EDITOR’S NOTE: We have added Hall of Fame head coach Marcus Borden’s write-ups explaining why he chose each of the 24 finalists, along with his honorable mention selections at the bottom of this story, so please scroll down to check it out!
MyCentralJersey.com football analyst Marcus Borden has selected one player from each of the Greater Middlesex Conference’s 24 football-playing schools to be a recipient of the first annual “Borden’s Ballers” Award.
Now, we need the help of our readers to select one of those 24 players to be named “Borden’s Baller of the Year.”
Readers can cast their votes on the ballot below.
The player who receives the most votes will be featured in a story that will appear in the Home News Tribune and at MyCentralJersey.com along with a photograph of Borden presenting him with a trophy, courtesy of MyCentralJersey.com.
Each of the 24 players will receive a certificate of accomplishment and a long-sleeved Nike “Borden’s Ballers” shirt that bears a special design on the front and the name of all 24 players chosen for the honor on the back. All of the players will be invited to partake in a group “Borden’s Ballers” photo, which will also appear in print and online.
The shirts are courtesy of “Borden’s Ballers” sponsor Rudy Heierling and Sports Paradise, the official outfitter of the MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl, Pines Manor Restaurant in Edison and MyCentralJersey.com.
“For those that have achieved this great honor,” Borden said, “please keep the certificate of accomplishment with all your other memorabilia from your scholastic career. In addition, please wear your ‘Borden’s Ballers’ custom shirt with great pride knowing that you are being held to the highest standards that this award represents.”
Borden used the following criteria to choose the select group: Performance (an athlete who has played at a high level throughout the season); Leadership (a player who epitomizes the adage, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”); Camaraderie (a teammate who can be relied upon as a positive influence under any situation); Intangibles (someone who thrives in crunch time, represents his program and school well, is coachable and has what Borden, a Spanish teacher at East Brunswick High School, calls “ganas,” or intense desire).
“It was extremely difficult in many cases deciding which player to select from any given school that had a plethora of candidates to be considered,” said Borden, a Hall of Fame member of both the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the New Jersey Football Coaches Association.
For that reason, Borden said he will compile an honorable mention list to acknowledge other players who were strongly considered for the award.
The honorable mention list will appear on MyCentralJersey.com at a later date along with a separate story from Borden acknowledging each of the 24 honorees.
East Brunswick H.S. – Kyle Wiggins: “The most unassuming athlete on the field, Kyle has that ability to jump cut, wiggle and burst, qualities that we look for in all the great backs. He was the go to guy for the Bears”
7 game statistics include 139 carries for 787 yards and 8 touchdowns, 4 receptions for 43 yards. On defense he has 61 tackles, 5 broken up passes, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 interception.
Edison H.S. – Dajour Freer: “The unheralded lineman help the Eagles win a triple overtime thriller in monsoon conditions versus East Brunswick the first weekend in October. His consecutive blocks on a counter trap play allowed teammate QB Haaziq Daniels to score the tying touchdown and the eventual two-point game winner.”
7 game statistics include 25 solo tackles and 2 quarterback sacks.
J.P. Stevens H.S.– Rashiek Harvard: “The Shiek was the most impressive of the Hawks trying to revive the proud Stevens tradition. His work ethic, intensity level and senior leadership were essential to setting the tone for his youthful teammates.”
7 game statistics include 446 yards rushing and 156 yards receiving. He has scored 5 touchdowns 1 on a kickoff return and 4 rushing.
Monroe Township H.S.– Miles Shipp: “The nephew of New Jersey great Marcel Shipp, current Jets running backs coach and former All-State RB from Passaic County Technical Institute, University of Massachusetts and Arizona Cardinals/Houston Texans RB from 2001-08, did not disappoint as he kept the family name in the spotlight. His combination of speed, size and outstanding leaping ability has made him one of the GMC’s top wide receivers.”
8 game statistics include 18 receptions for 472 yards and 4 touchdowns, 6 rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown.
North Brunswick H.S.– Zach Rowell: “A bring your ‘lunch pail’ to work type of athlete, Rowell fits the mold of players that new head coach Don Zsak is looking for to rebuild North Brunswick’s football program. Zach’s punishing blocking and running style epitomizes the Raiders philosophy of playing tough defense and running a smash mouth offense.”
Old Bridge H.S.– Jake Esposito: “One of the GMC’s most dominant two-way performers, Jake can beat you with his power, speed and hands as a runner/receiver/kick returner or he will tackle you one on one forcing you to hang on to the ball as he tries to rip it out.”
7 game statistics include 50 carries for 363 yards and 5 touchdowns, 26 receptions for 502 yards and 5 touchdowns. On defense he has 17 solos 8 assists and 1 tackle for a loss and 2 interceptions. Kick return yardage includes 209 yards on punts and 217 yards on kickoff returns.
Piscataway H.S. – Elijah Barnwell: “The league’s leading rusher runs with power and speed. He has already re-written the Chiefs storied history and record books as a running back while only being a junior. He will be one of New Jersey’s most highly recruited players in 2016!”
7 game statistics include 114 rushes for 1056 yards and 16 touchdowns and 4 catches for 30 yards.
Sayreville H.S.– Anthony Porcaro: “A large, imposing two-way lineman, Porcaro will knock you down or run right past you. His prowess as a wrestler enhances his ability to disrupt an opponent’s blocking scheme, whereas his brute strength and power will overwhelm the defender as he locks you up.”
8 game statistics include 35 pancake blocks on offense and 25 tackles on defense with 1 fumble recovery. *Anthony is often double teamed as he aligns over the center freeing up a backer.
South Brunswick– Phil Campbell: “A hybrid strong safety/outside linebacker Campbell will be a great addition to the Rutgers 2016 recruiting class. He possesses outstanding athleticism which enable him to play coverage and as well as blitz the edge as a weak side college linebacker. His best days are yet to come.”
8 game statistics include 81 rushes for 571 yards for 9 touchdowns, and 1 catch for 7 yards.
On defense he has 44 solo tackles, 31 assists, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, 1 pass defended and 1 caused fumble. 3 kickoff returns for 51 yards.
Bishop Ahr– Dane Lupton: “A cerebral player, Lupton can play multiple positions on either side of the football. He possesses enough speed to beat you outside and has the toughness to get the short yardage between the tackles. Defensively Dane can play OLB or SS depending on the defensive game plan.”
7 game statistics include 82 rushing attempts for 392 yards and 6 touchdowns, 6 receptions for 65 yards. On defense he has 42 solo tackles, 24 assists, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 5 quarterback sacks,
1 forced fumble.
Carteret– Sam Kamara: “Sam Kamara has been a dominant force at defensive end for the past two seasons. A 2014 All-Area selection, he cannot be blocked by one person. Most offenses wisely choose to run away from him. The 255 lb. fullback is quite agile and almost impossible to stop on 4th and short.”
8 game statistics include 48 carries for 315 yards and 1 touchdown, 12 receptions for 152 yards and 1 touchdown. On defense he has 32 solo tackles, 23 assists, 8 tackles for a loss, 3 quarterback sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 fumble caused, 1 pass defended and 1 blocked FG.
Colonia H.S. – Solomon Manning: “Manning, like Phil Campbell, is another home grown linebacker and a member of the Rutgers 2016 recruiting class. He has those steely eyes of a seek and destroy middle linebacker that will make sure you know who hit you. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big 10.”
8 game statistics include 96 tackles and 1 interception. On offense he has 6 receptions for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns.
J.F. Kennedy H.S.– Cristian Cardosa: “Cardosa has battled through early season injury to lead the young Mustangs on both the offensive and defensive line. A relentless defensive stalwart, he can over power you with a bull rush or beat you with a quick first move often making the tackle in the opponent’s backfield.”
8 game statistics include 68 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, 5 forced fumbles, 5 recovered fumbles and 3 quarterback sacks.
New Brunswick H.S.– Maurice Ffrench: “The Pittsburgh commit just may be the most dynamic player in the GMC! He has literally burst on the scene this year in just about every facet of the game. He has been dominant as a rusher, receiver, kick returner and even as a punter. However, it is not his kicking prowess that worries opposing coaches, but the threat of him taking it to the house should there be an errant snap. Ask the Ramblers of Carteret about that one!”
8 game statistics include 76 rushing attempts for 1103 yards and 14 touchdowns, 16 receptions for 501 yards and 4 touchdowns. 1 kickoff return for a touchdown. On defense he has 18 tackles, 1 interception and 6 pass deflections.
Perth Amboy H.S. – José Caceres: “Amboy’s most dominant two-way lineman, Caceres uses his quick feet on defense to get off the line of scrimmage while always finding the ball. His powerful leg drive as an offensive blocker has consistently allowed him to open holes for Panther ball carriers.”
7 game statistics include 41 solo tackles, 5 assists, 3 tackles for a loss and 1.5 quarterback sacks.
Saint Joseph H.S. – Joe Papa: “Papa is another hybrid athlete that can roll up as an outside linebacker or shift back and play half field coverage as a safety. On the offensive side he is equally talented as a wide receiver or tight end in the Falcons multiple offense.”
7 game statistics include 96 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and 2 quarterback sacks. On offense he has 25 receptions for 410 yards and 4 touchdowns, 13 rushes for 26 yards and a touchdown.
South Plainfield H.S. – Jason Lee: “Like so many of the talented running backs in the GMC, Jason Lee can put the team on his back and carry them to victory. His fourth quarter performance in the Tigers game versus Woodbridge has enabled his team to be in position to earn a first round home playoff berth.”
7 game statistics include 147 rushes for 758 yards and 8 touchdowns, 9 catches for 182 yards and 1 touchdown, 2 pass completions in 4 attempts for 40 yards, and 1200 all purpose yards. On defense he has 39 tackles, 1 interception. Kick return yardage is 5 attempts for 244 yards and 1 touchdown. He has scored 62 points.
Woodbridge H.S. – Tracy Fudge: “As a two-year starter at quarterback, Fudge has displayed an uncanny knowledge of the Barrons offensive playbook. He can easily run a no huddle offense and check off to a play that can take advantage of the defense.”
8 game statistics include 95 pass completions on 161 attempts for 1287 yards for 13 touchdown passes, 51 rushes for 74 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Dunellen – Adrian Brown: “As one of only a handful of seniors on the Destroyers’ roster, Adrian Brown is the consummate leader. His work ethic and intensity level on offense and defense is second to none, as he always leaves it all on the field at the end of the day.”
8 game statistics include 20 solo tackles, 15 assists and 5 tackles for a loss.
Highland Park – Cameron Petkov: “Is a poster boy for all those that wish to make a personal change in their lives. Dedicated and committed to make a difference, Petkov has been one of the leaders in Highland Park’s resurgence and potential playoff berth to be decided this weekend.”
Metuchen H.S. – Trevor Firgau: “A master of disguises, Trevor can play just about any position on the football field. His greatest accomplishment however, was his willingness to give up the signal callers duties to become the full time halfback. His reward has been running the Bulldogs to the precipice of a Blue Division title. Stay tuned.”
7 game statistics include 104 carries for 806 yards and 10 touchdowns. On defense he has 42 tackles, 26 solos, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.
Middlesex H.S. – Jack Sweeney: “Middlesex’s ability to run the football starts with their center Jack Sweeney. The Bluejays recent success can be directly attributed to his leadership and outstanding play on the offensive line. If he’s not pancaking, you on offense he just might be making the tackle on defense.”
7 game statistics include 7 pancakes on offense, 14 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss and 1 quarterback sack.
South River – Mario Nigro: “Thrust into a new offense and a position change, Mario has steadily improved throughout the season. With the Rams being a sophomore and junior dominated team, the senior quarterback Nigro has been a jack of all trades, but most importantly, he has also been a great leader.”
8 game statistics include 127 rushing attempts for 833 yards and 7 touchdowns, 53 for 93 and 701 yards passing with 5 touchdowns while also catching 2 passes for 7 yards. On defense he has 23 tackles, 2 interceptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. His kick return yardage is 112 yards and one touchdown.
Spotswood – Lou Vacca: “A mountain of a man, Vacca has led the way for his team’s rushing attack while also being a dominant run stopper on defense. If the Chargers are to repeat as Blue Division champions, it will be no surprise that they had success pounding the ball behind #75 their 6’2 310 lb. road grader.”
7 game statistics include 4 solo tackles, 20 assists, 3 tackles for a loss, 1.5 quarterback sacks,
2 hurries, 1 fumble recovery and 1 caused fumble.
East Brunswick – Almaliek Fitzpatrick, Edison – Reilly Gonzalez, J.P. Stevens – Jared Fraraccio, Monroe – Chase Santiago, North Brunswick – Max Emanuel, Old Bridge – Artur Sitkowski, Piscataway – Aidan Rosa, Sayrevile – Jayson DeMild, South Brunswick – Mo Jabbe, Bishop Ahr – Andrew Brazicki, Carteret – Justin Taylor, Colonia – Chase Barneys, J.F. Kennedy – Andrew Roberts, New Brunswick – Samad Davila, Perth Amboy – Deonte Freeman, St. Joseph – Luke Yakely, South Plainfield – Justin Counts, Woodbridge – Nate Lanier, Dunellen – Preston Gibney, Highland Park – Ryan O’Shea, Metuchen – Devin Miller, Middlesex – Bernal Murillo, South River – Khaliyl Everett, Spotswood – Joe Hayford.
Voting for “Borden’s Baller of the Year” will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 11:59 p.m.
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