2021 Herald Men’s Football Player of the Year: Azavier Coppin
Glacier Peak sophomore Azavier Coppin has scored 17 goals in the shortened season and is the 2021 Herald’s Men’s Football Player of the Year. (Kevin Clark / The Messenger)
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It didn’t take long for Azavier Coppin to announce his presence as the top scorer on the local high school football scene.
And the bad news for Wesco’s future opponents: they’ll likely have to face him for another two years.
In his first season of preseason football, Coppin scored 17 goals and provided four assists while leading Glacier Peak to a 5-1-4 campaign. The second-year forward has scored in eight of the Grizzlies’ 10 games and has five multi-goal performances, including four hat tricks.
For his outstanding season, Coppin is the 2021 Herald Men’s Football Player of the Year.
“He was exceptional, (especially) for being a sophomore,” said Glacier Peak coach Teddy Mitalas. “It was really exciting to have a player like him on our team. … He just has an eye for the goal.
With his elite speed, playing prowess, and ambidextrous finishing ability, Coppin made up a big chunk of the Grizzlies’ score. He has scored or assisted 21 of Glacier Peak’s 28 goals, including one streak in the last four games when he scored or assisted all nine for his team.
That’s not to say the Grizzlies were just a one-man show. They had a talented young core around Coppin, as evidenced by their six league-top All-Wesco 4A caps, five of which were either sophomores or juniors.
But it was Coppin, no doubt, who carried the load. Mitalas said a big part of his team’s attack this spring was to throw balls at the sophomore phenomenon – and then let him do the rest.
“We have a good team,” said Mitalas. “We overthrow him. But with his speed and the use of bullets through him and letting him take people one-on-one and stuff like that,… basically we would let him do what he had to do.
Coppin has spent a lot of time on the wing this season. But he also played in the forward position, where his coach said he really excelled.
“That’s when he was exploding,” Mitalas said, “because he was just picking up kids, taking them in the middle and beating them because of his speed.”
Coppin didn’t have the opportunity to show off his talents for Glacier Peak last year as a freshman, due to the season being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But he certainly hit the ground running this spring. In his very first game in high school, he found the back of the net to help the Grizzlies win a 1-1 draw against Wesco 4A rival Lake Stevens. And in his second game, he scored the first of his four hat tricks.
Coppin said he took advantage of the fact that he and a handful of his Glacier Peak teammates were also playing club football together for Snohomish United.
“It was easy to fit into the squad, especially with a few great players that I already knew,” he said. “I knew how they were playing and they knew how I was playing. The chemistry was already built. We didn’t have to start all over again.
One of Coppin’s greatest performances came in a season-ending game against Arlington, when he scored two impressive goals to give Glacier Peak a 2-2 draw against one of the best teams in Wesco.
In the first half of that game, Coppin used his blazing speed to sprint past two defenders on the right wing and receive a through pass. Then, with a defender on his heels, he took a small touch and coldly kicked the ball past the goalkeeper to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead.
“It was difficult for the (opposing) teams to control him, just because of his speed,” Mitalas said.
Then, after Glacier Peak fell 2-1 down in the second half, Coppin struck again. Coppin was on the left side of the pitch when a nearby teammate, a few yards to his left, made a short centering pass that took him to the left hash marks. Coppin took a few steps towards the rolling ball, then unleashed a receiving shot from 23 yards, landing a perfectly placed shot in the upper left corner of the net for a spectacular equalizer.
“One of the best goals I have ever seen scored,” said Mitalas. “… And for a high school student, a sophomore, doing that – I don’t care what level you play at, that was pretty cool.”
Times like this are a big reason why Mitalas said he’s already excited to see what Coppin and the Grizzlies can accomplish next year – in what he hopes will be a normal season, with a roster. full of games and playoffs. With Coppin and a talented core set to return, the future of the program certainly looks bright.
“I know a lot of the coaches (opponents) are really worried about (Azavier) for the next two years,” Mitalas said. “We were a young team this year, so we should come back with a fireball next year.
“I’m just happy to have him for two more years,” he added. “… I can’t wait to train him again.”