Thursday, January 1, 2009

High School Football Players and Coach of the Year

Watervliet's Joe Hughes (#55, diving, left) was named The Record's 2008 Defensive Player of the Year for amassing 14 sacks and leading the Cannoneers to their first Section II Super Bowl title since 1997. (Tom Killips - The Record)

Here is the Player of the Year story about Joe.

WATERVLIET - In a city famous for producing offensive weaponry, it was the Cannoneers’ defense that led the Watervliet football team to glory in 2008. The Cannoneers allowed an average of 11 points per game and allowed fewer than 10 points on five occasions.
The heart and soul of the Cannoneers’ Section II Class C Super Bowl-winning defense was 5-foot-10 230 pound defensive tackle Joe Hughes. Hughes made 88 tackles and 14 sacks and has been named The Record’s 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.
"He did a tremendous job both this year and last year," said Watervliet head coach Erick Bernard. "He really did a number on the line, shutting down his side of the line, causing such a disruption for the other team."
Hughes also played a big role as a guard on Watervliet’s offensive line, paving the way for players such as quarterback Chris Hughes, who ran for 525 yards and passed for 1,097. The Cannoneers averaged nearly 26 points per game and had three running backs gain at least 200 yards.
Hughes certainly inspired teammates such as linebackers Caleb Gleason and Mike Siler during their improbable run to the school’s first Super Bowl title since 1997. But Hughes wasn’t necessarily the biggest vocal leader. He didn’t have to be.
"Caleb, Siler and Hughes, they were quiet kids," Bernard said. "They just let their play do the talking and the other kids followed that."
A four-year starter, Joe Hughes’ biggest strength on the defensive line was his ability to take on multiple blockers, freeing up space for linebackers to roam behind him and make tackles.
"He was huge," Bernard said. "If he wasn’t making plays, he was helping other people, making it easier for other people to fill the holes. He’s a tough-nosed kid. He’s just really tough."
The Cannoneers entered the 2008 Section II Class C playoffs as a distinct underdog. They lost regular season games to Chatham and Fonda-Fultonville, which clinched the No. 3 seed in the South Division and meant the Cannoneers would play a first-round playoff game on the road at Hoosick Falls.
Late in the fourth quarter, Hoosick Falls marched the ball 93 yards down the field to Watervliet’s 7-yard line, but senior linebacker Justin Chludzinski made a game-saving tackle with just seconds to spare that clinched a 22-19 victory for the Cannoneers.
Watervliet then avenged their early-season loss to Chatham, holding the best offense in Class C to a field goal in an incredible 20-3 semifinal victory.
In the Class C Super Bowl, the Cannoneers shut down Schuylerville’s high-powered offense. The Black Horses averaged 45 points and 300 rushing yards per game, but Watervliet held them to six points in a 10-6 victory. It was the first time Watervliet had won a Section II championship since 1997 and it marked the ninth time the school had won a sectional title.
They advanced to play Saranac Lake in a regional game, but fell in overtime, 14-7. Still, the Cannoneers’ uncanny run through the Section II playoffs made this one of the most memorable seasons in Watervliet in quite some time.
"It was great for the kids, the community and the school," said Bernard, who was a member of Watervliet’s 1990 and 1991 state championship teams. "I think it put Watervliet back on the map a little bit."
Although Hughes has yet to make a decision, college football may definitely be a part of his future. A high honor roll student at Watervliet, he does plan to major in business management wherever he winds up.
"I definitely think Joe could play," Bernard said. "His only limitation is that he’s not that tall. He’s extremely strong, though. I think he could play at the Division III level."

La Salle senior tailback Marquis Terrell (#21) capped off his stellar career with the Cadets with his second Section II title in as many years. For his leadership and durability, Terrell was named The Record's 2008 Offensive Player of the Year. (Tom Killips - The Record).

Here is the Player of the Year story about Marquis.

TROY - La Salle senior tailback Marquis Terrell knew it was not going to come easy for him during the 2008 season. Four of the five starting offensive linemen from the 2007 Section II Class AA champion team graduated, meaning Terrell would be running for his life behind an inexperienced front.
But that wasn’t exactly how it unfolded. The new linemen matured quickly and Terrell was as elusive and tough as ever. He finished the season with 1,803 yards on 259 rushing attempts, scored 16 touchdowns and led the Cadets to a second consecutive Section II title. He has been named The Record’s 2008 Offensive Player of the Year.
Terrell finished his career with 4,353 rushing yards, which places him fifth on the all-time Section II list.
"He was our go-to guy, both inside and outside," said La Salle head coach Al Rapp. "He was a great finisher. He reminded me of Walter Payton because he always finished going forward.
"He didn’t run out of bounds too often," Rapp laughed.
Terrell’s predecessors in the La Salle backfield, Jay Bernardo and Dave McCarty, had collegiate success at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University at Albany, respectively.
"They were all good backs in their own right," Rapp said. "Marquis had the advantage of being a three-year starter and he also had probably the best offensive line of them all in 2007."
But Terrell’s skills were not limited to the offensive side of the ball. He was a menace as a safety, collecting 53 solo tackles and made 70 tackles in total. He also intercepted four passes and recovered two fumbles.
As a punt and kickoff returner, Terrell gained 627 yards on 26 return attempts. Although Terrell practically never left the playing field during his three years on the varsity, he was one of the most durable players Rapp has ever coached.
"He is strong and pretty rugged," Rapp said. "In three years on the varsity, he never missed a game because of an injury."
Terrell was also named the Liberty Division’s Offensive Player of the Year.
He holds La Salle school records for rushing yards in a season (1,939) and touchdowns (30) – standards he set during the 2007 campaign. His 365-yard 7-touchdown performance against Schenectady in 2007 still ranks as the best single-game rushing performance in La Salle history.
In a 2008 regular season game at Schenectady, Terrell lost three fumbles in the first half and the Patriots scored on each of the resulting possessions en route to a 34-7 victory over La Salle. Terrell, however, made sure it would be the Cadets’ only loss to a Section II opponent all season.
He bounced back with a 149-yard, one touchdown effort in a Class AA Super Bowl rematch against Schenectady, sealing La Salle’s third sectional title in four years.
Three times in the 2008 season did Terrell rush for more than 200 yards in a game.
Terrell will definitely play football in college although he has not yet made a decision. Local schools such as the University at Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have declared their interest in him – the same schools that picked up former La Salle backs McCarty and Bernardo.
"He’s being pursued by lots of colleges," Rapp said. "UAlbany and RPI are interested and he’s being recruited heavily."
For all Terrell did on the field on Friday nights, his most impressive qualities were on display in the locker room and on the practice field. His leadership and poise turned a rag-tag, inexperienced bunch into a veteran core of football players in a matter of weeks.
"He really helped bring the team along and helped make them better," Rapp said.

Cohoes head coach James Ducharme has seen the Tigers program grow by leaps and bounds since he took over three seasons ago. Cohoes finished 0-9 in 2006 but because of Ducharme's insistence that players hit the weight room and attend camps and clinics, the Tigers won a school-record eight games in 2008. (Tom Killips - The Record).

Here is the Coach of the Year story about James.

COHOES - The Cohoes Tigers had an impregnable defense and playmakers on offense, but the reason they set a school record for victories in 2008 was their creative and energetic head coach, James Ducharme.
Two years ago, in his first season at Cohoes, the Tigers didn’t win a single game. They finished that 2006 season 0-9 but Ducharme built the program up from rock bottom, creating an atmosphere where football became a year-round sport.
"The biggest thing was the amount of offseason weightlifting competitions and training programs that we’ve done," Ducharme said. "A few seasons ago, football was only a fall sport at Cohoes."
He encouraged players to participate in weightlifting competitions, attend football camps and stay in shape during the winter months. Under his guidance, the Tigers won a school-record eight games in 2008, advancing all the way to the Section II Class B semifinals. Cohoes was ranked No. 12 in the final New York State Sportswriters Association poll.
Ducharme, 26, isn’t just making the Cohoes football program better. He is sharing his passion for the game with the rest of the Capital Region. Ducharme was one of the driving forces behind the Tiger Shootout, a seven-on-seven tournament that allowed local teams to hone their passing games before the season started.
"Two years ago we were looking for a passing competition to enter," he said. "Troy has their Section II combine and UAlbany has the linemen camp but there wasn’t anything local for our skills guys. We created an eight-team tournament and we’re looking at spreading to a 12 or 16 team tournament next year."
Ducharme played linebacker and tight end at North Rockland High School and played collegiately for the University at Albany.
He was also instrumental in organizing the school’s first ever night game in school history. The school set up portable lights that drew out the community and framed a victory over Cairo-Durham on Sept. 26. Never before had so much excitement surrounded the football team at Cohoes.
"D.A. Collins Construction came through donating the equipment and it really brought some positive energy to the program," he said.
Although many players from the senior-laden 2008 team will be graduating in June, Duchamre is optimistic that the offseason programs he has installed will keep the Tigers strong in Class B for years to come.
"That’s our hope," he said. "Our thought process going through this is that this is not a one-and-done thing. We want to keep working hard and not go backwards."

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