2017 All O-Zone Football Team

By Jordan Burton & Chris Parker

The Third Annual All-O-Zone Top 33 Football Team is here.

This team is different than other teams in that we are selecting the best 33 players in the Ozarks regardless of position and placing them on a First 11, Second 11 and Third 11. This leaves room for multiple players from the same position without having to force a team together based solely on positions and allows us to evaluate players for what they did on both sides of the ball.

To get to these final 33 we used coach nominations and observations along with staff observations throughout the season. In addition, stats, postseason honors and team success played a big role in helping us identify the Top 33 players in the Ozarks from the thousands that played this season.

FIRST 11

Senior RB/DE Cooper Lucas, Lamar (Player of the Year)

He was without a doubt the most impactful two-way player in the Ozarks and one of the best pure football players you’ll see at the high school level. Yes, his numbers were ridiculous, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. Lucas’ physicality and leadership set the tone for Lamar to win yet another state championship. The crazier part is just one year after earning Class 2 Defensive Player of the Year honors, Lucas completed the trophy case by taking home the same award on the other side of the ball.
2017 Stats: 168 carries, 1,890 yards rushing, 31 touchdowns; 57 tackles, 11 sacks; 33 punts, 34 yards per punt average
2017 Honors: Class 2 Offensive Player of the Year, Class 2 Region Offensive Player of the Year, Big 8 Offensive Player of the Year, Class 2 First-Team All-Region Running Back & Defensive End, First-Team All-Big 8 Running Back & Defensive End

Senior QB Josh Pritchett, Rolla (Offensive Player of the Year)

Pritchett was responsible for one of the best individual offensive outputs Missouri will ever see, putting up Jonny Manziel-like numbers. Only three guys in state history have racked up more yards of total offense than the Rolla signal-caller. The 6-foot-4 senior who doubles as a basketball standout finished the season with four games of at least 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards and he’s the only player in the Ozarks with 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the O-Zone era.
2017 Stats: 3,174 yards passing, 24 touchdowns, 15 interceptions; 251 carries, 1,735 yards rushing, 26 touchdowns
2017 Honors: Class 4 Second Team All-State Quarterback, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Athlete, Ozark Conference Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Quarterback

Senior DL/FB Zeke Wall, Carl Junction (Defensive Player of the Year)

Any time John Roderique says you’re one of the best players he’s ever coached against then you’re clearly doing something right. Wall again took home COC Defensive POY honors, making it back-to-back for the versatile lineman. He often saw double and triple teams and rarely had a snap of pure one-on-one football, none of it really mattered because his motor and technique allowed him to routinely beat whatever was in front of him. A four-year starter on the defensive line, Wall finished with at least 75 tackles in each of the last three seasons. He’s also an absolute terminator at fullback.
2017 Stats: 76 solo tackles, 128 total tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 2 fumble recovery, 1 fumble forced
2017 Honors: Class 4 Second-Team All-State Defensive Lineman, Class 4 Region Defensive Player of the Year, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Defensive Lineman, COC Large Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-COC Large Defensive Lineman, Ozark Conference Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Quarterback

Senior DE/TE TW Ayers, Lamar

Within the confines of the rules, Ayers was one of the most physical football players we’ve seen in years. Few defensive ends in Missouri were better at setting the edge and playing the run or pass better than Ayers. Another high-motor guy, the 240-pound hybrid end can play with his hand on the ground or not and the Class 2 state title game where he had nine tackles and four tackles for loss (three sacks) was yet another example of just how dominant he was this season. He won every Defensive POY possible.
2017 Stats: 99 tackles, 8 sacks
2017 Honors: Class 2 Defensive Player of the Year, Class 2 Region Defensive Player of the Year, Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year, Class 2 First-Team All-Region Tight End & Defensive End, First-Team All-Big 8 Tight End & Defensive End

Senior RB John Berry, Lebanon

Berry’s senior campaign not included a Class 5 Elite Eight run, but the 210-pound battering ram established new Lebanon records in single-season rushing yards and a new career rushing record, both of which were held by formed great Brock West. He reached the 200-yard mark in seven of his 12 games and had four games of at least four touchdowns. Berry was especially hard on SPS programs, putting up 959 yards and 13 touchdowns total in games against Glendale, Hillcrest, Kickapoo and Parkview.
2017 Stats: 321 carries, 2,369 yards, 27 touchdowns; 193 yards receiving, 1 touchdown
2017 Honors: Class 5 Third-Team All-State Running Back, Class 5-6 Region Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Running Back, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Running Back

WR/DB Alex Gaskill, Webb City

Gaskill is the “next” in the long line of ball-hawk safeties that make plays against the pass and can come up to the line of scrimmage in run support. His entire season was just about making big plays on both sides of the ball. Against Platte County his interception and forced fumble helped preserve the win. In the state championship game his freakish interception helped Webb City hold off Ladue. He may have the best natural instincts of anyone on this list.
2017 Stats: 33 rec, 647 yards, 9 touchdowns; 87 tackles, 6 interceptions
2017 Honors: Class 4 First-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Defensive Back, Class 4 Second-Team All-Region Wide Receiver, First-Team All-COC Large Defensive Back, Second-Team All-COC Large Wide Receiver

Junior RB Durand Henderson, Webb City

There were backs in the area with more yards and more touchdowns, but Henderson is without a doubt one of the top running backs in Missouri. Coach Rod unleashed the beast in Webb City’s final four games of the season. Against four state-ranked teams, Henderson totaled 108 carries for 687 yards and eight touchdowns. Nearly half of his carries came in those games. Had Henderson not had six outings of 10 or fewer carries in lopsided games he would’ve pushed for 2,500 yards.
2017 Stats: 235 carries, 1,703 yards, 23 touchdowns; 2 receptions, 44 yards, 1 touchdown
2017 Honors: Class 4 First-Team All-State Running Back, Class 4 Region Offensive Player of the Year, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Running Back, Co-COC Large Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-COC Large Running Back

Senior QB Alex Huston, Glendale

Huston finished his career at Glendale as the most decorated passer in Missouri history. His 16,566 passing yards trail only his coaches Maty and Ben Mauk for the most of all-time. He has the national record for passing yards in a game, second-most passing yards in a single-season and second most touchdown passes in a career. Naturally, he holds every major Missouri passing record for a single-game, season and career. One day he’ll be inducted to the Missouri Hall of Fame because of what he did over the last three seasons.
2017 Stats: 4,827 yards passing, 57 touchdowns; 102 carries, 430 yards, 3 touchdowns
2017 Honors: Class 5 Second-Team All-State Athlete, Class 5-6 Region Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Quarterback, Second-Team All-Ozark Conference Quarterback

Senior WR/DB Arkell Smith, Carthage

No other receiver garnered as much attention from opposing defenses as Smith and not even bracket coverage could keep him from making plays. His tape is full of acrobatic grabs, with several instances of him “Mossing” opposing defenders; he was responsible for several of the most dynamic plays in the area this season. Despite not playing football until his junior year, Smith finished his career with more than 2,000 receiving yards in the last two seasons combined.
2017 Stats: 65 receptions, 1,201 yards, 9 touchdowns; 24 tackles, 1 interception, 4 pass breakups
2017 Honors: Class 5 Second-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 5-6 Region Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Wide Receiver, First-Team All-COC Large Wide Receiver

Sophomore WR Zach Westmoreland, Joplin

There were 55 all-state slots in Class 6 and just two of them went to sophomores with Westmoreland being the only non-senior receiver to be named all-state. One Ozark Conference coach compared him to Dorial Green-Beckham in terms of how difficult he is to game plan for. He accounted for more than 1,500 all-purpose yards and found the end zone via the run, pass and return game. Westmoreland racked up at least 100 yards from scrimmage in eight of his 10 games this season.

2017 Stats: 74 receptions, 921 yards, 6 touchdowns; 44 carries, 331 yards, 11 touchdowns
2017 Honors: Second Team Class 6 All-State Wide Receiver, Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Wide Receiver & Returner, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Wide Receiver

Junior RB/LB Rayquion Weston, Carl Junction

The “who’s the best running back in the area” debate continues to pick up steam on social media with Henderson and Weston, but there’s no question that Weston was one of the most productive two-way players in Missouri. The “Ray Train” rolled for more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage, but Weston may have been even better defensively for the Bulldogs. The pass-catching abilities are underrated as well. Weston is a pure football player. He’ll likely break every Carl Junction rushing record next season.

2017 Stats: 217 carries, 1,513 yards, 25 touchdowns; 34 rec, 534 yards, 4 touchdowns; 44 solo tackles, 74 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 10 Sacks, 2 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovery
2017 Honors: Class 4 Second-Team All-State Running Back, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Running Back, Class 4 Second-Team All-Region Linebacker, COC Large Co-Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-COC Large Running Back & Linebacker

SECOND 11

Senior OL Landon Beebe, Webb City

2017 Honors: Class 4 First-Team All-State Offensive Lineman, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Offensive Lineman, First-Team All-COC Large Offensive Lineman

Junior LB Will Boswell, Mt. Vernon

2017 Stats: 240.5 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 blocked kicks
2017 Honors: Class 3 Defensive Player of the Year, Class 3 Region Defensive Player of the Year, Class 3 First-Team All-Region Linebacker, First-Team All-Big 8 Linebacker

Senior TE/DE Ethan Burson, Willard

2017 Stats: South Dakota Commit; 72 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries; 13 receptions, 154 yards, 3 touchdowns
2017 Honors: Class 5 Second-Team All-State Defensive End, Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Tight End & Defensive End, First-Team All-COC Large Tight End & Defensive End

Senior DB Dillon Lancaster, Carthage

2017 Stats: 126 tackles; 14 rec, 213 yards
2017 Honors: Class 5 First-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 5-6 Region Defensive Player of the Year, Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Defensive Back, First-Team All-COC Large Defensive Back

Sophomore RB Brayden Lidgard, West Plains

2017 Stats: 292 carries, 2,424 yards, 35 touchdowns; 35 receptions, 369 yards, 4 touchdowns
2017 Honors: Class 4 First-Team All-State Running Back, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Running Back, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Running Back

Senior WR/KR Isaac Mauldin, Fair Grove

2017 Stats: 61 receptions, 1,156 yards, 12 touchdowns; two punt return touchdowns, 14.7 yards per punt return, one kick-off return touchdown, 25.2 yards per kick return; three interceptions on defense in four games played
2017 Honors: Class 2 First-Team All-State Wide Receiver, Class 2 First-Team All-Region Wide Receiver & Returner, First-Team All-Mid Lakes Wide Receiver & Returner

Senior RB/DB Quincey McDonald, Ava

2017 Stats: 173 carries, 1,089 yards, 15 touchdowns; 63 tackles, 4 interceptions
2017 Honors: Class 2 Second-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 2 First-Team All-Region Defensive Back, Class 2 Honorable Mention All-Region Running Back, First-Team All-SCA Defensive Back

Senior WR/DB/KR Andrew Montemayor, Mt. Vernon

2017 Stats: 56 receptions, 962 yards, 10 touchdowns; 28 kick returns, 629 yards, 3 touchdowns; 1 punt return for a touchdown; 105.5 tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries
2017 Honors: Class 3 First-Team All-State Defensive Back & Returner, Class 3 First-Team All-Region Wide Receiver & Returner, Class 3 Second-Team All-Region Defensive Back, First-Team All-Big 8 Wide Receiver & Returner, Second-Team All-Big 8 Defensive Back

Senior ATH Koel Orchard, MV-BT/Liberty

2017 Stats: 221 carries, 1651 yards, 8 touchdowns; 28 receptions, 442 yards, 7 touchdowns; 429 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; 112 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 3 punt blocks, 1 interception
2017 Honors: Class 2 First-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 2 First-Team All-Region Running Back & Defensive Back, First-Team All-SCA Running Back

Senior WR/KR Josh Powell, Hillcrest

2017 Stats: 75 carries, 491 yards, 6 touchdowns; 52 receptions, 799 yards, 11 touchdowns; 9 kick-off returns, 336 yards, 1 touchdown (37 yards per return); 2 interceptions on defense
2017 Honors: Class 4 Second-Team All-State Returner, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Wide Receiver & Returner, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Wide Receiver & Returner

Senior RB/LB Todd Simpson, Camdenton

2017 Stats: 114 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 pass breakups; 62 carries, 686 yards, 13 touchdowns; 4 carries for 228 against Parkview
2017 Honors: Class 4 Third-Team All-State Linebacker, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Linebacker, Ozark Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Linebacker, Second-Team All-Ozark Conference Running Back

THIRD 11

Senior OL/DL Austin Bradfield, Reeds Spring

2017 Honors: Class 3 Second-Team All-State Offensive Lineman, Class 3 First-Team All-Region Offensive Lineman & Defensive End, First-Team All-COC Small Offensive & Defensive Lineman

Senior OL/DL Coy Butterworth, Monett

2017 Honors: Class 3 First-Team All-State Offensive Lineman, Class 3 First-Team All-Region Offensive Lineman & Defensive End, First-Team All-Big 8 Offensive Lineman, Second-Team All-Big 8 Defensive End

Senior OL/DL Remington Childers, Thayer

2017 Stats: 35 solo tackles, 96 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked punt
2017 Honors: Class 1 Second-Team All-State Defensive End, Class 1 Region Defensive Player of the Year, Class 1 First-Team All-Region Offensive & Defensive Lineman, First-Team All-SCA Defensive Lineman

Senior QB/DB Chris Comerford, Sarcoxie

2017 Stats: 167 carries, 1,600 yards, 24 touchdowns; 405 yards passing 2 touchdowns; 85 tackles, 3 interceptions
2017 Honors: Class 1 Second-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 1 Region Offensive Player of the Year, Class 1 First-Team All-Region Quarterback, Defensive Back & Returner, SRVC Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-SRVC Quarterback, Defensive Back & Returner

Junior RB Blake Delacruz, Parkview

2017 Stats: 299 carries, 2,136 yards, 18 touchdowns; set Parkview rushing record
2017 Honors: Class 5-6 First-Team All-Region Running Back, First-Team All-Ozark Conference Running Back

Senior OL/DL Zach Howard, Bolivar

2017 Stats: NW Missouri State Commit; 44 total tackles; 2 Sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 fumbles forced
2017 Honors: Class 4 Second-Team All-State Offensive Lineman, Class 4 First-Team All-Region Offensive & Defensive Lineman, First-Team All-COC Small Offensive & Defensive Lineman

Junior QB Joe Kennedy, Carl Junction

2017 Stats: 2,098 yards passing, 16 touchdowns, 12 interceptions; 155 carries, 1,122 yards, 12 touchdowns; 30-for-32 on extra points
2017 Honors: Class 4 First-Team All-Region Quarterback, First-Team All-COC Large Quarterback

Senior WR/LB Donell Kleiboeker, Pierce City

2017 Stats: 17 catches, 329 yards, 3 touchdowns; 32 carries, 147 yards, 2 touchdowns; 138 total tackles, 4 interceptions
2017 Honors: Class 1 First-Team All-Region Linebacker, Class 1 Second-Team All-Region Wide Receiver, SRVC Defensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-SRVC Linebacker & Wide Receiver

Senior QB/DB Carter Otwell, Mountain Grove

2017 Stats: 1,221 yards, 15 touchdowns, 6 interceptions; 91 carries, 681 yards, 8 touchdowns; 63 tackles, 2 interceptions
2017 Honors: Class 2 First-Team All-State Defensive Back, SCA Back of the Year, First-Team All-SCA Quarterback

Junior QB/DB Tyson Riley, Catholic

2017 Stats: 463 yards passing, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; 158 carries, 969 yards, 18 touchdowns; 36 tackles, 4 interceptions
2017 Honors: Class 3 First-Team All-State Defensive Back, COC Small Co-Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-COC Small Quarterback & Defensive Back

Senior WR/DB Max Roark, Seneca

2017 Stats: 45 tackles, 8 interceptions, 10 passes breakups; 12 receptions, 255 yards, 6 touchdowns
2017 Honors: Class 3 Third-Team All-State Defensive Back, Class 3 First-Team All-Region Defensive Back, Class 3 Honorable Mention All-Region Wide Receiver, First-Team All-Big 8 Defensive Back, Second-Team All-Big 8 Defensive Back