By now, I should know I have the capacity to be so right and so wrong at the same time.
When I picked five preseason contenders for Forsyth County Offensive Player of the Year this past summer, I felt a degree of certainty in my choices. How could I go wrong with the defending player of the year? How could I not pick the county’s leading rusher back for another year? Why not pick the precocious quarterback or the emerging running backs?
Some made me look prescient (thanks, Tyler LaFlamme). Others, not as much.
Here’s a look at how my five early picks for county offensive player of the year have fared so far this season:
Tyler LaFlamme South Forsyth
Last season: LaFlamme rushed for 766 yards and 13 touchdowns on 147 carries as he was named second team all-county.
This season: The senior running back has rushed for 985 yards and 11 touchdowns on 103 carries (9.56 yards per carry) and caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown for the War Eagles (4-1).
The verdict: It almost goes without saying that LaFlamme is the frontrunner for County Offensive Player of the Year, especially after his attention-getting 435-yard, 5-touchdown performance against Chattahoochee two weeks ago. Whether he can maintain his torrid rushing pace as South’s schedule get considerably tougher is arguably the most compelling storyline of the second half.
Ryan McCarthy Pinecrest Academy
Last season: McCarthy completed 27 of 81 passes (33.3 percent) for 468 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 282 yards and 10 touchdowns on 83 carries.
This season: The sophomore quarterback is 14-for-34 passing (41.2 percent) for 108 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and has rushed for 431 yards and five touchdowns on 64 carries for the Paladins (4-1).
The verdict: McCarthy has flashed the potential of an offensive player of the year, particularly when he broke the school’s single-game rushing record with 211 yards against Walker, and he’s shown improvement from his freshman season. His accuracy is better, and he’s cut down on turnovers. But the way Pinecrest’s triple-option offense spreads the ball around may work against McCarthy.
Hampton McConnell West Forsyth
Last season: McConnell completed 134 of 216 passes (62 percent) for 1,761 yards with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 794 yards and 11 touchdowns in route to Forsyth County News Offensive Player of the Year honors.
This season: The senior quarterback is 43-for-87 passing (49.4 percent) for 712 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions and has rushed for 149 yards and four touchdowns on 72 carries for the Wolverines (2-3).
The verdict: It’s been a turbulent season for McConnell – and West, for that matter. He was knocked out of the Alpharetta game with an injury, the offensive line hasn’t been as dominant as a year ago and the Wolverines’ schedule has been the toughest in the county. Combine it all, and it looks like McConnell has some work to do to catch up to LaFlamme. But don’t bet against the Georgia Southern commit, especially as West’s schedule eases a bit in the second half.
Trevor O’Brien Lambert
Last season: O’Brien rushed for 1,052 yards and 15 touchdowns on 170 carries and caught 18 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown for West.
This season: The senior running back has rushed for 471 yards and five touchdowns on 103 carries (4.57 yards per carry) for the Longhorns (2-3).
The verdict: O’Brien and Lambert have been wildly inconsistent through the first half of the regular season. Against good defenses, O’Brien has averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. Against all others, he’s averaged 6.79. If indeed Drew Cole has stabilized the Longhorns’ quarterback position going into the second half, O’Brien – and Lambert – could take a big leap.
Zac Slaton North Forsyth
Last season: Slaton rushed for 524 yards and eight touchdowns on 133 carries and caught six passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns to help North make the state playoffs.
This season: The junior running back has rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 51 carries for the Raiders (0-5).
The verdict: A year ago, Slaton was a breakout player for a North team that had a breakout season to make the playoffs. This season, nothing – absolute nothing – has gone right for Slaton and the Raiders. The junior might be done for the season after suffering a gruesome ankle injury, exacerbating North’s woes.
Brian Paglia is sports editor of the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at email@example.com, 770-205-8976 or follow him on Twitter at @BrianPaglia.