With preseason football camps opening across West Virginia on Monday, the excitement is churning. Each year presents an opportunity for new stars to emerge and old ones to pick up where they left off, leaving their mark on their school and community.
Each year Lootpress recognizes standout seasons with scholarship awards for Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Lineman of the Year and positional awards for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers
This year we’ve compiled a preseason list of the early favorites to win those awards.
Each award, revealed at season’s end, comes with a $500 scholarship from the Lootpress Foundation. Note – the Offensive Player of the Year Award replaces the positional award of the winner. For example there was no Running Back of the Year awarded in 2021 because Atticus Goodson, a running back, won the OPOY.
Below are the early favorites to win the 2022 DPOY award as well as a recap of what they did last season.
- James Sellards, Shady Spring (Senior) – Sellards, a linebacker, led all returning players in tackles last year with an astounding 147. Even alongside former teammate Bryson Pinardo, a first-team linebacker a year ago, he managed to stand out. His natural talent had head coach Vince Culicerto oozing with excitement when discussing what could be in store for him this season.
- Jordan Harvey, Independence (Senior) – Probably the top returning defensive player in the area, Harvey finished with 52.5 tackles in the regular season, 15 for a loss, and was the leader of a defense that allowed 12.6 points per game – the second lowest total in Class AA. Harvey finished as the runner-up for this award last season.
- Trey Bowers, Independence (Junior) – Bowers was one of the top players in the area, leading all players in interceptions with seven. After intercepting three passes in the regular season, he picked off four in the Patriots’ first three playoff games, earning a first-team all-state selection.
- Brodee Rice, Princeton (Senior) – A ball magnet, Rice proved pivotal for a Princeton team that was in need of new contributors last season. With Reece Burton graduated, Rice will need to step up once again to reinforce the linebacker corps.
- R.J. Hairston, Bluefield (Junior) – Hairston, a basketball star, has emerged as one of Bluefield’s top defensive players this offseason, impressing coaches to the point many on staff believe he might be their top overall player. As defensive end, he’ll be tasked with helping the Beavers control the line of scrimmage – one of their lone weaknesses during their recent run of success.
- Gerrard Wade, Bluefield (Junior) – Wade, a linebacker-defensive back hybrid beefed up in the offseason and will step in to help the Beavers shore up their second level. Ryker Brown, last year’s Lootpress DPOY winner, was the glue that held the Beavers together as linebacker has been a tough position for the Beavers to nail down in recent years. The last three seasons have ended at the hands of teams with dominant running attacks that could bleed the Beavers and keep their explosive offense off the field. Freddy Simon and Co. will look to Wade to help shore up the position group.
- Duke Dodson, Summers County (Senior) – One thing Summers County has done well over the last five years is produce stellar defensive backs. Dodson kept that legacy alive last season with six interceptions and for good measure added 101 tackles.
- Tyson Adkins, Summers County (Sophomore) – Summers County head coach Josh Evans didn’t have enough nice things top say about Adkins, a linebacker who emerged as a leader for the Bobcats last season. He compiled 124 tackles – 28 for a loss – and earned second-team all-state honors as a freshman. A year older, expect Adkins to build upon his freshman season.
- Jay Jones, Beckley (Senior) – While the Beckley secondary was fearsome last season, Jones quietly had a standout season os his own. Finishing the regular season with 101 tackles, 14 for a loss, Jones led the Flying Eagles in that category. He returns for his senior season despite breaking his jaw at the end of the year.
Darkhorses – Cyrus Goodson, Judah Price and Brady Grimmett, Independence; Shawn Hale, Bluefield; Ty Nickell, Greenbrier West; Dominick Collins, Princeton; Nathan Riffe, PikeView