Late but still great, it is my honor to present the 2014 (Sorta) Midseason Lemmy Awards.
The Lemmy Awards are renowned for being often imitated and never duplicated but we never said anything about them being punctual.
With so many key games played on Thursday last week, we decided to push the (imaginary) trophy presentations and announcements back a week in order to give the committee, which consists of me, the time and scrutiny this deserves.
So without further adieu:
Coach of the year
Curt Bradley, Braden River: Bradley took home a postseason Lemmy last year in the same category, and I picked Braden River to go to the playoffs prior to this season. So why the honor? Well, who expected the Pirates to be 5-0 and in control of Class 7A-District 10? Another reason: Bradley has brought consistency and stability to a program that was growing tired of its revolving door of head coaches. Bigger, tougher games await Braden River, including a Halloween meeting with Palmetto that could decide the district title and an Oct. 24 trip to face a North Port team that blocked the Pirates' 2013 playoff hopes. But you have to admire what Bradley is building at Braden River.
Honorable mention: Josh Smithers, Cardinal Mooney; John Booth, Manatee.
Most valuable player
Johnnie Lang, Manatee: The junior running back heads into Friday's game against Palmetto on pace to rush for more than 1,500 yards and score 22 touchdowns, numbers made even more impressive considering Lang rushed for 20 yards in Week 1 against Ware County, Ga. Lang has given plenty of firepower and reliability to a team that has broken in two new quarterbacks and a brand new offensive line while under the leadership of a new
head coach and offensive coordinator. Hoping not to burn out their star, Manatee limited Lang to 12 carries last week, and he still ran for 180 yards and four scores.
Honorable mention: Jacob Huesman, Braden River; Quincy Washington, Palmetto; Kwanzi Jackson, Manatee.
Game of the year
North Port at Lakewood Ranch, Oct. 2: Palmetto's season opener at Venice was a thrilling shootout, and Southeast and Manatee gave fans some excitement during a Saturday morning meeting at John Kiker Memorial Stadium. But the Mustangs' win over the Bobcats wasn't just high on drama -- Lakewood Ranch scored the winning touchdown with less than 33 seconds remaining -- it was high on stakes, too. Having lost its Class 7A-District 10 opener to Braden River, the Mustangs' playoff hopes would have been in peril had they gone to 0-2 against district foes. At 1-1, Lakewood Ranch is still in the thick of the chase and in control of its own destiny.
Honorable mention: Palmetto at Venice, Aug. 29; Manatee at Southeast, Sept. 27.
Tune in after the season for the postseason Lemmy Awards to see if anyone crashes the party.
John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnLembo1878.