A piece of Arizona high school football history has been dusted off, re-branded and improved this year and a handful of Mesa-based players will be honored, including two that have played a huge role in Red Mountain’s run to the state quarterfinals.
The Ed Doherty Award was given annually from 1987 to 2012 to the state’s top senior football player but eventually faded away.
It was brought back this season by the newly formed Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club with an idea of making it the signature event of the season outside of the state championship weekend.
A preseason Watch List was formed and then starting in Week 3 the top performers were recognized and were awarded medallions.
Anyone who received a medallion gets invited to the celebratory banquet on Dec. 9 at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.
Five local players earned medallions during the season as Mesa running back Kris Jackson, Skyline running back Aaron Wood, Desert Ridge defensive back Donjae Logan along with the Mountain Lions’ duo of athlete Lance Lawson and defensive back Gerald Wilbon.
“It means a lot to be noticed for hard work that I’ve put in,” Wilbon said. “It’s an honor to be put in that category with other great players.”
Wilbon has played a big part in the Mountain Lions’ resurgence this season as both a defensive back and wide receiver.
“We’ve kind of been waiting for Gerald to come into his own, and last week’s (win over Horizon) was his game,” Red Mountain coach Mike Peterson said. “He had a great game offensively, but the first play of the game is what should be the first play on his Hudl tape.”
He was lined up on the left side of the formation and when Lawson broke down the right sideline, Wilbon cut across the field, pushed one defender off the play with his left hand and then blocked a player on the right who then toppled two of his Horizon teammates.
It cleared the way for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the game and set the tone.
“It showed what unselfish play can do for a team,” Peterson said. “It was great play that was all about effort.”