times for 1,694 yards and caught nine passes for 147 yards. Scored 22 total TDs and had four 2-point conversions. On defense, had 84 tackles, nine sacks, six pass deflections, and an 80-yard interception return for a score. Runner-up defensive player of the year.
LB: Sean Wiggins, Butler, 6-3, 235, Sr.: Ball State recruit was defensive MVP of the N.C. 4AA state championship game and Southwestern 4A co-defensive player of the year. Had 187 tackles, 25 for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
DB: Channing Stribling, Butler, 6-2, 180, Sr: Michigan recruit was Butlers top two-way player. Had 31 tackles, nine interceptions, 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Also started at wide receiver.
DB: Jack Tocho, Independence, 6-1, 185, Sr.: Speedy N.C. State recruit was Southwestern 4A co-defensive player of the year. Returned two of his seven interceptions for scores. Had three kick returns TDs and 55 tackles.
DB: Brian Walker, Mallard Creek, 5-10, 180, Sr.: UNC recruit had 13 pass breakups, six interceptions though teams threw away from him often. Is a two-time I-Meck 4A all-conference pick.
DB: Jermany Hammonds, Monroe, 6-0, 195, Sr.: 73 tackles and 10 interceptions plus 29 pass breakups for Rocky River all-conference star.
P: Matt Wogan, Porter Ridge, 6-2, 200, Sr.: Averaged 44 yards per punt with a long of 72 yards. Also made 12 field goals with a long of 58. Put 95 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone. Oregon recruit.
KR: Bryon Fields, Providence Day, 5-10, 175, Sr.: Duke recruit at defensive back had 67 tackles, four interceptions. He rushed four times for 264 yards, four TDs; caught 49 passes for 851 yards and six TDs. Was named MVP of N.C./S.C. private school Shrine Bowl.
Offensive player of the year: Hood, Charlotte Catholic
Defensive player of the year: Kalambayi, Butler
Coach of the year: Mike Byus, East Lincoln