A number of student/athletes at Briarwood Academy were recognized for their talents in football, softball and cheerleading during a school banquet held last Thursday night.
One of the first awards went to senior Lizzie Keen, of Washington. She was named among the nation's School Winners of the Wendy's High School Heisman Award. Keen, a star softball and basketball player was the only athlete to apply for the honor this year at Briarwood Academy.
Several softball players also were honored for their contributions to the team this past season. The Lady Buccaneers of head coach Hannah Demore finished runners-up in the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class A state playoffs.
Coach Demore honored senior pitcher Gerry Hall as the team's Most Valuable Player. She also recognized Hall and four other players for being named to the All-Region, All-State softball teams: center fielder Lizzie Keen, first baseman Taylor Echols, third baseman Maria-Celeste Johnson and catcher Erin Phelps.
Cheerleading coach Amy Hadden also recognized the football cheerleaders, as well as the competitive cheerleading squad, who recently captured their second state championship in a row -- a feat never before accomplished by an athletics team at Briarwood Academy.
A sign with the names of each cheerleader on this year's state championship squad will hang in the gymnasium for everyone to see for years to come.
The winning state championship cheerleading squad consisted of: Lindsey Burnley, Anna Goolsby, Sherrer Long, Sara Betts Brunner, Rachel Coxwell, Kristan Dawson, Ashlyn Dent, Shannon Newsome, Taylor Rabun, Kayla Rhodes, Taylor Newton, Marcie Rivers, Ariel Russell, Copeland Price and Brook Stewart.
Briarwood Academy athletic director and head football coach John Osborne later addressed the crowd that attended the banquet, saying how proud he was of all of the school's student/athletes and coaches.
"All of our athletes have done very well this past season and their success displays dedication, commitment, strong character and a positive attitude," coach Osborne said.
"Our softball team was region runners-up and state runners-up, while our football team placed second in region and finished in the Final Four in state play and our cheerleaders won a state title for the second time in a row."
Coach Osborne later recognized several of his football players.
Five of the first players to be honored for 100 percent weightlifting awards were: Michael Kent, Jacob Patterson, Eric Johnson, Jesse Prescott and Saul Smith.
Other players recognized for their achievements on the gridiron this season included:
- Best Offensive Lineman -- Eric Johnson;
- Best Running Back -- Matthew McElveen;
- Best Defensive Lineman -- Steven Gunn;
- Best Defensive Player Award -- Russell Burdette;
- Most Improved Players -- Carson Wiley and Saul Smith;
- Coaches Award -- Adam Hardy;
- Briarwood Academy Buccaneer Attitude and Leadership Award -- Trey Stadler;
- James D. Rivers Highest Academic Award -- Eric Johnson; and
- Golden Helmet Award -- Matthew McElveen.
The 2009 All-Region football players also were honored. They included: Carson Wiley, Steven Gunn, Blake Sowell, Trey Stadler, Eric Johnson and Matthew McElveen.
Three of the players were named to the GISA All-State Team. They included McElveen, Stadler and Johnson.