POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Hope Santa Claus brought him a bigger trophy case.
Point Pleasant senior running back Cody Mitchell was very good in 2015, and those efforts resulted in a handful of nice presents over the holiday season.
After being named the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year in West Virginia in early December, Mitchell has since claimed numerous state and national awards and accolades. Mitchell was named the Ohio Valley Publishing offensive player of the year, the WVMetroNews player of the year, a first-team all-state selection by USA Today, and also came away with 2015 Curt Warner Award — which goes to the top running back in the state of West Virginia.
Mitchell — a 6-foot-3, 230-pound running back — rushed for 2,321 yards and 43 touchdowns on 178 carries while leading the Big Blacks to a 12-1 overall mark and a Class AAA state semifinal appearance. Mitchell also amassed 101 tackles and 5.5 sacks for a defense that yielded just 11.7 points per game.
Mitchell — who was part of teams that went 41-6 during his four years of varsity football — owns several school records, including most touchdowns (101), rushing yards (5,197) and all-purpose yards (7,233) over a career. Mitchell also owns a state playoff record in Class AAA with seven rushing touchdowns in a game.
Mitchell — a verbal commit to Marshall University — was a major part of a 2015 campaign in which the Big Blacks set state records for rushing yards and points scored in a season. The two-time first team Class AAA selection was also part of Point Pleasant’s current 33-game regular season winning streak — which is currently best in the entire Mountain State.
The only big award that Mitchell didn’t come away with was the Kennedy Award, the annual honor given to West Virginia’s top football player. Mitchell finished second in the voting to Capital quarterback Tyrhee Pratt, a West Virginia University signee.
Mitchell, however, isn’t disappointed that the Kennedy didn’t work in his favor — even though he’d liked to have won it. As he notes, he has already received enough praise for his career. He also wants to thank a lot of people for the honors that he has received.
“It’s been pretty humbling. I’ve received a lot more awards and honors than I ever dreamed that I could win here at Point Pleasant,” Mitchell said. “It’s quite an honor to be considered as one of the state’s best, but these awards aren’t just about me. Every time I see a teammate in the hallways, I can’t help but think of how much that person did in helping me to win one of these awards. Their hard work is also being recognized in these honors that are being given to me.”
Mitchell was part of four of the Point Pleasant’s eight playoff wins in school history, as well as half of the school’s six undefeated regular seasons.
In having a little more time to reflect on his prep career, Mitchell is still just as proud of his tenure at Point Pleasant than he was a little over a month ago. He’s still very thankful for the lessons he learned as a freshman, the one season that Mitchell didn’t really contribute a great deal to the varsity team’s success.
“I feel I’ve been pretty fortunate to be part of a program that everyone puts 110 percent into every day,” Mitchell said. “I always remember the great players that were ahead of me, the ones that took me under their wings to make me the player that I am today.
“With them, it was always about the hard work that you have to put in to get better. They also showed how hard work paid off as the year went along. I learned from them that it was almost like a job, that you have to prepare yourself to be successful. That’s probably the biggest thing I learned in this program.”
Cody has also been fortunate to have family members that played Division I football, as his father Darrell played tight end at West Virginia and his brother Derek was a linebacker at Marshall.
All three played varsity football at Point Pleasant and Cody owns almost all the school records, so he was asked if that gives him bragging rights around the house. His response was what you would expect from a young man who is about to embark on another chapter in his life.
“I’m the only one that is still playing. I tend to brag about that,” Mitchell said with a chuckle. “Derek has a defensive touchdown and Dad never scored a touchdown, even though he was an offensive player. I’d really like to score at least once to beat Dad, then I’ll focus on my brother. Either way, I still have more football ahead of me — which is more than they have.”
Mitchell — who owns a 3.7 GPA in the classroom — was the first Point Pleasant athlete to ever win the Gatorade Player of the Year award in any sport.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.