Add another accolade to Jake Zembiec’s impressive résumé.
The record-setting quarterback for newly crowned Class AA state champion Aquinas Institute was named New York State’s top player via the Gatorade State Player of the Year program, announced Thursday by USA Today. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior, who is planning to head early to Penn State next month, powered the Little Irish to unbeaten season (13-0) and second state crown in the past three years. He was also named the state’s top player by the New York State Sportswriters Association as a sophomore and the 2013 All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year.
The Gatorade winners were selected based on athletic production and impact during the season. Each winner also demonstrated “high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership,” according to USA Today. Zembiec is an “A” student who is also active in the community volunteering.
He passed for 3,007 yards and 37 touchdowns this fall, both Section V records, completing 184-of-269 throws (68 percent) and was intercepted only seven times. After tight wins over Monroe County rivals Hilton (21-14) and Rush-Henrietta (17-14) in the Section V playoffs, the Little Irish rolled over Section VI’s Orchard Park (42-7) before edging Section III’s Liverpool (17-16) and steamrolling Section II’s Saratoga Springs (44-19) in Sunday’s state title game at the Carrier Dome.
Zembiec’s numbers in six postseason games were also eye-popping: 91-for-136 passing (67 percent) for 1,427 yards; 15 TDs and 3 interceptions.