Liberty’s Rushton is TCCA Player of Year
Girard’s Pat Pearson is coach of year
By DAN HINER
Liberty quarterback Dra Rushton’s legs have taken him pretty far this season.
His legs came in handy one more time when he walked to the podium to receive his Trumbull County Player of the Year Award on Monday.
The Trumbull County Coaches Association held their 43rd annual football awards ceremony at Leo’s Ristorante.
Rushton didn’t think he’d win the award. He said Lakeview quarterback Zach Rogers and Girard receiver Michael Belcik also were deserving.
“Coming in, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Rushton said. “To win the award is a blessing, for sure.”
Rushton led the Leopards to an 8-3 record and the Leopards’ first playoff berth since 2014.
He ran for 1,339 yards and 23 touchdowns while throwing for 907 yards and nine scores during the regular season.
Past award winners include Hubbard graduate Kurtis Drummond (Houston Texans) and fellow Leopard Fitzgerald Toussaint (Pittsburgh Steelers).
“Knowing I’m up with Fitz, Lynn Bowden, L.J. Scott and all those other great players playing at great [Division] I programs... I smile,” he said. “I get my hard work recognized, the good season we had, it’s a blessing for sure.”
Rushton was among 15 finalists for the award. He thanked his mother, grandmother and Liberty head coach Chet Allen.
Allen and Rushton agreed they “butted heads” during Rushton’s freshman year. But they worked their way through the tough times and made the Liberty football team better.
“I told him ‘we’re gonna go as you go’. He did it, and we went 8-3,” Allen said. “All the credit goes to him, I’m just the guy at the top of the marquee.”
His mother and grandmother attended all of Rushton’s games since he was five years old.
“They’ve been there through snow, rain, the bad weather, the good weather,” Rushton said. “My mom actually, she’s a nurse. She works in Cleveland. She’d come down some times in her work clothes. She’s always come, she’s always screaming, she’s always going crazy. I really love and appreciate my mom for that.”
Youngstown State safety Jayln Powell won the Korey Stringer Golden Helmet Award. The Golden Helmet is awarded to a former Trumbull county player who’s concluding their final year of college football.
Powell was a star at Warren Harding who began his collegiate career at Michigan State. He transferred to YSU in 2015 and recorded 137 tackles over the last three years.
Girard head coach Pat Pearson won Trumbull County Coach of the Year. He led the Indians to a Division IV semifinal appearance against Perry.