Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER - Tioga had six players honored, including seniors Stephen Taylor, Austin Lamb, and Tanner Hollenbeck as first-team selections, in the New York State Sportswriters Association all-state Class D football team released today.
Senior John Worthing and freshman Emmett Wood received second-team honors, and senior Alex Bloss received honorable mention recognition.
Stephen Taylor, senior, OT: At 6-4 and 295 pounds, Taylor was the cornerstone of Tioga's experienced offensive line that paved the way to 332 yards per game on the ground, and 55 rushing TDs on the season.
"I'm very proud of Stephen for the year he had and how he stepped up as a senior," said Tioga coach Nick Aiello. "He was a big anchor for our veteran offensive line that helped pave the way for our running backs. He was a force on both sides of the ball and this honor is well-deserved."
Austin Lamb, senior, LB: Lamb was among the team leaders in tackles during the regular season, and led the Tigers with 11 tackles per game in their postseason march to the state semifinals.
"I'm glad to see Austin on this list, it's another exclamation point on a fantastic year at linebacker for us," said Aiello. "He was a monster for us in the middle of our defense and really made an impact at the end of the regular season and throughout playoffs.
"He also did a tremendous job for us on offense as a 160-pound right guard," added Aiello. "I am very happy for him."
Tanner Hollenbeck, senior, PK: Hollnebeck was 45 of 54 on extra-point attempts, with several of the unsuccessful attempts due to off-target snaps. He also made a 25-yard field goal.
"Tanner had a really good year for us kicking the ball," said Aiello. "Having a good kicker in small-school football is a weapon, and he provided that for us.
"He scored points for us and won the field-position battle all season long," added Aiello. "He also went 8-for-8 on extra points in our State Central Regional game."
Emmett Wood, freshman, RB: Wood posted the second-best season for a freshman in Tioga's storied history of great running backs. He rushed for 1,416 yards and 15 TDs, averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
"Not too often you see a freshman on this list," said Aiello. "He had a great rookie year for us and this recognition should be great motivation for him looking ahead.
"He really has a great combination of speed, toughness, and skill at the running back position," added Aiello. "If he keeps learning the finer points he'll be tough to stop. It's going to be fun to coach him.
John Worthing, senior, All-Purpose: Worthing was a jack-of-all-trades for the Tigers. He rushed for 1,050 yards and 13 TDs, with the large majority of them coming between the tackles, and he led the Tigers with 17 receptions for 232 yards and three TDs.
Worthing was also among the team leaders in tackles, led the team in interceptions, returned punts, and handled the long-snapping chores.
"I'm really glad (John Worthing) was selected," said Aiello. "I think All-Purpose fits him really well. He did everything for us - tough runner, great hands as a receiver, fielding punts and kickoffs, safety on defense, and was our long-snapper - he probably could have called the plays for us too.
"He's a great kid and a very smart athlete," added Aiello. "I'm glad he was recognized as an all-state player."
Alex Bloss, senior, OG: Under-sized on the offensive line, Bloss was a key component in Tioga's ability to run the ball.
"This is a real nice honor for Bloss," said Aiello. "He was a three-year starter for us at left guard and he had a great senior year for us on both sides of the ball.
"Not necessarily a 'big' lineman, his combination of speed and strength allowed us to do some different things with our guards this year which made it a lot of fun to call plays," added Aiello.
IN PHOTO: Tioga's Stephen Taylor and Emmett Wood.
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