They range from 5-foot-nothing, 150-pound soaking wet playmakers to prototypical college pocket passers and receivers. They are tight end-sized dual-threat quarterbacks and runners who can beat you to the hole or punish you in it. Some are highly recruited seniors and some are juniors yet to appear in recruiting databases or on college coaches' radars. They are the players head coaches and defensive coordinators find themselves staring off into space wondering how in the world to game-plan around. There is one constant among them -- the area's top skill players led their squads to the playoffs.
JOHNATHAN GRAY, SR., ALEDO
5-foot-11, 190 pounds
Rushing: 2,422 yards, 47 TDs
Receiving: 426 yards, 5 TDs
Breakdown: Every time he touches the ball, opposing defenders are left wondering if Gray will score, no matter if it's from 5 or 80 yards out. The Texas recruit averages more than 12 yards per carry and can run between the tackles and wreak havoc in open space.
Opposing coach's take: "He is a patient runner and his strength is something you don't account for." -- John Abendschan, Boswell
"If he gets to the second and third levels, you know what is going to happen." -- Reid Waller, Weatherford
JOEL KIMPELA, SR., EULESS TRINITY
5-foot-10, 185 pounds
Rushing: 1,384 yards, 17 TDs
Receiving: 31 yards, TD
Breakdown: Kimpela's stats are a bit deceiving. Of his 18 total TDs, 16 came in the first two quarters because he often sat the entire second half after the Trojans built a large halftime lead. He has it all -- breakaway speed, a nasty spin move and the ability to run over defenders.
Opposing coach's take: "He's just the complete package for a back. He's a big, strong and powerful runner between the tackles and he can also outrun you in the perimeter. He is also very good at protection." --Mark Smith, L.D. Bell
CALVIN BURNS, JR., MANSFIELD SUMMIT
5-foot-9, 170 pounds
Rushing: 1,318 yards, 21 TDs
Receiving: 88 yards
Breakdown: His name doesn't lie -- Burns has as much speed as any running back in the area and only needs one cut. His ability to change direction is uncanny and if he finds a hole or an opening on the outside, forget about it.
Opposing coach's take "He's real quick, real fast and real explosive. His motor goes from zero to 50 in about half a second." -- Dale Keeling, Everman
TAVARREON DICKERSON, SR., ARLINGTON
5-foot-9, 175 pounds
Rushing: 1,686 yards, 23 TDs
Receiving: 187 yards, 1 TD
Breakdown: Dickerson, who averages almost 10 yards per carry, only needs one blown defensive assignment to find pay dirt. Running out of the spread is no easy task but he is able to slash and get to the next level in a hurry while still being able to deliver a hit.
Opposing coach's take: "He is the kind of kid that when the hole is there, he gets you and you are not going to catch him." -- Kenny Perry, Arl. Bowie
"He's got breakaway speed and he is an elusive runner and a dangerous receiver." -- Bob Wager, Arlington Martin
CODY THOMAS, JR. COLLEYVILLE HERITAGE
6-foot-4, 220 pounds
Passing: 3,028 yards, 34 TDs
Breakdown: The area's top pocket passer has carved up opposing defenses. Thomas is extremely accurate, has a cannon for an arm and is scarily reminiscent of former Panthers and current Minnesota Vikings play caller Christian Ponder.
Opposing coach's take: "The guy can put the football in windows that other people just can't. He is very accurate and his arm strength is just incredible. He does a really good job with his eyes looking off defensive backs and his footwork is very clean in the pocket." -- Mark Smith, L.D. Bell
JEROD EVANS, SR., MANSFIELD
6-foot-4, 210 pounds
Passing: 1,483 yards, 21 TDs
Rushing: 537 yards, 4 TDs
Breakdown: Evans is the kind of player you could put at any skill position and he would thrive. He's big, fast, has power and executes the Tigers' offense with uncanny precision. Evans rarely turns the ball over and can turn a broken play into a big gain.
Opposing coach's take: "He runs the play-action well, he carries out his fakes, stands tall in the pocket and does a great job throwing the ball and he is a threat to run if he has to." --Mark Walker, Timberview
"You better really want to tackle him because he is a big kid -- real physical." -- Joey McGuire, Cedar Hill
KENNY HILL, JR., SOUTHLAKE CARROLL
6-foot-2, 205 pounds
Passing: 1,964 yards, 19 TDs
Rushing: 746 yards, 12 TDs
Breakdown: Game-planning for Hill would be like game-planning for the Florida Gators' version of Tim Tebow -- it's nearly impossible. He leads the undefeated Dragons in passing and rushing yardage, as well as scoring, and has more than lived up to the high standards set by previous Carroll quarterbacks.
Opposing coach's take: "He is a big, strong runner for a quarterback and can also hurt you with his arm. He puts the ball on the money and his fundamentals are very polished." -- Mark Smith, L.D. Bell
CHARLES TAYLOR, SR., MANSFIELD TIMBERVIEW
5-foot-10, 185 pounds
Passing: 1,377 yards, 13 TDs
Rushing: 1,335 yards, 15 TDs
Breakdown: You want a dynamic leader who can not only make the big throw or pound it in the trenches for positive yardage, but who also engineers game-winning drives when called upon? Taylor is your guy. The senior averages nearly eight yards per carry and runs the zone-read offense beautifully.
"He is the perfect example of a dual-threat quarterback." -- Jeff Hulme, Mansfield
ROBBIE RHODES, JR., FW SOUTHWEST
5-foot-10, 170 pounds
Receiving: 1,099 yards, 17 TDs
Rushing: 168 yards, 6 TDs
Breakdown: Rhodes is reminiscent of former Arlington Heights standout Marquis Jackson, as he shines on the gridiron and basketball court and is a terror to defend split out wide. His performance in Week 7 tied a national record and broke the state mark for touchdown receptions (8) in a single game and also set the state single-game record for receiving yardage (394).
Opposing coach's take: "Whether it is a short hitch route or something deep, he can go the distance and it doesn't matter how many guys you have back there. He can make you miss, get over the top to make the catch -- he is one of those you call an acrobatic receiver." -- Ged Kates, Arl. Heights
ZACK SANCHEZ, SR., KELLER CENTRAL
6-foot, 175 pounds
Receiving: 944 yards, 13 TDs
Rushing: 73 yards, 2 TDs
Breakdown: It's pretty tough stop a player like Sanchez who can score on a 5-yard curl, a fly route or an end around. The Baylor recruit has great acceleration, averages 23 yards per catch and is a true ball-hawk on offense and defense, with multiple touchdowns on fumble recoveries and interceptions.
Opposing coach's take: "He has good hands, good speed and good big-play potential. He's an explosive player and puts his body in position to make catches and plays and he's got good instincts." -- Hal Wasson, Carroll
TYLER BATES, SR., ALVARADO
5-foot-7, 155 pounds
Receiving: 514 yards, 6 TDs
Rushing: 89 yards, 2 TDs
Breakdown: Don't let the stats fool you -- Bates is one of the most dynamic players in the area. The reigning 8-3A MVP averages 34 yards per catch, has seven interceptions and has touchdowns rushing, receiving, on interceptions, punt returns and kickoff returns.
Opposing coach's take: "He is just a playmaker and is very hard to defend. You always have to know where he is because he is that kind of threat, whether he is on defense or on offense." -- Richard Barrett, Kennedale
STEVEN BOSWELL, SR., FOSSIL RIDGE
6-foot-4, 215 pounds
Receiving: 722 yards, 10 TDs
Breakdown: What more can you ask from a receiver than to be pushing 6-foot-5, run a 4.5 40-time and be able to stretch the field? How about also acting as a possession receiver and shredding defenses on receiver screens. Boswell does all that, using his big frame and physicality to average 22 yards per catch.
Opposing coach's take: "He's great at catching the deep ball. Because of his size and how physical he is, he is able to keep good position on the defensive back and make some great catches." -- Bart Helsley, Keller Central