Best player in school history: Region 1-AAAA schools

Article and photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution –> Original Article Here


Bill Stanfill passed away in November of last year. He was only 69.

The tributes that poured in served to remind those who remembered him, and educate those too young, just how outstanding an athlete that Stanfill was at every level.

There was no such thing as a five-star recruit in 1964, but Stanfill fit the modern description. He led Cairo to three region titles. But it wasn’t apparent that football was his best sport. He reportedly had more than 60 offers to play basketball. He was a 6-foot-5 starting center and the Class AA tournament MVP of the 1965 state tournament, which Cairo won. In track and field, Stanfill won three state titles in the discus and shot put.

Football was his love. He was an All-American three times at Georgia and won the Outland Award in 1968. He went on to play for the Miami Dolphins, winning two Super Bowls, once on the famous 17-0 team of 1972. And short of neck and back injuries, Stanfill likely would have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Here are GHSF Daily’s choices as the best players in the history of Region 1-AAAA schools.

*Americus-Sumter: Cedric Johnson (2004)

*Cairo: Bill Stanfill (1964)

*Carver-Columbus: Isaiah Crowell (2010)

*Columbus: Ron Yarbrough (1964)

*Hardaway: Wayne Johnson (1983)

*Northside-Columbus: Caleb Johnson (2017)

*Shaw: Anthony Merritt (2002)

*Westover: Trent Thompson (2014)

Note: This series considers only current schools and not predecessors that were merged to form new schools. As a result, the 11 former Americus Panthers who were named classification players of the year were not considered. Of those, the most outstanding as a high school player was probably Makel Harris, a state sprint champion who was ringleader and star linebacker of the most dominant defense in state history. The undefeated 1975 Panthers shut out 13 of 14 opponents and beat the other 14-8. Americus-Sumter High, a current 1-AAAA school, opened in 2004.

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