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Foster runs away with offensive player award

Jerel Foster and the rest of the Pike Liberal Arts senior class accomplished the goal they set out to accomplish this year. The Patriots snagged the state championship in dramatic fashion this year, but the accolades for Foster would continue.

Foster, the Patriots’ senior tailback, was named a finalist for the Alabama Sports Writers Association AISA Back of the Year earlier this month and his 290 carry, 2,407 yard, 27 touchdown rushing performance in 2008 has garnered him The Messenger’s 2008 All-County Offensive Player of the Year award.

“I am proud of being named to that honor,” Foster said. “It is saying a lot about me as well as my teammates and the school. I think this is the first time that anyone has gotten player of the year from here. It is a great achievement.”

PLAS head coach Steven Kilcrease has enjoyed coaching Foster all year.

“Jerel has got a God-given talent to play football,” Kilcrease said. “He is a great talent and he is deserving of this honor. He has been a joy to coach. He is one that when we had to have a few yards we could get him the ball and he would get those yards.”

Kilcrease said the best thing about Foster is his personality.

“He is a team player and he always gives the credit to his line,” Kilcrease said. “He is quiet and doesn’t really say much, but he is a leader on the field.”

Throughout the season Foster would never take any of the credit for his success. He would never fail to mention his offensive line as the reason for his yard totals and touchdowns.

Now it is the line’s turn to talk about Foster.

“It felt good to block for him all year and it gave me satisfaction to know that I was opening up the holes for him to run through,” junior Parker Smith said. “I knew that if I blocked well he would take it to the house and we would be successful as a team.”

Senior Phillip Quincey said blocking for Foster was a breeze.

“Everybody knew he was going to get the ball and we still opened up the hole and all he needed was that little sliver to get through,” Quincey said. “We knew that no matter what he was going to get down the field if we did our part.

“It feels good to know I did my job all year and we accomplished what we needed to accomplish. I think he is the best offensive player in the state.”

Quincey said one thing also makes it easy to block for a running back.

“It is a lot easier to block for someone when they give you all the credit,” Quincey said. “It makes you want to dig and give that 120 percent more than the 110 percent you always give, that little bit extra.”

Foster may have given all the credit to his line during the season, but senior Corey Goodson always returned the favor.

“All we had to do was make a little hole and he was busting through it,” Goodson said. “We give him all the credit for making the scores and helping us win.”

Foster became a Patriot two seasons ago and he said his time here has been great, but nothing has been better than this season.

“I was thinking about this year the other day,” Foster said. “We thought everything was going to be the same as the previous years until we went to Troy 7-on-7 camp and we were competing with bigger schools. We probably had only two teams score on us and we knew the defense was going to be good. We kept that in our minds and kept playing hard.”

The senior class was the prime motivation for the turnaround from a 3-7 season in 2006 and a 4-7 season in 2007.

“Everyone was wanting to win, we were focused and the senior class had a big part in that,” Foster said. “All we talked about was winning a state championship and getting a ring before we left. At practice the senior class would work hard and the underclassmen were so close to us they would look up to us and start doing what we were doing. Then everyone was connecting and competing in practice. That is how we stayed focused enough to keep winning.”

Foster was not alone on his journey to Messenger Offensive Player of the Year.

“I have to thank God for allowing me to play the game without any serious injury this year,” he said. “My teammates kept me up a lot. Playing through pain is showing another leadership quality. If you want to play at the next level you have to suck it up and play through the pain. I am looking forward to playing at the next level.”

Foster fought through one of the most painful experiences of the season in the state championship game. He caught a case of the cramps on what ended up being the game-winning drive, but he was not going to let that keep him down.

“I had to fight through it. When I caught the cramp the first person I looked at was Douglas and he told me ‘Let’s go, let’s take it.’ I had to fight through it. I just sucked it up and played through it. It was tough, but we had to do it in order to achieve something that big that had never been won at this school. We played our best and didn’t lay down for anything.

“I had to fight through it,” Foster said. “When I caught the cramp the first person I looked at was Douglas and he told me ‘Let’s go, let’s take it.’ I had to fight through it. I just sucked it up and played through it. It was tough, but we had to do it in order to achieve something that big that had never been won at this school.”