The Jim Leonhard Award is given annually to the top senior defensive back as part of the WSN Senior Football Awards. The award is named after former Flambeau High School and University of Wisconsin athlete Jim Leonhard, who went on to great success in the NFL with the Bills, Ravens, Jets, Broncos, and Saints.
The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 15 semi-finalists, and five finalists for the award have now been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state finals.
Jim Leonhard Award Finalists:
Gavin Falk, Plymouth - Falk, also the team's starting quarterback, is tied for the state lead with 11 interceptions on the year, with at least one pick in eight of ten ballgames. He has totaled 48 tackles for the Panthers, including a couple for loss. "He plays a true free safety, sideline to sideline," said head coach Dan Knaus.
Beau Goudreau, Sheboygan Falls - The Sheboygan Falls defense held opposing quarterbacks to a 44.3 passer rating, and Goudreau was a big reason why. The senior has picked off eight passes in 11 games, which is tied for third most in the state. He's a two-time First Team All-Conference pick and also led the team in receiving this season.
Brad Laufenberg, Verona - The Verona defense was the best in the Big Eight, giving up just 108 points through 10 games this season. His instincts in the back end of the defense are impressive for a player who spent his freshman and JV seasons as a guard and defensive end. That background in the trenches allows him to play very physically however, especially in the run game. He leads the team with 109 tackles on the season, with 4 interceptions, 9 pass break-ups, and 2 fumble recoveries. "Brad's technique and 'feel' for the game allow him to test opposing offenses and play at an elite level every snap," said head coach Dave Richardson. He was recently named the Defensive Back of the Year in the Big Eight.
Jarrett Maier, Monona Grove - Maier is a versatile defensive back who makes plays all over the field for the Silver Eagles and head coach Brandon Beckwith. As a senior, he leads the team by a good ways in tackles with 153, with a team-best 6 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries. He's added 5 tackles for loss and half a sack from his secondary spot as well. "We moved him all around the field this year as we had some holes to fill, and he embraced every situation we put him in," said head coach Brandon Beckwith. "His ability range is outstanding, from one-on-one with the opponent's best wide receiver to playing both strong and free safety in the box."
Tyler Mais, Waunakee - Mais has taken on a larger role as a receiver this season, but he remains a stalwart on the defensive side of the ball for head coach Pat Rice. The Defensive Player of the Year in the Badger-North, he has 60 tackles, 3 interceptions, and a pair of fumble recoveries for the undefeated Warriors.