Ed Doherty Award: Top Southern Arizona talent honored as nominees

Some of the state’s top high school football talent, including five players from Southern Arizona, gathered at Scottsdale McCormick Ranch Resort on Saturday for the 38th Annual Ed Doherty Award Ceremony.

One of the best in the state’s history — former Salpointe running back Bijan Robinson — was also on hand.

He is the only two-time winner of the prestigious honor which is named after the legendary Ed Doherty, who won state titles at Phoenix St. Mary’s and Salpointe and also coached at Arizona State and Arizona. Salpointe’s field is named after Doherty.

The winner of the award was quarterback Nicco Marchiol of Chandler Hamilton. The other four finalists were Casa Grande quarterback Angel Flores, Saguaro athlete Javen Jacobs, Chaparral quarterback Brayton Silbor and Yuma Catholic quarterback Richard Stallworth. A total of 59 players were nominated.

Salpointe senior quarterback Treyson Bourguet could not attend the event because of family obligations. Bourguet was nominated for the award following Salpointe’s 45-7 win over Buena, a game in which he completed 12 of 22 passes for 184 yards with five touchdowns.

Salpointe senior linebacker Davian Miranda-Carrasco was the recipient of the 2021 Impact Award, given to the most impactful leader through community service.

Southern Arizona Ed Doherty Award Winners

Players from Southern Arizona who have won the Ed Doherty Award given to the state's top player:
1988Eric DrageWRSanta Rita
1989Mike CiascaOLSahuaro
1990Mario BatesRBAmphi
2008Adam HallDBPalo Verde
2011Ka'Deem CareyRBCanyon del Oro
2012Tyler WilliamsRBIronwood Ridge
2018Bijan RobinsonRBSalpointe
2019Bijan RobinsonRBSalpointe

Salpointe great and Texas Longhorns RB Bijan Robinson

Robinson has returned to the award ceremony the last two years after he earned the honor in 2018 and 2019. The Texas running back star was one of five former winners to return this year. The others were Sam Salts of Phoenix St. Mary’s (1991), Todd Heap of Mesa Mountain View (1997), Scooter Sprotte of Lakeside Blue Ridge (1994) and Zach Miller of Desert Vista (2003). Sprotte is a former Arizona standout running back who is now an assistant at Tanque Verde.

Robinson is an early 2022 Heisman Trophy favorite after his productive season this year before an elbow injury ended his season Nov. 15 against Kansas. He had 195 rushes for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns, with 295 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.

He said his injury is “80 percent” healed and he’ll be ready for off-season training heading into next year.

Robinson’s emerging popularity has led to him landing 11 deals with businesses as part of the new Name, Image and Likeness deals college athletes can now negotiate.

Marana junior QB Elijah Joplin and junior WR/CB Sam Brown

The Joplin-Brown combination had a lot to do with Marana finishing 7-3 overall this season under first-year coach Phillip Steward.

Joplin was nominated for the Ed Doherty Award after he completed 17 of 26 passes for 338 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-7 win over Flowing Wells. He also rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Brown gained his nomination following the Tigers’ miraculous 36-35 comeback win over Sunnyside when he had 14 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. Marana came back from a three-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to win the game.

Empire coach George Kelly and senior RB/LB Jake Lambert

Lambert had a breakthrough season to become one of the best two-way players in the state.

He rushed for 1,042 yards on 213 carries with six touchdowns. He also was fourth in the state in tackles with 158 with 16 for loss.

Lambert earned the Ed Doherty Award nomination after rushing 33 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns and also recording 10 tackles (three for loss) in the Ravens’ 27-7 win over Amphi.

Salpointe senior LB Davian Miranda-Carrasco

Miranda-Carrasco has donated a great deal of his free time preparing, serving and volunteering for the Steve Daru Boys and Girls Club Thanksgiving Dinner Event. During Salpointe’s bye week this season, he worked with coach Eric Rogers to round up all Salpointe football players so they could go to three different Boys and Girls Club houses to donate their time by interacting with the children.  

Davian has volunteered with Casa Maria to feed and clothe the homeless; with Angel Martinez Memorial to help families in need; and with Westside Missionary Baptist Church assisting with special events and fundraisers for summer youth camp.

With a love for collection sneakers, Davian was inspired as a freshman to start his own small re-sale business called “Prolific Plugs”. He launched the business on his social media platforms a few years ago and has proven himself as a dedicated entrepreneur that donates a percentage of sales back to his community. He has used his profits and his social media platform to rally up support for families in need. Last Christmas, he underwrote the holiday wish lists for two families, including clothing, shoes and toys for all seven kids and grocery gift cards for the parents.  

This year, Miranda-Carrasco launched a “Back to School Challenge” in which he and his teammates sponsor students in need. They go shopping for school supplies, backpacks, clothes, and shoes. He stopped with one boy to get him a haircut for the first day of school.  

During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, he partnered with GCSGC and Teen Lifeline to produce and distribute messages of help and hope via his personal social media platforms.  

Miranda-Carrasco has a 4.1 GPA. He intends to pursue a degree in business management.  

Desert View coach Robert Bonillas and senior RB Serge Gboweiah

Serge Gboweiah has been a significant presence in Southern Arizona high school football for the last three years, ever since he broke on to the scene in his first varsity game as a sophomore against Sunnyside rushing for 166 yards on 21 carries in the Jaguars’ 20-6 win.

Gboweiah came close to achieving two 1,000-yard rushing seasons gaining 1,404 yards as a sophomore and 934 yards this season.

He earned his Ed Doherty Award nomination for his 315 yards rushing on 24 carries with three touchdowns in Desert View’s 46-28 win over Marana.

Willcox junior RB/LB Cristian Pando

Pando had one of the most eye-opening performances in the state this year that led to his Ed Doherty Award nomination — rushing for 336 yards on 32 carries with four touchdowns in a 48-14 win over San Tan Foothills.

His season totals: 1,629 rushing yards on 228 carries with 27 touchdowns. He also tallied 90 tackles as a linebacker and had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Pando was the No. 3 rusher in the state among 2A players and was tied for No. 2 in interceptions.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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