The Mesa contingent may not have come with the hardware, but they did not come home empty-handed.
The rebirth and ramped up version of the Ed Doherty Award celebration took place on Saturday at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.
Five area football players were among the 46 individuals who received the weekly medallions given out by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club (GCSGC). The medallion served as a ticket to the luncheon that featured past winners, members of the Doherty family and a high society feel to the event, which was given new life by the GCSGC.
It was a good time had by all as some of the state’s top football players were celebrated for what they accomplished in 2017.
“I never expected anything like this,” Mesa senior running back Kris Jackson said. “This is a huge event. It’s an honor to be part of this great group of players here. I had no idea what to expect really since it’s kind of new, but it’s definitely bigger than anything I expected.”
The other four Mesa players – Red Mountain senior athlete Lance Lawson and senior defensive back Gerald Wilbon, Desert Ridge senior defensive back Donjae Logan and Skyline junior running back Aaron Wood – had similar sentiments.
The award was first given out in 1987 and continued through 2012, but fell dormant. The trio of president Don Kile and co-chairmen Rob Yowell and Ward Hickey got together to form the GCSGC with hopes of making the event something that rivaled the Heisman Trophy Award for the NCAA’s top football player.
None of the area players made the top five – Chandler running back Drake Anderson, Centennial running back Zidane Thomas, Higley running back Draycen Hall, Cienega quarterback Jamarye Jordan and winner Brock Purdy, quarterback for Perry – but injuries to Wood, Lawson and Jackson kept them from fully performing while defensive players like Wilbon and Logan have trouble getting recognized.
It didn’t take away from the prestige of being invited or the experience considering this wasn’t an event on the radar for anyone at the beginning the year, but by the end the social media presence of the medallions and the GCSGC created a buzz for the players in Arizona with hopes of having a chance of winning the “Arizona Heisman.”
“My dad and I did some research and realize the importance of the award,” Lawson said. “I wasn’t sure I’d get a medallion because I didn’t really have that big game because of injuries, but it was something we all wanted to get. I finally got mine after the Skyline game and I wanted to see what it was all about.”
The event, which saw former Mountain View star and NFL All-Pro Todd Heap as the keynote speaker, is only going to get bigger and as the only area underclassman Wood plans on making a return trip.
“This is impressive,” Wood said. “It’s definitely something that got on everyone’s radar as the season went on. I can’t wait until next year and try to get back here and maybe get to be a finalist.”
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to email@example.com.