Deep Run’s Wharton named state soccer player of the year

Being named Gatorade Virginia Boys Soccer Player of the Year, maintaining a 4.79 weighted GPA and signing a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at University of Virginia probably gives a high school student fair reason not to be humble, right? Wrong – at least for Todd Wharton, 18, of Deep Run High School.

“It meant a lot [to win the Gatorade award] because I know there’s a lot of good players in the state of Virginia,” Wharton said, “but I’m not interested in individual awards this year. It’s all about the team for me. I know it sounds cliche, but it is.”

Frank Ford, who serves as Wharton’s head coach at Deep Run HS, said his star player had worked hard his whole life and was incredibly humble.

“He’s been a coach’s dream as far as what you ask for,” Ford said.

With his high school team sitting at 14-1-1 and playoff games still remaining in his senior campaign, Wharton has already left his mark on the Deep Run record books.

Playing from his midfielder position, he has 34 goals and and 23 assists this season, while piling up 71 goals and 52 assists in his four-year career, making him Deep Run’s career leader in both categories.

“The guy is a playmaker, and he can score,” Ford said. “Just his vision and how he sees things, you can equate him to a chess player.

“A good chess player sees several moves in advance, while the world-class players can see like 19 steps ahead. He’s like the 19-steps-ahead kind of kid.”

Ford said Wharton also owned Deep Run’s single-season scoring and assists record, previously held by Brian Ownby, who currently plays for the Houston Dynamo in Major League Soccer (MLS). Ownby also played soccer at UVA, which is where Wharton will be headed this fall..

Wharton committed to the Cavaliers the August before his junior year, he said.

“UVA was always my first choice,” he said. “I didn’t really want to go that far away from home, and I know they have a great academic program there too, so it was really just an easy decision for me.”

Wharton’s had the “hype” since the start of his high school career, he said.

“I went to a few national camps at the end of eighth grade, but it’s definitely been a lot more the last two years,” he said. “It’s fun because a lot of people come up to me a congratulate me for things. A lot of people are happy for me; it makes my parents proud.”

For Ford, who’s been coaching Wharton for three years at Deep Run and in middle school before that, the most important factor in coaching a player of Wharton’s caliber is figuring out how to best use him, he said.

“You want to to get as much out of him as possible, and he’s the perfect player for that because of the way he plays,” Ford said. “He makes people better; he doesn’t just do everything himself. He’s made good players really good and made really good players great.”

Despite the team only suffering one loss (to Godwin HS in extra time) during the regular season, Deep Run is flying under the radar heading into the playoffs, Ford said.

“Everyone talks about Godwin and Cosby [high schools],” he said. “We’re kind of an afterthought for some reason. There comes a certain point in the season when you want your acknowledgement, so hopefully that time is coming for us.”

“We lost nine starters last year, so I feel like we’re doing well for having lost so many starters,” Wharton said. “I think we can make a good run in the playoffs.”

Wharton also plays for the Richmond Strikers and was named a 2011 Youth All-American selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Playing for the Strikers was a lot different from high school, Wharton said, but he enjoyed it because his team played others from along the East Coast.

When he’s not playing competitively, Wharton works at his father’s soccer training facility, helping teach younger players.

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