At a night where Central Louisiana’s best of the best were honored, Jena Giant runningback Zerrick Jones outshined them all by taking home the Player of the Year award at the Jacked Up FM 102.3 FM Banquet in Alexandria.
Held at Pamela’s Bayou In A Bowl restaurant Monday night, November 20, ten Cenla football players were recognized and presented awards and gifts for their selection as Player of the Week during the ten weeks of the regular high school football season.
Each Friday night during the football season, FM 102.3 in Alexandria hosted a special live talk show around 10 p.m., reviewing the night’s games and talking live with coaches during special call-in segments.
Hosted by Brad Foster, Lamar Gifford and Lolly Griffin, the show is a remake of a similar program held in the 1980’s on 93QID. As the hosts talk with each coach, they ask them who stood out and made a difference in that night’s game. At the end of the show, the panel votes for that week’s Jacked Up Player of the Week.
During the next week, someone from the show visits the player at their school and presents them with a shirt noting the recognition.
“Back in the 1980’s, 93QID would have a banquet at the end of the regular season and they would hand out individual awards and then name a Player of the Year and Coach of the Year,” Foster said. “We are honored to bring this tradition back to Central Louisiana.”
Guests included the players and a guest of their choosing, along with the Head Coach and their spouses, along with local media. Following a meal, the crowd was treated to a special address by Alexandria legend and former LSU baseball National Champion, Warren Morris.
Morris’ positive speech provided motivation for the players and coaches as he relived the famous 1996 game-winning homerun that secured another national championship for the Tigers and the struggles he endured to get to that point in his career.
Following his speech, Foster took time to recognize each of the ten players of the week, highlighting their achievements for that specific game.
The honorees included: Week 1: Dillon Compton – Bunkie High.
Week 2: Cooper Scott – Menard High.
Week 3: Ja’Corian Norris – Tioga High.
Week 4: Adam Brodnax – Buckeye High.
Week 5: Jack Headrick – Grant High.
Week 6: Zerrick Jones – Jena High.
Week 7: Jim Burlew – Buckeye High.
Week 8: Eric Vories – Peabody High.
Week 9: Kyreon Prior – Marksville High.
Week 10: DeCareyn Sampson – Avoyelles High.
Each player received a plaque, a signed Warren Morris baseball, a Jacked Up jacket and other items.
The program continued by recognizing the coaches of each players’ school, with a special honor going to Jena Giant Head Coach Jay Roark for his accomplishments in the Giants’ perfect, 10-0 season.
It was noted throughout the night as several schools were honored that the only blemish to their records was the Friday night they faced the Jena Giants.
Roark and his wife, Sarah, were presented with a special token of the panel’s appreciation, including cupcakes for Sarah and a gift card to a restaurant in Alexandria for a night out after the Giants’ season has concluded.
Honored as the Coach of the Year was Bunkie High’s Head Coach Jimmie Hillman. Foster noted that the reason he was chosen instead of Roark was due to the fact that the panel expected Jena to be good this year but at best, they felt Bunkie would have a 3-7 season.
“But he took that team as a first-year head coach and ended the season with a 9-1 record,” Foster said. “Again, the only blemish to their record was the loss to Jena. And that game was one of the best high school football games I have ever seen.”
The grand finale of the event was the revealing of the biggest award of the night, the Jacked Up Player of the Year award. All ten weekly winners were in contention for the award but it was Jena’s Zerrick Jones’ record-breaking season that earned him the top award.
Along with helping the Giants go undefeated through the regular season, claiming another District 2-3A Championship and entering the Div. III Non-Select playoffs as the number one team, Jones has broken two Jena High rushing records and has amassed 1,965 yards this year while breaking another record having scored 32 touchdowns.
As part of his award package, he received a huge trophy noting his distinction and a year’s supply of meals from Whataburger.
Foster said the nightly Friday night football show will continue next year and continue to build. He also noted that the banquet was the first of an annual event as they hold to their passion of promoting high school football.