Six Outstanding Student Athletes Selected in Week 7 of Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week Program
- Class 6-A: Grant Tisdale, Jr., Quarterback, Allen
- Class 5-A: Chase Griffin, Jr., Quarterback, Hutto
- Class 4-A: Daimarqua Foster, Jr., Running Back/Linebacker/Return Specialist, Wichita Falls Hirschi
- Class 3-A: Justin Jones, Sr., Running Back/Linebacker, Holliday
- Class 2-A: Bryan Ponder, Jr., Quarterback, Bells
- Private Schools: Andre Washington, Jr., Running Back, Argyle Liberty Christian
In its twelfth consecutive year, Ford Motor Company’s Player of the Week program is again honoring six outstanding student-athletes each week of the 2017 regular season, recognizing one player in each of the state’s six athletic classifications. The winners are chosen for athletic achievements on the field, as well as for outstanding scholarship and community involvement. These players are the embodiment of Ford’s Go Further commitment.
This week’s winning athletes join a long list of remarkable players recognized for their exceptional efforts.
Week 7 winners
Class 6-A: Grant Tisdale, Jr., Quarterback, Allen
Losing is never an option at Allen. That’s a pretty bold, but absolutely true statement. Since the building opened in 2012, the Eagles have never lost at Eagle Stadium. The current keeper of the flame is Allen quarterback Grant Tisdale. Last week, for example, the junior managed the game and then some when Allen drilled Plano, 38-10, to up its record to 6-0 and 3-0 in Class 6A District 6. “Grant has a good head on his shoulders. He relies on his teammates and takes what the defense gives,” notes Head Coach Terry Gambill. Tisdale completed 8 of 11 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns (all in the first half) from 80, 15, and 90 yards as the Eagles took a 29-0 lead at intermission. He also ran for 58 yards on seven carries. Grant leads the Eagles, #1 in Dave Campbell 6A and nationally ranked, at district rival Denton Guyer this Friday.
An A/B student, Grant (6-2, 210 pounds) is considered one of the nation’s top dual threat quarterbacks in the junior class. He runs track and is a regular in the weight room year-round. He also reads to the Allen elementary school children and is a member of FCA.
“Grant is a great player. I’m sure glad he’s on our team,” says Coach Gambill. “He’s not a vocal guy but leads more by example. Typically, you’ll find Grant studying video to improve his game and understand our opponents. He’s a dual threat in the backfield and more often he’ll extend plays with smart decisions and, of course, his feet.”
Class 5-A: Chase Griffin, Jr., Quarterback, Hutto
If you check the statewide season passing statistics, you’ll find Hutto’s Chase Griffin among the leaders. He might be ranked even higher if Chase didn’t spend the majority of second halves on the bench. Take last week’s 55-7 pasting of Bastrop. The unbeaten (6-0, 4-0) Hippos raced out to a 55-0 halftime lead with the 5-11, 180-pound junior quarterback hitting on 10 of 15 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He spent the rest of the night in a ballcap on the sidelines, as he has so often this year. Except for an early-season two-point win at Georgetown, the Hippos’ victory margin has averaged just a shade under 40 points. Griffin has now completed 112 of 163 passes for 1,927 yards and 18 TDs, despite his early exit on most nights. Hutto fans (and most of Texas) has been getting to know Chase since his earliest teen years. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles, as much for his prowess off the field as on it.
How often, for example, do you find that the quarterback is also an outstanding violinist? Chase qualifies right there. He is heavily involved in church activities as well as the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program. And he has accomplished all of that while compiling a 4.7 GPA which ranks him #3 in his class. As of now, Chase appears headed to Yale to play at the next level.
“He’s just a remarkable young man,” raves Coach Steve Van Meter. “His dedication to our program is second to none. He’s all football, all the time. He never takes a day off, whether it’s on the field, in the weight room, working with a quarterback coach, whatever it takes. It’d be great if he could grow a couple more inches; every school in the country would be banging down our doors. Like I said, remarkable!”
Class 4-A: Daimarqua Foster, Jr., Running Back/Linebacker/Return Specialist, Wichita Falls Hirschi
If you’re looking for Daimarqua Foster at a Wichita Falls Hirschi game, it’s not hard to find him. He’s wherever the action is—on just about every play. The junior all-everything player does whatever the Huskies need. He’ll hit the hole in a flash at running back, deliver a bone-jarring hit as a linebacker, and then take it to the house on kickoff or punt return. Take last Friday’s 49-21 blowout at district rival Sanger. The 6-1, 205-pound Foster owned the night. Daimarqua accounted for all seven Hirschi TDs, six on the ground and one through the air, tying a single-game school record for scores set by former Built Ford Tough Player of the Week Cedric Battle in 2014. Against Sanger, Daimarqua scored on runs of 5, 6, 1, 45, 76 and 34 yards and added a 27-yard scoring pass from QB Mar’tez Vrana in the second quarter when the Huskies led 35-0. For the game, he finished with 28 carries for 323 yards, improving Hirschi to 5-1 overall.
Daimarqua’s two-way success comes as no surprise. As a sophomore last year, he earned all-state honors as a linebacker. His overall excellence extends to the classroom, where he is an A/B student. He’s also a guard on the basketball team and runs a leg on the 4x200 relay team that went to the state meet last spring. Daimarqua stays involved in the community and with his church.
“Daimarqua is an unbelievable young man,” raves Head Coach Danny Youngs. “He possesses God-given talent but never takes anything for granted. In the offseason, he’s the first person in the weight room and is a positive influence on his teammates. Daimarqua is the type of player who can change a game at any moment, whether he’s running the ball, catching it, tackling, or returning a kick.”
Class 3-A: Justin Jones, Sr., Running Back/Linebacker, Holliday
When Nocona showed up for Holliday’s district opener last Friday, the Eagles had to be concerned. Nocona arrived with an unblemished 5-0 record and four shutouts among the quintet of victories. And Hirschi had managed an only three-point win over the Indians in 2016. No problem. The Eagles had Justin Jones. The senior running back/linebacker put up incredible numbers, running the ball six times for 298 yards and four touchdowns. That’s just a hair less than 50 yards per carry. “They barely laid a finger on him,” says Holliday Coach Frank Johnson. By evening’s end, the Eagles had blown it wide open, winning 56-14. A transfer from Archer City in the middle of his sophomore year, Jones sat out his junior year before getting his shot with the Eagles. Everyone knew about him. He was a finalist in the state 100-meters last spring. But he proved as adept carrying a football as just running straight ahead. A couple of carries into the second half, he took the rest of the night off. Jones has 74 carries this season for 1,013 yards (that’s 13.7 yards a pop) and 18 touchdowns. He has also averaged 28 yards per pass reception. No wonder Holliday is off a 5-1 start and had a district-opener blowout.
A 3.48 GPA student, Jones is part of a large family which runs a family summer camp program for neighborhood youngsters, with running drills, weight training, and workouts. Justin works part time during the school year and full time during the summer in landscaping. He also helps provide childcare for his younger siblings.
“He’s the kind of player and worker who simply makes the players around him better,” says Coach Johnson. “He’s always looking for ways to improve himself and make himself into a better athlete. It’s wonderful to see how many kids in this area just want to be like Justin. It’s his dream to play college football and I can’t see why he wouldn’t make that dream come true.”
Class 2-A: Bryan Ponder, Jr., Quarterback, Bells
When the family record for touchdown passes in a game is nine, the bar is set incredibly high. So, when you break that mark by throwing for 11 TDs, well that’s just that much more special! Junior quarterback Bryan Ponder of Bells became a Texas high school football legend last Friday when he broke not only the family record but the state record with his 11 TDs. Bells evened its district mark at 1-1 with an 83-0 thumping of Trenton. Bryan’s record night included four TD tosses to Hunter Hawthorne, three to Matthew Conner, and four to four other receivers, bettering the previous Texas standard of 10 that was held by three players. But the family record counts for something to. His brother Derrick threw for nine in a game in 2015, when he was selected as a Built Ford Tough Player of the Week honoree. In the Trenton game, Bryan hit on 31 of 41 passes for 505 yards as the Panthers rolled to a 66-0 lead at halftime. With the regular season barely into its second half, the 5-11, 170-pounder has already thrown for 2,629 yards and 34 scores.
With his father as the head coach and a teacher, Bryan sports a nifty 3.57 GPA. He plays basketball in the winter and is a sprinter on the track team in the spring. Bryan is also a member of FCA and is involved at his church.
“Bryan does a great job of executing the game play and distributing the ball to multiple players,” says head coach and dad Scott Ponder, whose team is 5-1 heading into Friday’s district game with Blue Ridge. “He’s an extremely accurate passer and a great student of the game. He’s grown up in a football household and someday he’s going to be a head coach.”
Private schools: Andre Washington, Jr., Running Back, Argyle Liberty Christian
It was one of those typical knockdown, drag-out affairs that makes TAPPS Division I District I so interesting. Whenever Parish Episcopal got close, Argyle Liberty Christian had the answer: Andre Washington! The 5-11, 180-pound junior got the Warriors off to a running start, toting the ball 64 yards to the house to give Liberty Christian an early 7-0 lead. In the third quarter, when the Panthers got the margin down to 17-12, it was Washington for another, this time from 65 yards. And when Parish Episcopal drew closer at 24-19, it was Washington again, this time from 80 yards to give the 4-2 Warriors the cushion they needed to wrap up the 31-26 victory. To some, it was a miracle that Andre was even on the field that night. A broken arm in the season’s second game against Celina was scheduled to keep him out for another couple of weeks. Forget that. By the final whistle, Washington had run nine times for 287 yards (that’s a shade under 32 yards per carry).
Proud owner of a 3.65 GPA, Andre runs all three relays for the Warriors’ track team and participated in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
“The first thing that gets you about Andre is humility,” says Coach Barton Hundley. “Whether he loses 30 yards or runs for 290, he’s the same kid. But he’s really good. We sure missed him when he was out, especially in our 14-0 loss to Prestonwood Christian. He came back early from his injury simply because he’s so tough. He plays hard and really gets after it on every play. He wants to play at the highest level and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t get there.”
Nominate your elite student-athlete at PlayeroftheWeek.com
Students recognized by Ford Motor Company, Texas Ford dealers and the Built FordTough media advisory board as Players of the Week excel in three categories:
- Individual performance on the field, including significant game statistics
- Contribution to the team’s success through individual leadership abilities
- Performance off the field, including academic success and good community citizenship
Additionally, fans can catch all the action on Fox Sports Southwest. The network is again teaming with Ford and Texas Ford dealers to keep up with award winners through its weekly television show. Each week, television crews will travel to communities across Texas, spotlighting these players who excel on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. The half-hour Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. for 12 weeks.
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