Ty Thompson gets his Doherty letterman jacket from Bijan Robinson and Brock Purdy. (Contributed Photo)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission (ASEC) announced today that it has secured the Ed Doherty Award, as well as all other existing entities of the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club (GCSGC) – including the Ed Doherty Award Luncheon and The Doherty Club, composed of former award recipients. The ASEC will now manage the GCSGC and its properties, kicking off with the Ed Doherty Award program, which annually recognizes the state’s most outstanding high school football player.

“We are honored to oversee this prestigious program,” said Nikki Balich, executive director of the ASEC. “The Ed Doherty Award captures the essence of our mission — to celebrate the rich history and diverse talent found within Arizona sports by securing and operating an extensive roster of signature events. We look forward to enhancing the tradition begun by the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club in 2017.”

Added Don Kile, president of the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club: “I am so pleased to have the Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission, a tireless advocate for youth sports, on board as the incoming stewards of the Ed Doherty Award. You cannot have a conversation anywhere in the country about high school football without hearing about the explosion of talent in Arizona and the Ed Doherty Award, whose past recipients, Brock Purdy and Bijan Robinson, were selected in the last two NFL Drafts.The Commission will bring an even greater relevance to the award and a greater enthusiasm to showcasing the extraordinary qualities of our young people.” 

David Hines, executive director of the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), said: “When the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club took on the stewardship of the Ed Doherty Award in 2017, it brought some innovative and powerful energy to the then 30-year history of the award. The new, expanded mission and purpose for the award included a broadening of the importance of students being able to access participation in school-sponsored activities. When Don Kile and his crew took on the task, everyone knew it would become the most meaningful high school football award in the state, and with that, everyone knew there would be a greater social affinity also coming. I am so pleased that the Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission will be taking over as the new leadership for this award, and we look forward to even greater things under its direction.”

This year’s action gets underway Tuesday, September 5, with the release of the Week 3 Watch List as determined by the Selection Committee, composed of Arizona high school sports media. To be eligible for the list as well as a possible award nomination, student-athletes must have participated in the first three weeks of competition, recorded an outstanding performance, and maintained their academic standing while meeting other off-the-field criteria.

Beginning September 13, the Selection Committee will announce nominations every Wednesday for the remainder of the season. Selections may include, but are not limited to, those appearing on the Watch List. Players chosen will be presented with an Ed Doherty Award Nomination Medallion at their respective schools each week.

The 2023 Ed Doherty Award recipient will be announced at a special luncheon to be held Saturday, December 9. For more information on the award or to purchase tickets to the ceremony, please visit, or call 480.517.9700.

About the Ed Doherty Award

Since its inception in 1987, the Ed Doherty Award has served as the State of Arizona’s highest individual high school football honor, annually recognizing the most outstanding player on and off the field. Recipients are selected for demonstrating athletic excellence and unwavering integrity, along with a commitment to academics, community, and school pride.

About the Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club

The Grand Canyon State Gridiron Club is the most meaningful advocate of high school football in the State of Arizona. Its mission is to represent Arizona amateur athletics by bringing national attention to the extraordinary qualities of young people in their pursuit of athletic achievement, academic advancement, and greater social affinity.

About the Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission

The Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission (ASEC) is a non-profit organization created in 1988. The Commission collaborates with hundreds of partners to help fulfill the mission of bringing national and international sporting events to the state; assisting in the promotion of existing events and Arizona sports teams; providing volunteer recruitment and organization for large-scale sporting events; and developing youth sports programs. In 2009, it assumed oversight of the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2012, the Grand Canyon State Games and the Lori Piestewa National Native American Games. ASEC was the founding organization and owner of the 2015 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. For more information on the Commission, call 480.517.9700 or visit