BLITZ Football Player of the Year Finalists

We whittled down a massive list of nominees and honorable mentions into a finalist group for our panel. Now, you get to play a part by selecting our ONE LAST FINALIST to be up for POY consideration. The five that are locked in are – J Ben Haynes (White County), Zach Holtzclaw (Dawson), Joshua Pickett (Habersham Central), Malaki Starks (Jefferson), and Gunner Stockton (Rabun County). All five were preseason All-State selections, and two (Pickett – Duke; Stockton – South Carolina) are committed already.

How are the “last finalists” chosen for the poll? These select 11 players up for your vote are comprised of only one per school in our coverage area, and based on who we felt for each team would be the next best option to be a finalist.


J Ben Haynes – White Co SR QB #8

Photo by BLITZ

STATS: 1,657 pass yds, 16 TD; 592 rush yds, 15 TD *missed 3.5 games; 2nd Time POY Finalist; Preseason All-State
TEAM: 8-3, Region 7-AAA 4th; State Playoffs; #5 State Ranking; Only team to beat undefeated Cherokee Bluff (Region Champs and ranked #8)

Zach Holtzclaw – Dawson Co JR QB #10

Photo by Chaz Mullis

STATS: 2,731 pass yds, 27 TD; 75 rush yds, 5 TD; Top Passer in Class 3A; 1st Time POY Finalist; Presason All-State
TEAM: 6-5, Region 7-AAA 3rd; State Playoffs 2nd Round; Defeated #5 White Co; one of top scoring offenses in Class 3A

Joshua Pickett – Habersham Central SR QB #1

Photo by Daniel Purcell

STATS: 1,009 pass yds, 9 TD; 1,674 rush yds, 25 TD; 2nd Time POY Finalist; Duke commit; 3* CB; Preseason All-State
TEAM: 6-5, Region 7-AAAAAA 3rd; State Playoffs; Defeated #8 Lanier; Won 2 games in one week to clinch playoffs and 3-seed

Malaki Starks – Jefferson JR QB #24

STATS: 569 pass yds, 11 TD; 1,537 rush yds, 24 TD; 41 TKL, 3 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PD; 2nd Time POY Finalist; 5* ATH; Preseason All-State
TEAM: 14-0, Region 8-AAAA Champions; State Playoffs Championship Game Appearance; #1 State Ranking; Defeated #1 Rabun County, #5 Flowery Branch, #9 Hart County, #9 Hapeville Charter, #7 Carver, #4 Benedictine; Top 5 offense in Class 4A

Gunner Stockton – Rabun Co JR QB #14

Photo by BLITZ

STATS: 3,128 pass yds, 45 TD; 1,581 rush yds, 26 TD; Top Passer in Class 2A; 3rd Time Finalist for POY; Reigning Back-to-Back POY; South Carolina commit; 5* QB; Preseason All-State; Preseason All-American
TEAM: 12-2, Region 8-AA Champions; State Playoffs Semifinals; #1 State Ranking; Defeated #2 Prince Ave, #10 Bremen, #5 Haralson County & #7 Bleckley County; Top Offense in Class 2A


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