By Rob Potter
CALLICOON March 23, 2007 Yes, the calendar says “March” and there are several inches of snow on the ground.
And the scholastic football season ended a few months ago.
But the accomplishments of Sullivan County’s high school football teams and players during the 2006 season will provide lasting memories for scores of fans for many years to come.
For example, the Eldred Yellowjackets repeated as Section IX
Class D regular season champions and the Sullivan West Bulldogs won the Section IX Class C regular season and postseason titles.
The Democrat recently contacted the head coaches of the five county teams 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 2006 Democrat All-Stars are…
Quarterback: Nick McCormick, Eldred, Senior, and Jim Moloney, Sullivan West, Junior (tie)
Moloney was named to the All-Section IX first team and Section IX Class C/D team. He was also chosen as the Section’s outstanding passer and completed 89-of-180 passes (49 percent) for 1,604 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also rushed for 194 yards and scored five TDs.
McCormick completed 53-of-127 passes (42 percent) for 1,157 yards and 15 TDs.
Running Back: Brendan Musa, Tri-Valley, Senior
Musa rushed for 693 yards and averaged 6.13 yards per carry. He also had 231 receiving yards, which gave him 924 yards of total offense for the Bears.
“He’s a great kid who was able to do it all,” Tri-Valley Coach John Rusin said. “Brendan is a nice all-around halfback.”
Running Back: Kevin Prunka, Eldred, Senior
Prunka was the Yellowjackets’ leading rusher in 2006. He carried the ball 180 times for 1,112 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.
Wide Receiver: Donald Cooper, SW, Junior
Cooper, who was named to the Section IX Class C/D team, caught 13 passes for 284 yards and seven TDs. He also had 407 yards on kickoff returns, 173 yards on punt returns and scored eight times on returns.
Wide Receiver: Kojo Williams, Eldred, Junior
Williams caught 14 passes for 367 yards. Six of those receptions resulted in a Yellowjacket touchdown.
Tight End: Justin Alsdorf, SW, Senior
Alsdorf was named to the Section IX Class C/D team. He had 22 receptions for 522 yards and five TDs.
Tackle: Alan Ackermann, SW, Senior
Ackermann was selected to the All-Section IX first team by the Section Nine Football Coaches Association (SNFCA) as well as the Section IX Class C/D team. In addition, he was chosen as the SNFCA Class C/D Lineman of the Year.
Guard: Garrett Grey, T-V, Junior
Grey was named to the All-Section IX team.
“Garrett did a great job for us on the offensive line,” Rusin said. “He often lined up against a guy who was a lot bigger, but he blocked that defender and opened a hole. He played with a great deal of spirit.”
Center: Rob Moriggia, Eldred, Junior
Moriggia anchored the Yellowjackets’ offensive line, which allowed McCormick to pass for more than 1,000 yards and Prunka run for more than 1,000 yards.
Guard: Bo Murphy, T-V, Junior
Murphy was a key member of the Bears offensive line, which helped the team amass more than 1,900 combined rushing and passing yards. He even went 3-for-3 on extra-point kicks.
“Bo really came through and did an excellent job this season,” Rusin said.
Tackle: Bryan Schmidt, SW, Senior
Schmidt helped give Moloney the time to find Alsdorf, Cooper and other Bulldog receivers downfield for big gains.
End: Troy Bertholf, Liberty, Senior
“Troy did a lot of little things to be successful,” Liberty Coach Jim O’Connor said. “He made a lot of tackles and always worked hard.”
Tackle: Kyle Byrne, T-V, Senior
At 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Byrne is smaller than the average nose tackle. But he anchored the Bears’ defensive line and was chosen as the team MVP by the coaching staff.
Tackle: Hilton Johnson, Eldred, Senior
Johnson made 50 tackles, had one quarterback sack and recovered a fumble.
“He was our best defensive lineman as a junior and a senior,” Eldred Coach Frank Kean said. “He’s very strong and quick.”
End: John Whittaker, SW, Sophomore
Whittaker was a Section IX Class C/D honorable mention selection.
Linebacker: Kelly Lackey, Livingston Manor/Roscoe, Senior
Lackey averaged 14 tackles per game last autumn. He also was a running back for the Devilcats and had 1,190 career rushing yards in three seasons.
“Kelly did an excellent job at linebacker for three years,” LMR Co-Coach Fred Ahart said. “He was a dominant defensive player and a very good team leader.”
Sadly, the 17-year-old Lackey passed away three weeks after he was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident on October 27.
It should be noted that Lackey was the only player nominated for the Democrat All-Star Team by all of the county’s scholastic football coaches.
Linebacker: Nic Simonelli, Eldred, Junior
Simonelli, who was the Yellowjackets’ middle linebacker, made 101 tackles this past season. He also recovered one fumble and intercepted a pass.
Linebacker: Branden Tompkins, Liberty, Freshman
Tompkins started every game last autumn and because he was also one of the Indians’ running backs, he was on the field for nearly every minute of each contest.
“He had a great rookie year on the varsity team,” O’Connor commented.
Cornerback: Tom Compasso, Eldred, Junior
Compasso led the Yellowjackets with four interceptions. He also had 37 tackles, one quarterback sack and one fumble recovery.
Safety: Gary North, T-V, Senior
North intercepted a team-high five passes last fall. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown and scored three other TDs one receiving, one on a kickoff return and one on a punt return.
Safety: Tyler Schmidt, LMR, Senior
Schmidt intercepted two passes during the 2006 season.
“Tyler was a team leader for us and he played on the varsity team for five years,” Ahart said. “On defense he played safety and linebacker. He was also our quarterback this year and did a good job. Tyler’s just an unbelievable football player.”
Cornerback: Dustin Van Lieu, T-V, Sophomore
Van Lieu had one interception and broke up quite a few passes.
Displaying his athletic ability, Van Lieu took over at quarterback when Bears’ starting QB Charlie Edwards was injured early in the season.
“Dustin is a player who always worked hard to help us win,” Rusin said.