Joe Medley Commentary: Thinking of others this Christmas

December 24, 2013 

Mike Haskey mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Jay Prosch, a Mobile, Ala., native will play in his hometown in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25. He'll be joined by Auburn teammates Dee Ford, Chris Davis and Cody Parkey.

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What Christmas gift to get the sports set with everything?

In Alabama, we've enjoyed four Bowl Championship Series championship teams in the past four years and have a chance to finish the BCS era with the last five titles.

We've enjoyed two Heisman Trophy winners and three more finalists over that span.

Jacksonville State fans just enjoyed their best football season since 1992 and deepest playoff run in Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

High school football fans in Calhoun County just saw seven county-based teams make the playoffs. Saks made it to the semifinals and Piedmont to the quarterfinals. Oxford came a play away from the quarterfinals. Jacksonville and Wellborn also made it to the second.

Extend to the larger coverage area, and 15 teams made the playoffs. Nine won at least one round.

We've been a lot more nice than naughty, apparently, so let's just have a Merry Christmas, remember the reason for the season and think of others:

AJ MCCARRON: May the Alabama quarterback about to play his final game with the Crimson Tide unwrap one more January performance befitting his previous two.

Others have put together more-Heisman-worthy seasons from August into December the past three seasons, but there's been none better than McCarron when the calendar page said January. He has started two BCS finals, both victories, with a combined quarterback rating of 158.2.

His first-down passing was a difference maker when Alabama beat LSU for the title two years ago.

His quarterback rating edged over 230 in the first half of Alabama's rout of Notre Dame a year ago then settled at 197.8. That final number factored in three dropped passes.

McCarron won't have the chance for a third championship ring but will play in a BCS bowl a week from Thursday. Playing against Oklahoma in the All-State Sugar Bowl, he has one last chance to shine in January game for Alabama.

JAY PROSCH: If keeping the BCS title within the state of Alabama and the SEC isn't enough reason for all within those footprints to pull for Auburn against Florida State, then how about Prosch?

The senior Auburn fullback doesn't carry the football much, so wouldn't it be perfect for him hoist a crystal football toward the sky and say, "Look mom!"

The Mobile native transferred from Illinois two years ago to be closer to his dying mother. She died early in the 2012 season, Auburn's worst season in 60 years.

This season, Prosch has continued to be the ultimate team player. He has played his off-ball, blocking role and been a quiet key in Auburn leading the nation in rushing and mounting an historic turnaround.

May Prosch unwrap the ultimate carry … a crystal football.

THOSE FEELING LOSS: I lost my father-in-law on Christmas Eve five years ago. For the sake of the children, we still had the annual family Christmas gathering and unwrapping of gifts that night.

I know how keenly loss is felt on the holidays. I also know the Christmas spirit can break though it all, even if only in fleeting moments.

This year, our sports community faced more than its share of loss. Cleburne County football coach Michael Shortt and Clay Central's Kris Herron lost their fathers over the summer.

In May, the Neisler family and larger Jacksonville High School volleyball community lost Caroline Neisler, the former Golden Eagle who had carried her playing career on to North Alabama before transferring to Samford a year ago.

There surely were others whose loss didn't get as much public attention. May all experiencing that first Christmas without a loved one unwrap a big box of peace and reach into a stocking full of smiles.

-- Sports columnist Joe Medley: jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter@jmedley_star.

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