EXCELLENCE HONORED: Champion Belton's all-district awards paced by Offensive MVP Brown, top OL Roach
SENIOR STALWARTS: After helping lead the Belton Tigers (9-3) to their first outright district championship since 1999, senior center/deep snapper Zach Erickson (left) and senior outside linebacker Donovan Thompson earned first-team selections on the 2022 All-District 11-5A Division II Team. Belton had the district's Offensive MVP in junior quarterback Ty Brown and the Offensive Lineman of the Year in junior guard John Roach. Third-year head coach Brett Sniffin and his staff received the Coaching Staff of the Year award after guiding Belton to a 6-0 district record and a first-round playoff victory. (File photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
After Belton’s breakthrough football season that featured its first district championship since 2009 and first outright league title since 1999, the 9-3 Tigers were justly rewarded with several high-profile honors on the 2022 All-District 11-5A Division II Team.
District head coaches voted productive Belton junior quarterback Ty Brown as the league’s Offensive Most Valuable Player, and Tigers junior right guard John Roach was selected Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Belton third-year head coach Brett Sniffin and his staff earned the Coaching Staff of the Year award after the Tigers – who dropped from 6A last season to 5A Division II – went 6-0 in district to win the championship by two games
Belton players collected six first-team positions on offense, another six first-team spots on defense and two on special teams. Sam Houston State-committed senior Zach Erickson earned first-team recognition at center and deep snapper.
The other first-team performers from Belton’s offense were senior wide receivers Slade LeBlanc and Garrett Oliveira, sophomore running back Shaun Snapp, senior fullback Nyjil McLeod and senior left guard Robert Trent.
The half-dozen Tigers on the first-team defense were senior outside linebacker Donovan Thompson, junior inside linebacker Wyatt Butler, junior end Ethan Arendall, junior tackle Bryson Sauceda, senior safety Sam Babcock and junior cornerback Luke Flores.
Joining Erickson as a first-team choice on special teams was Belton senior punter Noah Moaga. The Tigers’ unanimous selections were Arendall, Butler, Snapp, Trent and deep snapper Erickson.
Eight Belton players earned second-team all-district honors: senior running back LJ Underwood, senior wide receiver Mason Ramm, junior tight end Diego Coleman and senior tackles Aidan King and Ethan Sandoval on offense and senior tackle Aidan Stock, junior inside linebacker Sam Shepard, junior outside linebacker Giana Zecca and senior cornerback Desmond Adams on defense.
Waco University senior running back and kick returner Mekhi Sandolph was voted the district’s Most Valuable Player after he helped lead Trojans (6-6) – who went 0-10 last year – to a share of second place with Elgin and Leander Rouse. University, coached by Kent Laster, recorded its first playoff victory since 2009.
The Trojans also had the league’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year in freshman wide receiver London Smith and the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in sophomore linebacker Joseph Caballero.
The 11-5A D-II Defensive MVP was Elgin senior safety Justin Strong, who also earned first-team all-district recognition at wide receiver. University senior Ty Wagner was selected Defensive Lineman of the Year, and Pflugerville Connally sophomore Owen Garcia earned the All-Purpose Player award.
In his second season as Belton’s starting quarterback, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Brown completed 152 of 281 passes (54.1 percent) for 2,246 yards and 24 touchdowns against eight interceptions. As a sophomore he threw for 1,603 yards and 18 TDs with 16 interceptions.
Oliveira made 27 receptions and paced Tigers receivers with 550 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing three games because of injury. The versatile LeBlanc recorded 35 catches for 505 yards and six touchdowns and threw a 19-yard TD pass to Brown in Belton’s 31-10 loss to Brenham in an area-round playoff game. Ramm contributed 25 receptions for 383 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6-foot, 208-pound Snapp burst onto the varsity scene by rushing for 1,081 yards and 13 touchdowns on 160 carries. His comrade in the Tigers’ backfield was Underwood, who came back from the torn ACL he suffered in Belton’s 2021 season opener to rush for 636 yards and eight TDs on 125 carries. Snapp and Underwood also made a combined 19 receptions for 211 yards.
Roach, Erickson, Trent, McLeod, King, Sandoval and Coleman all were effective blockers for a balanced Belton offense that averaged 374.2 total yards per game for coordinator Barry Campbell.
Butler led the Tigers’ defense with 100 tackles (68 unassisted), 23 stops for losses and 5½ sacks and added seven quarterback hurries. Thompson, who led Belton in tackles last year as a junior, finished with 63 tackles (41 solo) and 11 for losses despite missing three games because of injury. He was the Tigers’ only returning starter on defense this season.
Babcock ranked second on the defense with 66 tackles (50 solo), had a team-high five pass breakups and contributed an interception and a sack for coordinator Chris Harbin’s defense, which dominated Austin Northeast 56-0 in a bi-district playoff game at Tiger Field.
Arendall and Sauceda were key cogs on Belton’s defensive line. Arendall recorded 51 tackles (nine for losses) along with three sacks and nine quarterback hurries, while Sauceda posted 28 tackles (11 for losses), 2½ sacks and five hurries. Flores grabbed two of the Tigers’ three interceptions and returned them for a combined 57 yards along with making 26 tackles.
Shepard ranked fourth on Belton’s defense with 61 tackles (7½ for losses), Zecca collected 56 tackles (33 solo), Stock produced 26 tackles (six for losses) and five QB hurries and Adams recorded 28 tackles.
Four Belton players received honorable mentions: senior kicker Cole Chrisman (second on the team with 56 points), senior receiver Karson Dunn, junior receiver Isaac Abel (13 catches, 333 yards, two TDs) and junior defensive end Hayden Hourany (41 tackles, seven for losses). Chrisman’s final-second field goal gave the Tigers a 31-29 victory at University on Nov. 4 to clinch the outright district championship.
The first-year program of Killeen Chaparral had one first-team all-district pick in junior cornerback Adonis McKenzie. Three Bobcats collected second-team all-league status for head coach Alan Haire: junior tight end Micah Curtis, sophomore offensive lineman Torrie Henry and freshman running back Kenneth Johnson.
District MVP Sandolph rushed for 1,447 yards and 19 touchdowns to fuel University’s stellar season and also was first-team all-district at kick returner.
2022 ALL-DISTRICT 11-5A
DIVISION II FOOTBALL TEAM
Selected by league head coaches;
*denotes unanimous selection
Most Valuable Player – Mekhi Sandolph, Waco University, running back/kick returner, senior
Offensive MVP – Ty Brown, Belton, quarterback, junior
Defensive MVP – Justin Strong, Elgin, safety, senior
Offensive Newcomer of the Year – London Smith, University, wide receiver, freshman
Defensive Newcomer of the Year – Joseph Caballero, University, linebacker, sophomore
All-Purpose Player – Owen Garcia, Pflugerville Connally, wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner, sophomore
Offensive Lineman of the Year – John Roach, Belton, junior
Defensive Lineman of the Year – Ty Wagner, University, senior
Coaching Staff of the Year – Head coach Brett Sniffin and Belton
Quarterback – Mason Shorb, Leander Rouse, junior; Jashaun Manghane, University, junior
Running back – *Shaun Snapp, Belton, sophomore; Justin Cannon, Rouse, junior; *Naje Drakes, University, senior
Wide receiver – Slade LeBlanc, Belton, senior; Garrett Oliveira, Belton, senior; Justin Strong, Elgin, senior; Noah Fabila, Rouse, sophomore; Trent Johnson, Rouse, junior
Fullback – Nijyl McLeod, Belton, senior
Tight end – Mason Rieger, Rouse, sophomore
Center – Zach Erickson, Belton, senior; Blake Meyer-Phillips, Rouse, senior
Guards/tackles – *Robert Trent, Belton, senior; Jackie Williams, Elgin, senior; John Sanchez, Pflugerville, senior; *Alex Deville, Rouse, senior; Ty’Eric Bernal, University, senior; Paul Monrial, University, senior
Inside linebacker – *Wyatt Butler, Belton, junior; Cameron Hardy, Elgin; Zach LaCombe, Rouse, senior; Preston Welton, Rouse, junior
Outside linebacker – Donovan Thompson, Belton, senior; Derrius Holiday, Elgin, senior; Jace Mann, Rouse, Rouse, senior; JaeJuan Harris, University, junior
Tackle – Bryson Sauceda, Belton, junior; Kevin Love, Elgin, senior; Joseph Castaneda, Rouse, senior; Edgar Marquez, University, senior
End – *Ethan Arendall, Belton, junior; Rogelio Huitron, Elgin, junior; Victor Osuji, Pflugerville, senior; Nico Fisher, Rouse, junior
Safety – Sam Babcock, Belton, senior; Johnny Meurin, Elgin, senior; Dantrell Degrate, University, senior; Naje Drakes, University, senior
Cornerback – Luke Flores, Belton, junior; Adonis McKenzie, Chaparral, junior; William Hold, Rouse, senior; Peyton Vest, Rouse, senior
Kick returner – Mekhi Sandolph, University, senior
Kicker – Paden Maass, Elgin, junior
Punter – Noah Moaga, Belton, senior
Deep snapper – *Zach Erickson, Belton, senior
Quarterback – Nathen Lewis, Elgin, junior
Running back – LJ Underwood, Belton, senior; Kenneth Johnson, Chaparral, freshman; Sebastian Jackson, Elgin, senior; Jake Iloka, Pflugerville, senior
Wide receiver – Mason Ramm, Belton, senior; Landon Bradley, Connally, junior; Blake Courtney, Elgin, junior; Jeremiah Harvey, Elgin, senior; Tony Miles, University, junior
Fullback – Troy Osborne, Elgin, senior; DQ Irving, University, sophomore
Tight end – Diego Coleman, Belton, junior; Micah Curtis, Chaparral, junior; Colton Williams, Pflugerville, senior
Center – Blaine Mueller, Elgin, senior; Enrique Rangel, University, junior
Guards/tackles – Aidan King, Belton, senior; Ethan Sandoval, Belton, senior; Torrie Henry, Chaparral, sophomore; Hunter Gibson, Elgin, junior; Max Mendoza, Pflugerville, junior; Tye Rybarski, Rouse, junior; Johnzay Fulbright, University, senior
Inside linebacker – Sam Shepard, Belton, junior; Armand Kirkland, Connally, senior; Matt Marquez, University, sophomore; Miguel Medrano, University, senior
Outside linebacker – Giani Zecca, Belton, junior; Jackson Clowdus, Elgin, sophomore
Tackle – Aidan Stock, Belton, senior; Kristian Benson, Connally, senior; Zach White, Elgin, senior; Brett Aranchado, Pflugerville, senior
End – Dennis Lavigne, Elgin, junior; Jaisen O’Reilly, Rouse, senior; Sebastian Cervantes, University, junior; Dramarkus Rutledge, University, sophomore
Safety – Anthony Alvarez, Elgin, junior; JaQuori Sturm, Pflugerville, senior; Micah Henderson, University, junior
Cornerback – Desmond Adams, Belton, senior; Lawrence Doe, Connally, junior; Noddyn Bailey, Elgin, sophomore; Tre Degrate, University, junior
Belton selections – Isaac Abel, wide receiver, junior; Cole Chrisman, kicker, senior; Karson Dunn, wide receiver, senior; Hayden Hourany, defensive end, junior
Chaparral selections – Jordan Brazil, tight end, junior; Efeosa Edomwandagbon, running back, junior; Amauri Enoe, offensive line, sophomore; Sa’Trayveon Gibson, defensive tackle, senior; Sam Wells, defensive end, junior
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