Cardinal Hayes’ historic run to CHSFL Class AAA final highlighted another memorable year on the gridiron in The Bronx.
The Cardinals thrived amid high expectations and channeled the emotions from the death of teammate Delano Cowins to reach the school’s first final at the highest level. There is gave unbeaten Archbishop Stepinac its toughest game of the season.
While 2016, may mark the beginning of a new chapter for Cardinal Hayes, it closes one for DeWitt Clinton. The Governors beat rival Kennedy and reached the post season in coach Howard Langley’s final year on the sidelines.
Truman was able to celebrate its first PSAL Bowl Conference crown since 2010 after a win over defending champion Franklin Roosevelt in the final. Cardinal Spellman reached the CHSFL ‘A’ title game and Fordham Prep was one of the top teams in the leagues’ ‘AA’ division.
It takes plenty of good players to accomplish all of that. Here was the ones deemed the tops in The Bronx:
All-Bronx Football Player of the Year: Justin Covington, Cardinal Hayes
Hayes has had plenty of star running back, but Covington made a strong case for the best of the bunch. The Villanova-commit’s five touchdowns and 273 yards against St. Anthony’s in the semifinal will be talked about for years to come. Covington ran for 1,612 yards and 24 touchdowns and had game of 100 yards or more.
All-Bronx Football Coach of the Year: C.J. O’Neil,
O’Neil turned in the best coaching of job his career. He and his staff learn from its struggles a year ago, fixed the problems and got the most out of talented roster. He also guided them through the death of a teammate. Hayes spent more time beating others than beating themselves to complete a 10-year journey from the bottom of the CHSFL to its elite level.
RB/CB Rory Allen,
Allen was the favorite and most reliable target for quarterback Matt Valecce. Whether the Rams needed a deep ball or a key first down it was Allen who usually came through. The senior had 51 catches for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns.
QB Christian Anderson,
The junior, who split time early, was the final piece of an explosive offense for the Cardinals. His mobility allowed him to keep plays alive and his strong arm kept teams honest defending the running back. He threw for 1,933 yards and 19 touchdowns.
QB P.J. Franklyn. Kennedy
Franklyn was the catalyst for the Knights’ offense whether it was with his legs or his arm. The senior carried the ball 93 times for 940 yards and 10 touchdowns and also competed 43 passes for 534 yards and three more scores.
DE Yannie Gunthrope,
The senior was the anchor of the Governors defensive line. Opposing quarterbacks feared the second-year player thanks to his team-leading six sacks. He also made 29 tackles and recovered a fumble
RB Ramon Jefferson, Truman
Truman rode Jefferson all the way to the PSAL Bowl Conference championship. The workhorse junior carried the ball 156 times for 1,671 yard and 23 touchdowns. He also caught two scores, including one in the title game.
CB/RB Jaron Johnson,
The freshman made a big impact in his first season and has a bright future in the Governors’ program. On defense he made 37 tackles and collected a team-leading three interceptions. Johnson carried the ball 26 times for 207 yards and a touchdown.
DE Abdoul Kouyate,
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior was a dominant force on the defensive line for the Cardinals. His athleticism helped shutdown opponents’ running games. Quarterbacks always needed to know where Kouyate was on the field.
RB/LB Edward Nunez,
Nunez was the epitome of power football on both sides of the ball. The bruising runner posted 1,121 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine 2-point conversions on 126 carries. The senior, who also made 65 tackles, averaged 8.9 yards per carry.
DB/WR Timothy Poindexter, Cardinal Hayes
The hard-hitting Poindexter was the Cardinals’ most important defensive players. The force of his tackles and closing speed in secondary set a tone for the entire unit. The senior, who has Division I offers was the team’s unquestioned leader.
QB Matt Valecce,
There was no sophomore slump for Valecce, who is maturing into the city’s top quarterback. He completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,416 yards and 27 touchdowns to just three interceptions to lead the Rams to the ‘AA’ semifinals.
TE/DE Lenward Williams,
The two-way threat was a huge bright spot for the Pilots all season. The senior posted 475 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns to help Spellman reach the ‘A’ final. Williams also made 67 tackles, including three sacks.
OL Michael Booth, Cardinal Spellman
OL/DL Richie Bermudez, Kennedy
DT Matthew Conlon, Fordham Prep
LB Aiden Donnelly, Fordham Prep
TE/DL Dayvon Ford, Truman
WR/DB Donald Hickson, Lehman
LB/RB Andrew Howell, Christopher Columbus
DB/RB Jaron Johnson, DeWitt Clinton
WR Shameen Jones, Cardinal Hayes
QB Danny Sanchez, Lehman
QB/LB Teraun Simms-Brown, Mount St. Michael
RB/WR Anthony Williams, Kennedy
DB Zahir Wilson, Cardinal Hayes
QB DaShown Wilson Jr., DeWitt Clinton
WR/RB Jaylin Young Christopher Columbus