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Morris Sussex Sports Coach of the Year: Brian Bowers
Coach Bowers was nothing short of masterful during the 2020 season leading arguably the best team in the state. In an era where athletes hyper-specialize in one sport, Bowers is able to get star wrestlers, lacrosse, baseball and basketball players to buy into banning together on the gridiron. This paid huge dividends during this year as the Wave out-dueled the most competitive programs in New Jersey.
Morris Sussex Sports Assistant Coaching Staff of the Year: Newton
Head coach Matt Parzero and his supporting staff of Scott Zymet, Mike Farrell, Kyle Gryzmko, Eric Bollette, Kevin Fitzgerald, Dave Bell, Matt Popek and Bernie Hattersley were absolutely brilliant in their undefeated season in 2020. It looked like their season might be in jeopardy when their best player and one of the top linemen in all of Morris-Sussex Jabari Oxley went down with a season ending injury before the season even started. But their ability to coach a next-man-up philosophy and empower the young men on their team to believe in a team-first mindset created one of the best Group II teams in North Jersey.
Morris Sussex Sports Player of the Year: Cole Freeman – Delbarton
No one was more deserving of the Player of the Year honor than Cole Freeman in 2020. He has leadership, talent and heart tattooed on his forehead as he muscled his Green Wave to a 6-0 record against the toughest opponents in the state. The Brown bound senior and his Green Wave finished the 3rd best ranked team in the state and could have very well finished 1st if their games against Bergen Catholic and St Peter’s weren’t cancelled.
Morris Sussex Sports Offensive Player of the Year: Christian Valvano – Hanover Park
Coming into this season there were scores of other guys we could have predicted to win this honor and openly Christian Valvano wouldn’t have been at the top of the list. But boy did Hanover Park’s senior quarterback prove us and everyone else wrong by being one of the most scintillating players in the state. He had all the stats going 75 for 115, 1188-yards and 11 touchdowns through the air and 96 carries for 743-yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Valvano was the biggest playmaker in Morris-Sussex this past season and a scoring threat every single time Hanover Park snapped the football.
Morris Sussex Sports Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Townsend – Randolph
Randolph’s senior linebacker stats don’t do him justice. Don’t get me wrong, his 32 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 INTs aren’t too shabby but they don’t speak of the dominance Townsend imposed on opponents. Every single opposing player and coach knew where Townsend was on every single play, mostly so they could attempt to run their plays where he was not. In the end, it didn’t matter as the Columbia bound star was the headliner in every game the Rams played and guided them to a 6-1 record against the toughest public school schedule in Morris-Sussex.
Morris Sussex Sports Quarterback of the Year: Gavin Lockwood – Mount Olive
Mount Olive’s 6-3, 205-pound senior gun slinger did not disappoint in his senior season with his 96 for 138, 1221-yard and 11 touchdown performance as he led his Marauders to a 6-1 record and a share of the conference title. Lockwood was the consummate leader with pin point accuracy who shined in the team’s big upset win over Randolph.
Morris Sussex Sports Runningback of the Year: Hunter Van Zant – Boonton
Van Zant was second in the state in rushing with 147 carries, 1748-yards and 21 touchdowns. The junior already has a sectional championships title that he won as a sophomore, was one of the state leading rushers as a junior and who knows what he’ll do next year when he’s a senior!
Morris Sussex Sports Receiver of the Year: Walter Quick – Morris Catholic
Morris Catholic’s 6-foot, 180-pound receiver Walter Quick was a dynamo for the Crusaders this season. He benefited from Coach Hack’s pass-happy offense but his shoe string catches, sideline acrobatics and ability to get open in double coverage was flat out amazing. He also led the state in receiving yards and finished the season 61 catches for 867-yards and 8 touchdowns.
Morris Sussex Sports Offensive Lineman of the Year: Mason Cosenzo – Mount Olive
No player got more props from opposing linemen in our postseason polls than Mount Olive’s 6-3, 275-pounds offensive tackle. Cosenzo was a force to be reckoned with in the toughest public division in Morris-Sussex, leading his Marauders to a 6-1 record and over 2500-yards of offense and 29 touchdowns.
Morris Sussex Sports Offensive Line of the Year (the whole squad): Hanover Park’s Offensive Line
Thomas Defranco, Vin Rispoli, Luca Zirpoli, Dan Gregory and Pete Sodano led one of the prolific offenses in Morris-Sussex blocking for a team that passed for 1,191-yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 2,030-yards and 27 touchdowns. This front five led the Hornets to a 5-2 record against a schedule that had top tier defensive lines like Lenape Valley, West Essex, Mountain Lakes, Madison and Mahwah.
Morris Sussex Sports Defensive Lineman of the Year: Jordan Thompson – Par Hills
No defensive lineman terrorized opposing offensive fronts more than Thompson. The Rutgers bound senior finished with 68 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and six sacks all while being double teamed or facing offenses that ran to the opposite side of the field.
Morris Sussex Sports Linebacker of the Year: RJ Martini – Delbarton
The 5-11, 195-pound senior played like he was 6-4, 245-pounds by flat out dominating some of the best teams in the state with his 48 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and Pick-6 to lead his Green Wave to a perfect record and a #3 ranking in the state. Martini was one of the best players on a star studded Delbarton roster.
Morris Sussex Sports Defensive Back of the Year: Jake Jarmolowich – Delbarton
Jarmolowich was always in the mix of all the action with this 30 tackles, 4 interceptions and multiple defended passes. He was also a wrecking ball on special teams, blocking two punts and being one of the key cogs that led the Wave to one of the top teams in the state.
Morris Sussex Sports Special Teams Player of the Year: Patrick Ryan – Delbarton
Patrick Ryan epitomized success of every aspect of kicking for Delbarton this season. He went 25 for 25 on extra points, 4-6 on field goals (44 longest), he had 20 touchbacks on 34 kickoffs and averaged 41.6 yards on punts. Ryan’s foot increased Delbarton’s chances of winning every time it touched the ball.
Morris Sussex Sports Most Versatile Player of the Year: Aaron Fantasia – Newton
If there is a player that could have made our 1st team at nearly any position it was Newton senior Aaron Fantasia. He caught 27 receptions for 574-yards and 5 TDs, rushed for 183 yards on 29 carries and 2 TDs, had 26 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 punt returns for TDs and even threw a 1 TD pass. One of the big reasons Newton went 6-0 in dominating fashion was because of #21.
Morris Sussex Sports Heart of a Lion Player of the Year: John Kowalski – Vernon
No player seems to have more heart than Vernon junior John Kowalski. We’ve only had glimpses of his ability in the last two years as he missed most of his sophomore year with a right meniscus tear and most of his junior season with a left meniscus tear. However, in the game and a half he did play this season, he had 18 tackles and busted a 55-yard touchdown run. Despite not being medically cleared, he let it be known to the coaching staff that he was still ready to go if need be and never missed a practice to support his teammates.
Morris Sussex Sports Unsung Hero of the Year: Mike Marucci – Montville
At a time when we were all unsure if football would even be played this season Montville’s senior captain Mike Marucci took it upon himself to lead few other seniors to move the football program forward with a lot of unknowns. He helped to create practices, brought the younger players in and helped everyone become better players. Mike was a captain and was injured most of the season. Despite that, he came to everything and continued to be a positive leader everyday.
Morris Sussex Sports Breakout Player of the Year: Mike Filippone – Hanover Park
No player came out on the scene with as much ferocity in 2020 as Hanover Park’s Mike Filippone did. The junior rushed for 974-yards on 116 carries and 12 touchdowns, caught 9 passes for 137-yards and 2 touchdowns, had 14 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception, a kickoff return for a TD and a two point conversion.
Morris Sussex Sports Leaders of the Year: John Alitz, Will Petersen, Ange Lessida and Devin Feeney of Hackettstown
While the Tiger’s 1-4 season wasn’t going to win Hackettstown any championships, it was the leadership Alitz, Petersen, Lessida and Feeney did prior to this season that was most impressive. During the heart of the pandemic, the Hackettstown school board made a decision to sideline high school sports during the summer months. Worried about their fellow teammates and athletes of other sports, these seniors took it upon themselves to arrange socially distance practices, taking temperatures and screening players before each session to ensure the health and well-being of their teammates. They then created a petition, went to local media outlets and courageously pleaded their school board to reinstate their sports programs – which they did.
Morris Sussex Sports Marching Band of the Year: Hanover Park
Hanover Park’s band was over-the-top with their traditional ballads, rallying songs and victory jingles at the end of games. But what did it for us were their renditions of Queen tracks during halftime shows.
Morris Sussex Sports Cheerleaders: Montville
If you want to watch amazing athletes, just watch the sideline and half time shows at a Montville football game. The Montville Cheer team takes so much pride and dedication to their craft that many times during our game broadcasts our own play-by-play commentators were distracted by the flips, tumbles and acrobatics performed by these ladies.
Morris Sussex Sports Fan of the Year: Walt Wormann – Lenape Valley
Affectionally known as “The Sign Guy”, Wormann is one of those people that “gets it”. He spent the last 25-years creating signs for every senior along with nicknames and catch phrases that motivated and supported the Lenape Valley players. Sadly, this was Walt’s final year as the “Sign Guy” as he is dedicating more of his time to support his grand children.