Three Chattanooga-area players have been named finalists for their respective classification’s Tennessee Titans Mr. Football awards. Three finalists for both Back of the Year and Lineman of the Year in the state as well as Kicker of the Year are given by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association in the three public school classes as well as two private school divisions.
Baylor’s Rafael Gaglianone is a finalist for Kicker of the Year for the second straight season and joining him are South Pittsburg runner Jajuan Lankford, a finalist for Class A Back of the Year for the second time in three years, and Marion County linebacker Blake Zeman, a finalist for Class A Lineman of the Year.
The awards, given by the TSSAA and the Tennessee Titans, will be presented during a banquet at the Murfreesboro Embassy Suites on Monday, Dec. 2.
Gaglianone has connected on 8 of 12 field goal attempts, with a long of 57 yards this season. One of his misses came from 63 yards, which would have been a state record but sailed wide left. He has also put 42 of his 44 kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks.
Lankford has rushed for 1,548 yards and 23 TDs this year, averaging more than 12 yards per carry against a schedule that included seven playoff opponents and five teams that were either district champions or state-ranked. He is also the Pirates’ career rushing leader with more than 5,200 yards.
Zeman leads the area with 30 tackles for loss and six fumble recoveries to go with 130 total tackles. The junior has also ran for more than 1,581 yards this season and 26 TDs.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...