No one player pushed Sabine High School football over the top for its best season ever – it was a collective effort, to be sure.
But there were a few who made a big difference, and they, along with 3A players across the state, are being recognized today as a part of the Texas Sports Writers Association (TSWA) all-state team. The TSWA recognizes players throughout the state on this team, and it’s more of the “real” all-state football team than any other – the Associated Press all-state team is not nearly as in-depth, and many of its voters don’t actually cover high school football.
Other classifications will be released in coming days, including 4A, 5A and 6A.
From the Kilgore News Herald’s coverage area, four young men were listed: Sabine kicker Fernando Jaimes, quarterback Landon McKinney and defensive lineman Tristan Green, as well as West Rusk linebacker Coltan Mills.
Jaimes, now starring with brother Lalo on Sabine’s soccer team, was a difference-maker his senior season and throughout his football career for the Cardinals, putting the ball through the goalposts. Jaimes was named to the 3A all-state first team.
Jaimes, listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, hit 15-of-22 field goals this season, a long of 46, and was 41-of-48 kicking extra points. In his career, Jaimes hit 25-of-35 field goals as a Cardinal.
Sabine went 10-2 this season, the first time in program history – dating back to the 1930s – that the Cardinals had ever hit the 10-win plateau. Coach Rex Sharp’s team also beat Mount Vernon in the first round of the playoffs. That was the first time in the history of Sabine football that they had won a playoff game. Prior to that, they had never gotten out of the first round.
No other players made the 3A first, second or third team, but three other locals were named to 3A’s honorable mention: McKinney, Green and Mills.
McKinney (6-1, 192), also a senior, completed 108-of-207 passes for 1,873 yards, 15 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. McKinney was a key weapon for Sabine running the ball: he had 1,300 rush yards and 23 touchdowns on 207 carries. He was named the all-district most valuable player.
McKinney, who signed with Howard Payne University last week on National Signing Day, also set school records for rushing (6,488 yards in his career) and rushing touchdowns (72, in 25 games).
On defense for the Cardinals, Green (5-11, 265) was named the district’s lineman of the year. He had 107 tackles his senior season, 21 of them solo, and 10 for loss. He had three sacks and a forced fumble.
West Rusk made the playoffs, but might not have had it not been for players like Mills, who had one game where he recorded 27 tackles (against Harmony). Nineteen of those were solo. He was named the statewide 3A Built Ford Tough Texas High School Player of the Week for that performance.
Mills (6-1, 238) finished with 142 tackles, six quarterback hurries and two caused fumbles. The Raiders, coached by first-year head coach Nick Harrison, went7-4 in 2019, getting into the 3A postseason, but losing to Jefferson in the first round.