Home High Schools Ed Doherty Award gets new life from GCSGC

Ed Doherty Award gets new life from GCSGC

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A new entity, Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club, has formed and the first order of business was restoring the Ed Doherty Award to celebrate football in Arizona. (Corey Cross/MyNewsMesa)

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 jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

The 2017 Watch List

PLAYER NAME SCHOOL POSITION YEAR
Drake Anderson Chandler HS RB Sr
Trenton Bourguet Marana HS QB Jr
Zack Bowers Chandler HS LB Jr
Josiah Bradley Saguaro HS RB Sr
Gary Bragg Mountain Pointe HS RB Jr
Nick Brahler Ironwood Ridge HS RB Sr
Elijah Carey Canyon Del Oro HS RB Sr
Tommy Christakos Chaparral HS WR/K So
Kenny Churchwell Mountain Pointe HS DB Sr
Jacob Conover Chandler HS QB Jr
Gunner Cruz Casteel HS QB Jr
Solomon Enis North Canyon HS WR Sr
Cole Fisher Notre Dame Prep RB Sr
Alijah Gammage Desert Vista HS DB Sr
Draycen Hall Higley HS RB Sr
Dom Hampton Centennial HS DB Sr
Kris Jackson Mesa HS RB Sr
D’Shayne James Perry HS WR Jr
Ja’Tai Jenkins Verrado HS RB Sr
Trey Johnson Queen Creek HS RB Sr
Jamarye Joiner Cienega HS QB Sr
Jawhar Jordan Chandler HS RB Sr
Jacob Kaites Scottsdale Christian WR Sr
Derek Kline Desert Vista HS QB Sr
Lance Lawson Red Mountain HS ATH Sr
Donjae Logan Desert Ridge HS DB Sr
Israel Loveall Bagdad HS QB Sr
Max Massingale Saguaro HS QB Sr
Matteo Mele Salpointe Catholic OL Sr
Dez Melton Deer Valley HS RB Jr
Jack Plummer Gilbert HS QB Sr
Noa Pola-Gates Williams Field HS ATH Jr
Brock Purdy Perry HS QB Sr
Spencer Rattler Pinnacle HS QB Jr
Bijan Robinson Salpointe Catholic ATH So
Gunner Romney Chandler HS WR Sr
Zack Shepherd Williams Field HS QB Jr
Tyler Shough Hamilton HS QB Sr
Kedon Slovis Desert Mountain HS QB Jr
Jake Smith Notre Dame Prep ATH Jr
Zidane Thomas Centennial HS RB Sr
Josh Walker Desert Mountain HS WR Sr
Marques White Brophy College Prep DB Jr

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