Hunterdon Central senior Dylan Stein had enough goals in front of him this season before being told longtime golf coach Larry Ries would be stepping down after his 35th season.
That wasn’t taken lightly by Stein or his teammates.
“I really wanted to perform for him, really wanted to make coach’s last season a real great one,” said Stein.
Stein, who’ signed his National Letter of Intent last December to play at Towson University (Md.), lived up to his pledge and is the Courier News Golfer of the Year.
Both he and his team had outstanding seasons. The four-year varsity player won six tournaments, capturing the NJSIAA Group IV title with a 71, the Cherry Valley Invitational at Cherry Valley Country Club with a 68, the High Bridge Classic at High Bridge Golf Club with a 69. He also shot 69s to win North Sections 1 and 2 and at the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament at Architects Golf Club in Phillipsburg The Red Devils also won the team title.
He had the lead late at the Tournament of Champions at Hopewell Valley Golf Course, but finished third. The Red Devils also placed first at the Blue Devil Invitational, the Cherry Valley Invitational and the North I-II Group 4 sectional. The Red Devils, runner-sup in state Group IV two strokes behind champion Ridge, finished with an 11-2 dual meet record, capping Ries’ record at 534-114-1.
“I knew we were going to have a good team going into the season, but I wasn’t sure it was going to be our strongest year. Interestingly enough, this was the best season we’ve had in my four years,’’ said Stein.
Stein put his name up alongside former Hunterdon Central greats Mike Kosup, Spencer Watts, Tom Stevenson, Ernie Renda, John Fagan and Brent Studer. All of them performed for Ries, who became head coach in 1981.
“He’s definitely up there among the best we’ve had,’’ said Ries. “He’s definitely one of those golfers who under extreme pressure could perform and be productive.
‘Dylan is very accurate off the tee, off the iron and has a very good short game,’’ added Ries.
Reis said Stein has worked with Mike Amorelli, the Director of Golf Emeritus at Copper HIll Country Club. Amorelli has mentored Stein on the “Ben Hogan’’ swing, Ries said. History of the game is something Stein really appreciates. This past winter, he was able to have breakfast with Arnold Palmer at the legend’s own Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge near Orlando, Fla. Stein was thrilled when Palmer asked if could watch Stein hit some balls.
‘He just told me to stick to my game and see where it takes me,’’ said Stein, a former baseball player who’s only been playing competitively for four years.
As selected by the Skyland Conference coaches
All Delaware Division
Raymark Abogado (Bridgewater-Raritan), Sr.
Ryan Lambert (Bridgewater-Raritan), Sr.
Andrew Alexander (Hillsborough), Sr.
Dylan Stein (Hunterdon Central), Sr.
James Wolfangel (Hunterdon Central), Sr.
Luke Wolklin (Hunterdon Central), Sr.
Patrick Boles (Ridge), Jr.
Matt Elander (Ridge), Sr.
Ben Raff (Ridge), Sr.
Daniel McCreesh (Ridge), Sr.
Justin Panzarino (Watchung Hills), Jr.
Noah Wilpon (Watchung Hills), Jr.
Matt Albanese (Bridgewater-Raritan), Sr.
Evan Wald (Hillsborough), Sr.
Max Johnson (Hunterdon Central), Jr.
Tiernan O’Rourke (Ridge), Jr.
Dante Gambino (Watchung Hills), Sr.
Joe Pecoraro (Watchung Hills), Sr.
Jake Schoenbach (Watchung Hills), Sr.
All Raritan Division
Dan Altieri (Montgomery), Sr.
Joe DePinto (Montgomery), Sr.
Andrew Hong (Montgomery), Jr.
Andrew Kotler (Montgomery), Soph.
Kyle Macklin (Montgomery), Sr.
Brian Walker (Montgomery), Sr.
Kenny Horoho (North Hunterdon), Sr.
Kevin Johnson (North Hunterdon), Jr.
Sam Kuster (North Hunterdon), Sr.
Matt Rotolo (North Hunterdon), Sr.
Dan McCloskey (Phillipsburg), Jr.
Dillon Keilty (Warren Hills), Sr.
Mehul Singh (Montgomery), Soph.
Andrew Newman (North Hunterdon), Sr.
Brandon Puc (North Hunterdon), Jr.
Nick Braughton (Phillipsburg), Jr.
Sam Kornse (Phillipsburg), Jr.
Joe Misenor (Warren HIlls), Sr.
Corey Smith (Warren Hills), Jr.
All Mountain Division
Troy LaVecchia (Bernards), Sr.
Shawn McDole (Bernards), Jr.
Josiah Panza (Bernards), Sr.
Dylan Blackman (Gill St. Bernards), Jr.
Gunnar Valentine (Gill St. Bernards), Sr.
Mark Herwig (Rutgers Prep), Soph.
Kyle Rosen (Rutgers Prep), Sr.
Tyler Frazee (South Hunterdon), Sr.
Lazarus Gonzalez (South Hunterdon)
Alex Romeo (South Hunterdon)
Ture Leahey (Belvidere), Sr.
Mike Reid (Belvidere), Sr.
Matteo Reina (Belvidere), Sr.
Carmen Brienza (Bernards), Sr.
Spencer Zarndi (Bernards), Jr.
Charlie Kasman (Gill St. Bernards), Jr.
Garrett Rowe (Gill St. Bernards), Sr.
Sapan Palmer (Rutgers Prep), Sr.
All Valley Division
Jack Rutledge (Immaculata), Sr.
Justin Chae (The Pingry School), Jr.
Matt Dannenbaum (The Pingry School), Sr.
Jack Mayer (The Pingry School), Soph.
Bobby Rigby (The Pingry School), Jr.
Alex Wolfson (The Pingry School), Sr.
Jack Daly (Somerville), Sr.
Nick Dowwhan (Voorhees), Jr.
Mike Haliscak (Voorhees), Sr.
Megan McLean (Voorhees), Jr.
Kenalda Mills (Voorhees), Sr.
George Wilhelms (Voorhees), Sr.
Sean McIntyre (Delaware Valley), Jr.
Phil Zachary (The Pingry School), Jr.
Vince Petruolo (Somerville), Sr.
Mike Bliss (Somerville), Soph.
Landon Cordova (Voorhees), Jr.