Brooklyn is not just for basketball anymore.
The borough has always been strong on the gridiron, but this year it was taken to new heights. Two Brooklyn teams – Fort Hamilton and Lincoln – met for the PSAL City Championship division title, and the borough accounted for eight of the 16 playoff teams in that division. Erasmus Hall, Thomas Jefferson and Boys & Girls all got first-round home games.
The CHSFL was the home of budding stars. Xaverian’s season didn’t go as planned thanks to Kendall (Speedy) Thomas’ departure and top players being academically ineligible late. Still, with talent like Zach Kearney, Laray Smith and Tushaun Plummer returning, the future is bright.
Player of the Year:
He did it all for Fort Hamilton, as a scrambling quarterback, homerun hitter at wide receiver and game-changing, ball-hawking safety.
The gifted 5-foot-11 Reddish led Fort Hamilton to its third PSAL City Championship division crown in six years. A three-year starter who finished his career with an absurdly successful 36-2 record and 18 touchdowns in 11 postseason contests, completed his senior year with 18 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 593 yards rushing and 323 yards receiving.
Coach of the Year: Shawn O’Connor,
At every opportunity, he credited his seniors for the program’s turnaround, for going from a one-win team two years ago to making the playoffs last year and going undefeated during the regular season this year. But O’Connor, a strict but fair coach in his 10th season, deserves much of that credit.
The players remained confident amid the losing because of him. And he handled tragedy as well as possible when rising sophomore Manny Williams was murdered last April. He used it as a way for the team to grow tighter after the necessary mourning period was over. And the result was a memorable season and berth in the PSAL City Championship division title game.
WR Sean Binckes, Xaverian
It seemed like virtually every skilled position player for Xaverian was quick and undersized. And then there was Binckes, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior who caught everything but a cold. The most consistent player on the team, Binckes had 18 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns.
OL Ivan Foy,
Fort Hamilton was among the league leaders in all rushing categories, a nod to the Tigers’ depth in the backfield, but also the strength of its line. The fast and physical Foy led that group. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound three-year starter was also just as important to the defensive line, with 72 tackles.
RB Kareem Folkes, Lincoln
Folkes made the most of running behind the biggest and best offensive line in the city. The junior was third in the PSAL in rushing yards (944) and had seven touchdowns on the ground, helping Lincoln to its first PSAL city championship game since 2003.
RB Zach Kearney, Xaverian
One of several game-breaking sophomores on the Xaverian roster, Kearney rushed for 547 yards and six touchdowns, an average of seven yards per carry. He was sorely missed late in the season when he served an academic suspension.
WR Wilbert Lee, Boys & Girls
Lee put Boys & Girls on his back this season, fighting through the hardest schedule in the league and still making the playoffs with a home game in the first round. He was second in the city in rushing yards (964) and tied for fifth in touchdowns on the ground (12).
QB Jordan Paul, New Utrecht
New Utrecht season began with high hopes but success never materialized in a disappointing 2-7 campaign. That was not Paul’s fault, though, as the strong-armed senior signal-caller, who has a host of College Football Subdivision Championship schools after him, threw for 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns.
QB Greg Rando, Xaverian
On a team full of sensational sophomores, Rando was the senior leader. He was third in the CHSFL Class AAA with a 148.01 quarterback rating, completing 61 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,801 yards and 15 touchdowns.
RB Laray Smith, Xaverian
The sophomore became one of the Clippers most explosive scoring options with Kendall (Speedy) Thomas out of the lineup. Smith was third in the CHSFL ‘AAA’ in rushing with 828 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is shifty on the move and a big play threat when he gets into the second level.
RB Wesley Sumpter, Fort Hamilton
He only played in seven regular-season games, but somehow finished third in the PSAL in rushing touchdowns (13) and seventh in rushing yards (707). The senior made his name in the championship game, though, rushing for 51 yards on 10 carries.
WR Mark Thomas, Thomas Jefferson
Without him, Jefferson would never have been one of the surprises of the city, finishing 7-2 and making the playoffs in its first PSAL season in the highest classification. Thomas had six rushing touchdowns, three receiving scores, a punt return for a touchdown and a sack.
QB Andrew Vital, Lincoln
He was the perfect quarterback to have behind Lincoln’s massive offensive line. Vital was almost unstoppable in the open field, rushing for 719 yards, the seventh best total in the PSAL. Typically the strongest guy on the field, he shed tackler after tackler and was also the team’s undisputed leader on offense.
DL Rashid Armand, Sheepshead Bay
The only returning starter for Sheepshead on either side of the ball, offenses desperately tried to run away from Armand. Unfortunately for them, it usually didn’t work. The senior, who is receiving Division I interest, had four sacks and 45 tackles playing all over the line for the Sharks.
LB Faton Bauta, Poly Prep
Football is in the Bauta family. Faton’s older brothers played at Poly Prep and then went onto a college career and the bruising junior linebacker/fullback is following the same road. Except, the chiseled 6-foot-3, 220-pounder will be one of this area’s hottest rising seniors with schools like Ohio State and Florida vying for him.
DL Kevon Foster, Fort Hamilton
Fort Hamilton’s skill position players received much of the kudos this fall, but they ultimately won their third title in six years because of the play up front of guys like Foster. Consistently solid on both sides of the ball, the senior was at his best on defense, where he compiled 58 tackles and 11 sacks.
DB Tushaun Plummer, Xaverian
Plummer doesn’t look like much at 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, but he is one of the surest tacklers around, especially on the outside. The consistent cover corner will always be one of the fastest kids on the field.
LB Dujuan Heath, Lincoln
The linebacking corps. was one of the best in the five boroughs, and Heath was paramount to the unit’s success. The senior had 29 tackles, nine sacks, four interceptions and scored twice on defense.
DB Wayne Morgan, Erasmus Hall
One of the most highly recruited players in the city, Morgan was a punishing safety who offenses stayed far away from in their passing attack. He had an interception and 33 tackles and was Erasmus Hall’s quarterback, rushing for 662 yards and nine touchdowns.
DB Travon Segure, Fort Hamilton
No game solidified Segure as a future, and current, star more than the semifinals against Tottenville. The sophomore ended a Pirates drive with a momentum-turning interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter and sealed the game with a 60-yard pick six.
DB Kerrick Simmons, Lincoln
On a defense known for its stout front seven loaded with Division I talents, the hard-hitting safety often went overlooked. But the quarterback of the defense was integral to its success, with his three interceptions and 35 tackles.
DL Rasheem Stroud, Fort Hamilton
He entered Fort Hamilton as current Rutgers wide receiver Keith Stroud’s younger brother, but leaves with his own legacy as a dominator on a city champion. Despite missing two games, he still finished with 81 tackles and 15 sacks, six during a phenomenal postseason.
DL Ishaq Williams, Lincoln
The two-way star is the city’s lone All-American, a playmaker at tight end who caught five touchdown passes and a stout defensive end who registered six sacks and 36 tackles. He was the leading force behind Lincoln’s first undefeated regular season in 17 years.
DL Wayne Williams, Lincoln
At 6-foot-6, 370 pounds, his greatest strength was just that – brute strength. But the affable and easy-going two-way dynamo was surprisingly agile, which enabled him to make the transition to offensive tackle a seamless one.