By Chris McCarthy/Editor, Paul Beaudry/For ASWA
At least on an individual level, Toby Pee has gone where no Sardis High School football player has gone before.
Last week, the Lion senior was named a finalist for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A Back of the Year award for the 2012 season.
The honor came on the heels of Pee’s selection as first-team Class 4A All-State running back.
Pee, who was a Class 3A first-team All-State selection in 2011, produced arguably the best all-round season by any running back in any of the six classification in compiling 2,424 yards and 39 touchdowns from scrimmage. The 6’0, 180 pound halfback rushed for 1,829 yards and 31 TDs and caught 46 passes for 595 yards and six scores in helping the Lions to a 6-4 record and a berth in the state playoffs.
Pee finished his three-year varsity career with an eye-popping 6,898 yards and 88 touchdowns from scrimmage – 5,494 rushing with 66 TDs, 1,381 receiving with 22 touchdowns and 23 passing with five TDs.
Pee is both a two-time region and Etowah County MVP and was The Messenger’s 2011 Player of the Year.
Sardis head football Gene Hill pointed out that Pee’s stellar numbers were not earned by talent alone.
“He’s probably the second or third-hardest worker that I’ve ever coached, with [former Etowah High, Auburn University and National Football League standout] Carnell Williams as No. 1 and [former Etowah High and University of Alabama player] Ed Scissum as No. 2. That’s saying a lot considering how many outstanding football players I’ve had over the years.
“You don’t see kids very often who go full speed in everything they do, and Toby’s one of those rare kids who does that. We came to expect a 200-yard [rushing] from him every week, and come Friday night, he never let us down. Most people who know about high school football around the state know the name of Toby Pee, so he helped put our football program on the map and opened the door in recruiting for some of our other kids.”
With all of Pee’s athletic accomplishments and his solid academic standing (he scored an 18 on his ACT), Hill does not understand why more colleges aren’t beating down the door to the Sardis field house to secure Pee’s services.
“I’m as confused as anybody about the lack of recruitment). I can’t understand it. He has some offers from the smaller schools, and Jacksonville State showed interest, but that was before Coach [Jack] Crowe left, so I don’t know where we stand with them at this point.”
Hill is convinced, however, that Pee will play on Saturday afternoons somewhere.
“It’s not like he’s locked into one position; Toby’s an athlete who can do a whole lot of things,” said Hill. “If he doesn’t play halfback, he can return kicks or punts. If it comes to it, I don’t doubt that he can slide over and be a great defensive player. He’s a legitimate 4.6 guy (in the 40-yard dash). So he’s not going to be the fastest guy out there a lot of times, but he’s going to make up for that in effort. I challenge any college coach who watches Toby’s highlight film to find any time that he’s been caught from behind.”
The ASWA selects three finalists for backs and linemen in each of the six classes in the Alabama High School Athletic Association, as well as all teams in the Alabama Independent Schools Association.
The finalists were voted on earlier this month at the ASWA’s all-state meeting by a panel of high school writers from around the state. Winners in each class – as well as the Mr. Football Award – will be announced at the ASWA’s annual Player of the Year banquet on Jan. 16 in Montgomery. The event is sponsored by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association.
The finalists are:
Jeremy Johnson, Carver-Montgomery, Sr., QB, 6-6, 219
Racean Thomas, Oxford, Jr., RB, 6-0, 200
Marquez White, Northview, Sr., DB, 6-1, 173
Reuben Foster, Auburn, Sr., LB, 6-2, 235
Austin Golson, Prattville, Sr., OL, 6-5, 285
Grant Hill, Huntsville, Sr., OL, 6-6, 290
Johnny Cook, Spanish Fort, Sr., DB, 6-0, 185
Tyler Jackson, Muscle Shoals, Sr., RB, 5-10, 150
Joel Poe, Spanish Fort, Sr., QB, 6-1, 200
Zach Cunningham, Pinson Valley, Sr., LB, 6-4, 200
Jordan Sims, Homewood, Jr., OL, 6-4, 330
Tre Williams, St. Paul’s, Jr., LB, 6-2, 220
Jordan Chunn, Madison County, Sr., RB, 6-0, 210.
Toby Pee, Sardis, Sr., RB, 5-11, 180
Alvin Scott, Oneonta, Sr., WR, 6-3, 190
Blake Bean, Oneonta, Jr., DL, 6-3, 240
Ronnie Clark, Calera, Jr., Ath., 6-3, 210
Rod Crayton, Dadeville, Sr., DL, 6-0, 280
Courtney Foy, Midfield, Sr., Ath., 5-11, 175
Kerryon Johnson, Madison Academy, So., RB, 6-1, 195
JaTevin Madison, Fayette County, Jr., WR, 5-10, 150
Torrandine Harris, Midfield, Sr., DL, 6-1, 240
Jamarious Henderson, Dale County, So., LB, 6-0, 210
Jamie Major, Piedmont, Sr., LB, 6-2, 225
Tyler Rogers, Mobile Christian, Jr., RB, 5-11, 185
ArDarius Stewart, Fultondale, Sr., QB, 6-1, 195
Tywone Stewart, Reeltown, Sr., RB, 5-8, 170
DeMarcus Holcombe, Washington County, Jr., LB, 6-1, 213
Jestavia Norris, Reeltown, Sr., DL, 6-1, 210
Fred Rich, Tanner, Sr., LB, 6-2, 200
Rodney Camp, Phillips, Sr., QB, 6-2, 175
George Payne, St. Luke’s, Sr., RB, 5-11, 195
Ready Swanigan, Marion County, Jr., Ath., 5-10, 170
Damien Davenport, McIntosh, Sr., LB, 6-2, 262
Taylor Driggers, Brantley, Sr., OL, 6-2, 255
Justin Lucas, Notasulga, Sr., LB, 5-9, 170