High School: Tom Landry Award
December, 8, 2011
By Travis L. Brown | ESPNDallas.com
DALLAS – The awards just keep running toward Aledo.
Just days after being named Gatorade National Player of the Year, Aledo running back Johnathan Gray won his second straight Tom Landry Award on Thursday as the top football player in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The other finalists were Allen’s Alec Morris, Denton Ryan’s Mario Edwards Jr., McKinney Boyd’s Bryan Driskell and Dallas Jesuit’s Jake Oliver.
“Going up against this great group of guys, it’s been a great ride,” Gray said. “To win this twice is a really great honor and I’m blessed. It’s something I can share with my team because it’s a team effort.”
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com The Tom Landry Award for Dallas-Fort Worth's best football player has existed for two years, and Aledo's Johnathan Gray has won it two times.
Edwards, who is friends with Gray, agreed with the media voters on their selection.
“He’s a great player,” Edwards said. “He’s humble and he works hard and he does whatever it takes to win. He definitely deserves this award.”
Gray’s name remains the only one on the trophy other than that of the award’s namesake. The Landry Award debuted last year.
“Last year I was in shock because he was a junior going against four seniors,” Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. “I was really surprised again this year because it’s hard to win anything back-to-back, whether it’s a football game or an award. It just shows the character of Johnathan Gray. He’s a great kid and a great football player.”
Thursday night’s ceremony was a nice break for Gray and Buchanan, who have spent the week rigorously preparing for Friday's Class 4A Division II state semifinal against Corsicana.
But it’s a quick turnaround. The Bearcats will hit the field house in Aledo at 8:30 a.m. sharp Friday for a quick team meeting and to pack uniforms. After a day of classes they’ll head out of Aledo at 2 p.m. to get food and head for Mesquite Memorial Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
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Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
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4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
“Offensively, we have to get the ball in Johnathan Gray’s hands, whether it be hand it to him, pitch it to him or throw it to him, and get him in the end zone,” Buchanan said.
Aledo will be facing a player that Buchanan calls "their own version of Johnathan Gray" in Cameron Washington, Corsicana's 3,000-yard rusher.
“He’s a real big back, a power back," Gray said. "When he hits the hole, he hits the hole hard, and when he gets a breaking, you’re probably not going to catch him.”
Gray hopes to keep the party going after the Bearcats' battle with Corsicana, but he allowed himself to cut loose and celebrate a historic career at Thursday's ceremony.
“I’m celebrating tonight, but tomorrow I’m staying focused on Corsicana and hopefully go out there and beat those guys,” Gray said.