“The banquet is a great opportunity for coaches to recognize all the hard work student-athletes put into their sports this year,” Sitton said. The Eagles’ athletic department had several stand-out moments including playoffs in volleyball and football, 12 regional qualifiers in girls powerlifting with one state qualifier, one boys regional qualifier, nine regional qualifiers in boys and girls track, softball second round playoffs and boys district championship in baseball.
Varsity athletes honored at annual sports banquet | Local News After several fall games being canceled due to COVID-19 and seasons being cut short in 2020, Sitton said it was great to be able to get back to some normalcy and that Rusk athletes adapted with resilience during a difficult time.
Sitton also said none of it would have been possible without the dedication of the athletic trainers. Football stand-out Joseph McGowan, who is headed to Texas Southern University, received the E.H. Whitehead All-Around Sports Award. McGowan said the event was a very special moment.
“We are extremely grateful to our training staff, they took great care of us this year,” he said. “We are very blessed the UIL let all the sports compete this year after cancelling so much the year before. Our athletes did a great job adjusting to the COVID protocols,” Sitton said.
“I feel grateful and blessed to receive these honors. I have been participating in organized sports since the age of 3 and my dad was my coach. He instilled in me the importance of being a leader (on and off the field) and being a good sport; showing sportsmanship,” McGowan said. “I am happy to see that his work in me has been visible to someone else. I would like to thank the Rusk Athletic Department for this award.” “The one-handed catch against Bullard was the most memorable play for me next to the punt return for a touchdown against Crockett. We needed the win against Bullard and my quarterback, Owen McCown put the ball where I could get it on the sideline. I remember reaching and the ball was there and I pulled it in with one hand as I fell to the ground,” he said.
Jessica T. Payne/Tyler Morning Telegraph McGowan said one particular play stood out for him this year.
Other winners included Lane Gilchrest who took home the Rusk High School Sportsmanship Award, Jordyn Babyak received the M.R. Philbrick “Fighting Heart” Award and Emily Etheridge received the J.L. Hassell Award. McGowan said one particular play stood out for him this year.
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