By Andy Loigu
A pair of Warren Hills juniors, running back Zack Hamilton and linebacker Dylan Stiles, were selected to the Mid-State Conference All-Raritan Division football first team by a vote of the coaches this month.
An indication that Warren Hills will be experienced and talented next fall comes from the fact that five Blue Streak juniors were placed on the second team and another earned honorable mention. Wide receiver Bryce Katstra, running back Sean Morris, offensive linemen Peter Nichols and Nick Langhorne and quarterback Garrett Koch were named to the second team and wide receiver Hayden Van Solkema earned honorable mention.
Belvidere placed six seniors on the Union Division first team. Quarterback David Kinney, running back Tylor Yard, offensive linemen Jon Wolfinger and George Duckworth, defensive lineman Zack Vought and linebacker Ryan Kokawski were first team selections. Four seniors also were honored on the second team: tight end Nick Rosania, running back Tyler Gilmartin, and secondary backs Dashawn Lawson and Pat Farley.
Congratulations to all for representing their school with distinction.
The Hackettstown Tigers and seven other high school basketball teams from Northwest Jersey took part in the Holiday Hoopla Toy Drive Showcase at Centenary University on Saturday. In the fourth and final game of the day, the Tigers came out roaring and scoring, putting 25 points on the scoreboard in the first eight minutes and rolling to a 74-51 win over Mount Olive in their season opener.
You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one.
Senior point guard Jelani Awai provided inspiration and devastation on both offense and defense. With quick hands he made three steals that started fast breaks. On offense he was swishing and dishing and breaking down defenders when the Tigers put him into position to go one-on-one. “He’s regarded as one of the top players in Northwest Jersey this year,” said eighth-year head coach Mike McDonagh.
The Tigers field an all-senior front line with 6-5 tower of power Jack Quinoa, football player Eddie O’Melia, Ben Ward and Jeff Morgan also in key roles. Robert Begley, junior football star Christian Maciak, Jack Moran, Kyle Hrebenak, Tyler Akers and Tyler Gorczyca give Hackettstown a deep bench. “We have nice balance and can play different combinations so we would match up with anybody,” said McDonagh. “We have a quick team that can either press and play fast, or dictate tempo and slow it down. These guys are unselfish, always setting up a good shot, working together as a unit.”
The coach looks forward to some more showcase events against strong competition in other parts of the state, to get the team ready for divisional play. Last year the Tigers went 21-9 overall and tied for first with rootin-tootin Newton in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference Freedom Division.
All the teams in the Hoopla event held holiday toy drives and distributed toys and gift cards (including useful Shop Rite cards) to homeless shelters and needy families. “I’m a big believer in doing nice things off the court,” McDonagh said. “Basketball is short lived, but being a caring person can bring satisfaction and goodwill for a lifetime.”
The Skyland Conference announced divisional realignments for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years which impact Belvidere and Warren Hills.
Big Red will play in the Mountain Division (smallest enrollments) for all sports.
The Blue Streaks will play in the Valley Division for wrestling, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, cross country, lacrosse, track and field, soccer, girls tennis, and swimming. Warren Hills was placed into the Delaware Division for bowling, the Mountain Division for boys tennis, and Raritan Division for field hockey.
Placement is based on a combination of enrollment and strength of program, as determined by the consensus of the athletic directors, to ensure competitive balance.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.