A dedicated ESPNHS team managed this past fall's Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For his 29 fellow Gatorade State Fall Boys Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Nick Downs
School: C.M. Russell (Great Falls, Mont.)
Weight: 140 pounds
Athletic achievement: Downs scored 14 goals and passed for eight assists this past season, leading the Rustlers (6-8-1) to the Class AA state quarterfinals. A two-time All-State selection and a two-time Montana Coaches Association Academic All-State honoree, he is a member of the 1994 U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV Olympic Development Program team. Through his junior year, Downs has recorded 32 goals and 13 assists in his prep career.
Academic excellence: Downs has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: He has volunteered locally as a youth mentor and on behalf of the Kick for Nick charitable campaign by donating his time as a soccer coach in exchange for soccer balls sent to children in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Nick Downs is fast, he’s quick, he’s good with the ball at his feet and he can finish,” said Paul Zazenski, Downs’ club coach with Montana United. “His speed allows him to do what he wants on the pitch.”
THE FUTURE: Downs will begin his senior year of high school this fall.