Jeremiah Alexander named Shelby County Player of the Year

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Entering the 2020 high school football season, athletes didn’t know what to expect in a season unlike any other, all they had their sights on was playing the sport they love.

Players wanted the opportunity to go out and give their all after seeing spring sports ripped away just a few months earlier, which led to a passionate season from each person that stepped on the field knowing that opportunity could be snatched from them at any moment.

That passion showed off this season with one of the deepest pools of talent Shelby County has seen in many years.

It not only led to special seasons for so many teams because of the effort with five making it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1997, but it also showcased some of the best individual talent in the state.

But four local players stood out more than others this year from what they were able to do on the football field week in and week out.

Oak Mountain junior quarterback Evan Smith actually led the county in rushing yards this year with 1,719 yards and 23 touchdowns, while also adding 620 yards passing and six touchdowns; while Thompson junior quarterback Conner Harrell totaled close to 3,500 yards passing with 40 touchdowns this season

Those two were stellar and often times the best players on the field, but this year belonged to two defensive stars—Briarwood’s Tyler Waugh and Thompson’s Jeremiah Alexander.

Around the football almost as much as a quarterback, the two linebackers were simply spectacular to watch this season with no offense having an answer for their play.

Waugh was mesmerizing to watch during his senior season. He seemed to know where the ball was going on every play and was seemingly in on every tackle with 90 solo tackles and 75 assisted tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also added three interceptions.

But aside from being one of the state’s best linebackers, he added the presence of being able to flip sides of the ball quite often to run the wildcat offense and finished the season with 257 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on that side of the ball as well.

Alexander, however, was the strongest defensive presence in the county this year and the most dominant player to watch.

Easily pushing offensive linemen backward into the quarterback or flattening them to get in the backfield, he finished the season with 29 tackles for loss, eight sacks and 105 total tackles, splitting time as an edge rusher and true linebacker.

His dominance on that side of the ball was game changing and has earned him the 2020 Shelby County Player of the Year award.

Through three seasons as a starter, Alexander now has 70 tackles for loss and 23 sacks with 298 total tackles and is one of the top recruits in the country as the state’s top prospect.

His physical presence led to many forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries this season, and he always stepped up in key moments when the defense needed a stop.

He also helped open up more for other teammates to make big plays as well with so much attention paid to where he was on the field.

It was a tough year to narrow down the list of candidates with so many players giving max effort with some remarkable stats, but Alexander was the biggest game changer on the state’s best team this year, earning him the top award from both the eye test and his stats.