We may just be two-thirds of the way through the regular season, but it is never too early for The Pig to look at who are the favorites for The News-Sentinel Player of the Year. Unfortunately, this swine is out of eligibility and cannot bring home the honor.
Week 7 is here, but the race for player of the year is still wide open. Let's handicap the contenders.
ISAAC GRIFFITH - senior wide receiver, Homestead.
The Indiana University verbal commit may not be putting up monster numbers like he did a year ago while being thrown to by Zach Terrell, but Griffith is still a playmaker. He only has 24 catches on the season through six games, but for 564 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 23.5 yards per catch. The Spartans are averaging just over 51 points per game and have plenty of weapons, so Griffith has not had to shine as much as some other area players with gaudy offensive numbers.
C.J. JACKSON - senior quarterback, North Side.
Anyone believing Jackson was a product of playing mediocre defenses was proven wrong last week when he went for over 150 total yards in a rainstorm against the Panthers that limited his athleticism and cutting ability. In just six weeks, Jackson has over 1,500 yards of total offense while leading the Redskins to a 5-1 record. While likely not big enough to play quarterback at a high collegiate level, The Pig hopes Jackson gets a shot from a Division I school in the secondary.
JAYLON SMITH - senior linebacker/running back, Bishop Luers.
This list cannot be complete without the Notre Dame commit that is ranked by many recruiting services as one of the top 10 players in the country. While not as dominant as some expected so far this season defensively, Smith is still a player that offenses have to identify and stunt against on every play. The Pig would like to see Smith get more touches on the offensive side of the ball, especially considering the lack of consistency at the quarterback position.
CONNER SHEEHAN - senior quarterback, Heritage.
It took a close loss to Leo last week for people to realize just how good of a season the Patriots have been having. And look no further than Sheehan to see why. Sure, the defense is solid, but Heritage is scoring close to 35 points per game, with the senior leader throwing for 1,009 yards and 11 touchdowns against just three interceptions.
The Solid Bets
JASON NICODEMUS - senior running back, Churubusco.
It is easy to see why Nicodemus should be considered for the award, 869 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 70 carries. He is averaging an eye-popping 12.4 yards per rush for the undefeated Eagles. But quality of competition is a question, and playing in the NECC is not advantageous for standing out amongst stars in the SAC and NHC. If Churubusco can make a big run in the tournament, Nicodemus could shoot to the top of this list.
COLIN BROCKHOUSE - junior quarterback, Northrop.
The Bruins' turnaround has continued into 2012, with Brockhouse leading the way offensively. Northrop coach Tim Martone's rebuilding of the program has had a centerpiece for the last few years, with Brockhouse this season taking his game to another level. Entering week 7, Brockhouse has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding close to 200 more yards on the ground.
JORDAN HOGUE - junior wide receiver/defensive back, New Haven.
Hogue showed his two-way ability against Carroll in week 4 when he scored a receiving touchdown and a defensive touchdown while also intercepting a pass in a Bulldogs' victory. For the season, Hogue leads the NHC in interceptions (4) and is averaging 27.4 yards per reception offensively for undefeated New Haven.
The Long Shots
ANTHONY LINNEAR - senior running back/defensive back, North Side.
Based on stats and performance alone, Linnear should be close to the top of this list. But offensively, he is overshadowed by teammate Jackson. Just last week, Linnear rushed for 112 yards against Snider while also notching eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Linnear is a stud, but even if North Side makes a deep run, a large amount of the spotlight will be on Jackson.
DRUE TRANQUILL - junior defensive back, Carroll.
Stole the spotlight in the week 5 victory over East Noble with a kickoff return for a touchdown, seven tackles and an interception. He was all over the field in the loss to New Haven in week 4. Simply put, Tranquill is a player who can chance a game in all three facets of football.
ANYONE FROM SNIDER
No sensible person can argue that Snider is not the best team in the area through the first six weeks of the season. The Panthers have done it by playing smart football and balance, and that is the problem. Running backs Tyrell Swain, Nick Reese and Je'norie Smith have had solid seasons, as has quarterback Brandon Phelps. But none of them have stood out week after week. Who has starred for six weeks for the Panthers? Try the offensive line.
Snider's balance will cost it a Player of the Year award, but The Pig is pretty sure that Panthers Nation would rather have another deep playoff run that an individual honor.