A dedicated ESPNHS POY team managed the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the awards program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character. For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Cole Gautsche
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Cleveland (Rio Rancho, N.M.)
Weight: 218 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Gautsche has led the Storm to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Class 5A state championship game against Mayfield (Las Cruces, N.M.), scheduled for Dec. 3. He passed for 2,783 yards and 35 touchdowns through 12 games, completing 123-of-199 attempts against just four interceptions. A 2010 First Team All-District performer, Gautsche has also rushed for 1,162 yards and 23 touchdowns on 137 carries. He has accumulated more than 4,000 yards both rushing and passing in three years as a starting quarterback, including one year for Aransas Pass (Texas).
Academic excellence: Gautsche has maintained a 3.79 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of the National Honor Society, Gautsche has volunteered locally at a food bank, an animal shelter and as a youth football counselor.
THE PRAISE: Heath Ridenour, offensive coordinator at Cleveland
“Cole Gautsche is the best high school quarterback that I have been around in my career. He has every intangible asset that all great quarterbacks possess. His ability to read defenses and deliver the ball on time makes our offense the best in the state.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Gautsche has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at New Mexico State University beginning in the fall of 2012. He will graduate early to begin attending classes on the Las Cruces campus during the upcoming spring semester.