By William Bowman
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG - For the third consecutive season Lewisburg linebacker Brandon Smith headlines the Valley’s contingent on the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Football team.
Nine Valley players earned all-state honors in either Class AA or A on Wednesday. All-state teams for Classes A and AA were released Wednesday, with the AAA and AAAA squads to be unveiled Thursday. The selection of the all-state teams are overseen by the sportswriters who cover high school football around the commonwealth. Players were nominated in all four classifications, then a statewide ballot was sent out affording all writers an opportunity to cast votes.
Smith, a senior, was named to the Class AA team as a linebacker for the third time by the he has company this year, both at linebacker and from Lewisburg. Smith’s teammate Kyle Santorine was one of the five offensive linemen selected to the Class AA team while District 4 Class AA champion Danville had a pair of honorees on defense in junior linebacker Eric Haney and defensive back Cale Rice. Also honored in Class AA was Mount Carmel defensive end Eric Joraskie, who was named to the team for the second year in a row.
In Class A, District 4 champion Southern Columbia put two players on the team in offensive lineman Ryan Cherwinski and linebacker Cody Pavlick. Line Mountain tight end Erik Smith was a first-time honoree while record-setting Bloomsburg receiver John Klingerman capped his tremendous career with his first all-state nod.
Obviously team success played a role in the nine players who earned honors on Wednesday.
Both Danville and Southern Columbia, which had two players honored, won their respective District 4 titles with the Tigers winning 12 games and the Ironmen 11. Lewisburg won eight games and made the District 4 Class AA playoffs while Mount Carmel also won eight before falling to Danville in the D4-AA title game. Line Mountain and Bloomsburg both made the District 4 Class A semifinals.
Smith had nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage on offense and led the Valley with 24 touchdowns, but he once again made his mark on defense. Lewisburg’s all-time leading tackler had more than 150 tackles for the third consecutive season to earn his third first-team all-state nod from the state’s writers.
Santorine anchored a Lewisburg offensive line that led way for Smith and first-year starter Nick Costagliola. The Green Dragons averaged more than 25 points and 300 yards a game offensively.
Like Smith, Haney anchored the Danville defense that was the Valley’s best all season. He led the way with 158 tackles, including 105 solo stops, on a defense than did not allow any to score more than 21 points in a game until a state playoff loss to eventual state champion Wyomissing. While Haney took care of the front, Rice took care of things in the defensive backfield for the Ironmen. He intercepted 10 passes to earn first-team All-HAC-I honors as well.
In Class A, Smeltz was honored for the first time after coming up big in the Eagles’ wide-open offense under first-year coach Rodney Knock. Catching passes from two different quarterbacks, the Line Mountain tight end had 38 receptions for 588 yards and seven TDs, all team highs.
Klingerman capped his terrific career with another stellar season. Despite the graduation of Blake Ranking, Klingerman did not miss a beat with his cousin Ricky Klingerman now under center for the Panthers. John Klingerman caught a Valley-best 59 passes for more than 800 yards and 13 TDs.
Southern Columbia had an all-stater on each side of the ball. Cherwinski was the leader of an offensive line that paved the way for a dozen victories and nearly 3,800 yards rushing. On the other side of ball, Pavlick was the leader of a defense that was plus-12 in turnovers, leading the Tigers to a 12-0 start and the District 4 Class A title.
Wyomissing linebacker Alex Anzalone added player-of-the-year honors to go along with a state title on his impressive high school football resume.
The 6-3, 225-pound Notre Dame recruit recovered from a miserable first half in the Class AA title game last week against Aliquippa to help guide a group of 20 experienced seniors to the school’s first state championship — and the first for a team from Berks County.
Regarded as one of the top five outside linebacker recruits in the 2013 high school recruiting class, Anzalone’s combination of on-field skills and leadership earned the senior Class AA Player of the Year honors as part of the 2012 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Football Team.
All-state teams for Classes A and AA were released Wednesday, with the AAA and AAAA squads to be unveiled Thursday.
The selection of the all-state teams are overseen by the sportswriters who cover high school football around the commonwealth. Players were nominated in all four classifications, then a statewide ballot was sent out affording all writers an opportunity to cast votes.
Anzalone had a monster two-way season for the undefeated Spartans, with nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 30-plus touchdowns to go along with more than 100 tackles on defense. He wasn’t the only Wyomissing player to make the team as one of the top 33 players in the state at the Class AA level. Anzalone was joined by kicker Jonah Bowman, who drilled a state championship record 52-yard field goal in the 17-14 victory over Aliquippa last week; along with offensive lineman Ben Wertz and defensive lineman Jeriko Reyes. Veteran Spartans head coach Bob Wolfrum was the overwhelming choice as the Class AA Coach of the Year. The Wyomissing coach since 1986, Wolfrum has 243 victories with the Spartans and one state championship to go along with six District 3 titles. Anzalone was one of eight Class AA players making a repeat appearance. Hickory’s DeShawn Coleman, Imhotep Charter’s David Williams, South Fayette’s Zach Challingsworth, Mount Carmel’s Eric Joraskie, Wilkes-Barre GAR’s Shakir Soto, Penn Cambria’s Mack Behe and Lewisburg’s Brandon Smith each made the squad for the second year in a row.
Also repeating was Clairton do-everything athlete Tyler Boyd as the Class A Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Boyd totaled nearly 2,500 total yards and 40-plus touchdowns as a running back, wide receiver and occasional quarterback for the four-time state champion Bears.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.