MONTGOMERY — It’s rare that Fultondale football standout ArDarius Stewart comes up short in any effort, but he did on Wednesday — just barely.
Stewart finished second in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Football selection as the state’s best prep player. He lost by just two points — the slimmest margin in the 31-year history of the selection — to quarterback Jeremy Johnson of Carver-Montgomery.
The award was announced at the ASWA Player of the Year Awards Banquet, sponsored by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association.
Johnson won out over Stewart by placing at the top of the ASWA Super 12 Team balloting, receiving 170 points to Stewart’s 168. Johnson took nine first place votes, Stewart five and Jordan Chunn of Madison County one.
No one was more surprised than Johnson himself, who fully expected Stewart to win the award.
“I thought he would win just because of all his amazing stats,” Johnson said afterward. “But when they called out ‘Jeremy Johnson,” I just dropped my head and thanked God.
Johnson came on strong late in the season to start turning heads, while Stewart has been in the spotlight for two full seasons. Johnson threw for 3,193 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Class 6A Wolverines, and also ran for 705 yards and seven touchdowns, as well as catching a touchdown pass.
Stewart scored 50 touchdowns in six different ways this season, placing him in the top 10 in the state record book for most touchdowns in a season — second only to his 52 touchdowns in 2011.
It takes a lot to get an emotional reaction from Stewart, and he was typically unfazed by coming in second by such as small margin.
“I came ready for anything, so I wasn’t really surprised,” Stewart said. “Actually, I came in thinking the worst, that I might not make 2A Back of the Year a second time. I don’t come in with a cocky attitude. I’m always nervous, thinking the worst coming in.”