Cayuga running back Traylon Shead started the final week of the high school season with a special prize. He hopes to finish it with an even bigger one.
The junior was named Sunday the offensive player of the year on The Associated Press Sports Editors Class A all-state team. Now he'll try to lead the Wildcats to their first state championship against Stratford in the Division II title game Saturday in Abilene.
"He's a special player. He's a special kid," Cayuga coach Tommy Allison said. "But he's also surrounded by some special players, too."
One of them is senior offensive lineman Cory Perry, another first-team all-state selection. Kyle Wiseman was an honorable mention choice on the offensive and defensive lines.
"He's definitely a big part of it," Allison said of Shead. "But he's just one piece to a big puzzle that's going on here."
The puzzle was in pieces for many years at Cayuga. The first playoff victory in the 30-plus-year history of the school came a year ago, Allison's first season. Now, that school record of nine wins seems like nothing. The Wildcats are 13-2 with five playoff victories.
Shead finished the regular season with 2,339 yards and 39 touchdowns before opening the playoffs with 51 carries for nearly 300 yards. He's now up to 3,333 yards and 51 TDs after finishing last season with 2,800 yards and 33 TDs. The Wildcats lost in the third round in 2007.
"From when he started playing in junior high, they knew he had the potential to be a special football player," Allison said. "He's worked real hard, worked hard in the weight room, worked hard on speed, and his hard work is paying off."
Allison said several major college programs, including Texas and Oklahoma, have at least taken a look at Shead, who isn't anywhere near the point of narrowing his choices.
"Right now, he's just playing football," Allison said.
The all-state team was voted on by sports writers and sports editors in Texas, based on regular-season performance.