Four of the six finalists for this year's Scrappy Moore male Athlete of the Year award were multisport standouts, including one three-sport star. The finalists are Ringgold's Slade Dale, McCallie's C.J. Fritz, Baylor's Rafael Gaglianone, Dalton's Eder Mora, Gordon Lee's Jonathan Ragsdale and Meigs County's Levi Woods.
The winner will be revealed at Thursday's annual Best of Preps banquet, where two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. will help honor the area's top athletes and coaches. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 dinner.
Ringgold's Dale was a two-sport star headed to Georgia on a baseball scholarship after helping lead the Tigers to the state playoffs in each of his three years as their shortstop. The scrambling quarterback became a statewide sensation last fall when he led the football Tigers to the program's first three playoff wins, accounting for nearly 3,000 total yards and 36 touchdowns to earn all-state honors.
Only a junior, Mora was a force on the football and soccer fields for the Catamounts. He led the football team in tackles from his hybrid linebacker/safety position with 137, intercepted four passes and caused three fumbles. He also scored nine goals and had 23 assists for the state champion and nationally ranked soccer team.
Ragsdale, also a junior, won his third individual wrestling state championship with a 54-0 record this year, giving him 163 career wins. The 113-pounder recorded 221 takedowns and gave up only one while also getting 35 pins, 12 technical falls and seven major decisions. Along the way he defeated 14 state qualifiers, including four each from Tennessee and Kentucky. Following his prep season Ragsdale earned NHSCA All-American honors with a top-five finish at the nationals in Virginia Beach.
Fritz is a rare three-sport star who put his elite speed to good use for the Blue Tornado. A two-way starter in football, he was an all-state defensive back who signed with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Timed in the 40 at 4.36 seconds, he is the Mocs' fastest incoming freshman. He was a two-year starter at point guard for the basketball team, leading the Tornado with 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Not surprisingly, Fritz is one of the top sprinters in the state, having won the 100-meter championship as a junior and finishing second this year, while also anchoring McCallie's state champion sprint relay teams.
Gaglianone is a Brazilian exchange student with a powerful right leg that earned the two-sport star plenty of attention. He was named one of the top five football kicker recruits in the country and was named Tennessee's kicker of the year before signing with Wisconsin following a season in which he made eight of 12 field-goal tries and put 42 of his 44 kickoffs into or beyond the end zone. He also is an all-state defender on the Red Raiders soccer team that finished as the state Division II-AA runner-up.
Woods earned TSSAA Mr. Basketball honors in Class A -- and was the only Chattanooga-area male to be a finalist -- after leading the Tigers to a 32-5 season and an appearance in the state championship game for the first time since 1980. Woods averaged 20.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists and finished his career with more than 2,000 points, making him Meigs' all-time leading scorer.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 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 seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...