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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2006
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Class 1A-3A coach of the year Heath Grimes of Speake and player of the year Blake Turner of Addison top the list of Daily All-Area selections for the 2006 football season.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Class 1A-3A coach of the year Heath Grimes of Speake and player of the year Blake Turner of Addison top the list of Daily All-Area selections for the 2006 football season.

Class 1A-3A leaders

Heath Grimes, Blake Turner

Addison senior running back stepped up to carry 2A Bulldogs

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

Even before Addison High's Blake Turner rolled up some of the state's best rushing numbers this season, Bulldogs coach Randy White said he knew the senior running back could lead his team.

"Blake was going to have to carry the load for us this year," White said. "I knew the challenge was there, but our guys are up for a challenge all the time. I said 'Look, I hope you're up for carrying the ball 20 to 25 times a game,' and he said 'I am.' "

And Turner was. The 6-foot, 185-pounder rushed for 1,271 yards in 210 carries this season. He also scored 24 touchdowns as Addison moved up from Class 1A to 2A this year.

"People figured, 'If we can stop Blake Turner, we can stop Addison,' and he stepped it up a notch," White said.

After averaging 176.3 all-purpose yards a game and helping the Bulldogs go 10-2 and advance to the second round of the state playoffs, Turner has won The Daily's Class 1A-3A player of the year award.

Turner said the award is a reflection on "the linemen — they opened up holes to run through, and the other backs really blocked hard for me."

"A lot of people thought it would be about a 5-5 year for us because of the players we lost from last season and moving up in classification," Turner said.

"We lost a lot of starters, and it would've been hard even if we stayed in 1A, but we ended up 9-1 in the regular season against some high-quality teams."

Turner played a new role this year as Addison's featured running back.

Last year as a junior, he rushed for 1,001 yards and 13 touchdowns.

But then-seniors Caleb Parker and Wes Willingham also topped 1,000 yards as the Bulldogs won the 1A state championship.

"Last year, there were three of us and people couldn't key any one," Turner said. "I had to step my game up this year because I knew it would be a lot harder on me. We also had some young guys, too, that filled in and did a good job."

Turner shined as a junior and got the ball in some big situations. In fact, he scored the touchdown that sealed Addison's 21-12 win over Brantley in the 2005 state championship game.

"Last year, he stepped up and took some of the pressure off Caleb and Wes. So I knew he had it in him," White said.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association selected Turner as a finalist for 2A Back of the Year this season, and White said his player was a deserving candidate for more than statistics.

White describes Turner's play as "passionate — he lives and breathes football."

But White said that Turner will have a more lasting effect as the person behind the outstanding football player.

"He's a leader off the field, too," White said. "He cares about other people and he's always thinking about somebody else."

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