DARKE COUNTY – A pair of athletes who earned player of the year honors from their conferences and helped their teams continue to excel are The Daily Advocate’s fall sports athletes of the year.
The Daily Advocate’s fall sports athletes of the year are Franklin Monroe boys soccer player Jake Shellabarger and Versailles girls golfer Maddie Covault.
Shellabarger was named the Cross County Conference boys soccer player of the year as he helped lead the Jets to the league championship. In addition to being the CCC’s top player, Shellabarger also was named first team all-district and second team all-Ohio by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.
“Jake had a strong season,” Franklin Monroe boys soccer coach Danny Diceanu said. “He was one of our go-to guys up front. Scored some big goals for us.”
On a team that was very balanced with numerous players capable of scoring, Shellabarger had 13 goals and 10 assists. The junior has good skills, great hustle and a big heart, Diceanu said.
“It’s his drive and will to succeed, his never-ending desire to compete,” Diceanu said about what makes Shellabarger such as strong player. “And he has a knack for the goal. He’s driven by success. I think that motivates him to pursue the ball all over the field and cause trouble for the other team.”
As a team captain, Shellabarger was one of the key pieces to help the Jets make the Ohio High School Athletic Association district championship game for a fifth consecutive year.
“He’s starting to become a leader,” Diceanu said. “He’s great to have on your team.”
Covault competed in the OHSAA state girls golf tournament as both a sophomore and a senior. She also was part of Versailles’ state-qualifying team as a freshman.
“Not a lot of athletes get to say they made it (to state) once, let alone three times so that’s fantastic for her,” Versailles girls golf coach Joe Harrmann said.
As the Versailles’ only senior this year, she helped lead the Lady Tigers to an eighth place finish at the state meet, which is the best placing in school and Midwest Athletic Conference history.
“She played consistent for sure for the past couple years and came up big for us in a lot of matches,” Harrmann said.
Individually Covault won the MAC championship as a senior and earned the league’s player of the year honors for a second consecutive season. She helped guide the Lady Tigers to their fourth consecutive league championship.
“Anytime you can compete in that league at a high level and do it well and do it consistently you’ve done something right,” Harrmann said.
The Versailles senior, who averaged a Darke County-best 44.4 strokes per nine holes this year, worked hard to achieve her success, Harrmann said.
“She was definitely one of the people who was always practicing on her own in addition to the team stuff,” he said.