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Valley Sports Report
SYRACUSE — Senior Joey Tomasso was named the New York State Class C “Co-Player of the Year,” and 11 of his teammates — five first-team, two third-team, and four honorable mentions — were also recognized by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

Named to the first team were senior Jay Pipher, juniors Kam Hills, and Xavier Watson, and sophomores Troy Beeman, and Hogan Shaw, while junior Kolsen Keathley, and freshman Matthias Welles were third-team selections.

Seniors Jacob Benjamin, Carter George, and Jake VanHouten, as well as freshman Ben Shaw received honorable mention recognition.

“Joe (Tomasso) had a fantastic career and solidified Player of the Year with tremendous statistical career and a state championship,” said Waverly coach Jason Miller. “He finished as one of the most prolific passers in New York State history.”

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.

Jay Pipher, senior, wide receiver:
An elusive speedster, Pipher had the ability to take the ball to the end zone any time he touched it. He led the Wolverines with 62 receptions for 1,185 yards, and 12 TDs. He also carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards.

“Jay Pipher is most accomplished receiver in Waverly history,” said Miller. “What made Jay special is his ability to get yards after the catch.”

Kam Hills, junior, lineman: Hills was a dominating presence on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he was a key cog in keeping Waverly’s ability to keep Tomasso upright in the pocket, as well as the team averaging 181.4 yards per game on the ground. Defensively, Hills had 82 tackles, including 31 solo stops, at his defensive tackle spot. He also had two fumble recoveries.

“Kam Hills is a gifted, and very large athlete that wows you with his ability to move and his ability to remove people at the line of scrimmage,” said Miller.

Xavier Watson, junior, wide receiver:
A physical wonder, the 6-5 Watson led the Wolverines with 62 receptions, and a school-record 17 TD catches, which was the most in the state in 2023. He also had 918 receiving yards, and rushed the ball twice for 45 yards.

“Xavier Watson is a huge threat in the red zone,” said Miller. “He really became a very dominant player and worked hard to improve his skill sets.”

Hogan Shaw, sophomore, place kicker: Shaw, who featured a strong leg on kick-offs that help Waverly win the field-position battle on a regular basis, made 70 of 75 PAT attempts, and was 4 of 6 field goal attempts, including two 39-yarders.

“Hogan Shaw is a very hard worker and takes pride in his role as kicker,” said Miller. “He is an excellent athlete who assumed a very important, and unselfish, role on this team.”

Troy Beeman, sophomore, lineman: A big, physical presence on the defensive front, Beeman had 73 tackles, including 11 solo stops, four QB sacks, and four fumble recoveries. He was also a key cog on the Wolverine offensive front.

“Troy Beeman has excellent feet and hands, plays with a mean streak, finishes blocks to the ground, and has a very bright football future,” said Miller

Kolsen Keathley, junior, linebacker:
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.”

“Kolsen Keathley has great ability to pursue the ball, and take on blocks at the edge,” said Miller. “He is a great tackler and was one of the best defenders in Class C in New York State.”

Matthias Welles, freshman, tight end / H-Back: With three all-state receivers, and Keathley ahead of him in the pecking order for targets, Welles only had five receptions (on five targets) for 85 yards, and one TD.

“Matthias Welles was perfect in receiving the ball when targeted this season,” said Miller. “His large frame offered a big target.  

“He was a major part of our power and ctr-run scheme,” added Miller. “He was also dominant on defense at defensive end.”

Honorable Mention
Jacob Benjamin, senior, lineman:
Possessing a non-stop motor, and an attitude, Benjamin had 64 tackles, including 19 solo stops, two QB sacks, and one fumble recovery. He was also a key member of the offensive line.

“I’m hot sure about this, how is (Jacob Benjamin) only honorable mention,” said Miller. “He was a second-team all-state pick on the offensive line last year.

“He was a dominant blocker, and dominant defensive end … really, our best overall lineman,” added Miller. “He will have a really good collegiate career.”

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

“Carter George was nasty and mean, and played the game on defense like it is supposed to be played,” said Miller. “He was relentless in pursuit … smart player … and did a great job at outside linebacker after moving from  the corner back position.

“I loved to watch him play,” added Miller.

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

“Ben Shaw was the leading tackler on the team, and had a great freshman year,” said Miller. “He is under-sized at inside linebacker, but is very smart in the Xs and Os, and did a great job anticipating the play based on offensive line movement or scheme.

“He is a very good tackler, and plays with passion and confidence that normally not seen from a young player,” added Miller.

Jake VanHouten, senior, wide receiver: A talented receiver among perhaps the best receiving corps in the state, VanHouten had 42 catches for 528 yards, and six TDs.

“Jake VanHouten had a tremendous season on both sides of the ball,” said Miller. “He had a great two-year career at wide receiver.  He came up with big-time plays when needed the most.

“He also covered a lot of ground at free safety, was a sure tackler and never let anyone over the top of him,” added Miller.

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