A turnaround season at McIntosh County Academy did not go unnoticed among coaches in Region 3-A, Division A.
Coming off a season in which MCA returned to the postseason for the first time since 2016, eight Buccaneers landed on the All-Region team; five on the first team, and three more on the second team.
“I was really proud of all of them,” said McIntosh County Academy head coach Bradley Warren.
A year ago, the Buccaneers only saw two players voted to the first team, coming off a season in which they went 1-9 with an average point differential of -18 points per game.
But in the offseason, MCA brought back Warren, who had the best winning percentage in program history after going 27-11 from 1999-2001, and he proved he still had the magic touch in Darien by leading the Buccaneers to a 5-6 record and hosting a first-round game in the GHSA Class A-Public playoffs.
After starting the season 0-2 against Class 4A and 6A playoff teams in Pierce County and Brunswick High, McIntosh won five of their final eight games to close the regular season, including the last three.
MCA finished 4-1 against teams from the same classification, outscoring opponents by 120 points in those contests. The lone loss was a 28-23 defeat at the hands of Emmanuel County Institute in the postseason.
Trenton Johnson rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the playoff loss — pushing his totals to 1,061 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground in a first-team season at running back.
“He didn’t carry the ball at all last year,” Warren said. “He really bought into what we were doing, and now he’s getting some attention at the college level running the ball.”
Johnson entered his junior season without a single carry in his prep career, and despite rushing for just 87 yards over his first three games, he stuck with it and became the focal point of MCA’s wing-T offense.
As a team, McIntosh rushed for 2,443 yards and 32 touchdowns at 5.8 yards per carry over 11 games. Offensive linemen Azavon Lawton and Spencer Rozier received first and second team all-region honors, respectively, for their work up front.
“I felt like, on the offensive line, we got a lot better as the year went along,” Warren said. “Zay Lawton kind of led that charge, but Spencer Rozier, who got second team, he was an 100 percent effort guy every down.
“Those other guys on the line did well too. Those two stood out pretty well.”
The rest of the Buccaneers’ all-region selections came on the defensive side of the ball, where they held opponents to 19 points per game, the lowest figure in the region, and pitched three shutouts.
Defensive lineman Josh Amerson earned a first-team nod for a senior campaign that saw him notch 24 tackles for a loss, as did junior defensive back Khay Lloyd, who Warren described as a “pretty good lockdown corner.”
Junior linebacker Miles Wood was also voted to the all-region first team with opposing coaches acknowledging his role in calling out McIntosh County Academy’s aggressive defense.
“Miles’ stats were what a linebacker’s should look like, but I think he got a lot of recognition for being able to run our defense,” Warren said. “We’re a tough little defense. We don’t just line up and play, we line up and attack. He did a great job with that.”
Linebacker Austin Crosby and defensive lineman Quan Proctor, both sophomores, were named to the all-region second team.
Although it’d be difficult to classify the Buccaneers’ season as anything other than a resounding success, the players and coaches are still plenty hungry heading into the offseason. With just two of the team’s eight all-region players set to graduate, MCA appears destined to make another run next season.
“We’re pretty excited about the potential we have,” Warren said. “But we’ve got to have a good offseason. We keep a lot of skill kids, we’ve got a lot of our skill kids coming back, but we graduate a lot on the fronts, so we’re going to have to develop some linemen in the offseason.”