Andy senior linebacker led with heart

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One thing that great teams usually have in common, is they usually aren’t short on leaders, and for the Andalusia Bulldogs senior linebacker Antonio Gurley was exactly that.

“Antonio has one of those personalities that is so magnetic,” Andalusia head coach Trent Taylor said. “He is a guy that a lot of the players looked up to as a leader.”

For his efforts as a leader, his teammates selected him as a team captain and he also wielded the defensive sledgehammer as he would lead the Bulldogs onto the field prior to each game.

“The sledgehammer was something that Coach (Adam) Helms had the for,” Gurley said. “I asked him if I could carry it onto the field, and I was truly honored to have my teammates select me to lead them onto the field.”

Gurley said the role as a team leader wasn’t something he took lightly.

“It felt pretty good to know they saw me as a leader,” Gurley said. “I knew that there were guys on the team that looked up to me, and I did everything that I could to set a good example for them.”

Despite finishing just shy of their team goal of a state championship, Gurley said he thought it was great year.

“It hurts being that close to a the state championship, but I felt like it was pretty good year,” Gurley said. “Every week we just came in focused, and the coaches always had a great game plan for us each week. All we had to do was just go out there and execute what the coaches were telling us.”

Gurley said that the Friday night’s fourth-round loss to Handley was truly a heartbreaker.

“I was just heartbroken,” Gurley said. “There were just so many people believing in us, and I just feel like we let them all down. It hurt because we really did everything we could to win and we left it all on the field.”

The senior linebacker finished the season with a team-high 122 tackles, 16 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He was also used a short-yardage running back on offense where he rushed 17 times for 89 yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns.

“He was extremely tough up the middle on defense,” Taylor said. “He is a guy that always plays with a lot of energy.”

As for his high school career, Gurley said there has been nothing quite like it.

“It’s been excellent,” Gurley said. “I never really thought the day would come when I had stop playing football in Andalusia. I guess I knew it would end, but I thought I would have one more week. I’m just glad to end my high school career as an Andalusia Bulldog.”

Next up, Gurley said he has hopes of playing football at college.

“I really hope that I can go somewhere and play college ball,” Gurley said. “Hopefully, I can go to Huntingdon or West Florida.”

Antonio Gurley (19) leads the Bulldogs onto the playing field. Josh Dutton/Star-News

Antonio Gurley (19) leads the Bulldogs onto the playing field.
Josh Dutton/Star-News