MURFREESBORO — Father Ryan’s Nick Pollard and Maplewood’s James Stone captured Mr. Football honors Monday at the TSSAA awards luncheon.
Pollard won the Mr. Football Kicker of the Year award at the Tennessee Titans sponsored awards at Embassy Suites Hotel. He became the first Ryan player ever to win a Mr. Football award, which began in 1985.
“Amazing – that’s the only word I can think of,’’ said Pollard when asked about the award and becoming the first at his tradition rich school to win it.
“When I was listening to the stats of the other finalists (Andrew Fletcher of MBA and Christian Kauffman of MUS), we were all so close,’’ he said. “I am really honored.’’
Pollard had an injury plagued junior year when his production fell off, but he finished strong this season. He hit 9-of-11 field goal attempts, a perfect 30-of-30 extra points and 34 of his 44 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Pollard booted two field goals of 50 or longer, including his long of 53.
“I tapered off my workout schedule significantly from my junior year, and I came into the season much fresher,’’ Pollard said.
“I’m very proud of him, especially of what he had to overcome in terms of injuries,’’ said Irish Coach Bruce Lussier. “He worked so hard to get to a high level. He was a real weapon in that when we crossed the 50-yard line, we had a legitimate chance to score points with his leg. He was a big part of our success.’’
Purdue and UT-Chattanooga are recruiting Pollard heavily, and he mentioned Vanderbilt, Marshall, Clemson and UNLV as schools he was also interested in.
“We had a great season, we beat Brentwood Academy for the second straight time, and we got to the semis of the playoffs,’’ Pollard said.
Competition for the award was very close.
Fletcher hit 5-of-10 field goals, with a long of 53, which included game-winners against McCallie and Ensworth in the final minute, and also 31-of-33 extra points. Kauffman hit a perfect 12-of-12 field goals, 44-of-45 extra points and a career of 20-of-29 field goals.
MUS QB Barry Brunetti won the back of the year in the DII-AA, finishing ahead of Ensworth 2,000-yard rusher Orleans Darkwa. Ensworth also had a finalist for the lineman award in Sam Cooper.
Giant 6-4, 295-pound offensive/defensive tackle James Stone won the Mr. Football Lineman of the Year in DI Class AA.
Like Pollard, Stone became the first player at his school to win Mr. Football. Chris Simpson, the star QB who led Maplewood to the Class 5A state finals, was a finalist two years ago. This year, the Panthers reached the quarterfinals.
“This is special, a great honor, and my teammates deserve this as much as I do,’’ Stone said. “I am proud of my team and I’m proud of my school. We overcame a lot of adversity this year (with injuries, especially to running backs Ladarius Van Lier and Stanley Hagan). We were like a family, and I am very proud of them.’’
On offense, Stone had 36 pancake blocks and graded out 92 percent. On defense, he had 56 tackles, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Stone reiterated that Alabama, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Stanford were still high on his list, with several visits to take.
FRA’s Doug Page and Davidson Academy’s Derek Vaughn were back of the year and lineman of the year finalists in DII-A.
Other winners: Josh Carroll, Adamsville and Terrell Robinson, South Pittsburg (lineman and back in Class A), Bo Wallace, Giles County (AA back), Jacques Smith, Ooltewah and Anthony Hayes, White Station (AAA lineman and back), Steven Stafford, ECS and Jake Overbey, USJ (lineman and back in DII-A) and Jonathan Brown, CBHS (lineman, DII-AA).
Hume Award finalists
Stone is also one of the finalists for the annual Hume Award which will hold its annual awards luncheon Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Swett’s Restaurant.
Other finalists include: Joseph Wilbert (Hunters Lane), Devon Warfield (McGavock), John Egger (Overton) and Jacob Moore (Pearl-Cohn).