The typical reward for great effort on a football field is cheers. The finest 75 players and their coaches from the Augusta area got more than that Thursday night at Augusta Towers Hotel.
The Augusta Chronicle and WJBF NewsChannel 6 held their annual awards banquet in front of a packed room and an invitation-only crowd.
This time, the best players got cheers, a slap on the back and a little hardware.
Laney senior Robert Dunn was the biggest winner, receiving an all-area honor at wide receiver, the Georgia Player of the Year Award and the night's most anticipated honor. Dunn was named the Overall Player of the Year out of several deserving players from Georgia and South Carolina private and public high schools.
"This is real nice," Dunn said. "Some communities don't have events like this. It gives all the players in this area something to strive for. There's people in this area that care about football and will take the time out of their lives to honor you when the season is over. It can't help but make a player work hard."
Aquinas head coach Jim Connor was selected as both the Georgia Coach of the Year and the Overall Coach of the Year.
The final award at the end of the night in the three new categories this year went to Laney's Kenneth Walker. Walker's improbable never-say-die catch and run against Greater Atlanta Christian in the state playoffs was chosen as the overall play of the year.
Aiken coach Carey Johnson was honored as the South Carolina Coach of the Year. Strom Thurmond junior quarterback Coco Hillary was named the South Carolina Player of the Year.
Edmund Burke's Tate Parker was chosen as the Private Schools Coach of the Year. Ty Brett of Thomas Jefferson Academy was honored as the Private Schools Player of the Year.
Georgia quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo was the guest speaker. Bobo shook his head at dinner, thinking back to how the years have passed since he was at his own All-Area banquet as a high school player from Thomasville High School.
"You'll never forget these times," Bobo said. "It seems so long ago but this time is special. It will never leave your mind as you go throughout life."
Each of the players received a plaque and a gift bag that included a T-shirt and highlight video in recognition of their selection.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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