WHITE HOUSE – The end of the year is always special for the White House Blue Devils and the annual football banquet puts the icing on the cake.
Senior tailback Grant Wicker was no shock as the winner of the Most Valuable Player Award, finishing just a few yards shot of 2,000 rushing for the season. But the banquet is more than honoring just stats and often brings a couple of surprises.
The Blue Devils finished 7-6 and advanced for the third straight year to the Class 4-A quarterfinals before falling in dramatic fashion to Liberty Tech.
“There is one thing about tonight,” said defensive coordinator James Honeycutt serving as the emcee. “We will honor these young men and women for their accomplishments, but this senior class ranks among the best to ever come through the doors of this high school.”
The highest honors of the night are the Gourley Award and the Eric Blaylock Sportsmanship granted for intangibles and character in honor of former athletes at WHHS. Senior fullbacks Casey Barnes and Ethan Hoffman took home the trophy for the Gourley Award, while senior Zach Morris was named the recipient of the Blaylock.
Morris and senior classmate Micah Kelly were named the permanent team captains. Both were three-year starters on the offensive line.
Senior offensive tackle Jarrison English was presented the Sully Award, by former University of Tennessee and Blue Devil linemen Cody and Cory Sullins. The Sullins twins walked on at Tennessee and earned scholarships and a starting position by their senior year, and were three-time All-SEC Academic Team.
Position awards were granted to junior linebacker Taylor Wood (defensive back), junior defensive end Wesley James (defensive line), junior quarterback Ryan Pool (offensive back) senior center Kelly (offensive line). Junior lineman Huntter Anderson was given the Scout Team Award.
Senior manager Sarah Elias was presented the Academic Award by Principal Jeff Cordell and provided some suspense.
“The winner of the Academic Award is senior manager Sarah Elias,” said Mr. Cordell. “And the young man she beat out for the award was Zach Morris, and she beat him by one ten-thousandth of a point.”
Freshman coach Shane McDonald also honored the Blue Devils and the 6-2 campaign on the gridiron in freshman football. Freshmen Offensive Players of the Year were Steven Rankin and Tanner Jordan (tie), while the Defensive Player of the Year was Denis Schaffer. The Most Valuable Player was tailback Trey Hyde.
Mr. Cordell also presented the 2012 George C. Nash Citizens Award in honor of a local contributor and supporter of the White House football program. This year’s receipient was White House Quarterback Club president Todd Escue, whose son Zack was a three-year starting offensive tackle for the Blue Devils. The quarterback club is the chief fundraising and support arm of the football program and operates the largest event each May, the Robert Covington Steak Supper and Auction.
Following his acceptance of the award, Escue then presented the White House Quarterback Club B.D.P. Award to another program supporter. The B.D.P. Award is given each year in honor of the school’s motto, Blue Devil Pride.
Escue presented the award to Kris Freeman, the pastor of Revolution Church and a 16-year volunteer for the Blue Devils. Freeman handles media, website and this year was the voice of the Blue Devils for home games. He also works as the sports editor for The Portland Leader and White House Tribune and has been involved in local media for 20 years. He was named the recipient of the award in 2005, 2010 and 2012.
The full banquet recap and program is available online at whitehousefootball.com, the web home of the Blue Devils.