HERSHEY, Pa. - The 2009 football campaign officially ended here Saturday, with La Salle taking home the PIAA Class AAAA state championship with a 24-7 triumph over State College at HersheyPark Stadium.
Today, we wrap up our tour of the local football talent with a look at the best fullbacks in the area.
We'll present our annual all-Southeastern Pennsylvania team next Sunday, with the area's player of the year, team of the year, coach of the year, and other post-season honors.
Here is one man's list of the season's best fullbacks:
1. Brendan McLaughlin, Avon Grove, junior, 6-foot, 205 pounds. The bruising rusher and blocker was crucial in the Red Devils' drive to an 11-2 record and the District 1 Class AAAA playoff semifinals. He helped clear running room for speedy halfbacks Jordan Harris and Brandon Monk.
2. Kayvon Greene, Pottsgrove, junior, 6-2, 210. Greene, who doubles as a defensive end, was arguably the area's most explosive fullback. In the District 1 Class AAA final vs. Interboro, he had a 95-yard touchdown jaunt in the first quarter.
3. Dante Devine, Pennsbury, senior, 6-1, 180. Like Greene, Devine, also a basketball standout, could go the distance on any play. He was also a major threat as a kick returner.
4. Wyatt Benson, Haverford School, senior, 6-1, 220. Benson will play linebacker at Temple, but he was a force as a blocker and short-yardage rusher for the Inter-Academic League tri-champions.
5. Mike Labor, St. Joseph's Prep, senior, 6-3, 215. Labor, injured in the Catholic League hampionship game against La Salle, was a gritty lead blocker for Desmon Peoples, Skyler Mornhinweg, and others.
6. Chase Fleming, Upper Perkiomen, senior, 6-0, 210. Switching between halfback and fullback, he rushed for 1,127 yards and 15 TDs. At linebacker, he notched 100-plus tackles.
7. Tom Devlin, Chestnut Hill Academy, senior 5-11, 220. He did the bulk of the dirty work as backfield partner and Northwestern recruit Ibraheim Campbell rushed for nearly 1,900 yards and 28 TDs.
8. Mike Culbreath, North Penn, senior, 6-1, 210. His rugged play helped junior Craig Needhammer explode for 1,500 yards and 24 TDs. Culbreath also starred at linebacker.
9. Dan O'Hara, Cardinal O'Hara, senior, 6-2, 220. In addition to blocking for Ohio State-bound speedster Corey Brown, he rushed for more than 700 yards and nine scores.
10. Corey Majors, Neshaminy, junior, 6-1, 225. Majors, also a physical linebacker for the Redskins, assisted on many of tailback Bryan Dean's long gains.
Twenty five others to watch, listed alphabetically: Zaire Anderson, Frankford, senior, 6-0, 175; Pat Balmores, Neumann-Goretti, senior, 5-7, 190; James Brennan, Upper Merion, senior, 5-10, 185; Phil Bucci, Plymouth Whitemarsh, junior, 5-10, 190; Keith Corliss, Germantown Academy, sophomore, 6-0, 185; Geoff DeLan, Quakertown, senior, 5-9, 205; Vernon Dupree, George Washington, senior, 6-0, 225; Trey Faust, Downingtown West, junior, 5-11, 180; Patrick Glemser, Archbishop Wood, senior, 5-9, 170; Jimmy Lamb, Penn Charter, senior, 6-0, 210; Lee Marvel, Council Rock North, senior, 5-11, 195; Scott McNeil, Interboro, senior, 5-11, 190; Jamil Morgan, Simon Gratz, junior, 6-0, 345; Bryant Moritz, Archbishop Carroll, senior, 6-0, 210; Brian Mosby, West Catholic, senior, 6-2, 220; Kevin Murt, Archbishop Wood, senior, 6-0, 190; Khalil Neal, Bok, junior, 5-11, 210; Steve O'Hara, St. Joseph's Prep, senior, 6-2, 195; Chris Palmieri, Downingtown East, senior, 5-7, 195; Bob Scaramuzza, Malvern Prep, senior, 5-9, 215; Kyle Schuberth, Monsignor Bonner, senior, 5-7, 185; Terrance Stafford, Dobbins, junior, 5-9, 200; Brian Taylor, Episcopal Academy, senior 6-0, 195; Tim Wade, La Salle, sophomore, 5-7, 165; David Williams, North Catholic, senior, 5-11, 200.
La Salle netted 257 rushing yards on 39 attempts in its historic win over State College. The starting offensive line: center Ryan Geiger, guards Steve Szostak and Matt DiGiacomo, tackles Dylan Gavin and Cameron Cappo, and tight end Steve Jones.
In the Explorers' second snow-covered win in three weeks, senior quarterback Drew Loughery completed 5 of 11 passes for 108 yards. The 6-1, 205-pounder finished the season with 2,400 passing yards and 23 TDs. Over the last two seasons, he threw for 5,028 yards and 48 scores while steering the Explorers to a 23-4 record.
Sam Feleccia, who gained 167 yards on 22 carries for La Salle, came up with two outstanding defensive plays in the third quarter with a solo tackle and a hurry of State College quarterback Matt Mazzara. The 6-3, 225-pound Feleccia, who has scholarship offers from Delaware and New Hampshire, is a possible H-back at the next level and plans to major in business or sports medicine.
Fourteen La Salle players made tackles. Senior end/tackle Steve Sinnott spearheaded the defensive effort with seven tackles, including two solos. In State College's first second-half series, he had a QB hurry and recovered a fumble by QB Dom Mills. . . . Junior safety Kevin Forster recorded three solo tackles. . . . State College came into the game averaging 255.9 yards rushing per game. The Explorers held the Little Lions to 99 yards on the ground. . . . With a 17-yard keeper on the first play of the second half, Mills had the longest gain of the afternoon for the District 6 champions. . . . In addition to Sinnott, reserve linebacker Mark DiFrangia and outside linebacker Sam Feleccia had QB hurries. . . . End Joseph Naji deflected a fourth-quarter pass. . . . Junior tailback Jamal Abdur-Rahman (seven carries for 60 yards, including a 22-yard TD) did not return after injuring his right knee on Tim Wade's 8-yard TD run with 1:10 left in the first half. Feleccia replaced him on offense and Patrick Resch filled in at cornerback. . . . Alex Kenney's 96-yard TD return for State College was the second longest in the 22-year history of the PIAA finals. . . . With his 37-yard, first-quarter field goal that bounced off the left side of the crossbar as it went through, La Salle's Mike Bennett now holds the record for the longest boot in a Class AAAA final.