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Cotey: Wrestling with Player of Year decisions is never easy

Every year since forever, the Times prep writers gather at some exotic locale known for its local flavor like Bennigan's or Applebee's to fight, argue and insult each other over who belongs on the exclusive all-Suncoast football team.

And as always, it ended with smiles, laughter and a big group hug.

Okay, fine. No group hug. Or laughter.


Or smiles.

Here's some observations from this year's meeting:

1. I hate co-Players of the Year. No one argues more fervently against them every year than I do.

But this year?

It just seemed to make sense.

a.) Plant won state.

b.) Aaron Murray had a record-setting year, and even missing all the games he did, still led all of Tampa Bay in touchdowns.

c.) Orson Charles was dynamic and with Murray out really evolved into an offensive leader on the area's best offensive team.

d.) No one had a quarter to break the tie between the two. Hey, times are tough in the newspaper business.

2. If Murray and Charles had somehow offset each other, and there was some debate they might, Chamberlain quarterback Dontae Aycock was a favorite to grab Player of the Year honors.

3. I like real bacon on my salad. Mmm.

4. We actually held the vote for Defensive Player of the Year at halftime of the season opener between Plant and Armwood. Kidding.

Kind of.

But not really.

5. State championships really end up clinching awards for people. We met two weeks before the state final, and at the time the Coach of the Year finalists were Plant's Robert Weiner, Pasco's Tom McHugh and either St. Petersburg's Joe Fabrizio or Largo's Rick Rodriguez, whom I argued for.

6. Hillsborough was the dominant county this year, so much so we almost let staff writers Eduardo Encina and Keith Niebuhr pick the whole team. The county just steamrolled the others when it came to team selections.

Hillsborough had 15 first-team selections. Pasco had seven. Pinellas had six.

7. Here's how the debate for the defensive line, with Giddins not included because he was POY, went: "Theodore 'Man-Man' Jackson, Demonte McAllister, Alton Bailey, Dontavious Pyron.''

Fair enough.

8. Playing for Wharton meant Jairus Jones toiled in relative obscurity this year, but I thought he was the best all-around player I saw all season. And I was ready to take my butter knife to the voters had they not agreed to put him on first team.

9. I think if you put the first team up against the second team, it'd be a pretty close game. Something like 20-19 at the half before Lindsey Lamar broke a long touchdown run and Aycock scored two shorter ones to make it a 48-26 final.

10. It's never too early to start predicting next year's all-Suncoast stars.

I think the Player of the Year comes from this group: Largo's Sean Holte, Alonso's C.J. Bennett, Jefferson's Quentin Williams, Tampa Bay Tech's Maurice Hagens, Tampa Catholic's Christian Green, Lakewood's Bernard Reedy and Gulf's Adrian "Bubba" Golden.

My early pick: Holte or Williams.

Defensively, it's more clear: Plant's Mike Mirabella or Armwood's Jackson.

I like Man-Man, whom I thought almost could have been the pick this year.

John C. Cotey can be reached at

Cotey: Wrestling with Player of Year decisions is never easy 12/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2008 3:09pm]
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