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 forward/defender, Brandon (Miss.)
2012 Team record: 16-3-3
2012 Team standing: Lost in Class 6A state tournament second round
2012 Goals: 17
2012 Assists: 7
Career goals: 39
Career assists: 17
Academics: B average
Collegiate destination: Virginia's Longwood University
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Averaged 1.09 points per game this season. 2012 Clarion Ledger First Team All-State selection. Three-time All-Division pick. U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Olympic Development Program team member.
Senior goalkeeper, Clinton (Miss.)
2012 Team record: 23-2-2
2012 Team standing: Class 6A state champions
2012 Shutouts: 15
2012 Goals allowed: 12
2012 Saves: 103
Career shutouts: 20
Academics: A average
Collegiate destination: Undecided
How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Allowed just 0.48 goals per game this season. 2012 Clarion Ledger Player of the Year. Back-to-back shutouts in Class 6A state semifinals and final.
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.
John Mathis: Senior forward, Corinth (Miss.)
Matthew O’Neal: Senior forward, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.)
Garreth Rogers: Senior defender, Tupelo (Miss.)
T.J. Sharp: Senior defender, Ocean Springs (Miss.)
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.