EV athletes honored at Ed Doherty Award luncheon - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

EV athletes honored at Ed Doherty Award luncheon

January 6th, 2023 SanTan Sun News
EV athletes honored at Ed Doherty Award luncheon
Sports and Recreation
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By Zach Alvira
Sports Editor

The naming of the Ed Doherty Award recipient on a yearly basis is the culmination of every high school football season in Arizona.

Nicknamed “the Heisman” of high school football in the state, it’s awarded every year to the player that stood out among the rest. The event itself is extravagant. Fifty-nine players who have been nominated throughout the season with medallions for excellent play are invited to attend alongside families. Forty were in attendance this year.

They walk a red carpet and eat an extravagant lunch before finding out if they have been deemed the best high school football player in the state for the season. While every athlete aims to come away with the award, simply being one of the nominees is an honor, too.

That was the case for Saguaro senior quarterback Devon Dampier. That is, until he was named the 2022 winner of the Ed Doherty Award.

Dampier shined in his two seasons at Saguaro, the first of which he had to sit out the first five games after transferring from Pinnacle.

He led the Sabercats to the Open Division state championship as a junior when he officially took over as the starter in the postseason. As a senior, he guided his team through one of the most difficult schedules in the nation. Saguaro entered the Open Division playoffs as the No. 5 seed yet made another run to the title game. The Sabercats fell just short of another title.

Dampier passed for 2,349 yards and 21 touchdowns this past season. Even with the accolades, he prides himself on being an underdog. That’s a role he will cherish at New Mexico next year.

“I like to feel like I’m an underdog,” Dampier said. “I never think I’m good enough, it’s just the expectations I have for myself in my head.”

Dampier was joined by five other finalists for the award on stage – American Leadership Academy Gilbert quarterback Adam Damante, Higley quarterback Jamar Malone, Liberty quarterback Navi Bruzon and Basha quarterback Demond Williams. Pinnacle tight end Duce Robinson, another finalist, wasn’t present.

Three of the six nominated players won their respective state title games a week prior. Damante led the Eagles to their first-ever championship at the 4A level, beating Snowflake. Malone led Higley to its first championship by beating Cactus in the 5A game. Williams led Basha to a win over Saguaro in the Open.

“It means a lot,” Williams said. “We’re all very big players who had good seasons. There’s a reason we’re here. It means a lot. This is a big thing for me because I have been here since my freshman year.”

Of the 59 players nominated for the award throughout the course of the season, 40 attended the event last Saturday. It was an opportunity to mingle among other players, and of course be considered one of the best the state has to offer.

That meant a lot to players like Eastmark wideout Austin Johnston and quarterback Mack Molander.

They comprised one of the best tandems in the state while leading the Firebirds to the 3A championship win over Thatcher. Receiving Ed Doherty medallions and being invited to the luncheon was a nod to where they have come as players and how much they have built Eastmark into yet another power in the East Valley.

Mountain Pointe quarterback Chris Arviso was the lone representative for the Ahwatukee community. But he did it with honor and it was earned after a standout season.

He helped rebuild the Pride program the last three seasons, and he was recognized for it as one of the state’s best players.

The Ed Doherty Award, while special for the winner, also recognizes the outstanding play of a select players from most conferences across the state.

While every player aims to join the likes of Hamilton alum Nicco Marchiol, Mesquite alum Ty Thompson, Perry alum Brock Purdy, Salpointe Catholic alum Bijan Robinson and Desert Vista alums Zach Miller and Bobby Wade, simply being nominated and invited to the luncheon is an honor and experience they will never forget.

“It feels good to be rewarded,” Dampier said. “I’m just going to keep grinding, keep working to try and be the best me. I feel like I’ve proved myself.”