Tuesday, November 6, 2018

MIAA Football: An Updated Look At Our Player of the Year Candidates


St. John's wide receiver Jay Brunelle has become one of the top threats in Massachusetts in 2018.

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

As the weeks have gone on, SuiteSports' list of MIAA Football Player of the Year candidates has grown as players have entered their names into contention. 

Two seasons ago, Duxbury's Bobby Maimaron took home the honor, while last season King Philip's Shane Frommer won the award in a runaway.

We began with five candidates, but players have had the opportunity to add their name to the list on a weekly basis.

This week, we have added two more players bringing our total number of candidates to 11. One is arguably the top pure wide receiver in the state despite being only a junior in St. John's' Jay Brunelle. The second, meanwhile, is a standout defensive back in Springfield Central's Keshaun Dancy. 

We will release our final candidates for the award on the Monday of Super Bowl week.

Here is SuiteSports' updated list of MIAA Football Player of the Year Candidates as selected by our panel of writers, correspondents, and editors.

Mike Sainristil, Sr., WR/DB, Everett

Everett was the victim of a massive upset on Friday, with No. 4 Central Catholic coming into Everett Memorial Stadium and stunning the Crimson Tide, 23-20.


While the Crimson Tide will not be playing for a third consecutive Super Bowl, Sainristil is undoubtedly one of the top talents the region has to offer.

A recently announced Michigan commit, Sainristil continues to perform at an exceptionally high level using his speed, athleticism, and big play ability to blow away the competition on a weekly basis.

For the season, Sainristil has 29 receptions for over 708 yards and nine touchdown receptions while on the ground, he has rushed for 174 yards and two additional touchdowns.

Defensively, meanwhile, Sainristil continues to show why he is widely considered the top defensive back in the ares with six interceptions to his name.

Jake McElroy, Sr., QB, North Andover

McElroy was spotless in North Andover sectional semifinal win over Woburn, finishing 6-of-6 for 116 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

Continuing to serve as one of Massachusetts' top dual-way quarterbacks, McElroy has shown through just two postseason games alone his ability to adapt to the way defenses game plan for him.

Heading into North Andover's Div. 2 North sectional final showdown with Lincoln-Sudbury, McElroy has 1,288 passing yards and 15 touchdowns to go with 257 rushing yards and two more scores.

Mike Masse, Sr., LB/FB, Xaverian

Masse was sensational on both sides of the ball Friday as he helped Xaverian overcome a resilient Franklin team in double overtime to reach its sixth consecutive Division 1 South Sectional Final.

Defensively, the Hawks captain finished with 13 tackles and a forced fumble. Out of the backfield, meanwhile, Masse rushed for four total touchdowns with two of them coming in the extra frames.

Heading into Xaverian's sectional final with Catholic Conference rival Catholic Memorial, Masse has 59 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles on defense.

Masse has also been used out of the backfield from the fullback position on a number of occasions as the Hawks stick to their ground-and-pound ways. So far, he has 293 rushing yards, 71 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns.

DeVaun Ford, Sr., RB/DB, Mashpee 

Ford's incredible run came to an end Friday night as the star two-way player suffered an injury in the second quarter of Mashpee's loss to Cohasset that kept him on the sideline for the remainder of the game.

His value, however, was seen in how the Skippers were able to move the football as soon as he went down. When Ford left the game, the Falcons led 16-6 only for the Skippers to score 31 unanswered points for a 37-16 victory.

During the quarter of play in which Ford was on the field, he wracked up 76 total yards and a touchdown.

For the season, Ford now has 20 total touchdowns, five games of 110 yards or more, and six interceptions.

Drew Campanale, Sr., QB, Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury's back was up against the wall on Friday night, but behind Campanale's leadership the Colonials survived their bout with No. 1 Doherty to advance to the Div. 3 Central Final.

In the 35-34 victory over the Highlanders, Campanale finished with 106 passing yards and a touchdown, while adding an additional 63 yards and two more scores on the ground.

Through nine games, Campanale has 1,232 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and a 68-percent completion percentage. He has totaled 379 rushing yards, and has seven additional scores on the ground.

Campanale's production has led Shrewsbury to a 7-2 record and a date with St. John's in the district final.

Matt Smith, Sr., TE/WR, Needham

While Needham may have been eliminated from postseason play on Friday night, Smith still managed to turn in one of his top performances of the season.

In the Rockets loss to Catholic Memorial, Smith had seven catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns including a 90-yard touchdown reception on Needham's first drive of the game.

The six-foot five-inch, 225 pound hybrid tight end/wide receiver has proven to be simply unstoppable for the majority of the 2018 campaign. Through nine games, Smith has 51 receptions for 982 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Scott Elliot, Sr., OL/DL, Holliston

Holliston's playoff run came to an end Friday night as the Panthers fell to third-seeded Scituate.

Elliot, however, has without question been the top two-way lineman in the state this season.

The Harvard bound Elliot has been dominant on both sides of the ball, helping to lead the Panthers to an overall 8-1 record and a TVL Large title. Offensively, he has proven to be a valuable piece both in Holliston's up-tempo spread attack and in the Panthers ability to run the football.

Defensively, meanwhile, his 6-foot-3 inch and 270 pound frame helps him overpower opponents, making him a force as a run stopper and also a consistent threat to get to the quarterback.

John Roberts, Sr., QB, Duxbury

Roberts once again showed his capabilities both inside and outside the pocket in helping Duxbury take down North Attleboro to advance to the Div. 3 South Final.

In the Dragons 17-14 win over the Red Rocketeers, Roberts threw for 123 yards and a touchdown but more importantly was able to run for 70 more yards and another score.

Roberts has been terrific all season long, leading the Dragons to a spotless 10-0 record, another Patriot League Keenan title, and the top seed in Div. 3 South.

His play unmatched by nearly anyone in Eastern Mass., Roberts is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback. As a passer, he is 85-of-132 for 1,305 yards and 14 touchdowns. On the ground, meanwhile, Roberts has 746 rushing yards and 11 more scores.

All told, Roberts has 2,051 total yards and 25 touchdowns.

Spencer Cassell, Sr., TE/DE, Hingham

Entering the season, Cassell was largely regarded as one of the top tight ends in the region but his candidacy has only been bolstered in recent weeks by his play on defense.

In helping to guide Hingham to a berth in the Div. 3 South Sectional Final, Cassell has wracked up 36 tackles and nine sacks while serving as a defensive end.

Utilized as a more traditional tight end, Cassell has proven invaluable on the offensive side of the ball. He often uses his six-foot seven-inch frame to transform into an extra offensive linemen for the Harbormen who heavily rely on their ground game.

When used in the passing game, Cassell's ability to high point the ball has allowed him to dominate over opposing defensive backs. The Harvard commit has seven catches for 147 yards and one touchdown.

Jay Brunelle, Jr., WR, St. John's Shrewsbury

One of our two new additions to the list this week is St. John's Shrewsbury wide receiver Jay Brunelle.

Brunelle has been a standout weapon for the Pioneers from opening night supplanting himself as a top option for one of the most prolific offenses in the state. Even when star running back Eamonn Dennis was sidelined due to injury, the Pioneers' offense largely did not skip a beat and that can be brought back to the production of Brunelle.

His talents as a route runner, his hands, and his presence as a vertical threat have helped make St. John's one of the top offenses in Massachusetts.

Through nine games, the junior has 48 catches for 878 yards 13 touchdowns.

Keshaun Dancy, Sr., RB/DB, Springfield Central 

Springfield Central has been without question one of the most dangerous teams on both sides of the ball in all of Massachusetts in 2018 and it all largely goes back to the play of Dancy.

While Dancy provides the occasional burst on offense, averaging 37.5 yards per carry, its his stellar play at defensive back that makes him one of the top players in the state.

His athleticism, speed, and ability to read the opposing quarterback make him a nearly impossible player to beat in coverage. More impressive is the fact that Dancy has become so dangerous in pass protection that most quarterbacks do not even look his way anymore.

As Central is set to play in the Div. 3 West Final this weekend, Dancy holds offers from 10 Division 1 programs. 

1 comment :

Harold Ogilvie said...

What about tommy smith from Maynard. He is going to be a 1000 yard passer and runner.