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All-Area Football 2023: Quarterbacks were driving force behind area offenses, through the air and on the ground

Jan. 13—Editor's Note: This is a companion story to the Dalton Daily Citizen's 2023 All-Area Football teams. To find the complete teams, click here.

The quarterback position is vitally important at almost every level of football.

The quarterback is the first player to touch the ball after the snap from center, the one that executes hand-offs to running backs and the distributor of the football to any playmaking wide receivers or tight ends.

Even by the heightened standard of importance by which quarterbacks are usually judged, the quarterbacks for the high school football teams in Whitfield and Murray counties were especially important to their teams' successes in 2023.

There are seven high school football programs in the two counties. Of the seven schools, the regular starting quarterback at each program was named an All-Region first- or second-teamer at six of the schools, while the other was all-region honorable mention.

Two were named their region's offensive players of the year.

This year's crop of quarterbacks put their stamp on 2023 and led local offenses to some incredible heights.

Dalton High School's Ethan Long threw for 2,848 yards and 31 touchdowns. Northwest's Gavin Nuckolls tossed for 2,566 yards and 22 scores. North Murray's Skyler Williams had 2,511 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.

But gaudy passing numbers only tell half the story for some of the area's best.

Williams also rushed for 1,201 yards and 17 touchdowns, making him the only quarterback in the state of Georgia to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000. He was Region 7-2A's offensive player of the year.

Coahulla Creek's Chase Ward, in addition to his 1,415 passing yards and 13 passing scores, ran for 517 yards and 11 touchdowns, tying a school record for rushing touchdowns in a season. Ward was named the Region 6-3A offensive player of the year.

Christian Heritage's Carter Triplett put up 2,802 total yards and 31 total touchdowns, leading his team in rushing yardage and touchdowns.

In fact, of the seven schools in the two-county area, six of them were led in total rushing yardage from the quarterback position.

Triplett, Ward, Williams and Nuckolls (408 yards) all led their teams in rushing yardage. So did Murray County's Judah Woodall with 702 yards and so did Southeast Whitfield's Jacob Layman with 520 rushing yards, despite being limited to seven games.

The only QB that didn't top his team in rushing yards was Dalton's Long, but the Catamounts didn't need him to. Running back Adriel Hernandez rushed for 1,397 yards and 18 touchdowns while also dominating at linebacker to earn Region 7-5A co-player of the year.

Normally, football teams only play one quarterback at a time, but the stellar quarterback play during the 2023 season called for special circumstances for this year's edition of the Dalton Daily Citizen All-Area Football team. Five quarterbacks — Long, Nuckolls, Triplett, Ward and Williams — were tabbed to the Daily Citizen's All-Area First Team for their contributions to their teams, while Woodall and Layman were named second teamers.