Traditionally, the banquet at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church is held the middle of December, but with so many Cobb teams playing deep into the playoffs this year, the event had to be pushed back.
Tyren Jones and his Walton teammates didn’t seem to mind.
Jones was the biggest winner of the evening, as the running back collected the Cobb County Player of the Year Award for helping lead the Raiders to the state championship game. Jones rushed for 2,375 yards and scored 38 touchdowns despite not playing the second half in five of 15 games.
Despite those lofty stats, the numbers weren’t what stood out to Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo.
“He has one of the greatest smiles,” Hidalgo said about his junior running back. “And he’s a great competitor.
“He was named an Under-Armour All-American, the AJC Offensive Player of the Year, the Georgia Sports Writers (Association’s) Offensive Player of the year and the MDJ Offensive Player of the Year, but all of those things pale in comparison to the kind of person he is.”
For the mild-mannered Jones, it was just another night he took in stride.
“It’s not like I think about (the accomplishments) like that,” he said. “It’s all about my teammates and what we can do together.”
And despite coming together one last time to think about 2011, Jones is already focused on the 2012 season.
“I’m running track and doing speed-training every day,” he said. “And I’m lifting weights three days a week.”
As for his college plans, the rising senior knows where he wants to go and how he wants to get there.
“One of my goals is to make it to the NFL,” Jones said. “I’m looking for an SEC school, and I’m looking for the best school that suits me.”
Jones’ Walton teammate, Zack Blaylock, already has found the school which best suits him.
Blaylock will be heading to Kentucky this fall as the reigning Cobb County Defensive Player of the Year. Blaylock earned the honor by leading the county with 11 interceptions and topping a stingy Raiders defense that allowed only 10 points per game going into the state championship game.
Hidalgo was honored as the Coach of the Year, and Walton capped off the night by earning the Team of the Year Award.
“It’s a very special group of guys,” Hidalgo said of his team. “This is the greatest team in the history of Walton High School.”
Hidalgo went on to say that the night wasn’t just about his team, but a true celebration of Cobb County football and how far it has come over the last 15 years.
“I remember being able to line up and outcoach a team on a Friday night,” he said. “That’s not the case anymore. As I look around, I believe that Cobb County has the best collection of coaches in the state of Georgia.
“And, one day before I’m done, a (Cobb County) team is going to get in there and win a state championship”
The Offensive Player of the Year Award went to the quarterback on the team that pushed Walton to the limit in the state semifinals. Lassiter’s Eddie Printz led all Cobb County quaterbacks by passing for 3,350 yards passing and 28 touchdowns.
After earning the No. 4 seed from Region 5AAAAA, the Printz-led Trojans caught fire in the playoffs and ran past a pair of No. 1 seeds (Alpharetta and M.L. King) and a No. 2 (McEachern) on their way to Raider Valley.
Printz, who has committed to UCLA, will join Jones back on the local sidelines this fall.