Nine Bulldogs on TN First Team
Northern Lehigh's Trevor Yashur, second from left, receives the TIMES NEWS Football Player of the Year trophy from Managing Sports Editor Ed Hedes. Joining them for the presentation are Yashur's parents Theresa and Joe. Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS
It's becoming quite common this time of the year.
Select a football all-star team and you're bound to have a host of Northern Lehigh players on it.
After another successful season (the Bulldogs have reached postseason play in 13 of the last 14 years), it shouldn't come as a shock that Joe Tout's club once again dominated the TIMES NEWS First Team.
In all, nine players received mention on our top team. Leading the way is TN Football Player of the Year Trevor Yashur. Two other Bulldogs were recognized on the Second Team.
Below are bios on every member of our First Team, along with comments from each of their respective head coaches.
Quarterback Dylan Hofmann, Northern Lehigh: senior signal-caller guided the Bulldogs to a 10-2 record and a berth in the District 11 championship game. Hofmann completed 62-of-110 passes for an area best .564 completion percentage. He threw for 964 yards and 14 touchdowns, while being intercepted eight times. On the ground, he did an excellent job of running the option and finished with 371 rushing yards and three scores. Hofmann received Second Team Colonial League honors, was a team captain and earned the team's Bulldog Award (leadership) ... "For our team success, Dylan was more than just a quarterback. He excelled on punt returns. And on offense we ran a lot of option and sprint option with him. He's a vocal leader. I can see him being the type to come back and coach. He's a successful wrestler and that helps with mental toughness."
Running Back Trevor Yashur, Northern Lehigh: the TIMES NEWS Football Player of the Year finished the season with 216 carries for 1,311 yards rushing (an average of 6.1 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns on the ground. As a receiver, he had eight catches for 93 yards and three scores. The 5-9 senior led the Bulldogs in both TDs (14) and scoring (86 points). Yashur reached 100 yards rushing in seven games, including a season-high of 243 versus Palisades. He was a team captain and won his team's Outstanding Offensive Back award. Also a baseball player, he runs about a 4.6 and may attempt to play either baseball or football in college ... "You have to give him credit. He waited his time and got his chance. We could see on last year's highlights that he had a lot of big runs and we knew he'd come along. Early on we thought of maybe going a different direction offensively, maybe more spreas, but he proved us wrong, We had concerns about his size but he proved himself."
Running Back Jarred Muffley, Tamaqua: led the TIMES NEWS area in rushing attempts (259), rushing yards (1,339) and touchdowns (24) this season with 24. He finished with six games of 100+ yards rushing with a high of 272 against Schuylkill Haven. He also scored four touchdowns in a game on three different occasions. His efforts helped lead the Raiders to the Eastern Conference Division II championship game. The 5-10, 159-pound senior added 14 catches for 197 yards and finished second in the area in points with 144. On defense, he had 30 tackles and two interceptions. He runs the 40 in the 4.45-4.5 range and is looking to play at a Division III school ... "He had a breakout senior season and kind of broke out of the shadows of Grif (Griffiths) and Garth (Lakitsky). He rededicated himself and worked hard in the classroom. He's a hard runner for such a small kid. He's a small kid who gets a lot of tough yards and puts the ball in the end zone."
Running Back Paul Martin, Marian: the Colts' rushing leader and scoring leader, Martin carried 199 times for 1,163 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also caught a TD pass and was the team's kicker, finishing the year with 139 points (third most in the TN area). He had six games of 100+ yards rushing, including a high game of 245 against Lehighton in the season opener. He also ran for 198 and four scores against Jim Thorpe. The 5-9, 195-pound senior was named to the Second Team Anthracite All-Star squad as a running back. He runs a 4.6 and is also on the Colts' track team ... "He had an outstanding career for us. He finished as the second all-time leading rusher at Marian which says a lot. He's the whole package - he runs well, catches the ball well and is a good blocker. He's a solid student and he's probably going to play at the next level."
Wide Receiver Jacen Nalesnik, Lehighton: topped the TIMES NEWS area in catches (47) and receiving yards (713 yards), while also hauling in 10 touchdowns. The junior also led the TN area in scoring with 145 points. He finished with a team-leading 484 yards rushing on just 62 attemps (an average of 7.8 yards per carry) and nine scores. The team's kicker, he also booted two field goals and 25 extra points. Nalesnik, who had season highs against PM East in catches (11) and receiving yards (191), was named First Team MVC receiver and Honorable Mention linebacker and punter. The 6-2, 215-pounder averaged 31.3 yards per punt and finished the year with 34 tackles. The National Honor Society member is a three-sport athlete who also plays basketball and baseball ... "He was an all-around athlete for us. We moved him around at many positions. He has excellent hands, If he dropped a ball, and he may have dropped only one or two all season, the kids would be shocked. He was a weapon on offense and if you didn't double-team you'd be in trouble. He's fast, elusive and played almost every down. If the game was on the line, he wanted the ball."
Wide Receiver Khaaliq Lynch, Jim Thorpe: led the Olympians in receptions (36), receiving yards (640), touchdowns (10) and scoring (64 points). Had at least one catch in every game this season. Had season highs of seven receptions (against Minersville) and 183 receiving yards (against Schuylkill Haven). Also returned a kickoff and interception for touchdowns. Tall and quick, the 6-3 sophomore runs the 40 in the 4.5-4.6 range. A three-sport athlete, he is also a member of the Olympian basketball and track teams. ... "He has all the tools to become an outstanding receiver. He just needs to work at those skills. He's one of the most talented players I've ever coached and has the potential to be a Division I recruit. He's friendly and respectful and we hope for him to be a leader in the future. The sky's the limit for him."
Tight End Caleb Johnson, Northern Lehigh: a 6-4, 210-pound junior who is considered a Division I prospect. Johnson led the Bulldogs in receptions (17) and receiving yards (317) and hauled in three touchdown passes. His 18.65 yards per catch average was the highest among TIMES NEWS players with at least 10 catches. He was selected to the Colonial League's Second Team all-star squad as a tight end on offense and as an outside linebacker on defense. Johnson made 60 tackles, including a high of 12 against Pen Argyl, and had three sacks. The three-sport athlete (basketball, track) is 10th in his class, on Student Council, scored high on SATs, and is very active in the school ... "Caleb is already receiving some big-time looks. With his size, he qualified for the state 300 hurdles in track. You just don't see kids that tall and that fast. He has all the tools and runs well. We're looking forward to him coming back next year."
Offensive Lineman Kyle Wasilkowski, Northern Lehigh: the Bulldogs' top offensive lineman anchored a front that helped produce an average of over 200 yards rushing a game. The senior, at 6-2, 230 pounds, was named to the Colonial League First Team all-star squad. He earned the team's Most Improved award and is a member of the Nolehi baseball team. He is planning to attend college and would like to play baseball there ... "I'm happy for kids like Kyle. He didn't start last year and we pushed him hard. He was down at times last year and made mistakes. He practiced with and against the first team last year and I think that helped. He ended up fitting that mold of a senior who took big strides and became an important part of the team. His upside was that he's athletic and moved very well for his size."
Offensive Lineman Pete Conforti, Tamaqua: senior two-way lineman was a First Team Anthracite League all-star at defensive end and a Second Team selection on the offensive line. The 6-0, 212-pounder helped lead the way for the TN area's leading rusher (Muffley). Conforti registered a team-high 17 pancake blocks, including a high of seven against Jim Thorpe. On defense, he was second on the Raiders with 74 tackles which included a season-high 14 against Mahanoy Area. He was named the Raiders' Offensive Lineman of the Year and broke records at the Palmerton weightlighting meet. He squats 500 and benches 300 ... "He did a great job for us. He was the reason we could run traps and helped our running game have success. He's not the biggest lineman but he always gives 110 percent. He played bigger than his weight and his motor was always going. He was a four-year starter and in three of those years we made the playoffs. He was part of the reason for that success."
Offensive Lineman Kane Kralik, Palmerton: one of the Bombers' captains this season, Kralik earned Second Team Colonial League honors on both offense and defense. As a center a year ago, the 5-10, 220-pounder earned his team's lineman of the year. This season he was moved to guard because of his ability to pull. On defense, the senior posted 77 tackles (43 solo) including a high of 15 against Palisades. The second-leading tackler for Palmerton, Kralik also led the club in sacks with 6.5 and was the team's co-defensive MVP. A member of the Bombers' wrestling squad, he also enjoys hunting ... "Kane was our key player up front. He's very dedicated and was our big-play guy on the defensive line. He's very funy and brings life to the team. He's very serious on the field, but he knows when to lighten things up. Overall, he's just a good kid and is very well-liked by his peers."
Offensive Lineman Kris Seiler, Northern Lehigh: moved from guard to center and fit the position well. A 5-11, 170-pound junior, Seiler was named the team's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and earned an Honorable Mention spot on the Colonial League all-star team. A solid student, he is also a member of the Bulldogs' baseball team ... "Seiler was our best athlete on the line. He broke his hand in the first scrimmage and we had to move him. After his cast came off he was moved to center. He doesn't make mental mistakes, and since he played guard in the past he was able to helps the guards with calls."
Offensive Lineman Brendan McGowan, Marian: a Division I prospect who already committed to Temple, McGowan stands 6-5 and weighs 285 pounds. The senior was selected to the Anthracite League Second Team as both an offensive and defensive lineman. Besides freeing the way for tailback Paul Martin, who rushed for over 1,000 yards, he made 42 tackles, six for loss, on defense. He added two forced fumbles, recovered a pair of fumbles and blocked an extra point. McGowan is also a member of Marian's track team ... "He's an outstanding player and is going to an up-and-coming Division I program. When you watched him on film you could see how dominating a player he is. Not only will he be a Division I player, but he's also a Division I young man in the classroom and on the field. Without a doubt, he's one of the first ones in the weight room and one of the last out."
Kicker Lance Williams, Tamaqua: booted 26 extra points and two field goals to finish the season with 32 points. Consistently his kickoffs found the end zone for touchbacks. Both his field goals came in the Raiders' one-point Eastern Conference win over Catasauqua. For his four-year career, the 6-1, 156-pound senior converted 118-of-144 extra points, a percentage of .819, and had four field goals. Williams also punted 31 times for a 31-yard average and dropped nine of them inside the 20-yard line. He hopes to be a kicker at college, possibly at a Division III school ... "He was consistent for us and has started since he was a freshman. He had a lot of touchbacks. He's really the first kicker I've had that could consistently do that. He's also a soccer player and did a good job balancing the two sports. There are many who can't do that. And to do that four years is impressive."
Offensive Specialist Ty Cunningham, Northwestern: the heart and soul of the Tigers, Cunningham started the year as a running back and eventually moved to quarterback. The 5-11, 192-pound senior carried 141 times for 997 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 7.1 yards per carry average was the highest in the TIMES NEWS area among players with 75 or more attemps. He also completed 51-of-106 passes for 845 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, the linebacker led his team in tackles with over 100 and averaged 12.9 stops per game. He had six tackles for loss. Cunningham received First Team Colonial League honors as an Offensive Athlete and made the Second Team as a linebacker. Also a baseball player and solid student, he hopes to play football at the next level ... "He's someone who has to be accounted for on the field. He's a complete player. Even when we got behind, we felt okay because he can make things happen. He made big plays with both his arm and his legs. He's also intelligent, and took over the offense. He was also a leader on defense and was always around the ball."
Defensive Lineman Mike Balliet, Lehighton: named to the MVC First Team as a defensive tackle, Balliet registered 57 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles for the Indians. The senior had a season-high 11 tackles (nine solo) against Stroudsburg. He is also a quality wrestler and is also training at the Rat Pack to become a cage-fighter. The 5-7, 180-pounder is looking into becoming a Marine after graduation ... "He's the kind of kid you have to gameplan for. If he's not double-teamed, he will be in your backfield. He's strong and physical, and he's quick off the ball. He's a great kid and epitomizes what you want a Lehighton football player to be."
Defensive Lineman Kyle Greenawald, Northern Lehigh: senior led the Bulldogs in sacks with seven, registering two against both Palmerton and Wilson. Greenawald finished the season with 48 tackles, posting six on four different occasions. The 5-11, 175-pounder earned Colonial League First Team status as a defensive end, was NL's co-Outstanding Defensive Lineman and is a member of the Bulldog wrestling team ... "The thing that stands out with Kyle is that he has a motor that is unbelievable. He just doesn't know how to take a play off. Because of that, we used him just on defense. He was one of the keys as to why we were so good on defense. In practice we would use Kyle to simulate another team's quick noseguard who would pester our offense."
Defensive Lineman Kyle Schomp, Northern Lehigh: finished second on the team with 80 tackles, including a season-high 13 against Saucon Valley and 11 against Pen Argyl. The 6-0, 215-pound senior was named a Colonial League Second Team defensive tackle and is currently on the Bulldog wrestling team and plays baseball in the spring. Strong and quick, Schomp runs the 40 in 4.61 and also benches 360. Will probably play football in college and is being looked at by PSAC schools ... "Athletically, he's just a very impressive kid. You don't see kids that run that fast and are that strong. His stats may not have been as impressive this year but that's because teams game-planned for him and double-teammed him. The importance of him (against double teams) was huge and his play helped the play of others."
Linebacker Anthony Damiano, Marian: the team's leading tackler, he finished with 125 stops, including 15 tackles for loss. The 6-1, 225-pound senior caused four fumbles, intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. Damiano was honored as an Anthracite League First Team linebacker. On offense, he ran the ball 31 times for 117 yards. He also caught three passes ... "He's one of our team leaders. He's what I like to describe as a 'true Colt'. He's just a physical player who played downhill. Pound for pound he may be the strongest kid on our team. When you watch him on film he's always at the point of attack. He's good in the classroom and a leader in the weightroom."
Linebacker Dakota Everett, Pleasant Valley: junior led team by a wide margin in tackles with 112, including 50 solo. The 6-3, 235-pounder posted six games of 10 or more tackles including a season-high 17 against Honesdale. Everett's high in solo stops was 10 against East Stroudsburg North. Also a tight end on offense, he caught six passes for 76 yards. Everett received First Team MVC honors on defense and was a Second Team selection on offense. A member of the Bears' track team, he also enjoys the outdoors ... "He's probably the most physical kid in our league. He adapted this year to playing both ways, as he was also a tight end for us. He anchors us defensively. He was a leader by example and took ownership of calling our defense. What he brings to the field is consistency. Scheme-wise everything goes around him. He's the guy on our defense that makes things happen, and we're excited to have him back next year."
Linebacker Kirk Bender, Northern Lehigh: one of the team's top all-around players, Bender excelled on offense, defense and special teams. The Bulldogs' leading tackler had 97 stops, including a season-high 16 against Pen Argyl, and had four games of 10+ tackles. He also had a sack, interception and fumble recovery. On offense, he played fullback and often took on bigger defensive players in leading the way for Yashur. A team captain, he also managed to run the ball 86 times for 457 yards and seven touchdowns. He booted 31 extra points and finished second on the team in scoring with 75 points. The team's Scholar-Athlete and a member of the baseball team, Bender is seventh in his class and earned the Maurice Schliecher award (team MVP). He would like to go to school for turf management, probably at either Williamson Trade or Delaware Valley ... "Kirk is probably the toughest player on our team. There were times he was probably banged up, but he always wanted to play and practice. On offense he took over the job that (Matt Gill did, who was 30 pounds bigger than Kirk). It was never an issue for him though, We were able to do many of the same things as last year and that was because of Kirk. He does a great job getting around blocks on defense. He has a knack at getting downhill quickly and just did an exceptional job for us."
Linebacker Nolan Zeigler, Tamaqua: the team's leading tackler, he registered 100 including a season-high 17 against Marian and 15 versus Minersville. He finished with four games over 10 tackles and had two sacks, eight tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, two blocked punt, an interception and a forced fumble. On offense, the 5-10, 167-pound junior carried the ball 60 times for 259 yards and five touchdowns, and had 10 pancake blocks. He was named to the Anthracite League Second Team on defense ... "He played more like a 225-pounder. He plays with a lot of emotion and gets the rest of the team pumped up. We were unsure at linebacker going into the year because of the loss of Grif (Griffiths) and Garth (Lakitsky) but he did a great job stepping in."
Linebacker Aaron Cook, Palmerton: the Bombers' leading tackler, Cook finished with 86 (including 56 solo), four sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The senior had a season-high 15 against Saucon Valley and had six or more stops in nine of of his team's 10 games. A tri-captain, he was also honored as Palmerton's co-defensive MVP. On offense he was the Bombers' lead blocker but also rushed for 104 yards and had 12 receptions. Cook is ranked fourth in his class of 140 and is the team's Scholar-Athlete. He's a Mini Maxwell Award winner (given to just 60 players in the state). The 5-8, 190-pounder is also a member of the school's baseball team and National Honor Society ... "He is our leader on the 'D' side because he makes all our calls and checks and sets the defensive line front. Without him defensively our unit would have been lost. Aaron is a very versatile player for us. He displays outstanding character and is a student of the game. Aaron possesses a very strong work ethic on the field, in the weight room and more importantly in the classroom."
Defensive Back David Getz, Northern Lehigh: went from being an unknown player early in his career to a lock-down cornerback and a First Team Colonial League all-star. The senior made 34 tackles, including a high of six on two occasions, and had a team-high four interceptions. Offensively, he carried 25 times for 127 yards, caught 13 passes for 178 yards, and scored a total of seven touchdowns. A member of the track team, the 5-8, 155-pound senior was named NL's Most Outstanding Defensive Back. Getz, who is looking to pursue engineering, is awaiting acceptance into the Air Force. If that falls through, he is already accepted to West Virginia ... "I don't know if we've seen a kid improve so much in high school. He went from being a freshman that we weren't sure where he was going to play, to being a junior who started, to being one of the best corners as a senior. We never had to worry about his side of the ball. On offense, he became a guy we'd go to for reverses and was important in third-and-long situations."
Defensive Back Rob Getz, Pleasant Valley: a two-way selection on the MVC First Team, named as a running back on offense and a defensive back on defense. Getz led the Bears in rushing, carrying 155 times for 990 yards and seven touchdowns. He caught 31 passes for 403 yards and four scores, and finished the season as PV's top scorer with 90 points. He currently holds numerous career PV marks in rushing, receiving and scoring. The 5-8, 185-pound senior had 26 tackles, including a high of eight against Tamaqua, and an interception. He returned 13 kickoffs and seven punts. His 46-yard punt return for a touchdown against Lehighton was the team's only tally in a 7-6 win. Getz is a three-sport athlete and a member of the National Honor Society. He was the team's MVP and offensive MVP, and is hoping to play football in college ... "Robert was the heart and soul of the Bears in 2011. Everything you can do as a player, he did. Pound for pound, he's the toughest kid on our team. The job he did on special teams allowed us to start in good field position all the time. He's excellent in the classroom, does a lot of community work, and is an example of the kind of person we want in the PV program."
Defensive Back Anthony Farole, Lehighton: versatile senior played a key role on offense, defense and special teams. On defense, Farole recorded 61 tackles (second most on team), intercepted three passes and had 12 passes defended. The 5-7, 165-pounder returned 12 punts for an 8.2 average. He also caught 16 passes for 271 yards, rushed for 250 yards, and completed 43-of-84 passes for 550 yards and seven touchdowns. The National Honor Society member also wrestles, making it to states a year ago, and plays baseball ... "He's a great kid who'll do anything you ask him to do. When our quarterback got hurt at the beginning of the season, we asked him to step in and he threw for over 200 yards in the first game. He's our defensive leader in the secondary and returned punts for us. He's got a great attitude and is a tough kid."
Defensive Back Payton Bachman, Northwestern: the 5-7, 170-pounder made the Colonial League First Team on both Offense (wide receiver) and Defense (defensive back). He averaged 7.1 tackles per game, intercepted three passes, and recovered a pair of fumbles. On offense, he ran 70 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns, and caught 34 passes for 561 yards and seven scores. A three-sport athlete, Bachman also is a member of the Tigers' basketball and baseball teams. He plans to go to college and may even play two sports. For football he's getting looks from Division III and even some PSAC schools ... "Some of the catches he made were just unbelievable. On defense he would set our coverage and made sure we were set all the time. If you watched him in coverage you could see how it came naturally to him. You have to have guys like him doing multiple things to be successful."
Punter Andrew Deutsch, Northwestern: while he handled the team's kicking duties, he also played on offense as a wide receiver and on defense in the secondary. He averaged almost 40 yards per punt and had solid hang times. He had a 60-plus punt against Southern Lehigh and also picked up a big first down against Saucon Valley on a fake punt. As a kicker, he had 28 extra points and one field goal. He caught seven passes for 168 yards and one touchdown, and ran four times for 43 yards. The 5-11, 175-pound senior was selected as the Colonial League First Team punter ... "It's one thing when you're just a kicker and that's all you do but he played the field. He was a punter who made a difference. If he got a snap he didn't like he could take off. He likely would have been a better kicker if he wouldn't have had to play the field. He also made tremendous blocks as a wide receiver and was aggressive as a tackler."
Defensive Specialist Mike Weaver, Panther Valley: versatile player who saw action at numerous positions on both offense and defense. The 6-1, 185-pound senior received First Team Anthracite League honors as an Offensive Versatile Back and gained Second Team status as a Defensive Back. Offensively, he played at tailback, wide receiver and quarterback. He ran 89 times for 370 yards, caught five passes, and completed 42-of-97 for 765 yards and five touchdowns. On defense, he saw time as a linebacker, defensive end and defensive back. He made 64 tackles, including 23 solo, had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Weaver is receiving looks to play at a Division II or III school ... "The main thing about Mike was that he showed up to play every day. He's just a quality young man. He never flinched when we asked him to move to other positions. He just did everything we asked him to do. That says a lot about his character. When we faced a good wideout, we put him on the corner and he did a good job of holding him down. He's also a big-time hitter."