Thursday, December 11, 2014

Football: Lemmy Awards

Rent that tuxedo. Purchase you ball gown.
Hire the babysitter and take your pick between the sirloin and the salmon.
It's time  to hand out the postseason Lemmy Awards, surely the highlight of every prep football season and another excuse to get decked out in your Sunday best.
Annual disclaimer: These awards have no bearing on the upcoming All-Area Team, which is put together by Herald staffers with input from area coaches.
The Lemmy Awards are put together by me. Hence the name.
The envelopes, please...

COACH OF THE YEAR: Curt Bradley, Braden River - Bradley wins it for the second year in a row because his Pirates overachieved for the second year in a row. Yes, I picked the Pirates to reach the playoffs way back in August.  But I didn't expect an undefeated regular season and district title clinched with a three-touchdown defeat of Palmetto. Bradley asked his players to believe in him and his staff while in the throes of a nightmarish 1-9 campaign in 2012, and he has certainly delivered. And the players deserve credit for sticking with it. Now comes the tough part: Keeping the winning  going when everybody expects it. Given what Bradley has done in such a short time,  however, it has become awfully tough to bet against him.
HONORABLE MENTION: John Booth, Manatee; Josh Smithers, Cardinal Mooney.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Johnnie Lang, Manatee - Oh, what a year.  The speedy Hurricane plowed his way to 2,116 yards (second-best single-season total in Hurricanes history) and 32 touchdowns in leading Manatee to its 15th regional championship. What made Lang's season so special was he didn't sneak up on anyone.  Opponents, especially when Manatee was ironing out its passing game early in the season, knew stopping the Hurricanes meant stopping Lang. And few could. In a season of standout performances, nothing topped what he did against Vero Beach in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs, scoring five times and rushing for 208 yards. Here's the best part, Canes fans: Lang is only a junior.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jacob Huesman, Braden River; Kwanzi Jackson,  Manatee; Quincy Washington, Palmetto; Reese Vita, Cardinal Mooney.

CLUTCH MOMENT OF THE YEAR: Nick Null's game-winning field goal in Class 8A-Region 2 final: With the wind swirling as momentum shifted away from Manatee, Null booted a 39-yarder to snap a 21-21 tie with Orlando Dr. Phillips with two minutes, 36 seconds remaining. John Madden said there is no such thing as a chip shot, that all kicks from all lengths are difficult. That's especially true in the prep ranks, where the kickers are far removed from their high-powered foes in the NFL. But Null, who also hit a big 42-yarder to help  Manatee beat Venice, made it look simple that night at Bill Spoone Stadium, where Phillips lost for the first time in 38 games.
HONORABLE  MENTION: Braden River's Jacob Huesman throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns vs.  Palmetto in 7A-10 championship game; Manatee's  defense blanking Venice; Lakewood  Ranch's  Darren Lowery's 1-yard touchdown run with 33 seconds remaining vs. North Port.

QUOTE OF THE YEAR: "...We just thought that maybe that would be a memory for them to kind of find something that everybody could unify around." - Cardinal Mooney assistant and former Southeast head coach Paul Maechtle, who created a drill at the end of practice reminding Mooney of a key personal foul penalty suffered in last year's  Class 3A  playoffs. This year's Cougars won their first playoff game since 2006.

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