WILMINGTON — For the first time since 2006, a Blanchester football player hoisted the Lombardi Award.
Dylan Fawley, a senior at BHS, became the 46th player — and 9th Wildcat — to win the coveted award, which honors a down lineman on one of the four Clinton County high school football teams. The 44th annual banquet was held Monday night at the Expo Center at the Clinton County Fairgrounds.
‘I wasn’t expecting it,” said Fawley. “It means a lot. I want to thank coach (Brandon) Sammons for coming in and making football fun again.”
Fawley concluded with the same notion echoed by many of the past Lombardi Award winners while holding the block of granite trophy.
“It’s really heavy,” he said.
Fawley started at left tackle for the Wildcats. He was first team All-SBAAC and honorable mention All-Southwest District.
“He was a leader in many ways for us,” Sammons said.
The other nominees were Gage Smith and Porter Pagett of Wilmington, Jaren Evans and Nick Mess from East Clinton, Cody Messer and Isaac Green from Clinton-Massie, and Marcos Torres-Garcia of Blanchester.
Green was not present at the banquet because of the death of his father.
Chris Oliver, a 1999 graduate of Blanchester High School, was the keynote speaker at the event. He is the head football coach at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky. Oliver is a four-time recipient of the American Football Coaches Association regional coach of the year honor.
Oliver said he has three goals for the student-athletes that enter the Lindsey Wilson football program.
“One, get a degree,” he said. “Two, win championships. And three, develop men of high character who impact other people in a positive way.”
Oliver said he doesn’t talk about winning at Lindsey Wilson as much as the process it takes to achieve victory. Oliver said personal investments in life are one of the keys to success, whether it be investing in money, friends, family or spiritual faith.
Eight football players, two offensive or defensive down linemen from each of the Clinton County high school teams, are nominated by their respective coaches for the honor. The winner receives a block of granite award, which is similar to the one awarded to the top collegiate lineman each year.
The block of granite is in reference to Lombardi’s playing days as a lineman for Fordham University. The unit was so strong they were called “seven blocks of granite.”
Lombardi passed away in September 1970. Clinton County’s involvement with the award started in 1973, when former Wilmington News Journal sports editor Clarence Graham and local businessman Harold Losey served as the co-chairpersons. At that time, the event was held at the Bengal Room at Duff’s Restaurant and was later held at the Wilmington Elks Lodge 797 and Roberts Arena, until moving to the Expo Center in recent years.