It’s fantastic to be on a list like that. ... What those other winners have done shows that special things are waiting for you, and are expected, in the future.” landon collins, Dutchtown football player
Young athletes today often are criticized because they don’t take the time to understand what others have done in the past.
Don’t include Dutchtown High School’s Landon Collins and West Feliciana’s Britney Washington in that group.
The winners of The Advocate’s 2012 Athlete of the Year awards listened intently as the list of past winners was recounted during the Star of Stars banquet Monday night at The Advocate’s administrative offices.
“An award like this means you’re among the best,” Collins said. “As he (master of ceremonies Patrick Wright) was reading the list of names back to 1986 all the way down to now, in 2012, it was something.
“It’s fantastic to be on a list like that. That (list) shows that it’s more than high school athletics. What those other winners have done shows that special things are waiting for you, and are expected, in the future.”
Collins was selected as the Boys Athlete of the Year winner for 2012 by The Advocate sports staff, finishing ahead of two other impressive finalists, Donaldsonville’s Devon Breaux and Episcopal’s Vincent Dellocono.
Washington was selected out of a formidable group of girls finalists that also included St. Amant’s Toni Rodriguez and Hosanna Christian Academy’s Laticia Watson. Both winners are the first for their respective schools.
“I’m always humble and I try not to boast about anything I do,” Washington said. “It’s an honor for me just to be here and to win the award is an even bigger honor.
“There are so many great athletes. I’ve always thanked God for the talent he has given me. I just try to make the most of it.”
The banquet that concluded with Collins, an Alabama football signee, and Washington, a Southern University basketball signee, taking top honors also put the spotlight on the top competitors in a wide variety of sports in 2011-12. In all, 23 Star of Stars for individual sports and five Athlete of the Year finalists were honored.
Collins was both a Star of Stars winner for football and an Athlete finalist. Washington and Episcopal’s Dellocono both were finalists in 2011.
Each winner displayed a different kind of versatility. Collins was one of the nation’s top football recruits and showed a penchant for versatility as soon as the football season began.
Though he was well known as a defensive player, Collins made his mark on offense by rushing for 1,218 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 13.7 yards per carry in his first season to play running back since middle school.
By the end of the season, Collins became the first player ever to be voted to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 5A All-State on both offense and defense. He also was voted Louisiana’s Mr. Football.
In the spring, Collins helped power the Griffins to a Class 5A state title in track and field. He had season bests of 10.62 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.53 in the 200 meters and was part of Dutchtown’s 4x200-meter relay team that ran the nation’s third-fastest time at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Outdoor Track Meet.
“I had fun tonight,” Collins said. “But I was kind of nervous at the end. We (finalists) all had a lot of accolades and accomplishments. This was special.
“Still, the thing I’ll remember most was being out there with my teammates, winning a district title in football and the state title in track. This is something extra.”
Washington said she also was thankful to receive The Advocate’s “special” award. She admitted she couldn’t help thinking back to December when it looked like her sports year might be over.
Washington had already earned All-Metro honors in volleyball by compiling 457 kills when she suffered two broken fingers during an early-season basketball game and had to undergo surgery. She credited her teammates for lifting her spirits following the surgery. Eventually, Washington returned to the court and averaged 26.4 points and 14 rebounds per game.
The two broken fingers kept Washington from returning to the pole vault for track and field. Instead, she picked up the javelin and led all local competitors with a toss of 130 feet, 3 inches.
“I had no idea I’d be able to throw it that far,” Washington said. “I was just trying to help my team. And I’m not the kind of person who can sit around. I had to be doing something.”