As I have written, I don't have a vote in the Sun-Times Player of the Year or All-Chicago Area selections, only recommendations of what I have observed by covering games during the season. But it is abundantly clear that the POY for 2009 will be either Matt Perez of Maine South or John Whitelaw of Hinsdale Central.
But what about Christian Lombard of Fremd and Jimmy Garoppolo of Rolling Meadows? Or Providence's Peter Houlihan, the Catholic League Blue's top-rated player?
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming argues that Lombard, a 6-6, 295-pound offensive lineman who is committed to Notre Dame, should be the choice.
"He is having a dominating year," Lemming said. " He is playing as well or better than any offensive lineman in the country."
But there's a hitch. Offensive linemen receiver POY awards as frequently as the sun stops shining. The Heisman Trophy has never been awarded to an offensive lineman since its inception in 1935. And the Daily News/Sun-Times Player of the Year award hasn't been given to an offensive lineman since 1954.
"Lombard should be POY but it probably won't happen," Lemming said. "The problem is offensive linemen don't have statistics, like quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Most coaches don't keep statistics for offensive linemen. There is no way to gauge how good they are. It is the only position on the field with no statistics."
Ironically, Lemming rates offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn., as the No. 1 player in the country this season. It is the first time he has picked an offensive lineman since Bill Fralic in 1980.
"Most people don't think about offensive linemen when it comes to those kind of awards," Lemming said. "Anthony Munoz is considered the greatest offensive tackle of all time, college and NFL, but he never won any MVP honors."
Lemming also thinks Garoppolo has been overlooked by the media and college recruiters. He received some attention last week when he completed 28 of 42 passes for 339 yards and one touchdown in a 46-38 victory over previously unbeaten Prospect for the Mid-Suburban East championship. He also rushed 22 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns while outplaying more publicized Miles Osei of Prospect.
"I saw him against Fremd and he dominated. He was the reason they stayed in the game so long," Lemming said of Garoppolo. "He is among the best quarterbacks in the area. He doesn't have a great supporting cast that other quarterbacks have. I think colleges are missing the boat on him. He has great potential, like Whitelaw and Osei. All of them are qualified to play at a big school."