Home | Avalon High School | 2019 All-Ellis County football superlative honors released
Pictured (L-R) is Collin Drake (Ennis), Joshua Ervin (Red Oak), Adrian Cisneros (Palmer) and CJ Palmer (Red Oak). (All photos by Kirk Holt/KBEC Sports)

2019 All-Ellis County football superlative honors released

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports

A final bow was put on the 2019 Ellis County football season Monday night with the live on-air announcement of six player-of-the-year recipients, one outstanding coach and the best team to take the gridiron this past season. The eight standout award winners hail from Red Oak, Ennis, Midlothian Heritage, Waxahachie and Palmer High Schools.

The All-Ellis County program is broken down into four parts — first- and second-team honorees, honorable mentions and superlative honors.

The All-Ellis County football first-team consisted of 11 players plus one specialist on each side, while the second-team afforded a few additional opportunities to include deserving student-athletes.

Superlative honors were first announced live on-air during the KBEC Sports weekly sports-talk show, “The Press Box,” on Monday, Jan. 13. The show aired from 6-7 p.m.

MISS THE ON-AIR ANNOUNCEMENTS? LISTEN HERE!

“The Press Box” can be heard weekly on terrestrial radio on 1390AM or 99.1FM or streamed live by clicking on the “LISTEN LIVE” microphone on the top of sports.kbec.com or through the KBEC app. The KBEC app is available on Apple and Android devices.

All honorees were selected based on postseason accolades, team success, input from coaches across Ellis County and firsthand observations by the KBEC Sports field team.

Each student-athlete honored will be presented with a commemorative All-Ellis County certificate, with first- and second-team honorees to receive framed certificates. The individual superlative winners will receive a commemorative bobblehead award.

The awards are sponsored by KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM and ImagineNation Learning Center in Waxahachie.

MISS THE INITIAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FIRST-, SECOND- AND HONORABLE MENTION TEAMS? CLICK HERE! 

It’s now time to meet the 2019 All-Ellis County football superlative winners!

Most Valuable Player – Joshua Ervin (Red Oak, junior)

Joshua Ervin was sensational in his first full year as the starting quarterback for the Red Oak Hawks. 

And that’s putting it lightly. 

The junior signal-caller tossed a whopping 39 touchdowns on 147-of-208 passing (71%) for 2,826 yards and just 5 interceptions. He also posted a perfect 142.6 passer rating. 

His totals in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns are all new school records. 

Those efforts led to Ervin being named the Offensive Player of the Year in District 6-5A. He also helped steer the Hawks to an 11-2 record and their first outright district championship since 1982. 

The 11 wins were the most in program history and the regional semifinal appearance was just the third-ever for the Hawk football team. 

With Ervin — who was also recently inducted into the National Honor Society — at the helm, the Red Oak offense finished as the eighth-highest-scoring offense in Texas, averaging 53.3 points per game. Humble Atascocita led the state in 2019 11-man scoring by averaging 57.7 points per game.  

Ervin and his right arm have undoubtedly helped ignite a sleeping fanbase that will be counting down the days to kickoff in 2020.

Offensive Player of the Year – CJ Palmer (Red Oak, senior)

In an average year, there would be very little chance that the quarterback and running back duo of the same team would be named both the countywide MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. This, however, was no ordinary campaign for senior running back CJ Palmer and the Red Oak Hawks. 

Palmer amassed 1,544 yards and 22 touchdowns on 146 carries. He averaged a jaw-dropping 10.6 yards-per-carry, 118.8 yards-per-game and had eight games of 100 yards or more. It’s important to keep in mind that Palmer racked up those stats by playing very little in the second half.

Red Oak head coach Chris Ross reminded KBEC Sports listeners ahead of the Hawks postseason run that Palmer missed the opening game of the season and had only rushed during the fourth quarter once in a regular-season game. 

Palmer and the Hawks finished the season with an 11-2 record and as the eighth-highest-scoring offense in Texas, averaging 53.3 points per game. Humble Atascocita led the state in 2019 11-man scoring by averaging 57.7 points per game.  

The 11 wins were the most in program history and the regional semifinal appearance was just the third-ever for the Hawk football team. 

Defensive Player of the Year – Konner Jones-Searcy (Midlothian Heritage, senior)

Midlothian Heritage has quickly become a state power in Class 4A, largely because of its prowess on offense over the past three seasons. 

This year, however, the Jaguars were led by a hard-nosed defense spearheaded by senior linebacker Konner Jones-Searcy. 

Jones-Searcy ultimately accounted for 146 total tackles with 16.5 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, 10 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception and two defensive touchdowns. Though the sack numbers are not as high as some across the state, Jones-Searcy was often double-teamed (if not tripled) when he rushed the quarterback and forced opposing offenses to gameplan around him.

Just take it straight from seven-time state championship-winning head football coach Scott Surratt, who told The Panola Watchman that Jones-Searcy was the best linebacker the Carthage Bulldogs faced in 2019, noting he can ‘dominate it and take over a game. […] He’s very strong and very physical and can run.”

Jones-Searcy’s domination on the football field as a Jaguar resulted in his setting the program record for tackles in a game (19), tackles in a season (146), tackles in a career (346), forced fumbles in a career (6), fumbles recovered in a season (3), fumbles recovered in a career (4) and longest fumble return (46 yards). 

Jones-Searcy and the Jaguar defense led the program to a 9-5 record and fourth-round playoff appearance, which marked the deepest run for any Midlothian ISD football program in district history. 

The greatness of Jones-Searcy also extends off of the playing field, as he recently learned that the Midlothian Heritage coaching staff had nominated him for the Burlsworth Character Award.

According to the award’s website, the Burlsworth Character award has been awarded for the past 11 years in Arkansas but moved to a national audience in 2015. The award, named after Brandon Burlsworth, aims to honor a student-athlete that gives “100 percent on the field” and stands “as a moral example to his team. We hope that the award encourages the honoree to continue on his path of excellence, and inspires others to follow his lead.”

Newcomer of the Year – Collin Drake (Ennis, junior)

Collin Drake quarterbacked the Ennis Lions to one of the more remarkable runs in Texas high school football this season. 

The junior quarterback did it in true dual-threat fashion, too.

Drake completed 178-of-his-285 passes (62.5%) for 2,544 yards and 23 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also rushed 187 times for 942 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to being named the Player of the Year in District 8-5A Division II. 

The Lions ultimately won the district championship with an 8-0 mark and finished the season 12-2 after falling in overtime to eventual state-champion Aledo. 

Drake finished that playoff thriller with 282 yards and four touchdowns on 17-of-28 passing. He also added 13 carries for a team-best 65 yards. 

Coach of the Year – Chris Ross (Red Oak)

The Coach of the Year decision was the most difficult to make this season. Chris Ross (Red Oak), Sam Harrell (Ennis) and Lee Wiginton (Midlothian Heritage) were each more than deserving of the recognition and all for different reasons. 

But there is simply no denying the turnaround led by Ross in Red Oak. 

A program long thought to be a perennial cellar dweller, the Hawks first showed life as a playoff contender with a 9-2 record and bi-district loss in 2018. The group of returners then fully bought into Ross’ program and bested that mark to finish 2019 with an 11-2 record and first outright district championship since 1982.

The 11 wins were the most in program history and the regional semifinal appearance was just the third-ever for the Hawk football team.  

The Red Oak offense finished as the eighth-highest-scoring offense in Texas, averaging 53.3 points per game. Humble Atascocita led the state in 2019 11-man scoring by averaging 57.7 points per game.  

The Hawks were also recently named the 10th-fastest rising program in Texas by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, which based the ranking off of a six-year study. 

Ross and staff have changed the culture in Red Oak. There is no denying that. 

Team of the Year – Ennis Lions

Back under the leadership of hall-of-fame head coach Sam Harrell, it was only a matter of time before the Ennis Lions reemerged as a perennial state power.

Not many outside of the Lion locker room could’ve predicted that that time would come in year two of Harrell’s second stint. But…it did. 

Ennis finished the 2018 season with a 5-5 record and fell to Frisco Reedy in the bi-district playoffs. The performance was obviously used as fuel for 2019. 

Harrell and the Lions finished this season with a 12-2 overall record and perfect 8-0 mark in 8-5A Division II by outscoring opponents 472-219 (33.7ppg-15.6ppg). 

They also put the eventual state-champion Aledo Bearcats on the ropes in round four of the state playoffs, only to fall in an overtime heartbreaker. 

There’s little reason to doubt the Lions won’t be poised to make another deep playoff run in 2020, either. 

Big School Player of the Year – BJ Hawkins (Waxahachie, junior)

In an otherwise forgetful season for the lone 6A football team in Ellis County, junior wide receiver BJ Hawkins was more than just memorable — he was dominant. 

Hawkins regularly exposed secondaries — even those in the 7-6A “District of Doom” that often featured multiple Division-I talents — with his downfield speed, quickness off of the line and mitt-like hands. 

Hawkins finished the season with 91 receptions for 1,129 yards (12.4 YPC) and 14 touchdowns. He was named to the 7-6A first-team, as well.   

The yardage total accounted for 48.4% of all Waxahachie receiving yards, while his 14 touchdowns were four more than the rest of the Indian receiving corps combined. 

Waxahachie ultimately finished the season 2-8, though the Indians did notch their first-ever victory against a 6A opponent with a home win against Mansfield Summit on Nov. 11, 2019. 

Small School Player of the Year – Adrian Cisneros (Palmer, senior) 

Senior quarterback Adrian Cisneros did it all for the 3A Palmer Bulldogs in 2019. 

Cisneros completed 143-of-his-228 passes (63%) for 2,412 yards and 27 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He also 116 times for 580 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

And that was just on offense. 

The senior finished with 79 total tackles (50 solos), one tackle-for-loss and two interceptions. 

Cisneros’ efforts ultimately led the Bulldogs to their first-ever undefeated 10-0 regular season. Palmer did eventually bow out of the 3A Division II playoffs in the area round against Holiday (17-14). 

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Want to listen to the on-air announcements and interviews? Visit this link: http://bit.ly/30kyXEm
Need to catch up on the All-Ellis County football first- and second-team or honorable mentions? Visit this link: http://bit.ly/35MSHld
Miss the All-Ellis County volleyball announcements? Visit this link: http://bit.ly/36oOzII

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

tsmith@kbec.com

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith serves as the digital sports director for KBEC Sports. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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