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Best player in school history: Region 8-A teams
Commerce running back Monte Williams’ 8,844 rushing yards ranked fourth in history nationwide when it was set. (Jenni Girtman/AJC)
It’s one of the greatest records in Georgia high school history – 8,844 yards rushing for a career.
Monte Williams of Commerce reached that total in four seasons that culminated with the Class A championship in 2000. Williams’ 8,844 rushing yards – on an average of 9.3 yards per carry – ranked fourth in history nationwide when it was set, and it’s still more than 1,000 yards better than the runner-up total of 7,841 by Worth County’s Robert Toomer.
Williams rushed for 1,875 yards as a freshman, 2,505 as a senior. In the 2000 championship game against Buford, he rushed for 287 yards and caught a 41-yard TD pass.
“He was the most elusive, zigzagging, side-stepping, dodging water bug of a player that I have ever seen,” said Commerce football historian Jeff Prickett, who compiled Tigers statistics from 1972 to 2016. “No matter where the Tiger team was on the field, they were in scoring position if Williams was in the backfield.”
Williams is the marquee name among the best players in the history of current Region 8-A schools, and one of the older ones, as it’s a region with young members.
The oldest is Everett Strupper, the first former Georgia high school football player to make the consensus college All-America team. Strupper – only 5 feet, 7 inches and 150 pounds – did it in 1917, when he rushed for more than 1,000 yards on Georgia Tech’s national championship team. Tech didn’t lose a game in Strupper’s three seasons on The Flats.
Before all that, the Columbus-native Strupper was the star player on Riverside Military’s high school team in 1913, when only about 20 Georgia schools fielded teams. Strupper is in Riverside’s athletic hall of fame and GHSF Daily’s list of the best football players in school history.
Also worth mentioning are Bo Slaughter, a rare three-time first-team all-state player from Athens Academy; Christian Payne, a four-year starter whose Prince Avenue Christian teams went 41-10; Taylor Hardigree, Athens Christian’s all-time rushing and tackles leader; and Stanley “Boom” Williams, who is trying to win a roster spot as an NFL rookie with the Denver Broncos this preseason.
*Athens Academy: Bo Slaughter (1980)
*Athens Christian: Taylor Hardigree (2014)
*Commerce: Monte Williams (2000)
*George Walton Academy: Stanley “Boom” Williams (2012)
*Hebron Christian Academy: John Dussling (2015)
*Lakeview Academy: Alec Bornhorst (2017)
*Prince Avenue Christian: Christian Payne (2013)
*Providence Christian: Mitchell Miller (2017)
*Riverside Military: Everett Strupper (1913)
*Towns County: Chase Ellis (2008)
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