The window on the Gatorade State Boys Soccer Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. 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 midfielder, Knoxville Catholic (Knoxville, Tenn.)
2012 Team record: 15-1-3
2012 Team standing: District 4-AAA tournament semifinals on Wednesday
2012 Goals: 29
2012 Assists: 16
Career goals: 65
Career assists: 49
Academics: B-plus average
Collegiate destination: Lee University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaging 2.37 points per game this season. 2011 Class AAA First Team All-State selection as named by the Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association and Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class AAA First Team All-State selection. 2011 District 4-AAA Midfielder of the Year.
Junior midfielder, Christian Academy of Knoxville (Tenn.)
2012 Team record: 16-1-2
2012 Team standing: Class A-AA state tournament begins on May 15
2012 Goals: 7
2012 Assists: 6
Career goals: 29
Career assists: 20
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: University of Kentucky (verbal)
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaging 0.68 points per game this season. U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Olympic Development Program team member.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys Soccer 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 2011-12 campaign.
Will Cross: Senior forward, Martin Luther King Magnet (Nashville, Tenn.)
Chris Gardea: Senior midfielder, Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.)
Sam Wilson: Senior defender, Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.)
Think we're missing a deserving Gatorade State Player of the Year candidate in your state? Let us know via e-mail at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.