The Jim Leonhard Award is presented 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 has gone on to great success in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.
The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 25 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:
Kasey Leggate, Northwestern – If there's anyone that epitomizes what the Jim Leonhard Award is about, Leggate may be just that player. Like Leonhard, Leggate is from a small town in northwest Wisconsin and listed at 5-8, yet plays much bigger than that. A team leader and captain this season, Leggate has helped the Tigers to another deep playoff run. Along the way he has recorded 46 tackles, 6 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. “He is a player with an uncanny ability to create turnovers, as he is always around the ball,” said assistant coach Ryan Scherz. “We ask him to play both around the line of scrimmage at times and in a deep cover-2 position, and he excels at both.”
Joe Makeever, Appleton North – A second team all-conference choice last season, Makeever stepped his game up even more this year and was unanimously voted as a 1st team all-FVA choice. On top of that, he was selected as the FVA Defensive Back of the Year as North shared the league title. He was a key reason that Appleton North finished among the best scoring defenses in all of Division 1 and led the FVA in total defense. Accounting for 92 total tackles (44 solo), Makeever also recorded 6 interceptions and 9 pass break-ups. “Joe's statistics indicate his great ability, but they pale in comparison to the character of this young man,” head coach Rob Salm said. “Joe demonstrates great leadership on and off the field. I can say without hesitation say Joe is the best safety I have coached in my 20 years of coaching and would be the ideal recipient of the Jim Leonhard award.”
Jordan Noskowiak, Sun Prairie – A big, physical presence in the secondary for Sun Prairie, Noskowiak helped the Cardinals to a share of the Big Eight Conference title. A two-way starter for the third straight season, Noskowiak was a second team all-league pick as a sophomore, first team as a junior, and a likely first team choice as a senior as well. In 2010, Noskowiak recorded 67 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 9 pass break-ups. “Jordan is a defensive back who you had to account for both in the run and pass game,” said head coach Brian Kaminski. “He is someone who has great strength, size and quickness. “He made a number of tackles right at the line of scrimmage for us. He was the leader of our secondary and made all of our calls and checks at the line for us.”
Ryan Winske, Omro – An outstanding athlete, Winske was a strong candidate for the Dave Krieg Award recognizing the state's top senior quarterback as well after being selected as the Flyway Conference Offensive Player of the Year. On the defensive side of the ball he was a unanimous all-league pick who helped the Foxes to their first conference title in nearly 40 years. Ryan finished with 73 total tackles (51 solo) and 4 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown). “He is 6-1, 215 pounds which is linebacker size with defensive back speed,” Omro coach Dave Wellhoefer said. “He was selected by his teammates for our 'Heart of the Fox' Award which is given to the player that inspires and motivates the greatest amount.”
Patrick Schmidt, Menasha – An outstanding cover corner who is physical at the line of scrimmage and does a nice job getting back to break up deep passes, Schmidt helped the Bluejays to a share of the FVA title this year. Playing in the pass happy FVA, Schmidt has garnered first team all-conference honors each of the past two seasons, including a unanimous selection in 2010.