Varsity Football

December 11, 2008

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MATT HEACOCK

Loyola

On a team that allowed just 6.9 points a game and set a school record for wins (11-0), Heacock was not only the leader on the field but also off it.

"He is obviously Loyola's inspirational leader," Mount St. Joseph coach Chip Armstrong said of the linebacker, a three-year starter.

As Loyola faced the challenge of dealing with the death of kicker Dennis Woolford in a car accident the morning of Sept. 26 and playing that afternoon against Archbishop Curley, Heacock stepped before his teammates and delivered an uplifting speech.

"I didn't know he'd step into the leadership role the way he did," Loyola coach Brian Abbott said. "But it was his idea to speak to the team. He was the reason we were able to get through that game that day. He just spoke so well, you could see every kid in the room looking up to him. He talked about our responsibility to play for Dennis the remainder of the year.

"It's just his nature to make sure others feel good around him. He's like the protector of everyone."

On the field, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior led the Dons in tackles with 101. He added one sack, five tackles for losses, two interceptions and a blocked punt. He also scored four offensive touchdowns. From his middle linebacker position, Heacock was adept at defending against the run and the pass.

The Dons' coaches also sent him on the blitz. It meant fewer substitutions and more versatility for the already strong defense.

"I've been coaching in this league 10 years," Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. "Loyola is the best football team I've ever coached against, and Matt Heacock is the key to their defense."

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

TAVON AUSTIN

Dunbar

Austin, the Offensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive season, finishes his high school career as one of the most accomplished and decorated football players in the metro area.

"Three years, it's an honor," said Austin, 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds. "My whole time at Dunbar, I've had great players around me. My teammates, my coaches. Every day at practice they were, 'Tavon, harder, harder.' And I couldn't have done anything that I did without them."

What he did last season as a junior, setting the state record for career touchdowns at 92, was only the beginning. He ended his career with four state records. After leading Dunbar to its third straight Class 1A state title, Austin has state career marks for points (790), touchdowns (123), total offensive yards (9,258) and rushing yards (7,460).

This season, he had 218 carries for 2,660 yards and 34 touchdowns, 10 catches for 122 yards, 12 punt returns for 446 yards and two touchdowns, and eight kickoff returns for 409 yards. He also had six two-point conversions. All told, he scored 228 points.

Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said Austin's greatest asset is his desire.

"He wants to win every game," Smith said. "When you have a player like that, one who puts his team first and works well with others, and all the skill and talent he has, it makes your whole team better because everyone on the team has to take their game up to his level."

Austin has narrowed college choices to West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina. He said he will wait to decide until the Feb. 4 signing date.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Tony Shermeyer

Century

Last summer, Century coach Tony Shermeyer made a bold, season-altering decision after eight months of consideration that took a team that had never had a winning record in eight years of existence to a 12-1 record and the Class 2A state semifinals. He moved starting quarterback Luke Wright to wide receiver and installed junior wide receiver Josh Bordner and his strong arm at quarterback.

"I worried over what I was going to do from January to Aug. 15," Shermeyer said. "It was absolutely the reason we won. Only one team was able to shut down both our running and our passing, and that was River Hill [in the state semifinals]."

Shermeyer, 35, played high school football and one year in college at Kutztown University before returning to McSherrystown, Pa., his hometown, to coach his former team at DeLone Catholic High for two years. That was all his coaching experience before coming to Century as an assistant the year the school opened in 2001. He became head coach four years ago, and in the three previous seasons his Knights went 1-9, 5-5 and 4-6.

"I'd like to thank my assistant coaches, Tony Griner and Jim Holzman, who took care of the defensive side of the ball," Shermeyer said. "And I'd like to credit Luke, who never complained and accepted his role even though it put him in a less involved position."

ALL-BALTIMORE CITY

Offensive Player

Tavon Austin, Dunbar

Austin, The Baltimore Sun's Offensive Player of the Year for a third straight season, finished with 7,947 career rushing yards, eclipsing the previous state mark of 5,920. He also had 92 career touchdowns.

Austin, 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, also had three interceptions as a defensive back.

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