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: Blake Winkler
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.)
Weight: 180 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Winkler completed 131-of-213 pass attempts for 2,369 yards and 30 touchdowns against just five interceptions this past season, leading the Griffins (10-1) to the second round of the Class 7A postseason. A returning Honorable Mention All-State selection as named by the Chicago Tribune, he rushed for 94 yards and one touchdown on 45 carries. Winkler concluded his career as Lincoln Way-East’s leading passer, throwing for 4,297 yards and 51 touchdowns while leading his team to a 19-3 record over the past two seasons.
Academic excellence: Winkler has maintained a 4.11 weighted GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, Pi Sigma Pi history honor society and Mu Alpha Theta mathematics society, Winkler has volunteered locally on behalf of a homeless shelter and his church in addition to donating his time as a tutor and football instructor to area youth.
THE PRAISE: Mike Maloney, head coach of rival Joliet (Ill.)
“His accuracy and precision are unmatched in the state of Illinois. He was a gracious winner, which is a testament to his sportsmanship and character. His leadership capability can be measured by the success of the offensive unit at Lincoln-Way East with him at the helm. Blake did what a great player does -- made his teammates better.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Winkler remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.