By JIMMY WIGFIELD
MONTGOMERY — Cole Blaylock may have thought he did all he could do for UMS-Wright after running for 2,000 yards his senior season but Bulldogs coach Terry Curtis doesn’t think so.
Blaylock, who was named the Class 5A Back of the Year Thursday, will continue to contribute to his alma mater for years to come, the winningest coach in the history of Alabama high school football contended.
“He deserves it, not only because he’s a great football player but because of what he’s done for our school and the impact he doesn’t even realize he’s had,” Curtis said. “The young kids he spent time with and took pictures with, they’ll say when they grow up, they want to be like Cole Blaylock and play football for UMS-Wright.
“He’s humble and gives everybody else credit. You know you’ve got something when one of your best players is also one of your best teammates. That’s the kind of person he is. His teammates love him.”
Blaylock was characteristically modest after accepting the award.
“I’m very proud of it,” he said. “I can’t believe they picked me. It’s a great honor. … It was a great honor to be able to play for the greatest coach.”
Blaylock (6-0, 190), a three-star prospect who signed with South Alabama, was seventh in the state in rushing and second in 5A with 2,029 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2022 and finished his UMS career with 4,347 yards rushing and 54 TDs.
While he got faster during his high school years, Blaylock showed an old-school-style of running back with toughness and good instincts can flourish in today’s faster-paced spread game.
“You definitely have to be tough and fall forward because if you do, you get a lot of third-and-3s and third-and-5s,” he said. “You have to run hard and protect the football and make people miss.”
Curtis said he isn’t sure how Blaylock will be utilized at South Alabama but it doesn’t matter.
“I told them he’s going to find a way to get on the field, whether it’s running back or catching the ball or returning punts and kickoffs,” Curtis said. “He loves to play the game.”
While Blaylock was pleased to be named the 5A Back of the Year, he wistfully wished he could have helped bring Curtis’ ninth state championship, although he will always be the linchpin of the team which made Curtis the winningest coach in state history with 348 victories.
“I think he’d agree it doesn’t really balance it out,” Blaylock said of Curtis. “We’d rather have both.”
UMS was denied both by a 19-16 quarterfinal loss to Charles Henderson when Blaylock watched helplessly as quarterback Sutton Snypes was stopped on a sneak inside the 1-yard line with 1:53 remaining. Many expected Blaylock to get the football.
“It definitely takes time to get it out of your head,” Blaylock said. “It still hurts.”
Curtis conceded he still thinks about the play but feels it was the correct decision.
“It stays with you,” he said. “You wonder if you called the right play. Like I told the players after the game, I had no problem with the play call. Did we execute it? No. But Cole hadn’t been under center at all. Everybody says I should have given Cole the ball and if I knew we were going to execute it the way we did, I would have. But we had not been stopped one time all year on the quarterback sneak.”
The Alabama Sports Writers Association Mr. Football Banquet was presented by Alfa and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association.