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: Noah Spence
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Position: Defensive tackle/tight end
Weight: 245 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Spence has led the Crusaders to an 11-2 record a berth in the Class AAA state quarterfinals against Lampeter-Strasburg (Lampeter, Pa.), scheduled for Dec. 2. He amassed 84 tackles, 23 tackles for losses, 10 sacks and three blocked punts for a team that allowed just 11.9 points per contest through 13 games. A 2012 Under Armour All-America Game selection, Spence, also a tight end, hauled in four receptions for 35 yards and two touchdowns while blocking for an offense that scores 36.4 points per game. The returning Defensive Player of the Year as named by Pennsylvania Football News, he recorded 102 tackles, 33 tackles for losses, 22 sacks and eight forced fumbles as a junior in 2010.
Academic excellence: Spence has maintained a 3.25 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth mentor and athletic instructor, Spence has volunteered with the Special Olympics and as part of multiple community-service initiatives on behalf of his church’s Care Leadership Youth Group.
THE PRAISE: Robert Klock, head coach of rival Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown, Pa.)
“The combination of his physical strength and speed on the field would rank as the best I’ve seen at the high school level. He is also very smart in how he positions himself. He seems to always be in a great position to maintain leverage. Spence is a wonderful young man as well as an outstanding football player.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Spence remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.