There are years in which a Player of the Year candidate is a runaway choice.
For example, last year, Pinckney defensive end Wes Smith was a no-doubt selection. The year prior, Brighton running back Joey Clifford was head and shoulders above everyone else.
That is not the case in 2017.
This year, it’s tough to determine which player was the best on the county’s best offensive team.
For Pinckney, was its best player its quarterback, Jack Wurzer, who threw for 18 touchdowns and almost 2,000 yards while attempting 162 passes without throwing an interception? Or was it Nick Cain, the team leader in all-purpose yardage who caught nine more TDs than any other receiver in the area? What about Levi Collins, the Pirates running back who scored 17 touchdowns, rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and average more than 7 yards per carry?
We could split hairs, but are there even hairs to split? The three were phenomenal.
As was Hartland tailback Tommy Lappin, who eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Fowlerville’s QB, Geoff Knaggs, was pretty great in his senior year, too.
It’s tough to determine a winner this season, but let’s take a look and see if we can figure it out.
Geoff Knaggs, Fowlerville
The Gladiators found one heck of a playmaker in Knaggs, the lone junior skill player to earn first-team honors. Knaggs was the Gladiators’ go-to guy on offense, leading the team in passing and rushing, and even snagging an 80-yard receiving touchdown. Knaggs threw for 1,231 yards and seven TDs on 113 of 220 passing (51.4 percent), and toted the ball 118 times for 712 yards (6 yards per carry) and 12 TDs. On the season, Fowlerville scored 21 times, and Knaggs had a hand in 19 of those, leading it in all-purpose yards by more than 200 and total yards by almost 1,500.
Jack Wurzer, Pinckney
Wurzer was far and away the best quarterback in Livingston County this season. The second-year starter for the Pirates racked up 1,747 passing yards and 18 touchdowns, completing 115 of 162 passes (71 percent) while throwing zero interceptions. He was a threat with his legs, too, rushing the ball 81 times for 412 yards and eight additional scores, and even caught a 68-yard TD. Wurzer captained an offense that averaged 36.9 points per game and totaled a school-record 369 points, besting the 1989 offense (324).
Levi Collins, Pinckney
Collins came into Pinckney an offensive guard. He will end up exiting it the team’s and county’s leading rusher and best running back in 2017. The engine of Pinckney’s high-powered offense, Collins ran for 1,296 yards on 177 carries (7.3 yards per carry), scoring a team-high 17 touchdowns and recording seven 100-yard rushing games. Additionally, the senior was second on the team in tackles (57), recording four tackles for a loss, a sack and forcing a fumble.
Nick Cain, Pinckney
Cain was the area’s best playmaker in 2017, be it as a wide receiver, returner, defensive back or even passer. The senior led Livingston County in receiving yards and touchdowns, totaling 802 yards and 13 TDs — nine more than anyone else — on 39 catches. He also had three return touchdowns on kickoffs and punts, adding another 497 yards that way, and threw for a 68-yard TD. With a little more than 20 yards on four interceptions, Cain was Pinckney’s leader in all-purpose yards (1,324), as well as leading the Pirates in passes deflected (21).
Tommy Lappin, Hartland
Lappin was perhaps the most glaring omission from the midseason Player of the Year candidates in Livingston County, as the senior dominating games on offense and defense. Offensively, Lappin was a monster running back and, when needed, wide receiver, totaling 1,028 yards from scrimmage on the season. He ran for 681 yards — third-most in the county — on 118 carries while tallying the sixth most receiving yards (347) on just 16 receptions. Defensively, Lappin was the county’s leader in tackles with 132, good for 14.7 per game.