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Paglia: How have high school football Player of the Year candidates fared?
FCN POYWATCH 092515 web

Before the season started, Forsyth County News sports editor Brian Paglia picked five players to watch for Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.

Here’s a look at how his picks are doing so far this season.

OFFENSE

JALEN CAMP, SOUTH FORSYTH

Last season: Camp caught 37 passes for 608 yards and seven touchdowns to help the War Eagles return to the state playoffs for the first time since 2010.

This season: The senior wide receiver has caught 14 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns and three carries for 10 yards through four games for South (4-0).

The verdict: Camp isn’t producing Player of the Year-type numbers, but that’s mostly a product of the extreme balance South has been able to achieve so far this season. That doesn’t mean Camp isn’t having a POY-type impact. He’s averaging 15.6 yards per catch and a touchdown catch per game.

SHAUN DIEBEL, FORSYTH CENTRAL

Last season: Diebel rushed for 1,370 yards and 13 touchdowns on 226 carries to help the Bulldogs to their first winning season in 13 years.

This season: The senior running back has rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns on 58 carries, caught one pass for 26 yards and has 164 kickoff return yards (41.0 average) through four games for Central (2-2).

The verdict: It’s been a curious season so far for Diebel. I predicted huge things, but I didn’t anticipate how the addition of quarterback Jagger Hartshorn would alter the dynamics of the Bulldogs’ offense. Hartshorn leads Central in rushing yards (231) and touchdowns (six) and has already passed for more yards (182) than the Bulldogs did all of last season (178). Still, Diebel has shown glimpses of how dangerous he can be, even on special teams.

TANNER HALL, LAMBERT

Last season: Hall caught 26 passes for 501 yards and six touchdowns to help Lambert return to the Class AAAAAA playoffs for the second straight season.

This season: The senior wide receiver and Georgia Southern commit has 15 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns through four games for the Longhorns (3-1).

The verdict: By all measures, Hall is on pace to have a better season than 2014. He’s on pace for more catches (37), receiving yards (779) and a better yards per catch average (20.6). Without a doubt, he’s been the biggest weapon for Lambert this season.

MITCHELL OJEDA, PINECREST ACADEMY

Last season: Ojeda rushed for 744 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging just over nine yards a carry to help Pinecrest reach the GHSA state playoffs for the first time in program history.

This season: The senior running back has rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and has one catch for 52 yards through three games for Pinecrest (3-0).

The verdict: Ojeda hasn’t been nearly as explosive for the Paladins this season, but it also seems Pinecrest has emphasized (or just had more success with) running the ball inside with quarterback Ryan McCarthy and full backs Matthew Walters and Greg Varghese. Ojeda is still averaging almost seven yards a carry.

GRANT TORGERSON, WEST FORSYTH

Last season: Torgerson rushed for 861 yards and five touchdowns on 125 carries to help West go 6-4.

This season: The junior running back has rushed for 290 yards and two touchdowns on 53 carries and has two catches for 30 yards through four games for the Wolverines (2-2). Torgerson has also helped a little more on defense this season with six tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass break-up.

The verdict: Torgerson is another in the case of how the addition of a dynamic quarterback can change things. The junior is still a valuable weapon for the Wolverines, as he’s averaging 5.47 yards a carry and is one pace for 725 yards for the regular season, but it looks like the foundation of West’s offense this season is quarterback Kiernen Hamilton’s passing ability.

ELI HUGGINS, WEST FORSYTH

Last season: Huggins had 53 tackles, three tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one interception and one sack.

This season: The junior defensive end has 35 tackles, eight sacks, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble through four games for the Wolverines (2-2).

The verdict: Suddenly on the defensive line, Huggins has transformed into a quarterback’s nightmare. It’s hard to expect more five-sack nights like he had against Habersham Central last week, but it’s fair to say Huggins is now one of two favorites for the award, along with …

CAMERON KLINE, SOUTH FORSYTH

Last season: Kline had 34 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, six sacks and one forced fumble that he returned for a touchdown, though he was named first team All-County and All-Region 6-AAAAAA as a tight end.

This season: The senior defensive end has 20 tackles, eight sacks, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, including one he returned for a touchdown, through four games for the War Eagles (4-0).

The verdict: Just dominant. Kline already has two more sacks than he did all of last season, thanks in part to that ridiculous five-sack night against Centennial on Sept. 4. It’s almost surprising Kline wasn’t triple-teamed by North Forsyth last week. But, no, he wasn’t, and so, yes, he had a sack. Plus, he’s still chipping in on offense with 12 catches for 157 yards and a touchdown.

PIERCE NUFER, FORSYTH CENTRAL

Last season: Nufer had 59 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 10 sacks to help the Bulldogs to their first winning season (6-4) in 13 years.

This season: The senior outside linebacker has 29 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery through four games for the Bulldogs (2-2).

The verdict: Nufer may not be on pace to reach double-digit sacks like last season, but he’s on pace for more tackles, plus he’s finding more ways to make an impact this season.

ROBBIE REPASZ, FORSYTH CENTRAL

Last season: Repasz had 51 tackles, six pass break-ups, four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one force fumble. He also returned a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns.

This season: The senior defensive back has 32 tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in four games for the Bulldogs. Repasz has also returned five kickoffs for 131 yards (26.2 yards per return) and four punts for 89 yards (22.3 yards per return).

The verdict: Repasz has been his typically disruptive and play-making self on defense and special teams so far this season, which is even more impressive considering he’s the only returning starter in Central’s secondary.

MATTHEW WALTERS, PINECREST ACADEMY

Last season: Walters had 43 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks to help the Paladins reached the state playoffs for the first time since joining the Georgia High School Association.

This season: Walters has no tackles in two games for Pinecrest (3-0).

The verdict: Walters has just started to get back to form on defense the past two weeks after sitting out Pinecrest’s season-opener against North Springs while he recovered from a pre-season leg injury. Still his presence at nose guard helps Pinecrest defend the run, and he’s also helped on offense 143 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries in two games.