RED SPRINGS — Red Springs linebacker Jerome Bass made the 2017 Associated Press all-state prep football team, becoming the first Robeson County player to make the squad in 12 years.
Bass was selected to the 30-man squad after voting by 19 statewide media members in results released Thursday. Former Lumberton offensive lineman Hutch Eckerson, who played college football at South Carolina, earned an all-state nod in 2005.
“It’s just crazy,” said Bass, who was the county’s overall player of the year and the Three Rivers Conference defensive player of the year this season.
“It’s an honor to be able to represent Robeson County. I’m just really excited about all of it.”
Bass was one of three linebackers to make the all-state team, joining Shelby linebacker Dax Hollifield — a three-time AP all-state pick — and Orange linebacker Payton Wilson, an N.C. State signee.
Bass said it was “really great” to be alongside a pair of high-level college prospects.
“I’ve seen both of their highlights and games. They’re really good kids and really athletic,” he said.
“For me to be put up there with them makes me feel good about myself. Hopefully, it can bring in some bigger offers from bigger schools.”
Last week, Bass said that he had “a few schools looking at me,” including UNCP, Campbell and the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.
A terror on the defensive side of the ball as a middle linebacker for the Red Devils, Bass finished the season with a conference-best 160 tackles. He averaged 12.7 tackles per game, tallying 10 or more tackles in 10 of Red Springs’ 13 games.
“Based on his heart and work ethic, he deserves to be all-state,” said Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Red Devils.
“He became an extension of us as a coaching staff and learned to be a student of the game. It really allowed him to play fast and aggressive.”
Bass, who helped Red Springs finish the year with a 9-4 record, logged 19 tackles for loss, six sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception. He also scored 11 touchdowns as a running back and tight end, scoring twice in the Red Devils’ 19-7 win over Salisbury in the first round of the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs.
His pitch to college coaches across the nation?
“I’m a great guy. I’m persistent,” he said. “I’m not going to give up and I strive to win no matter what.”
Bass was joined on the all-state squad by three other players from the region — Scotland running back Zamir White, Seventy-First wide receiver Reggie Bryant and South View offensive lineman Michael Edwards.
Charlotte Harding, which defeated Scotland in the 4A state championship, led the way with three team selections.
Running back Quavaris Crouch, offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn and defensive back Malik Dunlap — an N.C. State signee — represented the Rams on the squad. Third-year coach Sam Greiner was voted AP coach of the year after leading Harding to its first state title since 1953.
D.H. Conley, Mallard Creek, Northeastern and 3AA champion New Hanover also had two picks each.
D.H. Conley quarterback Holton Ahlers, an ECU signee, was voted state offensive player of the year, while Hollifield was named state defensive player of the year.
Ahlers, Hollifield, Crouch and Northeastern defensive lineman Traveon Freshwater led the team with 14 votes each. Ahlers, Freshwater, White and North Davidson kicker Chris Dunn — an N.C. State signee — made the all-state team for the second straight year.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.