ESPNBoston.com and its high school sports staff today have named its five finalists for the fourth annual ESPNBoston.com Mr. Football Award, given to the best overall player in Massachusetts. The winner will be announced on Dec. 9, with the recipient being presented the award at Gillette Stadium before an upcoming New England Patriots home game.
Below are the five finalists:
Natick High School
The 6-foot, 178-pound Flutie has heard comparisons to his father (Darren) and Heisman-winning uncle (Doug) since he first set foot in the high school's hallways, but after this latest campaign it is well-merited. Headed into the Redhawks' Thanksgiving day matchup with Framingham, the Boston College commit is the state's all-time leader in passing touchdowns (105) and passing yards (8,741); with four TD passes on Turkey Day, he would tie the single-season mark held by 2011 Mr. Football winner Jonathan DiBiaso of Everett (44). On the season, Flutie has completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,754 yards and 40 touchdowns, and carried 91 times for 812 yards and six touchdowns, as the Redhawks reached the second round of the MIAA Division 2 South tournament.
Senior Running Back
Plymouth South High School
After leading the state in rushing touchdowns (40) a season ago, the 5-foot-10 Oxsen has turned in another fierce campaign despite a hobbled ankle. In nine games, he has carried 272 times for 2,145 yards and 24 touchdowns, his second straight season going over the 2,000-yard mark, as the Panthers have clinched a spot in the MIAA Division 3 State Final. He has also thrown for a touchdown and returned an interception for a touchdown, for 27 total scores.
Senior Running Back
Needham High School
One of the state's shiftiest tailbacks, the 5-foot-10 Panepinto followed up his 2,000-yard junior campaign with another dynamic senior season, carrying 172 times for 1,654 yards and 25 touchdowns as the Rockets reached the MIAA Division 2 South Semifinals. Headed into the playoffs, his 1,240 yards and 18 scores were best among all rushers in Massachusetts.
St. John's High School (Shrewsbury)
For the second straight season Smiley, a Navy lacrosse commit, surpassed the 3,000-yard mark for offense as the Pioneers are once again among the state's leaders in yards per game. Heading into Dec. 7's MIAA Division 2 State Final with Mansfield, the 6-foot-3 Smiley is completing 70 percent of his passes (167 of 239) for 2,290 yards, 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions; on the ground, he adds 846 yards and 12 more scores on 94 carries. He's also recorded three interceptions as a part-time safety -- including his one-handed pick with 20 seconds to go in Saturday's D2 State Semifinal, which punched the Pioneers' ticket to Gillette.
Springfield Central High School
One of the state's best pure passers, the Monmouth University commit nearly pulled off the unthinkable in Week 1, nearly upsetting juggernaut Everett, then led the Golden Eagles to their second straight Western Mass. title. In 11 games this season, the 6-foot-3 Williams was 117 of 174 passing for 2,217 yards and 24 touchdowns, with just five interceptions. He also added 560 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.