Posted: 9:12 am Monday, December 7th, 2009

Lou Groza Awards chairman: Voters got it right 

By Jason Lieser

It’s impossible to please everybody, but Lou Groza committee chairman Bill Davis said the finalists for this year’s Palm Beach County Player of the Year award are all deserving candidates.

Dwyer linebacker Matt Elam, Park Vista running back Tre Mason and Jupiter Christian linebacker Will Powers made the final cut. The winners already have been determined and will be announced at tomorrow’s Lou Groza awards banquet at the Kravis Center.

“If you look at the list of our finalists over the years, holy cow,” Davis said. “There’s some great high school talent that’s come through here.”

Media members and area coaches submitted the first round of nominations in October, which resulted in a final ballot of 10 Player of the Year candidates, 10 Coach of the Year candidates and five Place-kicker of the Year candidates.

From that pool, Palm Beach County head coaches did the final voting, Davis said. There are 35 varsity football programs in the county and Davis said he received votes from 28-30 of them.

As in any award voting or all-star game selection, there will always be debate over which players deserve recognition.

“I think they got it right,” Davis said. “You can only have three. Are there probably more than three? Yeah. Could there be a couple other players or coaches on there? Yeah, probably, but we got a pretty good group.”

Here are this year’s finalists:

Player of the Year
Matt Elam, LB/RB, Dwyer, senior
Tre Mason, RB, Park Vista, junior
Will Powers, RB/LB, Jupiter Christian, senior

High School Place-Kicker of the Year
David Bicknell, Boca Raton, junior
Justin Haig, American Heritage, senior
Cody Parkey, Jupiter, senior

Sam Budnyk Coach of the Year
Jack Daniels, Dwyer
Jessie Hester, Glades Central
Bill Powers, Jupiter Christian

Park Vista coach Brian Dodds was listed as a fourth finalist for the Coach of the Year award but removed his name after the Cobras’ season ended with an on-field fight with Lake Worth.

“He has such great respect for this award and this committee, he felt it would be appropriate to remove his name from this list and we honored his request,” Davis said.

Elam, who also plays running back and safety, has the chance to become the first repeat winner as Player of the Year. He captured the award as a junior over Pahokee’s Nu’Keese Richardson and Seminole Ridge’s Tyler Wilhelm. Elam’s brother Abram, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns, won the award in 1999 at Cardinal Newman.

Here are the previous Player of the Year winners:

2008 – Matt Elam, Dwyer
2007 – Star Jackson, Lake Worth
2006 – Brandon Pendergrass, Royal Palm Beach
2005 – Emanuel Cook, Palm Beach Gardens
2004 – Antone Smith, Pahokee
2003 – Omar Haugabook, Glades Central
2002 – Ron Williams, American Heritage
2001 – Curtis Holley, Glades Central
2000 – Danny Embick, Dwyer
1999 – Abram Elam, Cardinal Newman
1998 – Anquan Boldin, Pahokee
1997 – Brad Banks, Glades Central
1996 – Micah Mays, Palm Beach Lakes
1995 – LaFann Williams, Pahokee
1994 – Johnny Rutledge, Glades Central
1993 – Fred Taylor, Glades Central
1992 – Andre Anderson, Suncoast

Daniels could become the first coach to repeat. Here are the past winners:

2008 – Jack Daniels, Dwyer
2007 – Brian Dodds, Park Vista
2006 – Eric Patterson, Royal Palm Beach
2005 – Kevin Fleury, Palm Beach Gardens
2004 – Pete Walker, King’s Academy
2003 – Larry Coffey, Glades Central
2002 – Leroy Foster, Pahokee
2001 – Brian Dodds, Boca Raton
2000 – Tim Tharp, Palm Beach Gardens
1999 – Verryl Floyd, Atlantic
1998 – Joe Marx, Pahokee
1997 – Milton Watson, Glades Central
1996 – Bob Bolinder, Palm Beach Lakes
1995 – Sam Budnyk, Cardinal Newman
1994 – Jay Minton, Boca Raton
1993 – Rick Casko, Glades Central
1992 – Ron Ream, Benjamin

Parkey finished third in the kicker voting last year behind Palm Beach Central’s Patrick O’Donnell and Cardinal Newman’s Brendan Gibbons, who became the first players to share the award. Here are the previous winners for Place-Kicker of the Year:

2008 – Brendan Gibbons, Cardinal Newman; Patrick O’Donnell (Palm Beach Central)
2007 – Daniel Riddle, Dwyer
2006 – Sal DiMauro, Boca Raton
2005 – Matt Bosher, Jupiter
2004 – Matt Bosher, Jupiter
2003 – Tony Ciaravino, Boca Raton
2002 – Brian Monroe, Palm Beach Gardens
2001 – Brian Monroe, Palm Beach Gardens
2000 – Bryan Bobo, Dwyer
1999 – Will Rhody, Benjamin
1998 – John Anderson, Pope John Paul II
1997 – Taylor Northrop, Dwyer
1996 – David Pavich, Boca Raton
1995 – Ryan Romano, Cardinal Newman
1994 – Brandon Kornblue, Boca Raton
1993 – Sean Holohan, Spanish River
1992 – Eric Meng, Jupiter