For a list of the other Gatorade State Football POYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Neil O’Connor
School: Leominster (Mass.)
Weight: 190 pounds
Athletic achievement: He passed for 2,132 yards and 24 touchdowns this past season, completing 121-of-194 attempts and leading the Blue Devils (10-1) to the Central Region, Division 2 championship game. O’Connor also rushed for 673 yards and 11 scores on 81 carries. On defense, the 2012 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Defensive Player of the Year recorded 120 tackles, five interceptions—returning two for touchdowns—and forced one fumble.
Academic excellence: O’Connor has maintained a 3.32 GPA.
Exemplary character: A member of the Leominster High G.I.V.E Foundation, a community outreach group, he has volunteered locally as a peer mentor to special needs students, as a youth football, baseball and basketball coach and donated his time to area beautification projects.
“Neil O’Connor is the best,” said Chris Lindstrom, head coach of Shepherd Hill (Dudley, Mass.). “Not only did he hurt us offensively but he made several touchdown-saving tackles from the safety position.”
THE FUTURE: O’Connor remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.