Six Outstanding Student Athletes Selected in Week 8 of Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week Program
- Class 6-A: Matt Gadek, Sr., Running Back, McKinney
- Class 5-A: Spencer Sanders, Sr., Quarterback, Denton Ryan
- Class 4-A: Dylan Davidson, Jr., Quarterback, Bay City
- Class 3-A: Dontavion Clay, Jr., Wide Receiver/Corner Back/Kick Returner, Goliad
- Class 2-A: C. J. Horn, Sr., Quarterback, Tenaha
- Private Schools: Marquez Beason, Jr., Wide Receiver, Dallas Bishop Dunne
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 8 winners
Class 6-A: Matt Gadek, Sr., Running Back, McKinney
To say that Matt Gadek had a rushing performance for the ages last week is probably an understatement. More importantly, he earned every yard and his team needed every one of them. Last Thursday with McKinney locked in a district shootout with rival Plano East, McKinney Coach Jeff Smith called Gadek’s number one more time with a minute to go to ice the contest. “We told him, ‘you have one more chance; you need 25 yards to break the all-time record and clinch the game,’” Smith recalls. It was fourth-and-one. The senior running back bounced outside for a gain of 31 yards, clinching McKinney’s 63-50 victory over Plano East—and the biggest day any Texas running back has ever enjoyed. Matt ran 49 times for 599 yards and six touchdowns. He shattered the previous mark of 587 yards, set by Somerville’s Daryl Ellis in 1998. Matt also established a new school single-game record for rushing TDs (scoring from 1, 3, 36, 4, 69 and 30 yards). Gadek hit pay dirt four times in the first half, staking the Lions to a 42-21 lead, but his final TD from 69 yards in the fourth quarter gave his team some breathing room. The Lions, who improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in district, have a tall order at undefeated and nationally-ranked District 16-6A leader Allen this Friday.
If colleges weren’t already aware of Matt’s gridiron talents, they are now. The interest is heating up with Division II schools offering and the majors sniffing. The holder of a solid 3.1 GPA, Matt is a sprinter on the spring track team mostly on the relays. He also participates in church activities, FCA, Reading with Lions program, coaching youngsters at camp, and volunteering at a local homeless shelter.
“It was a special night for many reasons,” says Coach Smith. “Matt immediately deflected the praise to his offensive line and he thanked the coaching staff, community, and parents. He’s remained humble and selfless, but has the sense of humor which lightens his teammates. Between the white lines, however, he’s all business.”
Class 5-A: Spencer Sanders, Sr., Quarterback, Denton Ryan
Coming off a couple of blowout wins, Denton Ryan had vaulted into third in the statewide 5A rankings. The Raiders knew, however, that Sherman lay in wait following a long road trip. Nothing doing. With quarterback Spencer Sanders at the helm, Ryan sprinted out to an early lead and, when Sherman cut their lead to eight, Sanders and Co. ran off 32 straight points to complete the 53-19 blowout. The rangy 6-2, 195-pound signal caller completed 17 of 26 passes for a sparkling 331 yards and four TDs. He also caught a 14-yard pass on a gadget play. Sanders is obviously fully-healed from his ACL tear in last year’s state semi-final, the Raiders’ only loss. Now in his fourth year as the Ryan starter, the future Oklahoma State Cowboy has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 347 yards and six more TDs. With Wichita Falls visiting this week, Ryan and Sanders seem to be playoff ready. Their entire objective in 2017 is two more wins than in 2016. As long as Spencer stays heathy and upright, it is well within the realm of possibility.
Owner of a solid 3.036 GPA, Sanders had to sit out the track season for Ryan last spring. His participation this spring is possible. He has also starred in basketball for the Raiders.
“This kid is terrific,” raves Coach Dave Henigan. “He’s just a football player who happens to play quarterback. He’ll run over people and he’ll run around them. He has all the throws in his arsenal, he’s a great leader, and he’s a super competitive. Only the ACL injuries in his freshman and junior year have stopped him. Otherwise he has made 44 with, hopefully, a bunch to go. What you want in a quarterback, he has it!”
Class 4-A: Dylan Davidson, Jr., Quarterback, Bay City
For those dedicated Bay City fans who stayed until the end last Friday, Bravo! For those who decided to hit the exits with nine minutes left remaining and the Blackcats trailing 33-20, you missed a heck of a finish. That’s just when junior quarterback Dylan Davidson started heating up, tossing a pair of touchdown passes to Chris Janis. The second tied it at 33 with 1:13 remaining. Dylan hooked up with Janise for a 10-yard score in overtime and the Blackcats held on for a heart-pounding 40-33 win over Needville in District 12-4A, Division I. It was Bay City’s third overtime win of the season and upped their record to 5-1 and 2-1 in the district. The dual threat signal-caller was on his game, totaling 427 yards from the spread offense on 25 of 34 passing for 289 yards and six TDs (three of which came on fourth-and-long) and running for 138 yards on 18 carries. The drive for the postseason continues this Friday when Bay City entertains Brazosport in district play.
Dylan (6-1, 205 pounds) is attracting interest from FBS and FCS schools with offers on the horizon. In the classroom, he maintains an A/B scholastic average, plays basketball, and is a sprinter and triple jumper in spring track. A member of FCA and from a church-going family, Dylan most recently volunteered at the local community center to assist the relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
“Dylan is fun to be around,” says Coach Lupe Florez, “no matter the situation he flashes a wide smile with the attitude ‘I got you!’ There’s no panic in his play and three overtime games in one season prepares you for it. Dylan can beat you with his arm and legs; teams are always chasing him.”
Class 3-A: Dontavion Clay, Jr., Wide Receiver/Corner Back/Kick Returner, Goliad
Mathis appeared to have Goliad’s number. The Pirates had handled the Tigers four straight times, twice in 2016 alone. Dontavion Clay wasn’t about to let that happen again. “Mathis runs a possession-oriented Slot T, so we needed to be productive every time we had the ball—and we had to be great on special teams too,” says Coach Bobby Nicholson. Clay answered every call. He caught four passes for a whopping 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns. (Another 63-yarder was called back.) He returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown. And he took one of his three kickoff returns 92 yards to the house. For good measure, he made five tackles on defense. There was no question this time. Goliad, despite running only 36 offensive plays all night, laid a 54-21 bruising on Mathis, bringing the Tigers to 5-1 on the season, 2-0 in District 15 3-A Division I. The transfer from Victoria West now has 11 rushes for 196 yards and two scores, 11 pass catches for 351 yards and four TDs, and an interception, a forced fumble, 28 tackles, and a 36.5-yard punting average.
A year-round athlete (he plays basketball and baseball and runs track), Dontavion owns a solid 3.25 GPA, is a member of the student council, and is a leader in FCA. In addition, he volunteers his time at the local nursing home where his mom works. College football is very much one of his next targets.
“We knew we needed to get Dontavion ready,” says Coach Bobby Nicholson. “We run a wide open, triple threat option. It works best when he appears all over the field-outside receiver, inside receiver, and the backfield. But that took an amazing amount of playbook study this off-season. Plus, he learned to not get sucked into play action on defense. When we lost our opener, he worked twice as hard to make sure it wouldn’t happen again—and it hasn’t. Dontavion simply doesn’t back down from a challenge.”
Class 2-A: C. J. Horn, Sr., Quarterback, Tenaha
To the average fan, it was a mismatch waiting to happen, but for senior quarterback C.J. Horn, it was another productive night at the office. “He’s probably the most accurate passer I’ve seen, but that is a reflection of crisp execution, great work habits, and hard work in practice,” says Tenaha Coach Craig Horn of his eldest son. C.J. made it look easy last Friday during Tenaha’s 69-8 pasting of Wortham, playing just one series of the third quarter before grabbing a clipboard. For the game, the 6-0, 195-pounder hit on an efficient 14 of 16 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns (from 64, 21, 6, 6 and 59 yards) as the Tigers led 48-8 at halftime. C.J., the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week for Week 11 last year, has picked up where left off a year ago, passing for 1,817 yards and 28 TDs in eight games. With two District 11-2A, Division II games left, the Tigers are #1 in the Campbell rankings and host Grapeland this Friday.
C.J. is the two-time reigning district offensive MVP. He sports a nifty 3.3 GPA and plays basketball, baseball, and runs a leg on all three sprint relay teams. Additionally, C.J. is a member of a local Baptist church, FFA, and Tenaha’s youth group. He’s also the first of seven boys in the family.
“C.J. makes good decisions in our pass game,” says Coach Horn. “As much as good habits are a byproduct of sweat, C.J. and the rest of the team takes a positive mental approach. He walks and talks football and watches hours of video to become better prepared. He’s a great teammate and leader!”
Private Schools: Marquez Beason, Jr., Wide Receiver, Dallas Bishop Dunne
If you think you’re watching someone special when you see wide receiver Marquez Beason light it up for Dallas Bishop Dunne, you’re not alone. The staffs at Texas, Oklahoma, A&M, Georgia, and LSU, among a lot of others, fully agree. More than 30 of the nation’s powerhouses have already offered the 5-11, 175-pound wideout—and he’s only a junior, folks. In last week’s key TAPPS District I-1 match-up with Parish Episcopal, Beason got the job done at both ends of the pass. He had two huge touchdown receptions for 38 and 19 yards and he tossed a scoring pass to his sophomore cousin Zeriah as the Falcons sprinted off to a 49-3 halftime lead on the way to a 56-17 victory. And for good measure Marquez carried the ball five times for another 19 yards. For the season, Marquez has now rushed 24 times for 301 yards (12.5 a pop) and four touchdowns and he has 22 receptions for 374 yards and six TDs. Blessed with 4.3 speed, Marquez will play an even bigger role as Falcons face arguably the toughest district in all of TAPPS play. Semi-finalists for the state crown in 2016, Dunne looks to take the next step in ’17.
Owner of a solid B academic average, Marquez takes full advantage of his speed in track. He’s the two-time state 100-meter champion and is one-fourth of a 4 x 100 relay team which set a world age-group (16) record.
“Obviously speed is his greatest asset,” says Coach Michael Johnson. “But his approach to the game is perfect. He plays with great desire and is simply determined to be the best. That’s one of the reasons why his teammates elected him captain as a junior. Although we list him as a wide receiver, we try to move him around to take fullest advantage of his skills; you’re likely to find him at quarterback or cornerback as at wide receiver. When he gets the ball, he electrifies the place—and the whole team, as well.”
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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