By Lori Brown
CALLICOON January 25, 2008 With Super Bowl XLII a little more than a week away, football fans around Sullivan County are looking forward to the game and seeing how the underdog New York Giants will fare against the undefeated New England Patriots.
And those fans probably smile brightly when they think back on the 2007 scholastic football season.
Last fall’s high school gridiron campaign certainly had plenty of memorable moments.
For example, two local teams the Eldred Yellowjackets and the Tri-Valley Bears won championships.
The Bears, who had an overall record of 7-4, went a perfect 3-0 against fellow Class C teams to capture the Class C regular season title.
T-V then defeated the Sullivan West Bulldogs, 18-6, on Nov. 3 in the Section IX Class C championship game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.
The Yellowjackets finished the season with a 7-3 record and topped Chester, 20-16, on Nov. 2 in the Section IX Class D championship game at Dietz. Eldred’s victory avenged a controversial one-point loss to the Hambletonians in the teams’ regular season meeting.
In addition, the Liberty Indians posted a 6-2 record and narrowly missed earning a berth in the Section IX Class B semifinals. The Indians two losses were by a combined total of just eight points.
In an effort to give local players some more well-deserved recognition, the Democrat recently contacted the head coaches of the five high school football teams in Sullivan County and asked for nominations for the Democrat Football All-Star Team. Coaches were able to nominate their own players as well as players from the other county gridiron squads.
And the 2007 Democrat Football All-Stars are…
Quarterback: Jim Moloney, Sullivan West, Senior
Moloney presented a dual threat for opposing defenses with his ability to remain in the pocket and complete passes or scramble downfield for a big gain. He completed 60-of-120 passes for 1,001 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed 116 times for 607 yards and eight TDs.
He earned a spot on the Section Nine Football Coaches Association (SNFCA) Class C All-Star Team and was named to the SNFCA All-Section IX Team.
In addition, Moloney was selected as the SNFCA Class C Back of the Year.
Running Back: Kevin Prunka, Eldred, Senior
Prunka rushed for 527 yards and six touchdowns last season.
Running Back: Trevor Tompkins, Liberty, Senior
Tompkins was the Indians’ leading rusher. He carried the ball 86 times for 625 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
He also caught nine passes for 101 yards and one TD.
Tompkins was also the Liberty kicker in 2007. With 10 extra-point kicks, 11 TDs and a 2-point conversion, he scored a team-high 78 points on the season.
Running Back: Ryan VanLieu, Liberty, Junior
VanLieu rushed 97 times for 590 yards and eight touchdowns.
His yardage total and 48 points scored were second only to Tompkins’ team-best totals in those two categories.
Wide Receiver: Brad Reimer, Sullivan West, Junior
Reimer had 210 receiving yards last autumn. He also compiled 238 rushing yards, 267 yards on kickoff returns and 76 yards on punt returns to finish the season with 791 all-purpose yards.
He was named to the SNFCA Class C All-Star Team and the SNFCA All-Section IX Team.
Wide Receiver: Kojo Williams, Eldred, Senior
Williams was the Yellowjackets’ top receiver last fall. He had eight receptions for 357 yards.
Tackle: Chris Mehedin, Eldred, Senior
Mehedin often led the way downfield for Kevin Prunka and the other Yellowjacket running backs.
Mehedin also protected quarterback Bryan Henry from charging defensive ends and blitzing linebackers when he dropped back to pass.
Guard: Garrett Grey, Tri-Valley, Senior
Grey was named the Bears’ MVP this past season.
He was also chosen for the SNFCA Class C All-Star Team, the SNFCA All-Section IX Team and was named the Section IX Class C/D Co-Player of the Year.
In addition, Grey was selected for the Class C third team offense when the New York State Sportswriters Association recently announced its All-State Team.
“Garrett is everywhere on the field,” Tri-Valley Coach John Rusin said. “He is a hard hitter and pulls and traps excellently.”
Center: Rob Moriggia, Eldred, Senior
Moriggia anchored the Yellowjackets’ offensive line last autumn.
The team had 31 rushing touchdowns on the season, many of which were scored by a runner who followed one of Moriggia’s blocks up the middle.
Guard: Bo Murphy, Tri-Valley, Senior
Murphy helped the Bears rush for more than 2,000 yards during the season.
“Offensively, he pulls as well as anyone I’ve seen,” Rusin said. “Bo has an excellent combination of size and speed.”
Murphy was chosen for the SNFCA Class C All-Star Team and the SNFCA All-Section IX Team.
In addition, he was named the SNFCA Class C Lineman of the Year.
Tackle: John Whittaker, Sullivan West, Junior
Whittaker’s skills as a run blocker and as a pass protector for quarterback Jimmy Moloney helped the Bulldogs’ offense gain a total of 2,675 yards (1,632 rushing and 1,043 passing) last autumn.
He was named SNFCA Honorable Mention for Class C.
End: Will Schlott, Sullivan West, Senior
Schlott was one of the leaders of the Bulldogs’ defense.
He earned a spot on the SNFCA Class C All-Star Team.
Tackle: Scott Hallock, Eldred, Sophomore
Hallock had 18 tackles and two quarterback sacks last autumn.
“Scott played very well on the defensive line,” Eldred Coach Frank Kean said. “He’s only a 10th grader, so he should keep improving the next couple of seasons.”
Tackle: Tanzeel Kahn, Tri-Valley, Senior
Kahn made 50 tackles, 35 of which were solo, last season. He also had three quarterback sacks.
“Tanzeel really excelled as a defensive tackle this year,” Rusin said. “He is a very good run stopper who also puts a lot of pressure on the opposing QB.”
End: Tyler Wagner, Sullivan West, Junior
Wagner teamed with fellow defensive end Will Schlott to anchor the Bulldogs’ defensive line.
Wagner was named to the SNFCA Class C All-Star Team and was honored as Sullivan West’s Lineman of the Year.
Linebacker: Nick Cassidy, Tri-Valley, Senior
Cassidy made 66 tackles during the season, 54 of them solo.
“Nick is a very instinctive player, who flows well and is good at stopping the run as well as in pass coverage,” Rusin said.
Linebacker: Cody Conklin, Eldred, Senior
In Eldred’s victory over the Livingston Manor/Roscoe Devilcats last October, Conklin recovered two fumbles and returned one of them 10 yards for a touchdown.
For the season, Conklin had 52 tackles, one quarterback sack and one interception.
Linebacker: Nick Simonelli, Eldred, Senior
Simonelli directed the Yellowjackets’ defense from his middle linebacker position.
“Nick did a great job for us,” Kean said. “He set a new school record with 128 tackles this past season.”
Linebacker: Mike Hendrickson, Livingston Manor/Roscoe, Junior
Hendrickson covered a lot of territory for the Devilcats, hitting a running back at the line on one play and blitzing the quarterback the next.
“Mike was a very good linebacker for us,” Livingston Manor/Roscoe Co-Coach Fred Ahart said.
Defensive Back: Jason Leewe, Sullivan West, Senior
Leewe often covered the opposing team’s top receiver.
He was named to the SNFCA Class C All-Star Team.
Defensive Back: Shane Lewis, Livingston Manor/Roscoe, Junior
Lewis, who also played linebacker at times, often covered receivers one-on-one from his cornerback position. He also came up to help the Devilcat linebackers with run support.
Ahart noted that Lewis “did a good job for us.”
Defensive Back: Dustin Van Lieu, Liberty, Junior
VanLieu had 25 tackles during the 2007 season, 12 of which were solo. He also intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.