Bunker Hill kicker, Maiden head coach
also bring home top league awards
By CHRIS HOBBS
Dominating seasons – another title for Maiden and big year from its star wide receiver plus a record-setting year for West Lincoln’s top running back – led to two of the key 2022 Catawba Valley 2A Athletic high school football awards being shared.
The league’s eight head coaches selected All-CVAC 2A based on a conference-set formula of nine picks to the championship team all the way down to two picks for the last-place team.
Coaches selected Maiden senior wide receiver Chris Culliver and West Lincoln senior running back Mason Avery as co-Offensive Players of the Year. Both have been selected to play for North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl in Spartanburg, S.C.
Culliver also shared Specialist of the Year with Bunker Hill sophomore kicker Alan Bahena-Soto.
Avery won Defensive Player of the Year while Maiden’s Will Byrne was named Coach of the Year.
Maiden finished 7-0 in the conference – its third straight unbeaten league record (the first was in the South Fork 2A) – and 12-2 overall. That left Bryne’s record at 67-17 after seven seasons as head coach at his alma mater.
Culliver (6-foot-3, 180 pounds), who is going to North Carolina, had 80 catches for 1,809 yards this season. He averaged 22 yards per catch, 129.2 yards per game and caught 26 scoring passes.
In three years at Maiden, Culliver closed his career with 20 carries for 125 yards and one rushing TD and 173 catches for 3,617 yards and 523 TDs.
Culliver’s career statistics – 55 rushes for 598 yards, four TDs and 175 catches for 3,637 yards and 52 TDs – include his freshman varsity season at Bandys (35-473 rushing, three TDs, two catches for 2 yards, no TDs).
Avery (6-0, 190) — last year’s leading rusher in the CVAC 2A — repeated that with 283 carries for 2,622 yards. He averaged 9.3 yards per carry, 238.4 yards per game, scored 37 TDs and ran for 100 or more yards in 11 games and caught four passes for 61 yards with no scores.
Avery had a county-record 397 yards and three scores in a victory over Newton-Conover and his rushing total and TDs totals also set Lincoln County records.
In a 32-game, three-year varsity career, Avery finished with 639 carries for 4,726 yards. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry, 147.7 yards per game with 57 rushing TDs and 62 total scores.
Soto helped second-place Bunker Hill go 11-2 overall and 6-1 in the CVAC by hitting 44 of 53 extra points and six of 10 field goal attempts.
The coaches picked 44 players and 13 of them were also All-CVAC 2A last season – Culliver, Gibbs and D.J. Spring, Alec Hall and Jacob Sigmon of Maiden, Elijah Boston of Bunker Hill, Avery and Curtis Goins of West Lincoln, Easton Dellinger, Khamoni Heath and Andre Bost of Lincolnton, Ben Watson of Newton-Conover and Luke Wilson of East Burke.
ALL-CATAWBA VALLEY 2A ATHLETIC FOOTBALL
Co-Offensive Players of the Year: Chris Culliver, Maiden; Mason Avery, W. Lincoln
Defensive Player of the Year: Mason Avery, W. Lincoln
Co-Specialists of the Year: Chris Culliver, Maiden; Alan Bahena-Soto, Bunker Hill.
Coach of the Year: Will Bryne, Maiden
Maiden (9): Chris Culliver, Ben Gibbs, D.J. Spring, Jacob Sigmon, Jackson Hensley, Wesley Thompson, Alec Hall, Korby Lawing, Quinn Rembert
Bunker Hill (8): Elijah Boston, Xavier McCleave, Redek Robinson, Tristan Haddock, Walter McGill, Cole Lineberger, Saeed Nasher, Alan Bahena-Soto
West Lincoln (7): Mason Avery, Curtis Goins, Caleb Sain, Nate Rye, Jaylin Winnex, Zander Harrelson, Patrick Goines
Lincolnton (6): Easton Dellinger, Teegan Strutt, Khamoni Heath, Keondre Smith, Andre Bost, Andrew Phelps
Bandys (5): Logan Williams, Nolan Jones, Camden Mongene, Andrew McCrary, Moses Anderson
Newton-Conover (4): Ben Watson, Jayce Harrison-Young, Jordan Lineberger, Trevaris Stinson
East Burke (3): Luke Wilson, Jacob Hodges, Ben Mast
West Caldwell (2): Jaylen Patterson, Mason Anthony