Cherokee County High School’s Russell also honored
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.