Tagovailoa and Evans share Player of the Year honor

Published 8:38 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

The 2018 football season featured possibly the most talent Shelby County has ever seen with incredible playmakers at every position on the field, but our two Players of the Year from the county really separated themselves from everybody.

Montevallo’s J.J. Evans was one of those two players for his unreal ability to go up and grab every ball thrown his way, which led to 1,704 total receiving yards on 64 receptions, which is second all-time in the state by just 21 yards, while also adding 18 touchdown catches.

And of course, we can’t leave off a once in a lifetime quarterback that we may never see in this county again—Thompson’s Taulia Tagovailoa.

Tagovailoa totaled 3,684 yards passing and 35 touchdowns during his final season with the Warriors, which helped lead his team to their second state championship game in school history.

While Thompson didn’t end up winning the state championship, the historic numbers put up by Tagovailoa and the Warriors the last two years are jaw dropping.

It’s a team that went from 0-10 in 2014 to back-to-back 5-5 season, followed by a 12-1 season and an 11-2 season with trips to at least the semifinals in each of those two seasons.

In just his two-year Thompson career, the Alabama commit threw for 7,054 yards and 71 touchdowns completing 548 of his 861 pass attempts with just 13 interceptions.

Tagovailoa also started for two seasons in Hawaii at Kapolei High School, and had stellar seasons their as well, and for his entire career he totaled 13,577 yards and 135 touchdowns just three the air, not accounting for his talent running the ball

His older brother Tua Tagovailoa, and Heisman trophy runner-up at the University of Alabama, played one less season at the high school level, but totaled 8,158 yards and 84 touchdowns at St. Louis High School in Hawaii.

Taulia Tagovailoa had surpassed that mark in his three years of starting at the end of his junior season to put into perspective what a unique talent he has been at the high school level.

If he had played one more full season in the state of Alabama, there is almost no question that he would have become the state’s all-time passing leader sitting in 16th currently, and just 3,000 yards away from JaMarcus Russell’s total set between 1999 and 2002.

His mark and his legacy have been left at the high school level and now it’s time to see what the back-to-back Player of the Year can accomplish in what is sure to be a bright future with continued hard work.

Evans is also a player with a high ceiling and bright future after a remarkable record-breaking junior season at Montevallo.

Currently with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Southern Cal, Texas A&M and many other schools after exploding this season, Evans seems to be on everybody’s radar following his breakout season.

After every game this season, people made sure to exclaim that he is the real deal, and with his burning passion to continue to work hard and improve in every facet of the game, it’s unlikely he declines during his senior season with the return of quarterback Malik Inabinette, who loves to target the trustworthy receiver.

After seeing his father pass away several years ago in a drowning accident, a remarkable story you can read more about in this week’s paper and online, Evans works every day to still make his father proud.

During his junior season, Evans posted 100-plus receiving yards in eight of the Bulldogs’ 11 games and posted at least one touchdown in 10 of their 11 games.

His lowest output of the season came in the first round of the playoffs with 73 yards, but in every other game, he had at least 81 yards and one touchdown.

Evans posted four 200-plus yard games, including a stretch at one point where he had 202-plus yards in three of four games. He also had one game with four touchdown receptions and another with five.

With those numbers, he has already proven his unbelievable talent, but he has vowed to work all off season at improving on every aspect of his game, which is scary to think about.

There is no questioning that these two athletes were not just two of the best high school players in Alabama this year, but also two of the best in the country.

For one more season, we get the gift of covering Evans, while we watch Tagovailoa go off and look to make the county proud at the next level.