The window on the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. The award recognizes not only athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Here are two top candidates who meet the basic award criteria as determined by our ESPNHS team that administers the program's selection process.
Senior quarterback, Lansing Catholic (Lansing, Mich.)
2011 Team record: 13-0 (Division 5)
2011 Team standing: Division 5 state final vs. Powers Catholic on Nov. 26
2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 216-316 (68.4)-3,767
2011 TDs-INTs: 45-12
2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 112-722 (6.5)-15
Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Central Michigan University (verbal)
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: In four Division 5 state tournament games, has thrown for 1,583 yards and 19 touchdowns, completing 94-of-133 attempts (70.7 percent). He also rushed for 201 yards and five touchdowns on 37 carries. In a 61-13 state quarterfinal victory against Dowagiac, broke two state records -- most touchdown passes in a half (5) and for the game (8) -- and tied two others (7 first-half touchdown passes and 20 straight completions). Averaged 11.9 yards per passing attempt. 207.89 NCAA Pass Efficiency Rating. No. 88 ranked QB in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 preseason First Team All-State selection as named by ESPNHS. 2010 Division 3-4 First Team All-State selection.
Senior running back/linebacker, Oxford (Mich.)
2011 Team record: 7-3 (Division 2)
2011 Team standing: lost Division 2 pre-district round vs. Rochester Adams, 26-20
2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 362-2,457 (6.8)-37
2011 Tackles: 159
2011 Sacks: 6
2011 Interceptions: 2
Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Undecided
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: In the 26-20 loss to Rochester Adams in the first round of the Division 2 state tournament, rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries. Averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Amassed 12 tackles for losses, seven QB hurries, five pass breakups, four forced fumbles and three tipped passes. No. 72 ranked ILB in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU. 2011 preseason First Team All-State selection as named by ESPNHS. 2010 First Team All-Oakland Athletic League selection.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race isn’t over yet. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Here are some more of many who’ve been in the conversation throughout the 2011 campaign.
Gabe Dean: Lowell (Mich.) senior quarterback
Aaron Burbridge: Harrison (Farmington, Mich.) senior wide receiver
Drake Johnson: Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Mich.) senior running back
James Ross: St. Mary's Prep (Orchard Lake Village, Mich.) senior linebacker
Corey Willis: Holland (Mich.) junior quarterback/defensive back