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: Anthony Alford
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Petal (Miss.)
Weight: 210 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, Alford has led the Panthers to a 10-4 record and a berth in the Class 6A state final against Olive Branch (Miss.), scheduled for Dec. 2. He passed for 1,892 yards and 17 touchdowns through 14 games, completing 98-of-200 attempts while throwing nine interceptions. A standout outfielder for the Petal baseball team and a member of the 2010 USA Junior Olympic National Team, Alford has also rushed for 1,524 yards and 21 touchdowns on 256 carries in 2011. A U.S. Army All-American Game selection, he is the No. 98 rated recruit in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.
Academic excellence: Alford has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of his local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, Alford has volunteered locally as a Big Brother/Big Sister mentor and as a youth baseball coach.
THE PRAISE: Steve Buckley, head coach at Petal
“Anthony’s numbers speak for themselves. The statistics he has compiled were accomplished against the best competition in the state. He is an amazing player.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Alford remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.