MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Chazzy Thomas was always more than just any football player to his Morgantown High teammates.
"Chazz is one of those guys, it's not just that he's a great player, but he's that symbol of belief that whenever we see him, whenever he's in the huddle, we think that, 'We are going to do this,'" Mohigans senior linebacker Will Rockis said. "Whatever the goal is, we think that we can accomplish it, just by him being there."
Now the senior running back stands out to the rest of the state as well.
Thomas was named the 2013 Kennedy Award winner, signifying the state's best high school football player, as voted on by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
"Oh, nice," Thomas said, a huge grin spreading across his face when he heard the news. "Wow, that means a lot to me. It's overwhelming."
Just months after suffering a surgery-inducing, season-ending leg injury as a junior, Thomas battled back to become the top rusher in Class AAA this season.
While leading MHS to an 8-3 record and the first round of the playoffs, Thomas piled up 2,108 yards and 30 touchdowns on 174 carries, an average of 12.1 yards per carry.
Thomas was best known for his shiftiness and explosive bursts of speed, making him nearly impossible to catch if he broke loose.
However, he was also the workhorse for the Mohigans, totaling 58 percent of their rushing offense. He ran deceptively hard for his 5-foot-9, 183-pound frame.
"He's the strongest kid on our football team," MHS head coach John Bowers said. "Not pound-for-pound the strongest, but the strongest we've got. He can outlift everyone on our team, with legs and upper-body strength. He is a tremendously tough young man."
Thomas, whose first name is Jamie and middle name is Charles, set a Monongalia County one-game rushing record twice this season.
On Oct. 4, he rushed for 386 yards in a 52-21 win against DuBois Area (Pa.) The performance broke the county record of 358 yards by Clay-Battelle's Aaron LaPoe in 2003.
On Oct. 11, Thomas broke his own record by rushing for 396 yards on 43 carries in a double-overtime victory, against Wheeling Park. He added a 41-yard touchdown reception to amass 437 yards of offense, with all six MHS touchdowns.