PSR GRIDIRON 44: Savannah area’s top football players at every position

By Travis Jaudon For the Prep Sports Report | December 23, 2022

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It was a memorable high school football season in 2022 for Savannah area teams. The Prep Sports Report has followed along all year, and now it’s time to hand out some awards. Below you’ll find the PSR “Gridiron 44.” Each of the teams will have 22 players. It is, essentially, a first-team player and a second-team player at every position, on both sides of the ball.
NOTE: All stats courtesy of MaxPreps.

QB: Jake Merklinger – Jr. – Calvary Day
The Region 3-3A Player of the Year, Merklinger threw for 1,987 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes and throwing just two interceptions on 145 attempts. He rushed for 283 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries.

RB: Harry “Zo” Smalls – So. – Savannah Christian
The sophomore carried the rock 200 times for 1,408 yards and 19 touchdowns. He tallied 1,713 all-purpose yards.

WR: Ravon Grant – Sr. – Richmond Hill
The reliable receiver was named to the region 1-7A first team after hauling in 64 balls for 704 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games. He also added a rushing score and leaves RHHS as the program’s all-time leader in career receptions (121).

TE: Mike Smith – Jr. – Calvary Day
A first-team All-Region 3-3A member, Smith had 24 catches, 601 yards and 12 touchdowns.

OL: Thomas Zimbalatti – So. – Richmond Hill
First team all-region 1-7A.

OL: Jep Hudspeth – Sr. – Savannah Christian
First team all-region 3-3A.

OL: Jalin Scott – Sr. – Calvary Day
First team all-region 3-3A.

OL: Jaden Boone – Sr. – Johnson
First team all-region 3-3A.

PK: Asher Sigmon – Sr. – Benedictine
Was 9-of-11 on field goal attempts with a long of 41 yards. Was 51-52 (98%) on PAT’s. 

ATH: Za’Quan Bryan – Sr. – Benedictine
One of the most prolific skill players to come through Benedictine’s program in recent memory, Bryan was a model star for head coach Danny Britt’s state champion Cadets. He had 63 catches, 783 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 290 yards and five scores on 40 carries. As a defensive back, he had four interceptions and 70 tackles. In total, Bryan scored 18 touchdowns this season with 1,511 all-purpose yards.

ATH: David Bucey – Jr. – Savannah Christian
The region 3-3A athlete of the year, Bucey produced incredible numbers in his junior campaign. As a wide receiver, he caught 39 balls for 747 yards and seven touchdowns. As a linebacker, he had 100 tackles (18 TFL),  five interceptions and four sacks

DL: Elijah Griffin – So. – Savannah Christian
Was named the region 3-3A defensive Player of the Year. Had 82 tackles (30 TFL), 14.5 sacks, a blocked kick, a blocked punt and two fumble recoveries.

DL: Terry Simmons – Sr. – Calvary Day
From his nose tackle spot, Simmons still managed 46 total tackles (18.5 TFL) to go along with his 4.5 sacks.

DL: Herbert “Third” Scroggins – So. – Benedictine
Scroggins had a breakout season with 93 tackles (16.5 TFL) and 10.5 sacks.

LB: Jordan Davis – Jr. – Calvary Day
Racked up 100 tackles (21 TFL) and three fumble recoveries.

LB: Wilkes Albert – Jr. – Benedictine
The MVP of the Class 4A state championship game, Albert racked up 154 tackles (10 TFL), six sacks, three passes defended and two forced fumbles.

LB: Tyler Scott – So. – Savannah Country Day
The first team all-region 3-3A member had 100 tackles (12.5 TFL) and 7 sacks in just 10 games.

LB: Lorenzo Cowan – Jr. – Jenkins
Had 31 tackles (six TFL) and eight sacks while playing nearly every down for the Warriors.

DB: Jamari McIvory – Jr. – Savannah Christian
The junior speedster had two interceptions and eight pass break-ups as a shutdown cornerback out wide.

DB: Messiah Bacon – Sr. – Effingham
The first-team All-Region 2-6A selection had five interceptions, four pass break-ups and 17 tackles.

DB: Cody Brinson – Sr. – Benedictine
Had five interceptions and four pass break-ups while adding 63 tackles.

P: Michael Becton – Sr. – Jenkins
Becton averaged 40.1 yards per boot across 42 punts in nine games. He had a long of 63 yards and pinned 11 punts inside of the 20.

QB: Pauly Seeley – Sr. – New Hampstead
Seeley threw for 2,517 yards and 29 touchdowns (nine interceptions) in 11 games. He completed 66% of his passes and won the 42nd Michael Finocchiaro Memorial Outstanding Football Player Award given to the top high school player in Savannah.

QB: Luke Kromenhoek – Jr. – Benedictine
The junior led the Cadets to the Class 4A state championship by completing 171-of-263 (65%) passes for 2,579 yards and 24 touchdowns (three interceptions).

RB: Jayden Evans – Effingham County
Rushed 181 times for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games.

WR: Malachi Lonnon – Jr. – New Hampstead
Caught 27 balls, but 11 were for touchdowns. Tallied 527 yards for an average of 19.5 yards per catch.

TE: Logan Brooking – So. – Savannah Christian
He could’ve made it as an athlete or linebacker, too. Brooking caught 25 balls for 373 yards and a touchdown. He also had 66 tackles (15.5 TFL) and 12 sacks at linebacker.

OL: Phil Ajayi – Sr. – Savannah Country Day

OL: Landen Hurst – Jr. – Richmond Hill

OL: Desmond Montgomery – Sr. – Effingham

OL: Zach Pearson – Jr. – New Hampstead

PK: Cash Ramirez – Fr. – Savannah Country Day

He was 5-7 on field goal attempts but showed a big leg with a long of 47 yards. Was 28-30 (93%) on PAT’s.

ATH: Edward “Doopah” Coleman – So. – Calvary Day
Coleman scored 14 total touchdowns. He had 30 catches, 546 yards and eight touchdowns receiving, while also adding 208 yards and four touchdowns on 29 rushes. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and had 1,041 all-purpose yards.

ATH: Josh Washington – Fr. – Savannah Country Day
The freshman of the year in region 3-3A, Washington had 36 catches for 630 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. At defensive back, he tallied 47 tackles and two interceptions.

DL: Akeem Lane – Sr. – Savannah Christian
Had 67 tackles (8.5 TFL) and 4.5 sacks.

DL: Cole Semien – Sr. – Benedictine
Had 75 tackles (15.5 TFL) and eight sacks as an anchor on the Cadet D-Line.

DL: Aaziah Scott – Jr. – New Hampstead
Totaled 67 tackles (10 TFL) and a pair of sacks in 11 games.

DL: Alijah Alexander –Sr. – Benedictine
Was named the Region 3-4A Defensive Player of the Year.

LB: Troy Ford Jr. – Sr. – Calvary Day
A three-time first-team all-region selection committed to UCF, Ford had 79 tackles (8 TFL) 1.5 sacks.

LB: Austin Saylor – Sr. – Savannah Christian
Logged 120 tackles this season and 235 over the last two years.

LB: Bryce Baker – Jr. – Benedictine
Tallied 80 tackles (14.5 TFL) and seven sacks in 14 games while breaking up four passes and forcing two fumbles.

DB: Tanner Ennis – Jr. – Bryan County
Had 98 tackles, 13.5 TFL’s and two forced fumbles from the safety position.

DB: Ashley Thompson – Sr. – Effingham
Three-time All-Region 2-6A selection.

DB: Brandon McDonald – So. – Richmond Hill
A first team all-region 1-7A selection as a sophomore, McDonald earned the region’s respect with 47 tackles (4.5 TFL) and five pass break-ups.

FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at


PHOTO CREDIT: Benedicitne Military School & Richmond Hill High School athletic departments, SCPS picture  - Jason Dillon


Optim Orthopedics supports Benedictine Military School, Calvary Day School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School's team doctor is Dr. David Sedory. Dr. David Palmer is the team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game.


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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!

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