Two players from South Jersey Group 4 champion Cherokee head up The Inquirer's first team all-South Jersey football defensive squad.
Defensive back Mike Zeuli, a second-team choice last year, is joined by defensive lineman Nick Foster.
This season, Zeuli had more than 100 tackles and intercepted three passes. A hard hitter and stellar two-way player, Zeuli rushed for 588 yards (10.32 average) and nine touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 175 yards and seven touchdowns. Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Fordham, and Bucknell are among the schools that Zeuli is considering. He will be among four players honored as Brooks-Irvine Scholar Athletes during the annual banquet, 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Westin hotel in Mount Laurel.
Foster had 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks for The Inquirer's No. 1 ranked South Jersey team. "He is the best defensive lineman since I've been there," said Cherokee coach P.J. Mehigan, who just completed his ninth season.
Besides Foster, the other first-team defensive linemen are seniors Kyle George of Willingboro, Matt Foster of Haddonfield, and junior Kaiwan Lewis of St. Joseph.
Willingboro's George was one of South Jersey's most feared pass rushers. Facing constant double teaming, he had 10 sacks, 11 pass knockdowns and 66 tackles. A strong edge-rusher, George is a Rutgers recruit.
Haddonfield's Porter helped the Bulldogs win their first South Jersey Group 2 title since the advent of NJSIAA playoffs in 1974. He led the Bulldogs in both tackles with 88 and sacks with 9. Porter recorded 13 tackles in Haddonfield's 16-8 win over West Deptford in the Group 2 final. A Brooks-Irvine Scholar Athlete, Porter is considering John Hopkins and Bucknell with an eye toward attending medical school.
Lewis helped St. Joseph win its second consecutive state Non-Public 2 championship. He had 79 tackles, one interception, and six sacks. Lewis was among the strongest defensive linemen in South Jersey, frequently taking on double-team blocks.
The linebackers are Shawnee senior Dillon Lucas, Audubon senior Brian Flacco, and Timber Creek junior Quanzell Lambert.
Lucas is Shawnee's all-time leading tackler with 365. A repeat first-team selection, Lucas had 68 tackles in his first six games before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him to miss time. After his return, he played just offense. Villanova, Youngstown State, and Buffalo have made offers and Lucas is talking to several other schools.
Audubon coach Jonathan Caputo calls Flacco "the toughest player I have ever coached over the past 16 years." This season Flacco recorded 171 tackles, had 14 tackles for loss, and three sacks. Flacco also had two interceptions and forced 11 fumbles. He rushed for 1,159 yards and 16 touchdowns. Also a baseball player, he is keeping his future options open in both sports.
Timber Creek's Lambert should be a high profile recruit next season. This year, he recorded 112 tackles, eight sacks and one interception while forcing two fumbles and recovering two others. Lambert, who uses a combination of speed and power, also blocked two kicks.
Besides Inquirer defensive player of the year Joe Sarnese of Holy Spirit, and Zeuli, the other defensive backs are seniors Eddie Davis of Camden and Matt Dash of Willingboro.
Camden's Davis was a big-play performer on both sides of the ball. He had 62 receptions for 837 yards and five touchdowns. On defense he intercepted 11 passes and had 237 return yards and two touchdowns. He also had nine pass deflections and 68 tackles. He has shown interest in Temple, Connecticut, Old Dominion, and Maine.
Willingboro's Dash is a repeat first-team selection. This season he intercepted seven passes, giving him 18 over the past two years. He also returned one interception for a touchdown and was strong in run support with 56 tackles. Dash was also the starting quarterback. Old Dominion, James Madison, Howard, and Delaware State have been among the schools he is considering.
After making the first team as a placekicker last year, St. Augustine's Chris Gough is the first team punter. According to coach Dennis Scuderi, Gough averaged 47 yards per punt. Villanova, Princeton, and Rutgers are among the schools that have stayed in contact.
The return man is Burlington Township senior Vinnie Pini, who scored three touchdowns on punt returns, averaging 24.86 yards. He also averaged 32.5 yards on five kickoff returns with one touchdown. Pini caught 31 passes for 452 yards and three touchdowns. He has made an oral commitment to Bucknell.
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr.
DL Kaiwan Lewis St. Joseph 6-2 235 Jr.
DL Kyle George Willingboro 6-4 232 Sr.
DL Nick Foster Cherokee 6-4 255 Sr.
DL Matt Porter Haddonfield 6-4 215 Sr.
LB Quanzell Lambert Timber Creek 6-2 230 Jr.
LB Dillon Lucas Shawnee 6-2 218 Sr.
LB Brian Flacco Audubon 5-10 185 Sr.
DB Joe Sarnese Holy Spirit 6-1 197 Sr.
DB Eddie Davis Camden 6-0 175 Sr.
DB Matt Dash Willingboro 6-0 185 Sr.
DB Mike Zeuli Cherokee 6-2 210 Sr.
P Chris Gough St. Augustine 6-1 195 Sr.
Rtrn Vinnie Pini Burlington 5-10 160 Sr.
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Yr.
DL Jordan Hunter Burlington Twp. 6-2 250 Sr.
DL Marcus Stuart Delsea 5-10 205 Sr.
DL Karon Gibson Woodbury 6-0 255 Sr.
DL Eric Hall Rancocas Valley 6-4 250 Sr.
LB Kevin Marquez Egg Harbor Twp. 6-0 225 Sr.
LB Anthony Sarao Holy Spirit 6-1 218 Sr.
LB Jarred Alwan Camden Catholic 6-1 220 So.
DB Mark Clements Oakcrest 5-10 185 Jr.
DB Steve Greco Seneca 6-3 218 Sr.
DB Chris Hutton Paul VI 5-11 190 Sr.
DB Ronald Baines Eastern 5-11 175 Sr.
P Ben Cornelius West Deptford 5-10 205 Sr.
Rtrn Chris Borgesi Audubon 5-9 165 Sr.EndText