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: William Likely
THE BASICS: Anatomy of a POY
School: Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.)
Position: Defensive back/wide receiver/running back/kick returner
Weight: 170 pounds
THE PILLARS: Gatorade criteria
Athletic achievement: Likely has led the Raiders to a 12-0 record and a berth in the Class 5A regional finals against Miami Norland (Miami Gardens, Fla.), scheduled for Dec. 2. He rushed for 742 yards and 11 touchdowns on 69 carries entering the postseason round of eight. A returning Class 2A First Team All-State selection, Likely also hauled in 31 receptions for 586 yards and five touchdowns through 12 games. A two-time Nike Football Training Camp Defensive Back Most Valuable Player, he has 36 tackles, 15 pass breakups and four interceptions for a defense that allows just 84 rushing yards, 35 passing yards and 6.2 points per game. On special teams, Likely returned 12 total punts and kickoffs back for 380 more yards and two additional touchdowns.
Academic excellence: Likely has maintained a 3.86 weighted GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time to area youth as a football instructor and on behalf of a literacy-outreach program, Likely has volunteered locally at a food pantry and an assisted living facility.
THE PRAISE: Jack Daniels, head coach of Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), which lost to Glades Central, 24-10, in a nationally televised game on ESPN
“Likely single-handedly beat us. The kid is a fantastic player. You know what’s coming, and he still beats you. Obviously, going into the game, we were worried about a lot of their players, but he got the first kickoff and took it back. We took the lead going into the fourth quarter, and he made two huge catches. We knew they were going to hang the deep ball on him, and our defenders were in perfect position but he still made the play. For a little guy, he’s tough and resilient.”
THE FUTURE: Collegiate destination
Likely will begin his senior year of high school next fall.