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 has gone on to great success in the NFL with the Bills, Ravens, Jets, Broncos, and Saints.
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:
Marcus Collins, Madison La Follette - The Lancers took a step forward in 2013, tying for second in the Big Eight Conference. Collins is a multi-year standout for head coach Mike Harris, earning First Team All-Conference recognition the last two years. He added Big Eight Defensive Back of the Year honors this season. He's recorded 57 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 4 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions this season. "It is because of Marcus' ability to cover the field laterally from sideline to sideline that we are able to afford more assistance to various match-ups that would otherwise place us in a vulnerable position," said head coach Mike Harris.
Will Daniels, Green Bay Preble - The Hornets finished tied for third in the highly competitive FRCC, with Daniels leading the team in passing and rushing from his quarterback spot. He's also an outstanding defensive back (and punt returner), often matching up with the opponent's top passing threat. During his senior year he recorded 32 tackles and 2 interceptions, earning First Team All-Conference recognition for the second straight year. He returned 8 points for 158 yards and 1 score.
Bryce Juedes, Homestead - A versatile player in Homestead's defense, Juedes has not only been very productive, he's shown a great deal of leadership as well. "He has had a great year as the leader and quarterback of our defense," said head coach Dave Keel. "Bryce makes all the checks and calls from his free safety position." Juedes was recently named First Team All-Conference and the league's Defensive Back of the Year.
Connor Rolain, Appleton North - Rolain repeated as VFA-North Defensive Back of the Year as a senior, and added Defensive Player of the Year honors as well. He recorded 58 tackles, 5 for loss, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. "His ability to defend the pass from the safety position and still dominate the run game is remarkable," said North coach Rob Salm. "In our first playoff game he blocked a field goal, defended two passes, and led the team with 14 tackles. He truly is the best all-around football player I've coached in 23 years."
Daulton Varsho, Marshfield - Varsho has been a standout on the varsity for several years at Marshfield, and took on a bigger role this season. In ten games, he recorded 80 tackles from his safety spot with 2 interceptions. An Honorable Mention All-Conference pick as a junior, he received First Team recognition this season and was named the league's Defensive Back of the Year.