Local players honored at banquet
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Troup County’s schools were well-represented at Thursday’s Sports Visions banquet.
The top players from East Alabama and West Georgia were represented at the banquet in Columbus, with Alabama head coach Nick Saban serving as the keynote speaker.
Players from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup were recognized during the banquet.
During his remarks, Saban not only thanked the players for their effort, but he also had a kind word for the coaches in attendance.
“I’d also like to thank the coach for all you do to help these kids have a successful life from all they will learn from you and your dedication,” Saban said. “I had great parents and the person who influenced me the most in my life, as much as anybody, was my high-school coach. I certainly appreciate that a lot of the values regarding work ethic, persevering over adversity and pride in performance were instilled in me at an early age and helped me be successful.”
Four players who helped Callaway go 11-3 and reach the Class AA semifinals were honored.
Among that group was senior Keiondre Jones, who was named the Chick-Fil-A offensive lineman of the year. Jones was a four-year starter at Callaway, and he blocked for three different 2,000-yard rushers during his career.
Jones, who will participate in the Under Armour All-American in January, has committed to Auburn.
One of the 2,000-yard backs Jones blocked for was junior Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby, who was named the McDonald’s Outstanding Player of the Year.
Bigsby ran for 2,221 yards on 238 carries, an average of more than nine yards per carry, and he scored 22 touchdowns.
Hunter Williamson, who had an exceptional season as Callaway’s place kicker and punter, earned the Crown Trophy student/athlete of the year award.
Williamson didn’t miss a field goal all season, and he made two field goals in a semifinal loss to Rockmart.
Tely Fanning, Callaway’s outstanding linebacker, was his team’s defensive-award winner.
For Troup, junior quarterback Kobe Hudson earned the Liberty Utilities outstanding offensive player award. After playing wide receiver the past two seasons, Hudson moved to quarterback this year, and he was phenomenal.
Hudson, who was the Region 5-AAAA player of the year, threw for 3,386 yards with 32 touchdowns, and he ran for 1,410 yards with 18 touchdowns.
In his final game against a Blessed Trinity team that went on to win the state championship, Hudson ran for 204 yards with two touchdowns, and he threw for 234 yards with three touchdowns.
During Troup’s four-game playoff run, Hudson threw for 805 yards with seven touchdowns, and he ran for 594 yards with six touchdowns.
Also for Troup, senior linebacker King Mwikuta earned the Headquarter Nissan outstanding defensive player award.
Mwikuta was a three-year starter for Troup and was the leader of a defense that helped the team won a program-record 12 games this season while reaching the Class AAAA semifinals.
LaGrange had three representatives at the banquet.
Dexter Fitzpatrick was LaGrange’s top defensive player following a remarkable senior season. Fitzpatrick, Region 5-AAAA’s defensive player of the year, was among the state’s leaders with 182 tackles, including 26.5 for loss.
LaGrange’s offensive representative at the banquet was offensive lineman Jonathan Sutton, who was also a standout on the defensive line.
LaGrange punter Wesley Kuhn, an all-region player, was also recognized at the banquet.
Kuhn had 45 punts for a 41.7-yard average, and 18 of his punts pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line.