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: Jadyn Kowalski
School: Bellevue West (Bellevue, Neb.)
Weight: 210 pounds
Athletic achievement: He threw for 3,146 yards and 46 touchdowns against just five interceptions on 174-of-258 passing (67.8 percent) this past season, leading the Thunderbirds (11-1) to the Class A state semifinals. A returning Class A First Team All-State selection as named by the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, Kowalski set state single-season passing records for yards and touchdowns. He also rushed for 199 yards and nine touchdowns on 45 carries in his final prep campaign.
Academic excellence: A basketball standout as well, Kowalski has maintained a 4.44 GPA on a 5.0 scale.
Exemplary character: A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and his church’s youth group, he has volunteered for the Open Door Mission, Kids Against Hunger and the Bellevue Food Pantry. He has also donated his time locally at a retirement home and as part of several service projects to benefit his school’s athletic department.
“Athletically, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished football player,” said Anthony Dunn, head coach at rival Bellevue East. “He threw for 3,146 yards, 46 touchdowns to only five interceptions and completed 68 percent of his passes. Those numbers haven’t been matched in the history of Class A football as a whole. He did all of this while playing probably only three quarters a game throughout the season.”
THE FUTURE: Kowalski remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.