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Eye on POY: Mississippi Football

The window on the Gatorade State Football Player of the Year race is closing, and time is running out for student-athletes to state their POY case. 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.

Anthony Alford

Senior quarterback, Petal (Miss.)

2011 Team record: 8-4

2011 Team standing: Class 5A second round vs. Biloxi on Friday

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 85-171 (49.7)-1,550

2011 TDs-INTs: 15-7

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 207-1,324 (6.4)-17

Academics: B-plus average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2010-11 Gatorade Mississippi Football Player of the Year. Has accounted for more than 70 percent of Petal's total yards and offensive touchdowns this season. Surpassed 200 yards rushing and passing in 54-37 win over Oak Grove on Sept. 30.

Forest Williams

Senior quarterback, Amory (Miss.)

2011 Team record: 10-3

2011 Team standing: Class 4A third round vs. Cleveland on Friday

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 304-439 (69.2)-4,516

2011 TDs-INTs: 49-11

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 49-49 (1.0)-4

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: State record 646 passing yards to go along with eight touchdowns in 63-30 win over Gentry in first round of Class 4A playoffs. Mississippi North-South All-Star game selection. Three-year starting quarterback.

Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Football 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 campaign.

Shelton Cole: Meridian (Miss.) senior wide receiver

Michael Hubbard: Meridian (Miss.) senior running back

Jeremy Liggins: Lafayette County (Oxford, Miss.) senior quarterback

Todd Mays: Olive Branch (Miss.) senior quarterback

Caleb Upton: Cathedral (Natchez, Miss.) senior quarterback

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 or Twitter @ESPNHS_GPOY.