By Gary L. Smith
It has often been said that dynamite comes in small packages.
At 5’7” and 165 pounds Peabody junior running back Khalik Ganaway is an excellent example of this saying. He made an explosive impact on Peabody football this season and was recently recognized on the state level.
On Dec. 8, Ganaway was named 2020 BlueCross Bowl/Tennessee Titans Division I Class 2A Mr. Football. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) made the announcement during a ceremony held at Nissan Stadium. Ganaway won the award over finalists Will Meadows of Meigs County and Luke Myers of South Greene.
Ganaway played a vital role in the Peabody Golden Tide winning its third consecutive Class 2A State Championship (35-13 over Meigs County), a 14-0 undefeated season and a 37-game winning streak.
During the course of the season, Ganaway rushed 257 times for 1,959 yards (7.6-yard average per carry) and 24 touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 101 yards (7.8-yard average per carry). He helped the Tide offense score 573 points for an average of 40.9 points per game.
In response to winning the prestigious award, Ganaway said, “This is truly great. These last few days have been unbelievable from winning the state championship to this. Everything is truly amazing right now.”
He acknowledged, “It meant a lot to win the Class 2A Mr. Football Award. I really can’t explain the way I feel, but it was really exciting. I thank God for giving me the ability to play the game and my family, teammates and coaches for their support.”
Despite his relatively small size for a feature running back, Ganaway proved to be a durable workhorse as he carried the football for over 30 times twice and for over 20 times on four occasions. In addition to displaying the ability to dart through holes and accelerate to breakaway speed, Ganaway also showed surprising strength and power to run inside and break tackles.
He credits determination, weightlifting and conditioning programs and blocking from his teammates for his seasonal success and postseason honors.
Khalik was also quick to acknowledge the role that twin brother, Malik, a junior wide receiver, played in his success. “When I felt like I wasn’t getting the yardage or I wasn’t doing by best, my brother was always encouraging and making sure I kept my head up and making sure I got back out there on the next series and did my best,” explained Khalik.
Due to COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, Peabody players were forced to persevere through uncertainty for the preseason, regular season and postseason.
Ganaway informed, “Most of us did not think we would have a season, but we kept practicing like we were going to play. We were determined to have a season. We turned around and had a season and it was a pretty great year. We were all on the same page. We all knew we wanted to three-peat and we pretty much all worked the same hours and did all of the things it took to make sure we had a three-peat this year.”
Peabody players have set a goal of winning a fourth consecutive state title next season. Asked about the pressure of winning another state championship and possibly a second Mr. Football Award, Ganaway replied, “There is a little bit of pressure on me, but I am not really worried about it. I am more focused on the team having a four-peat and that is pretty much it.’
Ganaway is the second consecutive Peabody team member to win the TSSAA Class 2A Mr. Football Award. Quarterback Cooper Baugus was the 2019 winner of the award.
Peabody Head Coach Shane Jacobs explains the significance of Ganaway winning this year’s award, “This is a huge deal for Khalik. I think the recognition validates his hard work and dedication he has shown to his teammates and the program for the past three years. It’s equally great for our program. When we have players receive these sorts of accolades, we think it speaks volumes for our program and the quality of the players we have. I know Khalik’s teammates are extremely proud and take great pride in knowing they played a large role in this achievement.”
Khalik is the son of Virginia Brown and Terrail Ganaway.