Take the numbers off every Ardmore player’s jersey, and if you followed the Tigers enough, you’d know whom Shawn Smith is.

Take the numbers off every Ardmore player’s jersey, and if you followed the Tigers enough, you’d know whom Shawn Smith is.

He’s the linebacker who shows the most excitement.

“I think he played the game the way you would hope any player plays, with great passion and intensity,” Ardmore head coach Larry McBroom said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to play with that kind of intensity.”

For Smith, the passion is second nature … maybe first.

“Ever since he was a little kid, he always had that,” father and defensive coordinator Paul Smith said. “It was all or nothing with him. I never had to tell him to get excited about the game. It’s in his heart. I just kind of stand off and let him be himself.”

Shawn Smith played like the All-Ardmoreite Defensive Player of the Year he is for 2008 — and led like one, too. The senior finished the season with a team-high 121 tackles — eight for losses including a sack — in nine games. He never made fewer than 10 tackles in a game, always reaching his weekly goal.

“I thought he was consistent throughout the whole year,” McBroom said.

And, in a sense, he was a coach on the field.

“If you did something wrong, he’d let you know about it,” fellow Ardmore linebacker and All-Ardmoreite Super Teamer Josiah Custar said. “If you didn’t want to get better for yourself, you’d want to get better for him because he’s all about winning and going hard.

“As long as you did what you were supposed to, he congratulated you. But, if you messed up, then he got all over you, and that’s the way he has to be.”

Ardmore finished 6-4 this season with many sophomores filling starting roles. Those who were on defense got a taste of what kind of leader Smith is.

“We had so many sophomores playing, that the experience level that they’re going to have for this next year coming up is going to make them really good,” Smith said. “We’re going to have a real good line next year.

“I think it’s kind of a bittersweet thing because I’m glad the sophomores will be able to play better next year. Then again, we struggled on experience.”

But Smith flourished with his experience. He had 16 tackles — 11 solo — in an 18-10 victory over McAlester in week 3 and topped that the next week with 13 of his 17 tackles solo in a 27-21 win at Noble.

Against the best in District 5A-2, eventual runner-up Carl Albert, Smith had 14 tackles including three stops for losses. One of his stops in that game is his favorite of this year.

 “We were on the goal line and I ran over David Oku,” Smith said. Oku is the powerful running back who verbally committed to coach Lane Kiffin’s first recruiting class at Tennessee.

For a player who exudes so much spirit, it’s the spirit of prep football Smith will miss.

“High school football is the best there is,” Smith said. “I’m going to miss playing against Ada and all that.”

And his dad has enjoyed seeing him grow as a Tiger.

“Being around him all the time, I think, has been a positive thing,” Paul Smith said. “I think he’s really improved from his junior year to his senior year … on just how he reads (offenses) and how he does things for us on defense. He’s our quarterback, he made all the checks, did all the calls. He was invaluable. I’m real proud of him and he did a great job for us.”

I.C. Murrell,
(580) 221-6527