All-Press Pass Sports Superlative Awards
[All graphics by Brent Seals]
Press Pass Player of the Year
Joshua Culwell, Canadian, 6-3, 190, QB
Missing the majority of his junior season with a broken foot, Culwell made up for his injury and then some with an unforgettable senior season.
This past year for Culwell will be highlighted by a 15-1 record and Canadian’s fifth state title in school history, but what the 6-foot-3 gunslinger will be remembered for most was his final moment at AT&T Stadium in Arlington when he hit Reagan Cochran in stride on a 52-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds remaining against Franklin for the thrilling winning score.
That clutch pass among many huge plays Culwell made in 2020 is the reason he has been tabbed The Press Pass Sports Player of the Year.
In his lone year as a starting QB, and being pulled at halftime during the majority of the year due blowout wins, Culwell still was able to go 219-of-322 (68 percent) for a Texas Panhandle-best 3,656 passing yards with 52 touchdowns to only nine interceptions.
Culwell also stacked up 435 rushing yards, including over 220 yards in the final two games against Gunter and Franklin with another four TDs.
“This was an exciting season for Josh,” Canadian coach Chris Koetting said. “I hated it when he got hurt, so it was exciting to see what he did this year. He’s been determined he was going to be a great quarterback and he definitely did that this year for sure.”
Culwell made it back in 2019 seeing action in Canadian’s final few games as a defensive back. Over the summer Culwell worked hard, studied constant film knowing he was going to be Canadian’s next QB in a long line of great signal callers. From the start of the season, throwing for 290 yards with seven touchdowns against West Texas High to his historic final throw Culwell left his legacy on one of the best seasons in Texas Panhandle history.
“Being injured taught me not to take anything for granted,” Culwell said. “That put a lot of emphasis on this season. Luckily at the start of August I got comfortable and the guys started looking to me. From there on I feel like I got better each week, and it is finally sinking in that we won it all.”
Offensive Player of the Year
Hayze Hufstedler, Canadian, 5-11, 180, RB
Hufstedler will go down as one of the all-time best to ever put on a Canadian Wildcats uniform, and has more than earned the Press Pass Offense Player of the Year honor.
In total, the four-year standout played in an astounding 53 career high school football games, playing in four state semifinals and two state championships, totaling 4,785 career rushing yards.
Playing more than just quarters than full games during Canadian’s 15-1 run to a Class 3A Division II state championship in this past season, the hard-nosed Hufstedler, who showed a different level of tenacity and grit each time he stepped on the field, piled up 1,986 rushing yards with 34 touchdowns. But it was pass catching ability that really stood out making him a valuable weapon for coach Chris Koetting’s offense, as he snagged 28 catches for 357 yards with four more TDs.
Canadian coach Chris Koetting on Hayze Hufstedler: “Hayze is one of the most special players I’ve ever coached. He’s humble, he let’s his play do the talking, and is just an incredible young man. What we’ll miss the most is his versatility. He can run past you, he can run through you, and he can juke you” He’s extremely fast, and can score anytime he has the ball. I also think he’s just a good as a receiver as he is a running back. He has incredible hands.”
Defensive player of the year
Dallan Dill, Dumas, 5-11, 220 Sr. LB
Not only is Dumas’ Dallan Dill a tongue twister, he is an absolute all-out baller at linebacker and The Press Pass Sports Defensive Player of the Year.
In Dill’s three years starting Dumas won three district championships, rolled to a 32-6 record and reached the Class 4A Division I state quarterfinals in 2019. Dill is a three-time all-district honoree and two-time district defensive player of the year.
This 11-2 Dumas playing season the hustling, hard-hitting Dill caused five fumbles and made 100 tackles, giving him 303 tackles for his career. In his career Dill made 49 tackles for losses, and recorded 10.5 sacks. Dumas hangs its hat on defense, and Dill is one of the top leaders of that defense.
Dumas coach Aaron Dunnam on Dallan Dill:
“Dallan is a fierce competitor that represents the toughness, grit, and determination of this Dumas Football program. His quiet personality off the field does not match his relentless execution on the field. Dallan worked extremely hard to master his craft on the field and became a real student of the game in his preparation and ability to check defenses within our defensive scheme. Dallan’s investment and sacrifices the last 4 years has definitely paved the way and established a standard for future athletes in Dumas, Texas.”
Fighting Heart Award
Lance Welps, River Road, 5-11, 177, Sr. QB-DB
The Press Pass Sports reports on hundreds of high school football games throughout the season and see thousands of players. One has to to travel long and far for a player to match the heart, hustle and passion for the game of football like Welps displays each Friday night.
Although River Road never jumped on the long playoff train Welps so desired, his four-year career is deservedly honored with the 2020 Press Pass Sports Fight Heart Award.
Welps started all four years at quarterback for The Road, then doubled up his last three as a starting safety. He was named all-district four years on offense three on defense. In 42 career games Welps’ numbers are eye opening at: 4,472 passing yards, 43 TD passes, 3,011 yards rushing, 33 rushing TDs, 283 tackles, 14 interceptions.
River Road coach Bryan Welps on Lance Welps: “Lance has had an outstanding career. He has played the game hard and fought for everything. Lance was a joy to coach, a true student of the game and never missed a workout, meeting or summer workout in four years. He is a true competitor and lived for the moment the lights came on. He was the true heartbeat of our team. Lance is a natural born leader and tried to install that into his team. He gave al every time he played and never left anything on the field. He took pride in everything he did.”
Newcomer of the Year
L’Travion Brown, Tascosa, 5-9, 165, Jr. RB-DB
The lightning quick junior made an immediate impact during his first season on varsity for an 8-3 Tascosa team, and for that has been named the Press Pass Sports Newcomer of the Year.
Brown was one of a plethora of backs in the Rebels Flexbone offense, and made the most of every carry he received. The 5-foot-9 speedster only touched the ball 16 times but was able to rack up 272 yards, averaging 17 yards per carry, with four rushing touchdowns.
However, it was his defensive skill that made Brown so valuable to the Rebels. Starting in the secondary all season, Brown became a trustworthy defender at cornerback making two interceptions with 12 pass breakups.
Tascosa coach Ken Plunk on La’Travion Brown: “Tre succeeded our expectations for a kid playing his first season on varsity. He’s highly competitive, a very good athlete, and he’s easy to coach. I was proud of him because he made a great impact on our team. With as many running backs as we have it can be hard to make plays but he did. He also continued to improve at the corner where he was very valuable.”