Miller wins Smith Award

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Senior defensive lineman Jaccari Miller won the Tommy Smith Hustle Award, highlighting Monday night’s Bearcat Touchdown Club’s annual banquet honoring the 2008 Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team.

The Smith Award, the highest honor a Bearcat football player can receive, is named for a former Bearcat, Navy Lt. j.g. Thomas Livingston Smith Jr., who died Nov. 27. 1961, while staying with his plummeting disabled aircraft to steer it away from a densely populated area near the Naval Air Station in Atsugi, Japan, goes annually to a Bearcat player who demonstrates the same qualities of character, leadership, academic achievement and hustle demonstrated by Lt. Smith.

A portrait of Lt. Smith, who was too low for his parachute to open when he ejected from the plane, hangs prominently in the BHS lobby.

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Miller was seventh on the team in tackles with 25. Five of his tackles were for loss and he caused a fumble.

BHS principal Tommie Howell, who made the Smith Award presentation to Miller, praised him for his great character and leadership.

Head coach Ed Pilcher, who led the Bearcats to a 6-3 regular season record and a berth in the first round of the State Class AAAA playoffs, Jean Reynolds, Tammy Hill and Carla Smith planned and coordinated the banquet.

He also gave special thanks to team chaplain Derrick Cox, who presented Bibles, donated by local churches, to each of the 14 Bearcats seniors.

The offensive player of the year was senior wide receiver Melzie Johnson, the defensive player of the year was senior linebacker Eric Henry, and the most improved player of the year was sophomore place kicker and punter Keenan Adams.

Senior offensive guard Ben Reynolds, who received numerous academic scholar-athlete awards during the season, received the academic award for having the highest grade point average on the team.

Offensive player of the year Johnson, who was the leading Bearcats receiver with 37 receptions for 676 yards, five touchdowns and a 18.3 yards per reception average, played for the South Georgia team that beat the North Georgia team 17-0 in the annual Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) North South Senior All-Star game in Columbus. Coach Pilcher coordinated the offense for the South Georgia team.

Henry, Reynolds and senior linebacker Brian Hughes played for the Southwest Georgia Senior All-Star team that defeated the Florida’s Big Bend Senior All-Star team 35-3 in the first Georgia Florida Border Wars Senior Bowl game sponsored by “The Zone” high school sports magazine at Thomas County Central High School’s Jackets’ Nest Stadium.

Defensive player of the year Henry led the Bearcats in tackles with 70. Four of his tackles were for losses and he caused one fumble.

Most improved player of the year Adams was a perfect on 31 of 31 extra point attempts and 8 of 11 on field goal attempts with a long field goal of 45 yards. He also averaged 34.8 yards on 12 punts and put four punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Academic award winner Reynolds was pictured in a “players spotlight” with his picture on the cover of In The Game, a south Georgia high school sports magazine.

Reynolds, who is also a heavyweight champion on the Bearcats wrestling team, was recently named Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete for the Southwest Georgia Region. He has made all 95s and above in his academic work and he is on the Principal’s Honor Roll, president of the National Honor Society and a semifinalist to be a National Merit Scholar.

Several Bearcats were recognized for making various All-Star teams. Senior defensive back Marquis Williams, who led Region 1AAAA in interceptions with eight, and had 11 kickoff returns for 316 yards and a 28.7 yards per return average and 16 punt returns for 249 yards and a 15.6 yards per return average was recognized for being named first team All-State by the Georgia Sportswriters.

Williams was also named first team All-Region 1AAAA as a defensive back and a special teams performer by the Region coaches.

Also recognized for making first team All-Region were Johnson, Reynolds and offensive tackle Jaron Ousley,

Bearcats recognized for being named to the coaches All-Region 1AAAA second team were Henry, Adams, senior offensive guard Wiley Griffin, sophomore defensive tackle Quantavaus Middleton and senior linebacker Andre Conner.

Junior defensive back Jonathan Warren was recognized for being an honorable mention All-Region 1AAAA selection.

Reynolds, Ousley, Johnson, Williams and sophomore quarterback Rohan Gaines were recognized for making The Albany Herald All-Area team as well.