Walking to the podium, Fred Rich realized he had forgotten something.
That speech he wrote for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Football banquet in Montgomery? It wasn’t in his pocket. He accidentally left it at home in his bedroom.
No worries, though. Rich improvised his way through his speech Wednesday afternoon while accepting the most important individual award of his football career: the ASWA Class 2A lineman of the year.
“I was kind of surprised that I won,” said Rich, a senior linebacker who was MVP of the Class 2A title game. “I was surprised because, personally, I felt like there were several players on my own team who were just as deserving.”
Carver-Montgomery quarterback Jeremy Johnson, an Auburn commitment, won Mr. Football honors by the closest margin in the award’s history, beating Fultondale athlete ArDarius Stewart, an Alabama commitment, by two votes. Stewart was selected as the Class 2A back of the year.
Rich was one of the most versatile players on Tanner’s state championship team. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound UAB commitment led the Rattlers’ defense with 77 tackles and two interceptions. He also played running back and rushed for more than 1,500 yards.
“Before we came down here, a few days ago, I told Fred that no matter what happens, that he deserves this award,” Tanner coach Laron White said. “But no matter what happened, we were going to be positive, just like our team was all year.”
White added Rich is a great football player, but he didn’t know precisely how great until after the season.
“I didn’t realize just how much he did for us until I went back and was reviewing all the film,” he said. “He will go down as one of the best in Tanner history.”
Rich said the award was a product of playing on a good team.
“Winning these awards, it’s about playing on a good team,” he said. “And my personal opinion, I played on a great team. I couldn’t imagine a better senior season. Everything that happened for us, it’s been unbelievable.”
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“Winning these awards, it’s about playing on a good team,” he said. “And my personal opinion, I played on a great team.”
“I couldn’t imagine a better senior season. Everything that happened for us, it’s been unbelievable.”
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