Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Central Mass HS Football All-Stars and Award Winners 2014

No running back in the state has gained more yards the last two years than Auburn's Mark Wright.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

We've already broken down the best teams in Central Mass with our postseason Power Rankings, but now we honor those individual players who excelled in the Heart of the Commonwealth.

Here are your 2014 Central Massachusetts High School Football SuiteStars and Award Winners.


1. Koby Schofer, Jr. Northbridge
2. Drew Jean-Guillaume, Sr. Shepherd Hill
3. Connor Bassett, Jr. Littleton

Schofer and Bassett each led their teams to Gillette as run/pass threats, while Jean-Guillaume did most of his work on the ground in Shepherd Hill's Double Wing. All three of these guys were the main reason their team advanced deep into the playoffs, and each powered an offense that scored over 32 points per game.

Running Back

1. Mark Wright, Sr. Auburn
2. Jahkari Carpenter, Sr. Doherty
3. Ben Reiffarth, Sr. Blackstone Valley Tech
4. Shane Combs, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)

We'll get to more on Mark Wright later, but after back-to-back 2,000 yard seasons, he's a known commodity at this point. The kid is simply really, really good.

But don't sleep on the other three in this group. Carpenter produced highlight reel runs on the regular, and excelled as a receiver as well, while Reiffarth carried the load for BVT during another brutally effective campaign.

Combs, who is headed to Notre Dame to pitch next year, began the season splitting time at quarterback, but settled into his natural football position as the year progressed. He was once again the region's premier between the tackles runner, and powered the St. John's ground game to another outstanding season.

Wide Receiver

1. Chandler Brooks, Jr. Northbridge
2. Chris Renaccio, Jr. Littleton
3. Joe Kapp, Sr. Lunenburg
4. J.J. Howland, Jr. Tantasqua
5. Ryan MacDonald, Jr. North Middlesex

Brooks and Renaccio made life very easy for their respective All-Star quarterbacks, and Howland helped Tantasqua's explosive passing game exceed expectations. Kapp emerged as one of the region's best big-play threats, averaging over 21 yards per catch and snagging 11 touchdowns, while MacDonald helped fuel a surprising North Middlesex offense.

Tight End/Fullback

1. Sean McKeon, Jr. Shepherd Hill (TE)
2. Kurt Arsenault, Sr. Nashoba (FB)
3. Jake Logan, Sr. Oakmont (TE)

McKeon is best known as a brutal blocker, but he also proved effective as a receiver off play action in Shepherd Hill's Double Wing. Arsenault, on the other hand, did a little bit of everything for Nashoba, blocking, catching and running for the Chieftains. Logan served as a fantastic blocker for Oakmont, clearing the way for a ground game that gained over 1,500 yards, but also proved to be a play-making receiver for the Spartans as well.

Offensive Line

1. Chris Lindstrom, Sr. Shepherd Hill
2. Sean Ragan, Jr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
3. Sean Moran, Sr. Doherty
4. Bruce Johnson, Sr. Fitchburg
5. Austin Jones, Sr. Shepherd Hill
6. Akeem Hopkins, Sr. Worcester North
7. Yanni Halkiadakis, Sr. North Middlesex
8. Anthony Cafarelli, Sr. Bartlett

Lindstrom was the region's, and state's, best combination of brute force and nimble athleticism, both driving opposing lineman off the ball, and pulling around to clear the path for backs on the edge. Ragan was the closest thing, however, for St. John's, and the powerful guard will be back next year as the most important piece of the Pioneer offense. Moran was another lineman that showed great quickness and foot work, as was Johnson, but each also packed some pop behind their pads as well.

Jones should take a back seat to nobody, even Lindstrom, as one of the state's best linemen in his own right, and Hopkins had a break out year for the surprising Polar Bears. Halkiadakis was a building block for North Middlesex' turnaround and Cafarelli led the region's most underrated line at Bartlett.

Defensive Line

1. Alex Simonovitch, Jr. St. Peter-Marian
2. Leonardo Ramirez, Sr. Fitchburg
3. Brent Johnson, Sr. Shrewsbury
4. Hector Aponte, Sr. Leominster
5. Alex LaCrosse, Sr. Millbury
6. Mitch Early, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
7. Angel Diaz, Jr. Grafton

Simonovitch is one of the many reasons to be excited about SPM next year. The junior asserted himself as one of the best pass rushers in the state to lead a better than expected defense. Leo Ramirez was as physical a tackle as there was in CMass, and Brent Johnson provided the same kind of toughness for Shrewsbury's line.

Aponte held things together up front for Leominster, while LaCrosse broke out for Millbury, racking up 11 sacks on the year. Mitch Early helped St. John's become one of the region's best all-around defenses, while Diaz was one of the most feared players in the region for Grafton.


1. Sam Norton, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
2. Greg Gothie, Sr. Nashoba
Alex Martinec, Sr. Maynard
Andrew Tichy, Sr. Tantasqua
5. Nick Ostrowski, Jr. Shepherd Hill
6. Cole McCubrey, So. West Boylston
7. Jack O'Callaghan, Sr. Maynard

Norton, Gothie and Tichy were the unquestioned leaders of their defense, and made plays sideline-to-sideline all year. Martinec was the best rush linebacker, maybe in the state, and Ostrowski cleaned up anything the powerful Shepherd Hill line let through.

McCubrey may be better known as a running back, but the West Boylston standout also covered a lot of ground on defense, preventing runners from getting the corner near the point of attack, and excelling in coverage. O'Callaghan tied together the fantastic Maynard linebacker group as its leading tackler in the middle.

Defensive Back

1. Davon Jones, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
2. Darius Flowers, Sr. Fitchburg
3. Nik Myles, Sr. Fitchburg
4. Jake Taparausky, Sr. Uxbridge
5. Nonso Melifonwu, Sr. Grafton
6. Tom McDonald, Sr. Narragansett
7. Ryan McCarthy, Jr. Wachusett

Jones covered more ground than maybe anybody in the state defensively, and Flowers added speed and attitude to Fitchburg's rapidly improving secondary. Speaking of the Red Raiders, Nik Myles finished second in CMass with six interceptions, while Taparausky made opposing offenses think twice about airing it out against Uxbridge.

Melifonwu was a lock down cover corner for the Indians, while McDonald emerged as the region's premier pick artist, nabbing eight interceptions on the year. Finally, McCarthy's toughness and coverage ability made him a perfect fit for physical Wachusett.


1. Jack Coveney, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)

It's rare to find a kicker like Coveney at the high school level. The senior has just been incredibly accurate and dependable throughout his career, and is a luxury St. John's will no doubt miss next season.

Offensive Player of the Year: Mark Wright, Sr. RB, Auburn

Wright has been unstoppable the past two years, smashing the CMass single-season rushing record this season with 2,607 yards to follow a 2,000 yard campaign in 2013.

Only an injury in the season finale kept him from capturing the CMass/state career rushing record (owned by Holy Name alum Quron Wright) and the state's single-season record. With the most deadly spin move the region has ever seen, he'll certainly go down as one of CMass' best ever.

Wright is currently deciding where to continue his football career, choosing between a slew of Division I colleges and respected prep schools.

Defensive Player of the Year: Sam Norton, Sr. LB, St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Many thought St. John's underachieved this year, but the Pioneers were once again one of the region's best teams, led by, surprisingly, Central MA's best defense. Right in the middle of all that action was senior Sam Norton.

A tackling machine with the ability to play coverage and make all the defensive calls, Norton was the region's most complete linebacker and most respected leader. The Leominster native also finished his high school career with back-to-back wins over his hometown Blue Devils.

Lineman of the Year: Chris Lindstrom, Sr. OG/DE, Shepherd Hill

My bosses over at ESPN Boston just named Lindstrom the Lineman of the Year for the entire state, so I can't really add too much, except to say that the Boston College commit was easily CMass' most impactful player in the trenches, on both sides of the ball.

Whether he was clearing the way for his quarterback or sacking yours, Lindstrom was a certifiable beast in 2014.

Breakout Player of the Year: Connor Bassett, Jr. QB, Littleton

Connor's older brother Travis made headlines with a five-touchdown performance in last year's Division 6 State Championship Game, but we found out that lil bro has some game as well this year.

The younger Bassett added a vertical passing element that the Tigers had previously lacked, and proved to be an effective runner as well, leading Littleton to another dominant offensive season and appearance at Gillette.

With Bassett coming back next season, expect Littleton to again contend for a state title in Division 6.

Coach of the Year: Ken LaChapelle, Northbridge

Could it be anybody else?

On top of guiding his team to a second consecutive state championship game, the Northbridge head coach also captured the Massachusetts All-Time wins record in his 39th season leading the Rams.

Long known for his wide-open and unconventional offenses, LaChapelle looks right at home in the modern era of football, even at age 66.

"Show Time" Award: Jahkari Carpenter, Sr. RB, Doherty

This award, named last year for Doherty alum and current Boston College defensive back Isaac Yiadom, will be given every season to the most electrifying and entertaining player in Central Mass.

This year that title goes to another Highlander, running back Jahkari Carpenter. Though small in stature, Carpenter is big on speed and style, slicing through defenses with jukes, stops, starts and cuts all year long.

A threat to score every time he touched the ball, Carpenter truly put on a show each week.

Player of the Year: Koby Schofer, Jr. QB/S, Northbridge

At the end of the day, no one player in the region did more for their team. Not only did Schofer lead the region in passing with 2,386 yards and 26 touchdowns, he also rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 19 times on the ground.

Heck, he also excelled on defense, ranking among the region's best safeties with four interceptions and over 30 tackles. A leader and calming influence for the Rams on both sides of the ball, Schofer's return, alongside an excellent rising-senior class, has most Northbridge fans thinking their team will get a third straight shot at Gillette in 2015.


Anonymous said...

If you said Littleton didn't have a vertical passing game last season you missed out on their D1 caliber starting QB ripping D6 in a very balanced attack.

Joe Parello said...

True, McLaughlin was a beast for them during their championship run, but I only got to see him in the Super Bowl, and my impression was that his game was more running, along with quick crossing routes and bubble screens. Unfortunately, I only get to see each of these teams once or twice a year. Either way, McLaughlin obviously had a fantastic season, and he was good enough to sign with FCS Coastal Carolina, so it's not a knock on him. Just my observation that in my limited viewing, Bassett threw the ball downfield a bit more. Thanks for reading!