Pate named Shelby County Male Athlete of the Year
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
ALABASTER – What Sawyer Pate was able to accomplish during his senior year was perhaps one of the most inspiring performances the county has seen at the quarterback position.
Entering the 2020 season for the Thompson Warriors, the hometown Alabaster kid had never started a varsity high school football season and was following one of the most decorated quarterbacks in state history in Taulia Tagovailoa, who led the Warriors to their second state championship appearance in school history.
But Pate never did bat an eye. The senior took advantage of his one season as the starting quarterback and wasn’t just satisfactory in replacing Tagovailoa, he was exceptional.
He stepped in and not only led the Warriors to the state championship for the second year in a row, but this time, he was able to cap off a 3,125-yard, 41-touchdown season with the school’s second state championship in history.
Following the historic season, Pate earned honors on the All-County and All-State first teams, was named the county’s Player of the Year, the top quarterback in Class 7A and the fifth best player in the state regardless of classification and position.
Now, the graduate and future Auburn Tiger has earned the Shelby County Reporter’s Male Athlete of the Year award, making him the best athlete regardless of classification or sport in one of Alabama’s largest counties.
Pate credited the successful season on the willingness to redeem the loss in the previous year’s state championship game, in which Thompson lost 52-7 to Central-Phenix City.
“It started the day after that game we lost, after the state championship,” Pate said after winning the Back of the Year award. “It put a chip on everyone’s shoulder. We had something to prove. We watched others lead the team to success, so it was our time to prove we were the best and get back to where we were.”
And from then, it was on.
Pate stepped in and never flinched a muscle. In his first game as a starter, he set the pace by totaling four touchdowns, including three in the opening quarter.
The Warriors won that game 40-14 and went on to score 40 or more points in their first six games of the season and scored less than 33 just one time during the season en route to a school record 555 points.
Pate closed out the year by helping Thompson complete its redemption path with a dominant 40-14 win over Central-Phenix City, almost making the score in the opening game a precursor to the storybook ending.
In the title game, he totaled 239 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while adding another two rushing touchdowns for the Warriors, giving him four more, just like his senior season began.
But perhaps the most impressive part of his season was the efficiency he displayed with just five interceptions. His passing efficiency of 74.5 was remarkable and is now ranked as the third best mark in state history.
His yardage total also gives him the 28th best passing season in state history, while his 41 touchdowns are 12th best in state history.
It was a remarkable ride for Pate during his final senior and makes him one of the best quarterbacks in county history.