Updated Mon, Oct 1, 2012 3:18 pm
The Muskingum Valley League is always one of the more talented conferences in the area. The star-power of the league can be seen through the two-headed monsters of Austin Jones and Nathan Strock of Tri-Valley or Kaleb Wiseman and Zach Sheridan of Philo. The playmaking abilities of Sheridan's Connor Smith or John Glenn's Blake Atkins shows how the depth of this league is hard to match. Read on to learn more of the Player of the Year candidates from the MVL.
Austin Jones: By Sam Mullan
Relentless. Talented. Unstoppable. These are the words to describe Tri-Valley Scotties’ running back Austin Jones. The Scotties have raced out to an early 6-0 record, thanks to the work of Jones.
In the first half of the season Jones is putting up monster offensive numbers of 15 total touchdowns and 831 yards of total offense, most of that coming on the ground where he has 13 of his 15 touchdowns and 637 of his 831 yards. To put those numbers in perspective, Jones is averaging nearly 170 yards of total offense and three touchdowns per game.
What makes Jones even more impressive is his ability to play on both sides of the ball. Not only has he been an offensive juggernaut for the Scotties, but he also plays linebacker where he leads the team in tackles with 21.5, forced fumbles with two, and is tied for the team lead in sacks with 2. This is a do-it-all kind of player who has given us no reason to believe that this pace will slow down.
Through six games this season, Nathan Strock has led his Tri-Valley Scotties to a spotless record. The 6-foot-4 senior quarterback handles opponents with his arm, legs, and defensive expertise.
There is no escaping Strock. If given the time, he will find an open receiver like he has done 62 times already this season. If all his options are covered, he will find a gap and slip by defenders with his feet. Strock has collected 284 yards and picked up four touchdowns on the ground.
The Kent State recruit turns heads with his throwing ability as well. Strock has yet to throw an interception and do not expect him to anytime soon. So far this season, he has gathered 1041 yards through the air, averaging 173.5 per game. He likes to spread the wealth, too, targeting nine different receivers this season. Strock has thrown 11 touchdowns to four different teammates.
On defense, Strock has contributed with seven tackles and an interception.
If that is not enough for you, Strock also serves as a solid punter for the Scotties. He has a season-long punt of 47 yards and has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line three times.
Tri-Valley Scottie Nathan Strock is a true utility player. He is a standout athlete on offense, defense and special teams. He will do whatever it takes to win games, and as his team sits atop the Muskingum Valley League and ranked 34th in the state.
Connor Smith: By Nick Komjati
When Coach Paul Culver’s Sheridan General’s offense takes the field on Friday nights, you can usually bet that you will see mostly running plays. The Generals hardly ever struggle to score in their ground game and the majority of those points have been scored by running back Connor Smith.
Connor vaulted himself into our player of the year conversation by racking up 562 yards on only 68 carries, making his yards per carry average a staggering 8.2 and he consistently carries his team on his back.
“If he is not successful, we are not,” legendary coach Paul Culver said, “He is a very humble young man and a great team guy. We have to find a way to get him as many touches as we can each game.”
The Generals have mounted a 4-2 record so far this season, but face a massive matchup with Tri-Valley on October 19th to likely decide the MVL.
Before that night however, Connor Smith and the Generals cannot look over challenging games to come in the next few weeks. If the Generals continue to roll, expect Connor Smith to become increasingly prevalent in the Player of the Year conversation.
Blake Atkins: By Justin McCauley
Kaleb Wiseman: By Matthew Doyle
The Philo Electrics have started the season firing on all cylinders in their triple option offense. The team has a 5-1 overall record and owes much of their success to the impressive play from their running back Kaleb Wiseman.
Wiseman has done it all on the ground for Coach Dirk Lincicome. His 80 carries, 538 yards and eight rushing touchdowns are all team-highs. Injuries have been an issue for Wiseman in the past, but his toughness is the reason he’s been able to have a turnaround season.
“His overall toughness has had an impact on the team,” Lincicome said. “Him being healthy has shown his toughness. He’s a much more complete player than in the past.”
Wiseman also contributes defensively at the outside linebacker position. Wiseman will look to build on his already impressive season, improving his chances to be named the Player of the Year.
Zak Sheridan: By Matthew Doyle
Philo’s triple option offense opens the doors for several players to have successful seasons. Running back Kaleb Wiseman has been running all over opponents this season, and his quarterback Zak Sheridan has been running stride-for-stride with his teammate.
Sheridan has rushed for 463 yards on 76 carries this season and three touchdowns. He also has completed 12 of his 34 passes for one touchdown. Coach Dirk Lincicome was quick to nominate his quarterback, especially following a 113-yard performance in the 24-0 victory over John Glenn.
“He’s definitely a leader and is only a junior,” Lincicome said. “He’s adequate throwing the ball, but is excellent running it. He’s fast and tough.”
Like Wiseman, Sheridan fought through injuries to play on both sides of the ball so far for the Electrics. The dynamic duo has been tough to stop this season, and their impressive statistics have put them in the discussion for this season’s Player of the Year.