The century’s best
Many these days love compiling Mount Rushmore national sports lists. Seems like it is time for the Sun-Gazette to join in high school style and make a 2000’s Mount Rushmore for all 17 area teams. Again, to prevent complaints from flooding in these lists include only players who participated for area durings during the 2000s.
Let the debates begin
Darrell Blackman: One of Williamsport’s all-time greats, Blackman shattered program and Lycoming County records for single-season and career rushing records when he played his final game in 2002. A four-year starter at North Carolina State, Blackman ran for 6,771 yards and 68 touchdowns in three years, twice earning Class AAAA all-state honors and topping 2,000 yards twice.
Raymond Brooks: Maybe the area’s best defensive end in the 2000s, Brooks was a force who could take over a game and who had a program-record 14 sacks in 2002. Brooks had four sacks in a 24-14 win at Berwick that season, started at North Carolina State and also was an outstanding fullback who ran for 1,366 yards and 19 touchdowns while providing strong lead blocking.
Isaiah Hankins: The current Williamsport quarterback has set just about every single-season and career program record there is. He is just 36 yards from becoming the area’s fourth 5,000-yard career passer and also two touchdown passes from becoming the fourth to reach 50. A dual threat who has helped change the program’s complexion, Hankins has totaled 69 touchdowns and more than 6,000 yards.
Jerah Reeves: The receiving equalivalent of Hankins, the current Albany wide receiver rewrote the program record book. A Big 33 all-star, Reeves caught 128 passes for 2,070 yards and 24 touchdowns. He especially was a force in 2014, catching 52 passes for 1,022 yards and 13 touchdowns. He caught a program-record 62 passes as a senior.
Kyle Datres: One of the most versatile and dangerous area athletes to ever compete, Datres is one of only six Pennsylvania quarterbacks to ever top 3,000 passing and rushing yards. A three-time all-state safety, Datres also was an offensive force. The current North Carolina third baseman threw for 4,212 yards and 41 touchdowns while running for 3,871 yards and 63 touchdowns. He finished with 8,083 yards and, counting defense, 105 touchdowns.
Jamie Van Fleet: An all-state linebacker who later played well at Penn State, Van Fleet was the heart of a stifling 2007 Loyalsock defense as the Lancers reached the Class AA state semifinals. Van Fleet made more than 140 tackles that season and also was an excellent fullback. He topped 100 tackles in consecutive seasons and helped Loyalsock win its first district championship in 19 years.
Kyle Van Fleet: The middle Van Fleet son was a versatile threat and a three-way standout and the 2003 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year. A 1,000-yard running back, Van Fleet helped Loyalsock win seven or more games all three years as a starter and had an excellent career playing at Division I-A Georgetown where he served as captain his senior year.
Dan Harrison: A two-time all-state offensive linemen, Harrison helped pave the way for explosive offenses in all three seasons as a starter. Also an excellent run stuffer on defense, Harrison helped Loyalsock average more than 350 yards and 30 points in each of his last three seasons from 2013-15.
Keith Batkowski: Now playing at Lycoming, Batkowski broke single-season and career rushing records in just two seasons as a starter. Batkowski ran for 4,404 yards and 48 touchdowns in 2014 and 15. Batkowski topped 1,900 yards both seasons, helping Montoursville capture the 2014 District 4 Class AA championship and reach the final last year. He ran for 2,234 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior.
Ben Cerney: Montoursville’s Iron Man, Cerney never missed a game during his scholastic career, starting in all 49 games. A force along the defensive line, Cerney earned all-state honors last year and was one of the district’s leaders in sacks and tackles. He also was an anchor on three strong offensive lines before playing fullback and tight end last year and totaling 801 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Luke Ellison: Montoursville became the area’s first District 4 champion in 2005, advancing to the state semifinals, and Ellison might have been its MVP. It is hard finding a player who performed better at linebacker than Ellison did from 2002-05 when he earned all-state honors twice and was the 2004 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year. Also a fantastic fullback, Ellison ran for 1,063 yards and 24 touchdowns in that 12-win 2005 season.
Brycen Mussina: The three-year starting quarterback is second in the area in career touchdown passes with 56 and needs just 176 yards to become the third quarterback to reach 6,000 yards. Mussina holds virtually every Montoursville passing record and has helped Montoursville go 24-10 as starter. The Division I recruit has topped 1,000 yards three straight years and reached at least 17 touchdowns each time.
Dan Egly: The 2005 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year had one of the best seasons in area history that year and earned all-state honors. Egly was a league all-star at running back and linebacker, running for 1,957 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns. Egly topped 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons and holds the single-season rushing record and finished with 3,240 career yards.
Landon Henry: He might only be in his second season as the starting quarterback, but Henry has worked his way onto this list. The senior quarterback has set program records with 3,182 yards and 40 touchdowns while throwing only eight interceptions. A dual threat, Henry leads Hughesville in rushing this season, has totaled more than 4,000 career yards and topped 2,000 yards last year as Hughesville went 9-3.
Kyle Murren: A ferocious defensive end who earned all-state honors in 2005, Murren also put together an excellent collegiate career at Lycoming. Murren was tough to block, super against the run and had 11 sacks as a senior in 2005 when Hughesville had one of its best seasons ever. At tight end, Murren’s blocking helped ignite Hughesville’s powerful running game.
Sean Tetreault: Speaking of opening big holes, few have done it as well as Tetreault who probably should have earned all-state honors in 2005. Tetreault was a force up front and helped Hughesville run for 3,967 yards that year. The current Muncy coach had a fantastic collegiate career, was an all-league selection and played professionally.
Lance Antolick: Following an excellent scholastic career as a two-way starting lineman, Antolick worked his way up the Penn State depth chart and helped anchor the offensive line during its best season of the 2000s. Antolick was a consistent force for the 2005 team that won the Orange Bowl and that was a controversial one second from an undefeated season.
Bryce Charles: Few, if any, defensive linemen did it better during their Bulldog careers than Charles who was a two-time all-state selection after just missing out there in 2013. Charles was a fearsome run stuffer who also harassed quarterbacks, had more than 60 tackles for losses and who drew double teams to free up other players. Charles helped Jersey Shore win 26 games the past three years.
Dom Loffredo: Charles was the inside muscle on Jersey Shore’s defense and Loffredo brought thunder from the outside. A dynamic defensive end now flourishing at Lycoming, Loffredo was a 2014 all-state selection after recording a 2000s-high 15 sacks. Loffredo, also a fantastic tight end, helped Jersey Shore go from winning three games in three years to becoming a district and league champion.
Levi Lorson: Jersey Shore has played football for more than 100 years, but nobody has run for more single-season or career yards than Lorson. The 2015 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year and all-state selection is third among 2000s area rushers with 4,476 yars and 41 touchdowns. A tireless worker who shined at linebacker, Lorson ran for 2,275 yards and 24 touchdowns last year.
Colton Harer: Only one area player has caught more passes in a season than Harer did in 2012 when he caught 76 passes for 816 yards and six touchdowns. Harer also had one of the best receiving games in area history, catching 11 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns against Canton.
Cameron Kriner: One of the best receivers in program history, Kriner was key to helping Montgomery win five games in 2009 when it reached districts for the first time since 2001. Kriner leads Montgomery in yards for the 2000s and the future Lycoming receiver finished with 55 catches for 1,147 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Cody Kulago: No Montgomery quarterback has thrown for more yards in the 2000s than Kulago did. A four-year starter, Kulago led Montgomery to its only five-win season since 2001 during the 2009 season and topped 1,000 yards that year. He closed his career with 2,722 yards.
Eric Segraves: An outstanding three-way threat, Segraves was the engine that powered Montgomery in 2001-02 when he ran for 1,701 yards and 16 touchdowns. Segraves topped 1,000 yards as a senior and played a memorable Old Shoe Game against Muncy that year, running for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
Trevor Egli: No area team featured a better passing game from 2000-09 than Muncy and Egli was the most efficient of those quarterbacks. An oustanding leader, Egli threw for 2,640 yards and 40 touchdowns during the 2002-03 seasons. Egli might have made a run at the then-county record for touchdowns in 2003, but broke his collarbone and finished with 25. Muncy won 15 games those two years.
Ryan Hembury: A hard-nosed workhorse, Hembury topped 1,400 yards in 2009 and 2010 while scoring 34 touchdowns. Hembury never wore down, ran well after contact and finished his career with 3,088 yards. Hembury went over 100 yards 15 times those two seasons and helped Muncy reach districts for the first time since 2010 as a senior.
Nate Messner: One of the best tight ends to ever play in this area, Messner earned all-state honors in 2002-03 and caught a 2000s-high 27 touchdowns despite missing a few games with an injury. No area tight end caught more than Messner’s 12 touchdowns during the 2002 season. The 2004 Sun-Gazette Athlete of the Year finished with 90 catches and 1,599 yards.
Zach Sarginger: A two-time all-state selection, Sarginger provided the muscle on some outstanding Muncy teams. Sarginger paved the way for an explosive 2005 offense as Muncy reached the district final and later put together an excellent collegiate career at East Stroudsburg where he was a three-year starter.
Dominick Bragalone: We could all live another 100 years and likely never see anyone come close to doing what Bragalone did from 2012-14. A two-time Class A Player of the Year, Bragalone shattered every significant area and county rushing record there is, finishing with 8,749 yards and 128 touchdowns while helping South reach the 2014 state semifinals. A 1,000-yard rusher at Lehigh as a freshman, Bragalone averaged 13 yards per carry on 672 career attempts and was 39 yards from the single-season national rushing record when he ran for 4,717 yards and 63 touchdowns as a senior.
John Peters: In front of so many Bragalone touchdown runs was Peters throwing a crushing block. One of the best fullbacks of the 2000s, Peters was a tremendous blocker who would have been a 1,000-yard rusher anywhere else. A gifted linebacker, Peters earned all-state honors in 2014 and set the tone for a dominant unit. He also ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns that year.
Tyler Schonewolf: A four-year starter who is now playing well at Columbia, Schonewolf was a force on both sides of the ball and was vital to the team’s rapid turnaround. Schonewolf never missed a start in four years, anchored a strong defensive line and was one of the 2000s best tight ends, providing big block after big block, so often on toss sweeps that led to long Bragalone touchdowns.
Brandon Stonge: Before Bragalone started his rampage, it was Stonge who was South’s all-time leading rusher. A four-year starter and a bulldozing fullback and linebacker, Stonge led South in rushing all four seasons there and capped his career by running for 1,501 yards and 18 touchdowns as South made a six-win improvement and went 10-2.
Justin Brown: He was only 5-foot-7, but Brown played big every time he stepped on the field and helped Canton thrive during his scholastic career. A fearsome defensive lineman, Brown was among the area’s leaders in tackles and sacks from 2006-08 when Canton won 23 games and two league titles.
Kyle High: Wherever Canton used High he flourished. Tough to move up front, High was a standout defensive lineman and two-way first team Sun-Gazette all-star in 2010 when he led the area in sacks. High also played guard, tight end and fullback that year. Despite not moving to fullback until Week 5, High ran for 1,009 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 335 yards.
Reese Holmes: Canton’s all-time leading passer, Holmes brought the vertical game to what had been a run-heavy offense for so long. A three-year starter during Canton’s three best seasons in the 2000s, Holmes threw for 3,906 yards and 45 touchdowns. As a senior he led the area with 1,874 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Tyrell Wheeler: An excellent return man and defensive back, Wheeler also was a dynamic offensive threat who led the team in rushing and receiving during a nine-win 2008 season. Wheeler totaled 1,344 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is Canton’s leading rusher and receiver during the 2000s, topping 1,000 yards in both categories.
A.J. Morgan: Bucktail’s all-time leading passer helped Bucktail enjoy one of its best seasons ever during his senior year of 2011 when he threw for 1,518 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Bucktail went 9-2 that year and hosted its first-ever playoff game. Morgan led Bucktail to winning seasons his last two years when he ran for 3,323 yards and 30 touchdowns, both program records.
Dustin Newlen: An excellent linebacker, Newlen also was tough to slow on the ground and ran for 2,327 yards and 23 touchdowns. Newlen helped Bucktail win six games in 2003 and enjoy a big turnaround when he ran for an area-high 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Colton Risley: Maybe Bucktail’s best defensive player in the 2000s, Risley was a beast up front and was one of the area’s leaders in tackles and sacks for three straight seasons. He was the defensive MVP on that nine-win 2011 team and was a first team Sun-Gazette all-star as well.
Trent Risley: Not to be outdone, Trent was a three-way weapon who played all over the field on both sides of the ball. Outstanding on defense in 2011 and 12, Risley also was an all-star punter who played quarterback for the first time ever in 2013 and totaled 1,622 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Robbie Gould: It’s not often you see a kicker on a Mount Rushmore, but when you start for four years at Penn State and put together a stellar 11-year career with the Chicago Bears that tends to help. Gould is, arguably, the best kicker in Bears history, holds nearly every team record and was a 2006 All-Pro.
Justin Neff: A four-year starting safety, Neff has become one of the most dangerous all-around players in program history. Playing wide receiver, running back and now quarterback, Neff has been hard to slow. The 2000s most dangerous kickoff return man, Neff has nine returns for touchdowns in three years and appears headed for 1,000 rushing yards this season, running for 852 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Tyler Pavalko: One of the area’s best cornerbacks in the 2000s, Pavalko led the state in interceptions as a junior in 2012 when he intercepted 12 passes. No other area player in the 2000s comes close to Pavalko’s 23 career interceptions. He intercepted 18 passes between his sophomore and junior seasons and had four as a senior when teams avoided throwing his way. Pavalko returned three picks for touchdowns and also was one of its leading receivers in the 2000s and returned three kicks for touchdowns.
Von Walker: Maybe the best player in program history, Walker excelled in all three phases as a four-year starter and was used all over the field. A captain at Penn State now, Walker topped 1,000 yards passing and rushing as a senior in 2012. Walker, who totaled 55 touchdowns, also is one of only six area players who has topped 4,000 rushing yards in the 2000s.
Nate Brown: The 2010 Sun-Gazette Player of the Year helped usher in the best three-year run in program history from 2008-10. Brown was a four-year starter at linebacker and was one of the area’s best all four years. He also was a force at fullback, delivering fantastic blocking and running for a career-high 1,394 yards a nd 26 touchdowns in 2010 when Lewisburg captured its first and only district championship and reached the state semifinals.
Trey Delbaugh: Building on Lewisburg’s outstanding linebacking tradition of the 2000s, Delbaugh has been one of the district’s in each of the last three seasons. Delbaugh has led the team in tackles and topped 11 per game the past three years as Lewisburg has twice reached the posteason. Smart, hard-hitting and aggressive, Delbaugh is closing in on 400 career tackles.
Merle Moscarello: A three-year starting running back and linebacker, Moscarello was like a Brown clone, only faster. Vital to the program’s resurgence, Moscarello ran for 3,863 yards and 36 touchdowns, going over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons. Moscarello was an all-state selection in 2010 when he ran for a team-high 1,428 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Brandon Smith: One of the best players in program history and the current Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Smith was a dominant four-way starter on both sides of the ball from 2009-12. Smith is one of the best linebackers this reporter has ever seen, a two-time all-state selection and a two-time Sun-Gazette Player of the Year. He topped 100 tackles three straight seasons and flourished at tight end and fullback where he also was an all-star. As a senior, Smith totaled 1,476 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Bob Benion: One of Milton’s all-time greats, Benion helped Milton be a district power from 1998-2001, earning all-state honors as a senior. Benion was one of the area’s best two-way linemen during the 2000s and became a four-year starter at Duke. With Benion anchoring both lines, Milton won 18 games in 2000-01.
Brady Chappell: A four-year starting quarterback, Chappell owns just about every Milton single-season and career passing record. Chappell helped Milton reach two straight district championships in 2011-12 and finished his scholastic career with 4,039 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Ryan Solomon: Another player at the heart of Milton’s turnaround early this decade, Solomon was a tremendous linebacker who topped 100 tackles in back to back seasons and who also was the team’s best offensive lineman. A two-time wrestling state champion who is now at Pittsburgh, Solomon also was a 2012 Sun-Gazette first team linebacker.
Brandon Stokes: Doing whatever Milton needed, Stokes was a weapon in all three phases. Stokes is Milton’s leading rusher in the 2000s, gaining 2,028 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns. An excellent linebacker, kicker and punter, Stokes ran for 1,164 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, leading Milton for a second straight year.
Bo Burleigh: The two-year starting quarterback had one of the best seasons in area history as a senior in 2014, throwing for 2,398 yards and 30 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Burleigh is NP-Mansfield’s all-time leading passer with 4,091 yards and 52 touchdowns and helped the Panthers go 9-3 in 2014 as it reached its first district final.
Brock Burleigh: And then Bo’s brother took over. Brock earned all-state honors last season and broke his older brother’s single-season records, throwing for an area record 2,775 yards and 35 touchdowns. Only one player threw for more touchdowns in a season in area history and Burleigh helped NP-Mansfield again reach the district final and now has 48 career touchdown passes.
Skye Stiner: The 2011 Sun-Gazette co-Player of the Year, Stiner did it all for the Panthers during three strong seasons as a starter. Stiner was a dynamic runner and receiver had 25 catches for 400 yards as a junior before running for 1,610 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior when NP-Manfield won the Eastern Conference championship.
Bryce Zaparzynski: Joel Whitteker is pushing Zaparzynski for this spot, but Zaparzynski holds it for now after shining as a defensive back, return man, running back and receiver. Zaparzynski twice topped 1,000 rushing yards and added 50 catches those two seasons. Zaparzynski also was a shutdown cornerback who returned three interceptions for touchdowns during the 2014 season.
Justin Brouse: No area player has totaled more receiving yards in a season than Brouse did in 2005 when he caught 58 passes for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns. Brouse’s huge season helped Warrior Run have its best season of the 2000s as it went 8-3, beat Southern Columbia and won a share of the CSC-II championship. He finished his career with 87 catches and nearly 2,000 yards.
Austin Oberdorf: The epitome of a workhorse, Oberdorf carried the Warrior Run offense from 2009-11. Defenses geared themselves toward slowing Oberdorf but few did as he ran for 3,296 yards and 34 touchdowns. Oberdorf also was the team’s leading receiver during that time and a standout linebacker.
Zach Shaffer: Like Brouse, Shaffer left an indelible mark on the area receiving scene. Shaffer set an area record in 2002 when he caught 83 passes for 970 yards and seven touchdowns. Shaffer also is the area’s all-time leader in receptions, catching 134 passes, 24 more than the third-place receiver.
Glenn Smith: The three-year Lycoming starting quarterback threw Shaffer almost every one of those passes and is one of the best to ever play the position at Warrior Run. Smith threw for 4,401 yards and 28 touchdowns. Smith was especially strong in 2002 when he threw for 1,976 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Derek Harsch: No Wellsboro player has ever had a better rushing season than Harsch did in 2001 when he ran for 2,064 yards and 20 touchdowns. Harsch put on a show against Athens that year, running for a school record 334 yards. He is the program’s all-time leading rusher with 2,668 yards.
Quinn Henry: Maybe it’s too early for this but when one never plays quarterback before and then goes out and top 1,000 rushing and passing yards while helping his school win its first district championship, that earns him a spot. Henry replaced Brandon Lamphier who had torn an ACL in the preseason last year and totaled 2,642 yards and 34 touchdowns. Henry also helped an outstanding defense and tied for a team-high with five interceptions.
Mike Pietropola: District 4’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, Pietropola put together two of the best seasons in District 4 history in 2013 and 14. Pietropola is the district’s highest rated passer in the 2000s and threw for 6,171 yards and 68 touchdowns. A two-time all-state selection, Pietropola twice topped 2,000 yards, led Wellsboro to 23 wins in three years, a league title and threw for 2,757 yards and a district-record 39 touchdowns in 2013 when Wellsboro went 10-1.
Kieron Smethers: Now playing at Bloomsburg, Smethers was a big-time playmaker on both sides of the ball. An explosive defensive end, Smethers made most of his headlines as a receiver, catching 88 passes for 1,616 yards and 21 touchdowns. Smethers commanded double teams and also opened up the field for other receivers.
Tyler Bowers: Only one player has run for more yards in the 2000s than Bowers who put together strong 2009-10 seasons while also playing well defensively. Bowers topped 500 yards both years and ran for 831 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
Evan McCall: One of only two 1,000-yard rushers CV has produced since its program was reinstated in 2004, McCall ran for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior in 2009 when CV just missed making the playoffs.
Luke Plummer: A versatile playmaker who did damage as a runner and receiver, Plummer put together and outstanding senior season in 2012. He led the team in rushing with 694 yards and seven touchdowns and also led it in receiving with 27 catches for 299 yards and a score.
Brandon Whitesell: CV’s leading rusher in the 2000s, Whitesell moved from quarterback to running back and played well at both positions. Whitesell ran for a program-best 1,262 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013 and finished his career with 2,069 yards and 22 touchdowns. As a junior, Whitesell totaled over 1,000 yards and threw for 658.