We're a little late to be wrapping pretty Christmas bows around the 2009 high school season, but as we greet the new year, we are serving up these tidbits of observation, and putting the finishing touches on several months of action on Nashville-area football fields.
Here's our list of players and coaches that deserve special recognition for the efforts they made since Week O of this past prep season.
Offensive back of the year
Orleans Darkwa, (Ensworth)
One of the most prolific running backs in Nashville in recent years, Darkwa rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 24 TDs, but his season ended with a disappointing 27-24 quarterfinal loss to MBA after the Tigers were ranked No. 1 for most of the year.
Honorable mentions to Tez Humphrey, Overton; Clifford Jetton, Whites Creek; Doug Page, FRA; William Officer, Lipscomb; Stephon Dawson, Goodpasture.
Luke Roman, (CPA)
Roman threw for 2,177 passing yards and 16 touchdowns for Christ Presbyterian Academy.
Honorable mentions to Greg Young, Hillsboro; Kody McKinley, McGavock; Trey McPhail, Father Ryan.
Offensive lineman of the year
James Stone, (Maplewood)
The mammoth 6-4, 295-pound tackle was named Mr. Football, compiling 56 pancake blocks, grading out at 92 percent, and is currently reading through a huge list of Division I college football offers.
Honorable mentions to Antonio Richardson and Sam Cooper, both of Ensworth; Derek Vaughn, Davidson Academy; Nick Garrett, East Lit.
Defensive back of the year
Marcus (Squeaky) Barnes, (Whites Creek)
Had seven interceptions, one for a touchdown, and 50 tackles in helping lead the Cobras to the Class 4A state semis, the best showing by a Metro school.
Honorable mentions to DeMarco Starling, Hunters Lane; Devon Warfield, McGavock; William Tanner, MBA; Trent Fisher, CPA; Austin Gifford, Davidson Academy; Senquay Eichelberger, Pearl-Cohn.
Defensive lineman of the year
Dezmond Johnson, (Overton)
The 6-4, 210-pound Bobcat star had 75 tackles, 18 sacks, recovered three fumbles.
Honorable mentions to Brad Bars, MBA; Brian Scales, McGavock; Conner Moore, Overton; Weston Gentry, Ezell-Harding.
Receiver of the Year
Will Drummond, (CPA)
Drummond had 64 catches for 736 yards and a half-dozen touchdowns.
Honorable mentions to Joseph Wilbert, Hunters Lane; Michael Whittaker, Glencliff; William Tanner, MBA; Collin Johnston, DCA.
Versatile player of the year
Fitz Lassing, (MBA)
The Big Red star is the classic definition of a two-way player, a rarity these days. The 6-3, 220-pound Lassing was the Big Red’s leading rusher (1,442 yards, 16 TDs). He had 212 receiving, four TDs and 17 yards passing, three TDs.
Together, that's 1,676 yards and 23 TDs. At linebacker, he had 97 tackles, and he also punted for a 42-yard average with nine downed inside the 20.
Honorable mention to Doug Page, FRA, a Mr. Football finalist who rushed for 1,508 yards while playing quarterback and tailback, caught several passes as a receiver and was also one of the team’s leading tacklers.
Kicker of the year
Nick Pollard, (Father Ryan)
Another Mr. Football winner, the Irish ace booted 12-of-15 field goals attempts, a perfect 37 for 37 PATS and had two field goals of 50-plus yards. He also kicked 34 of 44 kickoffs for touchbacks.
Honorable mention to Andrew Fletcher, MBA, who hit 6-of-11 field goals, 33-of-35 extra points and was a Mr. Football finalists as Nashville had two of the best kickers in the state.
Hard-luck story of the year
Jordan and Justin Williams, (Davidson Academy)
The Williams brothers were both lost for the season. The Bears lost freshman Jordan with a broken ankle in an August scrimmage, then they lost the state’s leading rusher Justin, who suffered a season ending ACL injury at midseason after already gaining 840 yards. DA still got to the state semis.
Coaches of the year
Anthony Law, (Whites Creek) and Daniel McGugin, (MBA)
Law guided his team to a quick 3-0 start with a Nashville best three straight shutouts (four in all) before a mid-season lull. But the Cobras regrouped and started an impressive and deep run in the 4A playoffs, avenging a loss to Maplewood in the quarterfinals before finally losing a heartbreaking 21-14 setback at Greenville in the semis, ending 9-5.
McGugin’s team got off to a 2-0 start before dealing with a season-ending neck injury to Luke Colbert in week 3. MBA went through a tough-midseason transition in adapting to a new the quarterback before a Cinderella run to the DII playoffs.
There, MBA avenged regular season losses to BGA, Ensworth and Brentwood Academy to reach the state finals, the only Nashville team to do so and finished 8-5.
Honorable mentions to James (Bubba) Spears, who almost guided a first-year varsity program into the 3A playoffs; Scott Murray of Glencliff, who guided the Colts into the 5A playoffs for the first time since 1999 after having to deal with a pre-season arrest of his quarterback; Terry Anderson, Overton, whose team opened the season 6-0 before falling, then lost an opening round playoff game to Franklin and ended 8-3; and Paul Wade of Davidson Academy, whose team went 10-2 despite the injury issues.