Harrisonburg QB a Frontrunner for Valley’s Offensive Player of the Year

While the hunt for the football playoffs takes its shape, so, too, does the race for the Valley District's Offensive Player of the Year.

With four weeks remaining until the league's top honor is decided, the senior quarterbacks in command of the Valley's top two offenses — Harrisonburg's A.C. White and Rockbridge County's Ben Rhodenizer — appear to be in front for the award.

"By his stats, [Rhodenizer] is playing well," Spotswood coach Dale Shifflett said. "A.C. is having a great year, as well. I would say those two have to be in the discussion up to this point."

Rhodenizer is in charge of Rockbridge's (4-3) resurgence from an 0-10 season, as he leads the Valley — as well as the area — with 2,065 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes.

Despite his high-volume workload, an area-leading 107 completions and 182 attempts, his 58.8 percent completion rate is still the best in the Valley District.

"I'd have to vote for my quarterback," Rockbridge coach Mark Poston said. "He's putting up some big-time numbers, but we've also got wide receivers that are pretty good. But we'll see how the season finishes out here. Those types of things tend to have a way of playing themselves out, so we'll see."

Rhodenizer and White both have seven interceptions, while White is 67-for-131 for a completion rate of 51.1 percent with 13 touchdowns and 1,326 yards through the air.

"I haven't seen everyone, but the Rockbridge QB is putting up some really big numbers," Broadway coach Brad Lutz said in a text. "I would say him [or] A.C. White. A.C. is a special player."

Where White, a fourth-year starter with four Division I offers, could compensate for the 739-yard difference in passing is in his running game. Rhodenizer has rushed for 373 yards and two scores, while the 6-foot-4, 217-pound White has picked up 552 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

One star in the Valley who has perhaps been overshadowed by the standout quarterbacks is Harrisonburg junior running back/defensive back Marcus Robinson-Jenkins, who at 15 touchdowns has a five-TD lead among all district players.

"I'm still going for my kids. I've got two back there that I think a whole lot of," Blue Streaks coach Chris Thurman said, referring to White and Robinson-Jenkins.

Robinson-Jenkins, who had a district-best 15 rushing touchdowns a year ago as a sophomore, has nine rushing scores and six receiving scores. He's amassed 636 rushing yards over 65 carries for a Valley-best average of 9.8 yards per attempt, and he's picked up 467 receiving yards on 15 catches for a district-best average of 31.3 yards per reception.

The 6-foot, 171-pound junior's 1,103 yards from scrimmage are the most in the Valley.

"He's a darn good runner, darn good back. Got good speed," Waynesboro coach Derek McDaniel said after losing to HHS on Sept. 30. "I told 'em all week, 'That cat gets in the open field, man, when you get your hands on him, you got to get him down.'"

Turner Ashby has claimed the last two Valley District Offensive Player of the Year honors. Then-quarterback Mason Fridley snared the 2015 accolade, and former running back-turned-quarterback Cody Warner reeled in last year's award.

Despite the Knights' 1-6 record this fall, TA coach Chris Fraser is willing to make a case for his senior running back, Jake Capasso, whose 973 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs are topped by none.

The 6-2, 210-pound Capasso has taken 121 carries and averages 8 yards per attempt and a league-best 139 yards per game.

"There's some good players, but my vote right now of course would be for Capasso because I see him every day and I see what he does and the stats speak for themselves," Fraser said. "If someone comes up and is clearly better than he is, then I would consider a different vote, but right now, from what I've seen, I mean, he's pretty much carrying an offense, a team, on his back.

"That's got to be taken into consideration, too. He doesn't have some of the other weapons around him that some of these other offensive players do, so I always look at that, as well."

Other notable performers in the Valley District include Spotswood running back Brennan Brown (830 rushing yards, four touchdowns), Waynesboro quarterback DaJuan Moore (eight rushing TDs), and Rockbridge running back Triniti Stores (nine rushing scores).

But they all seem to be trailing a group headed by Rhodenizer and White.

"To be honest, the quarterback at Rockbridge, I don't know how good they'd be without him," Fort Defiance coach Dan Rolfe said. "[Capasso] is definitely in the mix and then you go up to Harrisonburg and they got two kids that could be in the mix. I think there are a lot of contenders."

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