Tuesday officially closed the door on the 2014 prep football season in the River Bend.
Like always, the Quarterback Club at the Alton Knights of Columbus Hall honored the local gridders in style with their Player of the Year Banquet.
It was time to celebrate our local pigskin players with seasonal awards and holding to tradition — which the Quarterback Club is all about — they had a guest speaker. This year’s speaker was former Marquette Catholic head football coach Tim Nelson. Nelson, who is in a fight for his life battling cancer, gave an emotional and inspirational speech, which I will give my full attention to in a well-deserved column in next week’s edition of the AdVantage News.
I applaud Nelson for a heartfelt address to local players and coaches and I hope they heard his positive message about never giving up loud and clear.
For this week, though, just like the Quarterback Club did on Tuesday, I’d like to take the time to applaud the athletes that put the fannies in the seats.
The night started — like always — with another scrumptious fried chicken dinner. It was followed up with Nelson’s speech and then Quarterback Club president Scott Boschert divvied out weekly awards for Weeks 5-9. After that, Boschert turned the mic over to WBGZ sports director Brent Burklund.
Sticking to tradition, Burklund supplied the drama by playing an audio presentation of play-by-play highlights to recognize the four Player of the Year Award recipients, like he does every year.
First was the Offensive Line of the Year. After receiving weekly honors in four out of the nine weeks, the Roxana Shells took home the hardware. Luke Curtis, Billy Mathis, Josh Rudd, Brennan Harris and Ethan Kurth were well-deserved winners after protecting for a potent offense that put up 415 points for an 8-3 Roxana squad that won its first playoff game since 2003 this season.
Next was the Offensive Player of the Year, which — no surprise — went to a Shell also. Senior fullback Logan Reardon garnered the title after setting single-season records for rushing (1,761 yards) and points (167) at Roxana.
The Defensive Lineman of the Year saw a different program reap the benefits of an outstanding performer on the gridiron. Alton’s Ricco Gipson grabbed the award to no one’s surprise. The beefy senior Gipson, 6-foot, 250 pounds, compiled 105 total tackles, including a whopping 83 solos in ‘14. He also had four sacks and a fumble recovery. Too bad they don’t have a stat for bone-crushing tackles, because he had his fair share of them also.
Finally, the last award was for the Defensive Back of the Year. There were a lot of players worthy of this distinction, but in the end Civic Memorial junior Dylan Sutton took home the honors. Sutton was solid, with 73 total tackles, including 55 solos, two sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble.
So congratulations to all the winners this year. I hope these players appreciate what the Quarterback Club does for them. There aren’t a lot of these organizations around to recognize our outstanding prep athletes, so enjoy it boys, these are rare and coveted honors.
In the end though, it was this lucky sports reporter who received an award more prestigious than any plaque to hang on a wall (at least in my mind) — a plate of chicken to go.