Taja Cole, L.C. Bird
The point guard and team leader for the Skyhawks was selected as the Village News Girls Basketball Player of the Year for her excellent all-around play. The junior averaged 15.7 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals per contest en route to Bird finishing as Conference 12 runner-ups before falling in the first round of the 5A South Region Tournament to Highland Springs. Cole verbally committed to the University of Louisville a couple of weeks ago and is eyeing their sports administration and entrepreneur programs – Cole already has her own clothing line and is highly interested in fashion.
Kenny WIlliams, L.C. Bird
Williams, who also won the Village News Boys Basketball Player of the Year award in 2012-2013, is the first repeat winner in the award’s brief history. The junior led the way for the Skyhawks all the way to the region semi-final, as Bird fell to Henrico 58-47. Williams, in the words of head coach Troy Manns is the “definition of a team player” and a great student and kid. Colleges have also taken notice of the junior, as he’s racked up seven offers and was most recently offered by Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart. In 2013-2014, Williams averaged 21.5 points per game, six rebounds per game and three steals per contest.
BOYS INDOOR TRACK
Devorian Dandridge, Matoaca
Dandridge was featured earlier this season in the Village News for his comeback battle after seriously breaking his leg during a triple jump two seasons ago. Now, after qualifying for states in the 55m dash, as well as the long and triple jump he was named the Village News Sports Boys Track Athlete of the Year. Dandridge showed continuous improvement over the 2013-2014 season and placed third in the long jump in the 5A state meet. The senior will graduate in June and currently maintains a 3.61 GPA. Dandridge plans to be a pediatrician and hopes that after a strong outdoor season colleges will come calling again so he can compete at the next level.
GIRLS INDOOR TRACK
Nichelle Scott, L.C. Bird
Scott, who won the 5A State Championship in the 1000m run this past weekend, is also a force in the classroom, sporting a 4.2 grade point average. At the state meet, she ran the 1000m with a time of 3:00.58, finishing nearly a full four seconds ahead of Sarah Goodrich of Mills Godwin, leading the race from start to finish. Scott also took home the 5A South Region title, winning the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Invitational at Boo Williams, and placed third at the Virginia Tech invitational in the 100m. The Skyhawk will graduate in June and plans to major in engineering and run track collegially.
Corey Leonard, Thomas Dale and Neal Richards, Matoaca
Corey Leonard (138) became Thomas Dale’s first state champion in 29 years, while Neal Richards (145) led Matoaca to its first state championship in school history. For this, the two juniors were selected as co-wrestlers of the year. Leonard cruised through a 41-1 season, with his lone loss serving as a rejuvenator for his season, in the words of Thomas Dale wrestling coach Sean Powers. The Knight has already built an impressive career at 107-2 and quietly led a young team in 2013-2014. Richards wrestled to a 45-2 record in 2013-2014 and this year’s state championship was his third consecutive triumph. Both Leonard and Richards have a multitude of colleges interested in their services at the next level, and as juniors both have another year to decide where they’ll land.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Michael Moore, Matoaca
Moore has coached wrestling for over 30 years and has had Matoaca on the cusp of a state championship for the last several. In his eighth year at Matoaca, he was selected as the Winter Sports Coach of the Year on the strength of the Warriors bringing home the 5A State Championship, Matoaca’s first in school history. Along with Hanover (4A) the two state championships were also the first for the Central Region. The veteran coach runs one of the best programs in the Central Region, fielding five current college athletes and several on this year’s team that will ascend to the next level. Moore is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame