East Central running back Tony Brown knew he was in the running for Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year, but he was shocked Monday morning when he found out that he was indeed the man.
“I was really surprised,” Brown said. “I was very excited. I didn’t think I’d get it and it was a great feeling.”
Brown becomes the first football player from the Coast to win the award since St. Stanislaus quarterback Dylan Favre did it in 2009.
“I guess this validates what we said about him all year,” East Central coach Seth Smith said. “We’re biased, but we said it all along. He’s the best player in the state. This award for him is kind of the cherry on top.”
Brown helped lead East Central to the best football season in school history as the Hornets finished 13-1 and claimed the program’s first Class 4A South State championship.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Brown scored 23 touchdowns in five postseason games despite being injured in the second quarter of a 41-35 loss to Noxubee County in the state championship contest. He finished the season with 2,748 yards and 47 rushing touchdowns.
Monday’s recognition could help Brown’s cause as he looks to gain his first scholarship offer from a Division I program.
“That will put my name out there and maybe more coaches will look at me again,” he said. “It’s a great thing to receive.”
Brown scored 92 touchdowns over his final two seasons for the Hornets.
“This is my 14th year as a coach I’ve been blessed to coach some really good ones at Picayune and Pearl River Central and I’ve never coached a Gatorade Player of the Year,” Smith said. “His award symbolizes our team this year and that all that hard work has paid off.”
Last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Clinton product Cam Akers, is a freshman running back at Florida State.