Lyons, GA – December 14, 2023 | Head Coach Buddy Martin | Article by Matt Lynn
The Class AA season ended on Tuesday with a 48-45 Pierce County win over Rockmart for the State Championship. We know both teams well and remember the nail-biter against Pierce. Watching those two powerhouses vie for a state title only underscores the strength of our 2023 team.
At the helm was Head Football Coach Buddy Martin, named Co-Coach of the Year. A born leader, Coach Martin brought his 25-10 career record to serve as a defensive coordinator for Toombs in 2016. After establishing the formidable Red Bullet defense, he ascended to Top Dog earlier this year. Under his guidance, the Bulldogs achieved an eleven-win season, the most since 2000—a year that also marked the last Region Championship for Bulldog football. Coach Martin was also ranked as the #2 Coach in Class AA by Maxwell Ratings. A hearty congratulations to Coach Martin on his well-deserved Region Coach of the Year accolade.
Next, we celebrate Co-Athlete of the Year WR/CB LaGonza Heyward. Shattering school records with career receiving yards, touchdowns, and yards per catch, Heyward led the Dogs’ remarkable receiver corps with 727 yards on 26 catches. His defensive prowess was equally impressive, punctuated by a pick-6 against Pierce County.
QB TJ Stanley, a Region 3AA 1st Team selection, is the most well-rounded QB the Bulldogs have ever had. He broke multiple records, including passing yards in a single season (2,402), passing TDs (27), and QB Rating (125.4).
Dabvn Wadley, a 1st Team RB selection for Region 3AA, dominated in his first season back with the Dogs, rushing for a team-leading 824 yards and scoring 9 touchdowns.
Keshon Deloach, a 1st Team WR selection, emerged as Stanley’s prime target during region play. Deloach’s 37 receptions led the team, and he dazzled on defense with a pick-6 against Wheeler County.
Sophomore Gavin Fletcher, also a 1st Team WR, is known for his tenacity and the game-tying touchdown catch in Baxley. With 21 receptions, 494 yards, and 5 touchdowns, Fletcher proved essential to the aerial attack.
Offensive linemen Hunter Barwick and Dawson Van Vleck, both 3AA 1st Team selections, anchored a line that powered over 4,100 yards of total offense and broke the school’s scoring records.
Kicker Braylan Dietrich, a 1st Team pick, changed games with his powerful leg, amassing over 4,500 yards on kickoffs and leading the team with 90 total points. He set school records in PATs (57) and field goals (11).
Aiden Turner, a 2nd Team Lineman, was the quiet workhorse behind the scenes. His consistent and determined blocking was vital for the success of the skill players he protected. He was a cornerstone for the Bulldogs’ offensive force.
Brock Nobles, a 1st Team DL and a four-year starter now committed to The Citadel, tallied 57 tackles, 19 TFLs, and a team-high 7 sacks.
Hayden Roy, a 1st Team DL, excelled in defense, but also led the team with 10 rushing touchdowns, not to mention his pivotal blocked kicks, including the one against Thomson.
Zireese Scott, a 1st Team LB, was a tackling machine with 101 tackles, serving as a critical run stopper throughout the season.
DB Mike Polke, another 1st Team honoree, was not only a leader in pass breakups but also made significant offensive catches.
Freshman Hayden Johnson, a 2nd Team DL, made impactful plays during crucial moments in big games throughout the year.
Alex Scott, a 2nd Team LB, impressed with hard hits and was second on the team in tackles.
Honorable Mention All-Region Players include OL Javier Gonzalez, OL Augustus Underwood, and DL Brandon McCall.
Congratulations to all of our All-Region players for an unforgettable season and for setting a new standard of excellence for Toombs County football. Your hard work and dedication have laid the groundwork for future Bulldogs to aspire to greatness. #beadog