Going into the week of the Super Six, the time to win these awards is now. Unlike prior years, the Kennedy resume has became similar to FBS’s Heisman where team performance matters just as much as personal statistics. These are OUR opinion on who the voters should be looking at- our opinion purely from watching, covering, and observing this year of football. Subjectively, this may not be the best players per category, but we are listing the most deserving regarding performance and statistics.
*players in no specific order*
- Connor Neal (QB) Fairmont Senior: Neal has put together one of, if not, the best passing seasons in state history. 40+ touchdowns to only three interceptions. The Polar Bear offense has been historically amazing these playoffs. He arguably has not been stopped once with their closest game being a 46-20 win in the season opener against a playoff hosting Robert C. Byrd. Neal will surely face the best team he will play this season in Bluefield. Last year he went north of 300 in the state title game. It would be hard to argue against him if he replicated that performance and got a win.
- Grant Harman (QB/DB) Martinsburg: Harman has one of the best careers in state history: first team all-state as a sophomore and junior on arguably the greatest teams in state history, leader of a senior class responsible for the longest winning streak in state history, and starting in his third straight title game. Harman has averaged nearly one touchdown per four pass attempts. He has found ways to win consistently. Defensively, he is also nearing the top of the list in interceptions and is widely considered the top defensive back in the state. His performance against Spring Valley will speak volumes.
- Graeson Malashevich (ATH) Spring Valley: Malashevich has become one of the most unique scorers in a long time. On a offense flooded with talent including Spring Valley’s potential all-time leading rusher Owen Chafin, Malashevich finds ways to score in every way- Multiple return, pass, rushing, defensive, and receiving touchdowns. An amazing note on our side is that Malashevich has been the player of the week in Southern AAA the last four weeks against Spring Mills, Huntington twice, and Capital. He’s peaking against the best teams. He will have his shot to win the award against Martinsburg.
- Longshots – Curtis McGhee III (QB) Wheeling Central, Hunter America (RB) Doddridge County, and Kerry Martin Jr. (QB) Capital: To win this award in Single A is nearly impossible. Many would agree that if Ross Comis of Madonna didn’t win it with his numbers, no Single A player could win unless specific circumstances. McGhee III has the clear edge over America after 500+ yards of offense against Doddridge County while America did not appear to be the type of back that rushed for nearly 3000 yards. However, McGhee III will definitely return for his senior season as a candidate. Martin Jr. had his shot this past week and played well but not good enough to win nor steal it from the other two AAA finalists. He still finishes with an amazing career and great season with tons of wins, passing yards, and rushing yards.
- Doug Nester (OL) Spring Valley: Nester has been the staple of one of the best classes in state history. He has all the check offs. He has the size, he has been dominant on both sides, and he is also highly recruited. There are one or two lineman in the state who could even manage Nester one on one. He has paved the way for multiple runners including some of the most prolific runners in school history and potentially the school’s first Kennedy Award winner on top of their third state title game appearance.
- Zach Frazier (OL) Fairmont Senior: Frazier is legitimate. Not only is he big and athletic, but he is arguably the meanest out of the finalists. Regardless of film, in person, Frazier is shoving opposing players facemasks in the ground nearly every play. Defensively, he can single handedly take over a drive. Add on that he has already been recruited heavily as that unspoken brownie point, and he is in the race. If does not beat out Nester, he will be the favorite coming into 2019.
- Sean Martin (DL) Bluefield: The breakout player of the year in our opinion. On a team already with multiple watch list lineman, Martin might have the biggest impact. He is literally bigger and longer than everyone else as well as actual speed. He can bully lineman or scream right past them. His sack tally has not been updated but it most likely is far past 10. This time next year he should be the highest recruited player in the state.
- Longshots – Darnell Wright (OL) Huntington, Nick Malone (OL) Morgantown, and Hunter Jones (DL) Midland Trail: Many have not been impressed with Wright’s performance this year but there is much expected criticism with being the highest recruited player in state history. In some cases, it is harder for a legit 6’7 tackle to block nifty little backers than college backers. Malone has also impressed this year and will finish a top five lineman, however, Morgantown’s record and early playoff exit hurt. Jones had 19 sacks this year after 15+ in 2017- a staple in Midland Trail’s best team in decades. However, with any other award, Single A is a longshot.
- RJ Barrett (LB) Martinsburg: Barrett is the epitome of standing out on a team of stars. We knew of his special teams ability coming into this season, but he has also stepped it up on defense as well. He is nearing 100 tackles alongside 10 sacks and a staggering five blocked kicks/punts. He is also a devastating hitter/blocker on return teams. Barrett is quick and well-coached with high football IQ and a knack for playmaking.
- Breece Hoff (LB) Capital: Hoff finds himself in the finalist list for the Huff for the second year. Statistically, he didn’t have as many sacks as 2017 but many teams gameplanned specifically for his presence off the edge. He made up for it though with several blocked kicks of his own. Hoff’s downside will come in their hard loss to Spring Valley whether or not it was his fault or not. It might scare away voters. Regardless, Hoff is an elite talent.
- Brocton Blair (LB) Huntington: Blair’s potential is coming along nice. He showed signs of what he could be last year, and he risen to it on multiple occasions this year. He has been a solid runstopper and made plays almost weekly in terms of sacks, fumbles, and interceptions. Huntington suffered some tough defensive performances which hurt his stock, but they also had some very high ones as well.
- Longshots – Adam Murray (LB) Wheeling Central, JT Cooper (LB) Hurricane, and Arnold Martin (LB) Bluefield: For those saying Murray isn’t a legit talent because he’s in Single A, you’re wrong. He has incredible numbers and is on a historically excellent defense. This year, he has had to share some defensive love with other stars like Mangino, Robbins, and Duplaga. Cooper had a stat-stacking season but many will argue several of Hurricane’s team defensive performance. It will cost him whether or not it was his fault. Martin is an unsung hero of the Bluefield defense with a top recruited lineman and defensive back taking the headlines. He is an amazing sideline to sideline tackler and backbone of a team trying to win its second straight title.