• Greg Wille

ELITE PERFORMERS: Offensive MVP Howard, repeat Defensive MVP York, Brown pace Temple All-12-6A picks

Updated: Apr 24


REWARDING EXCELLENCE: Temple senior running back Samari Howard was voted Offensive Most Valuable Player of District 12-6A, one year after he shared the league's overall MVP award. The Air Force commitment rushed for 1,728 yards and 20 touchdowns and scored 22 total TDs to help head coach Scott Stewart's Wildcats (9-3) go 7-0 in 12-6A for the second straight season. Howard became Temple's all-time leader in touchdowns (57) and points scored (360). (File photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)




By GREG WILLE

TempleBeltonSports.com

gwille2@hot.rr.com


Temple running back Samari Howard and linebacker Taurean York were plenty productive in 2020, when Howard shared District 12-6A’s Most Valuable Player award as a junior and York captured the Defensive MVP honor as a sophomore.

It came as no surprise that Howard and York excelled again during the district champion Wildcats’ 2021 season and added more awards to their burgeoning resumes. Howard was selected Offensive MVP and York repeated as Defensive MVP on the 12-6A All-District Football Team.

Also for Temple, sophomore tackle Ayden Brown was named Defensive Newcomer of the Year and 12 other Wildcats earned first-team all-league recognition: senior wide receiver Devan Williams, senior center Jose Faz, junior wide receiver Mikal Harrison-Pilot, sophomore quarterback Reese Rumfield, sophomore offensive guard Endrei Sauls, senior defensive tackle Tommy Torres, senior inside linebacker Faylin Lee, junior defensive end Jaylon Jackson, junior safety Naeten Mitchell, junior outside linebacker Zion Moore, senior kick returner Tr’Darius Taylor and senior kicker Danis Bajric.

Temple head coach Scott Stewart and his assistants were selected Coaching Staff of the Year after the Wildcats (9-3) went 7-0 in 12-6A play for the second consecutive season and notched their ninth straight playoff berth. The district’s eight head coaches voted on the squad the week after the regular season concluded.

Two Belton senior players were first-team all-district picks after the Tigers reached the playoffs for the first time since 2018: wide receiver Seth Morgan and tight end Bryan “Itty” Henry.

Howard generated numbers and achieved things that in most seasons would have resulted in taking home the district’s overall MVP award. The Air Force commitment rushed for 1,728 yards and 20 touchdowns, scored 22 total TDs and became Temple’s all-time leader in touchdowns (57) and points scored (360).

The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Howard caught 14 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns and also took snaps at quarterback, adding four 2-point conversion runs and throwing two 2-point passes to Torres.

It took a truly exceptional season by Harker Heights junior running back Re’Shaun Sanford II to prevent Howard from claiming 12-6A’s top individual award. Sanford rushed for 2,330 yards and 27 touchdowns and scored 32 TDs overall en route to being chosen unanimously as the district’s Most Valuable Player.

Howard completed his three-season varsity career with 3,955 rushing yards, the third-best total in Temple history behind Lache Seastrunk (4,217) – whose program records for touchdowns and points he broke on Nov. 5 – and Jeff Carr (3,978). Howard was 12-6A’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore in 2019, co-MVP in 2020 and Offensive MVP as a senior.


TEMPLE'S TERRIFIC TANDEM: Temple junior linebacker Taurean York (5) was voted Defensive Most Valuable Player of District 12-6A for the second consecutive season, and junior wide receiver Mikal Harrison-Pilot was a first-team all-league selection for the second straight year. York made 141 tackles (17 for losses), forced four fumbles and recovered four, one of which he returned 76 yards for a touchdown. Fellow three-year starter Harrison-Pilot, who also got playing time at quarterback, made 28 catches for 472 yards and six touchdowns and scored 14 TDs overall. (File photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)



York was a tackling machine as he earned his second straight 12-6A Defensive MVP award to go with the 12-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year honor he shared as a freshman in 2019. York, a 5-11, 210-pound junior, made 141 tackles, including 91 solo and 17 for losses. He forced four fumbles and recovered four, highlighted by his 76-yard touchdown return that sealed Temple’s 44-34 comeback home win over Harker Heights on Oct. 1.

Nose tackle Brown excelled in his first season as a starter. Agile for his size, the 6-foot, 250-pound sophomore had 30 unassisted tackles among his 49 overall stops, including four tackles for losses. He caused a fumble and was credited with five quarterback pressures.

Eight Temple players earned second-team all-district honors: senior tight end KeAndre Smith, senior offensive tackle Colby Rice, junior fullback Landon Halvorson, junior offensive tackle Jeremiah Mungia, junior offensive guard Agustin Silva, senior safety Kaleb Hill, senior defensive end Eric Shorter and senior cornerback LeMichael Thompson.

Belton players collected 17 second-team selections after the third-place Tigers finished 6-5 in head coach Brett Sniffin’s second season. The honorees on offense were senior tackle Jackson Engelke, senior fullback Mason Munz, senior running back Elijah Warner, junior center Zach Erickson, junior utility player Slade LeBlanc, junior guard Jasper Werry and sophomore quarterback Ty Brown.

Belton’s second-team defenders were senior safety Aaron Bain, senior cornerback Kage Carmichael, senior inside linebacker Taylor Evans, senior end Braxton Haynes, senior tackle Gabe Kalama, senior inside linebacker Wriley Madden and junior outside linebacker Donovan Thompson. Three Tigers seniors received second-team recognition on special teams: kicker Zach White, punter Will Hayes and deep snapper Madden.


AGGRESSIVE FORCE: Temple sophomore nose tackle Ayden Brown, shown making a stop during the Wildcats' 44-34 victory over Harker Heights, was voted District 12-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year. The 6-foot, 250-pound first-year starter made 49 tackles (30 unassisted), including four for losses, caused a fumble and recorded five quarterback pressures for unbeaten league champion Temple. (File photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)



Williams produced a stellar senior season after returning to Temple after a year at Wichita Falls City View. He paced the Wildcats with 37 receptions for 777 yards and 11 touchdowns and added a 75-yard kickoff return for a TD in Temple’s 28-14 home win over Waxahachie in a Class 6A Division II bi-district playoff game.

A first-team all-district selection for the secopnd straight season, Harrison-Pilot was a versatile weapon for Temple’s offense. Along with making 28 catches for 472 yards and six touchdowns, the highly recruited junior also took snaps at quarterback and sparked the Wildcats’ wins against Harker Heights and Waxahachie. He rushed for 172 yards and eight TDs and was 18-of-27 passing for 251 yards and three TDs.

A first-year starter who didn’t move to Temple until May, Rumfield passed for 1,831 yards and 24 touchdowns against seven interceptions. The sophomore was 97-of-195 passing and averaged 18.9 yards per completion.

Capturing 12-6A's Offensive Newcomer of the Year award was Harker Heights sophomore quarterback Dylan Plake, who passed for 1,923 yards and 30 touchdowns for the district runner-up Knights (9-2).

Senior center Faz and sophomore left guard Sauls were reliable blockers as first-year starters for a Temple offense that rushed for 2,514 yards and passed for 2,130 while averaging 387 yards per game. Sauls was a unanimous selection.

Moving from defensive end last year to tackle this season, the 6-5, 255-pound Torres turned in a productive senior campaign with 49 tackles (35 solo), including eight for losses and six sacks. He caused a fumble, had seven quarterback pressures and also was a key figure on special teams as he blocked multiple kicks and caught two passes for 2-point conversions.

Senior linebacker Lee racked up 63 tackles, Temple’s team’s third-best total, including 42 solo stops, six for losses and 1½ sacks. He caused a fumble and recovered four, one for a touchdown.

Jackson was an active force in his first season as a starter. The junior end compiled a team-high seven sacks and had eight tackles for loss among his 43 total stops. He caused three fumbles and had eight quarterback pressures.

Mitchell bolstered the Wildcats’ defense in his first Temple varsity season after playing for Waco as a freshman and Manor as a sophomore. The physical, versatile junior played primarily safety and also got time at cornerback as he made 73 tackles, including 47 unassisted and five for losses. He made a team-high three interceptions, one in last Friday’s area-round playoff loss to fifth-ranked Rockwall-Heath, broke up seven passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Playing Temple’s strong safety position that blends elements of safety and outside linebacker, junior Moore ranked fourth on the team with 54 tackles, including 38 unassisted, three for losses and one sack. He also made two interceptions.

Taylor was selected as 12-6A’s top kick returner for the second straight year. The 5-8, 135-pound senior speedster returned a punt for a touchdown against Hutto and ripped off several long kickoff returns during district and postseason play. He also made 19 receptions for 336 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior kicker Bajric was steady for Temple after succeeding four-year starter Aaron Wagaman. Also handling the kickoff and punting duties, Bajric made nine field goals and 60 extra points to compile 87 points, second on the Wildcats’ squad to Howard’s 140.

For Belton, first-team all-district selections Morgan and Henry delivered productive senior seasons to help the Tigers reach the playoffs. Morgan paced Belton with 50 receptions for 694 yards and seven touchdowns and added a TD run. Houston-committed tight end Henry made 36 catches for 507 yards and six touchdowns.


STELLAR SENIOR SEASONS: Belton senior tight end Bryan "Itty" Henry (left) was a first-team selection on the All-District 12-6A team, and senior Wriley Madden earned second-team all-league honors at inside linebacker and deep snapper. Henry, a Houston commitment, made 36 catches for 507 yards and six touchdowns. Madden collected 73 tackles after switching to defense for the Tigers, who went 6-5 and reached the Class 6A playoffs for the first time since 2018. (File photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)




2021 ALL-DISTRICT 12-6A FOOTBALL TEAM

Selected by the head coaches;

*denotes unanimous selection


INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Most Valuable Player – *Re’Shaun Sanford II, Harker Heights, junior, running back

Offensive MVP – Samari Howard, Temple, senior, running back

Defensive MVP – Taurean York, Temple, junior, linebacker

Offensive Newcomer of the Year – Dylan Plake, Harker Heights, sophomore, quarterback

Defensive Newcomer of the Year – Ayden Brown, Temple, sophomore, tackle

Coaching Staff of the Year – Temple


FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Reese Rumfield, Temple, sophomore

Running back – Dominick Allison, Killeen Ellison, senior; *Jamarius Stewart, Killeen Shoemaker, junior

Wide receiver – Mikal Harrison-Pilot, Temple, junior; Devan Williams, Temple, senior; Seth Morgan, Belton, senior; Marcus Maple, Harker Heights, senior; Hunter Vivaldi, Bryan, senior

Fullback – *Aimeer Washington, Harker Heights, junior

Tight end – Bryan “Itty” Henry, Belton, senior

Center – Jose Faz, Temple, senior; Jaydon Kaaloa, Harker Heights, sophomore

Guard – *Endrei Sauls, Temple, sophomore; Etueni Ropati, Harker Heights, junior

Tackle – Jaydon Chatman, Harker Heights, junior; Romeo Taua’a, Harker Heights, senior; Isac Gonzales, Bryan, junior

Utility – Terrance Carter, Harker Heights, senior; Cade Searcy, Killeen, sophomore


DEFENSE

Inside linebacker – Faylin Lee, Temple, senior; Matthew Moore, Ellison, junior; *Nic Caraway, Bryan, senior

Outside linebacker – Zion Moore, Temple, junior; Ezra Davidson, Harker Heights, senior; Steve Albert, Ellison, junior

Tackle – Tommy Torres, Temple, senior; Brendan Bett, Ellison, junior; Zavian Tibbs, Shoemaker, junior; Jaylin Morris, Bryan, senior

End – Jaylon Jackson, Temple, junior; *Devonte Tezino, Ellison, senior

Safety – Naeten Mitchell, Temple, junior; Tyree Trammell, Harker Heights, senior; Du’Wayne Paulhill, Bryan, senior

Cornerback – Deaubry Hood, Harker Heights, junior; Matthew Cooks, Bryan, junior


SPECIAL TEAMS

Kick returner – Tr’Darius Taylor, Temple, senior

Kicker – Danis Bajric, Temple, senior

Punter – *Shane Richey, Copperas Cove, senior

Deep snapper – Tanner Allen, Bryan, senior


SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Ty Brown, Belton, sophomore; Omari Evans, Shoemaker, senior

Running back – Elijah Warner, Belton, senior; Malcom Roberts, Copperas Cove, senior; Emory Arthur, Killeen, senior; Kaleb Sims, Ellison, senior

Wide receiver – Wyatt Nelson, Copperas Cove, senior; Khamari Terrell, Shoemaker, senior; Eric Jackson, Harker Heights, senior; Jacobia Thomas, Killeen, senior; Zy’Aire King, Ellison, junior

Fullback – Landon Halvorson, Temple, junior; Mason Munz, Belton, senior; De’Van’Te Johnson, Killeen, junior

Tight end – KeAndre Smith, Temple, senior; Andrew Buban, Bryan, senior

Center – Zach Erickson, Belton, junior

Guard – Agustin Silva, Temple, junior; Connor Beeman, Killeen, junior; Jamil Knight, Shoemaker, senior

Tackle – Jeremiah Mungia, Temple, junior; Colby Rice, Temple, senior; Jackson Engelke, Belton, senior; Jasper Werry, Belton, junior; Kevin Kopitski, Killeen, junior

Utility – Slade LeBlanc, Belton, junior


DEFENSE

Inside linebacker – Taylor Evans, Belton, senior; Wriley Madden, Belton, senior; Kevin Pontious, Copperas Cove, junior; Aaron Barnwell, Killeen, junior; Valentino Greene, Shoemaker, junior

Outside linebacker – Donovan Thompson, Belton, junior; Bra’dyn Brooks-Smith, Copperas Cove, senior; Cameron Gee, Killeen, junior; Calvin Harper, Ellison, senior

Tackle – Gabe Kalama, Belton, senior; Jamorion Stanford, Harker Heights, junior; Jaymeer Larkins, Killeen, senior

End – Eric Shorter, Temple, senior; Braxton Haynes, Belton, senior; Evan Collazo, Harker Heights, junior; Darrion Burleson, Shoemaker, junior; Tanner Allen, Bryan, senior; Ishmael Ealoms, Bryan, senior

Safety – Kaleb Hill, Temple, senior; Aaron Bain, Belton, senior; Tyrone Osberry, Ellison, junior; Kobe Burgess, Shoemaker, senior; Tyson Turner, Bryan, sophomore

Cornerback – LeMichael Thompson, Temple, senior; Kage Carmichael, Belton, senior; Daniel Adams, Killeen, senior; Elijah Armour, Ellison, senior; Darmel Hollins, Shoemaker, senior


SPECIAL TEAMS

Kick returner – Hunter Vivaldi, Bryan, senior

Kicker – Zach White, Belton, senior; Jai’den Fletcher, Harker Heights, sophomore

Punter – Will Hayes, Belton, senior

Deep snapper – Wriley Madden, Belton, senior; Anthony Millender, Harker Heights, senior

HONORABLE MENTION

Temple – Offense: Kobe Smith, receiver, senior; defense: Dion Saunders, end, senior.

Belton – Offense: Jackson Werry, guard, junior; defense: Tanner Conroy, end, senior; Sam Ramirez, outside linebacker, senior; Trent West, safety, senior; Connor Whitman, cornerback, senior.

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