It was a solid 2013 season for TIMES NEWS area football teams with five of our squads qualifying for the postseason. Pleasant Valley and Lehighton qualified for the district playoffs, while Northwestern, Marian, and Jim Thorpe all qualified for Eastern Conference.

The Tigers and Colts were the TN area's most successful teams this past postseason, each taking home an Eastern Conference Championship in their respective divisions.

There were also some impressive individual performances from a few of our TIMES NEWS All Star members that garnered All State recognition.

Jim Thorpe's Ryan Saunders became the second Olympians quarterback in the last two seasons to earn an All State selection at the athlete position in Class AAA. Marian linebacker Lukas Damian was named to the Class A All State Team, while Northwestern's Mackenzie Storm (guard) and Cameron Richardson (defensive specialist) were named to the Class AA All State Team.

Offensive Player of the Year

Ryan Saunders II, Sr., Jim Thorpe

Saunders was a very dynamic player for the Olympians in 2013. He led the Olympians to a 7-4 mark, turning them around from back-to-back 1-9 campaigns. The senior's statistics speak volumes as he finished second in the TN area in rushing, tallying 1,570 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was much more than just a running quarterback as he also threw for 1,005 yards and 10 touchdowns. Saunders was responsible for over 2,500 yards of total offense and 27 touchdowns. Saunders was named to the AAA Pennsylvania All State Team at the athlete position as well.

Quotable - "It all starts with Ryan's will to win. He never gave up on a play this season and just when you thought he was down he would pop up and gain that extra yard. He's a great kid, with great athletic ability, and he always wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line." Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger.

Defensive Player of the Year

Lukas Damian, Sr., Marian

Damian was a force for the Colts on both sides of the ball in 2013, but he made his mark on the defensive end. He had four games with 20 or more tackles and finished the season with over 160 tackles. That's video game type numbers for the senior. Damian constantly showed his ability to read defenses and his sideline to sideline speed at his position was unmatched by anyone in the area. Damian was a Pennsylvania A All State selection at linebacker.

Quotable - "Lukas has meant so much to the Marian football program, as much as anybody we've had here. His passion, talent, and tenacity in the game of football make him the type of player he is. He's a true student of the game and his work ethic has always been fantastic. He's a very impressive young man who will do well in anything he dedicates his time too." Marian coach Stan Dakosty.

2013 TIMES NEWS Offensive All Stars

Quarterback of the Year

Brandon Leap, Sr., Pleasant Valley

Brandon Leap has been the "Drew Brees" of the TIMES NEWS quarterbacks over the past few seasons. He's not your prototypical guy size wise, but he certainly has all the intangibles of a good throwing signal caller. He led the TN area, throwing for 1,729 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has also led the Bears to back-to-back district playoffs game. Leap is the record holder in most if not all the major passing categories in Pleasant Valley history. Leap finished his career with 4,556 yards passing and 47 passing touchdowns.

Quotable - "Brandon has had tremendous career here at Pleasant Valley. His body of work speaks for itself. He can make every throw in the book out there and there's no doubt he has been our general out there on the offensive side of the ball since 2011." Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger.

All Star quarterbacks

Kyle Ferryman, Sr., Panther Valley

Frank Dangello, Jr., Northwestern Lehigh

Running Back of the Year

Tyler Hope, Sr., Tamaqua

If Tyler hope was healthy for the entire 2013 season who knows what kind-of numbers he could have put up. Hope missed a lot of time early in the season due to a back injury and continued to play through the pain in his senior season. His speed and tough running torched almost every team he played against. He rushed for an impressive 350 yards against a tough Schuylkill Haven team in week seven and finished the year with 1,185 yards. He also led the TN area, scoring 19 touchdown and his most impressive stat is his yards per carry average. Hope averaged 9.33 yards per carry.

Quotable - "With Tyler on the field we were a threat to break the big play at any time. We were luck to have him although we wished we could've had him a little more this season. There's no doubt we were a totally different team with him on the field and for him to fight through an injury like that speaks volumes on the type of kid he is." Tamaqua coach Sam Bonner

All Star running backs

Harry Hall, So., Northwestern Lehigh

Austyn Borre, So., Pleasant Valley

Richard Nase, Sr. Panther Valley

Wyatt Clements, So., Lehighton

Deonte St. Hill. Sr., Jim Thorpe

Anthony Agosti, Sr., Marian

Wide Receiver of the Year

Kevin Cruz, Jr., Pleasant Valley

Cruz was quarterback Brandon Leap's favorite target in the passing game. After the Bears lost senior Sekou Jones and Andrew Romeo it was unsure of who would pick up the receiving load. Insert Cruz, who did damage to opposing defenses this season. He was consistent and he caught most everything that came his way. Match that with good route running and speed and it's no wonder why Cruz had so much success. He finished with 38 catches for 595 yards and six touchdowns.

All Star wide receivers

Tyler Crum, Jr., Lehighton

Cameron Richardson, Jr., Northwestern Lehigh

Nico Agosti, Jr., Marian

Nyiem Nevarez, Jr., Pleasant Valley

Dustin Vandermartin, Sr., Tamaqua

Offensive Lineman of the Year

Mackenzie Storm, Sr., Northwestern Lehigh

Storm showed his versatility this season switching from tackle to guard in order to help the Tigers pistol offense have more success. Obviously, Storm's move to the inside helped the Tigers with running back Harry Hall rushing for over 1,500 yards and his team winning an Eastern Conference Championship. Storm was also named to the Pennsylvania AA All State Team.

Quotable - "Mac was the dominant lineman in our league this season and it's all because he put the time in. This is a kid that has had to fight through a lot of adversity and he's come out on top. That just says a lot about what kind-of kid he is and what type of football player he is. We ran behind him all season and there's no doubt he is one of the reasons for our success this season." Northwestern coach Josh Snyder.

All Star offensive linemen

Chris Hower, Sr., Pleasant Valley

Brian Joseph, Jr., Pleasant Valley

Nick Coccio, Sr., Tamaqua

Mike Rodgers, Sr., Jim Thorpe

Mark Williams, Sr., Panther Valley

Marques Spencer, Jr., Lehighton

Jake Moser, Sr., Northern Lehigh

Christian Snyder, Sr., Northwestern Lehigh

Jacob Najarian, Sr., Northwestern Lehigh

Joe Damiano, Jr., Marian

Josh Ambruch, Jr., Marian

All Star kicker

Dean Krcic, So., Pleasant Valley

2013 TIMES NEWS Defensive All Stars

Defensive Lineman of the Year

Marquis Brown, Sr., Pleasant Valley

The 6-4 250-pound monster was a constant disturbance for Mountain Valley Conference opponents. He was always in the backfield and his size and athletic ability alone made him one of the most antagonizing defenders in the area. His ability to bat the ball down at the line of scrimmage along with his ability to contain the edge are why he's getting various looks from FBS schools, although Brown has not yet made a decision.

Quotable - "Marquis has been a three year starter for us and he's been real impressive in that time. His size and skill will definitely help him at the next level and his ability to get better every year is something you always want in a football player. He's getting multiple looks by some nice programs and I expect him to make an impact at the next level." Pleasant Valley coach Jim Terwilliger.

All Star defensive linemen

Richard Nase, Sr., Panther Valley

Rian Shubeck, Jr., Panther Valley

Ty Skripko, Jr., Tamaqua

Stephen Hall, Sr., Marian

Ahmad Curtis, Jr., Pleasant Valley

Devonte Dash, Sr., Lehighton

Linebacker of the Year

Tre Nelson, Jr., Palmerton

Nelson was a star for an improved Palmerton defense this season. Much like a good linebacker does, Nelson was all over the field for the Bombers, making play after play. It was evident when watching Palmerton play that opposing offenses always knew where No. 22 was on the field. Even with that, Nelson was able to put up big numbers, tallying 117 tackles and seven tackles for a loss.

Quotable - "Tre has been a three year starter for us and he's gotten better every year. His knowledge of the game has improved immensely and he understands the fact that you have to prepare not only physically, but mentally for a football game. He's also an outstanding leader, in fact when he was a freshman he called a team meeting. That's something you don;t see very often. He leads by example and we're all certainly looking forward to next season." Palmerton coach Chris Walkowiak.

All Star linebackers

Wyatt Clements, So., Lehighton

Tom Ruzicka, Jr., Lehighton

Sam Budusky, Sr., Marian

Mike Malatak, Sr., Jim Thorpe

Kevin Vitti, So., Jim Thorpe

Taylor Breininger, Jr., Northwestern Lehigh

Issac George, Jr., Palmerton

Defensive Back of the Year

Cameron Richardson, Jr., Northwestern

As much of an impact that Richardson made on offense (945 yards of total offense, 10 TDs) he made even more of an impact on defense. I know that sounds hard to believe, but he was a shutdown defensive back fot the Tigers. He came up with three interceptions and three pass break ups to go along with 21 tackles. Richardson also made his presence felt in the kick return game, returning three kicks for an average of 42 yards and a touchdown. Richardson was selected to the Pennsylvania AA All State Team as a defensive specialist.

Quotable - "Cam is a guy that showed flashes of his ability in his sophomore season, but didn't do it consistently. This season, he worked hard and became a really good football player. He did so much for us on offense and defense. He gives everything he has when he's out there and the fact that he's a great athlete allows him to do a lot of good things." Northwestern coach Josh Snyder.

All Star defensive backs

Nyiem Nevarez, Jr., Pleasant Valley

Nick Newton, Sr., Lehighton

Kyle Ferryman, Sr., Panther Valley

Ryan Carroll, Jr., Jim Thorpe

Antonio Madera, Fr., Jim Thorpe

Nate Farber, Jr., Northern Lehigh

All Star punters

Tyler Crum, Jr., Lehighton

Deonte St. Hill, Sr., Jim Thorpe