It was a solid year for Bronx/Manhattan, led by the standout seasons of Xavier running back Seamus Kelly and George Washington, which didn't even have a varsity team last fall, winning the Cup Division. Mount St. Michael and Fordham Prep may not have lived up to expectations, but each had prolific performers. And while Cardinal Hayes fell to Cardinal Spellman in the CHSFL Class A final, beating the Mount in the Turkey Bowl for the first time since 1980 was an apt cap to the unforgettable fall.
BRONX/MANHATTAN FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Seamus Kelly, Xavier
Try out these numbers for size: 42 rushing touchdowns, 47 touchdowns altogether, 30 two-point conversions and 2,681 rushing yards. In his 21 years at Xavier as the head coach and as an assistant, Chris Stevens had never seen a team score more than 300 points; Kelly, the third-leading scorer in New York state history, did it himself, scoring 342 points.
“He’s the most explosive kid I’ve ever coached,” Stevens said of the 5-foot-10, 195-pound star, who has drawn interest from Division I-AA schools Holy Cross and Colgate of the Patriot League. “He’s the best player in Xavier history.”
BRONX/MANHATTAN FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR
Fred Caprista, George Washington
Caprista took over a disbanded program, one that went winless in 2006, and led it to a Cup Division championship. He changed the atmosphere, instilling teamwork and leadership into a team that lacked such qualities. True in his way, he refused to accept congratulations after GW’s inspirationa; Cup Division-winning victory over Far Rockaway, deferring the credit to his players.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said at the time.
ALL-BRONX/MANHATTAN FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB Ozzie Garcia, Kennedy
There wasn’t a tougher quarterback in the city than the two-way star. He was JFK’s best linebacker and emotional leader. It wasn’t always pretty, but Garcia was effective, doing whatever was necessary for the Knights, be it making a big block, running for a first down or connecting with a receiver downfield.
OL Kevin Douglas, Kennedy
A dominant left tackle, JFK often ran behind the hulking 6-foot-4, 330-pound immovable force. He was also a factor on the Knights’ defensive line.
OL Fernando Diaz, Cardinal Hayes
The Pittsburgh-bound 6-foot-2, 287-pound left tackle opened up holes big enough for a tractor to plow through. He manhandled the opposition, dominating his man week in and week out.
OL Erle Ladson, Cardinal Hayes
It was easy to forget Ladson when the imposing Diaz was on the other side pancaking defenders. But Delaware never did. Ladson verbally committed to the Division I-AA school. Together, the two formed the top pair of tackles in the city.
OL Jon Annunziatta, Fordham Prep
No one opened up more holes for Bruce Grant than Annunziatta. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior was a beast up front for the Rams, who had a disappointing season until their 41-28 Turkey Bowl victory against rival Xavier. In that game, Grant rushed for 288 yards on 26 carries. Annunziata was partially to thank for that output.
RB Onell Dishmey, Clinton
The bruising fullback perfectly embodied Clinton – tough and physical, relentless and always ready to inflict punishment.
RB Chris Quinnonez, Kennedy
The integral two-way player was a key to JFK’s run-happy attack, producing 470 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
RB Raymond Norman, South Bronx
The Phoenix may have fallen short in the Cup Division semifinals, but Norman enjoyed a season to remember – rushing for 918 yards and 17 touchdowns. Dealing with the death of his father this past summer, he used the loss as motivation, breaking out in a big way.
RB Devon Osei, Cardinal Spellman
Osei finished a fine senior season with a bang. He scored the tying touchdown in an 8-6 win against Cardinal Hayes that gave Spellman the CHSFL Class A championship. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound workhorse was third in CHSFL ‘AA-A’ in rushing with 1,433 yards on 207 carries. He was second in touchdowns with 20 – behind some guy named Seamus Kelly.
RB Bruce Grant, Fordham Prep
Perhaps the best thing about Bruce Grant for Fordham Prep coach Pete Gorynski is that he comes back next year. The 6-foot, 170-pound junior from White Plains was a revelation for the Rams in 2008. His team finished last in CHSFL Class AA and played from behind often, yet he still managed 1,521 rushing yards on 262 carries, good enough for third in the division and tops among New York City rushers in ‘AAA.’ He saved perhaps his best performance for last, a 288-yard day in Fordham’s 41-28 Turkey Bowl win against Xavier.
TE Thomas Cardona, Mount St. Michael
In a few months, Cardona will be known as one of the best baseball players in New York City. But in the fall, he was a star on the gridiron for Mount. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior was a solid blocking tight end and was always available for a big play when quarterback Max Otano needed him.
ALL-BRONX/MANHATTAN FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Anthony Hall, Clinton
Clinton had one of the city’s best defensive unit, a suffocating group that was death on opposing running backs. Hall, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound defensive end, was one of the keys to that group, a pass-rushing dynamo who was also solid against the run, finishing with 35 tackles and two sacks.
DL Caraun Reid, Mount St. Michael
Mount St. Michael didn’t have a typical season. Usually the Mountaineers are always good for a deep run in the playoffs, if not a berth in the CHSFL Class AAA. That didn’t happen this year, but not because of its defense. Mount was ranked third in the division in team ‘D’ and Reid, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior, was an enormous reason why.
LB Sidiq Soulemana, Clinton
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was in the middle of the Governors’ renaissance, their middle linebacker and playmaker. He had a team-high 93 tackles, second in the city, four sacks and three fumble recoveries.
LB Damir Redzepagic, Cardinal Spellman
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior was Spellman’s emotional leader. So it was fitting that it was Redzepagic who scored to convert a late 2-point conversion giving the Falcons an 8-6 win over Cardinal Hayes for the CHSFL Class A championship.
LB Steven Reyes, Cardinal Hayes
The backbone of the Cardinals’ defense, Reyes, an outside linebacker, had 45 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He came up huge in Hayes’ Turkey Bowl victory over Mount St. Michael, the Cardinals’ first victory in the rivalry since 1980.
LB Gary Acquah, Mount St. Michael
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound junior was a run stuffer and wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks regularly for Mount with his muscular frame. Imagine how hard it was taking him down when he doubled as a running back?
LB James Martin, Mount St. Michael
If Caruan Reid and Gary Acquah was the braun of Mount’s excellent defense, James Martin was the speed. The 6-foot, 203-pound senior flew to the ball and routinely made big plays for the Mountaineers, who were ranked third in CHSFL Class AAA in defense.
CB Tyheen Taylor, Kennedy
The Knights’ best cover corner, the senior led them with five interceptions, third best in the PSAL, adding to an already impressive defense.
CB Mzuri King, Mount St. Michael
King’s touchdown off a blocked punt cut Cardinal Hayes’ lead to 32-18 in the Turkey Bowl, but Mount ended up losing the historic game for the first time since 1980. It was no fault of the 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior. King was a ball-hawk and playmaker all season.
S Stephen Obeng Agyapong, Kennedy
Obeng was a terror on defense, a ball-hawking heavy-hitting defensive back that was the Knights’ top threat on offense, a game-breaking running back. He’s the latest JFK standout to head to Penn State, following in the footsteps of running back Stefphon Green.
S Zolen Rodriguez, Xavier
It wasn’t the best season for the Knights’ defense, but Rodriguez was one of their leaders. The captain of the secondary, the free safety led them in tackles and made several impact plays.
ALL-BRONX/MANHATTAN SPECIAL TEAMS FIRST TEAM
K Connor Brown, Fordham Prep
There wasn’t much Brown didn’t do for Fordham Prep. Besides being one of the most reliable kickers in the city, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior was an excellent target for quarterback Brendan McGlynn at wide receiver and is a pesky defensive back as well. Brown was third in CHSFL Class AAA in receiving with 41 catches for 895 yards. He was second in the division with 11 receiving touchdowns.
ALL-BRONX/MANHATTAN HONORABLE MENTION
QB Peter Goodman, Clinton
QB Max Otano, Mount St. Michael
RB John Wilson, Xavier
RB Brandon Garcia, George Washington
RB Devante Mealy, Lehman
RB David Ruiz, Clinton
OL Johnny Morales, George Washington
OL Greg Carpinello, Fordham Prep
OL Daquan Vandross, South Bronx
OL Frank Malandruccolo, Xavier
DL Rinaldo Riboul, Xavier
DL Charles Argast, Fordham Prep
LB Tevin Dickens, John F. Kennedy
LB Mario Ruiz, Alfred E. Smith
CB Steven Hongach, Xavier
CB Howard Gomez, South Bronx
K Eric Otubu, Clinton
FiveBoroSports.com All-City and All-Boro football honorees this week
Brooklyn and Staten Island
*A player cannot be an All-Boro Player of the Year and the All-City Player of the Year