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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

That special time of the year is upon us once again. Not Christmas, though that’s pretty special, too. No, I’m referring to the time of the year when The Clanton Advertiser releases its football honors (you probably already know that if you saw our choice as coach of the year, Marbury’s Kyle Glover, plus the season’s individual statistical leaders, in Wednesday’s newspaper).

Glover was deserving of the award because his Bulldogs turned in a playoff-worthy season despite heavy graduation losses from last year’s team. Not many people would have expected Marbury to sniff the playoffs this year, especially after an 0-3 start, but the turnaround demonstrates how Glover has built the program (while maintaining an attitude of toughness that was one of his goals when he took over in 2004 – check out Wednesday’s story for more). Special mention has to go to Isabella’s Lanny Jones, who earned the honor last year, and Kevin LeSueur of Billingsley.

There are always some difficult choices to be made, but this is truly one of my favorite assignments of the year. It’s interesting to hear coaches and players reflect on the season, and, because they’re being honored, they’re reflecting on a pretty special year.

Jamar Hopson was a fairly obvious pick as player of the year (see the story above). Hopson’s coaches raved about the senior’s attitude and leadership almost as much as his ability, and that’s saying a lot. While Hopson and his teammates were surely disappointed that their season ended with a second 1-point loss to Linden, they can be proud of the fact that they recorded Billingsley’s first playoff win since 1997.

I’m also glad to have been able to present the stats package each Wednesday along with the final statistical leaders that ran Wednesday. It didn’t include every category possible, and some teams were missing for certain weeks during the year. It also entailed quite a bit of work each Monday, but it was worth it to be able to give local players an idea of how they stacked up relative to each other. Thanks to the coaches that were so helpful with this project.

Also, look for the all-area offense on Friday and the all-area defense on Saturday. Getting the first-teamers together for pictures is also something I’m glad we can do. I wouldn’t bet on many other publications doing this sort of thing, and I must thank the coaches and players for making it possible. Twenty-four out of the 25 first-teamers showed up for the photo shoot, and I consider that an accomplishment in itself.

Like last year, the player of the year and coach of the year decisions were made solely by The Clanton Advertiser, while the all-area selections were based mostly on coaches’ nominations.

Enjoy our football honors, and Merry Christmas.