Three players from the Chattanooga area have been named finalists for the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football award in their respective classification.
When the TSSAA and Tennessee Titans made the announcement Tuesday night, the local trio who were named finalists included McCallie's Carson Gentle and Baylor's Amari Jefferson in Division II-AAA and Bradley Central's Boo Carter in Class 6A.
Five semifinalists in each of the state's nine classifications were announced two weeks ago, with the lists narrowed to three finalists in each class on Tuesday.
Five area players had been named semifinalists, but South Pittsburg quarterback Kamden Wellington and Pirates linebacker Jamarion Farrior were not among the three players in Class 1A to be named finalists.
The award is based solely on each player's regular season performance — playoffs do not factor into the process — and award winners for all nine TSSAA classifications, plus Kicker of the Year, will be announced during a Dec. 5 ceremony at Nashville's Nissan Stadium, home of the Titans.
Gentle, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound hybrid defensive end/linebacker who has committed to the University of Tennessee, was also a semifinalist for the award last year. This season he led the Blue Tornado with 58.5 total tackles, including 45 solos, eight for loss and three sacks, plus four pass breakups.
"Carson is just a freakish athlete," McCallie coach Ralph Potter said. "He would be the best player we've got at whatever position he played. He's such a good linebacker for us because he can rush the passer and also defend receivers out in space. On offense, he's a great blocking tight end who also has great hands and can make plays after the catch.
"He's a four-year starter — it's been a long time since we had someone start as a freshman — who is extremely smart and physical. He can make all the calls on getting everyone lined up correctly and he's become a much more vocal leader this year in terms of making sure everyone is handling their responsibility."
Jefferson, a 6-foot, 200-pound receiver committed to Alabama, had 53 catches for 877 yards (16.6 per catch average) and 12 touchdowns during the regular season.
"I think his skill set speaks for itself, and it's evident to anybody who watches him," Baylor coach Erik Kimrey said. "What should also be recognized is just the quality of human he is and the leader he's become for us.
"Amari is a high-level competitor who takes pride in everything he does. The way he approaches the game reverberates throughout the team because of the example he sets."
Baylor (10-2) and McCallie (11-1) will face off next Thursday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. in the BlueCross Bowl. Those two have combined to win each of the past four D-II AAA state titles, so regardless of the outcome the championship will remain in Chattanooga for a fifth consecutive year. The Blue Tornado avenged last year's loss to the Red Raiders with a dramatic 34-31 win during the regular season.
Bradley Central's Carter, who is also committed to Tennessee, compiled 1,145 all-purpose yards, including 55 catches for 911 yards and 12 TDs, during the regular season. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder also returned two punts for scores and had 71 total tackles (four for loss) and an interception for the top-ranked Bears (13-0), who host three-time defending state champion Murfreesboro Oakland (11-2) in Friday's semifinals.
This is the 39th year that the Mr. Football Awards have been presented to Tennessee's best high school football players. A Mr. Football trophy will be presented to the winners of each category. A Mr. Football plaque will be presented to the other two finalists in each category. The other semifinalists will each receive a certificate.
Contact Stephen Hargis at [email protected].
2023 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Finalists
DIVISION I, CLASS 1A
Ben Franklin, Cornersville
Cameron Schlicht, Dresden
Dawson White, Moore County
DIVISION I, CLASS 2A
Isaiah Groves, East Robertson
Darien Meza, Mt. Pleasant
Stone Wallace, Riverside
DIVISION I, CLASS 3A
Radarious Jackson, Sheffield
Skylan Smith, Covington
Brandon Winton, Jr., Alcoa
DIVISION I, CLASS 4A
Gabe Borders, Macon County
Zeion-LaFrederick Simpson, Pearl Cohn
KeShawn S. Tarleton, Pearl Cohn
DIVISION I, CLASS 5A
Eric Hazzard, Page
Kelvin Perkins, Southwind
Dominic Reed, Centennial
DIVISION I, CLASS 6A
Boo Carter, Bradley Central
Braden Graham, Riverdale
Daune Morris, Oakland
DIVISION II, CLASS A
JayLen Mosley, Jackson Christian School
Brian Shields, First Assembly Christian School
Tyson Wolcott, Friendship Christian School
DIVISION II, CLASS AA
Markeis Barrett, Webb School of Knoxville
Ty Clark, Franklin Road Academy
Crews Law, Christ Presbyterian Academy
DIVISION II, CLASS AAA
Kaleb Beasley, Lipscomb Academy
Carson Gentle, McCallie
Amari Jefferson, Baylor
KICKER OF THE YEAR
Grant Chadwick, Tullahoma
Daniel Echeverria, Mt. Juliet
Owen Taylor, Knoxville Halls