Carl Ryals (left) and Jason Flynt (right) present Josh Ange with this year’s Carl Ryals III  Memorial Trophy. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

There are trophies upon trophies upon trophies given out for excellence in football every year, but it’s not just the Heisman Trophy that carries a lot of meaning. For McIntosh High School football, they have their own coveted award. At their end of the year banquet, McIntosh honored Josh Ange with the Carl W. Ryals III Memorial Trophy.

While Ange was great on the field, and he certainly was with 1,074 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, he was chosen for more than just this statistical achievements.

“The Carl Ryals award is given to the senior who we believe loves the game of high school football the most,” says McIntosh coach Lee Belknap. “This love for the game is seen in the weight room, the practice field, the way he treats his teammates, and the passion he plays with on Friday nights.”

Carl Ryals III during his playing days at McIntosh. Ryals was killed in a car accident while a freshman in college. Each year, the Chiefs award a trophy in his memory.

The trophy is given in honor of Carl Ryals III, a McIntosh Chief from 1984 to 1987. He was playing college football at Georgia Southwestern when he died tragically in a car accident. His parents, Carl and Lauren, hosted a golf tournament in their son’s memory for a decade and raised funds for a scholarship as well.

The Ryals award was reignited with the advent of the M Club, a McIntosh football alumni group. To pay homage to Ryals, a player who exemplified what Chief football should be about, the club debuted the massive new trophy. This was the fourth year it was awarded.

As the Chiefs continue to build winning ways, the Ryals trophy will always be a way to pay tribute to the hardworking players that came before them. They are the true student-athletes who give their everything each and every Friday night.

“My hope is that the Ryals Trophy symbolizes high school football the way it should be played,” says Belknap. “Pure, courage, effort, and a love for the game.”