Once again, this season the NH Notebook will awarding the Mr. Football Award to the most valuable player in NHIAA football. We'll announce the winner after the 3 championship games have been played. Here are the top candidates as of now (in alphabetical order).
Connor Bourque - Bourque has been as good as advertised, putting up huge rushing numbers (and receiving when catching screen passes) for an undefeated Goffstown team. He's a threat to go for a TD every time he touches it, including one game where he scored a staggering 7 touchdowns in 1 game.
Brett Dattilo, RB, Pinkerton - where would Pinkerton be without Brett Dattilo? Not in the playoffs, that's for sure. He has been strong all season running the ball, and they needed him to be with star RB TJ Urbanik out for the year injured. Dattilo was especially impressive in the Astros' win over Salem, when he rushed for over 200 yards and Pinkerton beat Salem by 2 touchdowns.
Casey Gervais - it's pick your poison with Goffstown. Do you focus on defending Bourque or Gervais? Good luck at stopping both of them - it's not going to happen. Gervais is a threat to go for a TD whether he's rushing or passing, and has led Goffstown to being the lone undefeated team in D-I.
Justin Grassini, QB, Merrimack - With Grassini under center, the Tomahawks were always in the game and were a threat to beat anybody in the state. He put up huge numbers in their spread offense.
Stephen Hedberg, QB, St. Thomas - arguably the top QB in the state, Hedberg is the best player on a team that is undefeated in D-II. He's put up some incredible passing numbers, and they would be even better but most games he sits the 2nd half since his team is up by so many points.
Jackson Housman, RB/DB, Bishop Guertin - this kid does it all for BG. Runs the football, catches passes out of the back field, is a hard hitter on defense and returns kicks and punts. One of the state's top players in all 3 phases of the game. He plays the game as hard as anybody, is a flat out play maker and leads a BG team that went 6-3.
Jason Hughes, QB/DB/K - Timberlane - last year's Gatorade Player of the Year (Eric Fairweather of Londonderry) was a scrambling QB who was a dual threat as a passer and rusher, was also a play maker on defense in the secondary as well as a contributor on special teams. Another leading candidate for the award last year (Mike Vailas of Bedford) fit that same description. Notice a pattern? Well folks, Jason Hughes could be next. He has done it all for Timberlane, leading the Owls back to the playoffs.
Nick Leahy, RB, Bedford - Leahy has had a tremendous year running the ball for a Bedford team that is 8-1 in D-I. He is one of the fastest backs in the division and has put up some great numbers. Leahy has had to carry even more of the load with the team's other feature back Sean Tierney injured.
Mike Lewis, RB/LB, Winnacunnet - One of the state's top 2-way players, Lewis was the best player for a Winnacunnet team that barely missed the playoffs but was a threat to beat anybody. He is a bruising back who piled up a number of 100 yard rushing games, and was also a feared linebacker.
Sean Nartiff, OL/DL, Salem - the only non-RB or QB on this list, Nartiff is still deserving of being listed here. Though the QBs and RBs get most of the headlines it's the guys in the trenches doing the dirty work that often times decide games. Nartiff has been an absolute beast in the trenches for Salem, on both sides of the football. He's also utilized occasionally to carry the ball in short yardage situations. The best player for a team ranked in the top 5 in the state.
Will Pollard, QB, Kennett - Easily one of the top quarterbacks in the state, Pollard is a dual threat rushing/passing and has led Kennett to a 7-1 record in D-II.
Christian Serrano, QB, Winnisquam - the lone Division III player on the list, but Serrano is deserving. He led Winnisquam to an undefeated 8-0 record in the regular season, putting up astronomical numbers, both rushing and passing. This kid would be a standout player even if he was in D-I or D-II.
Leo Sudieh, RB/DB, Concord - an explosive, dynamic player, Sudieh is a play maker in all 3 phases of the game. A tough, speedy runenr at RB, a hard hitting defensive back and a dangerous return man. His team missed the playoffs but they were over .500 and he is still one of the most valuable players in the state.