Vaught's Views: Coaches pick Smith, not Pulley, as top player

December 03, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Maybe the state's media members don't understand that the best high school football player in Kentucky lives in Title Town, but the state's high school coaches do.

Media members ignored the state championships, team wins and overwhelming individual career statistics of Boyle County's Brandon Smith and Danville's Kelvin Turner to name Hopkinsville's Curtis Pulley Mr. Football.

Pulley might well be the state's best college prospect. But he has never won a state title, doesn't have the career numbers of Smith or Turner, and was obviously outplayed by Smith in a head-to-head matchup last week.

That's why I applaud the state's coaches for making Smith the 15th annual Roy Kidd High School Player of the Year.


The Kentucky News Network conducts the voting for the award, which is named in honor of former Eastern Kentucky coach Roy Kidd, and announced its top players in all four classes today at the state title games in Louisville.

Smith, not Pulley, was the Class AAA player of the year - and should have been. He's thrown for 8,679 yards and 115 touchdowns, including 3,284 yards and 43 scores this season. Smith has also ran for 2,402 yards and 43 touchdowns in his career to help him amass 11,126 yards of total offense going into Saturday's state championship game against Highlands, a game that Mr. Football will again only be watching.

Turner was the only logical choice for the Class A player of the year. He has a state-record 116 touchdowns, including 43 this year, and has ran for 7,094 yards while averaging 9.5 yards per attempt. He has 8,162 all-purpose yards in his career along with 82 solo tackles, 89 first hits, 26 tackles for loss and five defensive touchdowns.

Like Smith, he's also started on two state championship teams.

Debate all you want over whether Smith or Turner should be considered the state's top player this year. But don't think of putting Pulley in front of either one of them as the state's sportswriters and sportscasters did by naming Pulley Mr. Football and ignoring all the numbers that clearly indicated it should have been Smith or Turner.

McCloud is Class AA player of the year

The high school coaches clearly have a higher regard for area football, because they also picked Mercer County's Andrew McCloud as the Class AA player of the year. He rushed for 2,150 yards this year and finished his career with 5,341 yards rushing, 65 touchdowns and 6,812 all-purpose yards.

One could have also made a strong case for Garrard County's Spencer Crutchfield. He threw for 2,109 yards and ran for 1,167 yards and was so good on defense that he earned second team all-state honors.

The coaches honored McCloud over two other Mr. Football finalists, quarterbacks Chris Todd of Elizabethtown and Zach Barnard of Owensboro Catholic. Todd has numerous Division I scholarship offers, but McCloud has the award as the state's best Class AA player.

The Class AAAA player of the year, Henderson County quarterback Will Fidler, has a local connection, too. He's coached by Duffer Duffy, a former Danville player and son of former Danville coach Tom Duffy. Fidler, who is already being recruited by Kentucky, has thrown 7,107 yards and 67 touchdowns. Those are Brandon Smith-like numbers and should make him the front-runner for Mr. Football honors in 2005.

Then again, numbers might not matter. They didn't help Turner or Smith this year when it came to Mr. Football.

Mr. Football is supposed to be a career award, not a one-year deal. That's why the winner has to be a senior. If it was a one-year award, then any player in the state could be Mr. Football. Career numbers not only should be considered in the voting, but they are supposed to be a major consideration.

Thank goodness the Kentucky News Network voters had better judgment than Mr. Football voters and made one of the Title Town stars the Roy Kidd Player of the Year.

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