When Douglas County coach Johnny White was announcing the many postseason awards his players had received during Sunday’s banquet, he saved the biggest for last.
White read off all the accomplishments for senior linebacker Braelen Oliver, then held up this big trophy.
As Oliver made his way to the podium, White announced that he was the recipient of the Howard Thompson Trophy, which goes to the top senior football player in the county.
Oliver was the ninth-ranked Tigers leading tackler this past season as they finished as Region 5-AAAAAA runner-up. The Minnesota signee had 164 tackles including 14 tackles for loss with five sacks.
“It means a lot to get this award especially since the transition I made from last year,” Oliver said. “This award is not just given to anybody. It is very special.”
He also had five interceptions, six pass deflections and one forced fumbles. He had two defensive touchdowns and a special teams score. He had 567 yards of offense with five touchdowns.
The Howard Thompson Trophy is voted on by all five of the county’s football coaches, athletic directors and selected media. This is the first time since the 2010 season that a player from the Tigers’ program received the trophy. Shae Sealey received the award during the 2010 season.
In all, 15 former Douglas County players have received the award since its inception during the 1985 season.
Each school is allowed to nominate one senior player from their team as long as they meet the following criteria: must be in good academic standings, superior athletic performance, posses outstanding leadership abilities and has good moral character.
Oliver compiled 40 points to win the award while Alexander quarterback Mason Wood and Chapel Hill wide receiver Tyre Shelton tied for second with 24 points. New Manchester running back A.J. Taylor was fourth in the voting followed by Lithia Springs linebacker Marzavion Dix.
“I felt that my tackling got a lot better this season,” Oliver said. “Anytime you can double what you do the year before shows you have put in some work.
This is the third player of the year award that Oliver has received in the postseason since helping lead the Tigers to a 10-2 finish and second round of the state playoffs.
He was previously named the Region 5-AAAAAA Player of the Year and the Douglas County Sentinel Player of the Year. Oliver was named all-state first team by the AJC and the Georgia Sports Writers Association.
He signed with Minnesota during last month’s early signing period. In all, Oliver had 25 NCAA Div. I FBS offers totaling over $4.2 million in scholarships.
Off the field, Oliver has a 3.6 grade-point average and has volunteer with the school’s FCA program on community service projects.