2017 All-New Jersey Football First Team

by Mike Kinney on
Wed, Dec 13, 2017 12:28 PM — @MikeKinneyHS

Updated Wed, Dec 13, 2017 2:55 PM
2017 All-New Jersey Football First Team
Photo by Angel Chevrestt

2017 New Jersey Football Player of the Year

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Player
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John Langan
John Langan

Committed to:Boston College

Height:6-4
Weight:230

Grade:Senior
Position:Quarterback

After two seasons of producing solid personal statistics, but not achieving ultimate team success, Langan put it all together and sent the Crusaders (10-2) to their first Non-Public, Group 4 championship since 2004.

Langan passed for 2,103 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 825 yards and 12 TDs--impressive numbers by any standard. But his less quantifiable qualities were what truly catapulted Bergen Catholic forward, like Langan's unshakable poise in the late stages of  games and his ability to instantly flip from steady-handed QB  to ball-toting battering ram with the first-down marker or end zone close at hand.

Following the Crusaders' humbling 62-14 loss to California power Mater Dei Sept. 16, Langan steered his club to nine consecutive victories en route to the final, a stunning 44-7 rout over St. Peter's Prep. He compiled 4,789 passing yards, 1,452 rushing yards and a combined 69 touchdowns in his career.   

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2017 New Jersey Football Coach of the Year

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P.J. Jankowicz
P.J. Jankowicz

The Blue Jays' remarkable turnaround from 1-9 last season to 11-1 one year later certainly looks like an overnight success story for head coach P.J. Jankowicz.

But this story actually took 289 days and nights to take shape, from their final game in 2016 to the Sept. 9 opener this year. Jankowicz conducted soul-searching meetings with coaches and players after that 1-9 campaign and he inspired a reevaluation of goals among the players that would be routinely manifested in the weight room and on the track in those ensuing months.

Jankowicz' triple-option offense churned out almost 4,000 rushing yards with an effort that was as collaborative as any in New Jersey. That was first made evident when four players scored in an opening-game win over Metuchen, and highlighted further when six Blue Jays scored one TD each in their 33-21 victory over Point Pleasant Beach for the Central Jersey, Group 1 crown

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2017 All-New Jersey Football First Team - Offense

Player
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Player
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Naim Mayfield
Naim Mayfield

Committed to:Fordham

Height:5-10
Weight:185

Grade:Senior
Position:Running Back

Deceptive speed and body control that never gave tacklers a clean angle were amongst the many qualities that hatched an incredible season for the scintillating running back. Mayfield exploded for 2,681 yards on 203 carries, scored 46 touchdowns (one every 4.4 hauls) and returned both a kickoff and punt for scores.

Player
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Jalen Berger
Jalen Berger

Height:6-0
Weight:175

Grade:Sophomore
Position:Running Back

He scored 15 touchdowns, including three in a loss to Byrnes (S.C.) and a victory over Delbarton. In a near-upset against No.  1 Bergen Catholic Oct. 27, Berger rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-26 loss. 

Player
School
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Dylan Classi
Dylan Classi

Committed to:Princeton

Height:6-0
Weight:190

Grade:Senior
Position:Wide Receiver

The sure-handed athlete hauled in 55 passes for 943 yards and 12 touchdowns, including eight over the Crusaders' nine-game win streak to end the season. When clutch plays were needed, he was routinely Johnny Langan's prime target. Classi set school marks for receptions with 92 and TD catches with 20.

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Justin Shorter - South Brunswick
Justin Shorter - South Brunswick

Committed to:Penn State

Height:6-4
Weight:203

Grade:Senior
Position:Wide Receiver

The widespread attention devoted to this five-star receiver opened avenues for many other Vikings as they navigated to a sectional title. Shorter caught 36 passes for 522 yards and seven touchdowns, rushed for 322 yards and four TDs and recorded 69 tackles and two interceptions out of the secondary for 11-1 South Brunswick.

Player
School
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Matt Alaimo
Matt Alaimo

Committed to:Pittsburgh

Height:6-5
Weight:230

Grade:Senior
Position:Tight End

A combination of athletic ability, size and strength allowed him to locate holes in the coverage and often overpower the opposing linebackers he met along the way. Alaimo caught 44 passes for 671 yards and seven touchdowns and compiled 69 receptions for 1,042 yards over the last two years.

Player
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Tyler Friday
Tyler Friday

Height:6-3
Weight:265

Grade:Senior
Position:Offensive Live

The Ironmen struggled at 2-8 for first losing season this century, but Friday still graded out consistently as a premier offensive lineman in the state's toughest conference , and he also starred  on the defensive line once again.  Among Friday's 20-plus offers are Alabama, Ohio State, Rutgers, Penn State, Boston College and Miami. 

Player
School
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Khris Banks
Khris Banks

Height:6-4
Weight:280

Grade:Senior
Position:Offensive Line

The Spartans rolled up 2,632 passing yards and 1,953 rushing with this durable tackle protecting QB Ta'Quan Roberson and leading the ground surge. Banks also recorded 47 tackles, including 16 for losses, and a sack to help DePaul (8-3) claim the Non-Public, Group 3 championship after two consecutive losses in the final. 

Player
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Nick Russo
Nick Russo

Height:6-2
Weight:300

Grade:Senior
Position:Offensive Line

In Russo's three seasons at left guard, the Green Knights went 25-10 and reached three sectional finals, including a Non-Public, Group 3 title in 2016. This fall, he recorded 22 pancake blocks, giving him 38 for his career. The Green Knights this season accumulated 2,131 passing yards and 2,052 rushing yards.

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Jason Modak
Jason Modak

Height:6-1
Weight:240

Grade:Senior
Position:Offensive Line

This veteran lineman played an integral two-way role for North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4 champion last year and helped a young team go 7-4 this season. As a defensive lineman, he compiled 94 tackles (25 TFL) and 13 sacks. 

Player
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Marcus Crowell
Marcus Crowell

Height:6-5
Weight:275

Grade:Senior
Position:Offensive Line

He recorded a staggering 65 pancakes to spearhead an offense that rolled up  47.9 points a game for the undefeated North Jersey, Section 1, Group 5 champion. On the defensive line Crowell had 32 tackles and 3.5 sacks. 

Player
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Ashante Worthy
Ashante Worthy

Height:5-9
Weight:195

Grade:Senior
Position:Utility

Creative and electrifying, Worthy became the first player in New Jersey history to surpass 2,000 yards both passing and rushing in a single season. He set the state’s rushing record with 2,860 yards and 41 TDs on 345 carries and completed 143 of 205 passes for 2,106 yards and 20 touchdowns. He added three interceptions in limited action in the defensive secondary.

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Henry Pearson
Henry Pearson

Height:6-3
Weight:235

Grade:Senior
Position:Athlete

The industrious two-way end caught 28 passes for 393 yards and five TDs and rushed for two scores for the Paladins. On defense Pearson compiled 99 tackles (11 for losses), three sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. He scored a season-high three TDs in an overtime win over Seton Hall Prep.

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2017 All-New Jersey Football First Team - Defense

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Player
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Javontae Jean-Baptiste
Javontae Jean-Baptiste

Height:6-5
Weight:210

Grade:Senior
Position:Defensive Line

He used tremendous quickness and a knack for the moment to patrol his perimeter and terrorize opposing backfields. Jean-Baptiste compiled 88 tackles, including 14.5 for losses and 11.5 sacks. He recorded 18 total tackles in three playoff games and had two sacks in the Crusaders' 44-7 win over St. Peter's Prep in the Non-Public, Group 4 final.

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School
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Jayson Ademilola
Jayson Ademilola

Committed to:Notre Dame

Height:6-3
Weight:280

Grade:Senior
Position:Defensive Line

He went head-to-head against some the best offensive linemen in the region, yet still managed to accumulate 56 tackles (32 of them solos and 16 for losses) and eight sacks to help anchor the Marauders' hard-hitting defense. Two of his sacks came in a 42-19 win over Paramus Catholic in the Non-Public, Group 4 semifinals.

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Bartek Rybka
Bartek Rybka

Committed to:Army West Point

Height:6-2
Weight:270

Grade:Senior
Position:Defensive Line

He came up with 73 tackles (including 41 solos and 10.5 for losses), three sacks and two forced fumbles and was particularly stout in the second half of the season to help the Paladins (5-6) with three of their last five games.

Player
School
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Howard Cross III
Howard Cross III

Height:6-2
Weight:240

Grade:Junior
Position:Defensive Line

This rugged veteran racked up 103 tackles, including 10 for losses, and had 5.5 sacks and one fumble recovery for the Green Knights. Cross registered double-digit tackles in numerous games, including a season-high 13, and also one sack, in an October victory over Paramus Catholic, and 11 tackles and an interception in an earlier win against Pope John.

Player
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Shayne Simon
Shayne Simon

Committed to:Notre Dame

Height:6-3
Weight:200

Grade:Senior
Position:Linebacker

Whether zeroing in on ball carriers or running pass routes, Simon found ways to make an opponent's day most unpleasant. At outside linebacker he compiled 53 tackles, including 14 for losses, and had two sacks and five interceptions for the 9-3 Marauders. Simon also caught 52 passes for 840 yards and six touchdowns. 

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Willie Matthews
Willie Matthews

Height:6-1
Weight:190

Grade:Junior
Position:Linebacker

Matthews' game-to-game tackling statistics sometimes seem too big to believe, until you watch him in person or review the film. He and the ball are rarely ever separated. Matthews produced 186 tackles (91 solos and 38.5 TFL), 22.5 sacks and had one interception. He already owns the school record with 333 career tackles.

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Vinny DePalma
Vinny DePalma

Committed to:Boston College

Height:6-1
Weight:225

Grade:Senior
Position:Linebacker

The durable veteran was once a fiery defensive leader and a steadying influence for the Spartans (8-3) en route to the Non-Public, Group 3 championship. He recorded 128 tackles (105 solos and 18 TFL) and four sacks, while also rushing for 479 yards and nine touchdowns. He had 12 tackles in DePaul's 7-3 win over St. Joseph Regional  in the final.

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Evan Stewart
Evan Stewart

Committed to:Boston College

Height:6-1
Weight:216

Grade:Senior
Position:Linebacker

This sideline-to-sideline traffic enforcer generated 114 tackles (41 solos and 9 for losses), 1.5 sacks, three interceptions and two caused fumbles to help guide the Green Knights (8-4) to a third straight appearance in the Non-Public, Group 3 final. He closes his career with 239 tackles. Stewart also rushed for two touchdowns and caught one this year. 

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Ronnie Hickman
Ronnie Hickman

Height:6-1
Weight:198

Grade:Junior
Position:Defensive Back

He is considered a major recruit at wide receiver, but also a force in the defensive secondary with 47 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups for the 8-3 Spartans. Hickman caught 44 passes for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Kevin Brennan
Kevin Brennan

Committed to:Navy

Height:5-11
Weight:200

Grade:Senior
Position:Defensive Back

His status as a four-year starter and three-year captain would have been considered unique in  a non-descript Group 1 program. At Don Bosco Prep, that makes Brennan a coveted rarity. He closed this season with 72 tackles and five interceptions.

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Nysere Nunn
Nysere Nunn

Height:5-10
Weight:170

Grade:Senior
Position:Defensive Back

His outstanding play in the secondary was pivotal in the Non-Public, Group 3 final as he helped contain dangerous St. Joseph Regional QB Nick Patti and lead DePaul to a 7-3 victory. Nunn finished with 57 tackles (51 of them solos) and four interceptions, and closed his career with 106 tackles.

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Dave Estevez
Dave Estevez

Height:5-11
Weight:195

Grade:Senior
Position:Utility

If it was an impact play executed by River Dell, chances are this versatile senior was smack in the middle. He passed for 1,772 yards and 15 touchdowns, rushed for 1,324 yards and 25 TDs, averaged 38 yards per punt and also made 72 tackles at safety. His leadership guided the Golden Hawks to a second straight sectional championship.

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Zyheir Jones
Zyheir Jones

Height:6-2
Weight:200

Grade:Senior
Position:Athlete

Jones topped the Shore Conference with nine interceptions, including a pair of pick sixes. He collected 66 tackles and four sacks and rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 TDs to go with 1,208 yards passing and 18 TDs as the Piners’ quarterback. 

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2017 All-New Jersey Football First Team - Special Teams

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Player
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Calogero Caruso
Calogero Caruso

Height:5-10
Weight:183

Grade:Senior
Position:Kicker

An avid soccer player prior to this fall, Caruso slipped into his new role comfortably and emphatically. His placekicking, kickoffs and punts helped the Knights overcome many key graduation losses and lead them to an 8-3 finish. Caruso was perfect on seven field goal attempts, with a long of 35 yards, and was 33 of 33 on PAT. 

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Daniel Webb
Daniel Webb

Committed to:Army West Point

Height:5-7
Weight:160

Grade:Senior
Position:Kick Return

He missed almost two full games with an injury and was routinely avoided in kick situations, yet still returned three punts and one kickoff for scores. Webb rushed 122 times for 1,371 yards and 24 touchdowns to lead 12-0 Montclair to its fourth North Jersey, Section 1, Group 5 title in six years. His 81 career TDs are an Essex County record.

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Jon Sot
Jon Sot

Committed to:Harvard

Height:5-11
Weight:165

Grade:Senior
Position:Punter

He used his powerful right foot and talented hands to lead the Falcons to their second straight 9-1 season. Sot averaged 44.2 yards per punt, kicked field goals of 45, 42 and 32 yards and also converted 44 PAT. He hauled in 32 receptions for 641 yards and eight TDs.

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