Six Outstanding Student Athletes Selected in Week 5 of Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week Program
- Class 6-A: Tanner Mordecai, Sr., Quarterback, Waco Midway
- Class 5-A: John Stephen Jones, Sr., Quarterback, Highland Park
- Class 4-A: Nomar Rivera, Sr., Running Back, Smithville
- Class 3-A: JaQuan Jackson, Sr., Running Back/Outside Linebacker, De Kalb
- Class 2-A: Brian Hamilton, Sr., Quarterback/Safety/Kicker, Albany
- Private Schools: Warren Walls, Defensive Lineman, Dallas Bishop Lynch
In its twelfth consecutive year, Ford Motor Company’s Player of the Week program is again honoring six outstanding student-athletes each week of the 2017 regular season, recognizing one player in each of the state’s six athletic classifications. The winners are chosen for athletic achievements on the field, as well as for outstanding scholarship and community involvement. These players are the embodiment of Ford’s Go Further commitment.
This week’s winning athletes join a long list of remarkable players recognized for their exceptional efforts.
Week 5 Winners
Class 6-A: Tanner Mordecai, Sr., Quarterback, Waco Midway
There’s an old saying in sports: It’s not where you start, it’s where you start but where you finish. That perfectly describes the night Waco Midway’s Tanner Mordecai had against Copperas Cove last weekend in a nutshell. The Midway dual threat signal-caller saw his team fall into a 10-0 hole in the second quarter before his competitive nature kicked in. Then, with Mordecai firmly at the controls, the Panthers exploded for 35 points in the second quarter en route to a 49-45 victory, officially spoiling Copperas Cove’s homecoming. With Midway (5-0, 1-0 district), now #12 in the Dave Campbell Texas Football 6-A poll, Tanner showed why he’s a coveted Oklahoma recruit, passing for 420 yards and two touchdowns of 54 and 11 yards. Additionally, he got it done with his legs, carrying 16 times for 129 yards and three more scores (from 21, 7 and 2 yards). Tanner capped the evening engineering a late game-winning drive, rallying the Panthers from a 45-42 deficit. “He’s an absolute winner,” raves Coach Jeff Hulme. For the season, Tanner has now thrown for 1,386 yards and 15 scores leading Midway into a key District 8 6-A battle with Harker Heights this Friday.
Tanner is a winner in the classroom too, where he maintains a straight-A average and is a member of the National Honor Society. In the spring, he runs a leg on the track team’s 4 x 100 relay and is involved with FCA, PALS (elementary school peer mentoring) and various community service projects.
“Tanner has picked up where he left off as a junior,” says Coach Hulme of his two-time captain. “His leadership and competitiveness are undisputed and he’ll always go above and beyond for the team and the coaching staff.’’
Class 5-A: John Stephen Jones, Sr., Quarterback, Highland Park
What young man wouldn’t be thrilled to play in his grandfather’s backyard? But when your grandad is Jerry Jones and the field is in AT&T Stadium, it becomes that much more special. Highland Park quarterback John Stephen Jones led the Scots to the Class 5-A, Division I title at Jerry’s place last December and there’s no reason to believe that his team won’t make another run this post-season. Last week’s 63-42 win over unbeaten North Forney (and last week’s Built Ford Tough 5-A Player of the Week, Colby Suits) was a perfect example. Jones completed 17 of 25 passes for 364 yards and four TDs as the Scots pulled away (it was 35-28 at halftime) in the second half for their fourth straight win. Except for a 30-second drive to end the first half and a couple of kneel-downs in the second half, Highland Park scored on nine straight possessions. Only a 53-49 opening-night loss mars fourth-ranked Highland Park’s record. At the mid-point of the regular season, John Stephen has completed 87 of 132 passes for 1,490 yards and 19 TDs, well on his way to a 4,000+ yard season.
Not surprisingly, John Stephen is as comfortable in the classroom as he is on the gridiron. Owner of a 3.626 GPA, he might consider playing in the Ivy League though several Power 5 programs are on his case. In addition to reading to elementary schoolers, Jones is active in bible studies at Highland Park United Methodist Church as well as with the Voice of Hope, a summer camp program for underprivileged youngsters.
“John Stephen is one of the top quarterbacks I’ve coached at Highland Park,” says Scots’ Head Coach Randy Allen. “He’s only the fourth QB in the school’s long tradition to lead the team to the state championship. He is a strong leader and sets an example as a team player, a tenacious competitor, and a playmaker.”
Class 4-A: Nomar Rivera, Sr., Running Back, Smithville
Even the casual fan would realize that Nomar Rivera’s numbers against Lago Vista last week were simply ridiculous. What looked like a typo in the newspaper was 100% accurate. In a little over two quarters, the Smithville running back carried only 11 times for 305 yards, averaging 27.7 yards a pop! As a result, the Tigers remained undefeated by pasting Lago Vista, 63-21, in their final non-district game. Nomar—all 5-9, 185 pounds of him—stood tall, scoring three touchdowns, including two from 62 and 90 yards in the first half to build a 42-7 lead. He added a third score from 38 yards out early in the third quarter before taking the rest of the evening off. “Nomar is one of the most underrated players out there,” says Coach Cyril Adkins, a former college player. The Tigers are 5-0 entering their bye weekend, but what’s most amazing is that they were 0-10 just a year ago. Nomar is sure to see the ball more often when 4A Division 2 District 10 play begins on Oct. 13.
Nomar is starting to get noticed by colleges and with a nifty 3.96 GPA (on a scale of 5.0) he’s a natural in the classroom. A year ago, he rushed for 1,000 yards in an injury-shortened campaign (he’s already surpassed that in five games), but came back in the spring to win the 200-meter district title. He also ran on the sprint relay team and long jumped. A spiritual person, Nomar is a member of FCA and his local church’s youth group, and regularly greets and reads to the Smithville elementary school kids.
“Last year’s winless season really motivated Nomar, who emerged as a leader in the weight room and became driven to turn things around this season,” says Coach Adkins. “As much of a hard worker he is in the classroom and in sports, he’s a high character young man who brilliantly represents our school and community.”
Class 3-A: JaQuan Jackson, Sr., Running Back/Outside Linebacker, De Kalb
Anyone who thinks that coaching football is easy didn’t get to see the De Kalb-New Diana game last week. It took a pair of overtimes, a gutsy two-point conversion, and an out-of-this-world performance by JaQuan Jackson to earn the Bears a victory they’ll be talking about for years. After a 47-47 regulation tie, JaQuan scored on the first play of overtime. It wasn’t enough. In the second OT, the Bears trailed by seven and faced 4th and 12 at the 27. Jackson went in motion, drew a crowd, and opened it up for a De Kalb TD. Coach Eddy May decided to end the game at that point. Jackson made a move and bounced it out to the left, scoring the winning two-pointer and ending a huge night. Overall, the 6-1, 175-pound running back carried an amazing 56 times for 387 yards and eight touchdowns plus two two-pointers including the game-winner. He also made four tackles in 30 plays as the outside linebacker, the first time all season he played defense. For the season, he has now carried 158 times for 1,458 yards and 26 TDs.
A 3.2 GPA student, Jackson plays basketball and runs track, qualifying for the state meet in the 110-meter hurdles last spring. Very active in church activities, JaQuan greets elementary schoolers every Friday, walking the youngsters to class. They love it! Jackson is considering an offer from Louisiana-Monroe, though he may well receive other bids. He wants to play running back at the next level.
“JaQuan is just an amazing kid,” says Coach May. “He’s not just the best player I’ve ever coached, he’s the best kid. If he continues on this path, he’s going to be successful at anything he does. His work ethic is beyond belief. His teammates respect and love him. With all the publicity he gets, he gives them all the credit.”
Class 2-A: Brian Hamilton, Sr., Quarterback/Safety/Kicker, Albany
Whenever Albany’s Brian Hamilton was on the field last week, the scoreboard operator at Cisco had to pay close attention. At any moment, the all-everything senior could carry the ball to the house or kick it straight through the uprights. Brian almost singlehandedly took the air out a highly anticipated Big Country showdown as the Lions jumped to a 20-0 lead through one quarter on the way to an easier-than-expected 39-13 win over Cisco. Hamilton, Albany’s quarterback/safety/kicker had his hand in all three TDs in the decisive first quarter, throwing for one TD, running for another, and capping it off with a 56-yard, pick-six. All told Brian hit on 16 of 24 passes for 167 yards and three TDs and ran for 91 yards and a score. Just for good measure the 6-0, 190-pounder added seven tackles and two interceptions, including the one he brought all the way back. Now Albany (5-0), #2 in the Dave Campbell Texas Football Class 2-A, Division 2 poll, enters a bye week before playing Winters in the District 6 opener on Oct. 13. Brian is the fifth player from Albany to earn the Built Ford Tough weekly award in its dozen years and the first since Drew Neece in 2015.
Brian isn’t only a star in four sports but in the classroom as an A-student and on the school’s honor roll. He also participates in basketball (all-district defensive player of the year last winter), baseball (helping the Lions reach the 2-A state semifinals as a pitcher and shortstop), and track and field (hurdler, shot and discus thrower). He’s a member of FCA, a local youth church, and writes for the school newspaper.
“Brian has fully accepted his role as a senior leader and does everything possible to help his teammates and the younger players,’’ raves Coach Denney Faith. “Whether it’s being a four-sport athlete or an honors student, Brian is passionate to be the best.”
Private schools: Warren Walls, Defensive Lineman, Dallas Bishop Lynch
Little more than a year ago, Warren Walls of Dallas Bishop Lynch played in the first football game of his life. Now, with slightly more than a dozen games under his belt, his coach, ex-NFLer Chuck Faucette, sees the 6-4, 220-pound junior following in the footsteps of a Chris Long or a J. J. Watt. Though Walls can line up anywhere on the defensive front, he’s most often lined up right over the center. Bishop Dunne learned all about that in last week’s rematch of the state TAPPS Division I championship game. Bishop Dunne went through three centers in its attempt to shut Walls down. They didn’t. Bishop Lynch pulled away for an unexpected 51-10 rout. Warren wound up with 11 tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, one quarterback hurry, and one forced fumble. Not incidentally, a big Walls hit ended the night for Dunne’s starting quarterback. Faucette couldn’t believe it when this big young man showed up on his doorstep as a transfer sophomore last year, asking for a chance to play football. He’d always been too busy, working on his family’s Christmas tree farm. The youngster knew nothing, but made an instant impact at practice, smashing tackling dummies (and teammates). When asked where he learned that technique, he told the coach, “At the farm, when we saw the trees, we tackle them to complete the cut-down.” Whatever works. Offensive coordinators realize that when you prepare for Bishop Lynch, you’d better account for Walls.
A solid 3.0 GPA student, Warren is an all-American high school wrestler who competed in the national tournament a year ago. In addition to his work on the farm, Warren volunteered in a hurricane relief program, working for Mattress Mack to deliver mattresses to those in need. He also volunteers at a Dallas food bank.
“Obviously his wrestling background helped him make the adjustment for football,” says Coach Faucette. “He’s tremendously aggressive, he hustles, and he has a great motor. He always comes to practice with a smile. He wants to learn and he always wants to get better. His body gives him the opportunity to get bigger. And if he keeps progressing, he’ll be recruited by everyone.”
Nominate your elite student-athlete at PlayeroftheWeek.com
Students recognized by Ford Motor Company, Texas Ford dealers and the Built FordTough media advisory board as Players of the Week excel in three categories:
- Individual performance on the field, including significant game statistics
- Contribution to the team’s success through individual leadership abilities
- Performance off the field, including academic success and good community citizenship
Additionally, fans can catch all the action on Fox Sports Southwest. The network is again teaming with Ford and Texas Ford dealers to keep up with award winners through its weekly television show. Each week, television crews will travel to communities across Texas, spotlighting these players who excel on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. The half-hour Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. for 12 weeks.
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