The Mount Airy and East Surry high school football teams are already receiving statewide recognition before the 2015 season gets underway.
NCPreps named Blake Marion (East Surry) and Gabriel King (Mount Airy to the Preseason 1A All-State Team on Monday.
This will be Marion’s third season on East Surry’s varsity team. He was an All-Conference selection in each of the past two seasons and is now primed for a successful senior campaign.
He gained the Preseason All-State honors as an athlete because of his ability to impact the game on both offense and defense.
“He plays wherever we need him to play,” East Surry coach David Diamont said. “He’s big enough to play linebacker, but also agile enough to play in space.”
Marion’s versatility shows in the numbers he put up last year for East Surry. On defense, he was third on the team with 84 tackles, and he also chipped in two interceptions.
However, his offensive numbers are even more impressive, especially in an offense that is predominately run-heavy. In 2014, Marion led the Cardinals in receiving with 37 catches, 533 yards and five touchdowns.
“A receiver that stands out on a team that runs the ball like we do is hard to find,” coach Diamont said. “It also opens up a lot of things for us on offense. Blake has worked himself into a great receiver. His routes are precise, he has great hands, and he does everything you need him to do.”
He certainly has a quarterback who can get the ball to him. Tyler Smith already has accepted a scholarship offer to play baseball thanks to a fastball in the mid-80s.
Mount Airy’s King will also play on defense, but NCPreps named him to the Preseason All-State team as an offensive lineman. King is about to enter his junior year and his second full season as a member of the Granite Bears’ varsity team.
“Last year he played varsity as a sophomore and was kind of raw,” Mount Airy coach Kelly Holder said. “He’s very quick and talented, but he needed to develop the technique and tactics, and he’s definitely done that.”
King started every game for Mount Airy last season and Coach Holder believes his speed at the position is what separates him from the pack.
“You right away notice how quick he is for his size,” Holder said. “He’s quick and he gets after it. He’s got that drive that you love to see.”
The head coach also wasn’t shy about the impact King will have for the Granite Bears on defense. Holder thinks that King is just as valuable on both sides of the ball, and it is going to be difficult to find time during the games to give him a rest.
He will be joined on the offensive line by his brother Ezekiel King.
The Bears will need their experience as they break in a completely new backfield. Gone to graduation are quarterback Logan Holder, fullback Andrew Jones and tailbacks Davontae Dobson and Shay Wilson.
This wasn’t the first time this summer NCPreps recognized the two schools. On July 24, the website ranked East Surry 10th and Mount Airy 11th in its initial 1A preseason poll.
This early season hype is already setting the stage for Nov. 9, when the two schools will face off in the regular season finale.
Two other area players were named to the 1A team.
Avery Hash, Alleghany, was selected for the defensive line. Brandon Prescott, Starmount, was selected as an athlete.
Jackson is a sports reporter and can be reached at 415-4702.