Beau Blackshear is used to being the center of attention on a football field.
Of course, with Midway’s 6-foot-4, 270-pound man-child lined up right over the nose of the ball, it’s difficult for opponents not to take notice.
Not that it did them much good.
Even with two or three blockers trying to keep him out of the backfield on almost every play, Blackshear had a singular purpose in Midway’s 3-4 defense, which he said was to “just blow stuff up.”
Nobody in the area did that to opposing offenses better, and that’s why the senior has been selected as the Super Centex Defensive Player of the Year.
It’s the second straight year a Panther has taken the top defensive honor, as Blackshear follows linebacker Charles Kelly. Blackshear, a Baylor commit, is joined as an award winner this year by sophomore teammate Chrishard Buhl, the Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
“It’s a great honor to have, and it shows that the work in the offseason has paid off,” Blackshear said. “It’s just a great feeling.”
Cameron Yoe quarterback Jack Rhoades is the Offensive Player of the Year, and Teague quarterback Jake McClain earned the Offensive Newcomer of the Year honor. Mart’s Rusty Nail earned his second state championship in five years at the school, which also earned him the Coach of the Year nod.
Despite facing constant double and triple teams, Blackshear recorded 77 tackles, 20 for losses, seven sacks and 14 quarterback hurries, forced three fumbles and recovered two, and broke up six passes en route to District 8-4A co-MVP honors.
Just imagine if he would have been healthy.
Blackshear suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder last spring. He managed to play every game with the help of painkillers, and said, “Once I was in the game, it was more adrenaline, and I wasn’t thinking about it.”
He thought about having surgery to have the shoulder repaired when it happened, but decided it could wait until after the season.
It turned out to be a historic one for Midway.
In coach Terry Gambill’s first season at the helm, the Panthers cruised through the regular season with a 10-0 record. Midway continued its roll with blowout wins over Granbury and Saginaw Boswell before running into a brick wall in a 19-10 loss to Denton Ryan, the eventual Class 4A Division I state runner-up, in the third round.
“I was nervous at first, bringing in all the coaches,” Blackshear said. “I didn’t know how the whole team would react to it and what they would bring, but once they got there, it was the most memorable season I’ve had out of all four years. It was a great one to have and a great one to end on.”
Offensive Player of Year
Jack Rhoades, Yoe
Reaching back even to his earliest memories, Jack Rhoades was a quarterback. He couldn’t see it any other way.
Growing up as the son of a coach, Rhoades went from throwing Nerf footballs through a hoop in his room to tossing touchdowns in the Class 2A Division I state title game as a senior at Cameron Yoe, playing under his father, Rick.
The 2010 season — and Jack’s high school career — came to a crushing end, Yoe losing by six to Daingerfield on a 69-yard bomb with only a few seconds left.
But Jack’s season was brilliant. He threw for 3,553 yards, and his 48-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio is one for the ages in Cameron. He was instrumental in the Yoemen’s 10-0 regular season and ensuing playoff run, which fell agonizingly short of state title glory.
For those achievements, he’s the Super Centex Offensive Player of the Year.
“Just being a coach’s kid, he understands,” Rick said. “When I talk to kids about other things, I’ll ask them things like, ‘What’s the most important play?’ And just being around, Jack will blurt out, ‘It’s the next play.’”
Jack was an up-and-coming star under center in his early years, successfully quarterbacking middle school, freshman and JV teams at Converse Judson and Coppell, two football factories with historic backgrounds.
In fact, he played on a Coppell freshman team with Texas commit Jaxon Shipley and Notre Dame pledge Cam McDaniel.
That kind of talent hardened Rhoades to the realities of what it took to succeed as a signal caller.
“In those two programs, you couldn’t get by unless you had to really work your tail off,” Jack said. “I think when you go to a Converse Judson, if you’re not working hard, they don’t need you. You either develop a good work ethic or you don’t play football.”
Suffice it to say, Jack fell into the former category. But it didn’t keep adversity from creeping in when Rick took the Cameron Yoe head job before the 2009 season.
Jack and Steven Townsend battled all offseason for the starting quarterback job, and Townsend won, making for “many nights where (Jack) would come home and he and I would sit down and talk about it, and it was very frustrating for him,” Rick said.
Jack moved to receiver, where he worked through a difficult season spent mostly out of the spotlight.
For the first time in his life, Jack wasn’t the go-to guy.
“I think mentally it took a toll on me because I never had to be a backup before,” Jack said. “When you’re always a starter, there’s a confidence there. When I didn’t win the starting spot as a junior, it took a real hit on my confidence.”
It obviously didn’t have any lingering effects. Jack won the job outright last spring, and he hit the ground running by leading the Yoemen tantalizingly close to the pinnacle of high school football.
Coach of the Year
Rusty Nail, Mart
With 18 seniors on the roster, the most he’s had in his five-year tenure at Mart, Rusty Nail thought the Panthers could be in for a special season.
He never could’ve imagined how right he was.
Nail and the Panthers claimed their second state championship in the coach’s fifth year with the school by dominating Goldthwaite in the second half for a 28-7 victory that avenged a loss to the Eagles earlier in the season.
For leading Mart to the top again, Nail earned the nod as Super Centex Coach of the Year.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by people who cover your games and from your peers,” Nail said. “All of the credit goes to the (coaching) staff and this team. This award gets shared a lot of ways, and I don’t take it lightly. I’ve been blessed to do a lot of things because of the chances Mart’s given me and the success we’ve had.”
With a dominating defense that posted six straight shutouts, a streak that lasted through the entire district season and two games into the playoffs, Mart cruised to within two games of the title.
But in the semifinals, a showdown with No. 1 Canadian loomed. The Panthers had a score to settle with the Wildcats, who had dominated them in the 2008 Class 1A Division I state championship game, and Mart came through with a 31-17 victory.
That game was an even sweeter win for the Panthers than the title game, said Nail, who also pointed out that this championship is more meaningful than the first.
“It was special because all but three (of the seniors) had been here for my entire tenure here,” Nail said. “We’ve been through a lot together, all of the ups and downs, victories and celebrations, and disappointments. Anytime you’re with a group for that long, you develop a special bond.”
Jake McClain, Teague
Quarterback Jake McClain has to count the number of places he’s played football on his fingers just to keep them all straight.
Moving around with his father as a coach, there was Big Sandy, Livingston, Rusk, Crawford, Marshall, Harleton, Maud and finally Teague. When former Maud coach Josh Finney moved to Teague last offseason, he took his coaching staff with him, including McClain’s father.
The adjustment was easy as breathing, earning McClain the Super Centex Offensive Newcomer of the Year award in his senior season, his first and only year at Teague.
“In Teague, they are some of the nicest people in the world,” McClain said. “They made it so easy to fit in.”
Despite missing a few games with a severe concussion, McClain threw for 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he ran for nine more. He was a pivotal player in Teague’s turnaround from 1-9 in 2009 to a 7-4 playoff team.
“To go into a program that went 1-9 last year and to go 7-4 and make the playoffs was really a big achievement for us,” McClain said.
Chrishard Buhl, Midway
Midway came into the season expecting its defense to be a strong suit, with the backbone of that unit having played a key role in the Panthers’ 21 wins over the last two seasons.
But an infusion of youth helped make an already impressive group even better.
Sophomore Chrishard Buhl moved into the starting lineup at outside linebacker during the summer because of an injury to a teammate, and he never gave the job back.
“I felt like I was going to have to step in and do what I’m capable of doing,” Buhl said. “I just had to help out the best way I could.”
Buhl helped Midway to a 12-1 record that included an undefeated regular season with 63 tackles, eight of which came behind the line of scrimmage.
That production earned him the District 8-4A Defensive Newcomer of the Year honor, and now he can add the Super Centex Defensive Newcomer of the Year to his list of accomplishments.
“When the coaches told me (about the award), I knew I was doing pretty good, but I didn’t know I was on that type of level,” Buhl said. “All I can do is thank God for putting me here and helping me make it throughout the season.”
Offensive Player of the Year: Jack Rhoades, Yoe
Defensive Player of the Year: Beau Blackshear, Midway
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Jake McClain, Teague
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Chrishard Buhl, Midway
Coach of the Year: Rusty Nail, Mart
pushed Yoemen to brink
of state crown with
3,553 passing yards,
54 total touchdowns.
Jr, Waco High
Highlight waiting to
happen rushed for
1,469 yards, 8 TDs,
added 9 scoring catches
for playoff team.
Burst onto scene with
247 yards in win over
Belton. Finished year with 1,446 yards,
scored 14 times.
A threat to score
every time he touched
ball,l ed area with 92
catches, 1,436 yards,
18 TDs receiving.
District MVP shredded
secondaries with 87
receptions, 1,280 yards,
10 TDs; also had 66
stops, 5 interceptions.
balanced Yoe attack with
1,640 yards, 24 TDs
rushing; was district’s
Team’s top lineman
racked up 97
offense that averaged
40 points per outing.
District lineman of
year graded 90% or
better each game,
paved way for pair
of 1,000-yard rushers.
Jr, La Vega
opponents with his
One of main reasons
flourished, graded 92%
for season, recorded
down 40 opponents,
gave up no sacks,
graded 92% for year.
Sr, La Vega
District MVP was one
of area’s top athletes,
averaged 32 yards
on punt returns, took
one for TD.
Defensive Player of Year
blew up opposing game
plans despite facing
Speed, quickness too
much for opponents
to handle, helped
teamto state title with
24 tackles for loss.
returned pair of
fumbles for scores, forced four more,
recorded 76 tackles.
Sr, La Vega
with 15 sacks, 26 hurries.
Also racked up 83
tackles, 18 of which
were for loss.
MVP led team with
91 tackles, eight sacks.
Also posted 14 tackles
District MVP patrolled
sideline to sideline
for state champion
with 193 tackles,
19 stops for loss.
defensive co-MVP with
227 tackles, scored on
fumble and INT return.
Leader on both sides
of ball instrumental
in Tigers’ state
semifinal run, finished
with 212 tackles.
Ballhawk picked off
four passes, broke up
eight more. Also a sure
tackler who ended year
District defensive MVP
always in right place
at right time came up
with 170 tackles, broke
up eight passes.
Heady player made
mark on both sides of
ball to grab district MVP
honors, picked off
snagging three INTs,
breaking up 18 passes
for playoff team.
Jr, China Spring
Big leg helped him
to be named first-team
all-district kicker and
4-for-5 on FGs.
Offensive Player of Year
nominee with 3,453
passing yards, 49 total
TDs boomed punts for
Move-in was catalyst
for six-game turnaround,
playoff berth; accounted
for 1,819 total yards,
Newcomer of Year in
8-4A stepped into
veteran unit and made
impact felt with 63
tackles, eight for loss.