It's an early graduation present for a pair of Heritage High School seniors as linemen Kobe McAlister and Lane Phillips were named to the Georgia Sports Writers Association Class AAAA All-State football team on Friday.
The honor capped a big year for both players, who were part of the first senior class at Heritage to advance to the state football playoffs all four seasons.
McAlister saw some time on defense, but spent the bulk of his time at offensive tackle. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder shared Co-Lineman of the Year honors in Region 6-AAAA. A preseason All-State pick by RecruitGeorgia.com, he was also named to their postseason All-State squad.
He was also a first team pick on the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) Class AAAA North All-State team, a first team Class AAAA selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) and a first team pick on the 2019 Catoosa-Walker Dream Team.
McAlister will continue his football career at the University of Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Phillips was another stalwart up front for the Generals on the offensive side of the ball, but made a name for himself this season at defensive tackle.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound game-changer disrupted many an offense during the 2019 season, finishing with six tackles-for-loss and impressing the region coaches enough to be named the Defensive Player of the Year in 6-AAAA.
He was also a first team All-State pick in Class AAAA by the AJC and a first team pick on the 2019 Catoosa-Walker Dream Team, while collecting honorable mention All-State honors by the GACA and RecruitGeorgia.com.
Phillips will also be playing football in college as he will suit up for the Chattanooga Mocs.
The two Generals were the only players from 6-AAAA named to the first team, while the extreme northwest corner of the state had just three other players earn first team status.
North Murray senior Ladd McConkey was the lone representative from Region 6-AAA as the future Georgia Bulldog was first team All-State at quarterback. Christian Heritage senior kicker Joe Dixon was first team All-State in Class A Private, while Dalton senior Jahmyr Gibbs was first team in Class AAAAAA at running back.
Gibbs, who signed with Georgia Tech, was the Offensive Player of the Year in Class AAAAAA after leading the entire state in all classifications with 2,554 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns last fall.
Region 6-A saw Bowdon senior offensive lineman Cooper Smith and senior defensive back Ben Fortson named to the Class A Public first team, while Darlington was represented on the Class A Private first team by senior offensive lineman Tate Ratledge and defensive lineman Cade Brock.
The GSWA All-State teams were selected by a panel of newspaper and broadcast media members who cover high school sports on a regular basis. An extensive list of candidates and their credentials was compiled by Todd Holcomb of the AJC/Georgia High School Football Daily/Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
This story will be printed in the May 6 editions of the Catoosa County News and the Walker County Messenger.