Apalachee senior running back Colby Sikes and head coach Tony Lotti received the top postseason honors for GHSA Region 8-AAAAA announced by the region’s eight coaches last week.
Sikes was named the region’s Player of the Year after putting together a historical season for the Wildcats. He rushed for 1,286 yards (7.8 per carry) in 11 games and scored 11 touchdowns to propel a Wing-T offense that flourished in the second half of the season and became the second player in school history to top 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He also caught 13 passes out of the backfield for 117 yards and averaged 18.8 yards on kickoff returns with a long of 43.
Lotti was named Coach of the Year after guiding the Wildcats to a 5-5 regular season after an 0-4 start. Apalachee finished as region runner-up — behind only Clarke Central, which is facing Calhoun in the state quarterfinals this week — and clinched its first state playoff berth since 2009 before losing 30-27 in overtime to Lithia Springs in the first round.
Sikes was joined by four other Wildcats on the all-region first team — fellow senior running back Jeff Roberts, senior offensive lineman Elijah Harris (who earned his second-straight all-region nod), junior defensive lineman Tyler Ferro and junior punter Brody Ham.
Roberts, who moved to Barrow County from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, prior to the season, rushed for 560 yards (5.8 a carry) and 10 touchdowns while catching nine passes for 105 yards and averaging 17.8 yards on kickoff returns with a long of 47.
Ferro, who missed the early part of the season due to COVID-19 contract tracing protocols, was a force up front for a strong Apalachee defensive line. He recorded 58 tackles and nine tackles for loss and a pass deflection in eight games, had nine quarterback hurries, and blocked two punts late in the season that resulted in touchdowns, one of which he recovered himself for a score.
Ham, the team’s kicking specialist, averaged 35.2 yards a punt in 32 attempts with a long of 49 and placed 14 kicks inside opponents’ 20-yard line. He was 6-of-10 on field goal attempts with a long of 40 and went 32-of-34 on extra-point tries.
The Wildcats also had five second-team selections — sophomore running back Prince Tate, senior offensive lineman Ethan Padinor, senior linebacker Jake McCluskey, senior defensive lineman Joseph Bentley and senior defensive back Ethan Middlebrooks.
Tate racked up 660 rushing yards (8.8 a carry) and scored five touchdowns. McCluskey led the team in tackles with 110 stops, six tackles for loss, a sack, six quarterback hurries, two pass deflections and two fumble recoveries in 10 games played. Bentley had 81 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks, two hurries, a pass deflection and caused two fumbles. Middlebrooks had 87 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Five other players garnered honorable mention on the all-region team — senior linebacker Deven White, junior defensive lineman Javon Wells, senior quarterback Isaiah Skinner, junior linebacker Gustavo Solis and sophomore defensive lineman Kaiden Martin.