The award given to the "Outstanding High School Football Player of West Virginia" could be determined by the postseason play of several top candidates and their teams.
In the next week, ballots will be mailed to the 80 active members of the sponsoring West Virginia Sports Writers Association with a return deadline of Dec. 1.
The selectors will be able to evaluate the top candidates not only from the completed regular season but also during the the first three playoff weeks leading up to the Super Six championships on Dec. 3-4 at Wheeling Island Stadium.
This is the same format used for college football's Heisman Award, of which the Kennedy Award has been modeled since 1947. The Heisman balloting deadline is after completion of the regular season but before the postseason bowls.
The Kennedy Award is named for the late HARRY KENNEDY, a Wheeling native who later served on the Heisman selection board of New York's Downtown Athletic Club, and is financially supported by the Kennedy Estate Trust through WesBanco.
With the playoffs being in the selection process mix, here's a checklist of some of the leading candidates for the elite honor. They are listed alphabetically:
JUSTIN FOX, Magnolia - The Blue Eagles have had more quarterbacks (15) earn first-team all-state than any school in West Virginia or the Ohio Valley and this do-it-all four-year starter could become the first three-time all-stater. He was a Class AA all-state defensive back as a junior and all-state punter as a sophomore. The school record-holder for career passing yardage may not be the top quarterback, defensive back, punter or placekicker in the Mountain State but he IS, from opening kickoff to the final whistle, as good as any high school athlete in West Virginia. No state QB has more victories (41) than this athlete who plays every play on both sides of the ball and the team results speak for themselves. If he leads Magnolia to the Super Six, his stock will rise in the eyes of the electors.
TYLER HARRIS, South Charleston - Last year's Kennedy Award winner is trying to become the first quarterback to lead a Class AAA team to three straight state titles. The only other QB is that category is 1970 Kennedy Award winner RICK HURT, who led Charleston High to three consecutive crowns. Harris' numbers this season are better than his junior campaign. He has accounted for 40 touchdowns - 18 rushing and 22 passing with 2,640 total offense yards - 1,721 passing and 920 rushing. If he wins the award, he will become only the sixth two-time honoree.
RYAN JONES, Bishop Donahue - While the Bishops were recording the first unbeaten regular season in school history, and leading West Virginia and the Ohio Valley in scoring average (52.6 a game), he was setting an all-time OV record with 22 TD receptions, just one off the state regular- season mark of 23 set by two-time Kennedy Award winner BRANDON BARRETT of Martinsburg in 2003. He may be the finest small school receiver we've witnessed since 1981 Kennedy runner-up BRIAN SWISHER, who led Sistersville to back-to-back state Class A crowns.
FELIX MOLLETT, George Washington - The state's unbeaten No. 1-rated Class AAA team, which is No. 14 in the East Region rankings by ESPN Rise, is led by the state's 3-A scoring leader with 162 points and 27 touchdowns. A first team all-stater last year, he helped GW hand two-time defending champion South Charleston its lone loss this season.
JOEY MUSICK, Morgantown - The 9-1 record Mohigans are unbeaten vs. in-state teams with the lone setback to Steubenville Big Red and he has averaged 10 yards a carry while scoring 19 touchdowns.
KEION WRIGHT, Capital - A first team all-stater as a sophomore, he has returned to that form while leading Capital to an 8-2 mark. He averages 10 yards a carry with 24 TDs, second best in 3-A.
Let the balloting begin.
(1) JOE PATERNO, the all-time winningest NCAA Division I football coach, reached the 400-victory plateau last weekend for Penn State. But he's a piker compared to current Summerville, S.C., High School coach JOHN McKISSICK, who has guided the Green Wave since 1952 to an all-time record 585 victories with 137 losses and 13 ties. Don't tell JoePa. He might want to coach another 20 years.
(2) Former Weir High luminary BOB KELLEY will be inducted into the Cameron (Okla.) University Athletics Hall of Fame in February. The 1960 Kennedy Award winner led then Cameron Junior College to an 11-0 record and the 1961 Junior Rose Bowl championship. He was the team's leading rusher and a JC All-American. Another Hall inductee will be basketball star SIM HILL, who led a HANK KUZMA coached Midland (Pa.) High School team to a state title.
(3) Enjoy the weekend.