Offensive Player of the Year
Rob LaHayne, Glenelg: A three-sport athlete who excels at everything he does, LaHayne, an offensive guard, dominated in the trenches this season. He helped open gaping holes for the Gladiators' two 1,000-yard rushers, Jay Hamilton and Kevin Ganascioli, and was the heart behind the Gladiators' 10-1 record. On the ground, Glenelg averaged more than 300 yards. LaHayne was so tough, he developed an unfortunate habit of breaking his face mask with his bone-rattling blocks. About the only time he came off the field was when the equipment manager had to repair it, which happened nearly half a dozen times. The easygoing LaHayne helped set the tone during the past two off-seasons, often organizing his teammates for weightlifting sessions. "Rob is such a tremendous leader," Glenelg coach John Davis said. "He drives this team. His motor never stops." Also a hard-hitting middle linebacker with deceptive speed, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound LaHayne blossomed into one of the top recruits in the area. "I'm not sure his true influence is seen on film all the time, but he wills the people around him to play at a high level," Davis said. Against Centennial, it was LaHayne's downfield block that set Ganascioli free for a 90-yard touchdown run in the second half, helping finish off a 20-0 win. On defense, he finished second on the team in tackles.
Chris Burns, Wilde Lake: It wasn't easy for defensive linemen to get by the 6-foot, 350-pound Burns, who helped bust open big holes for running backs Austin Merrills and A.J. Case. Burns, a senior, led a short, powerful line that pounded teams for tough yards inside, but was quick enough to pick up blocks on sweeps, too. In the Wildecats' first game of the year, Burns helped Merrills and Case combine for 312 rushing yards in a 36-19 win over Milford Mill.
John Clark, River Hill: A good blocker with excellent hands, Clark, a senior, developed a knack for the end zone in the Hawks' no-huddle attack. "Even though he played tight end, we split him out a lot because he always found ways to get open," River Hill coach Brian Van Duesen said. Clark's 39 catches were second in the league, and his 503 yards receiving and six touchdowns led the team.
Andrew Croner, Oakland Mills: A four-year starter, Croner, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound tackle, played on the Scorpions' state championship team in 1998 and has been a force ever since. Croner missed Oakland Mills' first three games (all losses) while recovering from a knee injury during lacrosse season, but his return helped spark a turnaround that got the Scorpions back to the Class 1A state title game. "He really provided this team with more leadership," said teammate and co-captain Justin Barnes. "When he came back, things just clicked for us." A repeat selection from last season, Croner has a 4.0 grade-point average and is being recruited by several Ivy League schools to play football.
Kenton Dunson, Hammond: A powerful, hard-nosed blocker, the 5-foot-10, 240 pound Dunson was selected to the All-County first team for the second straight season. "I really feel like he's improved on a great year last year," Hammond coach Bill Smith said. "He was constantly flying down the field making big blocks in the secondary." A take-charge leader who can bench-press well more than 300 pounds, Dunson helped the Bears finish at .500 for the first time in five years.
Kevin Ganascioli, Glenelg: Ganascioli, who switched to tailback this season from quarterback a year ago, was as explosive as any player in the league, rushing for 1,036 yards on only 91 carries (11.23 a carry). Against Mount Hebron, the junior had perhaps the best performance in the area this season. He rushed 10 times for 219 yards and three touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown. On defense, he made 11 tackles, recovered a fumble and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score. For the day, he accounted for more than 400 yards of total offense, and his six touchdowns were one shy of tying the state record.
Jay Hamilton, Glenelg: "Jay really grew up this year," coach John Davis said of the 6-0, 190 pound senior running back. "He's such a workhorse, we asked him to do all of the grinding, to pick up the tough yards, and he delivered." Hamilton rushed 174 times for 1,073 yards and scored eight touchdowns, and carried the entire load late in the year when Kevin Ganascioli went down with a foot injury. Against Wilde Lake, Hamilton scored on a 20-yard touchdown run with seven seconds left to give the Gladiators a 28-21 win, which clinched their first county title in 16 years.