As we approach this website’s first anniversary, the Turf and Boards is proud to present the first annual Boards Awards in recognition of excellence in the Major Arena Soccer League. The 2017/18 Boards Awards will include Rookie of the YearCoach of the YearDefender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and, finally, Most Valuable Player. Rather than picking one definitive winner in each category, our panel of Matt Huber (aka Merlin, the Knight Writer), Greg “Ponto” Suttie (Sockers Locker, Ponto Off the Wall) and Sydney Nusinov will each weigh in with their own choices for each award. Plus we want to hear from you in our poll.

Matt Huber, Knight Writer

The MASL recently announced its finalists for Most Valuable Player, and the nominees shouldn’t surprise anyone; Franck Tayou, Kraig Chiles, and Ian Bennett. I could make arguments for any of these players as well as a few, but let’s cut right to the chase on this one. In my eyes, this one is a no-brainer.

Take away Franck Tayou, and where would the Sonora Soles be this season? He scored 82 points, on 71 goals and 11 assists. The next closest teammate had half the points, Anibal Echevarria (24 goals, 17 assists). Tayou scored 31% of his teams goals, and contributed to almost 40%.

Stats don’t lie. Small arenas, big arenas, it doesn’t matter. Franck Tayou produced for his team, and without him Sonora would have had a much harder time making the playoffs.

Greg Suttie, Sockers Locker

Very simply, no other single player had more impact on the success of their team than “King” Franck Tayou. I could go over the other candidates, but there just isn’t a more impactful player.

Sydney Nusinov, Turf and Boards Publisher

This should be the slam dunk of the awards season. There is only one correct answer and it is Franck Tayou of the Sonora Soles.

It’s hard to make a case for anyone else, but we can still give a shoutout to Ian Bennett, Joey Tavernese, and Gordy Gurson.

Bennett is routinely at the upper end of the MASL scoring charts, and where would Syracuse have been without Tavernese or Cedar Rapids without Gurson?

Those formalities aside, this one is all Tayou. Last year he scored a PASL/MASL record 57 goals and this year he destroyed that mark, netting 71 goals. His 82 points are the second most anyone has scored in a PASL/MASL season (second to Leo Gibson’s 93 in 2014/15).

When Sonora started the year in a 1-5 funk, I spoke to Franck and he put the weight of Sonora’s struggles on his own shoulders. “When I start scoring again we’re going to win games,” he said. After just one goal in his first two games, he went on to score 70 in his next 20, including 19 multi-goal games, 15 hat tricks, and five five-goal games, including a season-high seven goals on February 17.