ATHENS — If you’ve noticed a “hint” of green around Limestone County recently and you know it’s too early for St. Patrick’s Day decorations, there’s a reason for it.
Or, rather, two reasons.
Quez Watkins and Reed Blankenship of the Philadelphia Eagles.
You see, the two players had their start in Limestone County – Watkins is an Athens High alum, Class of 2016, and Blankenship is a graduate of West Limestone High School, Class of 2017.
To honor them, storefronts, schools and even the Limestone County Courthouse are decked out in green – the Eagles colors.
“I love having the support from my hometown,” Watkins told WAFF. “It makes me want to come back home and give back, give back more.”
Sunday will be celebrated as Quez Watkins and Reed Blankenship Day in Athens and Limestone County.
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks and Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly signed a joint resolution Thursday proclaiming Sunday as a day in honor of the two local athletes. Watkins and Blankenship will play in the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. Watkins played at Athens High, and Blankenship played at West Limestone High.
The proclamation states in part that their “stories remind our community’s students to pursue their dreams by working hard and staying dedicated,” and “both athletes have garnered a sense of community pride and hometown spirit among our citizens.”
Athens High School and Sugar Creek Elementary School in Lester held “pep rallies” Wednesday to celebrate their former students.
“I got to know Reed in seventh grade,” said Sugar Creek Assistant Principal Lee Francis, Blankenship’s baseball coach at West Limestone. “He was not as big as anything, but us coaches knew there was something special about him. He was always respectful and kind. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as he did.
“I never doubted he was doing the right things. This is a special moment for him and his family and we couldn’t be more excited for him.”
Blankenship told WAFF they have more in common than being from the same county.
“… it’s cool to be on the same team and from the same area,” he said. “And then my dad and (Quez) his mom works together in Decatur, so, it’s pretty cool ….”
The duo have played key roles for the Eagles in their march to the Super Bowl – only the team’s third appearance in pro football’s ultimate game.
They each, in fact, received a game ball after the Eagles’ 40-33 win over the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 28.
Blankenship picked off Packers’ future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers for his first career interception and had three tackles and three assists in the game.
Watkins had a 30-yard touchdown reception to give the Eagles a 27-20 lead.
“Good luck to our hometown favorite football players, Quez and Reed,” said Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce President Pammie Jimmar. “Your friends at the Athens-Limestone County Chamber of Commerce are cheering you on to victory.
“We’re so proud of the both of you!”