Bradwell Institute’s football coaching staff hosted a banquet to honor its 2013 football team Monday at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.
The event had been scheduled for Jan. 31, but was postponed because of bad weather.
Tiger offensive coordinator Chris Reese introduced and recognized each class of players and thanked the parents, coaching staff, team managers and Tiger Touchdown Club members for an incredible season, his first with Bradwell.
The freshman, sophomore and junior players received certificates of appreciation, and then coach Reese addressed the crowd as they prepared to present some of the players with special gifts.
“We wanted to get you something you could be proud of ... something you could show and wear around campus,” Reese said while the coaching staff held up new varsity-lettered sweaters. Reese explained that players who participated in at least 20 quarters of play could receive the sweaters, courtesy of the tiger Touchdown Club.
Club members took the stage and placed the sweaters on each player’s back.
Club President Craig Stafford said the club’s inaugural season went better than expected. He thanked the outgoing seniors for being role models for the younger players. He said he wrote a letter to quarterback and West Alabama commit LaBaron Anthony expressing his gratitude.
“I told him that I did respect him and all of his teammates for all the difficult times they went through this season,” Stafford said. “There were some good times, but there were some difficult times, and through the 10 games that I watched from the sidelines … I never saw anybody put their head down or saw anybody that I was ashamed to say was a Bradwell Tiger.”
Reese introduced the players who made the All-Region team and presented certificates to them.
Reese also recognized Hubert Anderson for being chosen as the All-Area player for In the Game Magazine.
Then, Reese announced the Mike Reed Chevrolet and Coastal Courier Player of the Year Award was Anthony and presented the trophy to him as the room erupted in applause. The senior players were introduced and received life-sized photo banners of themselves in their uniforms, DVDs of their final season and recognition awards.
“Understand what it means to be a senior and a leader,” Reese said to his players. “You only get one shot at it … some of you may never experience anything like this ever again. This is a special year. You will never be able to replace it. You will never experience anything close to it. Thank you for everything you’ve done. …Thank you for your commitment, your leadership and your guidance.”
BI Principal Scott Carrier said this football season was a special one he will recall fondly. He said the players set great examples for the underclassmen and the Tiger football program, and added it was largely due to the coaching staff.
“I don’t think that anyone can fully understand how much dedication you have to have to be a high-school football coach,” he said. “The time and the effort that these guys put in all year is amazing. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout the season, every evening and, sometimes, until late … they are there watching film trying to strategize what they need to do to be more effective … we all need to give these guys a big round of applause.”
Carrier then acknowledged the support the program received from the Tiger Touchdown Club.
“When Craig Stafford and a few others came to me and said they were interested in helping to form a new and active booster club, I knew we had something special … but I never dreamed they would do as much as they did … they worked so hard raising money because they knew that is what would allow us to get you the things you needed to make the program more special to you,” he said.
Lastly, the principal turned to the players and said how proud he was them.
“It takes a lot of dedication to be a player,” he said. “You all put in an incredible amount of time in the program, too … knowing that you had to get your schoolwork done, in addition to everything you had to do on the football field, makes us very proud of each of you … What makes me proud is when the game is over, I can look at the team and say they didn’t give up, they worked their hardest and they were good representative of our school, and that is what you all were,” he said.