Editor’s note: The seasonal sports winners are chosen by the Northeast Times’ sports staff based on both on-field excellence and leadership abilities off of it.
In one of the more action-packed autumns the Times has seen, the time has come to name the top performers of the fall season.
There were countless highlights, from Father Judge and Archbishop Ryan (girls) capturing Catholic League soccer titles, to Frankford’s near upset of eventual state champ St. Joe’s Prep in the city title game to veteran and first-year head coaches alike taking their programs to new heights.
While the calendar is soon set to turn to 2014, here is one final look at our fall winners, who will all be honored:
Football Coach of the Year
Mike McKay, Father Judge
In 2013, the quarterback of Father Judge’s 1975 city championship team came full circle, taking over the head coaching reins at his alma mater. McKay, a 1976 graduate of the school, was named the Crusaders’ head coach back in April when Tommy Coyle departed for Penn Charter after 13 seasons. A year after going winless in the Catholic League, McKay guided the Crusaders to a 2-2 mark this time around. McKay sat atop a coaching staff that had tons of success in year one, including three straight shutouts on defense and seven wins overall, four more than in Coyle’s final season. Though the Crusaders lost to La Salle in the playoffs, a new gridiron foundation has been set on Solly Avenue. With sophomore revelation Yeedee Thaenrat (1,032 rushing yards, nine TDs) among the key returners, Judge will look to be back in the mix for a league title in 2014.
Public League Football Player of the Year
Jylil Reeder, Samuel Fels
While the Frankford Pioneers had many heroes in winning their second straight Public League football crown, no one player meant more to his team than Reeder. Fels’ superstar athlete literally did it all for the Panthers. In 2013, he caught 54 passes for 1,076 yards, rushed 92 times for 556 yards and even completed 10 of 17 passes for two throwing TDs. He had 10 rushing TDs on the ground and 14 receiving tallies as well as two scores on kickoffs and one on an INT return. He led the Panthers with four picks and ran, received or returned 27 of Fels’ 42 touchdowns. For his career, Reeder finished with 84 catches for 1,624 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was, without a doubt, the heart and soul of Fels’ program.
Catholic League Football Player of the Year
Samir Bullock, Archbishop Ryan
In Samir Bullock’s first game in a Ryan uniform after transferring from Father Judge, all he did was obliterate the single-game school rushing record, erupting for 345 yards and eradicating a 23-year-old mark. In 11 games for the Raiders, Bullock eclipsed 200 yards on five occasions and found the end zone 21 times for Ryan. Despite an inopportune three-game losing streak that kept the dangerous Raiders out of the playoffs, 2013 represented the best football season of the Frank McArdle Jr. era. The three losses were Ryan’s only of the season, and Bullock and company notched eight wins overall. In Ryan’s Thanksgiving contest against Washington, Bullock, needing 225 yards to eclipse 2,000 for the season, ran wild for 280, finishing the year with 2,055 yards, making him the 11th player in city history to cross 2,000. The best part for Ryan? Bullock is only a junior, and he’ll be back in 2014.
Boys Soccer Coach of the Year
Mike Bradby, Archbishop Ryan
It’s not easy to step in for a predecessor who won 650 career games while turning the boys soccer program into a state powerhouse, but that’s exactly what Mike Bradby did in 2013. Bradby took over for George Todt, who had coached 929 games at Ryan between 1969-2012, winning 13 league titles in the process. While he didn’t win the Catholic League, Bradby, who inherited a roster with not a ton of experience left on it, took his team farther than most expected in year one. After winning just three league games during the regular season and grabbing the seventh seed in the postseason, Bradby’s Raiders knocked off Conwell-Egan and upset St. Joseph’s Prep before being eliminated in a hard-fought 2-0 semifinal loss to eventual champion Father Judge. Though he will lose senior All-Catholic goalie Jared Ott, Bradby will bring back go-to seniors-to-be Joe Stock and Steve Gassman, as well as a host of young talent in his quest to be the first Ryan coach not named George Todt to win a boys league title in 2014.
Public League Boys Soccer Player of the Year
Tyler Gormley, Northeast High School
When the beloved Sam Feldman retired as head coach following Northeast’s 2012 league soccer title, nobody knew what the roster would look like the following season. Players admired Feldman so much that most of them didn’t want to play for anyone else. When Sam’s son, Kraig, ended up taking the job, nearly everybody was back, including Gormley, one of the Vikings’ fastest and more technically gifted offensive weapons. And although Northeast was upset by Central in the title game, the Vikings still won 10 games, including eight in the league and a regular season title. After an emotional win in 2012, it was important for Gormley and company to be able to give it a shot to repeat. One of Northeast’s most visible athletes (he also moonlights as a kicker for the football team) and school ambassadors, Gormley will surely be missed when he graduates this spring.
Catholic League Boys Soccer Players of the Year
Joey Hansen, Father Judge; Jared Ott, Archbishop Ryan (tie)
Given that soccer is one of the few sports that allows its games to finish in ties, it only seemed fitting to give this award to two beyond-deserving recipients. In helping guide a senior-laden Father Judge team to a 20-2 record, as well as league and city championships, Hansen was an All-State and All-American selection for the Crusaders. A midfielder who does way more for his team than just score goals, Hansen, a La Salle University commit, was rightfully recognized as one of the country’s top high school soccer midfielders. As for Ott, he kept a program undergoing a major facelift afloat with his fantastic play in goal, as well as his yeoman leadership away from the field. In a conversation with the Times on the eve of the playoffs, Ott spoke of how important it was to finish his career with the Raiders, instead of transferring elsewhere after Todt retired. Judge sophomore Kevin Ceno, who scored on him in the league semifinals, called Ott a “monster” in net, and Bradby called his keeper “the best in the state.” After an unexpected trip to the semifinals, it’s hard to argue with either assessment.
Girls Soccer Coach of the Year
Mickey McGroarty, St. Hubert
Throughout his legendary career as the head coach of the Bambies’ soccer program, Mickey McGroarty has defined consistency. When the fall comes each year, a few things are guaranteed: the leaves will change colors, the temperature will begin to drop and McGroarty will have St. Hubert in the soccer playoffs. While Archbishop Ryan head coach Ryan Haney won his second consecutive Catholic League crown, nobody has sustained such excellence in such a challenging league longer than the man they affectionately call “Mick.” Last season, McGroarty reached the 400-win milestone at the school; in 2013, while guiding a mostly inexperienced team, McGroarty still coached the Bambies to 10 wins, including seven in the league, and another playoff berth. Though the Bambies fell in the quarterfinals, it’s a privilege to bestow this award to someone who has made it his life’s work to mold high school student-athletes and prepare them for their lives after St. Hubert.
Public League Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Rebecca Gilborges, Franklin Towne
It’s pretty easy for Rebecca Gilborges to fly under the radar. After all, her twin sister, Rachel, racked up more than 80 career goals as a forward on Brianna O’Donnell’s Towne girls soccer team that has now won three straight Public League titles. Unlike her sister, Rachel plays defense, a position that’s importance often goes overlooked in soccer. Rebecca Gilborges anchored Towne’s back line as a captain and four-year starter, where she started at sweeper in 73 straight games and helped hold league opponents scoreless during a 26-game stretch. As her head coach said, “Over her career, she has proven herself time and again not only as a talented athlete, but also an exceptional person.”
Catholic League Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Kaitlyn McFadden, Archbishop Ryan
Sticking with the defensive theme, the Ragdolls’ junior sweeper further proves how important a lockdown back line is in soccer. An All-State selection on defense, McFadden’s Ragdolls marched to a 21-2 record in 2013, winning the program’s second straight Catholic League title. For the season, Ryan allowed just 11 goals, thanks in large part to McFadden and linemates Taylor Adair and Tayah Naudascher, as well as goalie Jazmin Gonzalez. McFadden, often the smallest player on the field, also plays the fiercest, and she very rarely makes a mistake back there. The best part for head coach Ryan Haney? McFadden — and almost everyone else — will be back to try to bring a three-peat to a school that has become a league powerhouse over the years. ••