For all that he accomplished over the course of the 2022 season, there was only one outcome Independence’s Judah Price was willing to accept to wrap up his high school football career.
It turned out to be the most memorable performance of Price’s career. As if his name wasn’t already etched into the record books enough, Price was sure to leave a lasting mark and make more history, rushing for a Super Six record 376 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Patriots to a 42-7 win in the Class AA title game against Herbert Hoover.
A two-way standout on a 13-0 state champion, Price rushed for 2,580 yards and 49 touchdowns. With 53 total touchdowns and 39 two-point conversions, Price shattered the state single-season individual scoring record with 396 points, besting the previous mark of 359 held by Albert “Big Sleepy” Glenn.
For his play, Price has been chosen this year’s MetroNews High School Football Player of the Year as selected by media representatives within the company and throughout the state.
“It’s really special and it’s hit me — the season we’ve had the special moments we’ve shared and the bond we’ll always have together,” Price said.
Price is the 10th recipient of the award, which has been given out on an annual basis since 2013. He received 14 of 20 first-place votes and totaled 79 points. Huntington quarterback Gavin Lochow was runner-up with 53 points and four first-place votes.
The 5-foot-8, 188-pound Price was instrumental in helping the Patriots to a 9-0 regular season and the No. 2 seed, though they didn’t earn an easy postseason path.
Independence opened with perennial power Bluefield and faced what proved to be its toughest test all season in a 20-12 victory. A 42-7 win over Fairmont Senior followed and allowed the Patriots to eliminate a Polar Bears’ program that had defeated them in the 2021 state final to claim a third championship in four seasons. The following week, in a semifinal, Independence had its way with North Marion, 58-19.
Over the Patriots’ four postseason victories, Price amassed 791 rushing yards on 111 carries.
“It was really great for us to see him do so well on the big stage, because all year long we heard he’d done it against weak competition,” Patriots’ head coach John Lilly said. “He almost had 1,000 yards in the playoffs going against some of the top traditional teams in the state. It was important for us, the offensive line and of course himself that he got the opportunity to show everybody how good he is.”
Price had 11 rushing touchdowns in the playoffs and picked off two passes against the Polar Bears, one of which he returned for a touchdown. It was during the win over North Marion that Price became the state’s all-time single-season scoring leader when he hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass before resting the final two quarters after the Patriots led 52-6 at halftime.
“We really didn’t pay attention to it until the last two or three games of the year,” Lilly said. “It really wasn’t a focus. It just kind of happened. He only played 19 quarters in nine [regular season] games. He had a phenomenal year.”
In the state final, Price had rushing scores of 3, 94, 12 and 6 yards. The 94-yard dash set the record for longest offensive play in Super Six history. Price also registered a forced fumble and fumble recovery on the same play.
“Walking out of this place last year was horrible,” Price said. “We hung our heads, but this year, we’re holding our heads very high.
“It’s so much emotion and so much hardship we’ve all had. Last year, we came up short and this year, we bounced back and got things done.”
Independence averaged 57.8 points in the regular season and 52.5 points for the entire season.
Throughout the unbeaten run, Price often credited his offensive line and spoke of a tight bond with the unit that helped pave the way for his success. Even as the individual records rolled in, Price’s praise for the group never changed.
“I feel they deserve more recognition than I get and they don’t get it,” Price said. “You never hear about offensive linemen on social media or anything, just because they don’t get the stats. They really have a special place in my heart and they’ve blessed me with a lot of opportunities.”
Lilly believes part of the reason Price was so close with the group tasked with blocking for him stems from Price’s selfless personality.
“They pull for him to do well and it’s easy to pull for him because he’s such a good kid,” Lilly said. “I don’t know if you’ll find anybody that doesn’t like Judah. Everybody pulls him for to do well.”
Price has yet to decide on his college future, though as an accomplished wrestler, it may not consist of a football career.
However, Lilly says the senior has already fielded four football offers from Division II programs since season’s end and more are on the way.
“He may be the smallest one in the locker room,” Lilly said, “but no one wants to mess with him.”
Parkersburg South quarterback Robert Shockey was a distant third with 12 points, while South receiver Cyrus Trough was fourth with 11 points and one first-place vote. Hurricane’s Mondrell Dean also had a first-place vote and was fifth with eight points.
MetroNews High School Football Player of the Year Voting
Top 5 Players, School, Points
Judah Price, Independence 79 (14)
Gavin Lochow, Huntington 53 (4)
Robert Shockey, Parkersburg South 12
Cyrus Traugh, Parkersburg South 11 (1)
Mondrell Dean, Hurricane 8 (1)
MetroNews Football Player of the Year History
2021 — Hudson Clement, Martinsburg
2020 — Blake Hartman, Musselman
2019 — Jarod Bowie, Martinsburg
2018 — Connor Neal, Fairmont Senior
2017 — Mookie Collier, Bluefield
2016 — Jeremy Dillon, Mingo Central
2015 — Cody Mitchell, Point Pleasant
2014 — Kentre Grier, South Charleston
2013 — Ross Comis, Madonna