Awesome autumn athletes

The Northeast Times announced winners in the sports of football and soccer to be honored at the 33rd Annual Northeast Sports Awards Banquet.

By Joe Mason

Northeast Philadelphia, you didn’t do us any favors.

Every year, it’s tough to pick the best players in the area and this was was particularly difficult because there were so many darn good ones.

Championships were won and milestones were met, and there are a lot of young men and women who should be extremely proud of their accomplishments this year.

But after careful consideration, we’ve selected this year’s award winners for the fall season

These winners, along with the best in the winter and spring seasons, as well as the winners of the overall awards, will be honored during the annual sports banquet in May.

Here is a glance at the fall winners.

Catholic League Football Player of the Year

Justin Gies, Father Judge

Justin Gies

When you have a talented football team like Father Judge did this season, it’s tough to pick one great player. But when the Crusaders needed a big play, they always turned to Justin Gies.

Gies was a two-way starter at receiver and defensive back, and his numbers were much better on the offensive side.

He went for nearly 750 yards and 10 touchdowns, including three multiple touchdown games.

On defense, Gies didn’t have great numbers, but it wasn’t because he didn’t play well. After a junior year that produced eight interceptions, teams did their best to not throw against him. On Thanksgiving, Lincoln tested him a few times and the result was a pair of interceptions.

The Crusaders advanced to the Catholic League AAAAAA semifinals and won six games while playing in the toughest division in the city.

Public League Football Player of the Year

Ormand Isom, Northeast

Ormand Isom

The secret to winning football games isn’t really a secret. It helps to have strong skill position players, but coaches often say games are won or lost along the line.

At Northeast, games were mostly won on the line and junior Ormand Isom was a big reason.

The massive two-way tackle helped the Vikings gobble up yards on offense and on defense, he stood his ground and gave opposing running backs fits.

His efforts helped Northeast win the Class AAAAAA Public League championship, and his best game of the year may have come in the team’s loss to St. Joe’s Prep in the city championship when he held his own against one of the best offensive lines in the area.

Behind Isom, the Vikings will again be a factor in 2017.

Football Coach of the Year

Phil Gormley, Northeast

Last year, Gormley led a young football team to the Public League championship game, but they couldn’t get over the hump.

This year, the Vikings reigned supreme.

Northeast ran over archrival Central in the Public League AAAAAA championship game and, more importantly in many Northeast fans’ eyes, did it again less than two weeks later in the annual Thanksgiving Day game. Those losses were the only ones Central suffered during the season.

But Gormley did more than just win a championship. He also helped the team get better every week. Also, his team lost three times this year, but all of their setbacks were at the hands of teams that went on accomplish great things, Del Val Charter, Imhotep Charter and St. Joe’s Prep.

The Vikings lose a lot to graduation, but Gormley also found a way to mix in underclassmen this year, so he not only won this year, he set the team up for future success.

Catholic League Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Sean McCormick, Judge

Sean McCormick

Every year, the Crusaders seem to be one of the best teams in the area, and they always seem to be led by a stud. This year was no different.

Sean McCormick came into the season as a midfielder but coach John Dunlop needed someone to lead the offense, so he asked McCormick to play forward. He rewarded his coach by scoring 14 goals and adding 22 assists. The scoring helped Judge finish in second place in the Catholic League. The Crusaders then advanced to the Catholic League semifinals before falling to Roman Catholic in a well-played game.

McCormick was named to the All-State team, the All-Southeastern Pennsylvania team and capped his career off with his third straight All-Catholic nomination.

Next year, he will continue his soccer career, though he has yet to decide where. La Salle, St. Joe’s, Holy Family and West Chester are all interested.

Public League Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Christian Escobar, Northeast

Whenever Northeast needed a boost, they got it from Christian Escobar.

The senior’s most important job was leading the team both on and off the field. The center midfielder came into the year as the unquestioned leader of the team. Not only was he vocal when he needed to be, but whenever the Vikings had a tough assignment on the field, he drew it. He routinely covered the best players in the area and he always did a great job. And while he does have talent, it was his effort that made him such a commodity in the Vikings’ lineup.

He also chipped in on the scoreboard, notching eight goals and serving as Northeast’s top playmaker.

Next year, Escobar will continue his soccer career at the college level, though he is still weighing his options.

Boys Soccer Coach of the Year

Kraig Feldman, Northeast

This was supposed to be the year the Northeast soccer team took a step back.

A year after winning the city championship, the Vikings lost a lot of talented players to graduation and they were poised to take a step back in the competitive Public League. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, Kraig Feldman and his troops weren’t ready to take a backseat.

Northeast went on to win another Public League championship and while the Vikings didn’t win consecutive city championships, they gave La Salle all they could handle before falling 2–1 in the District 12 title game.

Feldman provided the leadership to get the inexperienced Vikings ready to compete, and in the process helped the team win its third straight Public League championship and finish with a 14–2 overall record.

Catholic Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Kylie Bowers, St. Hubert

Kylie Bowers

For the past four years, Kylie Bowers has been an important piece of the St. Hubert soccer team. This year, she stepped up in a huge way, and the result was more wins.

Coming off a disappointing 2015 campaign, the Bambies exploded for nine wins, which was good enough for second place in the Catholic League, and they then went on to advance to the semifinals.

While the Bambies were winning games, Bowers was gaining recognition, especially because she always seemed to score when it mattered most.

Not only was she an All-Catholic selection, the senior also made All-State and All-Southeastern Pennsylvania for her efforts.

Public League Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Raegan Kennedy, Franklin Towne Charter

The Franklin Towne Charter soccer team has been one of the best programs around. The team is always in the hunt for a Public League championship and this year was no different. The Coyotes made the title game before falling to league rival Central.

Because the Coyotes have such a strong team, it’s usually tough for underclassmen to make noise, but that wasn’t the case for Raegan Kennedy.

The sophomore led the team in scoring with 19 goals, which greatly helped the team that lost so much talent to graduation from its 2015 championship team.
The good news for Franklin Towne is that she’ll return next year with a wealth of experience and high expectations.

Soccer Coach of the Year

Todd Corabi, Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush

They say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s why the Knights had a remarkable season.

Most of the players on this year’s team were novices, and they took their lumps, going winless during the regular season in the Gold Division. But the Knights recovered and went on to win the Public League AAA Division championship by besting Frankford 3–0 in the championship game.

The Knights improved every time they took the field, and hopes are high next year, with the bulk of this year’s squad returning for the 2017 campaign. ••

Joe Mason can be reached at 215–354–3035 or jmason@bsmphilly.com