All-Kanawha Valley football: Switzer is beyond reach of all others
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ryan Switzer didn't win his first game in high school. He didn't win his last, either.
Between 2009 and 2012, however, there was plenty of winning for the 5-foot-9, 175-pound do-nearly-everything star from George Washington High School. At least one more victory has been bestowed on the University of North Carolina recruit, adding to the 43 he enjoyed on the field during his run as a four-year starter for the Patriots.
The Charleston Daily Mail has selected Switzer as the Kanawha Valley Football Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
Following GW's unceremonious loss to Martinsburg in the Class AAA playoff semifinals last week, Patriots Coach Steve Edwards Jr. took a moment to address what Switzer has meant to the GW program.
"We had a great run. Ryan Switzer is still, regardless of 63-14, he can't do it by himself. He's the best football player in the state of West Virginia, bar none," Edwards said.
Switzer won the Kennedy Award as the state's best player in 2011, and is a leading candidate to take home the award again in 2012. Far from being one to rest on his laurels, however, Switzer won the Kanawha Valley Player of the Year award not as a lifetime achievement honor, but instead for what he provided the Patriots in what turned out to be an emotionally and physically challenging season full of injuries to key players.
That injury list included Switzer, who after one carry in the season opener, suffered a concussion that kept him out of the remainder of the game as well as GW's Week 2 loss to Ashland (Ky.) Paul Blazer.
The season took a much darker tone after the Patriots beat Hurricane in Week 4. Freshman two-way lineman Drew Morton was killed in a car crash two days after the win, an event the team would recognize the remainder of the season by carrying Morton's jersey to pregame coin tosses and displaying his No. 73 on the sideline.
In Week 9, All-State linebacker and University of Charlotte recruit Dustin Crouser was lost for the season with a torn ACL in a loss to Capital. In the playoff quarterfinals, GW's leading tackler - junior linebacker Zach Malone - suffered an injury against Lewis County that enabled him to play only sparingly at the start of the loss to Martinsburg.
Through it all, Switzer kept his wheels turning, often at blinding speed. He ran 206 times for 2,379 yards and 32 touchdowns and also caught 20 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns. He intercepted three passes as a cornerback, and returned each of them for scores. He also returned a punt for a 61-yard score.
Edwards' statement about Switzer's attempt to do it all might not be the politically correct thing, but by the time the season ended it was also not entirely inaccurate.
Late in the year, Switzer even took to throwing the football, and pitched three touchdown passes, including one in his final game.
He's joined on the All-Kanahwa Valley team by fellow GW standouts Crouser and Malone - both at linebacker - as well as three-year starting center Sam Plantz and defensive lineman Jacob Whitlock. George Washington's five selections tied Hurricane for most in the area.
The Redskins are represented by junior quarterback Austin Hensley, senior defensive lineman Caleb Craddock, senior linebacker Zach Cooper, junior utility player Zach Pate and senior punter Michael Molina.
Capital claimed two awards to go with the Cougars' three All-Kanawha Valley selections. Jon Carpenter was named Coach of the Year after leading a team with one senior starter to a 7-4 record and a Class AAA playoff berth. Freshman quarterback Tyhree Pratt, who started all 11 games and threw for 1,451 yards, is the Rookie of the Year.