Male Athlete of the Year: Udall sees success alike on gridiron and mat
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
June 30, 2013 12:12 AM | 2757 views | 0 0 comments | 102 102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hunter Udall
<Br>Staff photo by Samantha M. Shal
Hunter Udall
Staff photo by Samantha M. Shal
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Regardless of the sport, coaches would jump at the opportunity to have a hard-working, talented athlete on their team who leads by example.

Hunter Udall was such a player for Al Morrell and Wyatt Wilkie, the respective coaches of Creekview’s football and wrestling programs.

A four-year member of the football and wrestling programs, Udall was an ardent student of both sports. As he matured, he stood out from his peers even more.

Playing defensive back and wide receiver for the football team, he was a standout on both sides of the ball in the fall of 2012.

On defense, he recorded 56 tackles, made two interceptions, forced a fumble and recovered two more. On offense, he caught 33 passes for a team-leading 899 yards and six touchdowns.

During an Oct. 12 game against Northview, Udall caught five passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. The yardage is believed to be one of the top 10 single-game totals in state history, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.

“It was a lot of fun,” Udall said. “I liked getting the ball. I wish they would have thrown it to me a little more in that game, so that I would have had a shot at the record.”

Udall said Creekview went into the Northview game knowing that its best chance to win the game was to air the ball out. The Titans were a high-scoring team, averaging 37.6 points per game for the season.

Udall just wanted to do his part by getting open.

“We knew it was going to be a high-scoring game, and we couldn’t run against them very well, so we just wanted to open up the field,” he said.

The Grizzlies, who won that game with Northview 56-42, finished the season with a program-best 9-2 record.

As a senior wrestling at 170 pounds, Udall won the county and Region 7AAAAA titles, and placed second at sectionals. In the Class AAAAA state meet, he finished fifth and completed the season with a 36-7 record.

For helping the Grizzlies to successful campaigns in two sports, Udall is the 2012-13 Cherokee Tribune Male Athlete of the Year.

Udall, who recently moved to Arizona to attend college, said it is hard to decide which of his two sports he likes better. Perhaps, that’s why he worked so hard to be good at both.

“They are really different,” Udall said. “I probably liked football more because I had people cheering me on more for football than for wrestling. That made it more fun for me, I guess.”

Morrell said Udall was every coach’s dream.

“The kid was a very hard worker,” said Morrell, who retired from Creekview after the season, only to recently accept a coaching position at Fellowship Christian. “He was very consistent in everything he did. On top of being a very polite young man and respectful, he was, athletically, a great receiver and defensive back for us. I really can’t say enough good about him.”

Both coaches said Udall’s strongest trait may have been his ability to lead by example.

“He was a leader,” Wilkie said. “You could just watch him and people would see how hard they were supposed to be working. You never had to get onto him. You know he was going to try his best every time. No matter how big or small, he gave it 100 percent.”

Wilkie recalled seeing Udall as a freshman. Udall had never before wrestled, but the coach said he was a quick learner and was soon a key part of the team.

“He was certainly one of our leaders and role models on the wrestling team,” Wilkie said. “Whatever he is involved in, he is a hard worker. You can see that in the other sport he plays, and he has good grades in the classroom.”

Udall said he always tried to be a leader.

“I tried to push everybody by pushing myself a little harder,” he said. “I was always doing what the coaches asked and just trying to be the best, I guess. In my workouts, I always tried to do better each time.”

While Udall’s coaches said his leadership ability was his greatest asset, Udall credited his mentors for teaching that skill to him.

“From talking to my coaches, and asking them about their past accomplishments and how they did it, that told me that it was about working harder every day,” Udall said. “I just tried every day to be better, and the guys around me saw that and wanted to do it, too.”

Morrell said it’s increasingly rare to find players who stand out in more than one sport.

“There are a lot of good kids out there, but not a lot like Hunter,” Morrell said. “I don’t know what we would have done without him.”

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