The window on the Gatorade State Boys Soccer Player of the Year race is closing, and the search for elite student-athletes is in full swing. 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.
Senior midfielder, Auburn (Ala.)
2012 Team record: 24-1-1
2012 Team standing: Class 6A state semifinal vs. Enterprise (Ala.) on Friday
2012 Goals: 11
2012 Assists: 23
Career goals: 69
Career assists: 89
Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Virginia's Liberty University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2011 First Team All-Southern Alabama selection. Team has outscored opponents 126-12.
Senior forward, Vestavia Hills (Ala.)
2012 Team record: 26-2
2012 Team standing: Class 6A state semifinal vs. Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.) on Friday
2012 Goals: 29
2012 Assists: 28
Career goals: 88
Career assists: 59
Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Marshall University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2011 Birmingham News Boys Metro South Player of the Year. 2011 First Team All-Metro selection as named by the Birmingham News. 2011 Class 6A First Team All-State selection. 2011 Birmingham News All-Academic Team selection.
Make no mistake, the Gatorade State Boys Soccer 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 2011-12 campaign.
Jonathan Blackmon: Junior defender, Briarwood Christian (Birmingham, Ala.)
Jack Goldberg: Senior midfielder, Auburn (Ala.)
Alan Harwell: Senior forward, Brewbaker Tech (Montgomery)
Freddy Ruiz: Senior forward, Fort Payne (Ala.)
Sam Vargas: Senior forward, LAMP (Montgomery, Ala.)
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.