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Eye on POY: Illinois 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.

Matt Alviti

Junior quarterback, Maine South (Park Ridge, Ill.)

2011 Team record: 10-1 (Class 8A)

2011 Team standing: lost Class 8A second round to Stevenson, 24-22

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 150-235 (63.8)-2,037

2011 TDs-INTs: 26-7

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 95-511 (5.4)-12

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: HS Junior

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: In the first round of the Class 8A state tournament, threw for 182 yards and four touchdowns in addition to rushing for the fifth TD in a 35-13 victory. Averaged 7.7 yards per touch for the season. Class of 2013 ESPNU 150 Watch List nominee. 2011 First Team All-State preseason selection as named by ESPNHS. 2010 Second Team All-State selection as named by the Chicago Tribune. 2010 Class 8A state champion.

Blake Winkler

Senior quarterback, Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.)

2011 Team record: 10-1 (Class 7A)

2011 Team standing: lost Class 7A second round to Wheaton Warrenville South, 7-0

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 131-213 (61.5)-2,369

2011 TDs-INTs: 30-5

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 45-94 (2.1)-1

Academics: A average

Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Produced a 196.71 NCAA Pass Efficiency Rating. Averaged 11.1 yards per attempt this season. In the first round of the Class 7A state tournament, Winkler completed 13-of-18 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-7 victory. 2010 Honorable Mention All-State selection as named by the Chicago Tribune.

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.

Tommy Schutt: Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) senior defensive tackle

Jordan Westerkamp: Montini Catholic (Lombard, Ill.) senior wide receiver

Ty Isaac: Joliet Catholic Academy (Joliet, Ill.) junior running back

Malcolm Weaver: Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) senior quarterback

Aaron Bailey: Bolingbrook (Ill.) junior 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.