The criteria for the Riverparishfootball.com Athlete of the Year is based on a player's success in multiple positions. In the three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams, Riverside senior defensive back/wide receiver Garland Robertson checks off all the boxes and has been named the RPF.com Co-Athlete of the Year. He shares the award with St. James two-way standout Shawn Preston.
“It means a lot, it's a special award to win and it shows my hard work is paying off,” said Robertson.
“No matter how you define what a great athlete is, Garland Robertson is the epitome of that,” said Riverside coach Chris Lachney. “Couldn't be a more deserving honor for a young man. He's just the epitome of competitor and I don't know if I've ever coached a kid who wanted to win and was willing to do whatever it took to win more than Garland.”
Robertson scored touchdowns rushing, receiving, on punt returns, kick return, and on an interception during his senior season.
Here's his breakdown:
Att Yds Avg TD
Receiving 14 240 17.1 1
Rushing 3 44 14.7 1
Kick Returns 26 675 26.0 3
Punt Returns 18 231 12.8 2
On defense he registered 40 tackles, had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.
“It's just fun to be able to make a big play on special teams,” said Robertson. “The biggest thing for this team is special teams, it was an important weapon for us. Every time I caught a punt, or kick return I tried to take it to the house. As a defensive back, that's my born position, I just love to play defense. As a wide receiver I just like making plays. I just used my skills in any position Coach (Lachney) needed me to play.”
Robertson's success is even more remarkable when you consider he suffered a broken C-5 vertebrae in his lower neck making a tackle against Country Day just over two years ago.
“He ended up making a recovery from that after months of rehabilitation, rest, and following doctor's orders,” said Lachney. “When he came back we wondered if was going to be as productive but he proved us all wrong because it was never about the strength of his bones that made him what he was, it always was about what was in his heart, and (the neck injury) just made that tougher. A phenomenal leader, a phenomenal athlete, one of the most productive football players in all three phases of the game I've ever been around. To see what he's been through and the obstacles he's overcome, it's inspiring. I'll be telling the Garland Robison story for the rest of my career for sure.”
Riverside Athletic Director and Robertson's basketball coach Timmy Byrd saw Robertson's comeback first hand as he welcomed him back on the court once he was released to play.
“Garland Robertson has the heart of a lion,” said Byrd. “He's every coach's dream. He's the kind of guy that every coach wants to coach because he plays the game with passion, he plays the game with reckless abandon, he plays the game to win.”
With National Signing Day just three days away, Robertson is still undecided.
“I'm just ready to play Division One,” said Robertson. “Nicholls wants me, Southern's been talking to me. I'm just keeping all options open. I tell all the college coaches I definitely want to play defensive back of course and I want to kick return and punt return. That's my speciality and I want to use that at whatever college I go to.”
The trophy was presented by Sheldon Cannon and Robert Palmisano representing St. John Parish Farm Bureau.
“It's extremely important for us as local agents to give back to our community,” said Cannon. “We are trying to give back with our time, not just our money but getting out there speaking to them giving them positive encouragement so that they can move forward in life.”
“Over the years that we've been sponsoring high school football we realize that those players on the fields and those cheerleaders on the sidelines are our future community leaders,” said Palmisano. “We want to continue to support those new families as they keep growing and keep supporting them and be there for them when they become older adults in life.”
Previous winners of the RPF.com Athlete of the year:
2010 Jarvis Landry WR/DB Lutcher
2011 Jeffrey Hall DB/WR St. Charles
2011 Jairus Moll WR/DB West St. John
2012 Sergio Medina RB/LB Hahnville
2013 Jeremy Jackson RB/KR West St. John
2014 Xavier Lewis QB/DB East St. John
2015 Da'Monte Coxie WR/KR East St. John
2016 Pooka Williams RB/KR Hahnville
*All trophies for Riverparishfootball.com came from Faber Awards. Since 1972, Faber Awards has been helping schools, churches, businesses and individuals recognize the best of the best in the greater New Orleans area. Located at 9127 Airline Highway in New Orleans, call Faber Awards at 504-821-5711.