By Nancy Leedy
The Lincoln County High School football team’s impressive midseason turnaround did not go unnoticed with running back Deon Shannon and Patriot head coach Mike Settles named the Class 5A, District 7 Player of the Year and Coach of the Year by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association (KFCA).
Settles, in his fourth year as Lincoln coach, guided the Patriots from the sidelines and Shannon went to work on the field as the Patriots rallied from an 0-5 start to finish 5-7. Lincoln enjoyed a three-game win streak in the late season rally and finished as district runner-up to Southwestern.
“It’s a great honor. When you surround yourself with good people, good things are going to happen,” said Settles. “To be 0-5 at one point and then make the turnaround we made was awesome, and for the Kentucky Football Coaches Association to present Deon and myself with player and coach of the year is an honor.”
Shannon exploded in his senior year, rushing for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns and returning three kickoffs for scores. Of those yards and touchdowns, he ran for 1,436 yards and tallied 20 scores in the last seven games of the season as Lincoln rallied from the 0-5 start.
“Deon was a very explosive player for us and he really stepped up his game. Every game he was capable of creating a big play for our offense,” said Settles. “Deon was a difference-maker on special teams as well. He made it difficult for teams to game-plan against us because of his ability.”
The 5-7, 145-pound back’s best game was in a 31-30 come-from-behind victory over South Laurel on Oct. 7 when he broke Lincoln’s 18-year-old single-game rushing record. Shannon rushed for 317 yards and three touchdowns in the win to surpass the mark of 294 yards set by 1993 Mr. Football Jeremy Simpson in a playoff win over Meade County during that season.
“People were always trying to stop him but he still had such great success,” said Settles. “I feel like he was so hard to tackle because he’s elusive and quick. That’s why he stayed healthy because people didn’t have opportunity to get big hits on him.”
Settles said the Patriots will definitely miss Shannon’s speed next year but that speed is not all he takes with him.
“When people ask me about Deon and want to know what I’ll miss about him next year, I tell them I’ll miss his fun personality and his work ethic,” said Settles. “His personality, of course, made it fun to be around him and, because he always worked hard, he made the people around him better.”
Shannon and Settles, along with other district coaches and players of the year, and other award winners will be honored at this weekend’s state finals in Bowling Green.
The District Player of the Year and Coach of the Year winners, and other award winners to be honored at the state finals are:
District 1: Jonathon Jackson and Joe Morris, Mayfield
District 2: Jesse Keen and Mike Fletcher, Holy Cross
District 3: Kaleb Leach, Frankfort; Kevin Siple, Bracken Co
District 4: Cameron Vocke and Noel Rash, Beechwood
District 5: Skyler Griffith and Jerry Herron Jr., Williamsburg
District 6: B. J. Combs and Mark Dixon, Hazard