Blake Donaldson, Florala – 2013 All-County Football Team Defensive Player of the Year
Florala junior linebacker Blake Donaldson is this year’s Class 1A All-County Football Team Defensive Player of the Year.
Donaldson recorded 140 tackles (78 solo, 62 assists) during the season.
The 6-foot-1, 217-pound junior has been playing football since his peewee days.
Donaldson said his success this season came with a lot of help from others, especially the Wildcat’s coaching staff.
“My coaches put me in the right spot,” he said. “My teammates, you know, put me in the position to make plays. My defensive ends and outside linebackers, they turned the ball back in, and I cut in to come back and make plays.”
Game highs for athletes usually come along during the meat of the season. Donaldson recorded a game-high 23 tackles in Florala’s last game of the regular season at Fruitdale.
“For the last game, we had nothing to play for, other than pride,” FHS coach Bubba Nall said. “I challenged him. I told him I wanted to see you have 15 tackles — he had 16 at the half.”
Donaldson said he learned more about his position than any other time during the last few games.
“I learned how to play the linebacker position, learned how to fit down hill and actually brought my hands a lot more,” he said. “My coaches drove that into my head and I finally got it in there, and just kind of came to effect right here at the end of the season.”
Donaldson is the son of Shannon and Anna Donaldson of Florala.
Austin West, Florala – 2013 All-County Football Team Offensive Player of the Year
Austin West knew he had to step up his game to have a great season.
The Florala junior running back racked up 1,044 yards on 151 carries on the ground, and had 102 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns to earn this year’s Class 1A All-County Football Team Offensive Player of the Year award.
“I knew coming in this year that we were losing a lot of seniors from last year,” West said. “We knew we had to step it up. The offensive line stepped it up really well.”
West’s game high came in a 179-yard effort against Georgiana. He added 16 yards in receiving in the game, and scored three touchdowns.
“He threw a pass that was pivotal in the game at one point,” FHS coach Bubba Nall said. “It didn’t look pretty coming out, but he caught it.”
Sometimes during a season, especially for a running back, things start clicking the right way.
West said it was during the Pleasant Home game when he started “getting back in the swing of things.”
When asked how a player keeps their good momentum going throughout the season, West said it’s all about the weekly routine.
“You go to practice every week,” he said. “And work harder each week as you go.”
That hard work from West really stood out to Nall.
“He plays hard all the time,” the coach said. “He’s wired up that way.”
West is the son of Barry and Christie West of Florala.
Bubba Nall, Florala – 2013 All-County Football Team Coach of the Year
The head-coaching job at Florala was thrown in Bubba Nall’s lap.
It was a bitter-sweet time for Nall because his first cousin, former FHS coach Justin Jones, left the team.
Nall said Jones left the team better.
“We knew we were better when he left than when we got here,” Nall said. “My wife (Donna) and I took on this responsibility with great pride, and I’m bless that we’ve got good players.”
That pride and responsibility, along with helping guide the Wildcats to a 6-4 season, earned Nall the honor of being selected as this year’s Class 1A All-County Football Team Coach of the Year.
Nall said this award really goes to the coaches, players and school administration.
“And for our families because this whole deal down here at Florala — people don’t know about it, but this is a very special place to be,” he said. “I think we’re just the tip of the ice berg. We’ve got young kinds who are coming. The enthusiasm and excitement here is through the roof. So, for me, I don’t see this as an individual honor.”
Nall also gave credit to the parents and his wife who put in countless hours to make the team “work.”
“I hope we have a snow ball effect,” he said. “This is the first time since 2005 that we beat Red Level and Pleasant Home in the same year. In our mind, we’re county champions. Since 2006-2007, we’ve had back to back winning years. Some people scoff at 6-4, but for us, it’s a winning year.”
Class 1A All-County Football Team
QB: Kyle Price, Florala
RB: Austin West, FHS
RB: Jon Cole Chesser, Pleasant Home
HM: Brandon Russell, FHS
TE: Tamaris Jamison, FHS
HM: Tanner Rogers, FHS
OL: Austin Chesser, PHS
OL: Tristan Petrey, FHS
OL: JOsh Nance, FHS
OL: Kegan Johnson, FHS
HM: Jaret Oswald, FHS
WR: Avery McNeill, FHS
WR: Troy Fantroy, PHS
WR: Ray Hall, FHS
HM: John Lee, RLS
LB: Blake Donaldson, FHS
LB: Carl Whitehurst, PHS
LB: Chandler Holmes, FHS
HM: D. Scott, RLS
DL: Tim Sims, RLS
DL: AJ Nicholson, FHS
DL: Tanner Veasey, PHS
DL: Tanner Rogers, FHS
HM: Sean Grissett, FHS
DB: Kn’yn Jones, FLS
DB: K. Price, FHS
DB: J. Chesser, PHS
DB: B. Russell, FHS
P: Levi Lynn, RLS