High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Sam Steffl

Eye on POY: South Dakota football

November, 18, 2011
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.

Alex Schultz
Senior Quarterback, Lincoln High (Sioux Falls, SD)

2011 Team record: 8-3
2011 Team standing: Lost in Class 11AA semifinals

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 195-329 (59.3)-2,991
2011 TDs-INTs: 36-8

Academics: A-minus average
Collegiate destination: Undecided

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: First Team All-State in 2010, 2011; Second in state history in career passing yards; Sioux Falls All-City Player of the Year.

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POY Potential: S.D. football contenders

September, 30, 2011
South Dakota doesn't boast a lot of Div. I football recruits this season, but that doesn't figure to make the race for the state's Gatorade Player of the Year Award any less interesting.

One of the early leaders has to be Lincoln High's (Sioux Falls, SD) senior quarterback Alex Schultz. Schultz threw for 2,950 yards and 25 TDs as a junior and has increased his pace this year. Through five games (4-1), Schultz has completed 99 of 161 attempts for 1,647 yards and 22 TDs, with just three interceptions. Returning All-State teammate Trey Naasz (33-366) has broken the state's career record for receptions, but 6-foot-3 senior Josh Kunzmann has been Schultz's big play target, hauling in 34 passes for 703 yards and 12 TDs.

Schultz isn't the only talented quarterback in the state. Milbank High (Milbank, SD) QB/DB Nick Mears is a dual-threat signal-caller who has passed for 600 yards and rushed for 727. The only quarterback among the Argus Leader Elite 45 Team's five returnees, Mears has had a hand in 107 of Milbank's 132 points (81.6%), leading the Bulldogs to a 3-1 start in Class 11A.

Defending Class 11A champ Dell Rapids (Dell Rapids, SD) has been missing its top player, junior Cole Langer (grandson of NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Langer) for most of the season with a groin injury. Langer rushed for 1,236 yards as a sophomore and made 113 tackles on defense. Senior twin brothers Channing and Zach Barber -- the quarterback and running back, respectively -- have picked up the slack, however, boosting the Quarriers to a 3-1 start.

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