The Salem News
---- — 2012 SALEM NEWS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
St. John’s Prep Junior
One of the toughest runners to corral in the Bay State, Johnny Thomas took his place among the elite ball carriers in the Northeast with a breakout junior season.
The 5-foot-11, 195 pound Peabody native led the North Shore with 1,812 yards while leading the Eagles to the Division 1 Super Bowl championship.
The Catholic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year was the area’s most consistent performer. In 12 games, Thomas topped 100 yards rushing 10 times, rushed for 150 or more yards on seven occasions and topped 200 yards three times including a 235 yard outburst against St. John’s Shrewsbury and a 221 yard performance at Brockton’s Marciano Stadium, a rarity for a visiting player.
Thomas’ signature game came in the Division 1 playoff semifinals against Andover, when he willed the Eagles to the Super Bowl with 208 rushing yards and 3 TDs. He touched the ball on 21 of the Prep’s first 22 plays of the second half to turn a scoreless tie into a 21-0 Prep lead. The versatile performance also had a crucial sack in the playoff win.
A workhorse with an area-high 220 carries, Thomas is comfortable breaking tackles and running over defenders. When he gets in the open field, as he did on a swing pass in the Super Bowl, he showcases 4.5 40-yard dash speed and find the end zone.
Thomas scored 20 total TDs this fall (16 rushing, 3 receiving and an interception return) and led the Eagles with 122 points. More impressive than his consistency was the fact that he moved the chains against some of the best defenses in the state.
Just a junior, Thomas could break the Prep’s all-time rushing record next year and already has a scholarship offer from Division 1 Massachusetts. He’s reportedly drawing interest from Virginia, Penn State and Boston College, among others.
Running back/Strong safety
Shook off early season injury to become a major contributor in the Panthers’ second Super Bowl championship season in three years ... Team captain was a shutdown defender, both knocking away passes and preventing his opponents from coming down with the catch ... Ran for 274 yards and five scores ... Also caught five passes for 68 yards and two more TDs ... Completed the only pass he threw this season ... Three-sport captain, including basketball and lacrosse ... Two-time Salem News lacrosse all-star ... Owns impressive 3.4 GPA.
North Shore Tech Senior
Enjoyed best offensive game in a loss to Shawsheen where he threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns while rushing in another score ... Had his best defensive game in a big win over Blue Hills coming up with an interception and a strip, fumble recovery ... Captained Bulldogs to the CAC Small crown and the playoffs ... Is in the top 20 of his class with a 3.9 GPA ... Will attend Southern Maine Community College.
Tough, two-way player gave Pingree stability in the backfield and at linebacker ... Finished with 565 yards rushing and seven touchdowns ... A dangerous threat in the passing game he had three receiving touchdowns and 201 yards ... Blends his speed and shiftiness with a tough, downhill running style where he can elude defenders or bowl them over.
Offensive line/Defensive end
Dominant force on the line for a Masconomet defense that posted two straight shutouts to win the NEC/CAL Tier 1 title ... All-League selection had 65 tackles and five sacks ... Anchored an offensive line that rushed for 1,985 yards on the season and kept QB Chris Schleer upright ... Helped Chieftains beat D1 Catholic Memorial ... Hopes to play football, possibly in the NESCAC.
Terror at linebacker disrupted opposing offenses all season long ... Made 151 total tackles ... Recorded more than 400 total tackles in three varsity seasons ... Made 16 stops in one of the area’s best games against eventual Super Bowl champion Beverly ... Team captain was an NEC/CAL Tier 2 all-star ... Hockey standout counts older brothers and former Magicians Colby and Andrew among his biggest influences.
St. John’s Prep Senior
Arguably the hardest hitter in the area led St. John’s Prep to its first Division 1 Super Bowl title in 15 years ... 3-time Catholic Conference all-star was a four-year varsity contributor, a rarity at St. John’s ... Made 60 tackles from the linebacker spot ... Added an interception return for a TD ... Eagles second leading receiver with 11 grabs ... Danvers native and son of All-Pro, Super Bowl winner Mark Bavaro will play at Dartmouth College.
Bishop Fenwick Junior
Three-year starter and the Crusaders’ most versatile player ... Peabody native broke Fenwick’s single-season record for tackles with more than 150 ... Was used as a wideout, running back and quarterback on offense this past fall ... Caught 25 passes for 350 yards and a team-high six touchdowns ... Played QB for two games and completed 8 of 15 passes for 88 yards and two TDs ... Also ran for one score ... Scored two times and added 17 tackles vs. Cardinal Spellman ... Two-time team captain.
Dual-threat quarterback rushed for a team high 776 yards and 12 touchdowns to go with 1,778 yards passing and 15 touchdowns in nine games ... Had one of his best performances in Pingree’s final game of the season when he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for three more ... Team captain’s running ability gave the Highlanders already potent offense another dimension ... Lynnfield native also captain’s Pingree’s hockey team.
Home run hitter at fullback helped Masconomet pull away from Salem and Lynn Classical with long TD runs ... Scored seven times while rushing for 457 yards and averaging 7.0 yards per carry ... Equally valuable at linebacker, with 45 tackles and an interception on the season ... NEC/CAL Tier 1 all-star helped the Chieftains win the league title and reach the playoffs.
Ferocious ball-hawking defender was Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League’s Tier 2 co-Defensive Player of the Year ... The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder had perhaps his best game of the season in a blowout win over long-time nemesis Swampscott ... Great at stuffing the run while also adeptly dropping back into pass coverage ... Excellent lateral movement ... Outstanding 96.5 average in the classroom ... Said linebacker coach Mike McDonough has been terrific in teaching him how to read offenses properly.
Offensive line/Defensive line
Anchor of the Panthers’ O-line that rushed for a school record 4,392 yards this fall ... Two-time Northeastern Conference all-star ... A 6-foot, 245-pound member of two Division 2A Super Bowl teams ... Named NEC/CAL’s Tier 2 co-Defensive Player of the Year ... Assistant coach Roger Day graded him out with the highest grade he’s ever given to a lineman in 30-plus years of coaching football after Beverly’s huge win over Marblehead clinched league title ... Applied plenty of pressure from his spot at defensive end by sealing off the outside runs ... Hopes to keep playing football in college.
Team captain threw three touchdowns and had 206 yards passing against Gloucester ... One of the best open field runners in the area makes more out of broken plays than any other QB on the North Shore ... Led the team with 700 yards rushing and eight touchdowns while throwing for over 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns ... Led a miraculous last-second win over Marblehead with a last-minute TD pass and subsequent two point conversion pass ... Will PG a year after graduation.
St. John’s Prep Senior
Intelligent player was the key to the Eagles offensive line, making all the calls from the center spot ... Only senior on the Prep line helped the Eagles rush for nearly 3,000 yards and rack up almost 4,000 total yards ... Catholic Conference all-star ... Lynnfield native captained the Prep to its first Division 1 Super Bowl title in 15 years ... Considering several collegiate options.
Running back/Defensive back
Finished career as perhaps the best running back in BHS history ... Rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns on 160 carries, averaging 9.35 yards per carry ... Led North Shore in scoring with 160 points .... Finished career with 3,503 yards rushing (2nd best ever at BHS) and 41 rushing TDs; 38 catches for 719 yards and 14 TDs and 3,349 yards of total offense ... Had 426 yards rushing and 6 TDs in two playoff games as Panthers went unbeaten and won Division 2A Super Bowl for second time in three seasons ... Three-time Salem News all-star ... School’s all-time leader in total TDs (61), points (380) and rushing TDs ... Holds 4.1 GPA.
Broke the single season passing TD record at Hamilton-Wenham with 15 ... Already owned the Generals’ single season rush record from 2011 ... Finished with 11 rushing TDs and 900 yards on the ground along with 1,207 yards passing ... CAL all-star had a game with a TD rushing, passing and a 2-point conversion catch ... single season rushing leader at H-W this year, Lyons broke the record for the most touchdown passes in a season... Will study political science and play quarterback at Bates College in the fall.
Offensive line/Defensive end
Staple in the Witches defense at end, the 6-foot, 1-inch senior captain’s biggest asset is a relentless motor ... Athletic offensive lineman who excels at second level blocking ... Was named to the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Tier 2 all-conference team for his defensive work ... Recorded two sacks in a game ... Had a monster effort at defensive end in a loss to Lynn English ... Aspires to play collegiate football.
Poised passer threw for 1,510 yards and 14 touchdowns, completing over 60 percent of his passes ... Also led the Magicians in rushing with 675 yards and 8 scores, accounting for 2,185 total yards ... Threw a career-best five TDs against Gloucester while running for another ... NEC/CAL Tier 2 all-star and Offensive Player of the Year ... Team captain is also a standout hockey and lacrosse player for MHS.
One of the area’s most complete players was NEC/CAL Tier 1 Player of the Year ... Impacted all three phases of the game ... Defensively, had 100 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and a TD ... Offensively, led Masconomet with 670 yards and 7 scores, adding 5 receiving TDs ... Had a special teams TD for 84 total points ... Captains Masco to the NEC/CAL Tier 1 title and the playoffs ... Hopes to play college football, possibly in the NESCAC.
Offensive line/Defensive line
One of the anchors of a big, strong Magicians offensive front ... Equally effective run blocking and in pass protection ... Helped the Magicians to an 8-win season ... Physical defender broke through the line for 2 1/2 sacks on the season ... Stout run stuffer added 60 total tackles from the D-end spot ... NEC/CAL Tier 2 all-star hopes to play football in college.
St. John’s Prep Senior
Running back/Defensive back
Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year was one of the best two-way players in Eastern Mass ... Made three interceptions and forced four fumbles ... Scored two TDs, including one on defense, in the D1 Super Bowl win over Brockton ... Ran for 842 yards and 13 TDs, averaging 7.6 yards per carry ... Catholic Conference all-star led the Eagles in receiving with 20 catches, 455 yards and 5 TDs ... Scored 19 TDs for 114 points ... Mulling several FCS and FBS offers.
With 15 touchdowns on just 72 carries, he averaged a score more than 20 percent of the time he touched the football ... Averaged an amazing 12.5 yards per carry, with 901 rushing yards ... Team captain finished his career with 2,075 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns on 216 carries (an average of 9.42 yards per carry) ... Had two 5-touchdown games in his career ... Two-time Salem News all-star ... Will either play football or run track in college ... Had two touchdown runs, of 27 and 4 yards, respectively, in Super Bowl victory over Natick.
Bishop Fenwick Sophomore
Running back/Nose Guard
Remarkable combination of speed, size and power for a 10th grader ... Already a two-time Salem News all-star ... Had the most regular season carries (198) of any North Shore player, rushing for 1,302 yards and 17 touchdowns ... Scored at least one touchdown in 10 of his team’s 11 games ... Had season-high 197 yards rushing vs. Georgetown ... Ran for 192 yards against Super Bowl participant Lynnfield ... Thanks his parents, Coach David Woods and Gridiron Training owner/trainer Pat Downey for helping him reach his full potential.
The Big Blue’s most valuable player on both sides of the ball ... Led the North Shore with 2,065 yards passing .... Threw for 14 scores and rushed for 11 more ... Coach Steve Dembowski calls him the most important and toughest defensive player from the safety spot ... Sparked memorable Thanksgiving win over Marblehead by factoring in all four TDs ... Applying to study at US military service academies.
Played in just six games this season but still broke the Pingree single season touchdown record with 18 after scoring a pair in the final game against Dexter Southfield ... A big-play threat who can score anytime he touches the ball, Spears is equally dangerous in the run and pass game ... Finished with a team-high 607 yards receiving and was second in rushing with 595 yards ... Led the North Shore in receiving yards and had 24 catches.
Ripped it up when the Falcons hit conference play by rushing for 598 yards and 11 touchdowns ... Had 193 rushing yards and a career-high five TDs in a wild 46-45 win over Salem ... Finished season with 849 rushing yards and 14 TDs ... Also caught 18 passes for 205 yards and two scores ... Ran back kickoff for a TD vs. Marblehead ... Holds 3.4 grade-point average ... Wants to play college football ... Says older brother (and former DHS teammate) Nick has been his biggest inspiration athletically.
Beverly: Kevin Kennedy, Sr. LT; Marc Babcock, Sr. LG; Brendan McGee, Sr. TE; Ryan Shipp, Sr. WR/CB; Brian Perry, Sr. OT/DT; Dave Rollins, Sr. QB; Sam Mulumba, Jr. LB; Luke McDonald, Sr. LB; Sean Winston, Jr. LB; Isiah White, Jr. RB/LB; Zack Duguid, Jr. RG/DE.
Bishop Fenwick: Fran Hannon, Sr., QB/DB; John Coviello, Sr. OL/DL; Jake Brennan, Sr. OL/LB; Eric Razney, Jr. WR/DB.
Danvers: Alex Grant, Sr. FB/LB; Andy Curtin, Jr. LB; Joe Manson, Sr. OG/DT; Connor Morrison, Sr. OG/DE; Jake Cawlina, Sr. WR/CB.
Hamilton-Wenham: Christian Ecker, Jr. WR/LB; Matt Vogus, Sr. OL/OLB; Jimmy Campbell, Soph. WR/DB.
Ipswich: John Elnagger, Sr. OL/LB; Nate Glaster, Jr. WR/DB; Derek Chamberlain, Jr. RB/LB.
Marblehead: Liam Gillis, Jr. OL/LB; Jeremy Gillis, Jr. FB/OLB; Brian Daly, Jr. WR; Zac Cuzner, Sr. RB/DB; Brooks Tyrrell, Soph. RB; Reggie Alcindor, Sr. OL/NG.
Masconomet: John Tivinis, Sr., DL/OL, Casey Guerrero Sr., OL/DL, Chris Schleer, Sr., QB.
North Shore Tech: Eric Comeau, Sr., NG/OT; Bryan Jackson, Sr., TE/DE; Tyler Skane, Sr., FB; Jazmanny Sanchez, Sr., WR/DB
Peabody: Ryan Collins, Soph., RB/DB; Michael Raymond, Soph., QB/WR; Cody Wlasuk, Jr., S.
Pingree: Nino Leone, Fr., OL/DL; Hank Martin, Sr., OL; Alex Salalayko, Jr., WR/DB.
Salem: Austin Connolly, Jr., S; Cam Harvey, Sr., OL/DL; Ben Kapnis, Sr., WR.
St. John’s Prep: Anthony Bongiorno, Sr., TE/DE; Gerald Kaharai, Sr., FL/CB; Tucker Mathers, Sr., DE; Sean Smerczynski, Jr., LB; Jack Sharrio, Sr., QB
Swamspcott: Chris Carman, Sr., OL/DL; Aaron Cronin, Sr., RB/DB; Josh Rothwell, Sr., WR/DB