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USA Today selects McDuffie as top defender in state

There is no need to remind folks of Isaiah McDuffie’s immense talents.

He verbally committed to Syracuse before the start of his junior season with the Bennett football team last summer – which had been almost unheard of in these parts.

But just in case somebody hasn’t heard of him, it’ll be that much harder for the two-time first team All-Western New York selection to remain anonymous, now that he’s been selected as All-USA New York Football Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today.

He’s one of 11 Western New York talents to earn spots on either the first or second team list.

“It’s a great honor but overall I just want to get better as a player because I can always get better,” McDuffie said. “It’s a great award. I’m proud of myself but I just want to get better.”

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound McDuffie finished with 91 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions. Teams often tried to run away from him since that proved to be the most effective way of containing him. At running back, he rushed for 1,553 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Although McDuffie has verballed to Syracuse, he still is being pursued and offered by other programs, including Maryland and Wake Forest.

Aquinas senior and future Penn State quarterback Jake Zembiec was named offensive player of the year.

Lineman Trench Trophy winner Jake Fuzak, of Williamsville South, and fellow All-WNY first-team lineman Jeremiah Sanders, of South Park, were named to the All-USA New York Football first team. Second team offense selections included Orchard Park junior lineman Dan Kubik and Bennett lineman Khalique Newsome.

All-state first team defense picks included defensive backs Tyree Brown of South Park and Justin Jones of Canisius. Brown was selected News Player of the Year after setting or matching four school quarterbacking records but proved his versatility during the postseason when he played safety in the Sparks’ biggest games – including state playoff wins over Maine-Endwell and Our Lady of Lourdes.

Second team all-state defensive picks included lineman Desmond Stephens of Timom-St. Jude, West Seneca East linebacker John Dolac III and defensive back Brandon Metz of St. Francis.

Canisius junior and Ohio State-commit Blake Haubeil was named all-state kicker/punter.

Canisius-St. Joe’s tickets to go on sale

Canisius hosts St. Joe’s in a boys basketball tripleheader beginning at 4 p.m. with the freshmen teams playing each other next Friday at the Kennedy Fieldhouse. The varsity contest is slated for a 7 p.m. tip after the junior varsity tilt.

Tickets for the games will be available at the main office at both schools beginning Monday.

Tickets must be purchased in advance as there won’t be any tickets sold at the door the day of the games. Tickets cost $5. For more information, call Canisius athletic director Jim Mauro at 882-0466 or St. Joe’s athletic director Pete Schneider at 874-4024.