Cole Edmiston rolled left and saw nobody open.
He peeled back to the right and had a defender immediately in his face. He sidestepped him, stumbled, regained his balance and scooted back to the left, and spotted an open receiver 12 yards down the field and let the pass fly.
Matthew Wallace grabbed it, spun out of a tackle and raced 35 more yards to the end zone.
It was only one instance of Edmiston and Gatesville’s brilliance this season, but it’s the one that sticks out the most in the quarterback’s mind because it handed the Hornets a 21-point lead over Brownwood and all but put the District 8-3A crown in the bag, Gatesville’s first since 2001.
“That Brownwood play was pretty awesome,” Edmiston said. “It felt like it took about 30 seconds, but I guess it really didn’t. I made two or three guys miss, and the big thing was it clinched the game. And it was exciting because it clinched our first district title in 11 years.”
Edmiston combined a strong and accurate throwing arm with superb athletic ability to churn out 2,876 yards and 32 touchdowns with only five interceptions through the air while also running for 1,232 yards and 22 more scores.
Those mind-blowing numbers came as part of a breakthrough season for Gatesville in which it went undefeated in the regular season and reached the state quarterfinals to finish with a 13-1 record.
The combination of that performance and the ability to pile up win after win — many in spectacular fashion — made Edmiston this year’s selection as the Super Centex Offensive Player of the Year.
“To be even mentioned is an honor,” Edmiston said. “There are a lot of great athletes out there. I know that because we played a lot of them. I have to thank the team, the coaches who put in all the hard work. I wish I could distribute it out to all of them. I can’t, but I have to thank all of them.”
Edmiston was at the helm of a Gatesville team that finished the 2011 season with four consecutive district losses, and he and his 28-member senior class decided they didn’t want their final campaign to end the same way.
The Gatesville coaches went to work teaching their quarterback not to panic when plays break down, and Edmiston’s ability to keep them alive was apparent all year long and led to several big plays, including the one against Brownwood that will live in Gatesville lore.
“I don’t really know where it came from,” Edmiston said. “I guess it’s just athleticism, but we really worked on it during the spring and summer. The coaches kept putting in my head that some of the biggest plays will come with me extending them. It showed sometimes this year. I think it helps a lot when you get big plays out of plays that don’t turn out very good.”
Defensive Player of the Year Adrian Norwood Waco
Coaches often talk about needing to know where an outstanding defensive player is on every play.
During the 2011 season, teams didn’t find Waco High’s Adrian Norwood quickly enough very often, and he made them pay with interceptions eight times.
His reputation preceded him in the 2011 campaign, and opponents didn’t test him nearly as much. Still, the senior safety intercepted four passes, broke up 13 more and also recorded 97 tackles to earn the Super Centex Defensive Player of the Year honor.
“It’s an honor, just working hard and I have to give a lot of credit to the defensive linemen and linebackers,” Norwood said. “It’s a team effort, so whenever the defensive lineman rushes a quarterback to make a throw, that enables me to get an interception, or a linebacker fits a gap and bounces a running back for me to make a tackle, I have to give the credit to those guys.”
The Lions had an up-and-down season early and dropped two of their first three district games to Cleburne and Crowley, but they picked it up after that to win their final four regular-season contests and roll into the playoffs.
Their first opponent, Fort Worth Wyatt, obviously didn’t get the memo not to test Norwood, and he made the Chaparrals pay with two interceptions, returning both for scores, and a forced fumble in a 42-20 rout. The Lions followed that up by knocking off Lake Dallas, 24-21, on a last-second field goal before bowing out to Wolfforth Frenship to finish 9-4.
“I just wanted to come up with the big plays for our team to score some points and get momentum going for our offense and defense,” Norwood said.
Norwood said he made the most improvement between his junior and senior years in his ball skills and just being a more instinctive player.
He’s also become bigger, stronger and faster during his time at Waco High and used those physical gifts to stand out on the field, even when opponents avoided him.
“It wasn’t frustrating at all,” Norwood said. “It limits the other team on what they can do, and it opens up plays for other players.”
Coach of the Year Eric Blenden Frost
Frost’s players had no reference point for what the playoffs were like.
That’s how it goes in a town that had more recently had a season shut down for lack of eligible players than it had experienced a trip to the postseason.
But the Polar Bears made it back there for the first time in 11 years with first-year coach Eric Blenden at the helm, and didn’t exactly look like rookies when they hit the big stage.
Frost bumped off Detroit, outfought Chilton in a defensive slugfest, then dominated Mount Enterprise to set up a state quarterfinal against Tenaha. In that game, the Polar Bears shook off a 20-0 deficit to take the game down to the final play, needing 2 yards for the upset.
Unfortunately for Frost, the snap was fumbled on that last effort and the play never got off the ground.
Despite the loss, the Polar Bears’ season was one for the ages, and earned Blenden the right to be called Super Centex Coach of the Year.
“It’s great, and I was super surprised when (I was told) about it,” said Blenden, who served as an assistant for three years before taking the head spot. “But that just goes to the kids. They worked hard, and having Danial (Steels) on the team and Jacob Stroder, and everybody else that was involved, it was a total team effort. It goes to everybody, but it’s definitely a nice surprise.”
From 2008-11, the Polar Bears were rebuilding their way back to respectability and had reached a high point of 5-5 in the last of those years under coach Clark Moore, who decided in last spring to move over to coach the girls’ program and leave the football team to Blenden.
It worked out well for Blenden, who had experienced the playoffs on a yearly basis during his playing days at Crawford.
“This is my fourth year here, and it was pretty rough the first couple of years,” Blenden said. “A lot of credit goes to Coach Moore, who laid the foundation, and the rest goes to the kids who really decided they wanted to be good in football again. That doesn’t come easy. It takes some lumps and some heartache and a lot of hard work. The kids really decided they were going to be good and leave a lasting impression on the town of Frost that we can win in football in 11-man.”
Off. Newcomer of the Year Austin Skinner Teague
Change has been the norm for the Teague over the past few years.
In fact, when Daniel Johnson was named coach, it marked the fifth straight year in which the Lions had a different leader on the sideline.
When Johnson arrived, he opened up every spot on the team for competition.
An incumbent quarterback was in place, but the new coach decided to go with a soph in Austin Skinner over the senior Daryl Brooks, who moved out to receiver.
It turned out to be a wise decision.
All Skinner did in his first varsity season was throw for 3,497 yards and 48 touchdowns and rush for eight more scores. That performance carried Teague to only its second playoff win in its history, and made Skinner the choice as the Super Centex Offensive Newcomer of the Year award.
“He fit our system perfectly, but our system is dynamic in that we fit it to our personnel,” Johnson said. “It’s not a deal where we say we’re going to throw it 50 times a game. It’s what we do best and how we can get the best athletes on the field to win games. It just so happens that our strength is throwing the ball.”
Skinner will be back next season, along with a young nucleus of Lions — and Johnson, who recently signed on to return.
The future appears to be bright in Teague, and Skinner is the main reason for it.
“He’s never satisfied,” Johnson said. “He’s somebody who thinks he can get better every game. He might throw for 350 yards and five touchdowns with one interception, but the only thing he’s worried about the next day is that one interception. He’s the ultimate team player.”
Def. Newcomer of the Year C.J. Sims McGregor
With all of the veterans McGregor had coming back, it was going to be hard for a newcomer to stand out.
C.J. Sims did it anyway.
The junior linebacker had 98 stops and wreaked havoc in the backfield with 13 tackles for loss, three sacks and 10 quarterback hurries. He was the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in District 13-2A Division I, and can now add the title of Super Centex Defensive Newcomer of the Year.
“Last year when he was on JV, he showed a lot of potential, but he was hampered by injuries,” McGregor coach Tim Seward said. “We knew his instincts were good, though, and especially in the spring he just showed a knack for being around the ball. He’s an undersized linebacker, but he always seems to be in the right place.”
If that wasn’t enough, the Bulldogs put him in the backfield on offense in one game and he rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. In their playoff game against Hempstead, he played running back again and “they couldn’t stop him,” Seward said.
So it’s no surprise that Seward plans to use Sims more on both sides of the ball next year, and expects him to expand his role to include more leadership.
“The players respect him because of his work ethic and how he is on the field,” Seward said. “He’s not a me guy. He’s all about the team, and that makes you a leader automatically because of the way you present yourself and show up every day. He’s definitely one of those guys, and we’re just glad to have him coming back.”
Offensive Player of the Year: Cole Edmiston, Gatesville
Defensive Player of the Year: Adrian Norwood, Waco
Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Austin Skinner, Teague
Defensive Newcomer of the Year: C.J. Sims, McGregor
Coach of the Year: Eric Blenden, Frost
|OL||Andrew Billings||Sr.||6-1||308||Waco High|
|DB||Adrian Norwood||Sr.||5-11||163||Waco High|
|RB||Randy Gober||Sr.||5-9||190||La Vega|
|RB||Christian Simms||Sr.||6-2||195||Waco High|
|OL||Brian Pullen||Sr.||6-0||285||China Spring|
|DL||Rashaad Miller||Sr.||5-11||190||China Spring|
|QB — Peter Shelburne, Belton; Javarius Young, Chilton; Kade Munden, China Spring; Kristian Brown, Connally; Colten Claxton, Crawford; Aaron Cain, Fairfield; Colt McCoy, Groesbeck; Troy Allison, McGregor; Payne Sullins, Reicher; Carson Earp, Robinson; Brandon Campbell, Wortham|
|RB — Greyson Gonzalez, Bosqueville; Denovious Skaggs, Bremond; Charles Simpson, Chilton; Hunter Hancock, China Spring; Braden Murphy, Crawford; Terell Miles, Groesbeck; Adrian West, University; Michael Branch, Waco High; Tyvon Freeman, Wortham|
|REC — Durham Smythe, Belton; J.T. Antis and Chase Hood, Bosqueville; Chris Harrison, Connally; Colton Adamick, Crawford; Cooper Cole, Fairfield; Klein Wiley, Groesbeck; Alex O’Neill, Reicher; Cody Brooks, Jacob Fuentes and Zac Law, Robinson; Daryl Brooks, Teague; Zecheriah Green, University; Myron Hills and Deron Jefferson, Waco High; Brysen Rhodes, Wortham|
|OL — Adrian Barrigan, Univeristy; Devonte Neal and Toriese Thomas, Waco High; Skylar Jordan, Wortham|
|K — Jacob Judd, Fairfield; Rene Torres, McGregor; Ben Diaz, Waco High|
|DL — Colby Wilganowski, Bremond; James Griffin, Connally; Kevin Hejl, Crawford; James Harper, Waco High; Blake Hutson, Wortham|
|LB — Draven Denison, Bremond; Terrance Ratliff and Patrick Smith, Connally; Matt Brown, Crawford; Cody Sell, Fairfield; Andrew Jackson, Frost; Jimmie Gamble, La Vega; Adam Jimenez, Reicher; Matt McNew and Zach Sullivan, Robinson; Jadarius Wright, University; Nika Davis and Keimon McDowell, Waco High; Chris Lee and Shane Sykora, Wortham|
|DB — Dontay Raglin, Connally; Chance Carroll and Larry Rose, Fairfield; Justin Barnes, Midway; Chris Harris, University; Josh Porter, Waco High|
17-3A MVP accounted for 3,669 yards of offense, 50 total TDs
Player of Year racked up 4,108 total yards, 54 scores for 13-1 team
1st-teamer for 3rd time picked up 1,772 yards on ground, 25 scores
Led team’s resurgence with 1,878 rushing yards, 29 touchdowns
Used size, speed to haul in 73 passes for 1,098 yards, 17 TDs
District MVP grabbed 93 passes for 1,290 yards, scored 15 times
Made 1A all-state team both ways, graded 91 percent
Massive and strong, dominated to tune of 132 pancakes
Protected QB’s back side for offense that threw ball all over lot
1st-team all-state pick put down 147 foes with pancakes
Helped his team have 2 1,000-yard rushers each of past 3 years
8-5A MVP threw for 3,042 yards, 21 TDs, ran for 647 yards, 7 TDs
Hit on all but 1 field goal try, won playoff game in OT with kick
Scored 2 TDs on returns, ran for 2,279 yards, 33 scores
So, QB, Teague
Made immediate splash with 3,497 yards, 48 TDs passing
Oversaw 7-win improvement, took Polar Bears to 1st 3 playoff wins since 1989