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Kittanning Leader Times 2013 High School Football All-Stars

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Kittanning's #83 Nick Bowers breaks past Shady Side Academy's #03 Dennis Briggs during the first half of the football game at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel on Friday, October 25, 2013.f
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Kittanning's #83 Nick Bowers breaks past Shady Side Academy's #03 Dennis Briggs during the first half of the football game at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel on Friday, October 25, 2013.f
Redbank Valley RB Mark Strothers for 2013 LT all-stars
Redbank Valley RB Mark Strothers for 2013 LT all-stars
Apollo Ridge's football player #30 Ben Gemballa.
Apollo Ridge's football player #30 Ben Gemballa.
Apollo Ridge's football player #01 Tre Tipton.
Apollo Ridge's football player #01 Tre Tipton.
2012 Apollo Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka (No. 10).
Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
2012 Apollo Ridge quarterback Jesse Zelonka (No. 10). Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Logan Robb
Logan Robb
Zeke Walker - Ford City
Zeke Walker - Ford City
Jordan Cominos - Leechburg
Jordan Cominos - Leechburg

Player of the year

Nick Bowers

Kittanning, Junior, WR/LB, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds

One game doesn't make a season, but Kittanning's home opener against East Allegheny was a perfect snapshot of the kind of player Nick Bowers is.

In that game, the versatile junior showed his many talents by catching two touchdowns, rushing for two touchdowns and returning an interception 96 yards to clinch a 56-39 win for the Wildcats.

Bowers' combination of size and skill and his knack for making big plays are the reasons he is the Leader Times' 2013 Football Player of the Year.

A first-team all-Allegheny Conference selection on both sides of the ball, Bowers was the top receiver in Armstrong County with 856 yards and eight touchdowns on 54 receptions. In his role as the Wildcats' “wildcat” quarterback, Bowers also ran for 407 yards and seven touchdowns as the team's battering ram in short-yardage situations.

Colleges have taken notice of Bowers, as he received his first scholarship offer earlier this month from Pitt. The junior projects as a tight end in college, but for Kittanning this year, Bowers was Mr. Everything.What was the highlight of your season?

Probably winning the conference championship at Shady Side Academy.

Is it still a thrill to think that you won Kittanning's first conference title in 37 years?

Oh yeah. I didn't think we'd be undefeated when the season started; I figured we'd probably lose two or three games. I didn't know how we'd do with a new quarterback and losing Sterling (Henry), Kevin (Barnes) and all those guys (from 2012). When we won it, I was just kind of stunned.

How were you and quarterback Braydon Toy able to help each other be so productive?

During practice together, we always try to have fun. Not that we aren't taking it seriously, but we enjoy being out there in practice. We've been friends for a long time, and for him to be the quarterback, we work together well.

How did it feel to get your first scholarship offer from Pitt?

I was shocked. I didn't know it was coming. I went down there for a practice, and thought it was just going to be a meeting with recruits. I didn't think I'd get any offers this early.

Is there a dream school you hope to get an offer from?

No. I'm just going to wait and look at anywhere that's interested. I'm going to let it all play out and just see what happens.

Is tight end the position you hope to play in college?

I hope so because I'm not fast enough to play wide receiver in college. I've been lifting, and I hope to play tight end in college, but if a coach asked me to play another position, I would. If they asked me to play on the line, I'd play there.

Looking ahead to next year, how much better can you and Kittanning be?

There's a lot of good teams moving down or up (into Class AA). I don't know who we're going to end up having to play, but it's going to be tough. If we have to play Highlands, that will be a big challenge, but we'll see what we can do next year. The biggest goal is to win our first playoff game next year.

Tyler Blaniar

Ford City, K/P

Senior, 5-10, 165

Highlights: A first-team all-conference selection, Blaniar averaged more than 35 yards per punt and had his signature moment when he booted a game-winning field goal against Southmoreland.

Ben Carillo

Redbank Valley, G/DT

Senior, 6-0, 290

Highlights: Carillo was the Bulldogs' biggest player, and he anchored an offensive line that helped Redbank Valley average more than 170 rushing yards per game and reach the District 9 final.

Jordan Cominos

Leech-burg, OT

Junior, 6-3, 245

Highlights: Leechburg's top offensive lineman was the Blue Devils' only first-team all-conference offensive player for his work opening holes for his team's two-headed rushing attack.

Jake Dougherty

Redbank Valley, QB

Junior, 6-3, 195

Highlights: The Bulldogs' signal caller finished with 1,612 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air while becoming more of a running threat, as well, with 10 rushing scores.

Wyatt Everetts

Karns City, RB/DB

Senior, 5-7, 145

Highlights: Everetts did it all for the Gremlins by running for 717 yards, intercepting four passes and scoring 14 total touchdowns. He also recorded three turnovers in KC's win in the District 9 final.

Ben Gemballa

Apollo-Ridge, FB/LB

Senior, 5-11, 183

Highlights: The Vikings' leading tackler earned first-team all-conference honors on that side of the ball, but Gemballa also ran for 351 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

David Grafton

Kittanning, G/LB

Senior, 5-10, 245

Highlights: One of two all-conference first-teamers on the Wildcats line, Grafton was the captain and leader of the unit that enabled Kittanning's backs to post gaudy numbers.

Zac Horner

West Shamokin, RB/LB

Junior, 5-8, 180

Highlights: A first-team linebacker and second-team back on the all-conference team, he posted respectable totals of 624 yards and nine touchdowns rushing despite missing nearly two full games with an injury.

Brock Kennedy

West Shamokin, C/DT

Senior, 5-9, 230

Highlights: Kennedy led the Wolves in sacks and picked up second-team all-conference recognition on both sides of the ball for his strong play in the Wolves' first playoff season.

Tyler Kepple

Karns City, QB

Senior, 5-11, 166

Highlights: Kepple threw for 1,731 yards and 28 touchdowns in guiding Karns City to a second straight PIAA quarterfinal, and he also added contributions on defense and as a part-time kicker.

Logan Moroney

Karns City, WR/DE

Junior, 6-2, 198

Highlights: On a team with multiple excellent receivers and backs, Moroney's size made him the top downfield threat, and he posted team-highs of 571 yards and nine touchdowns receiving.

Mike OlKowski

Karns City, G/LB

Senior, 5-8, 180

Highlights: While somewhat undersized at just 180 pounds, Olkowski was hailed by KC coach Ed Conto as the top offensive lineman on a unit that posted prolific rushing numbers.

Logan Robb

Kittanning, T/DL

Junior, 6-1, 235

Highlights: The bookend on the Wildcats' offensive line and an all-conference first teamer, he played a pivotal role in helping Kittanning's spread-option running game keep rolling.

Nathan Rummel

Freeport, OT

Senior, 6-3, 265

Highlights: The bruising senior hammered away in a tough year for the Yellowjackets, and his second-team all-conference nod made him the only Freeport offensive player on either of the teams.

Chantz Schrecengost

Ford City, RB/DB

Senior, 6-1, 145

Highlights: The speedy first-time starter flourished in the role as the Sabers lead back by posting 740 yards and six touchdowns on the ground while losing just one fumble all season.

Alex Sipolino

Leechburg, QB/DB

Senior, 6-3, 155

Highlights: In a time when fewer starting QBs also start on defense, Sipolino did just that to the tune of 63 tackles, four interceptions and a first-team all-conference nod at safety.

Alex Smith

Apollo-Ridge, WR/DB

Junior, 6-1, 160

Highlights: Smith's 578 yards and eight touchdowns are strong for a No. 2 receiver, but he also answered the bell when injury forced him briefly into the role as A-R's top pass catcher.

Mark Strothers

Redbank Valley, RB/LB

Senior, 5-11, 180

Highlights: The area's top rusher was No. 5 in District 9 with 1,488 yards and 23 touchdowns, tied a district record with a seven-touchdown game and developed a reputation as a hard hitter, all after two ACL surgeries.

Logan Thimons

Freeport, DL

Sophomore, 6-2, 190

Highlights: Freeport's lone first-team all-conference player earned the honor with 97 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries — all team highs.

Tre Tipton

Apollo-Ridge, WR/DB

Junior, 6-1, 161

Highlights: The offensive numbers speak for themselves — 697 yards and 14 touchdowns receiving — but Tipton was named Armstrong County's lone all-state player on defense with five interceptions.

Braydon Toy

Kittanning, QB

Junior, 5-6, 140

Highlights: No player posted bigger numbers than Toy, who threw for 1,639 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 859 yards and nine scores. He also added second-team kick returner honors to his first-team QB status.

Zeke Walker

Ford City, TE/DE

Junior, 6-1, 180

Highlights: Despite missing some games for the Sabers, the two-way player finished the season as Ford City's second-leading receiver and earned second-team all-conference honors at tight end.

Andrew Wingard

West Shamokin, RB/LB

Junior, 5-9, 170

Highlights: Wingard starred by leading the Wolves in touchdowns (14), rushing yards (840), receiving yards (276), all-purpose yards (1,373) and tackles (65).

Jesse Zelonka

Apollo-Ridge, QB

Senior, 6-0, 165

Highlights: Zelonka threw for 1,613 yards and 25 touchdowns with just one interception, and he was featured this year as a runner with 779 yards and six scores.

Honorable mention

Duane Brown Fr., DB/WR, Apollo-Ridge

Sam Buffone Jr., DT, West Shamokin

Devin Burkhouse Sr., DE, Redbank Valley

Adam Crise Jr., LB, West Shamokin

Zane Dudek Fr., RB, Kittanning

Cal Haines Jr., DT, Redbank Valley

Cody Joyner Sr., DT, Apollo-Ridge

Alex Kalmar Sr., RB, Leechburg

Brady Kirkwood Jr., G, Kittanning

August Mantini Sr., RB/LB, Ford City

Dakota Mohney Sr., WR, Karns City

Cody Peppler Sr., WR, Ford City

Jacob Robb Soph., DE, Kittanning

Kyle Schrecengost Sr., WR/DB, Redbank Valley

Shawn Shaner Sr., LB, Kittanning

Logan Slagle Jr., DB, Kittanning

Kris Smith Sr., RB, Leechburg

Michael Troup Sr., RB/LB, Freeport

Lonny Wells Sr., RB/LB/K, Apollo-Ridge

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