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Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Eye on POY: Arizona football

By Eric Snyder

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.

D.J. Foster
Saguaro running back D.J. Foster is the No. 28 rated senior athlete in the nation.
D.J. Foster
Senior running back/defensive back, Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

2011 Team record: 9-2
2011 Team standing: Division III quarterfinals vs. Queen Creek on Thursday

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 158-2391 (15.1)-48
2011 Catches-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 9-187 (20.8)-2
2011 Punt returns-AVG.-TDs: 2-39.5-0
2011 Kickoff returns-AVG.-TDs: 2-23.5-0

2011 Tackles: 20
2011 Fumble recoveries: 1 (TD)
2011 Interceptions: 1

Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Set state record with 10 touchdowns in 82-48 win over Sunrise Mountain in first round of Division III postseason. Rushed for at least four touchdowns in eight of 10 games played. 51 total touchdowns ties single-season state record. No. 28 ranked athlete in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU.

Davonte Neal
Davonte Neal is the No. 29 rated senior recruit in the nation.
Davonte Neal
Senior running back/defensive back/returner, Chaparral (Paradise Valley, Ariz.)

2011 Team record: 11-1
2011 Team standing: Division II quarterfinals vs. Perry on Thursday; Ranked No. 38 nationally by ESPNHS

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 78-948 (12.2)-13
2011 Catches-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 46-886 (19.3)-12
2011 Punt returns-AVG.-TDs: 6-27.0-2
2011 Kickoff returns-AVG.-TDs: 7-50.7-3

2011 Tackles: 26
2011 Forced fumbles: 1

Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: 2010-11 Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year. Averages a touchdown every 4.57 touches. Scored via run, reception, kick return and punt return in 63-7 win over Sunnyslope. No. 29 ranked player in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNU.

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.

Connor Brewer: Chaparral (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) senior quarterback
Reggie Daniels: Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) senior offensive tackle
Zach Hemilla: Chandler (Ariz.) senior offensive tackle
Blake Kemp: Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) senior quarterback
Andrus Peat: Corona del Sol (Tempe, Ariz.) senior offensive tackle

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.