Greeneville’s Ballard, Sullivan Central’s Harrison take home top honors at WJHL sports banquet


Bragging rights were on the line Thursday night. 

12 of the best high school football players gathered at the Millennium Centre in Johnson City for News Channel 11 and ABC Tri-Cities sports banquet to see who would come away as “Player of the Year” and the inaugural “Fan Favorite Player of the Year.” 

Each of the nominees were selected as a Watauga Orthopedics/Champion Chevrolet Player of the Week during the regular season. 

Greeneville quarterback Cade Ballard came away with this year’s “Player of the Year” honor. 

“This thing’s kind of eluded me the last few years,” Ballard said. “To have the success we’ve had as a program and to have the success that I’ve been blessed to have to take this one home is a good one to put on the mantle for years to come and look back at it’ll be special.”

Ballard capped off his senior season with a second consecutive state championship and Class 4-A Mr. Football award.

Also during tonight’s banquet, Sullivan Central quarterback Jackson Harrison received the honor as the fan favorite, winning an online voting pool involving the other players. 

Harrison helped lead the team to their first victory in more than 35 games. 

In the triumphant win against Sullivan East this year, Harrison passed for 155 yards and three touchdowns. 

“It means a lot,” said Harrison. “My mom shared it about every 30 minutes to go to vote for me and tagging all her friends. My grandma texted me right before this banquet and said if you don’t win the fan favorite I’m going to be pretty mad because of all the votes she did and all her friends. So it feels pretty good.” 

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