BY DEAN HOCKNEY
Lebanon, Ind. – Kokomo High School enjoyed a record-setting 2017 football season. Led my head coach Brett Colby, several Wildkat players earned all-conference and all-state accolades as part of a squad that finished as the Class 5A state runners-up. Last Sunday afternoon in Lebanon, the awards continued for the Kats.
At the 11th Annual Griddy Awards, presented by the Indiana Football Digest and Regional Radio Sports Network, a pair of Wildkats walked away with a Griddy. Head coach Brett Colby, who recently announced his retirement, earned the Class 5A Coach of the Year Award while junior Javias Gray was named to the 2018 Prime Time 25 squad.
For Colby, the Coach of the Year Award marked his second consecutive Griddy after receiving the 2017 Badge of Courage Griddy for leading his squad in tornado relief efforts. Colby and Gray also accepted a Griddy to represent Kokomo’s appearance in the IHSAA state finals.
The state-wide award also caps a sensational 28-year career that saw the football mentor finish with a 205-98 mark. Colby, the six-time North Central Conference Football Coach of the Year and the 2016-2017 NCC Boys Coach of the Year, departs Kokomo with a 90-31 record – his 90 wins are second best in Kokomo history behind Bob Hamilton (147) and his .747 winning percentage is unmatched. He posted a 66-10 (.868) record in NCC competition, finishing with seven conference titles in his 11 years. While at Kokomo, Colby coached more than three dozen All-State performers, six Indiana All-Stars and one IHSAA Mental Attitude Award recipient.
Colby has one more game to coach as he was selected as the head coach of the North squad in the annual Indiana North-South All-Star Game to be held on July 13 at North Central High School.
Gray, who will now grace the cover of the 2018 Indiana Football Digest as a member of the Prime Time 25, is a 5-foot-11, 265-pound nose guard who was a key ingredient to the state finals run of the Wildkats last November. A two-time all-state selection, he had 54 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries. He was also a lineman for an offense that ran for more than 2,500 yards.
Kokomo was not the only local team to earn a Griddy. Now retired Tri-Central head coach George Gilbert was presented the Griddy for Lifetime Achievement. The 2017 inductee into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame, Gilbert ended his 38-year career with a 222-176 record, including a 61-40 mark with the Trojans. He highlighted his career when he led Tri-Central to the 2013 Class 1A state championship.
Tipton junior K.J. Roudebush, a 6-foot, 185-pound quarterback, will join Gray and 23 other players on the cover of the Indiana Football Digest after he was named to the 2018 Prime Time team. Last season, he completed 154 of 276 passes for 2,433 yards and 20 touchdowns. He added 12 more scores on the ground while rushing for 516 yards on 123 carries.
The Griddy Awards were held for the first time in 2007, at the Indianapolis Colts practice facilities and pavilion in Indianapolis. Although it was the first year, the concept started well before that first event. Indiana High School Football authority Paul Condry and his team at the Indiana Football Digest as well as Regional Radio Sports Network collaborated with the Colts organization as well high school coaches to create a celebration of Indiana High School Football once per year. This event would become the Oscars or ESPY’s of football in Indiana.
Each year, over 400 attendees to this banquet and award ceremony gather together to recognize the best players, coaches, and media representatives in Indiana High School Football. These award recipients are chosen after a panel of media and coaches review over 18,000 varsity players in Indiana.
Other award winners included: Coach of the Year in 1A Joey Paridaen of Eastern Greene, 2A Scott Buening of Southridge, 3A Mic Roessler of Brebeuf, 4A Justin Roden of East Central and 6A Mike Kirschner of Ben Davis; Defensive Coordinator of the Year was Derek Thompson of Lowell; Offensive Coordinator of the Year was Bob Gaddis of Columbus East; Excellence in Football Media Award went to Mike Skvara of Evansville and the National Football Foundation; Jason Kuntz Badge of Courage Award was earned by Kirschner; Brad Breyfogle Spirit of Sports Award went to Mark Jaynes, voice of the Indianapolis 500; Player of the Year in 1A Caleb Hamilton of Eastern Greene, 2A Jayce Harter of Southridge, 3A Michael Lindauer of Evansville Memorial, 4A Jordan Jusevitch of Lowell, 5A Jamon Hogan of Columbus East and 6A Reese Taylor of Ben Davis.
A complete list of all award winners and all-state selections can be found at www.griddys.com.