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Quartet share top city football honors for 2011

ABOUT THE ONLY negative aspect of playing for a football powerhouse is that sometimes you barely break a sweat before plopping down on the bench to watch the second-teamers.

ABOUT THE ONLY negative aspect of playing for a football powerhouse is that sometimes you barely break a sweat before plopping down on the bench to watch the second-teamers.

In one game this season, in fact, star rusher Desmon Peoples notched no carries as Archbishop Wood High stormed toward mercy-rule country. And in five others, he enjoyed eight or fewer opportunities.

When the 5-8, 170-pound Peoples did touch the ball, magic mostly happened. And that's why the Rutgers commit is our Co-Catholic League Player of the Year in connection with Daily News All-City Team.

While leading the Vikings to a PIAA Class AAA state title and 14-1 overall record, Peoples used his speed and moves to turn 136 carries into 1,239 yards (9.1 average) and 22 touchdowns.

Just to show his versatility, he also hustled for two interceptions in the 52-0 victory over Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt that decided the AAA championship.

Counting one at St. Joseph's Prep, Peoples played 3 years of Catholic League ball. His career yielded 3,638 yards and 55 TDs on the ground, and 63 total scores for 378 points.

Peoples' CL partner is quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, of St. Joseph's Prep.

The 6-3, 215-pound Mornhinweg, son of Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, accounted for 2,527 yards and 27 TDs as the Hawks went 7-4 overall. He had two of his best games against top-notch opposition, accounting for 666 yards and 11 TDs in wins over North Penn, the AAAA state runner-up, and Malvern Prep, the outright Inter-Ac League champion.

Mornhinweg passed 144-for-276 for 1,780 yards and 21 TDs, while adding 747 yards and six scores on 27 rushes. He also completed his fourth season as a starting defensive back.

In his career, Mornhinweg passed for 4,859 yards, the No. 5 total in city history, and 52 TDs. He added 17 more rushing scores and two on returns. Though he earlier made an oral commitment to Penn State, he is now declining to comment on his football future.

Our Public League Player of the Year is Sharif Smith, of Horace Furness, who holds down the multipurpose spot.

With basically no alternative, coach Anthony Pastore this year asked Smith, a star rusher, to switch to quarterback, while also reminding him that pretty much everyone else of note had graduated.

The 5-10, 180-pound Smith gutted things out and generated 1,775 yards of rushing/passing along with 25 TDs (of the Falcons' 32 from scrimmage).

Also, the 4-year mainstay continued to be the team's best defensive player, and his No. 1 jersey was retired right after the Thanksgiving Eve finale.

In his career, Smith rushed 755 times for 4,457 yards (No. 5 total in city history) and 51 TDs en route to 338 total points. Also, he passed 39-for-129 for 938 yards and 14 TDs and made 11 catches for 101.

Smith is being eyed by Villanova and Wagner, along with almost all schools in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Our Inter-Ac League Player of the Year is linebacker Joe Nilan, of Malvern.

The 6-foot, 220-pound Nilan led the Friars with 126 tackles, and his play was pivotal in making sure league opponents' leading rushers were held to 173 yards (34.6 average). In his career, Nilan topped 300 tackles and was a passionate blocker at fullback.

Marist, some Patriot League schools and numerous D-IIs are among his suitors.

Our Coach of the Year is Steve Devlin, of Wood. Shaking off late-season disappointments in 2008, '09 and '10, Devlin persevered and helped the 2011 Vikings become a powerhouse. They went 14-1 overall, rang up 699 points and forced people to ponder whether they deserve to be mentioned in Best Team in City History discussions. Through five seasons, Devlin owns a 59-11 record (.843).