HISTORICAL SEASONS ON DISPLAY DURING FALL 2021
(2021-12-07)BY CHRIS MANNINGNorthern Tier Sports Report
Fall Sports are a wrap, and it was quite the season with tight league races, and long playoff runs. Hereâ€™s a rundown of some of the highlights for 2021.
TOP 5 GIRLS CONTESTS OF THE YEAR
5. NEB defeating Juniata Christian for second playoff win ever - The Panthers traveled two hours on the road, but put together one of their best offensive performances ever, coming away with a 5-0 victory over the higher seeded Juniata Christian.
4. Troy girls out lasting Athens at their Pink Game - The 5-3 victory effectively sealed the NTL title for the Trojans, as Addy Parker netted four goals to help them survive Athensâ€™ Hannah Walkerâ€™s hat trick.
3. Wyalusing girlsâ€™ cross-country winning the District IV title - Despite losing three of their top four runners to graduation a year ago, the Rams were able to win their third district title this past season, getting revenge on NEB, who edged them for the NTL Division-II title.
2. Cantonâ€™s 3-2 win over Galeton for the volleyball District IV, Class A title - The Warriors won their fifth straight district title, but had to hold off a tough Tiger team that forced them into a fifth set, where Canton won 15-13.
1. Wyalusing sweeping NPL to win the District IV, Class AA title - The Rams ended NPLâ€™s 83 District IV match win streak in the championship victory, sweeping a team that had just beaten them 3-1 to end the regular season. The fact that they rallied from a 12-3 deficit in the first set to get the win made it even more impressive.
HONORABLE MENTION: Wyalusing girlsâ€™ soccer 2-1 win at Athensâ€¦NEB volleyball beating Canton 3-0 in the regular season finaleâ€¦Troy cross-country winning the NTL Coachesâ€™ Invite titleâ€¦NEB cross-country beating Wyalusing en route to NTL Division-II title
TOP 5 BOYS CONTESTS OF THE YEAR
5. Wyalusingâ€™s Laudermilch, NEBâ€™s Dewing earn medals at PIAA Championships - Two area runners brought home cross-country medals, with Wyalusingâ€™s Zion Laudermilch taking home the second of his career, while NEB freshman Creed Dewing earned his first with his best race of the season.
4. Towanda football wins Bronze Helmet over Wyalusing in wet finale - The Black Knights were able to keep from having a winless season as they edged the Rams, 20-8, in a monsoon to take back the Bronze Helmet. Coach Craig Dawsey treated everybody with a belly slide in the mud during the celebration.
3. Troy running past Loyalsock in a blow out football win - Troy scored 32 second half points to roll past Loyalsock on the road 42-14, in a game that saw them rack up 562 rushing yards. They had three different backs break 100 yards in the contest.
2. NEBâ€™s thrilling district win over Juniata Christian - The Panthersâ€™ 4-3 victory came on the foot of Cesar Alvarezâ€™s goal with 16 seconds left, right after Juniata Christian tied it up with 47 seconds left to play. It was emblematic of the type of the season NEB had.
1. Cantonâ€™s rally past Old Forge in the state quarterfinals - Thereâ€™s any number of game that could be here for Canton - the district win over Muncy, their first state win over Steel-High - but it was the 20-14 walk-off victory in overtime against the Blue Devils that signified the type of team Canton was. They were down 14-0 entering the fourth quarter before tying it in regulation, and getting the win in OT.
HONORABLE MENTION: The impossibly muddy conditions in the Old Shoe that Canton wonâ€¦NEB boysâ€™ 4-3 rallying win over Troy to open the seasonâ€¦NEB boysâ€™ 2-2 tie with Wellsboroâ€¦Wyalusing boysâ€™ cross-country clinching another NTL Division-II titleâ€¦Wyalusing golf winning their first NTL match since they restarted the program
TOP 5 COACHES
5. Wayne Pratt, Troy Girlsâ€™ Soccer - Pratt was coach the last time the Lady Trojans won the NTL outright, back in 2010, and he was at the helm again as they brought back the championship 11 years later this fall.
4. Jennifer Newton, Wyalusing volleyball - Newton saw the Rams through some early troubles due to injuries and Covid-19 protocols, and led them to the promise land of a District IV title, unseating the juggernaut NPL along the way.
3. Jim Schools, Wyalusing cross-country - Despite their losses to graduation Schools was able to reload instead of rebuild the girlsâ€™ team and lead them to a district title, while also seeing the boys continue their dominance of the NTL Division-II. Both teams also made states, and another runner of his brought home a state medal - a pretty good season for the longest tenured coach in the league.
2. Tyler Sechrist, Canton football - After three years of near misses Canton hit the nail on the head in 2021, getting both a NTL Division-I title, a District IV, Class A title, and nabbing their first state win en route to the state semifinals, all under the tutelage of Sechrist and his staff.
1. Sheila Wesneski, Canton volleyball - Despite losing several key seniors from last yearâ€™s team, this yearâ€™s squad was able to win both a league title, and a district title, while also going further in states, showing the strength of the program Wesneski has built during her time at Canton.
HONORABLE MENTION: Gary Ward, Troy cross-countryâ€¦Vanessa Perez, NEB volleyballâ€¦Brent Keyes, Wyalusing golfâ€¦Jim Smith, Troy footballâ€¦Scott Merritt, NEB boysâ€™ soccerâ€¦Adam Russell, NEB cross-country...Gary Haley, Wyalusing girls' soccer...Joshua Thoman, NEB girls' soccer
TOP 5 GIRLSâ€™ NEWCOMERS
5. Lilah Hughes, NEB cross-country - While injuries hovered around throughout the Panther season, Hughes remained consistent, with high finishes during dual meets, invitationals, districts, and states to help NEB claim the NTL Division-II title, 2nd at districts, and a top 10 finish at states.
4. Anna Dunn, Towanda soccer - Dunn was one of the best midfielders in the NTL despite being a freshman as she helped stabilize a Knight team in flux. Their record may not have been what they wanted, but Towanda knows the future is brighter in part due to Dunn.
3. Keri Wesneski, Canton volleyball - The Warriors had a lot of newcomers step up on this yearâ€™s team, but Wesneski was the most consistent - whether it was her tough serves, strong outside hitting, or overall gutty play, they wouldnâ€™t have been able to get as far as they did without her.
2. Gracelyn Laudermilch, NEB cross-country - If not for injuries Laudermilch may be first on this list, as when she was healthy she may have been the best runner in the NTL. She helped her team clinch the NTL Division-II title before going down with an injury, then ran on a broken foot at districts so they could take second and go to states as a team.
1. Alyssa Parks, Troy cross-country - The most consistent freshman performer on the season, Parks was the Trojansâ€™ top runner every race as they won the NTL Division-I title. She was also the silver medalist at the NTL Coachesâ€™ Invitational, and at the District IV, Class A Championships.
HONORABLE MENTION: Towandaâ€™s Brea Overpeck, volleyballâ€¦Cantonâ€™s Allyson Butcher, volleyballâ€¦NEBâ€™s Emma Neuber, volleyballâ€¦Troyâ€™s Madison Vargas, volleyballâ€¦NEBâ€™s Lauren Lewis, volleyballâ€¦Towandaâ€™s Marisa Wise, cross-country
TOP 5 BOYSâ€™ NEWCOMERS
5. Ryan Jones, NEB cross-country - Jones was a state qualifier this year for the Panthers, as the NEB squad had a winning record this season.
4. Jack Wheaton, Towanda soccer - Wheaton had a double-digit goal season for the Knights, helping power an attack that nearly doubled their goal out put from last year.
3. Riley Vanderpool, Towanda football - Vanderpool showcased his talent in all three phases of the game for the Knights - he ran the ball hard, both on offense and on kick-off returns - and was second on the team in tackles from the secondary.
2. Clayton Smith, Troy football - Smith took over at the running back spot for the Trojans, and was on pace for a 1,000 yard season when he suffered a season ending injury. His highlight was running for over 300 yards in a win over Loyalsock.
1. Creed Dewing, NEB cross-country - Dewing was the top freshman in the NTL when he earned a state berth at districts. Then he had his best race of the season, earning a state medal with a 25th place finish.
HONORABLE MENTION: Troyâ€™s Evan Woodward, footballâ€¦Wyalusingâ€™s Ayden Hunsinger, footballâ€¦Towandaâ€™s Varius Farrel, football...Justice Chimics, Troy
TOP 5 GIRLSâ€™ ATHLETES
5. Emily Susanj, NEB volleyball - Susanj earned her 500th career kill and dig this season as she led a revamped NEB squad back to the district semifinals.
4. Alyssa Parks, Troy cross-country - Parks was key to the success of the Trojan team that won the NTL Division-I title, while she was also second at the District IV, Class A Championships.
3. Hannah Ryck, Towanda tennis - Ryck went undefeated during the regular season for the Knights, including sweeping through the NTL, to end her senior season.
2. Emmi Ward, Troy/Canton soccer - Ward anchored a Trojan team that only lost one league game all season. She was the league Player of the Year for the second year in a row, and one of the best defensive players in NTL history.
1. Aislyn Williams, Canton volleyball - Williams stepped up into the main role for the Warriors, leading them to a league title, a district tile, and to the state semifinals. Her hitting - both from the outside and from the middle - her serves, and her defense all blossomed in the bigger role this season.
HONORABLE MENTION: Emilee Otis, Wyalusing volleyballâ€¦Gracelyn Laudermilch, NEB cross-countryâ€¦Paige Manchester, Towanda volleyballâ€¦Layla Botts, Wyalusing soccerâ€¦Olivia Haley, Wyalusing soccerâ€¦Porschia Bennett, Towanda soccerâ€¦Addy Parker, Troy soccer
TOP 5 BOYSâ€™ ATHLETES
5. Mason Imbt, Troy football - Imbt anchored a Trojan offensive line that ran for over 2,000 yards this year, and was a key defensive player in the trenches. Heâ€™s one of the last remnants of the Troy NTL title team from two years ago.
4. Hayden Ward, Canton football - Ward was everywhere for Cantonâ€™s vaunted defense, leading the team in tackles, and making big plays due to his quickness and sure handed tackling. He also had a knack for big plays offensively, including the game winning touchdown against Old Forge.
3. Wyatt Hodlofski, Troy soccer - Hodlofski put a young Troy team on his back, netting 26 goals on the year, more than half of their total for the season. The seniors ability to break down defenses on north to south runs was unparalleled this year.
2. Zion Laudermilch, Wyalusing cross-country - Laudermilch overcame a slow start to earn the second state medal of his career. Along the way he led the Rams to another division title, a second place finish individually at districts and a second place team finish at districts to make states.
1. Riley Parker, Canton football - Parker ran for over 1500 yards for the Warriors, as their lead back in their 4-headed running attack, while also being a key contributor on defense. Whenever they needed to get a first down or a touchdown, they gave the ball to Parker.
HONORABLE MENTION: Creed Dewing, NEB cross-countryâ€¦Damien Landon, Troy footballâ€¦Jacob Bruyn, Wyalusing footballâ€¦Brandon Kuhn, NEB soccerâ€¦
A LOOK AHEAD TO 2022: While a few teams will have to rebuild going into next season, most of the top teams from 2021 look good going into next year.
FOOTBALL: CANTON will have to make replacements at quarterback and in the trenches, but they return all three of their running backs, and several key defensive players as they look to run it back. Once again, they look like the team to beat in the NTLâ€¦TROY will say good-bye to the last vestiges of their NTL title winning team of 2019, but they shouldnâ€™t have as much turnover next year as they did this season. Their JV and junior high teams have continued to have excellent seasons, so the Trojans have plenty reserves to call upâ€¦WYALUSING will say good-bye to several playmaking seniors, but junior quarterback Blake Morningstar threw for over 1,000 yards this year, and several youngsters showed glimpses of what they couldâ€¦TOWANDA improved greatly during the season, and had several younger players step up. Their freshman class, in particular, has some possible gems that could help them get back near the top of the NTL down the road.
GIRLSâ€™ SOCCER: TROY will say good-bye to their golden class of seniors, including their vaunted back-three led by Emmi Ward, but, with nearly 30 girls on the roster, their program will include the next woman up mantra as they defend their titleâ€¦WYALUSING battled for the NTL title for the second straight year, but will have big holes to fill as they lose several pieces, including the NTLâ€™s best goalie in Pearl Oâ€™Connor. However, they return a few big scorers in Olivia Haley and Layla Botts to make another run next yearâ€¦NORTHEAST BRADFORD is in the best shape of all the teams, returning 9-of-their-11 starters from last yearâ€™s team that won a district game. They expect another solid freshman class, and the backbone of their team, the juniors class, will be seniors in 2022, so could be the team to beatâ€¦TOWANDA had a year of transition, but bring back 8-of-11 starters, so they have hopes of being more competitive next season, despite the loss of center back Porschia Bennett. The fact that a lot of their losses were close is a good sign for the future.
BOYSâ€™ SOCCER: NORTHEAST BRADFORD will have to fill some big holes as their senior class was nearly half their starting line-up, including key parts up and down the field. The underclassmen, though, got a lot of good experience this season, so they should be ready to take on bigger rolesâ€¦TROYâ€™s top two players, and four senior starters, will be gone, including Wyatt Hodlofski, but nearly two-thirds of their roster were sophomores and freshmen, so they shouldnâ€™t have too many holes to fill, just lots of productionâ€¦TOWANDA was hoping for a little better showing in 2021, but did a good job turning into a strong offensive team. They will need to fill a couple holes, especially in goal, but return their attackers, so should be a potent team come next season.
VOLLEYBALL: CANTON will lose two starters, but return their core players, including Aislyn Williams, from the team that made a run in states. The league will only get better next year, though, and Galeton in districts isnâ€™t going away, so theyâ€™ll have their work cutout for them again in 2022â€¦WYALUSING was a deep team, so theyâ€™re going to lose some key rotation players, but have more coming back. All the injuries and Covid-19 protocols did allow more players to see court time, so they should be able to hit the ground running in 2022â€¦NORTHEAST BRADFORD said good-bye to generational player Emily Susanj, and will need to replace their size at the net, but have enough coming back that they should, once again, be competitive in a competitive leagueâ€¦TOWANDA loses a couple players, but returns their front line, their strength this season. If they can improve their backline play, thereâ€™s no reason they shouldnâ€™t be competitive for a division titleâ€¦TROY had to replace nearly their entire team from last year, so a few hiccups were likely, but they return a big junior class, so they should be able to hit the ground running come 2022.
BOYSâ€™ CROSS-COUNTRY: WYALUSING will say good-bye to their top two runners, but they have enough returning to try and make a run at leagues and districts again. Both should be wide open in 2022â€¦TOWANDA quietly had a strong season, being a dark horse to take second at districts by the end of the year. They return their top five, so they could be in the running for the top two spots in districts once againâ€¦NORTHEAST BRADFORD returns much of their roster, and bring in a very solid junior high class, so they could have a season next year much like their girls had this yearâ€¦TROY loses just one runner to graduation, and their junior high team won the NTL Invite, so they have a bright future next year and beyondâ€¦CANTON struggled with numbers, and will likely use 2022 as a rebuilding year once again, due to the loss of their top runner.
GIRLSâ€™ CROSS-COUNTRY: WYALUSING is in better position to repeat as district champions, losing just one runner to graduation, and with some help coming up, but theyâ€™ll likely need to improve to keep pace with NEBâ€¦NORTHEAST BRADFORD returns their top four from this past season, and will add the top junior high runner from this past year, so the sky is the limit for them next yearâ€¦TROY loses two of their top six, but return Alyssa Parks, and should get some help from the junior high team. They will likely be the favorites in the NTL Large School, but the margins will be tighterâ€¦TOWANDA brings back most of their top-7, including their two all-stars, so they could be a dark horse in 2022â€¦CANTON may have limped to the finish in 2021, but return much of their team, and could be another one to watch in 2022 if they can stay healthy.
GOLF: WYALUSING looks good heading into 2022, as they return many of their golfers from a team that made districts, and should be in the hunt for the league titleâ€¦TOWANDA says good-bye to their two league all-stars, and will likely be looking to rebuild, though they have a strong history of producing quality golfers.
GIRLSâ€™ TENNIS: TOWANDA came up just short of their team goal of an NTL title in 2021, and will say good-bye to the Hannahs, their two stalwarts for the last three years, but have a big roster that got a lot of experience this year, and have a lot of potential going forward.
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