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Eye on POY: Kansas football

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.

Montell Cozart

Junior quarterback, Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.)

2011 Team record: 9-1

2011 Team standing: Class 5A quarterfinals vs. Blue Valley on Friday

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 148-231 (64.1)-2,230

2011 TDs-INTs: 30-7

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 120-502 (4.2)-7

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: HS junior

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Has passed for at least three touchdowns in seven of 10 games. Owns a 182.0 NCAA Passer Efficiency Rating. First year as starting quarterback. Passed for three TDs and ran for two scores in 59-0 win over Highland Park in postseason opener.

Tyler Matthews

Senior quarterback, McPherson (Kan.)

2011 Team record: 8-2

2011 Team standing: Lost in Class 5A first round

2011 COMP-ATT (%)-YDs: 163-259 (62.9)-2,840

2011 TDs-INTs: 24-5

2011 Carries-YDs (AVG.)-TDs: 48-118 (2.5)-3

Academics: A-minus average

Collegiate destination: Texas Christian University (verbal)

How he’s played himself into the State POY conversation: Owns a 181.8 NCAA Passer Efficiency Rating. Passed for 385 yards and four TDs in 32-31 loss to Kapaun Mt. Carmel in first round of Class 5A postseason. No. 27 ranked quarterback 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.

Tanner Fisher: Buhler (Kan.) senior running back

Austin O'Bannon: McPherson (Kan.) junior running back

Matt Reed: Wichita Heights (Wichita, Kan.) senior quarterback

Ty Suggs: Manhattan (Kan.) senior running back

Traevohn Wrench: Gardner Edgerton (Gardner, Kan.) sophomore running back

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.