Abernathy, Collins highlight award winners

By Staff
Mike Self, FCT Sports Editor
The North Alabama Sports Classic magazine held its second annual awards banquet last week at Russellville Middle School.
Mike Abernathy and Perry Swindall of Russellville High School were named Offensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively, while Red Bay senior linebacker Clay Collins took home Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Abernathy, a junior running back, has rushed for 1,405 yards and 17 touchdowns on 210 carries so far this season. He also has 52 receptions for 570 yards and five scores heading into tonight's Class 5A quarterfinal matchup with J.O. Johnson.
Swindall has guided the Golden Tigers to an 11-1 record this season and has them one win away from a seventh straight berth in the state semifinals. Currently in his ninth season at Russellville, Swindall is also just one win shy of 100 for his career. He has posted a 99-20 record, including 23-6 in the playoffs, since taking over the Golden Tigers in 1998.
Collins, a three-year starter, was one of the leading tacklers this season on a strong Red Bay defense that helped the Tigers reach the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
Several other awards were handed out at last week's banquet. Tharptown sophomore quarterback Tyler Cagle was named Offensive Back of the Year, while teammate Manny Ricardo won the Wide Receiver of the Year award.
The Defensive Back of the Year award went to Russellville senior Rashad Graham, and Red Bay senior placekicker Chris Frame was named Special Teams Player of the Year.
Vina senior Tony Jennings took home the Linebacker of the Year award. Russellville teammates Taz Tillery and Casey Morgan, respectively, were named Offensive Lineman and Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Kirby Nelson, a senior running back at Russellville, received the Perseverance Award, and Vina's Bill Smith was honored with a special Coach's Award for returning to the sidelines this season following gall bladder surgery in March.
Sportsmanship Award winners from each school were Pablo Makepeace (Red Bay), Brent Townsend (Vina), Paxton Rice (Phil Campbell), Trevor Hallmark (Tharptown) and Corey Blankenship (Russellville).
Academic Award winners were Jeremy Johnson (Red Bay), Blake Thorn (Vina), Carl McLemore (Phil Campbell), German Castillo (Tharptown) and Patrick Hines (Russellville).