Athlete of the Year nominees: A.L. Johnson

Published 2:43 pm Friday, May 21, 2010

Ashley Edwards

Class: Sophomore

Sports: Basketball and track

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Athlete on Athlete: “Ashley’s good. She’s real good. She tries to get other people involved. When she sees someone open and she knows they are able to make the shot, she’ll pass them the ball. She always tells up we need to play together and stick together. She’s a good friend. She’s good at driving the lane. She makes most of her shots when she drives in.” – A.L. Johnson girls basketball player Terra King

Coach Speak: “She’s been a starter for three years now. She’s our starting shooting guard. She’s really gifted in basketball. It just comes naturally with her. She’s left-handed, but now she’s getting to the point where she can use her right hand. A lot of times, she’ll have to carry games almost on her own. She’ll speak out about things. She’s very aware of what is going on out there. I’m looking for her to play at the next level. I’m looking for her to go and play at a four-year college. She’s pretty bright. We have a little elementary team and she is one of the elementary coaches. People expect a lot out of her.” – A.L. Johnson girls basketball coach Rose Wolfe

The Skinny: Ashley Edwards is one of the best kept secrets in the Black Belt. ALJ’s girls team is still young and has been in the building stages for the last few years. Edwards has started on that team since the eighth grade. But she really came into her own during her sophomore campaign. She is one of the rare local talents that can single-handedly dictate the tempo of a game. She continuously proves capable of getting to the rim at will with a quick first step that virtually no high school defender can contain. As she continues to develop her skills, Edwards will become increasingly unstoppable, carrying the potential to boost ALJ to a region crown and earn herself a college education in the process.

Demarcus Woods

Class: Freshman

Sports: Football and basketball

Athlete on Athlete: “He’s very talented. He’s smart. He’s dedicated to the game and he wants to win. He’s a leader. Right now he’s good. He works hard andt ries to gett better everyday. He should have a ring on his finger by the times he is a senior. He keeps everybody together. He always says ‘swarm to the ball like bees,’ and that’s what we do. He keeps that intensity up on defense and keeps everybody hype.” – A.L. Johnson quarterback Kejuan McGhee

Coach Speak: “He’s been a big part of the football team for the last two years. You could see him coming on. He’ll be called on for a lot of leadership this fall. I could see it starting to develop during basketball season. I had a veteran team and i could see it in the seniors’ eyes, when he spoke, they listened. He’ls always got a smile on his face and is happy. And he has improved so much in the weight room.” – A.L. Johnson head football coach Mose Jones

The Skinny: It would be difficult to find a more likable kid than Demarcus Woods. But that pleasant demeanor evaporates in athletic venues, especially at his linebacker spot, a position he has held since his eighth grade year. Woods’ weight room efforts have begun to optimize his physical capabilities, matching them closer to his more limitless mental capacities. More than anything, though, Woods is a leader. He pays no attention to his youth, filling leadership voids in both word and deed whenever needed. It was a trend he began during the football season when he would organize Facebook groups and events to help promote A.L. Johnson games and athletes. Then came his marquee moment in the basketball season when he made a key steal and free throw to help seal a win over rival Linden. He’ll get the chance to develop those leadership abilities even more in the fall when he will likely be called upon to serve as A.L. Johnson’s starting quarterback, a role he does not take lightly no matter what his perennial smile might suggest.