On Sunday, it got a little more special.
Blanchard was named as the Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 4A Back of the Year. He’s one of eight Warrior players to earn recognition on the 2009 4A All-State Team.
Blanchard finished the season by completing 200 of 289 passes for 2,916 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also led the Class 4A state champion Warriors (15-0) in rushing with 1,161 yards on 151 carries with 20 touchdowns.
“For me to get that, it’s just a great honor,” Blanchard said. “There’s a lot of great players in 4A, and we played against a lot of them in the playoffs. All of our guys deserve this. I don’t think there’s anybody better than them. For us to go 15-0, I think we could have won the 1A through 6A state championship, that’s how good I think this team was. For us to leave a legacy at Cherokee County like that, it’s awesome to go out like that.”
Cherokee County coach Tripp Curry said Blanchard is very deserving of the honor.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in the South as good as him,” Curry said. “I’ve seen a lot of good quarterbacks, but Coty is right there neck and neck if not better than anybody in the nation. These things he’s getting right now are all wonderful to him. It’s just been such a pleasure to coach him.”
Not only did the Warriors garner the player recognition, their coach did as well. Curry earned the sportswriters’ nod as their Class 4A Coach of the Year.
“It’s just a testament of how everybody works together,” Curry said of the honor. “It’s not just me out there. It’s great assistant coaches, great football players and great trainers. All those things coming together as one is kind of what made us go 15-0. Me just being a part of this is just overwhelming. It feels great.”
Joining Curry and Blanchard on the Class 4A All-State team is senior receiver Gabriel Chambers. Chambers led the Warriors in receiving this season with 71 catches for 1,181 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a kick returner, Chambers had 17 returns for 417 yards and two scores. Chambers also rushed for 272 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns.
The Warriors had a selection on the 4A Defense in linebacker Caleb Crane. Crane, a senior, led the Warriors with 133 total tackles (24 for loss) with three forced fumbles, two sacks, an interception and a pass break-up.
Senior D.J. Fife snagged one of the Warrior honorable mentions at running back. Fife rushed for 1,115 yards on 132 carries with 12 touchdowns last season. He also caught 38 passes for 551 yards and four scores.
Junior Isaac Jones earned an honorable mention at kicker. Jones made 9 of 13 kicks last season with a long of 40 yards. He also connected on 82 of 88 extra point attempts.
Junior Brett Burgess took an honorable mention at defensive back. Burgess had over 100 tackles with six interceptions and four passes broken up.
Junior Matt Hill earned an honorable mention as a defensive lineman. Hill had over 70 tackles with four sacks and three passes broken up last season.
Senior Desmond Brown was selected as honorable mention at defensive athlete. Brown, who played at defensive back and running back for the Warriors, had over 30 tackles with five passes broken up with three interceptions. As a rusher, Brown gained 571 yards on 101 carries with four touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 340 yards and seven scores.
Piedmont coach Steve Smith earned the Coach of the Year honor in Class 3A. Smith led the Bulldogs to a 13-2 record last season and the school’s first football title.
“I owe a big thanks for that to all of our assistant coaches and our players,” Smith said. “They did a great job this year of buying into what we were trying to do and our philosophy as a team. I think when you get an award like that, it’s obviously a team award reflecting the team’s success. I’m honored to get it.”
In addition to Smith being selected as the Class 3A Coach of the Year, state champion Piedmont earned four first-team selections and had an honorable mention.
Senior Christian Cantrell took one of the 4A Running Back slots. He rushed for 1,835 yards on 191 carries with 22 touchdowns last season. Cantrell also caught 16 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown.
One of Cantrell’s top blockers last season was senior lineman Seth Reedy, who was selected as one of five 3A All-State Linemen. Reedy graded out at 96 percent with only one sack allowed.
Two Piedmont players also earned first-team spots on defense. Junior Jamaal Johnson claimed one of the defensive back positions. He posted 119 tackles with six interceptions and three sacks last season.
Joining Johnson on defense is junior defensive lineman Mickey Jackson. Jackson recorded 89 tackles and had 11 sacks for the Bulldogs last season.
The Bulldogs also had an honorable mention at quarterback in senior Chase Childers. Childers, the Class 3A state championship game MVP, rushed for 1,368 yards on 187 carries with 16 touchdowns. He also completed 79 of 145 passes for 1,131 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“I think a lot of the credibility of our kids’ nominations went hand in hand with our team’s success,” Smith said. “It’s great for us to have five players picked for All-State. I’m very proud of all of them. I thought all of them did a great job this year in helping our team win.”
In Class 2A, the Sand Rock Wildcats (6-4) received an honorable mention at defensive back in senior Matt Cole. Cole had 58 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks for the Wildcats last season. He also played at tight end and kicked for Sand Rock.
In Class 1A, Spring Garden (6-6) had two first-team selections in kicker Jake Scott and linebacker T.J. Brittain.
Scott, a senior, made 39 of 41 extra point attempts last season. He also connected on 5 of 11 field goals with a long of 46 yards. As a punter, Scott had 41 punts for a 38-yard average. Scott also played tailback and safety for the Panthers.
Brittain, also a senior, set the Spring Garden school record for tackles with 147 last season. He averaged 12 tackles per game and also recorded two sacks.
The Panthers also had two honorable mentions in senior running back Trey Littlefield and junior defensive tackle Bryant Law.
Littlefield rushed for 1,331 yards on 213 carries with 16 touchdowns last season. For his career, Littlefield rushed for 4,171 yards.
Law recorded 85 tackles last season including 17 for losses. He also posted eight sacks.
Cedar Bluff (8-4) had three players earn Class 1A All-State honors, including a first-team offensive selection in senior lineman Kai Wen.
Wen graded out at 95 percent last season. He also recorded 105 pancake blocks and was the main blocker for a team that accumulated 4,118 total yards and averaged 31 points per game.
The Tigers also had a pair of honorable mentions in senior linebacker Jim Nelson and junior defensive back Marcus Reese.
In only seven games due to injury, Nelson posted 87 tackles, caused three fumbles, recovered two more and had two sacks. Nelson finished his career as the state’s eighth leading tackler with 439 total tackles. He also ended his career with 12 sacks, nine caused fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and five pass break-ups.
Reese recorded 84 tackles with three interceptions, three pass break-ups and two sacks last season. Reese was also one of the top Tiger receivers last season, with 26 catches for 542 yards and eight scores.
Gaylesville (6-5) had a pair of honorable mentions in junior linebacker Luke Murphy and junior defensive tackle Michael Zuber.
Murphy recorded 107 tackles with 10 sacks and a fumble recovery last season. He also played at quarterback for the Trojans, accumulating over 1,250 yards with 18 touchdowns.
Zuber posted 77 tackles with three fumble recoveries and two sacks. He also doubled as an offensive guard for the Trojans.
Collinsville (6-4) had a Class 1A All-State selection in junior offensive lineman Ryan Chamblee.
Chamblee finished last season with 89 bulldozer blocks (blocks from beginning to end of a play), 54 pancakes and graded out at 90 percent or better throughout the season. Chamblee was also second on the team with 76 hustles. He recorded 13 pancake blocks in a Week 5 victory over Fayetteville.