One thing is for sure: Brooklynites were ready for some football this year.
The borough’s high school programs put together another great season on the gridiron, with Erasmus Hall taking home its first-ever Public School Athletic League Championship division title and Lincoln returning to the semifinals.
South Shore won the public school bowl championship and squads such as Jefferson and Boys & Girls had strong years.
It wasn’t just team play where Brooklyn excelled: the county of Kings produced some of the city’s top recruits including Poly Prep lineman Jay Hayes, who is headed to Notre Dame, and Jefferson’s Ebenezer Ogundeko.
All-Brooklyn player of the year: Curtis Samuel, Erasmus Hall
Samuel was the borough’s most explosive player with big runs on offense and special teams. The highly recruited junior’s two-point conversion run was the difference in Erasmus’s 15–14 victory over Tottenville at Yankee Stadium for the school’s first-ever city championship. Samuel — who missed last year’s title game because of injury — scored 18 touchdowns and recorded 1,488 all-purpose yards as the Dutchman went a perfect 12–0. Coach Danny Landberg called him the best player he ever coached.
All-Brooklyn coach of the year: Danny Landberg, Erasmus Hall
It took Landberg 11 long years to bring the once-defunct program all the way to the top, stressing after each win during an undefeated campaign that the mission wasn’t complete until the Dutchmen hoisted the trophy. It came in bittersweet circumstances as weeks early Landberg had to evacuate his Belle Harbor home because of Hurricane Sandy.
All-Brooklyn football first team
Running back: Najee Champagne, Boys & Girls
The senior was a dual threat and one of the biggest reasons the Kangaroos went 8–2 and reached the quarterfinals. He scored 16 touchdowns, 13 on the ground, and posted 1,090 all-purpose yards — not to mention pulling in three interceptions.
Defensive lineman and offensive lineman: Jay Hayes, Poly Prep
The Notre Dame-bound junior was the anchor of both Poly Prep lines. He provided plenty of running room for quarterback Chris Parker. Opposing teams ran plays away from Hayes, but he still was a dynamic force during Poly’s 5–3 season.
Running back: James Gales, Brooklyn Tech
Gales had a monster season for the Engineers. The senior rushed for an astounding 1,345 yards and 18 touchdowns, carrying Brooklyn Tech to a 7–3 record and spot in the quarterfinals.
Running back: Antoine Holloman, Lincoln
The Railsplitters were a bit of a ground and pound attack and Holloman was usually the one leading the charge. The junior was one of the league’s top rushers with 1,281 yards and nine touchdowns to help Lincoln reach the semifinals.
Quarterback and defensive back: Zach Kearney, Xaverian
Xaverian didn’t have a great season, but that doesn’t diminish what the two-way star Kearney did. The senior nearly single-handedly carried the team with Laray Smith hurt early. He compiled 1,360 total yards and 15 touchdowns.
Quarterback: Javon Moore, Lincoln
Moore took over under center for Jessel Jones and brought all the pieces of the Lincoln offense together. The junior beat opposing players with his legs and his arm, throwing for 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns and running for seven more scores.
Defensive lineman: Ebenezer Ogundeko, Thomas Jefferson
The senior has his pick of big-time colleges and didn’t disappoint in his final season with Jefferson. The game-changing Ogundeko led the league in sacks with 15 and wracked up 71 tackles. He was unblockable at times.
Quarterback and defensive back: Chris Parker, Poly Prep
The dynamic sophomore is one of the city’s most underrated players. His four-touchdown and two-interception performance against Niagara Academy shows just how dangerous he is.
Defensive Lineman: Thomas Plonski, Brooklyn Tech
The Villanova-bound Plonski was a rock on the Engineers’ defensive line. He could affect the game in so many ways, racking up 53 tackles and five sacks to go along with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Defensive back and quarterback: Jonathan Samerson, Erasmus Hall
There aren’t many things the senior can’t do on the field, as evident in his three-touchdown performance in the semifinal. Samerson was also one of the Dutchman’s top defenders, recording six interceptions.
Wide receiver and defensive back: Kendall Thomas, Thomas Jefferson
His nickname is “Speedy” for a reason. The senior was a big play waiting to happen on both sides of the ball. Thomas had 16 total touchdowns, three interceptions and 904 yards of total offense, including an 81-yard reception.
All-Brooklyn honorable mentions
Running back: Dante Aiken, Bishop Ford
Running back and defensive back: Jhamel Cohen, South Shore
Running back and defensive back: Davin Collins, New Utrecht
Defensive lineman: Rashaad Coward, Sheepshead Bay
Line backer: Malik Darling, Abraham Lincoln
Wide receiver: Jamiek Davis, Abraham Lincoln
Wide receiver: Rodney Gonzalez, Bishop Ford
Offensive lineman: Chris Jones, Xaverian
Line backer: Tristan Laurore, Boys & Girls
Running back: Kahlil Lewin, Erasmus Hall
Line backer: Loumell Petion, Erasmus Hall
Defensive back: Khendell Puryear, Abraham Lincoln
Running back: Laray Smith, Xaverian
Wide receiver: Cameron Stapleton, Poly Prep
Running Back: Diequan Underwood, Canarsie
Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.