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Cougar football celebrates success, name awardees

 

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

Each year the season begins with high expectations. Each year, no matter how it ends, players, coaches and fans are left with a desire for just one more game.

 

The Cougar football team made serious strides forward this season. Monday, the team was finally able to gather one last time to celebrate their 2018 season.

 

“I’m proud of the work we did this season,” Cougar Head Coach Stephen James said. “You seniors helped move our program forward another step in the right direction. I thank you all for that. For you underclassmen, it’s time to step things up even more now. Expectations for next season are already higher. That’s the way we should always want it. What we do for the next several months will determine just how much success we can find in 2019.”

 

The Cougars finished 2018 with a record of 8-4, falling in the second round of the Region 4D playoffs. Pulaski County outscored their opponents 417-209. The Cougars gained more first downs (198-142), ran for more yards (2,355 – 1,411) and passed for more yards (1,638 – 1,359) than their opponents as well.

 

Each year, The Southwest Times recognizes the top players on the team. While the decision for some of those awards was simple this season, some were not and resulted in two players being named for two of the awards.

 

Senior Jaxson Callahan was a leader on the field and a model of consistency. His efforts and energy helped lead the offense in tough times. For his efforts he was named as the 2019 Offensive Lineman of the Year.

 

Senior EJ Horton was named as the 2018 Offensive Player of the Year. He ran for 57 yards, caught 47 passes for 776 yards, intercepted a pass, returned five kicks for 224 yards and returned 10 punts for 96 yards. He scored on the ground, through the air and on special teams to record 11 touchdowns.

 

Junior Austin Gallimore made an impression on every player he came into contact with physically. It was usually a dent or bruise. For his efforts, Gallimore was named as the 2018 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

 

Senior Noah O’Dell stepped up to not only play exceptionally well on the offensive side of the ball, but also to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. O’Dell was named 2018 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

 

While not the biggest players on the field, seniors Ben Arnett and Camden Mariotti were two of the players who played with a reckless abandon that has been missing in Cougarland for years. They were often called on to play against much larger players, which they did with a passion. For their efforts, they were named 2018 Co-Defensive Linemen of the Year.

 

In the final award of the evening, junior Gage Mannon was named the 2018 Southwest Times Football Player of the Year. During the 2018 season Mannon ran the ball 135 times for 869 yards, caught three passes for 66 yards, intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble, returned 17 kicks for 360 yards and returned four punts for 18 yards for a total offensive production of 1,313 yards. He also led the team in scoring with 17 touchdowns for 102 points.

 

 

With a very solid group of underclassmen returning to the 2019 roster, many are already picking Pulaski County to be a favorite in Region 4D next season.

 

“We’ve got work to do,” Coach James said. “This season is over and gone. It was good to see us play with some fire, but again we will need to pick that up to another level next season. The Cougars are going to have a bullseye on our back again. It’s time to step up.”

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