There’s often a clear-cut choice for state football player of the year, one player who stood out above all others.
Not this year.
Bishop Gorman had plenty of star players, but in such a talented lineup, no player shined above the rest for the unbeaten Class 4A state champions.
State runner-up Del Sol had the Gatorade Player of the Year in running back/linebacker Dezerick Reed, but he was on the bench with an ankle injury when the Dragons won their biggest game, edging Basic 20-19 for the Sunrise Region title.
Which brings us to Reed’s teammate, wide receiver/safety Evan Weinstock.
Weinstock was a constant on both sides of the ball during the Dragons’ march to their first state title game. For his efforts, Weinstock was voted the State Player of the Year to highlight the Review-Journal Class 4A All-State Team.
As Del Sol’s only returning offensive starter, Weinstock caught 46 passes for 928 yards and 16 touchdowns. He had 17 touchdowns on 57 offensive touches.
On defense, Weinstock made 72 tackles and seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He also scored on a fumble return.
Though not a vocal leader, having a three-year varsity player like Weinstock gave Del Sol’s less experienced players a role model, coach Preston Goroff said.
“He’s probably said less than 100 words on the football field in three years,” Goroff said. “He lets his actions do his talking for him. The kids respect that. He’s one of the silent leaders.”
Del Sol never had much of a reputation for throwing the ball, but the rangy, 6-foot-4-inch Weinstock gave junior quarterback Troy Miller a big, reliable target. His presence also relieved some of the offensive burden from Reed, who rushed for 1,975 yards and 21 TDs.
“Scoring (by passing) was just something we hadn’t been able to do in the past,” Goroff said. “We definitely made sure Evan was part of the offensive game plan every week. He helped Dezerick in the run game, as well, because they had to honor the pass.”
Though Weinstock didn’t score against Basic, he was the clear go-to player after Reed went down with an ankle injury. He made two key catches on fourth down to preserve a scoring drive as the Dragons rallied from a 19-7 halftime deficit.
“(Along) with the athleticism, he’s a very smart player,” Goroff said. “He knows how to sell routes and get open.
“He’s really (tall) and rangy, so that’s obviously nice for a quarterback to be able to throw to a big area. He was so good at making adjustments to the ball in the air. He was always really good at making his adjustment before the defender could and get open that way.”
On defense, Weinstock was the signal caller for the secondary, and a consistent presence on the field.
“Reliability,” Goroff said of Weinstock’s greatest strength on defense. “Knowing that whatever his job was, he was going to get it done and probably then some.”
Weinstock has an offer to play at Northern Arizona, but academics may play a bigger role in his college choice.
“A school with a strong medical school will probably be high on his list,” Goroff said.