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December 23, 2009RICHMOND, VA. -- Michael Holmes of Harrisonburg had a season full of big games, but few have had one like he did on Sept. 18, rushing for 397 yards and eight touchdowns.
In the first half.
Holmes finished the season with 2,749 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns and was an easy choice for The Associated Press Group AA player of the year for 2009, as selected by a panel of sports writers from throughout the state. He also headlines the AP's All-Group AA team.
Three players from Division 4 state champion Broad Run - running back T.J. Peeler, offensive tackle Taylor Evans and defensive lineman Frank Foreman - and linebacker Nick Sigmon from Division 3 winner Northside are among those joining Holmes on the first team.
Northside coach Burt Torrence is the coach of the year. His team overcame key injuries and early losses to Cave Spring and Salem by winning its last nine games, including a 20-17 victory against Bruton in the state final, to give the school its first state championship.
Peeler ran for 2,174 yards and 23 touchdowns, and he and Holmes are joined in the backfield by David Williams, who ran for 2,548 yards and 23 touchdowns for Hidden Valley.
The quarterback is Devante White of Robert E. Lee-Staunton. He ran for 1,993 yards and 21 touchdowns, and passed for 1,108 yards and 15 scores operating behind an offensive line anchored by teammate and fellow first-team choice A.J. Scott at guard.
The line also includes Collin Christovich of Powhatan at the other guard spot, tackles Evans of Broad Run and Landon Turner of Harrisonburg and center Alex Marrs of Graham.
The receivers are Russell Gillus of Greensville County, who caught 66 passes for 1,206 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Mike Ayoub of Loudoun County, who caught 62 for 987 and nine scores. The tight end is Shane Pouncey of Harrisonburg, who had 15 catches for 257 yards.
Tyler Dawson earned the place-kicker spot after making 9 of 10 field goals, including a 46-yarder, and booting 65 PATs for the team that lost 21-16 in the Division 4 final.
Other playmakers include kick returner Wesley Gates of Staunton River, who had three returns for touchdowns, and do-everything utility player Joel Phillips of Broadway.
Phillips ran for 1,072 yards and nine TDs, caught 20 passes for 298 yards and two more scores, returned kickoffs, had 33 solo tackles and 17 assists and kicked four field goals.
On defense, John Washington of Liberty-Bealeton had 10 sacks and Chris Ragonesi had 17 stops behind the line to join Will Lowe of Richlands and Broad Run's Foreman up front.
Sigmon leads the way at linebacker after being in on 114 solo tackles, including 17 behind the line, with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Damien Carter of Amherst County's 121 tackles included 17 behind the line; Chase Williams of Loudoun County had 116 stops, one interception, four forced fumbles and six recoveries; and Zach Weller of Christiansburg made 96 solo tackles, had 82 assists and was involved in seven takeaways.
The defensive backs are Kyle Linn of Turner Ashby, who broke up eight passes and intercepted four others; Shawn Minor of Powhatan, who had five sacks; Chris McDaniel of Amherst County; and David Carter, who was involved in 106 tackles for John Handley.
Graham Sharples of John Handley is the punter after averaging 36 yards per kick.