Falcons draw 12 all-state nods

Published 11:15 am Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fuqua School’s varsity football team received just representation among the 2017 Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III All-State honors, drawing 12 selections, including six on the first team, after reaching the state championship game and finishing 8-3.

“I think we did well,” Falcons Head Coach Ben Manis said, referring to his team’s all-state recognition. “… I think for the most part the kids that deserved it got it.”

Five Falcons made the first team led by senior Warren Dabney, who was selected as both an offensive lineman and as a defensive lineman.

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Sophomore Elijah Warner, who also drew two second-team selections, made the first team as a punt returner.

The other Falcons making the first team included senior running back Ben Bailey, senior wide receiver Tyler Thomas and senior defensive back Billy French.

Last season, Dabney made the all-state first team as an offensive lineman and the second team as a defensive lineman.

“He’s one of those guys that some of the other teams feared,” Manis said. “… Warren was the kind of kid that you had to game plan for on both sides of the ball.”

Describing Dabney as a Division I-type talent, Manis said the other coaches at the voting meeting remembered him and had much to say about his abilities.

On defense this season, Dabney finished with 89 total tackles, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and one pass deflection.

Manis said he was glad Warner received a first-team nod.

“I feel like he’s one of those guys that kind of fit everywhere,” the coach said. “He could have played tight end, he could have played quarterback, he could have played fullback, he could have played receiver.”

Manis often did utilize Warner in different positions, helping him receive second-team all-state honors as a quarterback and as a linebacker.

As a punt returner, Warner gained 323 yards and one touchdown.

Offensively, he threw for 1,020 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he carried the ball 77 times for 412 yards and seven touchdowns.

Defensively, he had 95 total tackles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and more.

Bailey finished the year with 119 carries for 1,221 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 13 catches for 330 yards and five touchdowns.

“He deserved it,” Manis said of the first-team honor. “He earned it, he’s worked for it, he hasn’t been given it. … If he had a good game, the team did well.”

Last season, Bailey made the all-state second team as a running back.

Manis praised the 6-foot-1-inch Thomas for his athleticism that put him at the same level of recognition as receivers several inches taller than him.

“His main sport is basketball, but man, I don’t care — the kid’s a competitor, the kid will compete at anything he does,” Manis said.

Thomas finished the season with 22 receptions for 553 yards and eight touchdowns.

French made the all-state second team last year as a linebacker.

“Billy’s one of those kids that we moved all over the place,” Manis said. “He was always one of the guys out in coverage … He was a kid that was very explosive around the ball, whether it was on defense or on offense.”

Though he missed several games due to a foot injury, French finished the year with 66 tackles, four interceptions and one forced fumble.

Falcons making the all-state second team in addition to Warner were senior offensive lineman Michael Davis, senior kicker Kevin Dunn, senior defensive back Clay Osborn and junior defensive lineman D.J. Williams.