CUMBERLAND — Keyser High School fullback-linebacker Danny Fife will be the recipient of the Cumberland Times-News Area High School Football Player of the Year Award during the 65th Dapper Dan Awards Banquet Sunday, 4 p.m., at the Ali Ghan Shrine Club.
Fife, 5-foot-9, 220-pound junior, will be honored along with Allegany running back Christian Thomas, the Morton W. Peskin Sr. Offensive Player of the Year Memorial Award recipient, Fort Hill defensive lineman Cody Arigo, the Pepsi-Cola Defensive Player of the Year, and Keyser head coach Sean Biser, the Dapper Dan Golden Helmet Coach of the Year.
Fife, at fullback, linebacker and as the punter, was at the heart of everything Keyser did in this 12-2 season. With his punishing style and deceptive speed, he rushed for 1,200 yards on 181 carries (6.6 yards per carry) and scored an area-best 25 touchdowns as the Tornado racked up 504 points. Defensively, he was at the center of a nasty Keyser defense that allowed just 104 points through the first 13 games, and as the punter, he averaged 37.8 yards per kick, being particularly effective through the Tornado’s playoff run.
Fife is a first-team West Virginia Class AA All-State selection at linebacker.
At running back, Thomas (6-0, 170, Sr.) was an electric performer for Allegany, helping the Campers to a 7-4 season and a return to the Maryland 1A playoffs after a two-year absence. Thomas rushed for 1,175 yards on 111 carries (10.6 ypc.) and ran for 19 touchdowns. As a receiver, he caught 11 passes for 178 yards (16.2 ypr.) and a touchdown.
Thomas, who earned honorable mention Maryland Small School (classes AA and A combined) All-State, finished the season with 1,361 yards in all-purpose yards for an average of 123.7 per game.
Arigo (5-9, 181, Jr.), who began to become a force along the defensive line late in his sophomore season for Fort Hill, plays the position with the tenacity and the crispness of a championship wrestler, which is what he is during the winter months. Arigo has a nose for the ballcarrier and seemed to make the stop at the line, or use his penetration to cause the loss when it was needed most, as the Sentinels rebounded from a 2-2 start to win seven of their final eight games.
Arigo led Fort Hill in tackles, with 57 solos and 27 assists. He recovered one fumble and came up with a team-high four quarterback sacks.
Biser guided Keyser to one of its finest seasons in the last 43 years, taking the Golden Tornado to a 12-2 mark and a berth in the West Virginia Class AA state championship game for the first time since 1969, when it won the title.
A former player and a 1988 graduate of Keyser, in nine seasons as the head coach, Biser has stacked a record of 70-34 at his alma mater, making him the second-winningest football coach in Keyser school history, behind only the legendary Frederick “Tack” Clark.
Before returning home to Keyser, Biser led the Hampshire Trojans to three Class AAA playoff appearances.
As a freshman at West Liberty State College, Biser qualified for the NAIA Wrestling National Championship. He then transfered to West Virginia University, where he wrestled and played football under coach Don Nehlen.
Biser is a member of the Keyser Athletic Hall of Fame.
For tickets to the Dapper Dan Awards Banquet, call 301-722-5490.
Further coverage of Fike, Thomas, Arigo and Biser will appear in the Times-News following the Dapper Dan Awards Banquet.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org