Northeast Times names Fall Award Winners

Belle Spinelli, a four-year starter, helped the Pandas improve in each of her seasons at the school. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It seems like a few weeks ago, we were preparing for the start of the fall season, but here we are a month into the winter season and it’s time to break down the best of the fall.

It won’t be easy because the stars were out in full force.

In football, Northeast once again had a championship season thanks to great coaching and star players. The other Public League teams, especially Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, enjoyed strong campaigns. And in the Catholic League, Archbishop Ryan lost only to the top teams in the city and Father Judge’s offense put on a great show.

Soccer might have been even better.

In boys, Ryan and Judge were their usual competitive selves in what is arguably one of the best leagues around. In the Public League, Northeast, the top team for the past four years, was once again an elite team, but was knocked off by Franklin Towne Charter.

Girls soccer might have been the best of the bunch. Ryan advanced to the Catholic League championship game and won a game in states, Franklin Towne made the Public League championship and Nazareth Academy became a force in the Catholic Academies League.

Here is a list of the top athletes and coaches in each of the sports. Later in the year, we’ll announce our winter, spring and overall winners.

All winners will be honored at the end of the school year during the annual sports banquet.

Here is our list of the fall winners.

Catholic League Football Player of the Year

Colin Boyd, Archbishop Ryan

Making an all-star team is tough to do at any level, but making it at linebacker in the Catholic League Red Division is exceptionally challenging, considering the talent at the position. But Boyd got votes from every team this year, showing he was an elite football player. And he has the numbers to back it up.

Boyd registered 94 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions, while leading the Raiders defense.

He was also the ultimate team player, playing tight end on offense until the team found itself needing a running back on Thanksgiving. He stepped in and turned 13 carries into 106 yards and a touchdown.

Public League Football Player of the Year

Marlon White, Northeast

The Vikings had a lot of heroes to go around, but it was this senior who made plays on both sides of the ball.

On offense, White averaged 7.2 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns with a pair of two-point conversion runs.

He was even better on defense, where he helped anchor the Vikings’ linebacker corps. Whether it was stopping the run or defending the pass, White was up to the task.

The two-way star was key in helping the Vikings with their third straight Public League 6A championship and helped Northeast put up a strong fight against St. Joe’s Prep in the District 12 championship game. The Hawks then went on to win the state championship, and one of their toughest tests came in the city championship against Northeast.

Football Coach of the Year

Frank McArdle, Archbishop Ryan

Ryan won eight games this year, but its best game may have come in a setback. Ryan lost regular season games to St. Joe’s Prep, La Salle and Archbishop Wood, but the Raiders’ playoff loss to Wood — a hard-fought 24-17 setback to Wood — may have been their best game. It also was McArdle’s best coaching job, considering the Vikings had more talent.

Ryan had good players, and the team improved every game. Even after a 6-0 start, the best start in school history, the Raiders got better as the season went on.

McArdle also did it with a mix of grizzled vets and talented newcomers, putting the team in position to be good for years to come.

Public League Boys Soccer Player of the Year

John Simpson, Franklin Towne Charter

There were a few questions regarding the Franklin Towne Charter boys soccer program, but one thing was certain: The Warriors had one of the top goalies in the area.

Simpson was a wall in the Warriors’ net, and was a main reason for the team winning the Public League championship by besting a talented Northeast team 2-1, and finishing the season 12-3-1, 8-1 in Public League play.

Simpson at times stood on his head and helped Franklin Towne outscore its opponents 43-23. Eight of those goals came in the final two games of the season, when the Warriors were playing the toughest competition in the state.

For his efforts, Simpson was voted the most valuable player in the Public League and was also selected to the All-State team.

Catholic League Boys Soccer Player of the Year

Brendan McCarthy, Father Judge

Top to bottom, this might have been the toughest year for boys soccer in the Catholic League, and Father Judge was in the mix all season. The Crusaders finished fifth in the league and one of the main reasons for their success was the play of McCarthy, a junior midfielder.

For the second straight season, the Second-Team All-Catholic selection was key in the Crusaders’ offensive output. He scored three goals and had three assists, but his bigger contribution came on defense, where he led the unit for the second straight year.

He’ll return next year, when he’ll be one of the top players in the PCL.

Boys Soccer Coach of the Year

Chris Logan, Franklin Towne Charter

Shortly after the Public League season started, the Warriors found themselves without a head soccer coach when their former coach resigned. Logan stepped in and a few short weeks later, they were Public League champions.

Logan helped the Warriors finish 12-3-1, 8-1 in Public League play. And they avenged their only setback during the regular season when they knocked off Philadelphia Academy Charter in the playoffs. They then knocked off Northeast, the defending Public League champion, in the championship game.

The Warriors hung tough in the District 12 championship game and the state playoffs, where they were outmanned, but overall it was a great year for the team.

Catholic School Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Belle Spinelli, Nazareth Academy

Her numbers weren’t as good this year, but her play couldn’t have been better. Spinelli moved to defensive midfield and was a stalwart in the Pandas’ success. Nazareth went on to have the best season in 15 years.

Spinelli scored three goals, but her tenacity on the defensive end earned her Most Valuable Player honors in the Catholic Academies League.

Also a basketball player, Spinelli is leaning toward focusing on academics in college. In the classroom, she’s the top-ranked student in her senior class.

Public League Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Amanda Stapf, Franklin Towne Charter

The Warriors are always one of the top teams in the Public League, and this year was no different. They advanced to the Public League championship, and the defense was a key reason for the success, with Stapf the leader of this unit.

She recorded 102 takeaways, and she used her brains and voice to make sure everyone did their part to keep other teams from getting easy opportunities.

Stapf also chipped in on offense, scoring two goals and dishing out 10 assists.

The senior is undecided about her college plans.

Girls Soccer Coach of the Year

Jon Geist, Archbishop Ryan

The Ragdolls are poised for a great run in 2019. They should compete for a Catholic League championship, possibly win a game in the state tournament and be one of the top teams in the area next school year. But nobody told them that, so they arrived a year early.

Ryan, while starting a talented, but extremely young team, took first place during the regular season, then advanced to the PCL championship game before falling in overtime. The Ragdolls also won a game in the state tournament and brought home a District 12 3A championship.

Geist, who guided Ryan to a PCL championship in 2017, brought the young Ragdolls to the brink of a championship, and the experience they gained throughout the year should serve them well going forward.