A dedicated ESPNHS team managed this past fall's Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For his 29 fellow Gatorade State Fall Boys Soccer Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Austin Clifton
School: Northwest (Wichita, Kan.)
Weight: 160 pounds
Athletic achievement: Clifton led the Grizzlies to a 21-0 record and the Class 6A state championship this past season. He scored 28 goals and passed for eight assists, including a hat trick in a 3-1 win over Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) in the state semifinals. An All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, he is a two-time First Team All-State honoree. Clifton, who transferred to Northwest from Wichita South (Wichita, Kan.) after his sophomore year, concluded his two seasons as a Grizzly with 51 goals and 18 assists.
Academic excellence: Clifton has maintained a 3.55 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: He has volunteered locally with the Meals on Wheels Association of America, the Northwest Booster Club and as a mentor and coach for special-needs children.
“Austin went to high school and played up front and he’s been banging goals in the last two years,” said Sammy Lane, Clifton’s club coach with Evolution FC. “Once he got the confidence of scoring goals in high school, it changed his belief that he could be a good player. He really flourished into being the best player around here.”
THE FUTURE: Clifton has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at Fort Hays State University this fall.