As part of the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Awards program, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission assembles a panel of Palm Beach County High School football coaches and select members of the local media to select the winners of three awards given out for excellence in Palm Beach County high school football:
Near the end of the season, ESPN West Palm, who’s broadcast team covers the local football program all season, provides the nominees for each award. At the annual Lou Groza Awards banquet in December the top three finalists in each category are recognized and the winner is announced.
The Palm Beach County Player of the Year Award is given out annually to the top prep football player in Palm Beach County. The award is open to players of all grade levels and school classifications.
2016 PALM BEACH COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
No one in Palm Beach County got behind the line of scrimmage to disrupt the offense like Tyler Williams this season. The senior defensive tackle anchored an Oxbridge line that allowed just 66 rushing yards per game. Take out their game against IMG Academy, the nation’s #2 ranked team, and that number drops to less than 49 yards per game. Despite sitting out two games against overmatched opponents, Williams finished the year with an astonishing 18 of his 28 tackles going for a loss. In fact, the future Wake Forest Demon Deacon was so consistently dominant, it’s hard to pick out just which of his games was the most impressive. Opening on the road against Broward County’s Flanagan, Williams recorded a season-high six solo tackles, his first sack, and four tackles for loss – numbers made all the more important by the final score, a 7-6 win for Oxbridge. Against Royal Palm Beach, he made three tackles on his own, assisted on four more, and got behind the line three times. Or maybe he was at his best against division foe Cardinal Newman when he was all over the place, recording two solo tackles, assisting on three including a sack, stopping the Crusaders for losses 2.5 times, and leading the ThunderWolves to one of their four shutouts. But consider the performance against division rival American Heritage-Delray. Williams got to the quarterback for a pair of sacks, recorded four tackles with three coming for losses, and plugged the middle of a line that held the Stallions to just 12 rushing yards. From start to finish, Williams made life miserable for anyone going against Oxbridge and dominated the defensive line like no Palm Beach County player in recent memory
Palm Beach County Place Kicker of the Year
The Palm Beach County Place-Kicker of the Year Award is given out annually to the top prep football place-kicker in Palm Beach County. The award is open to players of all grade levels and school classifications
2016 PALM BEACH COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL PLACE-KICKER OF THE YEAR
Logan Robinson - Wellington High School
A finalist for this award last season, Robinson took another step forward in 2016 and led all county kickers with 10 field goals. But it’s the importance of those kicks that really stand out. Twice the normally potent Wellington offense found itself bogged down in a defensive struggle, and twice Robinson lifted them to victory. His 18-yard kick with under three minutes remaining gave the Wolverines a 10-9 win over Royal Palm Beach, their first of the year. At the end of the 2016 season, with the district title on the line against Palm Beach Gardens, Robinson scored every point for Wellington, knocking down kicks from 27, 22 and 21 yards out, before his game-winning 31 yarder in a 12-10 victory. In return for carrying the team into the playoffs, the Wolverines celebrated the win by carrying Robinson off in triumph.
Sam Budnyk Coach of the Year
The Sam Budnyk Coach of the Year Award is given out annually to the top prep football coach in Palm Beach County. The award is named in honor of legendary coach Sam Budnyk, head football coach at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, FL.
2016 SAM BUDNYK COACH OF THE YEAR
Brian Dodds - Park Vista High School
Park Vista missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2010, starting the season 2-5 for one of the slowest starts in Brian Dodds’ 11 years leading the Cobras. However, Park Vista won their final three games last year and carried that momentum into the 2016 season, turning what was expected to be another rebuilding year into a district championship and the school’s first undefeated regular season. The 10-0 perfect record is the fruit of seeds Dodds planted two years ago with freshmen like quarterback John Smith, running back Corey Cola, and receiver Atorian Perry. Now seasoned juniors, this trio powered a dual-threat offense that averaged over 30 points per game by pounding the ball on the ground to open up space for deep strikes through the air. That was more than enough for the Dodds’ defense, which held opposing teams to single-digit points in seven games. After a perfect season, a district championship, and a return to the playoffs, Dodds can officially consider Park Vista’s program rebuilt.
2016 PALM BEACH COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL TEAM OF THE YEAR
Park Vista High School
Park Vista’s 2016 high school football season was historic. Park Vista won the district 10-8A championship, earned a top-five AP ranking in the state, and achieved the school’s first undefeated regular season, one of just two 8A teams in Florida to finish with a 10-0 record. Not bad for what was supposed to be a “rebuilding year” at Park Vista. Coach Brian Dodds used last season’s 5-5 year to prepare a young core of players to dominate in all three phases of the game in 2016. Whether by handing off to Corey Cola or keeping it himself, quarterback John Smith led an offense that forced teams to stack the box, allowing him to hit his playmaking receivers for huge gains. That potent mix led the Cobras to average of over 30 points per game. But they weren’t all blowouts. Despite a standout defense that allowed only 9 points per game and held opponents to single-digits in seven contests, Park Vista’s perfect season included three wins by three points each. This wasn’t a case of lucky bounces though; in each game the Cobras made big plays on the defense and special teams to earn hard-fought victories. Exceptional teamwork and a winning culture propelled the Cobras to an undefeated season. Park Visita’s refusal to lose was evident in a 9-6 win over Boynton Beach. During this game, senior Julian Polo blocked a punt in the endzone to pick up a safety and then pulled down a game-sealing interception on his own 10 yard line. The team wrapped up its district title with a 10-7 win over Boca Raton. The Cobra’s defense was dominant against Boca Raton and held the Bobcat’s offense from scoring on a dramatic goal line stand during the fourth quarter. Perhaps the most satisfying of their 10 wins; Park Vista finally beat Atlantic in a back-and-forth 23-20 triumph that used another blocked punt to build an early lead and a goal line interception to keep the game close for a second-half comeback. It was the first time in Coach Dodds’ 11 seasons that the Cobras beat Atlantic, just one more special moment in a season for the ages by Park Vista.
Groza Committee Chair, Bill Davis welcomes local awards candidates during 2007 Banquet.