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Athlete of the Year: Collins, Wallace nominated for award

The first pair of nominees for the third annual Demopolis Times Athlete of the Year Award come from Marengo Academy.

One is quiet and unassuming on the surface, but on the field, diamond and court defies his stature with hard-nosed, adept play that makes him one of the very best at everything he does.

The other is the unquestioned leader of the Longhorns despite only being a junior, a distinction he earned by proving the gutsiest, most clutch guy on the field.

The duo stands as the first of seven sets of nominees, one from each high school in Marengo County. A different school will be featured each week until every institution’s nominees have been profiled. The 2010 Athlete of the Year will be announced June 5.

Wood Collins

Class: Senior

Sports: Baseball, basketball and football

Athlete on Athlete: “He’s a good guy, works hard at what he does. He’s good in all three sports. He’s good to be around. Definitely going to miss him, not just the three-hole hitter in baseball, wing in basketball and tight end in football, just in general. We need more leaders like him. It is going to be tough to fill his spot in all three sports next year. I can’t remember a time I’ve seen him crack under pressure. When it comes down to it, we probably want him hitting over anybody else on the team in baseball. He likes being under pressure.” — MA teammate Matt Wallace

Coach Speak: “He was a real surprise. I didn’t know him when I got here. Tremendous hands. He played tight end for us. He was a little out of position because of his size. He caught a lot of balls for us, but he really helped us in his blocking. He’s the kind of guy you love to coach because you never hear anything but positives from him. Basketball, he wasn’t going to play but he knew the team needed him. Baseball, he loves that game and he is good at it. He is tough enough to take them off the chest and still throw somebody out.” — MA headmaster and football coach Robby James

The Skinny: Collins is an anomaly. His stature never figured into how good he would be at anything. In basketball, he racked up steals by the bundle and fired a quick release, smooth three-point shot that left plenty of opponents reeling. In football, he earned All-State honors despite being undersized for the tight end position. And in baseball, he etched his place in Marengo Academy lore early when he launched a home run off the scoreboard at Montgomery’s Patterson Field during the state championship series. He was a sophomore then. Since that time, Collins – who says he prefers fielding to hitting – has gotten even better at the plate, boasting a quick, compact swing that has also earned him All-State honors. All in all, it is hard to accomplish a lot more than Collins has during his high school career.

Matt Wallace

Class: Junior

Sports: Baseball, basketball and football

Athlete on Athlete: “I feel comfortable when he has the ball in his hands because he’s been doing it all his life, basically. Every time he’s had the chance, he’s stepped up and gotten the job done. He’s the best leader we’ve got in all three sports. He’s always keeping us in ball games and getting everybody pumped up. Energetic. He’s always wanting to have fun. He distributes the ball to everybody. He’s not stuck on one person. That helps the team out. Without him, we wouldn’t make it to the playoffs in baseball because of his pitching. In basketball, he’s our point guard and in football, he’s our quarterback. He’s always had heart. He’s a winner. He does everything it takes to win.” — MA teammate Wood Collins

Coach Speak: “His daddy was a heck of a coach. I think he got a lot of his leadership from his dad. Coaches want the ball in his hands. When you start the game, you want somebody who wants to be there. Football, he played every down. He likes it. If you had him over there on the sidelines, he’d be pulling at your shirt, wanting in the game. It lets us know he’s bought into the program. He wants to win. He fights for his school. He’s real proud of his school. He’s got a lot of loyalty. The way he handles himself, all the kids look up to him. He plays so hard, all the kids want to help him and be a part of it.” — MA headmaster and football coach Robby James

The Skinny: In every sport he plays, Wallace is the guy that makes the Longhorns go. And it isn’t always athleticism as much as it demeanor. The kid absolutely knows how to win. In basketball, he is the guy that takes over tight games down the stretch. In football, he truly almost never left the field. The team’s quarterback, free safety, punter, punt returner and placekick holder, Wallace should charge other’s rent for getting on his field. And then there is baseball. Yeah, he is MA’s starting shortstop. But the mound is where Wallace has begun to feel most at home. That is the place where he has the game in his hands. And Matt Wallace knows what to do when he has the game in his hands.