There are more than 47,000 high school football players in the tri-state area. The National Football Foundation, in conjunction with MSG Varsity, chose the top 25 for the third annual All-Metro team.
It was a daunting task to whittle down the best of the best for this exclusive all-star team from New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, Connecticut and Hudson Valley/Westchester.
"We take the top players from more than 1,000 high schools into consideration," said Michael Lardner, executive producer of MSG Varsity. "It is a highly prestigious award to be recognized on this team."
MSG Varsity's Mike Quick headed a committee that nominated players by position in each region.
MSG Varsity Player of the Year honors went to junior halfback Jabrill Peppers of Paramus (N.J.) Catholic. The 6-foot, 195-pounder keyed the Paladins' 37-34 win over Bergen Catholic for the Non-Public, Group 4 crown. He had 210 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the school's first title win since 1977.
Quick touted Peppers as an NFL prospect when he was a freshman at New Jersey power Don Bosco. He may be right. He transferred to Paramus Catholic this year and transformed the Paladins into champions.
"We think our team can stack up against any high school all-star team in America," Quick said. "There is so much depth across the board because so many guys can perform extremely well on both sides of the ball."
One of them is Hansen Award winner Steven Casali of Sachem East. The 6-2, 220-pound halfback/linebacker, who will play for UMass, had 1,895 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. He also earned the Rob Burnett Award as Long Island's top defensive player.
"It's a great privilege to honor the top players in the tri-state, and I really get a special kick out of seeing the guys from Long Island being recognized," said Len Genova, president of the Nassau and Suffolk chapters of the National Football Foundation.
Among the other selections was Eddie Robinson, who led Lawrence to the Long Island Class III title. The 6-1, 195-pound senior, who committed to Colgate, had 51 catches for 1,156 yards and a Long Island-record 19 TD receptions. He made this team as a defensive back after returning an interception 30 yards for the winning TD against Sayville for the LI crown.
Also honored were St. Anthony offensive lineman Joe Tustin, who is Army-bound, and Sayville's John Haggart, who earned the defensive athlete position and will play for Stony Brook. Chaminade's Zane Wasp, who made the winning 33-yard field goal in a 17-16 title victory over St. Anthony's, was the first-team specialist. He also made 44 of 46 extra points.
Coach of the Year went to Chaminade's Stephen Boyd, who guided the Flyers (10-1) to their first CHSFL title since 1998.