The backs are the only players to acquire 10 points or more in the straw poll. In fact, their dominance above the pack right now is so complete that the third-and fourth-place finishers - Meadow Bridge senior running back Jake Parker and Madonna senior quarterback Ross Comis - each play in Class A, which gives them little statistical chance of winning the award given that such a small number of writers become aware of their successes during the course of a season.
Let alone the fact that Class A competition lacks what Class AAA offers in speed, size, depth and physicality. Parker and Comis are doomed to join a legion of former Class A stars that failed to win the award since 1986 if for no other reason than that they are still not household names.
Sure, the Internet and radio scoreboard shows give fans greater access to the trials and travails of the Meadow Bridge Wildcats, but voters whose primary focus is the coverage of their area rarely get the opportunity to see a Class A school unless it plays one of their local teams.
Sistersville's Jeff Swisher was the last Class A player to win the Kennedy. Since Swisher graduated, a treasure trove of small-school players have made their way through the ranks without claiming the state's top individual honor.
Players like Duval's Darren Griffith (1990), Valley-Wetzel's Jason Manear ('96), Moorefield's Will Fisher ('97), Linsly's Eddie Drummond ('98) and more recently Moorefield's Reed Williams (2004), Mount Hope's Da'Von Marion ('08) and Richwood's Dustin Brown ('09) all had dominant senior seasons. Drummond eventually found his way to the NFL, in fact.
None of them won the Kennedy Award, and a Class A player will not win it this year, either.
At this time, there is only one player other than Thomas or Riffe who appears capable of making a successful run at winning the Kennedy: Martinsburg quarterback Malique Watkins.
Watkins was finally ruled eligible by the SSAC on Monday (See story, this page) after more than a month of legal wrangling between the governing body and lawyers and representatives of Martinsburg High. Now that he is eligible and in the clear, his numbers - and those of the Bulldogs - can speak a little more loudly.
Only one voter who participated in the straw poll put Watkins in the top three. Watkins has accounted for 1,449 yards of total offense and 14 touchdowns in six games, having been held out of two games. That averages out to 241.5 yards per game. Thomas has averaged 256.4 total yards in eight games.
The SSAC's grant of eligibility to Watkins might not only have granted Martinsburg renewed life in its pursuit of a fourth consecutive Class AAA state title, it just made the Kennedy Award race much more interesting.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.tay...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.