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THE SPORTS REPORTS: TIOGA'S BELLIS, WAVERLY'S TOMASSO HEADLINE ALL-REGION FOOTBALL TEAM; WAVERLY'S WATSON, MILLER, TIOGA'S FISHER ALSO EARN TOP HONORS (2023-12-24)

The Sports Reports
It was a banner year for high school football in The Sports Reports’ coverage area.

Tioga won its third straight New York State Class D state title, and Waverly captured its first-ever Class C crown, while Elmira won the Section IV, Class AA title, and several other teams qualified for the postseason.

South of the Border, Troy won an NTL title, and took now seven-time defending state champion Southern Columbia to the limit in a 14-0 loss in the District IV, Class championship game, while Canton enjoyed another strong season.

Tioga senior Caden Bellis, and Waverly senior Joey Tomasso led their respective teams to state titles, and were both named MVP in the championship game. They share The Sports Reports’ 2023 Football “Player of the Year” honors, while Tomasso is the “Offensive Player of the Year,” Canton senior Hudson Ward is the “Defensive Player of the Year", and Troy senior Jed Feldmeier is the “Lineman of the Year.”

Waverly junior Xavier Watson is the “Breakout Player of the Year,” while Canton junior Ben Fitch is the “Newcomer of the Year,” Tioga senior Gavin Fisher is the “Special Teams Player of the Year,” and Waverly’s Jason Miller is the “Coach of the Year.”

Bellis, who capped his career with a 40-0 record at QB with three state titles, was a dangerous dual-threat quarterback, and a sure-fire tackler at strong safety / linebacker.

Bellis completed 69.9 percent (51 of 73) of his passes for 1,350 yards, 28 TDs, and just one interception. He also rushed for 737 yards and 12 TDs on 55 carries — an average of 13.4 yards per carry, and ran in a pair of two-point conversions.

Bellis will graduate as the all-time leader in nearly every passing statistic in program history.

Defensively, Bellis perfected the ankle tackle, leading the Tigers with 89 tackles, including 22 solo stops, and five tackles-for-losses. He also had two interceptions.

A once-in-a-lifetime talent, Tomasso recorded 9,183 career passing yards, and 104 TDs in his five seasons (4 1/2 actually considering the spring 2021 Covid season) at Waverly.

A dangerous dual-threat QB, Tomasso completed 74.1 percent (206 of 278) of his passes for 3,160 yards, and 43 TDs against just three interceptions during his senior season.

Tomasso, who was limited by a knee injury in his last three games, also rushed for a team-high 628 yards and 12 TDs on 120 carries.

Tomasso will graduate third all-time in New York State in career passing yards, and passing TDs, as well as third all-time in single-season passing yards, and passing TDs.

A sideline-to-sideline defender, and a sure-tackler, Ward finished the season with 150 tackles — an average of 15 per game — two QB sacks, and seven fumble recoveries.  He missed the Old Shoe game with an injury, and Canton gave up a season-high 52 points in a loss to Troy.

As a sophomore at Athens, 6-5 Xavier Watson had 24 catches for 344 yards, and two TDs. This season, in Waverly’s pass-happy attack, he led Waverly with 62 receptions, and a school-record 17 TD catches. He also had 918 receiving yards, and rushed the ball twice for 45 yards.

Defensively, Watson had 38 tackles, including 20 solo stops, two interceptions, three pass break-ups, and one fumble recovery. He also had one blocked field goal, one blocked extra point, and an 85-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Fisher finished his senior season with a state-record 99 PAT kicks in 105 attempts, and also had a 26-yard field goal. Fisher was 9-for-9 in the state semifinal, and 9-for-9 in the state final. He was also 9-for-9 in last year’s state final. He also established a new state record with 227 career PAT kicks.

Fisher’s ability to kick the ball deep on kickoffs also helped Tioga to win the field-position battle throughout the season.

Fitch, who saw mop-up duty as a sophomore, took over the starting QB role this season, and led Canton to an 8-2 regular season.

He completed 55.9 percent (71 of 127) for 1,279 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for team-high 700 yards and nine touchdowns on 124 carries. Fitch was Canton’s one constant throughout an injury-plagued season.

Miller, in his 21st season as head coach, finally brought home that elusive state title to his alma mater. The Wolverines finished 13-1 — their only loss coming to Class D state champ Tioga in overtime — and played its best football in the postseason, averaging 44.4 points per game in five playoff games.

In the last three seasons, Waverly is 33-4 with two Section IV titles, and one runner-up finish. Miller has five Section IV titles in his career.

———————————

2023 ALL-REGION FOOTBALL
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Caden Bellis, senior Tioga, and Joey Tomasso, senior, Waverly.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Joey Tomasso, senior, Waverly.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hudson Ward, senior, Canton.
LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Jed Feldmeier, senior, Troy:
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Xavier Watson, junior, Waverly
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gavin Fisher, senior, Tioga.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Ben Fitch, junior, Canton
COACH OF THE YEAR: Jason Miller, Waverly.

————————————

ALL-REGION FIRST TEAM
OFFENSE
Quarterback
Joey Tomasso, senior, Waverly:
See above.

Running Backs
Drew Macumber, senior, Tioga:
Macumber led Tioga with 1,296 rushing yards, and 30 TDs on 159 carries. He also had one catch for 79 yards, and a TD.

Fletcher Good, junior, Cowanesque Valley: Good rushed for 1,114 yards and seven TDS on 130 carries, and also had 24 receptions for 541 yards, and six TDs. He went over 100 yards rushing six times, and 100 yards  receiving twice, and had three games with three scores.

Ayden Hunsinger, junior, Wyalusing: A durable back who took over as their main ball carrier halfway through the season, Hunsinger ran for 1,176 yards and 14 touchdowns on 212 carries.

Receivers
Jay Pipher, senior, Waverly:
Pipher led the Wolverines with 62 receptions for 1,185 yards, and 12 TDs. He also carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards.

Xavier Watson, junior, Waverly: See above.

Johnnie Garcia, senior, Elmira: Garcia hauled in 33 receptions for 549 yards and six TDs, and also ran for 219 yards and one TD on the season.

Tight end / H-Back
Karson Sindoni
, senior, Tioga: A tremendous blocker, Sindoni led Tioga with 14 receptions for 317 yards (22.6 yards per catch), and six TDs.

Linemen
Jed Feldmeier,
senior, Troy
Jacob Benjamin, senior, Waverly
Aspyn Dennis, senior, Cowanesque Valley
Kam Hills, junior, Waverly
Tate MaCauley, junior, Tioga
Shaun Wood, senior, Troy

All-Purpose
Kolsen Keathley, junior, Waverly:
Keathley rushed for 441 yards, and five TDs, on just 34 carries (12.97 yards per carry), and topped 100 yards in both the state semifinals, and finals. He also had 30 catches for 454 yards, and six TDs.

Kicker
Gavin Fisher, senior, Tioga:
See above.

DEFENSE
Linemen
Kam Hills, junior, Waverly:
A dominating presence in the middle of the Waverly defensive front, Hills had 82 tackles, including 31 solo stops. He also had two fumble recoveries.

Michael Davis, senior, Canton: Despite missing a couple games due to injury, Davis finished with 50 tackles and seven sacks on the season. He was one of the best pass rushers in the NTL and nearly unblockable at times.

Varrius Farrell, junior, Towanda:  A monster to deal with on the defensive line with nine sacks, 13 tackles-for-loss and 46 tackles on the season. Numbers would have been higher but a knee injury slowed him the last few games, though he played through it.

Tate MaCauley, junior, Tioga: MaCauley was a physical presence on the interior line for the Tigers. He had 44 tackles, including seven solo stops, and one fumble recovery.

Linebackers
Hudson Ward, senior, Canton:
See above.

Ousmane Duncanson, senior, Tioga: Duncanson is an explosive athlete, and sure-fire tackler, who forced opposing coaches to game-plan for his presence. He missed three games, and led Tioga at 7.4 tackles-per-game. He also had seven tackles-for-loss, five QB sacks, and two fumble recoveries.

Jackson Taylor, senior, Troy: Jackson was Troy’s best linebacker on the blitz, but could also get out in the field and cover. He had 57 tackles, and eight QB sacks.

Kolsen Keathley, junior, Waverly: Keathley was a sideline-to-sideline defender with incredible quickness. He had 82 tackles, including 38 solo stops, and three QB sacks. He also had six interceptions, including a “pick six.”

Defensive backs
Caden Bellis, senior, Tioga:
Bellis perfected the ankle tackle, leading the Tigers with 89 tackles, including 22 solo stops, and five tackles-for-losses. He also had two interceptions.

Camryn Harwick, senior, Troy: Harwick was Troy’s best cover corner, finishing with three interceptions on the season, but was also a sure-handed tackler, with 24 tackles on the year. Troy’s secondary was the best part of their defense, and teams rarely threw his way.

Riley Vanderpool, senior, Towanda: Vanderpool may be the best safety in District 4, with 77 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, two QB sacks, and five interceptions. He led his team in tackles on the year, and is one of the best sure-handed tacklers you’ll see.

Evan Sickler, senior, Tioga: Tioga: A physical presence on run support, Sickler was a ball hawk against the passing game. He had 43 tackles, including 21 solo stops, and registered four interceptions to give him 16 for his career.

Punter
Jonathan Carl, sophomore, Wellsboro:
  Carl had 41 punts on the season for an average of 36.5 yards per punt.

ALL-REGION SECOND TEAM
OFFENSE
Quarterback
Caden Bellis, senior, Tioga:
See above.

Evan Garvin, senior, Elmira: Garvin battled, and played through injuries all season, eventually leading the Express to a Section IV, Class AA title. Without him, Elmira lost to Corning, 31-8 — with him, the Express beat the Hawks, 31-14. .. He threw for 584 yards and nine TDs, and ran for 412 yards, and six scores.

Running Backs
Brendan Gilliland, sophomore, Troy:
  On any other team, Gilliland would have been a 1,000-yard rusher. He averaged 13.5 yards per carry, running for 608 yards on 45 carries with nine touchdowns. He also hauled in eight touchdowns on 18 catches for 318 yards.

Bradock Salisbury, senior, Horseheads: Salisbury ran for 787 yards, and 10 TDs on just 77 carries (10.2 yards per carry) this season. As a receiver, he  had catches 18 catches for 253 yards, and three TDs.

Ousmane Duncanson, senior, Tioga: A devastating lead blocker at fullback, Duncanson rushed for 697 yards, and 10 TDs on just 57 carries (12.2 yards per carry). He also had two catches for 22 yards, and one TD.

Dan Truesdail, senior, Newark Valley: A punishing runner, Truesdail pounded out 950 yards and nine TDs on 150 carries.

Receivers
Miles Woodhouse, junior, Horseheads:
Woodhouse led Horseheads with 31 catches for 579 yards and six TDs.

Valentino Rossi, senior, Tioga: The Tigers didn’t throw the ball as much as they did in 2022, but when they did, the results were eye-popping. Rossi had the most impressive numbers of all, hauling in 13 catches for 467 yards (35.9 yards per catch), and eight TDs.

Evan Sickler, senior, Tioga; Like Rossi, Sickler is a tremendous down-field blocker, and a dangerous receiver as well. He had 13 receptions for 416 yards (32 yards per catch) and a team-high nine TDs.

Lincoln Chimics, junior, Troy: A dynamic performer after the catch, Chimics had 28 receptions for 520 yards, and nine TDs.

Tight end / H-Back
Cooper Shaw, junior, NP-Mansfield: 
A dependable receiver with good hands, Shaw had 35 receptions for 364 yards, and six TDs.

Linemen
Brycen Gunnip
, senior, Edison
Mason Harold, senior, Canton
Josh Nittinger, senior, Athens
John Overton, senior, Elmira
Cam Rought, senior, Tioga
Tariq Weigle, senior, Horseheads

All-Purpose
Dylan Johns, sophomore, Wyalusing:
Johns ran the ball for 504 yards on 83 carries with seven TDs. He also had 11 receptions for 185 yards, and 4 touchdowns.

Kicker
Hogan Shaw, sophomore, Waverly: 
Shaw, who featured a strong leg on kick-offs, made 70 of 75 PAT attempts, and was 4 of 6 field goal attempts, including two 39-yarders.

DEFENSE
Linemen
Matthias Welles, freshman, Waverly:
A dominating force at defensive end, Welles can pressure the QB, and contain the run game. He had 54 tackles, including 22 solo stops, and three QB sacks.

Troy Beeman, sophomore, Waverly: A big, physical presence on the defensive front, Beeman had 73 tackles, including 11 solo stops, four QB sacks, and four fumble recoveries.

Brendan Comstock, sophomore, Athens: Comstock was a force up front for the Wildcats, where he had 50 tackles, including 22 solo stops, 10 tackles-for-losses, 2.5 QB sacks, one interception, and one fumble recovery.

Cooper Shaw, junior, North Penn-Mansfield:  Shaw record 64 tackles, and had two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries.

Linebackers
Jake Bierman, senior, Corning:
Corning’s leading tackler on defense with 77 tackles and thee QB sacks.

Ryan Bowen, junior, Wellsboro:  Hampered by injuries part of the season, Bowen still recorded 82 tackles, two fumble recoveries and had an interception .

Kaden Bennett, senior, Sayre: Athletic and physical, Bennett led Sayre with 100 tackles in 10 games. He also had two fumble recoveries, and blocked three kicks.

Carter George, senior, Waverly: A big-hitter, George recorded 86 tackles, including 31 solo stops, and one QB sack. He also had two interceptions.

Conlan Taylor, junior, Owego: A sure-fire tackler, Taylor registered 91 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.

Defensive backs
Will Shrawder, junior, Towanda:
  A ball-hawk, Shrawder had eight interceptions on the year, including three in one game.

Jay Pipher, senior, Waverly: A tremendous all-around athlete, Pipher had 45 tackles, including 22 solo stops. He also had one interception.

Miles Barnes, senior, Horseheads: A very good cover guy, Barnes had three interceptions, and two forced fumbles.


Jake VanHouten, senior, Waverly: VanHouten was at his best with he ball in the air. He had 39 tackles, including 21 solo stops, to go along with four interceptions, and one fumble recovery.

Punter
Michael Davis, senior, Canton:
Davis only punted 19 times, but hit for an average of 38.9 yards.

ALL-REGION THIRD TEAM
OFFENSE
Quarterback
Evan Woodward, junior, Troy:
Woodward was efficient, finishing the year with a 144.9 QB rating. He completed 75.5 percent (80 of 106) of his passes for 1,353 yards, and 22 TDs, with only three interceptions. He also ran the ball 32 times for 371 yards and eight TDs.

Karson Dominick, senior, North Penn-Mansfield: Dominick spent a good portion of the season running for his life. He completed 44.3 percent of his passes for 1,293 yards, and 16 TDs, He also ran for one score, and caught a TD pass against Southern Columbia.

Running Backs
Cale Wagner, senior, North Penn-Mansfield:
Wagner rushed for 676 yards, and seven TDs on 139 carries. He also had 26 receptions for 235 yards, and three TDs.

Kaden Bennett, senior, Sayre: A hard runner, Bennett rushed for 786 yards, and four TDs on 161 carries.

A.J. Thomas, senior, Corning: A punishing blocker at fullback, Thomas rushed for 468 yards and five TDs on 86 carries in just seven games. He also had four catches for 44 yards, and one TD. He also rushed for three two-point conversions.
 
Receivers
Jake VanHouten, senior, Waverly:
A talented receiver among perhaps the best receiving corps in the state, VanHouten had 42 catches for 528 yards, and six TDs.

Luke Kreger, sophomore, North Penn-Mansfield:
Kreger made things happen after the catch. He 28 grabs for 539 yards, and seven TDs.

Jack Buchsbaum, junior, Owego: Buchsbaum hit on a number of big plays this season, and finished up with 21 catches for 515 yards (24.5 yards per catch) and six TDs.

Tight end / H-Back
Hayes Campbell, senior, Wellsboro:
A physical tight end, Campbell had 32 receptions for 510 yards, and two TDs.

Evan English, junior, Owego: English had 30 grabs for 306 yards, and four TDs.

Linemen
Troy Beeman, sophomore, Waverly
Will Crossett, senior, Sayre
Dylan Davis, senior, Owego.
Varirius Fennell, junior, Towanda
Talon Laplante, senior, Edison
Seth Northrop, senior, Newark Valley

All-Purpose
Dave Hess, freshman, Cowanesque Valley:
An athletic and versatile newcomer, Hess rushed for 550 yards, and five TDs, and had 13 catches for 300 yards, and three TDs.

Kicker
Brady Spalding, Troy, K, senior:
Spalding was Troy’s secret weapon. He went 54-for-61 on extra points, and was 5-for-6 on field goals during the season, including a season-long of 39 yards. He also had eight touchbacks on the season.

DEFENSE
Linemen
Josh Nittinger, senior, Athens:
A physical force on the Wildcat front, Nittinger had 48 tackles, including 15 solo stops, four tackles-for-loss, two QB sacks, and a fumble recovery.

Jacob Benjamin, senior, Waverly: Possessing a non-stop motor, and an attitude, Benjamin had 64 tackles, including 19 solo stops, two QB sacks, and one fumble recovery

Garrett Godfrey, junior, Tioga:  Godfrey got better as the season progressed, and was playing his best football in the postseason. He had 35 tackles, including seven solo stops, two tackles-for-loss, one QB sack, and one fumble recovery.

Simeon Kirk, junior, Owego: Kirk registered 41 tackles, and was a mainstay on Owego’s defensive front.

Linebackers
James Freeman, junior, Corning:
Freeman had 59 tackles and 2 sacks on the season.

Joe Hultz, senior, Cowanesque Valley: Hultz registered 100 tackles and four QB sacks.

Ben Shaw, freshman, Waverly: A high-energy sideline-to-sideline defender, Shaw led the Wolverines with 101 tackles, including 38 solo stops. He also had three fumble recoveries.

Jake Burbage, junior, Troy:
Burbage finished with 71 tackles and four tackles-for-loss on a Trojan team that allowed just 6.3 points per game. He also had six QB sacks on the year, but was primarily used as a run-stopper on the inside.

Josh McCawley, senior, Horseheads: McCawley had 65 tackles for the Blue Raiders, tying for the team lead with four QB sacks and tackles-for-loss with two. He also had two fumble recoveries and forced a fumble.

Defensive backs
Jacek Teribury, senior, SVEC:
A good coverage guy, Teribury wasn’t afraid to come up and make a stop against the run.

Connor Davidson, freshman, Athens: A very good all-around athlete, Davidson led the Wildcats with 61 tackles, including 26 solo stops, and two tackles-for-loss.

Joseph Palladino, junior, Owego: A former soccer player, Palladino recorded 47 tackles, and had two interceptions, and one forced fumble.

Mason Smith, sophomore, Troy:  Had three interceptions on the season and one sack from the safety position. A good tackler for a defensive back with 37 tackles on the year.

Jack Buchsbaum, junior, Owego: A speedy coverage guys, Buchsbaum had 51 tackles, and two fumble recoveries.

Punter
Hogan Shaw, sophomore, Waverly:
He wasn’t needed often, but Shaw averaged 36.7 yards per punt on 13 punts this season.

BAKER'S DOZEN ALL-REGION NEWCOMERS OF 2023
Ben Fitch, junior, Canton:
See above.

Connor Davidson, freshman, Athens: Davidson completed 42.1 percent (72 of 171) of his passes for 841 yards, and 11 TDs, with six interceptions. He rushed for 512 yards, and four TDs on 143 carries. He also had two receptions for 17 yards. (See defense above.)

Dave Hess, freshman, Cowanesque Valley: See above.

Dominic Cardinale, junior, Horseheads: Cardinale completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,117 yards, 11 TDs, and five interceptions. He also rushed for 97 yards, and two scores.

Joseph Palladino, junior, Owego: Palladino rushed for 336 yards, and four TDs on 75 carries, and caught 32 passes for 249 yards. He also returned six kicks for an average of 23.5 yards. (See defense above.)

Ben Shaw, freshman, Waverly: (See above for defense.) As Tomasso’s back-up, Shaw completed 10 of 13 passes for 106 yards, and three TDs, and rushed 12 times for 53 yards. One of his TDs came in the state quarterfinals.

Jake Burbage, junior, Troy: See above.

Luke Kreger, sophomore, North Penn-Mansfield: See above.

Eli Chapman, sophomore, Athens: Chapman was a jack-of-all-trades for the Wildcats. He 15 catches for 156 yards, and two TDs,  30 rushing attempts for 155 yards, and one TD, and completed 11 of 24 passes for 132 yards, one TD, and two interceptions. Defensively, he had 37 tackles, including 23 solo stops, as well as one interception and one fumble recovery. He also had six punts for an average of 30 yards.

Kegan Lane, freshman, Cowanesque Valley: Lane had 83 tackles for the Indians, including double-digit stops in six games.

Karter Green, sophomore, Sayre: Green did a little bit of everything for the Redskins. He had 13 receptions for 208 yards, and one TD,  and rushed for 174 yards, and two TDs on 41 carries. He also completed 5 of 9 passes for 44 yards. Defensively, Green had 82 tackles in 10 games from his linebacker spot.

Zimear Young, junior Edison:
Young rushed for 436 yards and five TDs on 56 carries. Defensively, he had 20 tackles and one fumble recovery.

Nate Hinckley, sophomore, Newark Valley: Hinckley registered 40 tackles, two QB sacks, and two tackles-for-loss from his spot in the defensive backfield.

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