Derek Taylor: Switzer still leads race for Kennedy
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You know high school football season is getting to its more crucial weeks when fans begin asking questions about the Kennedy Award.
I received my first query Monday regarding the award that annually is bestowed upon the state's best prep player. As I had foreseen, it was a question that brought up the fact that the 2011 winner, George Washington senior and North Carolina recruit Ryan Switzer, missed most of two games at the start of this year due to a concussion.
I was asked if I thought that Cabell Midland senior David Gaydosz was the current front-runner for the 2012 edition of the award.
In one word: No.
Gaydosz is having a sensational season since joining the Knights, a team that possesses a better offensive line and considerably more depth than that at his former home at Winfield. He's run for 973 yards and 18 touchdowns in seven games as part of Midland's triple-headed run monster that also includes fullback Lowell Farley and running back Steven Matthews.
But in many respects, Switzer is having a better season than he had a year ago, when he ran away with the award. Although he is slightly off his yardage pace - he's on track to finish the regular season with 1,985 yards as opposed to the 2,010 he finished the regular season with a year ago - he's doing so with significantly fewer touches.
Switzer's yards-per-carry average is much greater than it was in 2011. He currently has 77 carries for 1,191 yards, an average of 15.5 yards per carry. His average in the 2011 regular season was 9.9 yards. His carries-to-touchdown ratio is also better, at 4.8 to 1. In 2011, it was 7.5 to 1.
Gaydosz is a candidate, make no mistake. And, as the Knights continue to plow through their schedule, he will likely remain a contender. But he is among a series of others - including Wayne's Brandon Spurlock, Morgantown's Chazzy Thomas and Oak Hill's Jalen Jones - who might just be running for second place should Switzer remain healthy.
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STEVE EDWARDS JR. is knocking on the door of the 10 winningest coaches in Kanawha County history.
With George Washington's 42-7 win over Spring Valley last week, Edwards' all-time record improved to 119-67. That win total puts him in sole possession of 11th place on the all-time list, one win ahead of Rocco Gorman.
Gorman was 118-31-14 in two stints at Charleston High School. He coached there from 1913-17 and again from 1919-29.
At No. 10 on the county wins list is former Stonewall Jackson Coach Bill Jarrett, who coached against Edwards in the GW coach's playing days with the Patriots. Jarrett went 120-64-1 in 18 seasons, from 1967-84.
Edwards, who took over the GW program in 1996, is within reach of the No. 10 spot within the context of the 2012 regular season, but not further. Former St. Albans Coach Sam LeRose is at No. 9, with a career record of 124-35-3.
Coincidentally, LeRose coached Edwards' father, Steve Edwards Sr., during the first year of Edwards' career as a standout linemen for the Red Dragons.
GW (5-1) plays at Riverside (1-5) Friday. Warriors Coach Ralph Hensley is ranked second on the all-time wins list, with a record of 175-108. Former Riverside and DuPont Coach Dick Whitman is the county's all-time wins leader, with a record of 181-96-1.
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IF SOUTH CHARLESTON makes a return to the Class AAA playoffs after a one-year absence, it will do so with a freshman quarterback.
Kentre Grier has completed 37 of 51 passes for 589 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions since entering the third quarter of South Charleston's 20-17 win over Capital on Sept. 21.
The Black Eagles (4-3) trailed 17-0 when Grier entered that game, and were staring down the barrel of a 1-4 start to the season.
Grier also has 134 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and will remain the starter barring an injury. Junior Jon Alexander, who started his second season as the SC starter this year, has left the school and transferred to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
Alexander was 76 for 136 passing this season at SC, throwing for 1,002 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
South Charleston plays its final home game of the regular season Friday night against Nitro (2-4). The Black Eagles finish their schedule with road trips to Ripley (3-4) and Parkersburg (4-3).