|Grafton star Ifeatu Melifonwu|
It was a wild season of football in the Heart of the Commonwealth, but we've reached the end of the road, and that means it's time for our annual All-Star team and Award Winners.
This year's team was especially hard to pick, as the region produced a ton of talent, and a number of schools enjoyed some of their best seasons in recent memory.
As a reminder, we encourage discussion, and I'd love to hear who you think I "snubbed," but attacks directed at individual kids will not be tolerated, and those comments will be deleted. But don't worry, you can still call me stupid.
Also, if you'd like to see how some of the best players in Central Mass stacked up on a state-wide level, check out our first ever MIAA All-State team.
Now, without further ado, here are our 2016 CMass All-Stars and Award Winners.
Ryan Malkowski, Jr. Quabbin
Steve Bucciaglia, Jr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Drew Campanale, So. Shrewsbury
Max White-Cohen, Sr. Uxbridge
Honorable Mention (HM): Danny Malm, Jr. St. Peter-Marian; Shamus Gorman, Sr. Oakmont; Pat Gallagher, So. Leominster
Kevin Mensah, Sr. Shepherd Hill
James Xarras, Sr. St. Bernard's
Jose Miranda-Morales, Jr. Southbridge
Josh Furtado, Sr. Wachusett
HM: Peter Oliver, St. John's (Shrewsbury); Dylan Zarozinski, Sr. Gardner; Max Cersasoli, Sr. Algonquin
Tight End/Fullback/Wing Back/H-Back
Colin Robinson, Sr. Algonquin
Eric Kiley, Sr. Maynard
Luke Goulet, Sr. Marlboro
Jake Fire, Sr. Nashoba
HM: Brendan McKeon, Jr. Shepherd Hill; Zack Magdis, Jr. Shepherd Hill
Nick Pallotta, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Travis Lanpher, Jr. Quabbin
Zach Hunter, Sr. Nipmuc
Chris Campbell, Jr. Shrewsbury
Mike Rosa, Sr. Uxbridge
J.J. Early, Sr. Doherty
HM: Ben Cumming, Sr. Lunenburg; Josh Callinan, Sr. Uxbridge; Jake Wollensack, Sr. Blackstone-Millville
Alec Lindstrom, Sr. Shepherd Hill
Federico Ernst, Jr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Jack Gerulskis, Sr. Algonquin
Bobby Denaro, Sr. Nashoba
Wes Legare, Jr. Holy Name
Akram Semakula, Sr. Maynard
Zach Nadeau, Sr. Wachusett
Devin White, Sr. Auburn
Dan Page, Sr. Uxbridge
Matt Petry, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
HM: Pat Walsh, Jr. Wachusett; Connor Walker, Sr. Marlboro; Anthony Grandinetti, Jr. Grafton; T.J. Cooper, Sr. St. Bernard's
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Sr. Grafton
Cole McCubrey, Sr. West Boylston
Noah Gray, Sr. Leominster
Colby Smith, So. Quabbin
Hunter Gorgas, Jr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Owen Cappadona, Sr. Marlboro
A.J. Laramee, Sr. Shrewsbury
Anthony Rausa, Sr. Littleton
HM: Alex Marrero, Sr. Fitchburg; Hector Petri, Sr. Blackstone Valley Tech; Alex Longo, Sr. Maynard
Ethan Amorello, Sr. St. Peter-Marian
Mike Mahoney, Sr. Doherty
Sean Deely, Sr. Grafton
Tom Feraco, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Chad Vaudreuil, Sr. Northbridge
Flynn McGilvray, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Jared Godeck, Sr. Shrewsbury
Kevon Darton, Jr. St. Peter-Marian
HM: Junior Fabian, Sr. Quaboag; Jose Pizarro, Jr. Worcester North; Billy Jones, Jr. Tantasqua
Anthony Dandini, Sr. Leominster
Jack Fontana, Sr. Grafton
Jack Fields, Sr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Eric Rauker, Sr. Littleton
Kyle Hume, Jr. Nashoba
Liam Doran, Jr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
George Morrice, Jr. Nipmuc
Tim Haverty, Jr. Northbridge
HM: Marcus Ellis, Sr. Algonquin; Matt Johnston, Jr. Uxbridge; Lou Vigeant, So. Marlboro
Ryan Trocki, Sr. Shrewsbury
Colin Sweeney, Sr. Quabbin
P.J. Falzone, Sr. Maynard
Jack MacNeil, Sr. Northbridge
Andrew DelBrocco, Jr. St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Tajon Vassar, So. Doherty
Breese Hill, Jr. Nashoba
Parker Bigelow, Sr. St. Bernard's
HM: Paul Yiadom, So. Doherty; Brett Sherman, Sr. Algonquin; Matt Holbrook, So. Grafton
P.J. Barry, Sr. St. Peter-Marian
Jake Tondel, Sr. Shepherd Hill
HM: Geoffrey Reichert, Sr. Northbridge
Offensive Player of the Year: Ryan Malkowski, Jr. Quabbin
Yes, Malkowski plays in a wide-open offense, but man does he run it well. With the ability to break defenses down before the ball is even snapped, plus the quick release and accuracy to beat any coverage in the book, Malkowski smashed the Central Mass passing records.
He'll return for his senior season with a load of weapons around him, and expectations will be higher than ever at Quabbin.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ethan Amorello, Sr. St. Peter-Marian
Following in a long line of lethal pass rushers at St. Peter-Marian, Amorello led the region in sacks from his defensive end spot, and helped the Guardians become one of the region's most improved defensive units.
With the look of a potential Division I player, Amorello will play a post-grad season at East Coast Prep.
Lineman of the Year: Jack Gerulskis, Sr. Algonquin
No lineman in the region did more than Gerulskis, who played both guard and tackle for the Tomahawks, then excelled as a defensive end who could both stuff the run, and rush the passer.
Algonquin's rise to contender status under coach Justin McKay has been all about toughness and physicality, two characteristics that Gerulskis embodies.
Breakout Player of the Year: Hunter Gorgas, Jr. St. John's (S)
No player on this list was harder to place (under a particular position), because Gorgas did a little bit of everything for the Pioneers. He could in-line block and pull block as a tight end, or split out as a receiver to haul in fade routes down by the goal line.
On defense, Gorgas played both defensive end and defensive tackle, and made a name for himself in a front seven full of stars. The fact that he doesn't have one true position hurt his stats a little bit, but Gorgas will no doubt be one of next year's most anticipated returnees.
"Show Time" Award: Tajon Vassar, So. Doherty
This award goes out every year to the kid that was just electric with the ball in his hands, named for former Doherty athlete, and current Boston College defensive back Isaac "Show Time" Yiadom.
Well, this year's winner comes from Yiadom's alma mater, and Vassar could just as easily have won our Breakout Player award as well. The diminutive sophomore was as shifty as they come, and put defenders on skates as a running back and kick returner. He even made some jaw-dropping plays from his corner spot on defense.
If you've never seen him play, check out his Hudl footage. It's worth a watch.
Coach of the Year: Harold Ogilvie, Maynard
Game-planning from week-to-week is hard enough, but having to manage a team with only 26 bodies, and many of them banged up? Well, that's just what Maynard's Harold Oglivie did this year, all the way to the Division 4A state championship game.
With wins over Littleton, West Boylston and St. Bernard's, the Tigers showed they were the top small-school program in Central Mass, and coach Ogilvie pressed all the right buttons with his limited roster. In a year where many coaches helped their teams over-achieve (John Aloisi at Shrewsbury, Justin McKay at Algonquin, Chris McMahon at Grafton), Ogilvie edges out the competition for our top spot.
2016 Central Mass Player of the Year: Ifeatu Melifonwu, Sr. Grafton
This may seem like an easy call on the surface, but when you consider that West Boylston's Cole McCubrey rushed for over 2,200 yards, and broke the Central Mass career rushing record, I really labored over this choice.
Still, Melifonwu was flat-out unstoppable for the majority of the season in a higher division, and this work-horse carried Grafton all the way to Gillette Stadium, making big plays on both sides of the ball along the way.
Melifonwu has been described by more than one coach I've spoken to as a "generational talent," and he will continue his football career at Syracuse next fall.