KIERNEN HAMILTON // West Forsyth, QB, Sr.
Last season: Hamilton completed 61.2 percent of his passes for a school-record 2,563 yards and 29 touchdowns to help the Wolverines return to the state playoffs.
This season: The senior quarterback is completing 63.2 percent of his passes (127-for-201) for 1,684 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games for West (6-1, 2-0 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: Hamilton has all the makings of a player-of-the-year candidate. He’s leading the county in passing yards and touchdowns, and it helps that he’s on a team that is ranked No. 8 in Class 7A by the Georgia Sports Writers Association with a shot to win its first region title since 2012.
SIMON HOLCOMB // North Forsyth, WR, Sr.
Last season: Holcomb rushed for 678 yards and four touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns for a North team that went 2-8.
This season: The senior wide receiver has 50 catches for 856 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games for the Raiders (4-3, 1-1 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: The move to becoming a full-time wide receiver looks like it’s paying off for Holcomb and North. Holcomb is rewriting the record books, as he now owns virtually every game, season and career record for wide receivers in North history. He’s dynamic and prolific, an absolute must-watch player every week.
SABRIAN HOWARD // Forsyth Central
Last season: Howard rushed for 645 yards and seven touchdowns on 110 carries as the Bulldogs went 4-6.
This season: The senior running back has rushed for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns on 145 carries in six games for Central (3-3, 0-2 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: It’s been a tale of two seasons for Howard. Since region play began, Howard has just 103 yards on 51 carries with no touchdowns. Before that, he was averaging 177 yards a game.
RYAN McCARTHY // Pinecrest Academy, QB, Sr.
Last season: McCarthy rushed for a school-record 1,284 yards and 22 touchdowns while also passing for 495 yards and three touchdowns to help Pinecrest go 10-2, win the Region 6-1A championship and reach the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
This season: The senior quarterback has rushed for 339 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 456 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in seven games for Pinecrest (4-3, 3-2 Region 6-1A, Div. B).
The verdict: The Citadel commitment got off to something of a slow start statistically, but he’s come on strong in Pinecrest’ past two games, accounting for 437 yards of offense and five touchdowns.
DAVIS SHANLEY // South Forsyth, QB, Sr.
Last season: Shanley completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,348 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 623 yards and eight touchdowns as South went 11-2, won the Region 6-6A championship and reached the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
This season: The senior quarterback is completing 56.4 percent of his passes (101-for-179) fir 1,427 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions and has rushed for 408 yards and six touchdowns on 64 carries in seven games for South (4-3, 1-1 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: The Western Kentucky commitment has had moments of brilliance (upset of then-No. 6 South Gwinnett) and moments of struggle this season (loss to Lambert), but he has the War Eagles in contention to return to the state playoffs despite a lingering back injury from the season-opener against Hillgrove in the Corky Kell Classic.
JOEY CONGROVE // West Forsyth, DB, Sr.
Last season: Congrove had 71 tackles, 14 pass deflections, three tackles for loss and one interception to help West return to the state playoffs.
This season: The senior defensive back has 47 tackles, seven pass deflections, four tackles for loss, two interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) and one forced fumble in seven games for West (6-1, 2-0 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: Congrove has been a big-hitter and steady performer for the Wolverines.
ELI HUGGINS // West Forsyth, DL, Sr.
Last season: Huggins had 80 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to help West return to the state playoffs.
This season: The senior defensive end has 16 tackles, seven quarterback pressures and one tackle for loss in five games for West (6-1, 2-0 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: The Kansas State commitment has been a victim of his own notoriety. Teams just aren’t running his way. Missing two games with a lingering shoulder injury has helped Huggins’ player-of-the-year chances either.
RYAN LaFLAMME // South Forsyth, DL, Jr.
Last season: LaFlamme had 37 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks to help South win a region championship and reach the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
This season: The junior defensive lineman has 18 tackles, six quarterback pressures, four sacks, two tackles for loss and one forced fumble in five games for South (4-3, 1-1 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: We predicted a breakout season for LaFlamme, and he was on track for one through South’s first five games. But he’s missed the past two games with foot and hand injuries.
MAC REDMOND // Lambert, LB, Sr.
Last season: Redmond had 72 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two sacks to help Lambert reach the state playoffs.
This season: The senior linebacker has 47 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three pass deflections, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery in seven games for Lambert (4-3, 2-0 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: Redmond has been a big contributor for the Longhorns, who are tied with West for first place in Region 5-7A going into the teams’ big showdown Friday.
MAX SLOTT // South Forsyth, LB, Sr.
Last season: Slott had a county-best 117 tackles to go along with seven tackles for loss and two sacks to help South win a region championship and reach the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
This season: The senior linebacker has a county-best 81 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in seven games for South (4-3, 1-1 Region 5-7A).
The verdict: Not much has changed for Slott; he’s been a tackling machine again for the War Eagles. The senior is on pace to break 100 tackles by the end of the regular season, and he’s making more tackles behind the line of scrimmage than a year ago.