Offensive POY: Stepfan Taylor, Mansfield (SR)
Defensive POY: Nikita Whitlock, Wylie (SR)
Coach of the Year: Steve Smith, Lake Highlands
Sophomore of the Year: Divan Ealy, Duncanville (QB)
What better MVP than Superman? Rex Burkhead made his team better offensively, defensively and on special teams. This four year starter did everything for the Plano Wildcats and really typified that Plano mystique that had been missing. Despite a second round exit, Plano played National powerhouse better than just about anyone had until Allen ultimately upended them in the playoffs.
The offensive player of the year is Stepfan Taylor. We strongly considered Taylor for MVP - but we considered Burkhead's defensive and special teams contributions - and that gave him the nod. No one probably meant more to their team offensively than Taylor. Taylor led Mansfield to an improbable playoff appearance, upset over state ranked Abilene and three rounds deep before falling to Cedar Hill. He will be a player the Tigers cannot replace next season.
Defensively - we had a debate with Chris Williams and Nikita Whitlock. When Williams went down for Abilene, it was pretty much the end of their season. They played an eerily close game with North Crowley before losing in the first round to Mansfield. Clearly he made everyone around him better. We gave the edge to Nikita Whitlock simply because like Williams, he was the one player teams had to scheme for and scheme around. He also led his team to a longer (state finals) playoff run.
Coach of the year this year had no clear winner. You could give it to Tom Westerburg for getting Allen over the hump - you could give it to Rodney Webb for getting Mesquite Horn to the playoffs for the first time - or Mansfield's coach for going three rounds deep with what many expected to be a last place team - or even Bill Howard for bringing Wylie to the playoffs. We went with Scott Smith for Lake Highlands as an overall appreciation for what he has done to turn around Lake Highlands. This is a club that won the district championship and could have made it to the state semifinals without a rash of injuries. He lost his starting returning QB and continued to adapt.
The sophomore of the year goes to Divan Ealy. An unexpected starter, Ealy got Duncanville moving and led them to their first playoff appearance in quite sometime. Despite an early exit, they were very competitive and Duncanville is thinking they will be good for the next couple of years at football with Ealy under center.