When Jack Youngblood played football for Monticello-Jefferson County High School in the 1960s, as defensive lineman, offensive line backer and team captain, the Jefferson Tigers went all the way to State Champions in 1966, and Youngblood earned All State Honors that same year. He was also All-Big Bend, All-Conference, Big Bend Linemen of the Year and the Outstanding Lineman for the Tigers that season, while leading a defense that shut out seven opponents and allowed only ten touchdowns in 12 games, including the state playoffs. When it was time to move up to college football, he believes that it was “divine intervention” that sent him to the University of Florida instead of FSU. He relates the humorously ironic story of an FSU football scout who came and looked over the Tiger team, then told the FSU football coach, “that big, tall kid with the ears – he’ll never play college football…his arms are too short!” However, UF was interested, and Youngblood went on to play for the Florida Gators, made All-American, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and was one of only five Florida Gators to be named to the Gator Football Ring of Honor. From college, he went on to the NFL, where he is probably best known as #85, the defensive end for the L.A. Rams (14 seasons), and where he was voted the Rams’ MVP no less than three times, playing in Super Bowl XIV and being named NFL All Pro for seven seasons as well as being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also recognized as one of Florida’s 33 greatest football players of all time when he was voted to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s All-Century High School Football Team in 2007. In between, he has won countless football awards and accolades, far too many to list in the space provided, and one hapless FSU football scout from 1966 has had heaping helpings of humble pie to eat. Youngblood has returned to Jefferson County again and again over the years for various events. His most recent, December 17, was to present his old high school with the NFL Golden Football Award, at the JCMHS 2015 Fall Sports Banquet. It’s the 50th Anniversary of the Super Bowl, and the NFL is marking this milestone by awarding commemorative golden footballs to the alma maters of NFL players and coaches that have not only made it to the Super Bowl, but made it in a big way. JCMHS principal Baron McCombs welcomed those who had braved the muggy, rainy weather to gather in the JCMHS that Thursday evening for the 2015 Fall Sports Banquet, saying, “it’s a wonderful opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of one of Jefferson County’s greatest…(NFL) Hall of Famer, Jack Youngblood.” School Superintendent Al Cooksey recalled having played football with Youngblood since the sixth grade. “If he’s your friend, he’s always your friend,” said Cooksey. “Jefferson County has a friend in him.” Athletic Director and head football coach Aaron Sheppard called it “a reminder that great things come out of Jefferson County.” “Tonight, it’s all about you,” Youngblood told the audience as he took the podium. “Tonight, it’s a great opportunity to say ‘thank you, Jefferson County.’” The golden football he was about to present was something to remind everyone that “there’s a great road out there” beyond Jefferson County; nevertheless, it was a place he would always think of fondly, a place he would always come back to as often as he could. Once he had presented the Golden Football to Sheppard, he turned the program over to coaches Errin Mays, Lamia Scott and Aaron Sheppard for the second part of the awards ceremony, dedicated to the student athletes of Jefferson County Middle High School. Mays, Scott and Sheppard, coaches for the cheerleading squad, the girls’ volleyball team and the football team, respectively, then honored their own team members, recognizing their distinctive and individual accomplishments for the 2015 season. As Mary Ann Frisby, President of the Booster’s Club put it: “We’re proud of you when you win. We’re proud of you when you don’t win…we’re proud that you win with humility and we’re proud that you lose with dignity. Go Tigers!” CHEERLEADERS: Each of the cheerleaders received a generous handful of award certificates for everything from “Most Peppy” to “Best Jump,” categories that the girls themselves had voted on. The girls were called up to the front again and again for certificates. Then, Mays awarded trophies in the following categories: Cheerleader of the Year, Jakell Williams; Tiger Builder Award, Ny’Qeria Alexander; Tiger Pride Award, JaMya Madry; Cheerleader 4 Life Award, Errion Wade; Cheer Excellence Award, Cindy Le; Most Valuable Cheerleader, Kalaree King; Most Improved, Jania Merrit; Cheerleader Showmanship Award, Kheica Jones. VOLLEYBALL TEAM: Coach Lamia Scott had a lot of good things to say about her brand-new volleyball team. “Even though we’ve had a rough first season (0-12), we’ve gotten compliments from every team we’ve played against,” she said. Opposing teams and coaches have been impressed with the hard work and effort the girls have put forth, as was Scott. “They fought through all of (the games,)’ she said. Scott awarded trophies for the following categories: Offensive MVP, Tamia Kellogg; Defensive MVP, LaShawn Ghee; MVP, Ciera Fishburn; Most Improved, Jalecia Williams; Coach’s Award, Allison Heffner; Leadership Award, Jakesiya Denson; Leadership Award, Katelyn Clark; Academic Award, A’Mya Keaton FOOTBALL TEAM: Coach Aaron Sheppard recognized the hard work of the Jefferson County Middle High School Tiger football players, with a few words about each recipient as he called them to the front for their awards in the following categories: Newcomer, Mark Vinson; Most Improved, Omari Sloan and Kamiri Thomas; Tiger Award, Kean Thomas, Jacquezs Hayes, Felix Serna, Anthony Footman and Kelvin Norton; Ironman Award, Robert Beverly; Offense MVP, Laxavier Patterson and Treon Patrick; Defense MVP, Zoron Wade. Leadership Award, Zoron Wade; Team MVP Award, Tyrone Ivey; Hard Hat Award, Joe Daniels.