ROANOKE, Va. – Another season of 1st and 10 is in the books. With another VHSL state championship Saturday having come and gone, it's time for the WSLS 10 Sports Player of the Year banquet. All thirteen of our 1st and 10 Players of the week were honored at Hidden Valley Country Club in Salem. It's our 13th year honoring these athletes with our yearly event.
The Player of the Year is newly crowned state champion Jabari Blake of Heritage. The Pioneers senior quarterback had more than 3400 combined yards and 46 touchdowns for the VHSL Class 3 state champs.
"It's been just a huge blessing from God. I'm so happy I was chosen for Player of the Year, that means a lot. I just want to thank all the guys that I played with and my coaching staff that coached me and molded me into the man I am. It's an extreme blessing, I'm just excited," Blake said.
The Coach of the Year award goes to Radford's Matthew Saunders. The longtime coach took his Bobcats from a 2-win season a year ago to the state semifinals this year in Class 2.
"It means a lot to us as a community and as a team. These kids work so hard and believed we could do it. I think we had great senior leadership this year and our team has great chemistry with each other and they just believed that we could do it," Saunders said.
Forty years as a head coach, 38 at William Byrd high school. 45 years in high school coaching overall comes to an end for legend Jeff Highfill at the home of the Terriers. HIghfill heads into retirement, but not before earning our Joshua Leonard Courage and Commitment award for his legacy of work with young people in the valley for more than 4 decades.