A 12-person panel was polled on a variety of TVC topics. All were asked to rank the TVC before week one of the regular season. To see those rankings, visit our home page. Here’s how the rest of the votes shook out.
Our 12 member panel was asked to list their top three candidates for TVC Player of the Year in no specific order
Keegan Willburn: H-Back, Nelsonville York - 12 votes
The only unanimous player on the poll, every single panel member included Willburn on their top three list. His body of work speaks for itself. Willburn had 1,000-yard seasons on the ground his sophomore and junior season and a 1,000-yard receiving season as a sophomore as well. Entering his senior year he is already committed to play division one football at Ohio University next fall.
Coulter Cleland: QB, Meigs - 11 votes
Cleland was on the ballot of every voter aside from one and for good reason. As a freshman, Cleland threw for nearly 2,000 yards. He, however, inherits a predominantly new receiving corps this season. If Cleland can take a young receiving corps to the next level then he may be holding the league player of the year trophy in November.
Joey Moore: QB, Athens - 8 votes
Moore is the biggest question mark of the three listed above. He has never started a game under center, but that doesn’t matter. He is working under legendary offensive coordinator Nathan White and has been mentored by Joey Burrow this offseason. He is a rare mixture of speed and a strong arm. He also has an experienced receiving corps to get the ball to.
Others receiving votes:
Kaleb Easley: QB/LB, Alexander - 3 votes
Braylon Damron: QB, Vinton County - 1 vote
Nate Trainer: WR, Athens - 1 vote
The panel also gave their opinion on the coach of the year. Here is how they felt.
Rusty Richards: Nelsonville-York - 12 votes
Richards is now the longest-tenured coach in the league, and he is only entering his fourth season. Richards was the only unanimous selection and for good reason. He has already been coach of the year twice and has a group that could win him another league title.
A first-year head coach, but by no means new to the program. White was the offensive coordinator for a Bulldog team that went undefeated in the regular season three separate times. He designed the offense that allowed Joe Burrow to throw 63 touchdowns in 15 games. He now has full control of the entire team and his own prodigy at quarterback.
Bethel is looking like the man to change the fortunes in McArthur. Vinton County has always been a basketball school, but Friday’s in fall might be just as big now. Bethel is a VC alum and already in the VC hall of fame. He brings new schemes and ideas to the offensive and defensive line and has the team filled with new energy.
Also receiving votes: David Tennant: Meigs - 4 votes, Earich Dean: Alexander - 3 votes
A vote was also held on three potential dark horse candidates for TVC POY. Here are some of the many candidates our panel had a high opinion on.
Braylon Damron: QB, Vinton County, 4 votes
Damron passed for more yards his freshman year than Naylan Yates did his freshman year, in half as many games. Yates is remembered as an all-time great Vikings quarterback just two years removed from the program. As Damron continues to grow this season, expect more emphasis on the Viking passing game.
Braeden Halbert: WR, Athens - 4 votes
Halbert has done very little on the field on Friday nights, but much like Joey Moore, it is the glimpses everyone has seen on 7 on 7s that have driven the hype train. He has all the qualities of freak athlete receivers like Treyce Albin and Robert Dickelman. He may quickly become a favorite target of Joey Moore.
Mikey Seel: QB, Nelsonville-York - 3 votes
Seel threw for nearly as many yards as Hunter Edwards did his senior year and had a similar completion percentage. Seel just was not able to deliver as many wins. A second-year under center should change the fortunes for the big-armed quarterback looks to find Keegan Willburn all over the field.
Kaleb Easley: QB/LB, Alexander - 3 votes
I think the only reason Easley didn’t get as many votes here is that so many saw him not as a darkhorse candidate, but as an actual POY candidate. Easley threw for over 700 yards last year and recorded 90 tackles on defense. The entire Spartan team runs through Easley.
Rylan Molihan: H-back, Wellston - 3 votes
Molihan had big shoes to fill his junior year, taking a position filled by Travis Jayjohn the previous three years. He stepped up and earned all-league honors. Molihan is a pure athlete who can get results as a receiver and as a runner.
Nate Trainer: WR, Athens - 3 votes
Trainer may be more known as the star pitcher for the Bulldogs, but he is also a deadly receiver. Trainer recorded 49 catches on the year for over 600 yards. He can also shut down opposing receivers on defense.