The transition from quarterback to nose guard is not your average move. It is much easier if you have the mindset and determination of Michael Paszek.
The Nashville Christian School senior was one of five recipients of the Hancock-Nipper Sportsmanship Awards handed out Wednesday afternoon by the Nashville Civitan Club at Sweatt’s Restaurant.
“Yes, it was surprising when Coach [Jeff] Brothers asked me to make the change earlier this year when I did have my heart set on playing quarterback,” Paszek said. “It was hard at first, but it enabled me to get on the field as a starter.
“After all that has happened, I can’t argue about what has come my way – reaching the fourth round of the playoffs, making honorable mention all-district and winning an award like this.”
The Hancock-Nipper awards go to Nashville football players who displayed outstanding sportsmanship for Nashville teams that won region or state championships.
NCS finished one round short of the Class A state finals, its best football finish ever.
“Michael was our backup quarterback, but when we asked him to make the switch, he accepted his role, and said he would play anywhere we needed him to for the good of the team,” Brothers said. “It was quite an example of unselfishness, and that’s what makes him a special recipient of an award like this.”
Paszek has narrowed his college choices to Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Two other recipients have decided to head to the military.
Cane Ridge standout wide receiver/defensive back Raymond Caruthers is entering the Navy following his graduation this spring.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, go to a place where I can defend my country, serve it the best I can,” he said.
Caruthers and fellow seniors wound up their careers as members of the Raptors’ first region championship team. Along the way they enjoyed a 34-14 win over neighborhood rival Antioch in Week 10.
“We had a lot of doubters, but our new coach, Jonathan Parks, came in over the summer and instilled in us a great work ethic and belief in ourselves, and it all paid off,” he said.
Also, senior Christopher Charles, off Christ Presbyterian Academy’s state Class AA semifinalist team, will choose between the Air Force Academy and West Point.
“Christopher will do very well wherever he winds up,” coach Ingle Martin said. “He was going to play on offense, but once we figured out that he likes to hit people, we moved him to outside linebacker where he played great.”
Senior nose guard Shomari White won the award for Ensworth, which captured its third straight Division II state title in November. His college choices currently include 11 schools with the most recent interest being Kentucky and Birmingham Southern.
“Winning an award like this is truly special and provides a great ending to my senior season,” the 5-foot-11, 240-pound White said. “Winning three straight [championships] was in the back of my mind to start the season, and we were able to accomplish it with a lot of teamwork and dedication.”
Tennessee State linebacker Nick Thrasher won the Civitan’s college award.
The coach of the year award again went to Ensworth’s Ricky Bowers.
“Whenever you win an award like this, the credit goes to the school, the assistants and the players,” Bowers said. “It’s a testament to the people around you. I’m especially proud of our winner, Shomari, who is quiet, knowledgeable and enjoyable before he turns ferocious on the football field.”