Steven Jazdyk was determined to win the award. So were his coach and his community.
After rushing for 296 yards and six touchdowns in a 61-56 victory against Brownwood last week, Lampasas head coach Brian Emerson began encouraging locals to vote for Jazdyk for KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week. Word quickly spread, and supporters of the senior running back turned out in masses as Jazdyk led virtually the entire duration the poll was active.
In the end, Jazdyk received 60 percent of the total vote, earning him the accolade and an overwhelming sense of astonishment.
“It is just a feeling of awe that you get when you have the support of the community that will back you up in anything you do,” he said. “I’m in shock about it.”
Admitting he wanted to win the award before graduating, Jazdyk was nominated twice last season, but did not win. Following a 298-yard, four-touchdown performance two weeks ago against Llano, he was surprised he did not make the list of candidates.
Last week, he removed any chance of being overlooked by helping the Badgers (3-5, 1-2 District 8-3A) stun the Lions to end a seven-game district losing streak.
Jazdyk ran the ball 29 times, finishing with a 10.28 yards-per-carry average, moving him into second place among district rushers with 780 yards despite being sidelined for almost the entire nondistrict schedule.
“He’s just a physical kid,” Emerson said. “There were a lot of times where he had his hand on the ground, regaining his balance so he can add some yards to his carry or he’s stepping over people. … He just didn’t go down with contact.”
Jazdyk received 971 of the 1,610 votes cast, making him the second Badger to win the award after teammate Gary Spencer garnered 77 percent of the vote following a 313-yard, two-touchdown performance during the Badgers’ 35-14 victory against China Spring.
Like Jazdyk, Lampasas’ first-year coach was humbled by the small town’s support of his players.
“(The online turnout) tells people a lot about this community,” Emerson said. “The voting that has taken place with Steven and Gary is indicative of this community. It is outstanding to see that kind of support.”
Highlighted by senior defensive back Darnell Everett, the entire Shoemaker defense came in second place with 33 percent of the vote after defeating Midway 7-3 last week. Everett returned a fumble 88 yards in the first quarter for the game’s lone touchdown before helping hold the Panthers to their lowest offensive output since 2007.
Copperas Cove senior Phillip Baptiste finished third after catching 11 passes en route to breaking the school’s single-season receiving record. Baptiste totaled 113 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldawgs beat Ellison 48-28.
Rounding out the nominees was Killeen junior Djiron Lilley, who caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner with eight seconds remaining, and returned a kickoff 46 yards for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against Belton.
While winning the award was a thrill, beating Brownwood on Cale Walker’s 55-yard touchdown reception from Collin Bowen with 39 seconds remaining is something Jazdyk will never forget.
“After Cale ran into the end zone, I dropped to my knees,” he said, “and I was like, ‘Oh, wow. Did this really just happen?’ It was awesome.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com