Editor’s note: The 2020-21 Daily News-Record All-Area teams will be released over the coming weeks as we prepare for the new school year. Coaches and administrators from Buffalo Gap, Broadway, Eastern Mennonite, East Rockingham, Fort Defiance, Harrisonburg, Luray, Page County, Riverheads, Rockbridge County, Spotswood, Staunton, Stuarts Draft, Turner Ashby, Waynesboro and Wilson Memorial nominated and voted for athletes before consulting with staff from the DN-R for the final teams.
One was making continuous soul-crushing runs behind a business-like offensive line while the other provided bone-jarring hits as a player performing at multiple positions.
For their impressive efforts in helping guide each of their teams to their respective Virginia High School League state championship games, Riverheads running back Zac Smiley is the 2020-21 Daily News-Record Football Offensive Player of the Year while Stuarts Draft defensive tackle Latrell Fomby is the Football Defensive Player of the Year.
Smiley, a 6-foot, 205-pound workhorse back that has started for the Gladiators since he was a freshman, holds almost every rushing record in the book for a program that has had its fair share of impressive players throughout its history as one of the state’s best.
The Ferrum-bound running back is the program’s all-time leading rusher and set the single-season rushing mark for yardage and touchdowns during the 2019 season.
This past spring, during the condensed schedule under the VHSL’s COVID-19 guidance, Smiley still dominated with 1,242 yards and 21 touchdowns as Riverheads captured its record-breaking fifth consecutive Class 1 state title and eighth in program history.
Fomby, meanwhile, was just as pivotal for a Stuarts Draft defense that was one of the best in the state as the Cougars reached the Class 2 state championship once again.
Despite falling in the title contest for a second straight year, Fomby’s year-long efforts were ultimately recognized as he was named the Shenandoah District, Region 2B and Class Player of the Year by the Virginia High School Coaches Association.
Fomby finished the season with 58 tackles — 22 of which went for a loss — along with six sacks and four forced fumbles. He’ll play at Christopher Newport this fall.
Here’s the rest of the 2020-21 Daily News-Record All-Area Football Team:
First Team Offense
Miller Jay, Rockbridge County, Quarterback: The junior gunslinger was 89-of-160 passing for 1,264 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions.
Bret McClung, Rockbridge County, Running Back: The versatile senior finished with 1,123 total yards and 16 touchdowns out of the backfield.
Sam Shickel, Turner Ashby, Running Back: The speedy junior had 61 carries for 793 yards and nine touchdowns in his breakout season for the Knights.
Zac Smiley, Riverheads, Running Back: The program's all-time leading rusher was a three-time all-state selection during his time at Riverheads.
Jo-’el Howard, Stuarts Draft, Wide Receiver: The all-state senior finished with 22 receptions for 427 yards and five touchdowns for the Cougars.
Nate Tinnell, Broadway, Wide Receiver: The 6-foot-4 senior was a major deep threat for the Gobblers and matchup nightmare for opposing teams.
Jazen Walker, Harrisonburg, Wide Receiver: The 6-foot-3 senior finished with 14 receptions for 276 yards and five touchdowns for the Blue Streaks.
Ryan Shonk, Spotswood, Tight End: The senior had 10 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns and also added 30 carries for 210 yards for Spotswood.
Josh Watson, Riverheads, Center: The junior had a firm control on the Riverheads offense and kept it running smoothly up front.
David Allio, Rockbridge County, Offensive Lineman: The 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior played a key role in Rockbridge County's dominant run game.
Joel Alvarado, Harrisonburg, Offensive Lineman: The junior standout and Division I recruit was arguably Harrisonburg's best player this past season.
Collin Armstrong, Riverheads, Offensive Lineman: As another three-time all-state selection, the senior was pivotal to the successful Riverheads run game.
Jayson Williams, Stuarts Draft, Offensive Lineman: The junior was pivotal for the Stuarts Draft run game and earned all-state honors as a result.
Landen Stuhlmiller, Broadway, All-Purpose: The junior signal-caller did a little bit of everything and showed off his improvement behind center.
Jo-’el Howard, Stuarts Draft, Kick Returner: The versatile athlete provided speed and athleticism and was a threat to score any time he had the football.
Daniel Cunningham, Rockbridge County, Kicker: The senior was a perfect 25-of-25 on extra points and made 4-of-5 field goals with a long of 32.
First Team Defense
Noah Smiley, Riverheads, Defensive End: The all-state junior helped lead the way for a Riverheads defense that was stout throughout the course of the season.
Jayden Watkins, Stuarts Draft, Defensive End: The senior known for his athleticism finished with 24 tackles, a sack and a defensive touchdown.
David Allio, Rockbridge County, Defensive Lineman: The Virginia Military Institute signee had 33 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery.
Latrell Fomby, Stuarts Draft, Defensive Lineman: The senior standout was a versatile player that could make an impact in multiple spots on the field.
Cameron Sprouse, Wilson Memorial, Defensive Lineman: The senior standout had 48 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
Cayden Cook-Cash, Riverheads, Linebacker: The freshman standout made big play after big play for the Gladiators during their run to the state title.
Bret McClung, Rockbridge County, Linebacker: The gritty senior finished with 43 tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble.
Aaron Nice, Stuarts Draft, Linebacker: The junior finished with 52 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown.
Zac Smiley, Riverheads, Linebacker: Although the senior was impressive on offense, his leadership at the linebacker spot was just as key for the Gladiators.
Isaiah Dunlap, Riverheads, Defensive Back: The versatile senior athlete made several big-time plays as the Class 1 Defensive Player of the Year.
Jo-’el Howard, Stuarts Draft, Defensive Back: The versatile senior did it all for the Cougars with 23 tackles, two fumble recoveries and three interceptions.
Canaan Pierce, Page County, Defensive Back: The senior all-region selection finished with 23 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Bryce Suters, Broadway, Defensive Back: The senior James Madison baseball signee developed a reputation as a hard-hitting defensive back on the gridiron.
Nate Tinnell, Broadway, All-Purpose: The senior leader for the Gobblers led the team in tackles and provided a solid physical presence all over the field.
Jo-’el Howard, Stuarts Draft, Punt Returner: The senior all-state selection averaged 28.1 yards per return and had a touchdown.
Daniel Cunningham, Rockbridge County, Punter: The senior finished with 19 punts for 535 yards, pinning three inside the opposing team's 20-yard line.
Second Team Offense
Kaden Welcher, Wilson Memorial, Quarterback
Austin Holloway, Luray, Running Back
Aaron Nice, Stuarts Draft, Running Back
Bryce Suters, Broadway, Running Back
Ryan Bosserman, Staunton, Wide Receiver
Landen Lightner, Riverheads, Wide Receiver
Luke Mayr, Rockbridge County, Wide Receiver
Trevor Roberts, Riverheads, Tight End
Kaden Sherman, Rockbridge County, Center
Igor Iackikevic, Rockbridge County, Offensive Lineman
Noah Lucas, Page County, Offensive Lineman
Christian Sorrells, Fort Defiance, Offensive Lineman
Cameron Sprouse, Wilson Memorial, Offensive Lineman
Tanner Rivenburg, Buffalo Gap, All-Purpose
Marquez Sly, Harrisonburg, Kick Returner
Jared Melini, Page County, Kicker
Second Team Defense
AJ Dooms, Spotswood, Defensive End
Michael Smith, Waynesboro, Defensive End
Taylin Henderson, Waynesboro, Defensive Lineman
Tyler Pence, Luray, Defensive Lineman
Jayson Williams, Stuarts Draft, Defensive Lineman
Brady Jenkins, Luray, Linebacker
Luke Mayr, Rockbridge County, Linebacker
Cole Morris, Broadway, Linebacker
Troy Thompson, Stuarts Draft, Linebacker
Ryan Barbour, Waynesboro, Defensive Back
Cobey Rothgeb, Stuarts Draft, Defensive Back
Marquez Sly, Harrisonburg, Defensive Back
Landen Stuhlmiller, Broadway, Defensive Back
Dustyn Fitzgerald, Stuarts Draft, All-Purpose
Marquez Sly, Harrisonburg, Punt Returner
Bryce Dennison, Stuarts Draft, Punter
Evan Atkins, Spotswood, Center
Symeon Balser, Stuarts Draft, Defensive Back
Lucas Benavides, Broadway, Kicker
Zach Boyd, Staunton, Defensive Back
David Brooks, Riverheads, Defensive End
Ethan Cash, Stuarts Draft, Offensive Lineman
Javante Chacon, Harrisonburg, Running Back
Turner Cook, Rockbridge County, Wide Receiver
Cy Cox, Riverheads, All-Purpose
Peyton Dunn, Staunton, Linebacker
Dylan Eppard, Turner Ashby, Linebacker
Ryan Farris, Riverheads, Defensive Back
Latrell Fomby, Stuarts Draft, Tight End
Jason Foster, Riverheads, Offensive Lineman
Matthew Fries, East Rockingham, Defensive End
Te’Shawn Gamble, Waynesboro, Wide Receiver
Keenan Glago, Harrisonburg, Quarterback
Dylan Hensley, Page County, Tight End
Cole Hoover, Turner Ashby, Quarterback
Igor Iackikevic, Rockbridge County, Defensive Lineman
Kayden Jackson, Staunton, Wide Receiver
Seamus Looney, Rockbridge County, Defensive Back
Riley Miller, Fort Defiance Linebacker
Dillon Ochoa, Turner Ashby, Linebacker
Daniel Offenbacher, Turner Ashby, Offensive Lineman
Jared Peake, Turner Ashby, Defensive Back
Canaan Pierce, Page County, Wide Receiver
Isaiah Poindexter, Rockbridge County, Defensive Back
Lazerus Powell, Waynesboro, Linebacker
Blake Roach, Stuarts Draft, Running Back
Cooper Robson, Riverheads, Kicker
Corey Rupe, Harrisonburg, Tight End
Zach Shifflett, East Rockingham, Center
Khalique Spencer, Waynesboro, Offensive Lineman
Bryce Suters, Broadway, Kick Returner