Chapin senior quarterback Josh Miller has been named the Region 4-3A offensive player of the year, beating out some impressive competition, including Fairfield Central senior Justin Trapp and Chester sophomore quarterback Tony McNeal.
Miller finished with 791 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns on 157 carries, and went 78-for-165 passing for 1,591 yards and 13 scores.
“It’s pretty impressive that the coaches in the region chose Jeff over Justin Trapp and that McNeal kid,” said Eagles coach Larry Grady.
Fellow seniors Neil Sawyer and Yates Atkinson joined Miller as the other Chapin all-region picks. Sawyer had 37 catches for 912 yards (24.6 average per catch) and eight TDs. Atkinson, who moved between linebacker and an outside spot on the defensive line, had 55 tackles, two TFL, three sacks and three caused fumbles.
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Chapin finished with a disappointing 4-6 record in 2008, and failed to make the state playoff cut.
“We switched regions in 2008, moving to the Upper State and competed in a very strong football region,” said Grady “Three of the region teams in the playoffs won first-round games and Chester once again played for the state championship. We dropped four games this season in which we had the lead going into the last half of the fourth quarter. Here of those games were to playoff teams Lugoff-Elgin, Fairfield Central and Chester. That was the difference between a 4-6 record and 8-2.”
Chapin expects to have six starters back on offense, and five on defense next season, but will be hard-pressed to replace the bulk of the offensive skills positions, in particular Miller and Sawyer.
The return men on offense are junior tight end Kyle Summer, sophomore tackle Allie Bates, junior guard Madison Abbott, Jr, junior center Zach Rish, junior flanker Bradham Wilder and sophomore split end Matthew Hood-Pittinger. The vets on defense expected to return include junior defensive linemen Tony Downs, Brandon Morris and Ryan Elliott, junior strong safety Jesse Morris and junior cornerback Alex Fisher. Special teams players Joe Rister (place kicker/punter), kicker Forrest Deans and long snapper Rion Trapp are also expected to return.
“We know where we're at, and we know where we must get to if we intend to compete in this region and beyond next year,” said Grady.
“However, despite a good number of returning starters for the 2009 squad, we have some big shoes to fill. On offense, the loss of Josh Miller, Neil Sawyer, and Graham Montgomery, creates a huge void. Those three accounted for about 90 % of the offensive production this season. A lot of questions will have to be answered in the off-season for a defense that returns some big players up front, but very little at the linebacker and secondary positions.”