Choose your favorite compliment issued this past football season about Barnwell linebacker Deshawn Watson:
A. Warhorses head coach Dwayne Garrick, a man who's seen his fair share of superstar defenders, said Watson is probably the best he's ever coached.
B. A Burke High assistant said his players called Watson a "cyborg", a conclusion they likely reached after their Week 3 meeting in which he made nine tackles, had a sack and returned an interception for a touchdown – or after he tormented them again in the playoffs.
Either one of those is a great choice, which made Watson the perfect choice for Aiken Standard Defensive Player of the Year.
Watson, who signed with Kansas' Hutchinson Community College, had a senior season to remember while helping the Warhorses return to the Class AA state championship game.
His No. 3 jersey seemed to be right in the middle of every stop the Warhorses made – if he didn't get to the ball first, he could be counted on to fly in and finish the tackle. He made 172 tackles (28 for loss) and had 14 sacks, plus two interceptions and two defensive scores.
Don't forget that he played some tight end and was a reliable punter on the rare occasions when the Warhorses' offense stalled.
He had perhaps his best performance of the season to set the tone in Barnwell's Lower State championship game victory over fellow undefeated Oceanside Collegiate. Watson made 10 tackles and had a season-high three sacks – the first of which included a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown to put the Warhorses on the scoreboard first.
Watson beats out three other finalists who had monstrous seasons of their own on the defensive line: Ridge Spring-Monetta's Tray Dean (146 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four fumble recoveries and a touchdown return), Barnwell's Ernest Smith (118 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, eight sacks) and Wagener-Salley's Westin Williams (110 tackles, 63 tackles for loss, eight sacks, eight forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a touchdown return).