The 2007 season was terrific for Columbia County football. Augusta Christian made another run at a state title, and Evans turned in one of its best seasons in my lifetime. The Knights lost just three games all season, and two of those losses came to Ware County and Northside, the two teams that met for the Class AAAA state crown.
The season ended with controversies at Greenbrier and Lakeside, but that should not take away from the tremendous performances that were displayed by the recipients of this year's all-county awards.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Marty Jackson, Evans
Jackson entered the season on the hot seat but guided the Knights to one of their finest seasons in school history. Few coaches care about their players more, and he is a coach who absolutely does it the right way.
This season Jackson took a group that had gone 5-15 the last two seasons and led it to a 6-0 start, including a victory over perennial power Statesboro. Their early season success really galvanized the Knights' faithful and made them the talk of the town. The Knights finished the season 9-3 with a trip to the second round of the state playoffs.
The thing I like most about Jackson is he has surrounded himself with an amazing assortment of assistant coaches. These days some coaches are too worried about their own hide to assemble a group like this. It just shows that Jackson has confidence in himself, and it paid off for the Knights this season.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kevin Millward, Evans
There has not been a more polarizing football player in the county in the past decade than Millward. Opposing players and fans love to hate him. I really don't get it. Perhaps it was that he achieved so much fame so early. Maybe it is the fact that he became a starter as a sophomore.
If you ask me, the opposition isn't justified.
One thing about Millward: When he is on the field in any sport he is giving 100 percent. He is a fierce competitor, and it was his fire that helped spearhead the Knights' amazing turnaround.
As a 10th-grader, he and the Knights won just one game. That total increased to four games as a junior, and finally, this season, he guided the Knights to nine wins. That should tell you something. The rest of the state was impressed. Millward was recently named the Region 3-AAAA Offensive Player of the Year.
Millward completed 138 passes on 271 attempts for 1,962 yards and a county-best 19 touchdowns. His passer rating was 126.8, which also led the county. On the ground he ran for 238 yards and four more scores.
The key was his growth as a quarterback. He knew when to just throw the ball away rather than take a sack. Also, he had a knack for stepping up when the Knights needed a big drive. His 5-for-6 performance on the game-winning drive vs. Statesboro was nearly flawless, and he did the same thing to seal a playoff spot for the Knights against Glynn Academy.
All that and he still managed to average 35 yards per punt. The two-time all-state punter's average was down a bit, but he was just as effective. He had only three punts returned for more than three yards. He placed 13 of his 36 punts inside the opposition's 20-yard line.
As someone who has known Kevin since he was an eighth-grader, I am proud to see him have a senior season he will never forget.
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