Helena’s Jordan Washington named 2023 Shelby County Player of the Year

Published 6:37 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

2023 was a year full of incredible individual performances from both the names that we’ve come to know and new faces making a name for themselves in breakout seasons.

There were many different players who could have been named Shelby County Player of the Year in any other year, but as the season went on, it became clear that there was one player who couldn’t be denied his crown.

He’s a familiar face to many who follow football in the area and a player who kept improving each time he took the field, to the point where all the pieces fell into place for him to make the biggest impact.

His name is Jordan Washington, and after years of waiting, he can finally claim the title of Shelby County Player of the Year.

Washington entered the season in the mix as one of the top running backs in the county. He came off a 2022 season where he ran for 898 yards and 12 touchdowns off 149 carries.

However, he was out injured for the final two games of the season, which not only limited his personal production, but came at the worst time for Helena: right before a must-win game against Benjamin Russell that they then lost to fall out of playoff contention.

With a full season in front of him in 2023, Washington stepped into his role as Helena’s main running back and found massive success in his senior season.

In his final year in a Huskies uniform, Washington played all 12 games, and he took on a heavy workload of 257 carries in those contests and made the most of it, rushing for 1,810 yards and 24 touchdowns.

That doubled his 2022 production despite only playing four more games than the previous season and was good enough for the county rushing title, running for over 350 yards more than the closest competition.

Those numbers also came while he occasionally paired with Jeremy Spratling and Domynyck Santiago in the Helena backfield, with both of his fellow running backs finding success as well.

Beyond his running ability, Washington played a key role in a diversified offense led by the Huskies’ breakout quarterback Carson Acker and his weapons at receiver in Hunter Hale, Torrey Ward and Nathan Jones, among others.

Washington caught passes as effectively as any of the Huskies lined up wide, catching 13 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

His contributions helped open up the playbook for coach Richie Busby and powered the Huskies offense, whether it was with short runs between the tackles, big gains from blocks by Helena’s excellent offensive line or making catches around the field.

The field of Player of the Year contenders was certainly crowded, especially given the success of players like Kaleb Harris and Anquon Fegans at Thompson during the year.

However, just like many great college football players have their “Heisman moment,” Washington had his own unforgettable performances that solidified his Player of the Year case.

Against Pelham on Sept. 15 in a big televised rivalry game, he dominated all night long, running for 305 yards and four touchdowns to single-handedly give the Huskies the 35-14 win.

Standing on the sidelines in awe, I thought that performance would be the best from any player in 2023.

It wasn’t. It didn’t even prove to be Washington’s best.

That came in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs against Wetumpka, where he finished with 430 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns. He took 34 carries for 340 yards and six touchdowns, a pair of receptions for 60 yards and, on his lone pass attempt of the season, a 23-yard touchdown pass.

That gave Helena the 58-28 win to advance to the second round of the playoffs, scoring the most touchdowns by any county player in a game this season and the first to score seven times in a game for a Busby-coached team since former Alabama wide receiver Ardarius Stewart.

Washington found himself in rarified air throughout the year, and he will continue to be mentioned among the greats as his phenomenal Helena career draws to a close, one where he had 4,390 yards and 65 touchdowns in 30 games as a Husky.

As Washington’s time on the hills of Helena ends, he can now say he has reached the mountaintop and claimed the title of Shelby County Player of the Year.