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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Mansfield Athletic Awards Series: Volleyball and Football

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Editor’s note…

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the traditional Mansfield Tiger Booster Club Banquet to honor athletic award winners of the 2019-2020 sports season was canceled. To publicize the athletes that won either conference, state, or local awards, this publication will offer a series of articles related to those participants who earned athletic accolades this school year. Mansfield coaches submitted narratives pertaining to their specific teams which will be released in chronological segments. This article will highlight the fall sports award recipients.

2019-2020 Volleyball Awards:

(contributions by Coach Kaylie Pyles)

The Junior High Lady Tigers shined throughout their season placing second in Conference and finishing Runner-Up at District. The Senior High Lady Tigers volleyball team this year may have been small in numbers, but were big in their commitment and love for the game. This volleyball team worked extremely hard in the spring, throughout the entire summer, and during the competitive season. They came into the season with a positive outlook and drive for success. 

Losing four starters from last season, there were quite a bit of changes to the varsity lineup. This year’s team was very young with several sophomores and juniors that stepped up and took ownership of the roles they were given. The team also consisted of six seniors who were great at presenting leadership and encouragement to the younger players. This year’s seniors consisted of Kara Sweeten, Madison Nelson, Janna Coplin, Abigail Morgan, Vanessa Noblitt, and Maggie Strunk. I am very blessed to have had the opportunity in the last two years to coach each of these six seniors. They will be greatly missed. 

Jr High Lady Tiger Volleyball

The high school team placed third in the Harrison Tournament. They overcame the obstacle of barely having enough players to compete due to the ACT test being given that same day. They also placed third in the Mena Tournament where they played back to back most of the day and went undefeated in the opening rounds. Unfortunately due to fatigue, they lost to a very talented Mena team in the semis. While placing fourth in conference, the team would have to win two games in the district tournament to get that ticket to state that the seniors most unrelentingly wanted.

With freshmen moved up and senior guidance, the team won their first round of District against Booneville. The second round was a hard-fought battle that ended with a loss against one of the top-ranked teams in the state, the Paris Eagles. Not letting the loss ruin their chances of getting to state, the seniors rallied the team together to take a huge victory against our biggest rivalry, Waldron. 

Sr High Lady Tiger Volleyball

In the first round of state, we got matched up against Harding Academy. After losing in three straight sets last year in the opening round of state, the seniors did not want to end their season without a fight. They ended their last game with a knockdown, point for point, five-set match, where they lost by only a few short points. The Lady Tigers ended their season with a record of 17-14 along with momentum for next year when they move into a different classification. 

The individual Senior High volleyball awards go to:

Kiara Thomas: 3A West All-Conference

Haylee Helms: 3A West All-District and Mansfield Defensive Player of the Year with 399 digs.

Brooke Wright: 3A West All-District, 3A All-State Tournament Team, 3A West All-State, and Mansfield Offensive Player of the Year with 371 kills. 

Vanessa Noblitt: 3A West All-District, Leader in Assists with 632.

Maggie Strunk: 3A West All-District 

Abigail Morgan: Most Valuable Teammate 

Kara Sweeten: Most Improved Player

The 2019 Volleyball Player of the Year is Brooke Wright.

Brooke ended the season as the team leader in three different categories. She was the leader in aces with 54, leader in blocks with 77, and the leader in kills with 371. Brooke came to practices and games with a positive attitude and had a solid work ethic. As a teammate and leader on the court, she constantly encouraged and supported those around her. She gave 100% effort every chance that she stepped on the floor, whether it be in practice or games, which showed throughout her successful season. She received All-District, All-State Tournament Team, and All-State honors. 

Brooke Wright

2019-2020 Football Awards:

(contributions by Coach Tim Cothran)

Expectations were high heading into the 2019 football season with 14 seniors, most of which were returning starters from the previous 8-4 season. However, the season, like all seasons, would have its own set of obstacles. With a new head coach in place, two new assistants, and the team having a target on their backs, the metal of this team would be tested.  

The Tigers started off with a bang rolling out to a 4-0 start but dropped a heartbreaker on the road in Greenland. With no time to mourn, the Tigers got back to work to prepare for a trip to a perennial powerhouse in Charleston. The stadium was packed and people got their money’s worth, especially the Mansfield faithful.  

Battling back and forth trailing the whole game, Mansfield finally caught a break. With less than a minute to play, Layton Howard stepped in front of a Charleston pass and raced over 100 yards for a game-winning “Pick 6”.  

Sr High Tigers Football

The Tigers battled through the remainder of the season, trailing the #1 and #2 teams in the conference by one score at the half in each game only to lose late in each. The Tigers finished the season with exciting wins over Cedarville and Paris, securing a 3rd place finish in the conference.  

The season did not go as hoped but they represented their school and town well. The Tigers would travel to Camden to play Camden Harmony Grove in the first round of the state playoffs. The Tigers battled fiercely losing the game 56-33 in a crazy fast-paced battle that saw neither team give up.  Camden would go on to lose in the state semifinals to the state runner-up Osceola.  


Layton Howard- All-State, All-Conference, Special Teams Player of the Year, All-Area SWTR prep team, KFSM CHANNEL 5 #1 SWEETEST PLAY OF THE YEAR, MaxPreps stats leader – #1 in state for kickoff returns and total returns  

Isaac Cothran- All-State, All-Conference, Defensive Player of the Year, Ironman Award

Ethan Stovall- All-State Honorable Mention, All-Conference, Offensive Player of the Year, All-Area SWTR prep team, KFSM CHANNEL 5 #7 SWEETEST PLAY OF THE YEAR, tied a state record with a 99-yard pass completion to Tyler Holmes for a TD vs West Fork

Jacob Brown- All-Conference, Lineman of the Year

Randy Claude– All-Conference, Defensive Player of the Year

Jaicy Griffin- All-Conference, Headhunter Award

Tyler Holmes- All-Conference, Good Hands Award, All-Area SWTR prep team, KFSM CHANNEL 5 All-Area Defensive Team, KFSM CHANNEL 5 #7 SWEETEST PLAY OF THE YEAR, tied a state record with a 99-yard pass completion for a TD vs West Fork

Clay James- All-Conference, Newcomer of the Year

Will Meadows- All-Conference

Bri Sanderson- All-Conference, Lineman of the Year 

Blayne Bryant- All-Conference Honorable Mention

Cameron Macon- All-Conference Honorable Mention

Clay James

Football Player of the Year goes to: Ethan Stovall and Layton Howard

With an offensive team total of 3774 yards, Ethan completed 66% of his passes for 2488 yards and 32 TDs. He also rushed for another 337 yards and eight TDs. Catching 1168 of those yards, Layton led the team in receiving and led in TD catches with 16. Layton also completed a pass for 26 yards and ran for 75 yards. Layton was not just an offensive weapon, he was a weapon on special teams as well, returning five kicks for five TDs against five different opponents (he had one called back due to a penalty) and had a game-winning 100+yard return of an interception against Charleston that won the game.  

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