SPORTS >>Four local athletes honored with postseason selection
By RAY BENTON AND JASON KING
Leader sports writers
Four local football players have been named to the 2007 Arkansas High School All Star team.
Jacksonville defensive end Norvel Gabriel was an automatic selection after being named the 6A-East’s Outstanding Lineman. Cabot all-purpose player Colin Fuller and a pair of Harding Academy Wildcats joined Gabriel on the East All Star team. Wildcat quarterback Luke Tribble and All-State lineman James Kee were also selected to compete with the East squad.
Fuller did everything for Cabot in his senior season. He was the team’s leading rusher while also playing a pivotal role on defense and handling much of the punting and kicking duties for the Panthers. He was also the team’s main return man on punts and kickoff returns.
He carried 168 times for 836 yards and 11 touchdowns as a halfback and fullback in Cabot’s Dead T offense. He also caught 14 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
He had a phenomenal 12-yard punt return average, returning eight punts for 97 yards. He returned 14 kickoffs for 302 yards for a 21.6 average.
He averaged 32 yards per punt this season and made his only field-goal attempt, a 36-yarder.
On defense he finished the season with 30 tackles and three interceptions.
Norvel Gabriel was the league’s dominant defensive linemen, and his statistics prove why he was an automatic selection.
He recorded 119 total tackles that included 72 assists and 47 solo take-downs. He forced four fumbles and recovered three, deflected four passes and intercepted one. He blocked two kicks, had seven quarterback hurries, sacked the quarterback six times for –28 yards, had nine other tackles for –32 total yards lost.
He also made three tackles on fourth down short of first-down yardage.
His offensive totals weren’t immediately available, but Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said he caught five or six passes. None was bigger than a pivotal fourth-down reception in Jacksonville’s come-from-behind win over West Memphis.
James Kee had a dominant year as Harding Academy’s nose guard in 2006. Kee had 52 solo tackles, including 12 tackles for a loss, along with one fumble recovery.
Kee’s defining moment of the season came in the final seconds of regulation in round two of the 3A state playoffs against Hector, in which he led a goal-line stand for the Wildcats. Kee got past the Hector front line to stop the runner just short of the goal to prevent a go-ahead touchdown. The Wildcats went on to advance with a double-overtime win thanks to Kee’s effort at the goal line.
Luke Tribble led the Wildcats offensively during the 2006 season as starting quarterback. Tribble took over the job from departing older brother Zack, who is now a Harding Bison.
Tribble completed 211 of 360 pass attempts for 33 touchdowns. He passed and rushed for a combined 2,874 all-purpose yards en route to a 13-1 semifinal year for Harding Academy.
The East team will be led this year by Wynne head coach Don Campbell. Campbell’s assistants will be Paul Calley of Bryant, Mark Uhiren of Marion, Dave Williams of Pocahontas, Harrisburg’s Keith Davis, Mark Tree’s Tim Branum and Campell’s assistant from Wynne, Ray Shempert.
They will be taking on a West squad led by Rogers head coach Ronnie Peacock. Peacock will bring his assistant Brian Little along, as well as Bill Keopple from Texarkana, Buddy Greason of Morrilton, Ozark’s Michael Johnson, Mark Headley of Lavaca and D.J. Crane of Danville.