Damekus Taylor wasn’t able to accept his awards Thursday night, but coach Lemuel Lackey was there to bring home one in each arm.
The Evans quarterback, who helped lead the Knights to one of their best seasons in years in 2017, was named the Deon Grant Player of the Year during the Best of the Gridiron Banquet.
The banquet honors the best high school football players from this past season, including recognizing First Team All-Area picks and players of the year. North Augusta athlete DeJuan Bell, the South Carolina player of the year, and Augusta Prep running back B.J. Stone, the independent player of the year, were the other Deon Grant Award candidates.
The banquet also honored Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson of Texas. Dickson became the fourth consecutive punter from Australia to win the award for college football’s top punter when he took home the honor in early December.
“It’s a real privilege to play this great sport,” Dickson said. “I’m so lucky that everything turned out the way it did. I’m so grateful I’m here tonight.”
Taylor jumped on the scene in his first season at Evans and as a varsity starting quarterback. The junior amassed 1,441 passing yards, 1,455 rushing yards and 44 total touchdowns. He teamed with standout athletes Corey Watkins and Dedrrick Holmes to produce one of the best offenses in Evans history.
As a result, the Knights went 9-3 and 5-0 in Region 3-AAAAAA to win their first region title since 2008. They also won their first playoff game since 2007 as Taylor rushed for 262 yards, threw for 155 and totaled seven touchdowns in a 69-32 win over Drew in the first round.
Taylor was unable to attend the banquet because of the flu. Lackey accepted his Deon Grant Award and Georgia player of the year trophy, while Taylor’s teammate, Max Tyler, took home the area’s top punter award.
“A quality guy,” Lackey said. “Just a guy that came in without question, just accepted his role and did the best that he could with it. I’m proud of him for everything that he’s accomplished this season, but I’m proud of all the guys.”
Bell ended his North Augusta career with more than 800 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions on defense and three scores off kick returns as a senior this past season. He helped guide the Yellow Jackets to an undefeated regular season and region championship.
While learning a new offense that resulted in more plays but more pass attempts, as well as being keyed on by opposing defenses, Stone rushed for 1,650 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at Augusta Prep. He was 8 for 9 passing for 151 yards and added two interceptions on defense.
The Deon Grant Award is named for the Josey legend and Super Bowl champion. Grant wasn’t able to attend, but his sister, Tiva Abreu, spoke and handed out the award on his behalf.
The Ray Guy Award is presented annually by the Augusta Sports Council. It’s named in honor of the Thomson native who became an All-American punter at Southern Mississippi and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He attended the banquet and spoke prior to Dickson.
As part of the banquet, the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame inducted Glenn Emery Presnell, who played for Nebraska and the Detroit Lions.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.