With only a couple weeks left to the regular season, here's a look at the early favorites for the 2014 NH Mr. Football award. It's the statewide MVP award for NHIAA football. A player At this point there appears to be four favorites (listed alphabetically)...
Connor DiCesare, senior QB, Portsmouth High - this kid is putting up video game type numbers on a weekly basis. He's had to carry the offense often times, throwing it 20-30 times or more each week. And even with the defense focused on stopping him he has still produced, leading the Clippers to a 5-2 record. Even more impressive is that DiCesare is a first-year starting varsity QB and Portsmouth is the smallest school in D-I and in their first year in D-I yet he is still putting up huge passing numbers and leading his team to wins.
Eric Fairweather, senior QB/DB, Londonderry High - possibly the most dangerous dual threat in terms of rushing / passing in the state. One of the state's leaders in rushing yards, passing yards and touchdowns. He's a a threat to either throw or pass for a TD on any given play. Fairweather missed much of last season with injuries. Not only was he trying to get healthy over the off-season but he had to adjust to a new coach (Jimmy Lauzon) and new offensive system. Not only that, but Fairweather has also been a hard hitting ball hawk on defense, all while leading the Lancers to a 6-1 record.
TJ Urbanik, junior, RB/DB/KR, Pinkerton Academy - the most dynamic, explosive player on the squad most consider to be the top team in the state. Pinkerton is 7-0 and Urbanik has been their MVP so far. He's a threat to go for 6 anytime he touches the football, whether running the ball, catching passes out of the backfield or returning a kickoff. His value to the team was evident in the Salem game when he left after the first series and then the team struggled to move the ball. Urbanik impacts the game in all 3 phases, as he is also a tough defensive back.
Michael Vailas, senior, QB/DB/KR, Bedford High - where would Bedford be without Mike Vailas? That's something that Coach Hines probably doesn't want to even think about. The Bulldogs are 7-0 and are arguably the best team in the state. Their starting RB entering the year only played 1 game before suffering a season ending injury and over 5 other key starters have missed games due to injury, yet they are still unbeaten. Why? One reason is depth (over 100 kids in the program). But Vailas is a bigger reason. This kid is a play maker, plain and simple. Whether it's running the offense, making highlight reel runs, completing key 1st down passes, returning punts for touchdowns or making hard hits or intercepting passes on 'D', nobody helps his team win in more ways than Vailas. Not bad for a kid who's never played QB before.
Other candidates to watch out for down the stretch...
Brendan McInnis, senior QB, Windham High
Robert Law, senior QB, Concord High
Stephen Hedberg, junior QB, St. Thomas
Daquan Henclewood, senior RB, Manchester Memorial
Brendan Johnson, senior QB, Bishop Brady
Jack Mahoney, senior RB, Alvirne High
Elyjah Dejoie, senior RB, Somersworth High