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When the Cloverdale and South Putnam football teams ended their respective seasons this fall, two storied Putnam County football careers came to an end

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

When the Cloverdale and South Putnam football teams ended their respective seasons this fall, two storied Putnam County football careers came to an end.

Cloverdale's Chase Haltom and South Putnam's Matt Hicks ended their prep playing days on the Putnam County football fields, reflecting on four years of decorated success filled with honors and recognition.

Add one more to the list. Hicks was recently named the Putnam County Offensive Player of the year for his duties at tight end for the Eagles, while Haltom earned Putnam County Defensive Player award for his efforts at defensive back for the Clovers.

"It's an honor," Haltom said. "It's kind of surprising actually."

Along with 25 other players from the four Putnam County schools, Haltom and Hicks were chosen as the best in their respective positions, as voted on by the Putnam County coaches. The coaches picked 12 offensive, 12 defensive and three special teams players who displayed excellence on the playing field throughout the 2005 season.

Among them, Haltom and Hicks were chosen as the best of the best.

"It's an honor," Hicks said. "Many players don't get this opportunity."

Hicks led South Putnam to a 2005 Putnam County title, exceling on all sides of the playing field. As a tight end, Hicks caught 33 passes for 730 yards, averaging 22.1 yards per reception and scoring seven touchdowns.

As a linebacker, he led the team in tackles, recording 108 assists and 38 solo tackles. He was also the team punter, averaging 31.6 yards per punt on the season.

After losing the first two games of the season, Hicks helped lead South Putnam to a 7-5 overall record and a trip to the sectional championship against Tri-West.

"As the season went on, we were going through practices more fluidly," Hicks said. "Things were starting to click a little bit more."

Haltom was also involved in all facets of the game this season. Along with playing defensive back, he was the starting quarterback and place kicker for much of the season.

Among the different positions, Haltom said he enjoyed playing defense the most.

"I like to hit people," he said. "And I just think I was probably a better defensive player, than an offensive player."

Indeed, Haltom's defensive numbers were tough to top. In his senior season, Haltom finished with 37 solo tackles, 50 assists and six interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He holds the school record for interceptions in a career, while also tying Brian Bridgewater's West Central Conference record for interceptions in a career.

Despite having the numbers to backup the accolades, Haltom remained humble about his accomplishments.

"With South Putnam, Greencastle and North Putnam, there were so many good players," Haltom said. "It could have gone to anybody."

Although both players could possibly play college football in the future, neither are decided on their plans. As multi-sport athletes, they both have more options than most.

In addition to being a football player, Hicks is a basketball and baseball player. He is already looking to play baseball at West Virginia, and plans to visit in early spring.

As for what they both have to reflect on, too many memories remain in the past to single out one. Both choose to cherish the experience as a whole, rather than one individual moment.

When asked what he would miss, Hicks' memories paint a picture.

"Probably, going up on top of the hill and practicing everyday, having the good times," he said. "Just the atmosphere, the practice and the games."

Haltom answers a similar question with a similar response.

"Just hanging around the guys and the coaches," he said.

Here is the rest of the 2005 All-Putnam County Team

2005 All-County Offense

Offensive line

Center

* Robert Bittles (GHS) -- The Greencastle junior played both ways for the Tiger Cubs in the 2005 season, starting at center and defensive line. Along with making the snaps, Bittles recorded 28 tackles while leading the Tiger Cubs in sacks with seven.

Guards

* Chase Dunigan (GHS) -- The Greencastle senior and captain led the Tiger Cub offensive line in 2005. Behind the offensive front, Greencastle averaged 113.9 rushing yards and 125.2 passing yards per game.

Guard

* Chris Nichols (SP) -- The South Putnam senior led the offensive line in his final season. Behind the Eagle offensive line, South Putnam gained 1,458 yards passing and 2,014 yards rushing in 2005.

Tackles

* Scott Bunten (SP) -- Another South Putnam senior offensive lineman, the 6-foot-0 235-pound tackle saw playing time on both sides of the field in 2005. Bunten recorded 17 tackles and a fumble recovery on the season.

* Mitch Warner (CHS) -- The Cloverdale senior wrapped a successful career this season. Warner was a three-year starter and All-WCC offensive linemen for the Clovers. He was also team captain, and "the anchor for our line both offensively and defensively," Cloverdale Coach Jamie Steffy said.

Wide receivers

* Christian Cheatham (CHS) -- The Cloverdale junior finished his second year starting, earning both All-West Central Conference honors and All-State honors. Cheatham caught 34 passes for 759 yards, averaging 22.3 yards per reception, while pulling in eight touchdowns. Cheatham also completed 7-of-10 passes for 124 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

* Brian Troyer (GHS) -- The Greencastle junior wideout led the Tiger Cubs in both receptions and touchdown passes this season, with 29 catches for 582 yards and three touchdowns. Troyer also carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards, averaging four yards per carry.

Tight end

* Matt Hicks (SP) -- The South Putnam senior was dominant in his senior season, playing in all facets of the game. Hicks caught 33 passes for 730 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. He also ran the ball eight times for 46 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. In addition, Hicks led the team in tackles with 108 on the season and was the team's punter and place kicker.

Running backs

* Drew Christy (SP) -- The South Putnam running back went out with a bang in 2005, leading the county in rushing. Christy carried the ball 205 times for 1,241 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and 103.4 yards rushing per game. Christy also scored 20 touchdowns on the season, including two kickoff returns for touchdowns.

* Aaron Smith (CHS) -- In his junior year, Smith led the Clovers in rushing. He carried the ball 101 times for 740 yards, averaging an impressive 7.3 yards per carry. Smith also caught five passes for 67 yards on the season.

* Adam Vondersaar (NP) -- The North Putnam sophomore emerged as a prominent running threat in the conference last season, carrying the ball 96 times for 520 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Vondersaar ran for four touchdowns on the season and also caught four passes for 114 yards.

Quarterback

* Brayden Dahlstrom (NP) -- The versatile junior quarterback proved to be a double threat in the conference last season, possessing the ability to both throw and run. Dahlstrom completed 91-of-183 passes for 1,512 yards this season, throwing 15 touchdowns while only giving up eight interceptions. Dahlstrom also rushed for four touchdowns, carrying the ball 93 times for 295 yards, averaging 3.2 yards per carry.

Punter

* Brandon Mescall (CHS) -- The Cloverdale junior had 32 punts for a 33.2 yard average on the season. His longest punt of the year was for 66 yards.

All-County Defense

Defensive line

* Bryce Birkemeier (SP) -- Birkemeier was South Putnam's second leading tackler, recording 85 assists and 14 solo tackles on the season. Birkemeier also had six sacks and recovered three fumbles on the season.

* Cory Fordice (NP) -- Fordice was North Putnam's leading tackler on the defensive line, recording 32 assists and 26 solo tackles on the year. He also had four tackles for losses, two sacks and pressured the quarterback seven other times this season.

* Jeremiah Sutherlin (GHS) -- The Greencastle defensive lineman had a strong senior season, recording 25 solo tackles and 18 assists on the season. Sutherlin also had three sacks and recovered one fumble this year.

* Dylan Stone (CHS) -- The sophomore 5-foot-10, 235-pound defensive tackle recorded 16 solo tackles and 43 assists on the season. He had nine tackles for losses, one fumble recovery and three blocked kicks in 2005.

Linebackers

* Anthony Tomasino (SP) -- The senior linebacker recorded 79 assists and 15 solo tackles on the season. He also recorded one interception, one fumble recovery and three sacks in his final season. Tomasino also started at quarterback, throwing for 1,737 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Eagles in 2005.

* Aaron Dayhuff (CHS) -- The sophomore linebacker led the Clovers in tackles with 42 solo tackles and 77 assists. Dayhuff also had four tackles for losses and one interception returned for a touchdown this season.

* Riley McGaughey (NP) -- The North Putnam senior linebacker recorded 27 solo tackles and 38 assists in his final season. McGaughey also had seven tackles for losses and one fumble recover for the Cougars in 2005.

* Chad Nichols (GHS) -- The Greencastle junior linebacker led the Tiger Cubs in tackles this season, recording 50 solo tackles and 32 assists on the season. Nichols also had two sacks this year.

Defensive backs

* Chase Haltom (CHS) -- The Cloverdale three-year starter and two-year team captain did it all in his career at Cloverdale. Haltom earned both All-County and All-WCC honors the past three seasons. He finished with 37 solo tackles, 50 assists and six interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown this season. He tied Brian Bridgewater's 1987 WCC record for interceptions in a career, while breaking school records for interceptions, for a career, punt returns for a career and both the career and single season punt return average.

* Marcus McKinney (SP) -- In his senior season, McKinney recorded 41 assists and 23 solo tackles out of the South Putnam defensive backfield. He also had two interceptions on the season. McKinney also saw time out of the offensive backfield, carrying the ball six times for 79 yards, averaging 13.2 yards per carry and scoring three touchdowns.

* Tyler Trent (NP) -- In his junior season, Trent recorded 13 solo tackles and 32 assists in 2005. He also had four interceptions on the season, returning one for a touchdown. Trent also saw time receiving the ball, catching the ball 17 times for 344 yards, averaging 20.2 yards per reception.

* Zach Rhine (SP) -- The second South Putnam defensive back to make the squad, Rhine led the Eagles with seven interceptions this season. Rhine also recorded 65 assists and 22 solo tackles on the season, while recovering one fumble and blocking an extra point for the Eagles this year.

Place kicker

* Griffen Dahlstrom (NP) -- The North Putnam freshman hit 4-of-5 field goal attempts in his debut season, including a 37-yard field goal. He also hit 23-of-24 extra point attempts in 2005.

Special teams

* Michael Richardson (GHS) -- The junior wideout led the Tiger Cubs in kickoff returns this season, averaging 21.3 yards per kickoff return. Richardson's season was highlighted on an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He also caught 10 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown.



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