FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Two Huntingdon Hawks earned top individual awards and a total of nine players were named All-Conference with the release of the USA South All-Conference football awards on Wednesday.
Senior receiver Otis Porter was named Offensive Player of the Year, head coach Mike Turk was named Coach of the Year and a total of nine Hawks earned first-team or second-team All-Conference recognition.
Porter is the second Huntingdon player to earn Offensive Player of the Year honors and this is the fourth time Turk has been named USA South Coach of the Year. In seven seasons as a member of the USA South, the Hawks have produced an Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year or Rookie of the Year in five seasons.
Joining Porter on first-team are running back Eric Thomas, offensive lineman Darrell Hixon and linebacker Mal Caldwell. Quarterback Michael Lambert, offensive linemen Reed Crosby and Kodee Kuncho, defensive lineman DeAnte' Griffith and kicker Cole Starr were named second-team All-Conference.
"It means a lot to be named Offensive Player of the Year and to have my teammates and Coach Turk recognized as well," Porter said. "All of us have worked hard to get to where we are and that hard work is paying off."
The nine All-Conference selections bring Huntingdon's total to 73 since joining the conference in 2013.
This is the third time Porter has earned All-Conference recognition in his career. He was a second-team selection as a sophomore and a first-team pick as a junior.
During that time he became Huntingdon's career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions and set the program's single-season records for receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Entering Saturday's playoff game at Berry, Porter has 153 career receptions for 2,965 yards and 35 touchdowns.
This season he leads the USA South with 746 receiving yards and a Huntingdon record 13 touchdowns. He is second in the conference with 50 receptions.
"I'm so proud of Otis. I'm tickled to death that he is being recognized this way," Turk said. "He has been a great player for us for a long time. Having the opportunity to watch him grow up, mature and become a good leader for our team has been a real pleasure.
"I've said many times that we're thankful to have him on our team. Seeing him recognized as Offensive Player of the Year in our league says a lot about how impactful he has been on the field."
The USA South Coach of the Year, Turk guided the Hawks to a 7-3 regular-season record and a 6-1 record in the conference. In the past five seasons, Turk's teams have won four conference titles and put together a record of 30-5 in the conference. Turk, who has been the head coach for every victory in Huntingdon history, has guided the program to a 109-50 record and five playoff berths in 16 seasons.
"It's hard to win Coach of the Year without really good players and really good assistant coaches," Turk said. "I'm really proud of our staff and our players for what all they have been through and accomplished this year. Having good players and good assistant coaches is what makes being Coach of the Year possible. It has less to do with anything I've done and more to do with our organization as a whole."
Of Huntingdon's remaining three first-team All-Conference selections, Thomas and Caldwell are juniors and Hixon is a sophomore. Thomas was also a first-team selection last season.
Thomas, the Hawks' first 1,000-yard rusher in back-to-back seasons, is second in the USA South this season with 1,004 yards and leads the conference with 13 rushing touchdowns. With 2,331 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons, he ranks third in Huntingdon history in each category.
Caldwell and Hixon are each first-time All-Conference selections. Caldwell leads the Hawks and is fourth in the conference with 82 tackles this season. Hixon, in his second year as a starter, has helped pave the way for the conference's top offense this season. Huntingdon is No. 1 in the USA South in points per game (36), rushing yards per game (210.8) and total offense per game (420.5).
Four seniors and one sophomore represent Huntingdon on the second-team with Lambert earning recognition for a second straight year. The senior leads the conference in passing touchdowns (24) and is second in passing yards (2,054). On the offensive line, seniors Crosby and Kuncho earned their first All-Conference recognition by forming a strong and experienced left side for the Hawks.
On the defensive line, Griffith earned his second All-Conference recognition with 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries this season. The senior, who was the USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, currently ranks fifth in Huntingdon history in career sacks.
Starr, in his first season as the Hawks' kicker, was eighth in the conference in scoring and second in scoring among kickers. The sophomore is 43-for-47 on extra points, tying for the conference lead in made extra points, and is 5-for-7 on field goals. His 47-yard field goal against LaGrange was the longest field goal in the conference this season and tied for the second longest in Huntingdon history.
Senior defensive lineman Red Hinton was named to the USA South's All-Sportsmanship team.
To view the complete All-Conference awards, click here.