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9 Lincoln County locals named to All-State football team

Football coaches across Mississippi have put together their 2017 dream team, and several local football players made the cut.

The 2017 Mississippi High School Football Coaches All-State Team includes nine ballers from the area, including standouts at two county schools and six core players from Brookhaven. West Lincoln senior Chase Owen made first team offense in 2A, while Loyd Star’s Rials Hester was named to the second team defense. The Ole Brook Panthers supplied the 5A first team offense with Trace Clopton and Tyler Mixon, the first team defense with Jeffery Johnson and Jemaurian Jones, and the second team offense with Damarrell Leggett and Coker Wright. Franklin County’s Cameron Young was named to the second team defense in 3A.

“Making all-state is a goal I’ve always had,” said Owen, who is considering a scholarship offer to play football for Hinds Community College. “I’ve always looked up to the players who’ve made all-state, and when I didn’t make it before it made me want to work even harder.”

Owen worked very hard indeed in 2017, serving as West Lincoln’s battering ram in the run game, its deep threat in the passing game and its quarterback in special circumstances.

He carried the ball 102 times for 668 yards, moving along at 6.5 yards per carry and scored 11 rushing touchdowns. In the air, Owen hauled down 34 catches for 628 yards, for a big 18.5 yards per catch. He caught five touchdown passes and threw another six when he was in at quarterback.

Owen finished the season with 1,395 all-purpose yards.

For Loyd Star’s Hester, being named an all-state player brought loneliness along with honor.

“I just wish more brothers from my team could have been named all-state with me,” he said.

Hester played center for Loyd Star, serving as the keystone for an offensive line that cleared the way for more than 2,500 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns in 2017. He recorded 28 pancake blocks on the season.

Standing only 5 feet 8 inches tall, Hester did his damage as the smallest man on the line.

“I may not be the biggest or the baddest, but I knew I could be the toughest,” he said. “When you play center it’s a responsible role — if anyone has to take a bullet, it should be you.”

The Ole Brook Panthers’ six selections to the all-state team come at the end of a season of victories, major college football commitments and numerous awards and honors.

“Individual awards are always a reflection of how good a team you have,” said BHS coach Tommy Clopton. “Those young men selected for all-state played a huge role in the success of our team and I couldn’t be more proud of how they played the game and how they’ve grown.”