Sooner or later, John Hubert ran by everyone.
When the Midway Panthers found themselves locked in a battle with Texarkana Texas High in the second round of the playoffs, their 21-10 lead early in the fourth quarter didn’t exactly feel like a commanding margin against the explosive Tigers.
Though Texas High trailed, the Tigers had held Hubert in check most of the afternoon, which must have given them some hope of a comeback.
But once again, Hubert was at his best when it mattered the most.
Needing to churn yards and clock to put the game on ice, Hubert took a handoff from Panthers quarterback Corey Holmes on first down and picked his way through the Tigers for an eight-yard run.
On the next play, Hubert went racing by Texas High — leaving the Tigers behind on a 70-yard touchdown sprint — carrying Midway into the third round of the playoffs with him.
Midway’s outstanding 2008 season featured a highlight reel full of Hubert touchdown runs. The 5-foot-8, 181-pound senior running back finished with 2,853 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns.
The list of people he ran by last fall included former University star LaDainian Tomlinson. Hubert passed LT’s city rushing record of 2,524 yards during the playoffs.
Now Hubert joins Tomlinson on another list of amazing performers as the Midway star has been named the 2008 Super Centex Offensive Player of the Year.
After rushing for more than 1,700 yards as a junior in 2007, Midway certainly had high hopes for Hubert as a senior.
But what they got from him, combined with a defense that quickly grew into a fearsome unit, propelled the Panthers to one of the best seasons in school history.
“John exceeded everybody’s expectations,” Midway coach Kent Bachtel said. “I’ve never really been around anybody like him. Week in and week out, it wasn’t just 100 yards that he was getting. He was getting 200 yards, he was getting 300 yards against people like Waco High.”
Last week, the Panthers handed out their team awards at their annual football banquet. Hubert, to no one’s surprise, was named the team’s most valuable player.
But when Hubert called his offensive line up to the stage to accept the award with him, it brought the crowd to its feet for the most heartfelt ovation of the evening.
A few minutes later, the Panthers gathered in the school’s theater to watch the season highlight video, where it was evident that Hubert’s 2,800-yard campaign was a symphony of domination at the line, downfield blocking and the running back’s refusal to go down easy.
“The linemen and the wide receivers did a good job,” Hubert said. “The receivers wore out the cornerbacks. I just thank all those guys on the offensive side of the ball.”
Though Hubert posted 336 carries, he was able to quickly identify his favorite run of the season.
The Panthers trailed Waco High early in the fourth quarter of a key District 16-4A matchup. But Hubert changed that by dancing through the Lions’ secondary, then taking off for an 86-yard touchdown run.
“Coach told me there’s going to be one time when you break it for a big long run, and in the fourth quarter there it was,” Hubert said.
Hubert rushed for more than 300 yards as the Panthers defeated Waco High. That helped Midway go on to a 7-0 mark and the 16-4A title.
“We raised expectations,” Hubert said. “We wanted to be the district champs. We were projected to be the fourth team in the playoffs and we came out and we were the first one. We wanted to go deep in the playoffs, something we hadn’t done in a long time, and that’s what we did.”
Coach of the Year: Kent Bachtel, Midway
Indeed, as Hubert ran past foes on the football field, Midway elevated to elite status in Class 4A during the 2008 season.
Bachtel guided the Panthers to wins, in succession, over Waco High, Waxahachie, Forney, Texas High and Highland Park en route to the 4A Division I Region II final.
It took a two-point conversion — on a call that many observers are still questioning — in overtime for eventual state finalist Longview to derail the Panthers.
And so Bachtel, Midway’s head coach for the past 23 seasons, has been named the Super Centex Coach of the Year, winning the award for the first time in his career.
“I couldn’t ask for a better coach,” Hubert said. “He always has a smile on his face, he’ll always make you laugh and have positive things to say.”
Bachtel, as is his style, called it an honor for his entire coaching staff.
“To me, instead of Kent Bachtel getting it, it should be the Midway coaching staff,” he said. “I let everybody coach. Everybody does it a little bit different. But you hire them to coach, let them coach.”
While Hubert and Bachtel took the top offensive and coaching honors back to their school, they were each among a worthy cast of candidates.
Hubert edged out China Spring’s Mike Hicks, Bremond’s LiDarral Bailey and Evant’s Aaron Doyle.
Hicks was a do-it-all player for the Cougars as he was as likely to line up in the backfield and run the ball as he was to catch a pass from quarterback Brian Bell.
Bailey, who helped the Tigers reach the state title game in 2007, returned to rush for more than 2,000 yards and pass for more than 1,100.
In Doyle’s case, he distinguished himself on offense and defense and was a candidate for both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. The Evant senior passed for 2,285 yards, rushed for 1,235, accounted for 43 touchdowns and made 178 tackles on defense. Ultimately, Doyle’s punting landed him on the Super Centex first team as he averaged 47.2 yards per kick.
Bachtel won Coach of the Year over La Vega’s Willie Williams, who led the Pirates to the 3A Division I state championship game, Mart coach Rusty Nail, who took the Panthers to the 1A Division I title game, and 2007 Coach of the Year Mark Waggoner, who guided the Cougars to their second straight TAPPS state championship.
Defensive Player: Ryan Boutwell, China Spring
If the task of offensive linemen is to go almost unnoticed as they establish an orderly setting for backs and receivers to perform, then the job of a defensive linemen is to ruin all of that.
Ryan Boutwell did his job well on both sides for China Spring during the 2008 season. But he especially stood out on the defensive line as he created havoc and ended plays before they started for other 7-3A offenses.
Boutwell finished the season with 21 tackles for losses and 10 sacks among his 94 total tackles, distinguishing himself as the Super Centex Defensive Player of the Year.
More so than individual plays or overall numbers, China Spring coach Mark Bell admired the way Boutwell represented the Cougars.
“The biggest thing is he is a solid, solid football player and person,” Bell said. “He came to play every day and every play like the game of football is supposed to be played. He played it with a passion pretty much unlike any player we ever had. He asbolutely never took a play off.”
Boutwell, who has committed to play at North Texas, earned first-team all-7-3A status as an offensive lineman and claimed the district’s defensive MVP honor.
As a junior, Boutwell played an important part as the Cougars marched to the 3A Division II state championship game.
In 2008, he led China Spring to another deep playoff run as it traveled to the 3A Division I Region I final.
“I wouldn’t say I was satisfied with where we got,” Boutwell said. “But I was happy about what we accomplished.”
Offensive Newcomer: Doug Gentry, Mexia
Doug Gentry didn’t begin two-a-days as a super sophomore who was automatically penciled in to the Mexia Blackcats’ starting lineup.
However, by the end of the Mexia’s 8-4 season, Gentry had earned his spot as one of the Blackcats’ premier offensive weapons.
Gentry rushed for 1,858 yards and 19 touchdowns and showed versatility with 10 catches for 155 yards.
A player who didn’t assume he would be on Mexia’s varsity squad as a sophomore is now the Super Centex Offensive Newcomer of the Year.
“I hit the workout hard in the summer,” Gentry said. “The first scrimmage, I did good and in the second scrimmage against Navasota I did good, so they moved me up.”
Mexia first-year coach Lee Wiginton molded Gentry into the type of back the Blackcats needed for their new offense.
“He’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve been around,” Wiginton said. “A lot of what we do is reads and seeing blocks and seeing things develop. It’s not real easy to pick up. But if he missed a hole one time he wasn’t going to miss it again. He really did improve leaps and bounds every single week.”
Defensive Newcomer: Beau Blackshear, Midway
Coming into 2008, Beau Blackshear had always been an offensive player.
In fact, he started two-a-days in competition with Holmes for Midway’s quarterback spot.
But by the Panthers’ first district game, it was evident Blackshear had found a home on the defensive line.
At 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, the Midway sophomore proved to be a force for a productive Midway defense. He finished the season with 21 tackles for losses, nine sacks, 16 QB pressures and 80 total tackles. Now he’s chased down the Super Centex Defensive Newcomer of the Year honor.
“I was used to being the quarterback and used to taking hits, not giving them,” Blackshear said. “But once I got in there and started getting low and stuff, that came natural. Being the one delivering the hits became more comfortable.”
While Blackshear’s statistics show he got into the backfield and made plays, Bachtel said one of his key contributions was taking on blocks to make the Panthers’ defensive scheme work.
“You can’t move him,” Bachtel said. “So he did a great job of freeing those linebackers up. If he can hold two people up, we’ve got a free guy making tackles.”
2008 Super Centex Football Team
|Offensive Player of the Year: John Hubert, Midway|
|Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Boutwell, China Spring|
|Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Doug Gentry, Mexia|
|Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Beau Blackshear, Midway|
|Coach of the Year: Kent Bachtel, Midway|
Quarterbacks: Weston Popham, Axtell; Brian Bell, China Spring; Caleb Holbrook, Groesbeck; Chane Lynch, Crawford; Quinton Davis, Hillsboro; Charles Hitchens, Marlin; Trae Davis, Mexia; Landon Durham, Riesel; Ruben Martinez, Robinson; Randy Price, University
Running backs: Hunter Cadell, Axtell; Matthew Madison, Groesbeck; Garet Box, Hamilton; Jon Bennett, Lorena; Evan Ward, Lorena; Dashun Pierson, McGregor; Jeremy Conrad, Troy; Toylon Clark, Waco High
Receivers/tight ends: Jay Helleck, Axtell; Lee Diles, Bremond; Darius Fennell, Hillsboro; Derel Walker, Hillsboro; Terrance Gude, Marlin; Nick Castillo, Reicher; Cody Wilson, Riesel; Tevin Reese, Temple; Vencent Finley, University; DeMarcus Hicks, University; Trey Graham, Midway; David Orange, Troy
Offensive linemen: Trenton Anderson, Bremond; John Lott, Bremond; Zach Nelson, Bosqueville; Austin Riley, Clifton; Troy Baker, Connally; Jacob Hunter, Gatesville; Tony Turrubiartes, Hico; Josh Holt, Lorena; Andy Solis, McGregor; Jared Green, McGregor; Austin Townley, Meridian; Marcus Cardona, Meridian; Zach Northern, Midway; Clay Rusek, Midway; Lance Tepe, Reicher; Trent Hughes, Reicher; Dylan Carmody, Reicher; Derek Hayes, Teague; Brett Gunn, Temple; Maxx Hill, Whitney
Kickers/punters: Hunter Perry, Bosqueville; Dirk Gerhardt, McGregor; Corey Holmes, Midway; Scott Newberry, Midway; Chris Winkler, Temple
Defensive linemen: Ryan Clark, Axtell; Trenton Anderson, Bremond; Jerome Lloyd, China Spring; Angel Palomin, Groesbeck; Walter Turner, La Vega; Brett Blackburn, McGregor; Terrence Holloman, Midway; James Morris, Midway; Xavier Mitchell, University
Linebackers: D. Ray Morgan, Bremond; Justin Williams, Bremond; Jose Jimenez, Bosqueville; Tyler Hill, China Spring; Justin Crow, Connally; Kody Johnson, Crawford; Zane Evans, Gatesville; Cade Sklar, Hico; Rigo Reyes, Hillsboro; Chase Snodgrass, Lorena; Courtney Bailey, Mexia; Richard Tackett, Mexia; Marc Martinez, Midway; Jacob Hoeffner, Midway; Tracer McClinton, Reicher; Derrick Davis, Temple; Stedman Moore, Temple; Justin Gregory, Troy; Ryan Wilcoxson, West
Defensive backs: Reco Pardue, La Vega; Vyonte Guess, Midway; Brandon Knapp, Midway; Stephen Harrison, Reicher