CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kennedy Award could be given to a runaway winner for the third consecutive year, if an impromptu polling of voters in any indicator.
In a straw poll of West Virginia Sports Writers Association members conducted Friday and Saturday, Morgantown senior running back Chazzy Thomas secured 14 of 15 first-place votes and easily outdistanced runner-up Draven Riffe of George Washington with 44 points to Riffe's 16.
Informal ballots were emailed to every WVSWA member newspaper. With just 15 returned, only a small sampling of the voters responded.
Between 35 and 40 members of the WVSWA submit ballots for the Kennedy Award, given annually to the state's top prep football player with the winner announced Dec. 15. Thomas' dominance of first-place votes among approximately 40 percent of those voters is a strong enough showing to project him as the winner with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
But while Thomas is currently the overwhelming leader, the prep football season - in reality - only reached its midpoint last week. There are still six weeks of games to be played before actual Kennedy ballots must be returned to outgoing WVSWA Secretary/Treasurer Doug Huff.
Huff will step down from the position he has held for more than 30 years after a transition period that will see none other than myself take over the position.
I've got big shoes to fill, as does the 2013 Kennedy Award winner. In each of the last two seasons the award was won by George Washington's Ryan Switzer in landslide fashions, and Switzer's currently seeing plenty of playing time as a freshman at North Carolina.
While Thomas was in runaway mode Friday morning, by Friday night he had his ankle wrapped and his foot on ice after an injury against Musselman. He's expected to sit out this week against John Marshall then return for the Mohigans' regular-season finale against rival University on Nov. 1.
Riffe was unable to close the gap, however. The GW standout did not play against Cabell Midland in a 49-40 loss.
"(I) just got a little banged up against Hurricane," Riffe wrote in a text Sunday night. "I should be back this week hopefully."
Thomas has 2,010 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns on 149 carries, an average of 14.2 yards per carry. The Mohigans (7-1) are ranked third in the Daily Mail Class AAA poll, and should come into this week's SSAC playoff ratings ranked ninth.
Riffe averages 8.9 yards per carry and has run for 1,379 yards on 155 carries. He's reached the end zone 18 times on rushes and 19 times overall.