BY KRISTIN KURELIC
The Dominion Post, WV Sports Writers Association

Chazzy Thomas was always more than just any football player to his Morgantown High teammates.

“Chazz is one of those guys, it’s not just that he’s a great player, but he’s that symbol of belief that whenever we see him, whenever he’s in the huddle, we think that, ‘We are going to do this,’” MHS senior linebacker Will Rockis said. “Whatever the goal is, we think that we can accomplish it, just by him being there.”

Now the senior running back stands out to the rest of the state, as well.

Thomas was named the 2013 Kennedy Award winner, signifying the state’s best high school football player, as voted on by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

“Oh, nice,” Thomas said, a huge grin spreading across his face when he heard the news. “Wow, that means a lot to me. It’s overwhelming.”

Just months after suffering a surgery-inducing, season-ending leg injury as a junior, Thomas battled back to become the top rusher in Class AAA this season.

While leading MHS to an 8-3 record and the first round of the playoffs, Thomas piled up 2,108 yards and 30 touchdowns on 174 carries, for an average of 12.1 yards per carry.

Thomas was best known for his shiftiness and explosive bursts of speed, making him nearly impossible to catch if he broke loose.

However, he was also the workhorse for the Mohigans, totaling 58 percent of their rushing offense. He ran deceptively hard for his 5-foot-9, 183-pound frame.

“He’s the strongest kid on our football team,” MHS head coach John Bowers said. “Not pound-for-pound the strongest, but the strongest we’ve got. He can out-lift everyone on our team, with legs and upper-body strength. He is a tremendously tough young man.”

Thomas, whose first name is Jamie and middle name is Charles, set a Monongalia County one-game rushing record twice this season.

On Oct. 4, he rushed for 386 yards in a 52-21 win against DuBois (Pa.) Area High School. The performance broke the county record of 358 yards, by Clay-Battelle’s Aaron LaPoe, in 2003.

On Oct. 11, Thomas broke his own record by rushing for 396 yards on 43 carries in a double overtime victory, against Wheeling Park. He added a 41-yard touchdown reception, to amass 437 yards of offense, with all six MHS touchdowns.

“If there was a signature moment, that would’ve been it,” Bowers said. “He is very, very deserving, but the thing about Chazz is, for all the accolades he gets for being a tremendous football player, he is an even better human being. That Wheeling Park game typified how good he is, but all he wanted to talk about afterward was how good his offensive line was and how good Wheeling Park was.”

Thomas also collected the Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year award, and was named the National Player of the Week by Student Sports for his performance against Wheeling Park.

In winning the Kennedy, Thomas follows Morgantown High greats Mark Wigal (2000), Chris Yura (1997), David Mayfield (1989) and Tony Johnson (1983). With five recipients, Morgantown High has had more Kennedy Award winners than any other school in the state.

“It’s pretty awesome to be in the same category as them,” said Thomas, who is undecided on his college plans but hopes to stay in state, get a good education and play football. “To represent my school like that, it’s pretty awesome.”

Thomas finished as the third-leading rusher in the state despite missing nearly two games and playing two more, including MHS’s first-round playoff game, while battling a high ankle sprain.

“What he did when he was healthy was absolutely ridiculous,” Bowers said. “It was a video game. I really wish that injury wouldn’t have happened because I think we would’ve seen multiple state records fall. But I give the sports writers a lot of credit for seeing true greatness and not holding that against him.”

Thomas finished his three-year career with 4,541 yards and 59 touchdowns on the ground, plus 62 yards and two touchdowns on two receptions.

Madonna senior quarterback Ross Comis and Martinsburg senior quarterback Malique Watkins tied for second in the award voting.

On Madonna’s run to the Class A state championship, Comis rushed for 1,942 yards and 35 touchdowns on 252 carries. He completed 98 of 151 passes for 1,688 yards and 22 touchdowns, with four interceptions.

Watkins led the Bulldogs to their fourth straight Class AAA title, with 1,811 yards and 20 touchdowns on 254 carries. He completed 65 of 113 passes for 973 yards and 16 touchdowns, with six interceptions.

They were followed in the voting by two running backs who led their teams to the Class AA championship game. Wayne’s Mason Hodge was fourth, while Anthony Bonamico, of state champion Bridgeport, was fifth.

Hodge ran for 1,528 yards and 18 touchdowns on 164 attempts.

Bonamico was the second-leading rusher in the state, with 2,141 yards and 32 touchdowns on 205 carries.

 

CAPITAL’S WALTON WINS HUNT AWARD

WHEELING PARK’S PAIGE WINS HUFF AWARD

CLASS AAA ALL-STATE

CLASS AA ALL-STATE

CLASS A ALL-STATE

MADONNA’S COMIS VOTED METRONEWS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

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Comments

  • bucktail

    I will say this, Morgantown was considered to be a title contender with Chazzy, close games with Wheeling Park and Martinsburg, and could hardly score without him. He may have meant more to his team than any other player.

    You have to have media backing to win the Kennedy and in single A locales there isn't enough media to vote for you. Comis probably should have won, but small school, not big town, mini-media market all lead to too few votes.

  • peleliu

    Has any class A or AA players won the Kennedy award? If so, who? Just wondering.

    • yes

      Couple aa guys...quincy wilson from weir high in 98..fox from magnolia and cole from bluefield...list on wikipedia

    • RJ

      Also Mark Cisar from Magnolia in back to back years in the earlys 90s. Also quick question who did he beat out both years.

    • woody

      Yes, Jed Drenning at then AA Tucker County in the 80's.

  • Matt

    Here we go agian, is it fair to give award to someone who missed games, AND STILL PUT UP BIGGER NUMBERS than the guys you are mentioning, James can you really say Watkins deserves over Chazzy, both are good but Chazzy did more in less games. Good job Chaz

    • James

      Watkins didn't play two games this year also Matt, goes both ways, never said Chazzy was note worthy, just said in my opinion Comis and Watkins were more deserving

  • WV. Forever

    We can only watch the top three candidates and how they do in their future sports careers. Then you might look back at this vote to see if the results were warranted. That's how the sportswriters will be judged. Let's all meet back here on this blog after 3 years or so and see how they fared in their college careers. Then we may be able to say to the sportswriters......."We told you so".

  • DR

    I have been blessed to watch a lot of high school football across the east coast. I was in WV for the championships. The 4 other players listed for this award I got to see play in CHAMPIONSHIP games. A great player carries there team to the championship. Congrats to all.

    • Shortbus Nation

      They boy couldn't carrry MHS to the championship game...he could barely walk. If he could walk, let alone run, MHS would have had a great opportunity to play for a state championship. Chazzy cannot be blamed for being injured. Congratulations to all the kids that were in the top five; I am sure they were all deserving of this award in one way or another. You couldn't have gone wrong giving it to any of them.

  • mohigan

    Y'all need to stop hating. Chazzy is an animal, in the weight room and on the field. He went down at the end of the season with an ankle injury and still put up insane totals. He deserved this award hands down.

    • Hawk Hopful

      Chazzy Thomas is the Kennedy Award winner. All of the other comments mean nothing.

  • Blue Dawn

    Comis robbed.... The guy had 57 tds and 3600 yards on offense and was a defensive leader and he doesn't win... Bias against single a teams that's all... Shame on u voters... Congrats to chazzy...

    • WV. Forever

      Amen. I sure wish I knew what the voting sportswriters are basing their votes on. Don't you think stats should be at the top of the list.

      • Blue Dawn

        Maybe I am wrong but I thought the Kennedy award went to the best football player. By far, whether ur in AAA, AA, OR A, Ross Comis is the best player in the state of WV. What more did the kid need to do to win it? He lead his team to a perfect season, never missed a game, had crazy stats, excellent student, and is loved by his teammates. What did chazzy do that Ross didn't?

        • WVfan304

          Let's not forget that Watkins had 280 rushing yards vs Chazzy, and another 100 passing. While chazzy had 190 yards rushing, 1 rush was an 80 yd run on the 1st play in 2nd half. The last 4 kennedy awards, the 2nd place guy was from Martinsburg. Gladden, Ashenfelter, Clinton, Watkins. Gladden holds Mburg records, Ashenfelter never lost a game and went 28-0, Clinton set a record vs GW and switzer, Watkins out performed chazzy when they played. However, when martinsburg lost states 2 years in a row, their players (Barrett and Sowers) won the kennedy. The last 4 kennedy winners should have went to Martinsburg. The point is, if you want to win the kennedy, don't win the state championship. The state won't give you both.

          • WV. Forever

            I checked back a few years. You know what? I do believe you hit the nail on the head.

          • WVU86

            Good observation but other winners have won state titles. Quincy Wilson, JR House, and Randy Moss immediately come to mind. Even so, keep in mind the Sportswriter Association does it voting for Kennedy Award prior to state championship games.

          • Tim

            Good observation. The truth speaks.

  • Hawk Hopeful

    To be considered as one of the top players in the state is quite an honor. Only one can win it. If a different player was chosen a case could be made for each that didn't, just as is going on now. I saw many players this year that didn't even make the list that are very talented. As talented as each that were considered. The system, the coaches philosophy, the number of touches each game a player gets has a lot to do with who gets a shot at this award as much as the skills of the players considered. Each of the finalists have been recognized for their accomplishments in other ways as well. Any one paying attention knows how good each of these guys are, I think they'll be okay.

    • WV. Forever

      Also, strength of schedule, and how far your team went in the playoffs has to mean something. When you put up big numbers against quality opponents, that's a huge factor. Winning the championship in your class has to speak a ton about the makeup of your team. Truely, this is where the Kennedy should be awarded.

  • James

    Last year Justn Clinton of the Bulldogs got robbed, and this year I would have to say Watkins and Comis was robbed, guess if you win the state championship you get over looked, I'm not taking anything from chazzy Thomas, just don't see how he could receive this award over them, politics at its best

    • Just in case

      So at least one of them decided to robb his school in protest!

  • trueblue

    Congrats to this young man, he must be near perfect. Ross was awesome but no way would he trade the state title for the kennedy. The season finished just like he wanted.

  • Wv. Forever

    Just my opinion, but I thought it would have been Comis, Watkins and Thomas in that order. Regardless, they are all Kennedy winners in my book providing us fans with tons of highlights this season.

  • Protechcpa

    Morgantown kid, wants to play in state. Is he good enough to play for WVU? Are we looking at him?

  • wowwww

    Ross Comis got robbed. Insane! Completely insane!

  • Stacy

    You should know the only people who win the Kennedy are those who do not play for the championship teams. (Comis, Watkins)

    • Lara

      Not so- Justin Fox won in 2010 when Magnolia won AA State Championship. This whole thing is an opinion poll and nothing more. I hope they all go on to play in college and do well.

  • 4stormy

    If Ross Comis could not win this year then NO single A player can ever win.

    • MHSDOGS

      Agree no offense to chazzy but i thought either watkins or comis should have won it.

      • Joe

        Chazzy is a great player. But is really fair to give it to someone who missed several games?

        • Shortbus Nation

          Maybe you are correct with that thought, who knows? But, maybe, just maybe, that says EVERYTHING about this boys talent right there? I am sure all of these kids are incredible talents, but only one can win unfortunately.