This Week In NJAC Football: Midseason Awards
As the NJAC season rolls on, we look at the contenders for some of the awards for the standout players in the conference.
We are more than halfway through the 2019 Division III football season, and it’s been quite a dramatic season for the New Jersey Athletic Conference. Two teams have seemingly dominated the conference so far: Wesley and Salisbury.
While the race for the NJAC conference title is getting tighter by the week, the competition for NJAC postseason awards is as wide open as it was in the preseason.
“In This Week In NJAC Football,” we take a more in-depth look into the contenders for Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
Offensive Player of the Year
Wide Reciever Ruhaan Peele- Wesley Wolverines
Peele has been nothing short of sensational this season, and his numbers clearly show that he is Wesley’s biggest offensive threat on any given play. Peele currently has 46 receptions for 622 yards along with nine touchdowns in just played five games. He has made life much easier for freshman quarterback Jon Mullin (762 yards, seven touchdowns). With Wesley hoping to compete for a national title this season, Peele will have to continue to produce at a high level.
Jessey Asare- Kean Cougars
After a slow start to the season, Asare has picked up his production significantly in the last four games. He is now the tied for second in the NJAC in rushing yards with 421 yards rushing on just 76 attempts. Despite not being considered a top NJAC running back coming into the season, he’s quickly put the conference on notice as a tough, gritty running back who has great vision in finding holes to run through.
Terrique Reddick- William Paterson Pioneers
The freshman running back sensation has been a huge part of the revitalization of the Pioneer football program as he’s been terrific as the lead back for William Paterson. Reddick has had a very impressive stat-line in the first five games of the season, with 421 yards rushing on 59 attempts and five touchdowns. He, along with Marcel Mason (270 rushing yards, six touchdowns), has done an excellent job of spearheading this run-heavy offense to perfection. The Pioneers are statistically one of the most improved offenses in the conference. Much of that has to do with the play of the speedy and dynamic running style of Reddick.
Other major contenders: QB Jon Mullin (Wesley), QB Ja’Quill Burch (Montclair State), RB Messiah Divine (Rowan), QB Jack Laham (Salisbury)
Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive Back Zack Zaccone- Montclair State
The NJAC’s leading tackler has become a breakout star for an already strong Red Hawk secondary. Zaccone has registered career highs in tackles (49), tackles for a loss (3.5), and has also forced two fumbles along with two broken up passes as well. Zaccone is excellent in both ball pursuit and coverage and is arguably the team’s strongest defensive back even though he’s only a sophomore.
DE DeShawn Reed- Kean
There were certainly questions as to how Reed would perform this season due to the graduation of fellow defensive lineman Damon Small Jr. Both Reed and Small provided a one-two punch on the defensive line last season. Reed has answered all of those questions and done even more this season as he has elevated his level of play significantly. He currently leads the NJAC in sacks (5) and is second in the conference in tackles for loss (7.0). Despite the Cougars’ struggles on defense this year, Reed is a huge bright spot this season.
DE Sunny Tapp- Rowan
Despite being somewhat undersized at the position, Tapp has proven to be a force to be reckoned with at the defensive end position. Tapp is quick off the ball and is very effective at getting to the ball-carrier as his stat-line has made some significant leaps this season as well. Tapp currently has 23 tackles with six tackles for a loss, along with four sacks.
CB Devyn Blount- William Paterson
There have been quite a few standout freshmen this year in the conference, but Devyn Blount has stood out immensely throughout this season. He not only leads the conference in the passes broken up with six, but he also has four interceptions which also leads the conference. Did I mention that we’ve only played five games this season? He has instantly given credibility to this William Paterson defense as he excels in both man and zone coverage. Blount is also a front-runner for NJAC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Other contenders: DB Sean Caroll (Salisbury), LB Andrew Anthony (William Paterson), DE Shymere Vessels (Wesley)
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