Nothin#039; but a Winner

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Being a team player come as second nature to Brantley High School junior Devaris Skanes.

The 5nfootn9, 165npound linebacker helped lead the Bulldogs to a 12n1record and an appearance in the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Class 1A state quarterfinals.

But receiving al the glory for his team's success isn't what Skanes expected.

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"I think a lot of his success was him, but he had some good people around him too," BHS Head Coach David Lowery said. "He was fortunate to have some other skilled players that could make plays and open it up for him, and vice versa, he opened it up for those players as well. We had a pretty good mix on offense this year with our two running backs, and we had a couple of good receivers. It was one of those years where we had a little bit of everything on offense and it kind of clicked."

Skanes unselfish approach to the game helped him t succeed on the gridiron and earned him respect from his teammates as a leader.

"This was the best team I've ever been on," Skanes said. "We played as a team.

When one of us was down, we picked them up. If somebody did something wrong, we picked them up. We were like brothers. If somebody costs us the game, we don't blame them. We all lose as a team. We don't blame anyone or point any fingers."

The Bulldogs' season came to a close after a 28n27 road loss to American Christian. The loss also put an end to Skanes' remarkable season.

Skanes, 17, led the Bulldogs' offense with 1,636 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns on 177 carries for an average of 9.2 yards per carry this season. He also snagged seven receptions for 127 yards and a score, returned six punts for 154 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 26 yards a return, and returned four kickoffs for 138 yards. Defensively, Skanes, who saw playing time at both linebacker and defensive back, finished with 28 tackles, two inceptions, two fumble recoveries and a caused fumble.

As a credit for his outstanding play, Skanes has been named Greenville Newspapers' Player of Year based on statistics submitted by football coaches throughout the trincounty area.

"It feels good," Skanes said. "Out of all the good athletes and I got picked, that feels good. There are a lot of good athletes out there. It's an honor to be chosen."

Skanes believes his pre-game preparation helped him to be successful.

"Before a game, I get myself ready," Skanes said. "I know what I've got to do and what it takes to win a game. We all know that. I play every game like it's my last game. I go out there and give it all I've got and see how it turns out in the end."

The mutintalented athlete also credited his offensive line.

"We had the best offensive line," Skanes said. "I thanked them every game. If it wasn't for them I would have been so successful. I owe it all to them."

Lowery said Skanes' versatility was a huge plus for the Bulldogs this season. He was always sure his star back would come through in the clutch

"When I look at Devaris, I see a lot of different things," Lowery said. "He pretty much did a little bit of everything for us. He can run it, catch it, return punts and kicks, he can also play defense. He's very versatile. He's one of those players that you can put anywhere and does real well at it."

Lowery believes Skanes was wellndeserving of the honor.

"I think Devaris has worked hard to get where he's at and is well deserving of the honor," Lowery said. "Obviously one person can't do it by themselves, but he's certainly a special individual that has worked hard to be successful."

Even though Skanes is small in stature, Lowery believes desire and hard work are the running backs best qualities.

"I think the biggest thing with Devaris is his heart," Lowery said. "He's not real big as far as size, but he's a winner. All he knows how to do is go out and compete and win. If you had them all like him, it would be real easy."

Though he's just a junior, Skanes' hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. He has already been contacted by several Division 1A colleges such as Arkansas, Alabama and Auburn, and also by several junior colleges. He said his goal is to play football at the collegian level.

"I'm a big Auburn fan," Skanes said.

Skanes not only excels on the gridiron, but also in the classroom. He currently sports a 3.1 GPA. He believes in making a positive influence on his fellow teammates, classmates and the younger generation.

"A couple of kids look up to me in school," Skanes said. "That's why I make good choices. I know I've got little ones that look up to me."

Skanes also plays shooting guard for the Bulldogs' basketball team, is a utility player on the baseball team and is a member of the school's weightlifting team that has won backntonback state titles.

As for the future of Bratley's football program, Skanes is optimistic.

"I feel good about next year, it's our year," Skanes said. "We had a lot of people that stepped up this year. I think we'll get the job done and be ready for next year."

Lowery believes Skanes will continue to excel on the gridiron.

"I think Devaris is always going to be successful because that's the kind of person he is," Lowery said. "He's always going to find a way to do something that has an impact on the game whether it's special teams, offense or defense."