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The MSG Varsity Hudson Valley regional staff selected the top players, coaches and teams from the 2011 season across Section 9. Below are the award winners, as well as the first-team all-stars. Tweet your comments to @MSGVarsityHVC or email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org
MSG Varsity: Section 9 Awards
Player of the Year: Saxon Smith, Sr., Chester
Saxon Smith ran for 3,047 yards on the season, a Section 9 record, and the fourth best rushing total in state history. Besides all the yardage, Smith also broke the Section 9 touchdown record with 49. Smith was the main cog in a Chester team that won its first state playoff game and advanced to Syracuse as the Class D state finalist.
Coach of the Year: Ron Stover, Chester
After starting the Chester football program 11 years ago, Stover led them to the best season of all small-school in Section 9 in history. The Hambletonians won their first ever state playoff game and made it all the way to the Carrier Dome for the Class D state final. Stover has led Chester to six section championships and was selected as the New York Giants coach of the year.
Team of the Year: Newburgh
The Goldbacks changed the culture of football this season. After seven years of Monroe-Woodbury dominace, Newburgh fielded one of the best defensive units ever in Section 9 and unseated the champs. NFA's regular season win over Monroe was the springboards to a postseason run that ended with a 21-13 loss to Orchard Park (Buffalo) in the state title game.
MSG Varsity: Section 9 All-Star Team
QB: John Garcia, Sr., Warwick
Garcia led Warwick Valley to the Section 9 championship game by passing for a Section 9-record, 2,753 yards. He finished his career with 3,894 yards through the air which is fifth on the all-time list. The senior’s signature game came against Kingston in week 2 throwing for five touchdowns and 423 yards in a 42-34 victory.
RB: Saxon Smith, Sr., Chester * Player of the Year
RB: Josh Villafane, Jr., Wallkill
Villafane emerged as the leading rusher for the Panthers in 2011 with a huge 200-plus yard performance against Cornwall in the regular season. Villafane eventually finished the year with over 1,000 yards rushing as Wallkill failed to beat Dragons for a second time.
TE: Albert Hall, Sr., Warwick
At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Hall was a good of a tight end as you'll find in the entire tri-state area. Hall caught 39 passes for 507 yards and nine touchdowns, guiding the Wildcats to Section 9 Class AA championship game.
WR: Justin Kaffenberger, Jr., Monroe-Woodbury
Kaffenberger proved to be one of the best pure athletes in the section in 2011 as Ryan Spelman’s leading receiver. Kaffenberger touched the ball in a variety of ways and found the end zone on the ground as well for the Crusaders. Look for a huge season out of Kaffenberger next fall.
WR: Jake DeCicco, Sr., Kingston
Kingston reached the Section 9 semifinals ahead of Monroe-Woodbury in 2011, and a large thanks goes to the ability of DeCicco. The senior receiver is one of the best players in the region and finished with nearly 1,000 receiving yards despite being the focus of every defense.
OL: Mikal Myers, Sr., Newburgh
The UConn-bound senior had a season to remember after leading the Goldbacks on both sides of the ball. Myers was a bull on defense and dominant on offense as he led Newburgh too its first Section 9 championship since 2003. Myers is sure to be all-state for the third year in a row.
OL: Andrew Connors, Jr. Wallkill
The standout lineman is potentially the strongest lineman in the section. He stepped in a big way after Wallkill graduated four starters from last year's Section 9 championship squad and helped pave the way for another outstanding season. Connors, who had a touchdown in a regular season win over Cornwall, was the player Wallill predominently ran behind.
OL: Noah Lake, Sr., Minisink Valley
Lake makes his second consecutive MSG Varsity all-star team with another big year at tackle for the Warriors. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Lake was not a guy you wanted to line up against. Lake used his strength (he’s a wrestler) to fend off opposing linemen.
OL: Alec Brandow, Sr., FDR-Hyde Park
Brandow spear-headed the Presidents’ ground game by opening holes for the guys in the backfield with his size and athleticism. The Presidents ran behind Brandow almost 90% of the time to the tune of 1,700 yards rushing.
OL: Ben Velez, Sr., Newburgh
Mikal Myers wasn’t the only one doing the blocking for the Goldbacks’ championship team. Velez was also one of the line’s leaders at the center position. Defensively, Velez used his speed to get in opponent’s backfields.
ATH: Ryan Spelman, Sr., Monroe-Woodbury
Spelman accounted for the majority of the Crusaders offense this year and put up monster numbers for the second season in a row. No number was bigger than 563, Spelman’s total yards in a 61-28 win over Warwick early in the season. He had over 419 yards on the ground in that game.
DL: Jahseim Davis, Sr., Wallkill
Davis, once again, led a strong Panther defense. Wallkill’s defense posted multiple shutouts during the year and the Panthers reached the Section 9 title game, finally falling to rival Cornwall after three straight victories. Davis used his speed to blow past blockers and did it with ease for his entire career.
DL: Marley Vil, Sr., Chester
Despite Chester’s season being the Saxon show, the defense did its part as well to get the Hambletonians to Syracuse. Vil was a major reason why. The athletic defensive end was much too fast for opposing linemen in Class D and was great all year. Vil completely dominated against Cambridge in the state semifinals cementing his place on the Section 9 all-star team.
DL: Kyle Ruiz, Sr., Cornwall
Ruiz was dominant on defense as well including a monster game in the Section 9 title game. Ruiz was one of the leaders for a Dragon line that paved the way for an explosive Cornwall offense.
DL: Kyle Nagel, Sr., New Paltz
Nagel, a 6-foot-3 defensive end was a mainstay for hard-hitting New Paltz. Nagel averaged over seven tackles per game, and recorded three sacks on the year. At tight end on offense, Nagel blocked for a very successful backfield.
LB: Hugh Rhoden, Sr., Monroe-Woodbury
Continuing the tradition for strong Crusader linebackers, Rhoden was a tackling machine for Monroe-Woodbury who had to replace a ton of talent on defense this year. Rhoden was able to fill holes all season and had big games against Newburgh and Pine Bush.
LB: Mike Cerisano, Sr., Newburgh
Some people have called the Goldbacks’ defense the best defense in Section 9 history. Whether they’re that good or not is up for debate, but Cerisano’s ability at linebacker isn’t. Cerisano finished the season with 100 tackles and the defensive back of the game award in the state championship.
LB: Josh Riley, Jr., Spackenkill
Just a junior, Riley was dominant for Spackenkill at linebacker. He finished the season with 90 tackles and five interceptions for a very stingy defense. Riley scored six touchdown on offense and also threw for two scores during the year as a tight end.
LB: Peter Catal, Sr., Cornwall
Catal led Section 9’s top linebacking corp (along with Kevin McNally) to a Section 9 championship by playing tough defense. Catal used his speed and toughness to make plays sideline to sideline despite going both ways for the Dragons. He also rushed for nearly 600 yards in a split backfield.
DB: Shane Jackson, Sr., Monticello
Jackson helped Monticello return to the football field last year after 45 years without a program. The quarterback/defensive back is one of the fastest players in Section 9 and was a threat to score on either side of the ball.
DB: Rashard Wroten, Sr., Cornwall
Wroten is one of the section’s best double threats. The senior running back was the team’s leading rusher on offense, had nine interceptions on defense, and tallied nearly 100 tackles from his defensive back position. Wroten, while not the biggest guy on the field, was usually the fastest, and definitely the quickest.
DB: John Gallo, Sr., Marlboro
Gallo played like one of the top defensive backs all season and has the numbers to prove it. The senior picked off nine passes during the year and broke up countless others while leading the Dukes to its first Section 9 championship ever
ATH: Shawn Stover, Chester
Chester's run to the Class D state title game hinged on the improvements of the offensive and defensive line, which is where Stover dominated all season. A terrific blocker, Stover was a terror on the defensive line as the Hambletonians played a physical, tough brand of football that few teams in Class D could match,
KR: Khariff Laboy, Soph., New Paltz
Still just a sophomore, Laboy is one of the most electric players in Section 9. Laboy can do it all and usually does on special teams. Laboy is also one of the best running backs in Section 9 as he topped 1,000 yards on the ground.
K: Jeremy Stinson, Sr., Newburgh
On a team that is dominated by defense, a big leg is a huge advantage and that’s what Stinson brought to Newburgh’s Section 9 championship squad. Besides the touchbacks on kickoffs, Stinston blasted field goals from 40+ yards. In fact, Stinston was the offensive MVP in the state semifinals against Shenendehowa.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com