The Gatorade State Football Players of the Year were selected based on athletic production and impact in the 2015-16 season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership.
For the complete list of Gatorade State Football Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Noah Clayberg
School: Pella (Iowa)
Weight: 200 pounds
Athletic achievement: He led the Dutch to a 14-0 record and a second consecutive Class 3A state championship this past season. Clayberg rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries in addition to completing 9-of-15 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown in a 31-17, title-clinching victory against Norwalk, capturing Most Valuable Player honors in the state championship game for a second straight year. A returning Class 3A First Team All-State selection as named by the Iowa Newspaper Association, he threw for 1,695 yards and 21 touchdowns against just three interceptions in 2015 on 105-of-149 passing (70.5 percent). Clayberg added 1,846 rushing yards and 30 scores on 186 carries this season. Also a linebacker, he collected 44 tackles (9.5 for losses), two sacks and one interception in 14 games.
Academic excellence: Also a basketball and soccer standout, Clayberg has maintained a 3.70 weighted GPA.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor, he has volunteered on behalf of his church’s youth group, the National Honor Society and his team’s community service days.
“I’ve coached for 25 years, have had kids play at the Division I level, and one has a Super Bowl ring,” said Eric Kellar, head coach of rival Knoxville. “Noah Clayberg is about as good of a player that I’ve seen. Pella is good, but there is no way they win a state title last year or this year without him. He is fast, agile, tough, explosive, and elusive. Every team he goes against will have him caught behind the line of scrimmage, but he gets away every time. There are game-changers, and he is at the top of the list.”
THE FUTURE: Clayberg remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.