Now that we have named our Mr. Football for 2012, it is time for the Defensive Player of the Year award. This is another award with many worthy candidates, but unfortunately only one player can win it.
First, here are the nominees (listed alphabetically)...
David Cannone - Bedford
Andrew Carper - Governor's
Jimmy Heaney - Keene
Rick Holt - Portsmouth
Matt Madden - Pinkerton
James Vogt - Exeter
Jack Ward - Phillips Andover
Next, a few words about each candidate...
David Cannone, LB, senior, Bedford - a tackling machine, this kid just has a nose for the football. He leaves it all on the field. He plays hard and he plays with heart. Just a fun player to watch. Cannone was the leader of one of the state's top defenses. When Bedford needed a big stop he delivered it.
Andrew Carper, LB, junior, Governor's Academy - Governor's won the ISL championship, they beat Cheshire Academy in the Tom Flaherty Bowl. They had a great defense, and Carper was its biggest play maker. He flies around the field making tackles, interceptions and sacks. He's a lacrosse player (committed to UNC), and it's scary to think how good Carper (Hollis, NH) would be if he focused on football.
Jimmy Heaney, DE, junior, Keene - the three best words to describe Heaney's play in 2012: Tough, fast. beast. He is an undersized lineman for Keene, but makes it for it with speed as he was ale to get past his man on the way to the opposing QB time after time. Had as many sacks and tackles for loss as anybody in the state.
Rick Holt, DT, senior, Portsmouth - whether it was batting down passes, making tackles or rushing the passer and forcing him out of the pocket. Holt was a one man wrecking crew, especially in the D-III semi-final win over Milford. Portsmouth won the title because they controlled the line of scrimmage, which was because Holt dominated anyone he went up against.
Matt Madden, LB, junior, Pinkerton - led the Astros in tackles. In fact, Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly even said that the player who was second on the team in that category had less than half as many tackles as Madden did. That speaks volumes. What also speaks volumes is how big of a difference Madden's injury made for Pinkerton in the D-I title game. If he played it would have been a different game, no question about it.
James Vogt, LB, senior, Exeter - Vogt had the 2 biggest tackles of the season, with both coming in the D-I championship game win over Pinkerton. One was on 4th down and forced a turnover and the other was on 3rd down and forced a punt. Just like Coach Ball said, the bigger the game was the better Vogt played.
Jack Ward, DL, senior, Phillips Andover Academy - Ward is a beast. Like Heaney, Ward is also an undersized lineman. Ward (North Hampton, NH) makes up for it though with outstanding speed, toughness and smarts. He makes great reads and always seems to know where the play is going. His team only went 2-5, but it wasn't his fault. Ask the coach of any team Andover played against, they'll all tell you Ward was the one defender they game-planned around.
And the winner is...
Rick Holt - Portsmouth
Holt made the biggest impact of any defensive player in the state this season. All of these kids are worthy candidates, but Holt won a state title and he is also the only player on this list who was without question his team's MVP.