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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Michigan High School Football Player of the Year (four finalists)

Walled Lake Western
senior Kyle Bambard.
After a vote from the selection committee (of 55 coaches and media members from around the state), the original list of 10 finalists has been narrowed to four. Unfortunately for Oakland County football fans, no local players made the cut. But there is hope. Fans will be able to vote in a fifth finalist - from the list of six players who did not make the original cut. Before I discuss that, however, let's look at the list of players who did make the final four ...

Jayru Campbell, Jr. QB, Detroit Cass Tech
Sean Koski, Sr. QB, L'Anse Creuse North
Kyler Shurlow, Sr. QB, Lowell
Travis Smith, Sr. QB, Ithaca

I voted for Koski and Shurlow (among my top four). Koski's stats are crazy. I don't care if he does play in the MAC Blue. If you throw for 3,417 yards and 39 TDs in nine games, you've got talent. To prove my point, he went on to complete 39-of-59 passes for 406 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a playoff loss to 8-1 Chippewa Valley. Shurlow combined for more than 2,800 yards passing and rushing and totaled 40 touchdowns during the regular season, against a tough schedule that included the likes of East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian and Muskegon.
I did not vote for Campbell or Smith, both of whom are having great seasons and whose teams are still alive. My other two votes went to Walled Lake Western senior QB Kyle Bambard and Saginaw Swan Valley junior RB Alex Grace. Bambard has 2,100-plus combined rushing and passing yards to go along with 26 touchdowns. He also hit nine field goals. Grace surpassed 2,000 rushing yards for the second straight season, totaling 30 touchdowns in the regular season.
Also not making the cut were Groves' senior RB Ross Williams, Southfield senior DL Lawrence Marshall, Saginaw Heritage junior RB/DB Brian Cole and Muskegon senior QB Deshaun Thrower.
But all six are still alive. As I mentioned above, there is a fan vote which will determine a fifth and final finalist. MLive is hosting the vote HERE. As it stands, with a few days remaining to vote, Grace has a nice lead. Thrower and Cole are a solid second and third, with Bambard, Marshall and Williams rounding things out. It's going to take a big surge for any of the three Oakland County players to make some noise. But there's still some time left.
We in the media (and the 21 coaches) will then vote on a winner. Right now - without knowing the fifth finalist - I'm leaning toward Koski or Shurlow. They were on my initial list. They're both very good. They're both very deserving of the 2013 Michigan High School Football Player of the Year award.

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