Editor's note: Due to a production error, the print version of this section did not appear in the Tuesday, Dec. 12 edition. It will run in the Wednesday, Dec. 13, edition.
2017 SALEM NEWS FOOTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Running back/Defensive back
They say it's not how you start, but rather how you finish. For Salem's Vinnie Gaskins, he took what had already been a dominant season and put a performance for the ages on in his final high school game to wrap up a spectacular career.
The 2017 Salem News Football Player of the Year got started with a bang, rushing for 190 yards and two touchdowns in an opening night victory at Austin Prep ... and never slowed down. Gaskins led the North Shore with 1,682 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns, 24 total touchdowns and 154 total points while propelling his Witches (7-4) to their best record in 18 years.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound mercurial back had an explosive first step and only accelerated from there, especially once he got to the outside on Salem's patented jet sweeps. But he loved running between the tackles as well and gladly took on all comers, running over and through tacklers with equal parts aplomb.
Gaskins re-wrote the Salem High record books in a 47-6 blowout victory over Winthrop in which he ran for 186 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries, caught three passes for 106 more yards, including a 65-yard score from quarterback Tommy Beauregard, kicked an extra point for good measure. Those 31 points he accumulated were the most in Salem High's more than 120 years of football history.
But Gaskins saved his best for last. At home Thanksgiving morning and looking to defeat their arch rivals from Beverly for the first time in seven seasons, Gaskins made sure the Witches would do exactly that. He broke the school's single-game rushing record (set, ironically, by former SHS great Melikke Van Alstyne against Beverly on Thanksgiving Day 2008) with 305 yards on 23 carries and scored five touchdowns as the Red-and-Black rolled to a satisfying 37-25 triumph. Those five TDs tied his own school record set against Winthrop.
In the month of November alone, Gaskins rushed for 692 yards and an eye-popping 11 touchdowns ... in just three games. To put that in perspective, only seven other players in the entire area had that many yards on the ground the entire season, and just 10 others had that many touchdowns in all of 2017. Statistically, it is the greatest three-game stretch ever by a Salem High running back.
Gaskins also had six touchdown runs of at least 50 yards this fall, including a pair of 80-yard jaunts to the end zone (vs. Saugus and Beverly). No other player in the area had more than two.
Thanking his mother for being his "constant support system", Gaskins finished his Salem High career with 2,624 yards rushing on 356 carries, 29 rushing touchdowns, 20 receptions for 335 yards and five more scores, 36 total touchdowns and a grand total of 236 points. He plans to go to college next year and continue his football career there.
Known around the Pingree School as 'The Flash' it's easy to see why Eric Adinkra has lighting like qualities on the football field. When he strikes, you don't soon forget it, and if you blink, you might miss it.
A repeat Salem News all-star, Adinkra led Pingree in both scoring (12 touchdowns for 72 points, 9th on the North Shore despite playing eight games) and total yards. Rushing for 856 yards (well over 100 per game), Adinkra averaged more than 7 yards per rush and had over 900 total yards from scrimmage.
The Lynn native has an uncanny mix of balance, speed and power. He was at his best when Pingree upset Dexter in their last game, where he took a kick back for a TD and scored twice on the ground. Adinkra also ran for over 100 yards against Hyde (Maine) and New Hampton, while scoring a pair of touchdowns in his team's home win over Kent's Hill.
A solid student, Adinkra hopes to follow his older brother Kenny's footsteps and play college football.
Essex Tech Senior
Many players take to the gridiron each week playing for someone or something in particular. Bolstad does so with his father — whose own football career was cut short by injury — at the forefront of his mind each week, carrying on the family legacy of athletic success.
A two-time Salem News football all-star, Bolstad led the Hawks in rushing with 580 yards and five scores on the ground. He enjoyed being the team's offensive workhorse with 148 carries, including games where he lugged the pigskin 25 and 24 times, respectively. A three-year standout, the 5-foot-10, 195-pounder finished his varsity career at Essex Tech with 1,992 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns.
A Culinary Arts student at Essex Tech who will join the Marines upon graduation, Bolstad was a two-year captain for the football team. The Gloucester resident was also a multiple-time Commonwealth Athletic Conference all-star and owns a 3.6 grade point average.
Offensive tackle/Defensive end
Unblockable was the word best used to describe senior force Will Bosworth when the Marblehead High defense was firing on all cylinders. He set up shop in his opponents backfields so often that they may have considering charging rent.
One of the biggest reasons the Magicians held their opponents under 10 points per game and recorded a second straight 10-win season, Bosworth totaled 45 tackles along with a dozen for loss and some six quarterback sacks. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound power house was just as valuable at left tackle for the MHS offense.
Protecting his QB's blindspot and also opening up holes in the run game, Bosworth was a force to be reckoned with. His personal highlight was the Division 4 North playoff victory over Wilmington. With gratitude for the help of offensive line coach Nick Broughton, "Boz" carries a 3.2 GPA and hopes to play football in college.
Offensive guard/Defensive tackle
As a team, the Peabody High defense held four different opponents to negative rushing yardage over the course of the 2017 season. That only happens because of yards lost on quarterback sacks, and no Tanner pushed the line of scrimmage into opposing passers as frequently as Dariel Canela.
With a total of 16 sacks on the season, Canela's quickness and ability to bull rush through gaps was unparalleled. The 5-foot-10, 200 pounder exploded out of a four-point stance and found room between the center and guard to the tune of four sacks in a victory over Malden and another three (with four total tackles-for-loss) on Thanksgiving against Saugus.
A Peabody High captain, Canela also helped stabilize the team's offensive line by moving to guard in late September, setting the stage for a late win streak that helped the squad finish 6-5. Ranking 118 out of 420 in PHS' senior class, Canela hopes to play college football.
Described by one opposing coach as "Tim Tebow, but a lot bigger" Marblehead's 6-foot-7, 245 pound battering ram under center Andy Clough give defensive coordinators fits all year. Leading the Magicians to the Northeastern Conference Tier 1 title and going 6-1 as a starter, Clough accounted for 17 total touchdowns (six passing, 11 rushing).
Rushing for a score in all seven games he started at QB, Clough averaged more than 100 yards per game rushing (768) while also throwing for 841 yards. His personal favorite contest was his last, when he had 300-plus total yards (211 passing, 114 rushing) in the Thanksgiving victory over Swampscott.
Having played both tackle and tight end over the course of his career, Clough is an excellent blocker and can also catch passes. This year, he slid under center and doubled as his team's punter. A standout in lacrosse as well, Clough, who has a 3.79 GPA, plans to play football at Middlebury College.
Wide Receiver/Defensive Back
Danvers head coach Ryan Nolan believes Tahg Coakley's best football playing days are still in front of him. Considering how good Coakley was for the Falcons, that's a pretty high bar to set for his college career.
Uncanny versatility was the name of Coakley's game during a senior season in which he played both running back and wide receiver. Amassing over 600 yards from scrimmage — and also damaging opponents in the return game — Coakley scored 10 touchdowns while leading the Falcons with 60 total points. Defensively, he added 51 total tackles and seven for a loss.
A supremely talented athlete with the spring in his step to get by any defender (in the air if necessary), Coakley was unquestionably at his best in the playoffs. He scored a pair of rushing TDs in the Division 3 North win at Lynn Classical, then made two of the best TD catches of the season against Tewksbury: One a juggling, leaping catch in the corner of the end zone and another a volley he concentrated and snared off a teammate's shoulder pad.
A solid basketball player as well, Coakley is looking forward to hitting the floor for the Falcons this winter.
The heart and soul of the Big Blue's bounce back season on defense, few players meant as much to their respective units as Swampscott captain Dominic Codispoti. A smart player who could read opposing offenses, shed blocks and pop opposing ball carriers with equal aplomb, anytime there was a big down it seemed like Codispoti made the play.
Amassing 85 tackles in 11 games, Codispoti also caused turnovers with a pair of interceptions. A dangerous receiver who could carry would-be tackles, Codispoti finished second on the Big Blue in TD catches with five while hauling in 17 balls for 306 total yards. The 6-foot-1, 210 pound team Defensive Player of the Year from 2016 felt his best defensive games in '17 was the victory over Triton.
Thankful for the tutelage of defensive coordinator Peter Bush as well as the unconditional support of his grandfather, Codispoti hopes to play football next year in college. He's also a solid defenseman for the Big Blue boys hockey squad.
Right guard/Middle linebacker
Talk about coming full circle. Cruz made the Witches' varsity as a freshman and was starting by the end of the season, including Thanksgiving Day at Beverly. In his team's first three seasons, they won a grand total of five games. Then came his senior season.
A 5-foot-9, 210-pound captain, Cruz was a huge part of Salem's dramatic comeback in 2017, winning seven of their 11 games to finish with the program's best record in 18 seasons. He finished the season with 86 tackles, including a monster outing against Saugus in which he brought down 16 Sachem ballcarriers, and was a physical presence in the middle of the field that his team could always rely on.
Helping to anchor Salem's offensive line, Cruz was a mainstay up front and led a unit that allowed the Witches to run for 2,848 yards, their most since 1999. He even scored a rushing touchdown of his own, a 15-yard score on his lone carry of the year. He thanks his youth coach, Frank DeFranco, for introducing him to the game of football.
Peabody's head coach Mark Bettencourt readily admits that players like Eric DeMayo don't walk through the door very often. With a combination of instincts, smarts and physical gifts, DeMayo enjoyed a stellar senior season that capped a tremendous four-year career as a Tanner.
Now a three-time Salem News all-star, DeMayo took over as Peabody's lead ball carrier for the first time this season. He ran for 542 yards in five TDs despite not carrying the ball in three games due to injury. DeMayo's trademark hard-hitting defense didn't suffer from his offensive workload: He totaled 90 tackles with five sacks and a pair of interceptions, both of which he took back for touchdowns.
DeMayo's favorite effort of this season came with 144 rushing yards and two TDs against his father's former team, Malden. A baseball captain and state qualifier in winter track, DeMayo ranks 30th in Peabody's 420-member senior class and hopes to play football in the Ivy League.
St. John's Prep Junior
Watching him on the gridiron for the Eagles, you'd never know that Dewing didn't start playing football until he entered high school as a freshman. Proving to be a quick learner, however, has made him one of the mainstays for St. John's in the trenches.
In his first season as an offensive lineman, the 6-foot, 240-pounder became one of the squad's most consistent performers up front. Tough, athletic and who attacks every play with the same determination and ferocity, Dewing was equally adept at pass blocking as he was holding the line and opening up holes for fellow all-star Aise Pream out of the backfield.
Exceptionally fast for the position, Dewing is both a great teammate and extremely coachable. Also crafty on the mound for the St. John's Prep baseball team, he's aiming to play either sport in college. His 3.9 grade point average will certainly give him a lot of options to do so.
Offensive tackle/Defensive line
A massive, imposing figure in the middle of football field. That's what Diaz brought to the Witches in every game, on every series and every down. His prowess as both a physical imposing specimen and a talented athlete paid off handsomely for his squad.
It didn't matter which side of the field that the 6-foot-3, 265-pound was playing; he was equally dominant on the offensive and defensive lines. Salem ran for almost 260 yards a game on the ground thanks in large part to Diaz's penchant for bottling up defensive linemen at the point of attack and creating seams for his running backs to fly through. Defensively, his quick feet and ability to push O-linemen backwards resulted in him registering five quarterback sacks (including 2 in one game vs. Winthrop, as well as seven tackles).
A bright student who holds a 3.63 grade point average, Diaz is ranked 47th in his senior class. He plans on studying civil engineering in college.
Bishop Fenwick Senior
Offensive guard/Defensive end
Like most teams, Bishop Fenwick grades out each of their players after breaking down film of a particular game, and its linemen are no exception. So while the Crusader coaches were used to seeing outstanding performances from DiBiase when it came time to grading, it was eye-popping when he graded out with a 96 percent blocking percentage in one particular outing.
A converted wide receiver, DiBiase moved on guard because he knew his squad was shorthanded on the offensive line. It speaks volumes of his unselfish nature and doing whatever it takes to help benefit the team as a whole. His father, having also been an offensive guard, served as a huge influence to him.
Owner of a 3.8 grade point average, DiBiase also runs indoor and outdoor track at Fenwick, where he qualified for States in the hurdles for both the winter and spring seasons as a junior. He'd like to study Electrical or Computer Engineering and possibly run track in college.
One of a team captain's primary goals is to lead by example. Towards that end, few performed those duties better in the fall of 2017 than Durgin, who rarely left the field for the Generals.
As thoughtful and erudite off the field as he was punishing and effective on it, Durgin finished as one of the North Shore's top tacklers with 115. He added an interception, two forced fumbles and, for the second straight season was a First Team Cape Ann League all-star. Durgin had a remarkable 25 tackles in one game against Manchester Essex, the biggest of those a goal line stop that forced a turnover and led to his team's game-winning touchdown going the other way in the waning seconds.
Looking to attend Worcester Polytech Institute and continue his football career, Durgin caught 19 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns; added 199 yards rushing and a score, and served as the Generals' long snapper. With a 3.6 grade point average, he's as serious a student as he is a student of football.
No team on the North Shore has the prolific passing history that Swampscott High boasts. So when you graduate having made your mark on the Big Blue's record books, you've truly had an incredible career.
How else but magnificent can you describe Colin Frary, the lefty with a big arm that graduates second all-time in Swampscott in both single season (33) and career (55) touchdown passes? The 33 scores Frary tossed this fall — to an improbable nine different receivers — are tied for the most ever by any North Shore signal caller not named Kyle Beatrice (the record holder with 39).
Frary did more than score: He moved the chains, throwing for 2,430 yards, and he won. As a senior captain, Frary led Swampscott to its best season in six years with a 7-4 mark. Among the many highlights were a five TD pass game against Greater Lawrence and a 371-yard, 4 TD performance against Saugus.
A Northeastern Conference all-star, Frary is grateful to assistant coach Peter Bush and plans to do a post-graduate season before college.
A surefire candidate for Defensive Player of the Year on the North Shore, Marblehead's stout middle linebacker Aidan Gillis was complimented by head coach Jim Rudloff as "maybe the best football player I've ever coached."
The performance backs that up for Gillis, a three-year starter who made 105 tackles in just eight games this season. A steady force in the middle layer of a defense that allowed fewer than 10 points per game, Gillis was almost never caught out of position and shed blockers as easily as boxers cutting weight for their big fight shed pounds. Gillis also totaled three sacks forced a fumble.
An important cog of the Magician spread offense at center, the 6-foot-2, 230 pound Gillis almost never came off the field for the NEC Tier 1 champion Magicians. An all-star in hockey as a defenseman, Gillis is considering a number of college options including St. Anselm, Bates and Union.
Running back/Outside linebacker
Don't let his size — 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds — fool you. Gillis packs a wallop and could steamroll opposing defenders as well as anyone in the area. He ran the jet sweeps, dives and belly plays to perfection in the Tigers' attack, rushing for a team-leading 915 yards in just eight games.
Gills gladly took on the role of team workhorse out of the backfield; his 28 rushing attempts against Lynnfield in mid-October were more than any other player on the North Shore had this season; he finished that outing with 203 yards on the ground. He also had a 26-carry contest against Manchester Essex
A tackling machine at linebacker and a Cape Ann League all-star, Gillis helped give his Tigers a share of the CAL's Baker division title with an upset win over arch rival Hamilton-Wenham on Thanksgiving. Owner of a 3.75 grade point average, he hopes to play college lacrosse and was a member of Ipswich's 2017 state championship team.
There wasn't much hard-hitting senior Tyrese Hardy couldn't go for the Marblehead High defense. Stuff the run? Check. Intimidate pass catchers with sure tackles on short routes? Check. Chase down the passer on blitzes? Check. Create turnovers? Definitely check.
Leading the Northeastern Conference Tier 1 champs and Division 4 North runners-up in total tackles with 130, Hardy was an absolute force in his senior season. He racked up 10 quarterback sacks, recovered three fumbles while forcing four others and also came up with an interception.
Though he felt his personal best performance was the playoff win over Wakefield, there wasn't one of MHS' ten wins that didn't have a stamp of a big play by Hardy on it someplace. He's thankful to assistant coach Steve Lewis for teaching him so much about the game, and hasn't decided what to pursue in college just yet.
A state champion on the wrestling mats, Colby Holland has yet to encounter an opposing ball carrier he couldn't find a way to out leverage and wrestle to the turf.
One of the most valuable members of a Danvers defense that posted two shutouts and allowed only eight points in the entire month of September, Holland totaled 72 tackles (51 solo) over the course of an all-star season. He used his powerful legs to become a short yardage weapon for Danvers as well, scoring four two-point conversion tries in addition to three touchdowns.
Holland's talents didn't end there. When the Falcons turned to the spread offense, he was one of the team's most agile and disciplined wide receivers. Nearly uncoverable on sideline cuts, Holland caught eight balls for 76 yards in the near-comeback win over Tewksbury (including three clutch fourth quarter first downs). He followed that up with nine grabs for 113 yards on Thanksgiving against Gloucester, ending the year with 40 receptions (one of the area's top totals) for 449 yards.
A three-time Division 3 state champ in wrestling, Holland also excels in lacrosse and is undecided about his college plans.
A two-year starter on an always rugged offensive line, few players North of Boston took the job of protecting their quarterback as seriously as Masconomet tackle Nicholas Kartsounis did this fall.
Remarkably allowing no sacks the entire season, Kartsounis was the picture of both consistency and work ethic while helping the Chieftains reach the Division 2 North semi's. Opening big holes when Masco opted for a double-win rushing attack and giving the passer plenty of time when the Chieftains went spread, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Cape Ann League all-star was a wall opposing defenses simply could not punch through.
An excellent student, Kartsounis carries a 4.35 grade points average and hopes to major in pre-med while playing football in college. He counts his dad, who was his first football coach, as his biggest athletic influence.
There may not have been a player as good as Pete Kitsakos at turning on the jets in open space on the entire North Shore. With a second gear to speed that propelled him to a team-best 12 touchdowns, Kitsakos did it all on offense for the Chieftains throughout an all-star senior season.
Rushing for a total of 967 yards, Kitsakos averaged more than eight yards a touch and had over 1,000 total yards from scrimmage (including receiving yards). His season high came at Peabody High, the team his dad played for, with 188 yards, and he also went over the century mark to beat Pentucket as well as against nationally ranked Everett at Fenway Park (143 rushing yards). Not to be outdone, Kitsakos even threw a touchdown pass in that historic Fenway bout. His 12 touchdowns and 72 points both led the club.
The state champion in the javelin last spring, Kitsakos has been a Sal;em News all-star in track and is thinking about pursuing either sport for college.
Wide receiver/Defensive back
The Generals were blessed with not one, but two elite wideouts to get the ball to in open space. As one of those glue-fingered pass catchers, Lanciani tortured opposing defenses with his smart route running, sharp cuts and nose for finding the end zone.
Lanciani hauled in 33 passes for 601 yards receiving and six touchdowns for the Cape Ann League Baker tri-champions. His nine receptions against Manchester Essex this fall not only tied for tops in the area, but also equaled Hamilton-Wenham's single game record. He also finished with a season-best 129 yards receiving in that contest. Later, in the Division 6 North playoff semifinals, he corralled a 77-yard touchdown pass from running back Ian Coffey on an option play, leading to a blowout victory.
Having also booted a 21-yard field goal this season, Lanciani also picked off two passes in the Generals' secondary. A strong student with a 3.5 grade point average, his goal is to keep playing football in college.
Offensive tackle/Defensive tackle
Stability. It's what Liphardt brought with him onto the field every time he left the Generals' sidelines and parked himself in the trenches and readied himself for another battle.
It's one of the reasons that the 5-foot-10, 215-pounder was named a captain by his teammates, who appreciated his work ethic, relentless commitment to improving himself and doing whatever it took for the team to prevail. A snapshot image of Liphardt was being helped off the field in a playoff quarterfinal against Salem with what looked like a game-ending injury. But less than a quarter later, he was back on the field and as dominant as ever.
Liphardt finished the season with 21 pancake blocks offensively while contributing 28 1/2 tackles and a pair of sacks defensively. He played his best when the stakes were highest, such as in the Generals' dominant victory at Lynnfield in a battle of 6-0 teams. Both his father and Generals' line coach Eddie Melanson have been huge influences on him, and he hopes to keep playing football at the next level.
Running back/Wide receiver/Safety
When the Panthers needed a big play, they didn't have to dig deep into their playbook to get one. They simply dialed up Marchand's number, and the senior captain usually found a way to produce.
Scoring a team-high 12 touchdowns for the Orange-and-Black this fall, Marchand was the only player in North Shore football to have at least three touchdowns of 50 or more yards both rushing and receiving. His best run was an 80-yard scamper to paydirt against Malden, and his high water mark for a receiving score came on a 74-yard snare for a score in the season opener at Lynn English. In his club's blowout home win over Malden, the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder ended the afternoon with three touchdowns and an interception.
Showing his versatility, Marchand rushed for 140 yards in one game, then hauled in 137 yards worth of catches in another. The Northeastern Conference all-star is ranked 40th in his senior class and owns a 4.24 grade point average, and plans to keep playing football in college.
Possessing arguably the best hands on the North Shore, Marblehead senior Derek Marino was a threat to catch the football on both offense and defense while helping the Magicians record their second straight 10-win season.
With a 6-foot-3 wingspan and the track speed of a smaller players, Marino was a constant first down machine in the passing game. He hauled in a team-best 32 passes for 625 yards and eight scores, all among the top totals in the area. Marino torched Peabody for 162 yards and two scores and also went over 100 receiving yards on Thanksgiving against Marblehead.
A roaming free safety, Marino also picked off his opponents four times over the course of the year. A capable run supporter, he totaled 63 tackles while earning All-Northeastern Conference distinction.
An all-star on the basketball court, Marino is grateful to his parents and brothers. He hasn't decided which sports to try to pursue in college.
McAlpine's formative years as a young football player were well spent. He paid keen attention to the Beverly varsity players as a youngster, watching their moves and trying to emulate them in his own games. It's clear that the lessons he learned as a youngster are paying off for him now.
A strapping 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, McAlpine was more than willing to grind out the tough yards and barrel into the teeth of an opposing defense. He finished the season with 448 yards on 80 carries and a half-dozen touchdowns, including a scintillating 60-yard touchdown scamper against Malden Catholic.
Showing versatility as a pass catching option, he also pulled in nine catches. His ability to wrap up opposing ballcarriers and always get a hat on the football were hallmarks of his defensively. The Northeastern Conference all-star is hoping to keep playing in college.
In theory, throwing the football on the move should be harder than heaving it on a straight drop-back. You'd never know that from watching Danvers senior Justin Mullaney sprint around the pocket and throw dimes to a variety of Falcon targets.
Throwing for 1,279 yards (the second highest in DHS history), Mullaney led the Falcons to their fifth straight winning season. He completed 54 percent of his passes while throwing 11 touchdowns including scoring strikes to five different receivers. Also rushing for four scores and 261 yards, Mullaney was at his best in pressure situations: He threw for 195 yards and three TDs (two in the fourth quarter) at North champ Tewksbury but his coup de grace came on Thanksgiving.
Setting a new Falcon record with 419 passing yards, Mullaney threw three touchdowns and completed 26-of-41 throws; It was his second game of the year with at least 30 throws.
An honor roll student, Mullaney hopes to play football next year in college.
The last line of defense is often the most tested as teams look to stretch the field. Few opponents managed to pass that test against Peabody's stalwart defensive back Nolan Murphy over the last two season.
An All-Northeastern Conference corner as a junior, Murphy slid over to free safety as a senior and served as the nerve center of a Tanner unit that had three shutouts and allowed just two touchdowns a game on average. He forced a pair of fumbles and wound up with 45 total tackles in addition to half-dozen pass deflections as Peabody finished the year 6-5.
A dangerous punt returner, Murphy averaged more than nine yards per return and his long returns inside the red zone helped spark Peabody's late season wins over both Beverly and Saugus. A solid student (ranking 84th in Peabody's Class of 2018) and captain, Murphy says he tried to mold his game after ex-Patriots All-Pro Rodney Harrison and hopes to play college football.
Wide receiver/Running back/Safety
In terms of sheer athleticism, Peach may stand alone among his gridiron brethren. Consider that he leaped from the 3-yard line and did a 360-degree flip into the end zone for a touchdown — in a playoff game, no less — simply because he saw someone else do so on Instagram and thought it might be fun.
When the spotlight shone brightly, Peach was there to bask in its glow. He had three touchdowns in both of the Generals' playoff victories (over Salem and Arlington Catholic) and wound up as team MVP and the Cape Ann League Baker MVP. In the aforementioned postseason triumph over Salem, Peach hauled in 217 yards in receptions, one of four occasions he had at least 100 yards receiving.
With 44 catches, 867 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches, Peach won the Triple Crown for wideouts by leading the area in all three categories. He also ran for six scores and, for good measure, he also had punt returns that went 70 yards and 50 yards, both for touchdowns. His 18 total touchdowns placed him second on the North Shore in scoring with 108 points.
Peach finished his remarkable career with 144 catches, 2,316 receiving yards and 26 touchdown catches (he also ran for 9 scores and finished with 37 total touchdowns). After a post-graduate year of school, Peach has his sights set on playing Division 1 college football.
St. John's Prep Junior
Going up against some of the Commonwealth's best teams week after week — all of whom know you're the focal point of your team's offensive attack — would be daunting to most players. But Aise Pream, St. John's Prep's standout tailback, isn't one of them.
Quite the opposite, actually; Pream relished attacking opposing teams while trying to run around, over and through them. He finished with 1,201 yards rushing (one of only two area players to break one thousand yards) on 171 carries and had 10 touchdowns. He had almost 900 yards more than his next closest backfield teammate, the greatest margin of disparity in the region.
His best individual outing came in a rout of Andover in which the 5-foot-6, 140-pound speedster had 176 rushing yards and three touchdowns (including a 71-yard scamper to paydirt) while adding a fourth score as a pass catcher.
A Catholic Conference all-star, Pream owns a 4.04 grade point average and would like to continue playing in college.
St. John's Prep Senior
Tight end/Defensive end
If the Eagles needed the edge sealed on a designed running play to the outside, they more often than not ran it Slattery's way. If they needed extra protection for one of their quarterbacks on passing downs, Slattery was a near-immovable force in protection.
And when St. John's was defending its goal and needed a player to provide activity off the edge or leap up and bat down passes, Slattery filled the role to a T. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound two-way end and team captain was a source of stability all season for St. John's Prep, both in Catholic Conference play and against out-of-conference foes. Of all his noteworthy game performances this fall, he was most pleased by the work he put in against Bridgewater-Raynham.
A Catholic Conference all-star, Slattery is also a brilliant student who currently carries a 4.3 grade point average. Hoping to continue his football career in college, Slattery thanks his parents and his brother for their constant support and always pushing him to succeed.
Right guard/Defensive tackle
Defensive linemen forced to square off against Spinale in the trenches would groan inwardly, knowing they'd be in for a game-long battle. When possession changed and Spinale switched over to the other side of the ball, opposing O-linemen dreaded his fierce pass rushing abilities.
No matter whether the Tigers had the football or were defending their end of the field, Spinale was a difference maker. Running the majority of its plays behind the 6-foot, 210-pounder on the right side of the line, Ipswich gained over 2,200 rushing yards this fall while averaging nearly 6 yards per carry. Spinale was also adroit at pass blocking.
Defensively, Spinale finished his senior campaign with over 60 tackles, many of them going for losses. He also terrorized quarterbacks and finished with a dozen sacks. He'd like to continue to play the sport in college, where he plans on studying criminal justice. Spinale thanked his head coach, Kevin Fessette, for giving him the chance to play thanks to his day-in, day-out work ethic on the gridiron.
St. John's Prep Junior
Standing six feet tall and weighing 315 pounds, Taylor is difficult to move on the gridiron. Combine his athleticism, quick feet and intricate understanding of the Prep's defensive schemes, though, and Taylor is a force on the football field.
Constantly commanding double teams, Taylor often frees up one of his defensive mates to make plays in opposing teams' backfields or just past the line of scrimmage. His physicality is evident, making him extremely difficult to run the ball against. Blocking Taylor is also arduous for foes, who tend to wear down going up against him over the course of four quarters.
An unselfish player who willingly takes on much of the grunt work to make those around him better, the Peabody native had several sacks this fall and earned Catholic Conference all-star honors. His size, work ethic and strength make him an attractive college prospect.
The toughest question for Masconomet's opponents this fall was which caused more damage: Trying to tackle Jay Theriault of being tackled by him. The 6-foot, 210 pound powerhouse packed a big punch on both sides of the ball while helping lead the Chieftains to a 7-4 finish.
As a fast and strong linebacker, Theriault had a team-high 69 tackles while forcing a fumble and even blocking a kick in his team's playoff win over Woburn. His season high was 10 stops in a win over Pentucket and he totaled more than a half-dozen solo tackles in six of his team's 11 games.
Offensively, Theriault busted out for 102 yards in a win over Newton South and rumbled for 94 in a victory over Malden Catholic. He totaled 441 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, including a score against nationally ranked Everett at Fenway Park (also making 7 tackles against the Crimson Tide).
A National Honor Society member, Theriault ranks No. 3 in Masco's junior class.
With the keys to his team's explosive offense in his capable hands, the Generals were virtually unbeatable with Whelan under center. The junior signal caller led Hamilton-Wenham to nine straight victories to open the year and a share of the Cape Ann League Baker title before his season was ended in the Division 6 North title game thanks to a separated shoulder.
Prior to that, Whelan put up some outstanding numbers. He completed 97-of-170 passes for 1,606 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for three scores himself. The southpaw threw an accurate deep ball, with touchdown passes to his fellow all-star, Cam Peach, of both 68 and 65 yards, and was deft in getting the ball off in traffic and hitting his receivers in stride.
Whelan threw for 150 or more yards in six of 10 games this fall, including a season-high 307 yards in a playoff win over Salem. He added a career high 19 completions against Manchester Essex, and five times attempted at least 19 passes in a game. The 5-foot-10, 140-pounder is also a terrific student with a 3.5 grade point average.
Beverly: Bobby Adams, Sr. TE/DE; Ameer Alshrafi, Sr. RB/LB; Tyler Geary, Sr. TE/DE; Paul Ofeish, Sr. OL/DL; Ryan Barror, Jr. WR/CB.
Bishop Fenwick: Cory Bright, Jr. QB; David Cifuentes, Soph. RB; Chris Fisher, Sr. TE/DE; Michael Sellards, Sr. TE/DE.
Danvers: Franco Abbatessa, Sr., OL/DL; Zach Dillon, Sr., TE/LB/K; Matt McCarthy, Jr., RB/DB; Tom Walfield, So., OL/DL; Russ Canova, So., FB/LB; Isaac Downs, Sr., TE/DB.
Essex Tech: ; Ryker Bos, Sr. OG/DT; Gary Landry, Sr. LB; Hunter Lane, Jr. RB/CB.
Hamilton-Wenham: Ian Coffey, Soph. RB/DB; Thomas Monahan, Jr. OL/DL; Henry Schibli, Jr. LB; Sam Webber, Jr. LB; Hunter Wilichoski, Sr. LB.
Ipswich: Alex Bruhm, Sr. TE/LB; Christian Fabbri, Sr. RT/LB; Tommy Herron, Sr. WR/LB; Matt Rugo, Sr. RB/FS; Kevin Swenson, Sr. LG/DE, Ben Yanakakis, Jr. QB/OLB.
Marblehead: Tim Cronin, So., RB/DB; Nick Corsini, Sr., OL/DL; Teddy Mayle, Sr., WR/LB; Obinna Okereke, Sr., OL/LB.
Masconomet: Patrick Corcoran, Sr., OL/DL; Max Latam, Jr., DB; Matt McGaunn, Sr., OL/DL; Danny Mongale, Sr., WR/DB.
Peabody: Marcus Barker, Sr., DB; Noah Freedman, Sr., RB; Michael Lock, Jr., OL/DL; Sam Mastromatteo, Sr., TE/S; Angel Paulino, So., RB; Cam Powers, Sr., OL/DE; Elijah White, Sr., WR/DB.
Pingree: Adam Ager, Sr., OL/DL; Kevin Gillis, So., OL/DL; Alex Suny, Jr., TE; Ricky Arias, Sr., WR/DB; Vito Visconti, Jr., RB/LB.
Salem: Aneudy Espinal, Sr. QB/DB; Tylor Giles, Sr. WR/DL; Jeffrey Rodriguez, Sr. RB/DB; Tyler Skeffington, Sr. TE/LB.
St. John's Prep: Alex Lane, Jr. DE; Cooper Smith, Soph. OL; Coltan Tangney, Jr. LB; Zak Zinter, Soph. OL.
Swampscott: Isaiah Bascon, Sr., RB/DB; Noah Carreiro, Sr., OL/DL; Jake McIntire, Sr., WR; Alex Sheehan, Sr., OL/DL.