Sutton carries the load as Player of Year

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It’s rare to find a player playing both ways these days, especially one who is highly effective and active for most all of a game’s 48 minutes.

The secret to such a player’s ability lies in a weight room tucked inside a red field house in the Southeast part of Shelby County.

“When we started off, I really didn’t like it at all,” Shelby County High School senior Darion “Dee” Sutton said of the weight program. “But it showed on the field. When you’re stronger than your opponent across from you on the line, you can do pretty much whatever you want to.”

That’s exactly what the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Sutton did all year, earning him the honor of Shelby County Reporter Player of the Year.

“That means a lot to me,” Sutton said. “Coming from Shelby County High School, nobody really thought much about us the past few year, and then all of a sudden, we just showed up. I love it.”

Sutton etched his name in the Wildcats’ record book this season, rushing for 1,675 yards as a fullback, while racking up six sacks on defense. His 11-straight games of more than 100 yards rushing is just one of many rushing records, including 294 carries.

“The numbers he put up from a fullback position are amazing,” SCHS head coach Ryan Herring said. “I don’t believe a kid can carry the football 30 times a game, take that kind of beating, go on defense play defensive end and play every play on special teams. I don’t think I’ll see that type of effort, those type of numbers, ever again,” Herring said.

Sutton’s story goes back to week two of his sophomore season.

Herring was 1-1 as the Wildcats’ head coach after losing a close battle with Bibb County, 13-12. After realizing that opportunities were there at fullback, Herring moved the 185-pound sophomore Sutton into the backfield. Four touchdowns later, Sutton helped carry the Wildcats to a quadruple overtime victory against Demopolis, 48-42.

“Ever since then, it’s been Darion Sutton right, Darion Sutton left,” Herring said.

A 150-yard game to down Chelsea later that year showed that the kid wearing No. 22, was going to be special.

The new back gave Herring’s team a chance to make teams beat him.

“When you’ve got a guy like Darion, it’s real easy to line up and run the ball right at people and not lose a game.”

With rushing duties divided as a junior, Sutton collected 972 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns, he knew it was time to become a key leader on the team.

“It’s a lot on me, because I feel that if I don’t get it done, it won’t happen,” said Sutton, who added his team trusted him to be the leader.

Sutton said the decision to step up and be the leader came during the summer while sitting in his room.

“It just clicked. I’m the one they’ve been giving the ball to most of the time. I should step up this year and do more than I have the past few years,” Sutton said.

He began with 133 yards on the ground to up-end Pell City, 29-20, to open the season, and then went on to rack up another 100 yards against No. 2 Briarwood Christian, 26-3. Nine more 100-plus yards games followed, as the Wildcats rolled off 11-straight wins for their first undefeated regular season in Class 5A.

Now, Sutton is waiting to see where he will land next fall, as Southern Mississippi and Marshall are already talking him, as both teams have former Shelby County players on their team. Recruiters at larger Division I schools are beginning to take notice also, but for Sutton, the process is just beginning.

“I think if they look at him on tape, they’re going to like him,” Herring said. “I’d like to see him go big time. I don’t know how you could look at his highlights and not want him … Not having him next year will hurt. We can’t replace Darion Sutton.”