Waverly has 4 football players named All-State, Tioga has two
The Wolverines once again made a splash at the state level.
Waverly had four players selected to the NYSSWA Class B All-State football team Wednesday.
"It's a rewarding accomplishment after the season," Wolverine's coach Jason Miller said. "We expected them to have a good season and they followed through. It's rewarding and were really proud of them as a program to get recognized on the state level."
They had two first team members in Zach Cooney at defensive back and Dylan Gutierrez at linebacker. Kicker Dan Hyland made it on third team while Austyn Bostwick was named to the honorable mention offense.
This is Cooney's second straight All-State nod.
While many people know about Cooney's offense few knew how important he is to Waverly on the defensive side.
"He is an unbelievable defensive player," described Miller. "He's in charge of so much out there, truly is a quarterback on defense. He makes a lot of adjustments and secondary calls. He' an incredible defensive player."
As for Gutierrez, Miller felt this recognition was long over due.
"I really felt he could have made it last year," he said. "He stood out so much, especially in those big games. I'm really happy that he made it this year. He's probably one of the most dominant defensive players we've ever had here. He's the most recognizable player on the field no matter what game it was. He has incredible quickness and toughness you can't coach. I'm just so happy for him, he's truly an outstanding player."
When it came to Hyland Miller knew he had a shot. Last season Jeff Mastrantuono made it as kicker and Hyland's stats were better this season.
"He opened some eyes," Miller said about Hyland. "He kicked over 40 PATs and four field goals his first year playing. The stats prove that based on last year achievements we knew he had a chance. He's just a very consistent kicker."
Hyland put in a lot of work during the off season to play football for the first time ever.
"His first game at Athens he was so nervous but by the end of year he was just a really cool cat," explained Miller. "We had all the faith in the world in him and he believed in himself. It was really neat to watch a kid who never kicked in a football game and play 10 games and really be successful and a really important part of our year. The field goal in the Athens game was the difference and in the Sidney game it ended up being the difference. I'm glad he's getting recognition also."
As for his top receiver, Miller felt that Bostwick could have been higher.
"I thought he might make third team or something," he said. "It's still quite an accomplishment. He just had a tremendous year, so many highlight catches. I think he had over 40 catches, that's a lot of receptions and 11 touchdowns. The stats are just worthy a little bit higher recognition."
For Tioga they had two honorees for Class D.
Tyler Spires made it for first team linebacker while Carter Jackson was named on the second team as an offensive lineman.
"I think it's great for Tyler," Tioga coach Nick Aiello said. "Being first team is awesome."
Spires made it on second team last year.
"It feels good to be first team all state," remarked Spires. "Last year, I wasn't upset at being second team, but it definitely feels good to be in the top 24 kids right now. I definitely didn't want to be on second team again. I wanted to prove I was a lot better."
Aiello was happy to see his senior leader be rewarded like this.
"It just speaks volumes about him as a football player," the coach said. "For his career, not just one year. It's an exclamation point on an outstanding senior year. It was great leadership and great work ethic and what he brought to the team. The young kids look up to him for that, they try to emulate that."
For Spires, it has been a tremendous two seasons.
"The last couple of years have been unforgettable," he said. "To get to the state semi-finals, it's good memories."
He hopes that having Tioga earn some All-State recognition will energize the younger players.
"I think it will hopefully keep motivating these kids to get to the state finals and get that state championship," Spires remarked.
As for Jackson, Aiello believes this recognition will energize him for next season.
"I hope it motivates him to come into camp in great football shape," he remarked. "I hope he will work all year and not only improve but peak in his senior year."
Elmira-Notre Dame picked up two as well.
Matt Watkins made the second team on defense while Tom Agan was named honorable mention as a defensive back.
With the success Waverly and Tioga have had the past two years, both programs hope that earning recognition at the state level will continue that trend.
"I've already seen it," Aiello said. "The kids got a taste, they know how close they were. I can't wait for next year."
For Miller, his team got four players despite not making the state playoffs.
"The sports writers are giving us a lot of credit," Miller said. "We're seeing here the kind of testament as we are as a program. They're taking a look at whose on our team and what they're doing throughout the year. Being the leader of the program it's very rewarding."
This is where teams want to be according to Miller.
"We want to be relevant every year," he remarked. "Most importantly we want to have high expectations. Not just within the inner circle of coaches but we want the players to have high expectations and the community to have high expectations."
The younger players see this recognition and want to be a part of it.
"It really is an incentive for younger players to work hard in the off season," Miller explained. "Every single one of the kids did something special in the off-season. You use this as a tool to get kids motivated right now. Most coaches don't start thinking about football until June or July, our program, we start in January."
Having not only the four players from this season but also players like Kevin Gorman, Chris Nocchi and Jon Duval to point to help keep the program going for Miller.
"When your giving that message it's a lot easier to do that, to use that against those players you're trying to motivate," he said. "This is how it is and this is how they did it. This is what you need to do."