Chero­kee County High School’s Russell also hon­ored

Cherokee County Herald - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Shan­non Fa­gan Sports Edi­tor

MONT­GOMERY – There was a time when Piedmont se­nior quar­ter­back Tay­lor Hayes didn’t be­lieve in him­self. But with the en­cour­age­ment of the Bull­dog coaches and his team­mates since the eighth grade, Hayes de­vel­oped the con­fi­dence it takes to play one of the sport’s most im­por­tant po­si­tions, and it’s served him very well.

On Wed­nes­day, Hayes capped a stel­lar foot­ball ca­reer by earn­ing the Alabama Sports Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion’s Class 3A Back of the Year at the Re­nais­sance Ho­tel in Mont­gomery. It was the sec­ond straight year Hayes earned the honor, and he got to share the spot­light with one of the team­mates that helped make it hap­pen for him.

Six-foot-3, 305-pound se­nior of­fen­sive line­man Ma­son Lan­g­ley won the ASWA Class 3A Line­man of the Year. A third Piedmont player, ju­nior de­fen­sive line­man Lo­gan Bea­dles, was also a fi­nal­ist with Lan­g­ley for the 3A Line­man honor. Bea­dles fin­ished sec­ond to Lan­g­ley.

Piedmont was the only school to have three play­ers among the state’s 48 best high school foot­ball play­ers.

“I think it’s a tes­ti­mony to what Coach (Steve) Smith and all of us have built at Pied-

Piedmont’s Tay­lor Hayes, Ma­son Lan­g­ley and Lo­gan Bea­dles were hon­ored Jan. 18 in Mont­gomery at the Alabama Sports Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion Foot­ball Player of the Year ban­quet. Hayes earned the Class 3A Back of the Year for the sec­ond straight sea­son, while Lan­g­ley took home the Class 3A Line­man of the Year honor. From left is Lan­g­ley, Piedmont as­sis­tant coach Pa­trick Walker, Hayes, Piedmont as­sis­tant coach James Blan­chard, Piedmont head coach Steve Smith and Bea­dles.

mont,” Hayes said. “When you have team suc­cess and win back-to-back state cham­pi­onships, you’re go­ing to have in­di­vid­u­als to reap the ben­e­fits of it. That’s what I’ve been able to do. Hav­ing Lan­g­ley and Lo­gan com­ing down here too, I guess that just shows if you work hard as a team and set a goal to win a state cham­pi­onship, the in­di­vid­ual stuff will come with it.”

Hayes rushed for 1,625 yards and 33 touch­downs and threw for 1,867 yards and 24 scores for the two- time de­fend­ing state cham­pion Bull­dogs (15-0). He fin­ished sev­enth in the over­all Mr. Foot­ball vot­ing with 85 points, in­clud­ing three first-place votes.

Lan­g­ley, who com­mit­ted to play col­lege foot­ball at Jack­sonville State on Satur­day, reg- is­tered 112 pan­cake blocks with one sack al­lowed and graded at 90 per­cent. He also played in the Alabama-Mis­sis­sippi All­Star Clas­sic in De­cem­ber.

Bea­dles reg­is­tered 105 to­tal tack­les, in­clud­ing eight for lost yards with seven sacks.

“The proof is in the pud­ding,” Lan­g­ley said. “What we do at Piedmont is some­thing spe­cial. Our coaches push us to our lim­its, and I think that’s why all three of us were here to­day to rep­re­sent Piedmont. It re­ally is an honor know­ing all our hard work paid off.”

Bea­dles echoed his team­mates’ sen­ti­ments, call­ing Wed­nes­day “some­thing I’ll never for­get.”

“It’s truly spec­tac­u­lar to have three (ath­letes) down here,” Bea­dles said.”I never thought I would be down here in my life. The past two years of foot­ball have prob­a­bly been the two hard­est years of my life, but it pays off in the end. Next year, I hope I can fill the shoes some of the other guys have left, and hope­fully we can go back-to-back-to-back.”

Through­out his 22- year coach­ing ca­reer that also in­cludes 11 sea­sons at Cedar Bluff, Smith has had many ath­letes among the state’s best at the ASWA Player of the Year ban­quet, but this year was the most he’s had in one sea­son.

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