The Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club is bringing back the Ed Doherty Trophy.
The award, which is given to the state’s top football player, was given out from 1987 to 2012 with past winners like Mario Bates (Amphi, 1990), Mike Mitchell (Brophy, 1992), Ryan Kealy (St. Mary’s, 1995), Todd Heap (Mountain View, 1997), John Beck (Mountain View, 1999) and Ryan Finley (Paradise Valley, 2012).
The idea is to bring the award back to prominence with some additional highlights throughout the season. It used to be reserved for seniors, but it will now be open to any player regardless of grade and position.
“It’s a shame it went dormant,” said Rob Yowell, who is co-chairmen of the GCSGC. “It never should have happened. We hope to bring it back and take it to the next level with weekly awards and a ceremony to celebrate it at the end.”
The timing works well with the continued growth in stature for football in Arizona.
The level of play, the number of recruits headed out of state to the nation’s top programs and teams being invited to play against top-ranked programs from around the country has all increased steadily in recent years.
One thing that was missing was an award to single out the state’s top player like Mr. Ohio, Mr. Texas or Mr. Florida.
“It’s going to be like the Heisman Trophy for Arizona,” said Ward Hickey, who is a co-chairmen of the GCSGC. “We think it can be something very special and develop into a great event.”
It begins with the Watch List, a group of players put together a committee of media members, that was released on Tuesday.
Three local players were among the 43 that made the initial Watch List in Mesa senior running back Kris Jackson, Desert Ridge senior defensive back Donjae Logan and Red Mountain athlete Lance Lawson.
Starting with this week’s games medallions will be awarded to players of the week from around the state.
Anyone who receives a medallion will automatically advance to the final selection round for the Ed Doherty Award. The medallions will be sent to the school with hopes of it being presented at the school’s pep rally before the next game.
Selection criteria includes performance, community involvement, character and academics.
The finalists will be invited to the award luncheon on Dec. 9.
Ed Doherty coached at Arizona State (1947-50), Arizona (1957-58), St. Mary’s (1965-70) and Salpointe Catholic (1978-82) during his career. He led the Panthers to two state titles and the Lancers to one.
The Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club is a newly formed entity specifically for this award and additional projects down the line. The initial four individuals – Don Kile, Garry Hays, Ward Hickey, who played at LSU, and Yowell – have ties the Coyotes, Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame and a passion for high school sports.
The voting committee for the weekly medallions and the Doherty Award are Richard Obert (Arizona Republic), Andy Morales (AzPreps365/All-Sports Tucson.com), Ralph Amsden (Arizona Varsity), Chris Eaton (Gridiron Arizona), Jason Skoda (MyNewsMesa.com), Jason Jewell (24/7 Scout.com) and Rhett Stallworth (Yuma Catholic principal).
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2017 Watch List
|Gary||Bragg||Mountain Pointe HS||RB||Jr|
|Nick||Brahler||Ironwood Ridge HS||RB||Sr|
|Elijah||Carey||Canyon Del Oro HS||RB||Sr|
|Kenny||Churchwell||Mountain Pointe HS||DB||Sr|
|Solomon||Enis||North Canyon HS||WR||Sr|
|Cole||Fisher||Notre Dame Prep||RB||Sr|
|Alijah||Gammage||Desert Vista HS||DB||Sr|
|Trey||Johnson||Queen Creek HS||RB||Sr|
|Derek||Kline||Desert Vista HS||QB||Sr|
|Lance||Lawson||Red Mountain HS||ATH||Sr|
|Donjae||Logan||Desert Ridge HS||DB||Sr|
|Dez||Melton||Deer Valley HS||RB||Jr|
|Noa||Pola-Gates||Williams Field HS||ATH||Jr|
|Zack||Shepherd||Williams Field HS||QB||Jr|
|Kedon||Slovis||Desert Mountain HS||QB||Jr|
|Jake||Smith||Notre Dame Prep||ATH||Jr|
|Josh||Walker||Desert Mountain HS||WR||Sr|
|Marques||White||Brophy College Prep||DB||Jr|