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All-WNY football first team: Strong line leads star-studded defense

Desmond Stephens

School: Timon-St. Jude Position: DL

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 235 Year: Senior

Coach Charlie Comerford calls Stephens – 71 tackles, 16 sacks – one of the best defensive players he has ever seen. Senior played last three games with ailing shoulder and torn labrum, posting five sacks, four tackles for losses, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery. At tight end, he was a blocking force for the Tigers. Will head to either prep school or junior college.

Jeremy Bush

School: Jamestown Position: DL

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 270 Year: Junior

A returning starter from the Red Raiders’ state championship team of 2014, Bush took his game to another level this past year as a two-way starter. In addition to dominating the line in wins over Niagara Falls and Williamsville North, Bush, who holds the school record in bench press (405 pounds), averaged 9.2 tackles per game. He recorded 28 tackles for loss, 23 hurries and nine sacks.

A.J. Perlino

School: EA/Holland Position: DL

Ht: 6-5 Wt: 205 Year: Senior

A scholar-athlete and the Class B East Division’s Defensive MVP, the two-year starter helped EA/Holland make the playoffs the past two seasons. The Trench Trophy finalist recorded 89 tackles (11 for losses), eight sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, seven passes defended. At tight end, he led Blue Devils with 408 receiving yards and five TDs. Suitors include UB, Syracuse and Case Western Reserve.

John Dolac III

School: West Seneca East Position: LB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 210 Year: Senior

Dolac made 85 of his school-record 257 career tackles this season in helping the Trojans reach the sectional final. He also recorded four interceptions and two sacks. Although he’s most proud of setting the school mark for career tackles, Dolac bruised more than his share of defenders, too, rushing for a team-best 983 yards and 17 touchdowns. Receiving interest from UB and Albany.

Justin Jones

School: Canisius Position: LB

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 190 Year: Senior

One of three returning starters from the Crusaders’ 2014 state Catholic championship team, Jones made an impact on both sides of the line. The quick, strong linebacker made 75 tackles and three interceptions. Showed big-play ability as a deep threat on offense, finishing with seven touchdowns and 589 yards. Albany, Syracuse and Old Dominion are among his college suitors.

Isaiah McDuffie

School: Bennett Position: LB

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 200 Year: Junior

Repeat first-team selection, the Syracuse-commit finished with 91 tackles and five sacks with two interceptions. His most memorable game and perhaps best performance came in Week Five win over Cleveland Hill in which he made 10 tackles, recorded a sack, forced and returned a fumble for a TD and rushed 11 times for 180 yards and two scores. He rushed for 1,553 yards and 18 touchdowns for the season.

Ronnie Shul

School: Orchard Park Position: LB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 210 Year: Senior

Leader of Orchard Park defense, the middle linebacker set school record for tackles in a game with 22 in win over Bennett. The two-year starter finished with 92.5 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles, two interceptions and two recovered fumbles. Shul has made visits to Mercyhurst and Albany. His most memorable moments included Homecoming win and capturing the Section VI Class AA title at The Ralph.

Marcus Ford

School: Maryvale Position: DB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 175 Year: Senior

Started every game during his three years with the Flyers. The future civil engineer is looking at Hobart and Hilbert for college. He’ll head to college coming off a season in which he finished with 101 tackles, three sacks, three blocked field goals and one blocked punt. He also chipped in with 350 yards rushing.

Brandon Metz

School: St. Francis Position: DB

Ht: 5-8 Wt: 180 Year: Senior

Connolly Cup finalist is one of the fastest players in the area. Postseason highlights include a 60-yard pick-six in the state final and TD-saving tackle in the league final when he chased down one of Canisius’ fastest players. Hard hitter also made 37 tackles and four interceptions. Led offense in rushing yards (1,239), rushing TDs (16) and receiving yards (664). Ended season with 21 TDs.

Takal Molson

School: St. Mary’s Position: DB

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 185 Year: Senior

Molson, who has Division I and II suitors in both football and basketball, did everything except kick and play offensive line during his three seasons. He finished with 49 tackles, including five for a loss, forced three fumbles, recovered one and also recorded an interception. At quarterback, he set school records for career and single-season passing and rushing yards. He passed for a school-record 21 TDs and rushed for nine.

David Thomas

School: South Park Position: DB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 175 Year: Senior

A year after helping Canisius win the state Catholic title, the speedy, hard-hitting transfer was a vital part of a history-making Sparks crew. He finished with 90 tackles, recovered five fumbles and forced four. Returned fumble for TD in state semifinal win over Maine-Endwell. Also caught 40 passes for 1,055 yards, 12 TDs and rushed for three scores. College suitors include UB, Maine, UTEP.

Blake Haubeil

School: Canisius Position: K/P

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 210 Year: Junior

Ohio State-commit didn’t waste any time breaking the Canisius record for longest field goal as the Amherst transfer booted a 61-yarder that proved the difference in a 23-20 Week Three win over South Park – the Sparks’ only loss. Recorded 36 touchbacks and executed 95 percent of his extra-point kicks. He also averaged 39 yards per punt with a long of 77.