It has been a thrilling fall season on the football and soccer fields — one filled with championship glory, exciting upsets and fierce competition. And through it all, the high school athletes of Northeast Philadelphia have again proved themselves among the best.
The Northeast Times is pleased to announce the winners in football and soccer who will be recognized at the 27th annual Northeast Sports Awards Banquet during the spring.
The event will honor neighborhood athletes and bestow more than 30 awards in such categories as Most Courageous Athlete, Unsung Hero, Scholar Athlete, and Player and Coach of the Year, among many others.
Here are our choices for the top athletes and coaches during the fall football and soccer seasons.
Football Coach of the Year
Will Doggett, Frankford High School
Will Doggett has been a familiar face for Frankford football. For two years he coached the Pioneers’ junior-varsity squad; before that, he spent seven seasons as the varsity team’s defensive coordinator.
This season, Doggett became the varsity head coach. And it didn’t take long to make a name for himself.
Doggett guided the Pioneers to an undefeated record in the Public League Gold Division this year, and his squad claimed the regular-season title. Frankford’s football team went 8-3 overall, including a seven-game win streak and a Public League championship game against Washington High School, which won the title.
Doggett has taught his team the importance of hard work and dedication. He also has a great knowledge of the game.
His achievements have made him this year’s Football Coach of the Year.
Public League Football Player of the Year
Hakeem Sillman, George Washington High School
After losing a core of seniors to graduation last year, the youthful George Washington High School football team needed a leader.
Hakeem Sillman was a perfect fit.
The senior running back was remarkable on the gridiron this season, rushing for 1,713 yards and scoring 27 touchdowns. That’s 162 points. That’s more than the points scored by the rest of his team combined.
An All-Public player, Sillman dominated the competition this fall. On defense, he led his team in interceptions.
Sillman rushed for 100-plus yards in nine games, including four when he surpassed 200 yards. With Sillman leading the way, the Eagles went 8-4 overall and won the Public League championship crown.
Sillman proved himself as a valuable leader for his squad. His accomplishments on the field have made him a worthy choice for this year’s Public League Football Player of the Year.
Catholic League Football Player of the Year
Matt Smalley, Father Judge High School
Although Matt Smalley usually can be found sprinting up and down the Father Judge High School football field, the senior running back spent a good amount of time in the end zone.
Smalley scored a whopping 21 touchdowns this season, including 17 on the ground. He rushed for 984 yards and had 119 receiving yards, helping the Crusaders finish the season 7-4 overall.
An All-Catholic selection, Smalley ran for more than 100 yards in four games this season. His personal best with 201 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Penn Charter on Sept. 24.
During his team’s 48-7 defeat of Lincoln High School on Thanksgiving Day, Smalley was awarded Most Valuable Player after carrying the ball 11 times for 156 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
Smalley has shown the talent and knowledge to regularly excel on the football field. He’s an honor student in the classroom and also competes for the Crusaders’ track program.
Boys Soccer Coach of the Year
Chris Reid, George Washington High School
He made it look easy.
It was anything but.
George Washington High School soccer coach Chris Reid had to overcome a variety of obstacles on the field this season, but even in the face of adversity, he helped the Eagles soar.
George Washington was almost perfect this fall, with a 13-1-1 overall record. The Eagles downed longtime rival Northeast High, 2-1, in the Public League’s Class AAA finals to earn their first title since 2009.
Washington went undefeated during the entire Public League season and playoff run. Their only loss came in the City Title game against La Salle High School.
Of course, it wasn’t easy. The youthful Washington squad underwent massive restructuring of its roster, having lost the services of five players — including their starting goalkeeper — because of disciplinary measures after an altercation during school. Reid was forced to promote seven junior-varsity players and find a new goalie as the Eagles began their postseason run.
Yet, through the good times and the bad, Reid was the rock that his team needed to succeed. He emphasized hard work and dedication, in the process becoming a true mentor for his squad of champions.
Public League Boys Soccer Player of the Year
Wilo Mimbar, George Washington High School
It has been a storybook season for Wilo Mimbar.
The George Washington High School senior striker became a star on the pitch this season. An All-Public athlete, Mimbar guided the Eagles to a 13-1-1 overall record en route to the Public League championship title.
He netted 27 goals — leading his squad in scoring for the second consecutive year, and coming just one goal short of tying the school record.
In addition to recording three hat-tricks, Mimbar scored a season-high four goals against Franklin Towne Charter on Sept. 26. He also scored both goals in Washington’s 2-1 victory over Northeast in the championship finals.
A team captain, Mimbar led his youthful Eagle squad by example. Although he often was placed in the spotlight, Mimbar remained modest about his performance on the field. He demonstrated the importance of teamwork and focused on the betterment of his squad rather than personal accolades.
His natural soccer skill and his attitude toward his teammates made Wilo Mimbar an easy selection as this year’s Public League Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Catholic League Boys Soccer Player of the Year
Kevin Pohl, Father Judge High School
Over the past three years, Kevin Pohl has become a cornerstone of the Father Judge High School soccer program.
Now a senior midfielder, Pohl has guided the Crusaders to three consecutive playoff runs, resulting in two Catholic League championship appearances, one league title and one state championship.
This season, he helped the Crusaders go 14-5-1 overall, including six shutouts. Father Judge outscored opponents by 18 goals en route to a Catholic League championship appearance.
Pohl was a team co-captain this season, as well as a workhorse on the field for the Crusaders. He excelled with assists, always finding a way to provide his teammates with opportunities to score.
Also a standout in the classroom, Pohl is an honor student ranked 24th in his class. His schedule includes advanced-placement calculus and physics.
Kevin Pohl is the essence of a student-athlete and is this year’s Catholic League Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Girls Soccer Coach of the Year
Will be determined after the spring season to include Public League coaches.
Public League Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Will be determined after the spring season.
Catholic League Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Ursula Coyle, Little Flower High School
Little Flower High School junior midfielder Ursula Coyle has speed, accuracy and determination on the soccer field. She can sprint, score, pass and block.
Yes, Ursula Coyle can do it all.
The speedy athlete helped the Sentinels go 10-3-1 overall and earn an appearance in the Catholic League finals. Little Flower recorded five shutouts and outscored opponents by 24 goals this year.
Coyle tallied 12 goals during the fall. She recorded a hat-trick against Hallahan in September and scored the game-winning goal against Conwell Egan in the league quarterfinals.
A versatile athlete, Coyle has consistently helped her soccer squad to postseason play during her three years with the program.
Coyle has dedicated herself to the game. Her work ethic is unparalleled. They are among the virtues that have made her one of top soccer players in the city. ull;•