Barlow, Hawkins claim Willie Ray Smith Awards

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, February 19, 2019

BEAUMONT — Hardly paused by his own emotions, Newton running back Darwin Barlow gave his testimony, what he defined as his proof that a higher power was looking out for him and his family all the time.

“We lived in Kirbyville in a very small house,” Barlow said. “I was tired of being in the same room as my sisters because my legs were cramping, so I moved into the washroom. My dad suffered a heart attack, but he couldn’t stay off of work because he said somebody had to provide for the family. Some days he made it to work, and some days he couldn’t. He got up at 2:30 a.m. to go to work in Newton.”

Long story short, the bigger house Barlow prayed for finally came to fruition. He and his sisters each have their own room.

And the hard work Barlow emulated from his father and the life of prayer Barlow lives has translated to success as a back-to-back state champion running back for the Newton Eagles.

But Barlow’s rewards didn’t stop with his second gold medal in Arlington. The TCU signee won the Willie Ray Smith Award for Southeast Texas’ offensive player of the year.

“I realize it’s bigger than just me in everything I do,” he said. “The sacrifices I made, that my parents have made, the people before them to just live their life and make their best to do things for me, and just growing up, I just thank them for all they do. To be able to give back to them means everything.”

West Brook free safety Darrell Hawkins Jr. was named the Willie Ray Smith Award winner for the region’s defensive player of the year. Hawkins helped the Bruins reach the 6A Division II championship game, the program’s first state final since winning it all in its inaugural season in 1982.

“It was crazy hearing my name,” Hawkins said. “When [awards presenter Carol Hebert] was opening the envelope, I got kind of happy, then. It was just great hearing them call my name in front of the whole crowd.”

The finalists for the award were feted during a banquet at the MCM Elegante’. Members of the media voted on the winners.

Port Neches-Groves quarterback Roschon Johnson, a WRS winner in 2018, was a finalist again, as were West Brook running back Robert McGrue Jr. and Evadale running back Will Farr. Defensive finalists included Hamshire-Fannett linebacker Blaine Waggoner, Newton linebacker Jadrian McGraw and West Orange-Stark defensive back Teshaun Teel.

This was the 27th year for the awards ceremony.

Here are the past Willie Ray Smith Award winners:

1993: Dexter Hebert, Kelly; Defense: Frank Middleton, West Brook

1994: Jay McGuire, Silsbee; Defense: Shun Horn, Jasper

1995: Jeffery Spikes, Burkeville; Defense: Tyseki Adoin, West Brook

1996: Elijah Burkins, Thomas Jefferson; Defense: T.J. Light, Lumberton

1997: Bryan Bock, Bridge City; Defense: Fred Wright, Kountze

1998: Offense: Chip Ambres, West Brook; Defense: Charles Sias, WO-S

1999: Offense: Beaux Daville, Orangefield; Defense: Rod Gulley, Newton

2000: Offense: Dustin Long, PN-G; Defense: Gayron Allen, WO-S

2001: Offense: Sean Yoder, Nederland; Defense: Jermaine Hope, WO-S

2002: Offense: Tony Eckert, Lumberton; Defense: Ricky Wilson, Lincoln

2003: Offense: Matt Peebles, Bridge City; Defense: William Bryant, Jasper

2004: Offense: Jamaal Charles, P.A. Memorial; Defense: William Morrissey, Silsbee

2005: Offense: Jamaal Charles, P.A. Memorial; Defense: Brian West, Ozen

2006: Offense: Kenneth Beasley, WO-S; Defense: Sean Weatherspoon, Jasper

2007: Offense: Micah Mosley, Nederland; Defense: Earl Thomas, WO-S

2008: Offense: Cody Hussey, Lumberton; Defense: Tramain Thomas, East Chambers

2009: Offense: Christian Micheal, West Brook Defense: Kevin Robinson, WO-S

2010: Offense: Jeremy Johnson, Silsbee; Defense: Jacoby Hale, Central

2011: Offense: Fred Ford, Kirbyville; Defense: Colin Garrett, West Brook

2012: Offense: Terrence Singleton, P.A. Memorial; Defense: Corbin Carr, Nederland

2013: Offense: Montana Quirante, Vidor; Defense: Montana Quirante, Vidor

2014: Offense: Patrick Reed, Silsbee; DeShawn Washington, Nederland

2015: Offense: Michael Jacquet, Central; Defense: Deionte Thompson, WO-S

2016: Offense: Jack Dallas, WO-S; Defense: Steven Tims, WO-S

2017: Offense: Calvin Tyler, Silsbee; Defense: Kary Vincent, PA Memorial

2018: Offense: Roschon Johnson, PN-G; Defense: Corbin Foster, Newton

2019: OFFENSE: Darwin Barlow, Newton; Defense: Darrell Hawkins, Jr., West Brook