Banquet tonight honors area's best
By Matt Middleton | Staff Writer
Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Augusta Chronicle , WJBF NewsChannel 6 and the Augusta Sports Council will honor 75 area football players and three coaches for their outstanding seasons tonight at Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites.

Reservations are required for the event.

Seattle Seahawks safety Deon Grant, a Josey graduate, is scheduled to speak for the third consecutive year. The Sports Council will join The Augusta Chronicle and WJBF at the event for the second consecutive year and will recognize Ray Guy Award winner and University of Georgia sophomore Drew Butler, the nation's top punter, and induct a third class into its American Football Kicking Hall of Fame.

"Combining all of those pieces lends itself to a really spectacular evening," said Randy DuTeau, event manager for the Augusta Sports Council.

The event honors the first-team all-area players form Georgia, South Carolina and Independent schools, in addition to three coaches and players of the year.

The area's overall player of the year will also be announced. The award was renamed for Grant, who led Josey to the 1995 state championship, two years ago. Past winners include a pair of former Strom Thurmond standouts: University of South Carolina quarterback Aramis Hillary and Navy defensive back Tra'ves Bush.

The award this year will go to one of three area players of the year, all quarterbacks: Jefferson County's B.J. Bostic, North Augusta's Loranzo Hammonds or Wardlaw Academy's Stephen Balentine.

Butler, a sophomore from Gwinnett County, won the Ray Guy Award in December. The award is named for Guy, a former Thomson and NFL standout, and has been given to the nation's top punter for the past 10 years. Butler was a consensus All-American in his first full season punting for the Bulldogs.

Tom Dempsey and Yale Lary will be inducted into the American Kicking Hall of Fame.

Dempsey is best known for kicking a 63-yard field goal in 1970, an NFL record he has shared with Jason Elam since 1998. Lary, an exceptional defensive back and punter (44.3-yard career average), was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Guy and Butler are scheduled to hold a free kicking clinic at 3:30 p.m. today at Lions Field in North Augusta.

Dempsey and Drew's father, Kevin, a former Georgia and NFL place-kicking standout, are also scheduled to attend.

Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or matt.middleton@augustachronicle.com.

From the Thursday, January 14, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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