Every football season I have the luxury of having the best seat in the house for football in Morris and Sussex counties. My favorite part of this job is getting to know all of the different players, side plots and unique stories that go so much deeper than wins and losses. There are so many cool little story threads that can run in all sorts of directions. But who knows, perhaps one day I’ll write a book.
Until then, I am going use our postseason awards special, The All Unruly Team, to share these different neat vignettes, courageous stories and amazing performances that took place in 2016. Enjoy!
*Special thanks to National Scouting Report and all of our sponsors for making these awards possible.
The 2016 National Scouting Report All Unruly Top Season Awards
The National Scouting Report All Unruly Team of the Year: Madison
A lot of people thought Madison would be in rebuilding mode after losing a ton of key seniors from 2015’s championship run. But the Dodgers didn’t skip a beat as a whole brand new slew of real-deal players stepped up to run the table for another championship while going a perfect 12-0 in 2016 (photo by Mattie Marano).
The Salerno Duane Auto Group All Unruly Coach of the Year: Chris Kubik – Madison
What can you say about Chris Kubik? When he took over the Madison job 10 years ago, he went 7-13 in his first two years. Since then his record is 81-11, he went 12-0 four different times, had two winning streaks with at least 21 or more games in a row (including the streak he is on now) and won five state championships. You can’t help to tip your cap to what Kubik is doing in Dodger Land (photo by Nancy Willis).
The Salerno Duane Auto Group All Unruly Assistant Coaching Staff of the Year: Morris Hills Coaching Staff
After 13 years as head coach of Morris Hills Mike Sabo credits the dedication of his entire coaching staff for the success of 2016’s state championship season. “No head coach can take credit for their success. My entire staff put so much time and effort to make this season what it was. There is a ton of work that goes into going as far as we did. So many people made it possible including Sue Kellner and Robert Haraka in our athletic office who took care of all of the playoff and MetLife preparations so we could focus on football.” Left to right: Athletic trainer Mark Hilla, Jeff Danyus, John Struck, Gallucci, Sabo, Chris Canning, Danny Kellner, Bert Giovine, Keith Heinemann and Bryant Wanamaker [not pictured athletic secretary Sue Kellner and Athletic Director Robert Haraka](photo Brandon Figueroa).
The Football University All Unruly Player of the Year: Mike Kearney – Madison (Senior)
Mike Kearney went from anonymous JV player in 2015 to All World varsity state champion in 2016. This year Kearney drove opposing coaches crazy as he amassed 2,500 total yards and 35 touchdowns between running and passing on his way to leading the Dodgers to a perfect season that finished at MetLife Stadium. No player proved to be more dynamic than our All Unruly Player of the Year, Madison’s Mike Kearney (Photo by Mattie Marano).
The Nutrition Zone of Byram All Unruly Offensive Player of the Year: Stevie Leyden – Lenape Valley (Senior)
Stevie Leyden will go down as one of Lenape Valley’s all time greats. He’s got all of the stats (nearly 2,000 total yards and a boat load of touchdowns) but this guy seemed to have a gear that opponents didn’t have an answer for week-after-week. The Pats rode this superstar to a 10-2 season at ended at MetLife Stadium (photo by Rich Southard).
The Athletic Republic of Randolph All Unruly Defensive Player of the Year: Jakob Jakova – Jefferson (Senior)
If you want to know how Jefferson had four shutouts and only allowed more than two scores only once you need to look no further than middle linebacker Jakob Jakova. This senior stud literally gave opposing coaches the shivers in the film room each week prior to playing the Falcons. “I had to play against this kid for two years and he was a nightmare,” former Hopatcong coach and current Jefferson coach Jerry Venturino told me. “I was so glad to have Jakob on my team and he is one of the best football players I have ever had the pleasure of coaching ” (photo by Jodi Benfatti).
The Football University All Unruly Quarterback of the Year: Matt Maute – Sparta (Senior)
Watching Matt Maute play quarterback was like watching someone play Madden on easy-mode. The senior was at home in Sparta’s pass-friendly offense and led the team to nearly 5,000-yards of total offense, threw 30 or more passes to four different receivers and was the key reason the team averaged 44-points a game (photo by Mattie Marano).
The Athletic Republic of Randolph All Unruly Runningback of the Year: Alex Milliken (Senior)
Sparta’s Alex Milliken was Morris Sussex’s top rusher with 1,483-yards and 28 touchdowns. No opponent was able to slow him down as the senior ran for over 100-yards in ever game he played this season and averaged over 9-yards a carry. He added another 500-yards and 6 touchdowns receiving on his way to helping his Spartan’s to a 10-1 season that ended in the semi-finals (photo by Jodi Benfatti).
The Football University All Unruly Receiver of the Year: Brian Dolan Pope John (Senior)
To appreciate how potent Brian Dolan was as a football player in 2016, you would have had to have gone to a Pope John game this season. What you would see is entire defenses shifting their linebackers and defensive backs to one side of the field to try to keep the Lions from passing his way. And for good reason because the 6-2, 290-pound senior runs like a gazelle and literally couldn’t be covered one-on-one. The respect he commanded from defenses was the reason the Johnnies ran for over 2,000-yards on the ground. When he did catch the ball, his yards-after-catch were ridiculous. While Dolan will certainly be playing football on Saturdays for the next few years, I won’t be surprised if we see him on Sundays at some point (photo by Ben Muha).
The Athletic Republic of Randolph All Unruly Offensive Lineman of the Year: John Burk – Parsippany (Senior)
John Burk could have suited up on any college team and have had no problem holding his own this season. But instead the 6-5, 315-pound offensive tackle finished his senior season for the Parsippany Redhawks. The Layfayette bound senior used his footwork and ability to move his massive frame to deliver more pancakes than any offensive lineman in Morris Sussex in 2016 (photo by Georgi Muha).
The Football University All Unruly Defensive Lineman of the Year: Dalyn Wade-Perry – Pope John (Senior)
When Dalyn Wade-Perry (50) has something to say EVERYBODY listens. I remember interviewing the 6-4, 315-pound defensive tackle as a junior and thinking, “this guy could literally break my neck in a second if he wanted to”. Thankfully, he is a perfect gentleman off the field. On the field, it’s a different story. The senior doesn’t have his pick of any D1 school he wants by accident (photo by Georgi Muha).
The Athletic Republic of Randolph All Unruly Linebacker of the Year: Nick Denucci – Pope John (Junior)
Nick Denucci is going down as one of Pope John’s all time greats – and he still has another season to play! The 6-1, 225-pound linebacker has the size, speed and instincts to be playing in college right now. In 2016 he had 122-tackles, 93 of them of which were solo. More than anything, Denucci makes his presence felt with a hard hitting, aggressive type of play which is just fun to watch (photo by Ben Muha).
The Football University All Unruly Defensive Back Player of the Year: Nick Verducci – Par Hills (Junior)
Everyone knows that Nick Verducci is one of the best offensive players in Morris Sussex as he proved with his 2,000-yards and 31 touchdowns in total offense. But Verducci is also an incredible defensive player. Frankly, the kid is just a freak athlete. This guy been to the state finals twice and won a state title once in his high school career. Oh, and he still has another year left to play (photo by Mattie Marano)!
The Gameface Photography All Unruly Kick Returner of the Year: Jack Anderson – Mendham (Senior)
Jack Anderson was only kicked to twice this season and returned both of them back for touchdowns. After that, nobody kicked to him anymore. Frankly, Anderson was stellar on all sides of the ball. Despite Mendham’s 3-6 record, no player was nominated by opposing players and coaches for 1st team All Unruly honors then he was. If you ever saw this warrior play, you would understand why his efforts on the field are so respected (photo by GameFace Photography).
The Salerno Duane Auto Group All Unruly Most Versatile Player of the Year: Sean Klimek – Pequannock (Junior)
Every Friday night and Saturday afternoon I get a slew of text messages from my moles that are at games. Almost every week I would get a text from someone who was at the Pequannock game saying something like this: “#2 is running all over the place”. Sean Klimek was a huge part of the reason why Pequannock went 6-3-1 and made it to the playoffs. The best part is he is only a junior so we get one more year of watching this beast (photo by Lisa Mita Photography).
The Salerno Duane Auto Group All Unruly Heart of a Lion Player of the Year: Cole Draghi – West Morris (Senior)
Cole Draghi could have played in 1940 when players didn’t play with face masks. This guy came on the scene in Week 1 with an outstanding performance in a crazy 34-28 overtime win against Par Hills where he ran for a ton of yards and touchdowns. He didn’t stop moving his feet until after taking his 8-2 Wolfpack all the way to the semi-finals. Play after play this guy would drag guys twice his size 10-yards down the field (photo by Al Wehrhahn).
The Layups4Life All Unruly Unsung Hero of the Year: Billy Young – Newton (Junior)
After a successful sophomore season playing varsity football, Billy Young was looking forward to a breakout junior campaign. Billy is the type of player every coach wants on his team. He’s selfless, puts his team first, is hard working and runs at full speed every drill, everyday. Billy was projected to be the Newton starting fullback and strong safety. During a dual scrimmage against Hanover Park and Jefferson in which he had two touchdowns, two interceptions and many tackles he was injured. After further scans, it became clear that he had a big problem. Turned out that he had spinal stenosis so severely that he would have to end his football career immediately. Billy still attended every practice and assisted in anyway he could. He held scout cards, set up drills and helped the frosh out. Before the first Newton game, head coach Matt Parzero decided to honor Billy and have his presence on the field the only way we could by selecting a member of his team who best exemplified those traits that Billy brought to the field and had them wear Billy’s #24. He was and is an inspiration to all members of the Braves team. No high school football player wants their football season to end. But most players are not forced to have this decision thrust upon them. I’d imagine many folks would feel sorry for themselves. The way Bill responded is incredible (photo by Newton Boosters).
The Nutrition Zone of Byram All Unruly Rookie of the Year: Justin Suarez – Randolph (Junior)
Randolph junior quarterback Justin Suarez is a humble guy who went from JV obscurity to winning the starting varsity job before the season started. The 6-1, 190-pound scrambler became so hard to contain and seemed to thrive on making big throws off broken plays. After a 2-3 this first year starter took the Rams on a 5-0 tear all the way to the semi-finals (Photo by Chris Henwood).
The Tell Me About Yourself Public Speaking Workshop All Unruly Leader of the Year: Daymon Fleming – Morris Hills (Senior)
Many people are surprised to learn that Daymon Fleming has been the Morris Hills quarterback for four years. Oh yeah, he’s also been one of the top players on the defense and he returns punts too. I interviewed Daymon early in the season and he told me the only goal for he and his teammates was to win a state title at MetLife Stadium. I hear a lot of kids tell me that every year. But there was something in the way that he talked about that goal as if there was no other option. Fast forward to the first weekend of December and sure enough he and his mates were hoisting up the NJSIAA trophy (photo by Mattie Marano).
The Heads ‘N Tails All Unruly Tough as Nails Award: Andrew Papantonis – Delbarton (Senior)
Papantonis might just be one of the best pure athletes that Morris Sussex never got to see. Well, we did get to see his freshman and sophomore seasons on the gridiron which were flat out amazing. It looked as if we were about to witness something special occur over four years. But before a highly anticipated junior year, Papantonis ruptured his ACL and was out for the season. After a grueling rehab back, he was 100% by the time his senior season came around. Devastatingly, during the third game of this season, he had another ACL injury that would end his senior season. As hard as those blows were, he always kept an amazingly upbeat attitude and got right back to rehabilitating himself. Now on the mend, he’s heading toe Virginia where he will play baseball (photo by Georgi Muha).
The Freda & Suriano Orthodontics All Unruly Selfless Award: Mike Trezza – Montville (Senior)
Most senior quarterbacks wouldn’t appreciate being replaced by a sophomore rookie. But after Montville runningback Jason Archer went down with an injury, super athlete Mike Trezza was asked if he would be willing to switch to runningback where Coach DeBonta felt it could be more impactful for the team. So insert 10th grader Nick Billand. Not only did Trezza embrace the move but he did everything to make sure the team and Billand was successful as possible, including things like excelling at pass protecting (Montville Boosters).
The Athletic Republic of Randolph All Unruly Comeback Player of the Year Award: Logan Holleritter – Jefferson (Senior)
Logan Holleritter literally couldn’t wait for his senior football season. The team had a ton of returning starters and Holleritter felt this could a special year for his Falcons. But early in his junior lacrosse season he had a severely broken leg that would take months to heal. He pushed hard through rehab and was able to come back right before the beginning of the season where he would lead his team to a 7-3 record and a playoff bid (photo by Jodi Benfatti).
The Nutrition Zone of Byram All Unruly Most Transformed Player of the Year Award: Ty Teresa – Montville (Senior)
Ty “Typhoon” Teresa was one of my favorite stories of the 2016 season. Teresa was a peewee football phenom at runningback and linebacker in middle school. He played freshman year then he took a break from football and completely immersed himself into health and weight training. When new coach Rick DeBonta took over as head coach his senior year the Typhoon decided it was time to come back to the game he loved. However, by then he had completely transformed his body to 5-10, 250-pound machine packed with mostly muscle and very little body fat. Nose guard was his new position, a role he completely embraced and seemed to get better and better at it as the season went on. “By the end of the season he was a pain in the butt for anyone we went against” coach Ian Schwindel said of his senior stud. There is a big shift in the energy in Mustang Nation right now and in a few years when Montville is a team opponents dread to face, we’ll all look back on the 2016 season that Teresa was a part of as the year things started to change for the better (photo by Montville Boosters).
The Identifor All Unruly Cheerleader Team of the Year: Par Hills
One of the funnest things about Morris Sussex Sports is after every game we usually get a photo from the winning players from the bus ride home. After a rocky 2-3 start a lot of people were starting to jump off the Par Hills bandwagon. But then they went on a big five game win streak that would eventually take them to the state final game at MetLife stadium. It was during that stretch, after a 28-14 away victory over Nutley did we receive this photo from the Parsippany Hills cheer bus in a picture that basically says, “don’t ever stop believing in our boys”. These girls can do all the corregraphed moves a top cheer group can do. But it is this picture that says it all as to why they are the 2016 All Unruly Cheerleader Group of the Year. Par Hills Cheer Roster: Coach – Nicole Berkman, Assist Coach – Amanda Corigliano, Marina Nazziola – Captain, Brooke Jasiecki- Captain, Marissa Gasbarro- Captain, Emily Chan, Tia Cherbaka, Kayla Christofferson, Ashley Davis, Kim DeStefano, Alyssa Ferrante, Jenna Gabriele, Victoria Guarino, Kristine Guevara, Alexa Lynch, Sherilyn Ostlin, Sydney Rice, Olivia Santore, Megan Scala, Jade Schroeder, Kirsten Taylor, Megan Tolosi, Mia Tremaroli (photo by Nicole Berkman).
The The Lisa Mita Photography All Unruly Ball Boy of the Year Dante DeLuca – Hanover Park
If there is a kid who ever wanted to wear the black and gold it’s Hanover Park ballboy Dante DeLuca. The younger brother of senior captain Rory can be seen at every single game leading the team on the field, fist bumping players and cheering the Hornets during the action. Dante, who’s nickname is “The Freight Train”, didn’t miss a snap in 2016 and always had a fresh ball available when his number was called (photo by Lisa Mita Photography).
The Frank Custode Employment Law All Unruly For the Love of the Team Award: Walt Wormann – Lenape Valley
If you ever go to a Lenape Valley game and see the crowd going nuts, most likely super fan Walt Wormann is in the middle of it. Twenty years ago he made signs when his son played for Lenape Valley to help rally the home stands. After his son graduated, the team loved him so much they asked him if he’d come back. Since then, Mr. Wormann carefully crafts individual signs for every single senior every year and is a big part of why the Patriots have such a big competitive advantage when playing on their home turf. I’d argue that no one person has more love for a team than Wormann does for his Pats (Lenape Valley Boosters).
The RSR Sports All Unruly Fan of the Year: Mrs. Mulcahy – Madison
The Morris Sussex Sports fan base was first introduced to Mrs. Mulcahy in Episode 1 of Football Fanatics when Ryan Sudol interviewed her prior to the Madison vs. Lenape Valley game in Week 1. It was evident then that she had the energy of a thousand fans and cared so much for her boys PJ and Matty and their Madison Dodgers team. Since then Sudol interviewed her several times and she always made sure to say she wished a good hard fought game and that both teams stay healthy (photo by Brian Sudol).
George Muha has been covering high school sports since 2006. He feels high school scholar-athletes are the most important part of the community and highlighting their achievements on the field, in the classroom and within the community is his personal mission.