PF, G-P players named All-District
Eighteen players from Gatlinburg-Pittman and Pigeon Forge high schools were honored by District 3-AA’s coaches on Friday with selection for the All-District football team.
One player, the Highlanders’ Michael Muszik, earned a special superlative — conference Sophomore of the Year.
Muszik, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound bruiser, punished opposing defenses all season out of the GPHS backfield.
The sophomore had six 100-yard games on the year, while piling up 1,332 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
“Muszik’s a different type running back,” G-P coach Benny Hammonds said prior to the team’s playoff win over Chuckey-Doak. “He’s so big and physical. He’s enjoyable to watch, a big strong guy just running through people. He’s just playing football.”
Joining Muszik with first-team honors were G-P’s Justin Horner, Blade Durbin, Hiro Okabe, Spencer Brien, Tanner Cox and Casey Green.
Horner caught 20 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns from his tight end position, while also recording 74 tackles, three sacks and blocked kick on his defensive resume. Durbin caught 37 balls for 507 yards and six TDs from his receiver slot and also tallied 48 tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and three recoveries on defense.
Okabe played an important role of the defensive line for the Highlanders. He had 49 tackles and nine sacks for the team.
Brien had 84 tackles and eight sacks, while forcing three fumbles. He also scored a pair of TDs for the Blue and Gold, one rushing and one receiving.
Cox was effective as the team’s starter at QB, thowing for a conference-best 1,417 yards and 17 touchdowns, while completing 57 percent of his passes.
Green led the team with 93 tackles, including one sack and two forced fumbles.
The Pigeon Forge Tigers had two players selected for the District 3-AA first-team.
Senior quarterback Cory Fox and senior running back Kaleb Black.
“Kaleb was a four-year starter for us,” PFHS coach Lee Hammonds said. “He played a lot of positions, quarterback, tailback, wide receiver — he switched to full-time tailback after the Coalfield game and rushed for over 1,000 yards, which says a lot about his ability and toughness. He did a good job not only on offense but defense. He’s a good leader, a good kid to coach and a guy that did a lot for us.
“Cory Fox played a lot of for us, too. He started from the last game of his freshman year on. He really became a guy that you could depend on,” Hammonds continued.
“He really understood the offense and managed it effectively. He has a big arm, and, in our offense he probably wasn’t used as effectively as he could have been, but he had over 2,500 passing yards in his career.
“He played some defense at the end of the year and probably ended up being one of our best defenders.
“He’s a good kid with a lot of size, and hopefully both of these kids can continue their career somewhere, I think that’s their goal.”
There were also several second-team selections from both G-P and Pigeon Forge.
Luke Joslin, Jeremy Odom and Riley Trotter all respresented the Highlanders with their selections, while Patrick Barbieri, Daniel Abbott, Daniel Troutman, Shane Muse, Trevor Reed and Javarius Gilbert were named to the squad from Pigeon Forge.