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All-WNY First Team: Star-studded defense includes athletic, versatile talents

See here for the All-WNY photo gallery, which includes photos and info on each player.

Mason Hoose

School: Canisius Position: DL

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 230 Year: Senior

Hoose proved to be quite the disruptive force with his power and speed, a matchup nightmare, on perhaps the most talented defensive unit in the area. His 134 tackles (88 solo stops) through 11 games led all players in the state. The first team All-Catholic recorded 36 tackles for losses and also added seven sacks. Finished with 12 tackles, two sacks and two rushing touchdowns in Week Three win over 2015 state champion Aquinas.

Nathan Emer

School: Iroquois Position: DL

Ht: 6-5 Wt: 249 Year: Senior

Trench Trophy finalist with the size and athleticism that college coaches covet was a force on both sides of the ball for a Chiefs team that loved to run. The four-year starter recorded 52 tackles (41 solo stops), 12 sacks, recovered six fumbles and deflected five passes in helping his team reach the playoffs. Earned lineman of the year honors from the section as a junior. Has offer from Edinboro but also is on Division I radar.

Michael Motley

School: St. Joe’s Position: DL

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 197 Year: Senior

The Monsignor Martin Defensive Player of the Year enjoyed the football experience during his time with the Marauders. He really enjoyed rushing the passer, as he finished with 12 sacks and nine hurries. He forced two fumbles, recorded two and also made 79 tackles (50 solo stops). Two-year starter considers season-opening win over 2015 state Class A champion South Park as his most memorable game of the season – a contest in which he made eight tackles and two sacks.

Jamel Lofton

School: Bennett Position: LB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 200 Year: Senior

Transfer from Lackawanna made an already formidable Tigers linebacker corps even better – helping Bennett win its first Section VI football title. He finished with 101 tackles, including 22 for losses, and six sacks. He recorded 10 tackles and two sacks and also rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown in Tigers’ championship-game triumph over Starpoint. Lofton finished with 998 yards (14.2 per carry) and 12 touchdowns on offense. Ends career with 301 tackles and 18 sacks.

Cole Burniston

School: Canisius Position: LB

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 225 Year: Senior

A Connolly Cup finalist as a junior, Burniston still runs the ball occasionally but depth at running back led to Canisius shifting him to a primarily defensive role. He excelled on a unit that yielded 12.8 points per game, finishing with 71 tackles, including 21 for losses. He led Crusaders in sacks (eight) and forced fumbles (six) and shared the team lead in fumble recoveries (three). He also rushed for five TDs, averaging 7.8 yards per carry.

Matt Eldridge

School: Cleveland Hill Position: LB

Ht: 5-10 Wt: 240 Year: Senior

Connolly Cup finalist helped the Golden Eagles soar to their first Section VI title since 2013 as his combination of speed and power made life difficult for opponents. Eldridge finished with a team-high 118 tackles and recovered two fumbles to lead a defense that yielded just 10.5 points per game and held six of its 11 opponents to six points or fewer in those games. On offense, he rushed for 1,165 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Connor Kelly

School: Williamsville North Position: LB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 220 Year: Senior

A familiar name in Western New York football circles, Kelly showed the family’s trademark toughness by playing through a shoulder injury suffered in Week One and still playing at a high level. He finished with 108 tackles, including 17 for losses, and four sacks. Third-year starter averaged 12 tackles per game and currently has offers from two Division II schools. Considers Week Three home-opening win on North’s new, lighted field as his most memorable game of the season.

Max Giordano

School: Lancaster Position: DB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 165 Year: Junior

Giordano played multiple positions, including kicker, and did it well for the Legends. Three of his six interceptions for the season came during his team’s Section VI Class AA championship game triumph over Orchard Park. In addition to playing lock-down defense, he finished with 35 tackles. On offense he contributed a school-record 41 catches for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns – including one in the Section VI final. Also kicked school-record 39 extra points. Has baseball scholarship offer from Niagara.

Zack Woodard

School: North Tonawanda Position: DB

Ht: 6-5 Wt: 201 Year: Senior

Three-year starter capped his final season with 91 tackles, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in helping NT reach the Class A semifinals, where they were subdued by eventual champion Bennett. Woodard was a Lumberjack of all trades for NT, as he scored touchdowns via the pass (five), rush (four) and interception return (two). His favorite memory is going 3-0 during his scholastic career against rival Tonawanda in the annual T-NT Game.

Josh Dahl

School: Orchard Park Position: DB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 200 Year: Senior

Three-year starter who will play lacrosse on scholarship at Albany finished with 1,565 all-purpose yards. He recorded five interceptions, making two of them – including a 91-yard pick-six – during the Quakers’ semifinal win at Clarence. Solid man-to-man defender when teams threw in his direction. The multi-purpose talent also rushed for 1,112 yards and 16 touchdowns and had 213 yards receiving. Helped OP reach last three sectional finals.

Ian Baker

School: Springville Position: DB

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 195 Year: Senior

The Griffins’ most versatile and valuable player recorded 60 tackles with two sacks and a safety. The Connolly Cup finalist set six individual team records during his three seasons as a starter – including career rushing yards (2,829), touchdowns in a career (43 with a record 42 rushing) and single-game (six), and rushing yards in a game (512). On offense this season, he finished with 1,495 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Baker also is a standout wrestler (Section VI runner-up at 182 last year) and baseball player.

Matt Myers

School: Bishop Timon-St. Jude Position: Punter

Ht: 6-3  Wt: 215  Year: Junior

The Connolly Cup finalist averaged 45 yards per punt and had one of his best performances during his team’s 7-0 triumph in Week Eight against Canisius. He averaged 47 yards per punt in a contest played in heavy rain. Myers also earned Monsignor Martin Offensive Player of the Year honors for his work at quarterback as he finished with 20 total touchdowns and 10 two-point conversions. He passed for 1,392 yards and rushed for 830.

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