The Daily Leader’s 2023 All-Area Football: Special Teams

Published 3:10 pm Saturday, January 6, 2024

Daylan Barden, Enterprise

A junior and an exciting player when the ball is in his hands as a kick returner, Barden did it all this season for the Enterprise Yellow Jackets (4-6). Barden averaged over 23 yards per kick return and took one back for a touchdown. He also rushed for 482 yards and nine touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. He is a repeat All-Area selection for coach Trey Woodard.


Andrew Merrell, Bogue Chitto

Merrell finished his senior season and career doing what he’s done since joining the Bogue Chitto Bobcats (5-5), with balls booming off his foot as a kicker. A repeat All-Area selection, Merrell made 37-of-42 PAT attempts. He was named MAC 2A All-State and averaged 37 yards per punt for coach Gareth Sartin.


Bryce Smith, Brookhaven High

A senior leader for coach Tucker Peavey and the Panthers (7-5), Smith made a triumphant return to his punting duties as a senior after a knee injury kept him on the sidelines last season. An MAC 5A All-State selection in 2023, Smith punted 34 times for 1,037 yards. He averaged 30.5 yards per punt and had his long punt go for 48 yards. As a kicker, he made one field goal and 32-of-34 extra point kicks. Smith was also a tight end who caught 10 passes for 85 yards while earning All-Region honors.