2002 Binghamton Press
All-Metro Team

From the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin - Dec 15, 2002

Feature articles followed by entire team...

all text by Kevin Stevens - Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Seven players repeat as All-Metro selections

Press & Sun-Bulletin

Two-way Chenango Forks stalwart Kelsey Jenks heads a group of seven repeat selections on the 2002 Press & Sun-Bulletin All-Metro football team.  

Jenks, the inaugural Player of the Year and a shoo-in to repeat as first-team all-state in Class B, mans an All-Metro position for the third consecutive year. This year, his selection comes at running back, though there was no superior defender in Section 4.

The team is selected by this reporter following extensive consultation with area coaches. All players from schools within the Press & Sun-Bulletin's circulation are eligible.

Nine All-Metro players represent either Chenango Forks or Vestal, teams that repeated as Section 4 champions in their respective enrollment classifications. Forks was beaten in the Class B state final, Vestal in the Class AA state semifinal.

Coach of the Year is Kelsey Green, head of a Forks program that brought perfect records into each of the last two state title games.

Repeat selections include sure-handed Vestal receiver Conor Talbut, who -- in an All-Metro first -- is accompanied this season by his twin brother, Joe, Golden Bears quarterback and the other half of one of the area's most consistent big-play pass-and-catch duos.

It is an All-Metro team altered by injuries. Forks cornerback Drew Batty and Tioga Central running back Kevin Luu, named to the team last season, were robbed of the bulk of their senior seasons. Another destined for a spot, Union-Endicott running back Eric Mihelc, was derailed four games into a potentially huge senior season.

A handful of selections are of All-Metro caliber on either side of the line of scrimmage. Most notably there is Jenks, along with Oneonta's Geoff Bean, Johnson City's Mike DePersis, Tioga's Luke Robbins and Forks' Zach Tarnowski.


Chenango Forks runner Kelsey Jenks is Player of the Year

Kelsey Jenks is the the Press & Sun-Bulletin's first Player of the Year, a new honor added to their long-running All-Metro selections

Chenango Forks leader looks forward to college

Kelsey Jenks envisions his first collegiate football experience with eager anticipation.  

Be it in Albany or Syracuse, New Hampshire or Toledo or Maryland -- all programs that have expressed interest, some with greater vigor than others -- he will start anew. He will be merely an unproven freshman seeking to establish himself all over again.

He's not had the luxury of relative anonymity since his sophomore year at Chenango Forks, the season that began a three-year stretch of his name being boldfaced on opposing scouting reports. From 10th grade on, he was no longer simply another player. Rather, he was a marked man-- "The Man" in the eyes of Forks football foes.

"I'm definitely looking forward to that in college, working myself up from nothing and proving myself as an athlete," said Jenks, Blue Devils fullback/nose tackle and inaugural Press & Sun-Bulletin Football Player of the Year.

Jenks, widely acknowledged as the premier performer in Section 4 each of the last two seasons, was the class of an outstanding Forks team that fell frustratingly shy of the Class B state championship in two successive seasons. This season, the Blue Devils were felled by a last-play field goal from Harrison, a year after a one-touchdown loss to Peru in the final.

Jenks, defender supreme all three of his varsity seasons, had his offensive role greatly altered this season, when he moved from a line position to the fullback spot-- a switch he learned of on opening day of preseason camp.

His response? A 1,502-yard rushing total, with 103 or better generated in eight of his last nine games, the high a dominating 217-yard, four-TD showing in the state quarterfinal against Solvay. The most valuable defender around had been transformed into the most unstoppable offensive force to boot.

Collegiate suitors, those skeptical of his ability to make the adjustment from nose guard to linebacker, might be wise to take notice of the seamless transition to a new high school position.

"If college coaches determine that Kelsey is a little too short (at 6-feet), he's the type of kid who can prove them wrong," Elmira Notre Dame coach Mike D'Aloisio said. "He never quits on any play, and the good ones do that. He'll help somebody, somewhere, at the next level."

Elmira Free Academy coach Dick Senko said, "Boy, is he for real. And what a great move making him the fullback."

Indeed, Jenks played with full-speed abandon, be it muscling through a double- or triple-team and chasing down a ballcarrier, or gaining absurd yardage totals following initial contact by defenders. Strength, speed and a mentality that screamed "I will beat you!" made him that much better than the rest.

"He brings the whole package on both sides of the ball," Norwich coach John Pluta said. "He's physical, quick and loves to play the game."

Said Forks coach Kelsey Green, "The Harrison kids looked him up (after the final) and the comments were that they'd never played against a kid like him. And there wasn't a kid around in better shape. It does look like he's dying out there-- but so did Jim Brown."

Jenks, an ardent weight-lifter who has sculpted a highly impressive physique, started his senior season at about 230 pounds and is presently building back up from the 215 range. Collegiate weight-training and nutritional programs have what it takes to work on the weight, but it is the head-to-toe measurement that has some backing off.

"If I was 6-3, I'd have been signed by now," he said. "But (recruiters believe) it's questionable whether I can play at the linebacker position."

Jenks has no doubt a switch to linebacker would work. "I'd be pretty confident," he said. "It's basically about having athleticism, doing what you're told and learning the position."

Most significantly, he added, "I want to prove myself as a Division I athlete, prove that I can do what some people may think I can't do."

All-Metro Football: Forks' Green is top coach

It was with a suggested proviso that Kelsey Green acknowledged his selection as Press & Sun-Bulletin football Coach of the Year: Coaching Staff of the Year would be his preferred designation

Green, 50-year-old social studies teacher in his seventh season as head man at Chenango Forks, was the driving force behind a program that advanced to the Class B state title game for a second consecutive year, and which emerged victoriously from 24 of its last 26 games.

With a cast of returning talent second-to-none among the state's Class B lot, the 2002 Forks squad took the field for most every contest as the presumed favorite, with followers' expectations of claiming the championship that had eluded the Blue Devils a year before.

"But we never talked about that during the season, we always talked about the next week, the next opponent," Green said. "The talk wasn't, 'Here's what we have to do to get there,' the talk was 'Here's what we have to do to get better.'

"That's a credit to the staff."

Forks' varsity staff starts with Green, overseer of the offense; first lieutenant and defensive boss Dave Chickanosky; Dave Hogan, special teams coach and head of the preparation team; and John Petley, Jack of all trades as volunteer assistant.

"We were blessed with talent, and we were really blessed with a staff that, to me, is second to none," Green said. "And I think we're a staff in every sense of the word."

That Green and coaching mates managed to keep players' eyes to the front and head off the inherent distractions facing a reigning champion was evident in the team's week-to-week effort. Be it an overmatched opponent or a foe on more equal footing, the Blue Devils performed with a consistent, businesslike approach.

Too, Green saw to it that as many players as possible were involved on game day, for he recognized that reserves' practice-field effort was a significant part of game-day success.

Green's knowledge of football coupled with his deft touch handling personnel and feisty sideline demeanor -- that which supersedes his laid-back off-field persona -- makes for a coach his players respect and respond to. He knows when to bark, when to quietly cajole, and when to let things be.

"We have such a close relationship with Mr. Green and the rest of the coaches," said Kelsey Jenks, three-season varsity member. "You'd do anything for them to make them happy, make them look good, because you know they'd do anything for you."

Green-coached Forks teams have compiled a 57-15 record since he assumed the top job. Asked how long he intends to coach, he replied:

"I enjoy it. I'll be teaching a minimum of the next five years, and I can't imagine teaching without coaching.

"Coaching is teaching, just in the greatest classroom there is."


Jake Frisch
Chenango Forks
6-0, 208, Sr.

Earned an All-Metro berth for a second consecutive year. ... Bothered by a high ankle sprain much of the season, which limited his mobility-- though opponents may be hard-pressed to buy that. ... "Jake's Jake, he's a presence out there," Blue Devils coach Kelsey Green said. ... Named second-team all-state in Class B last season. ... "They were so fundamentally strong as well as strong," Norwich coach John Pluta said of Frisch and fellow end Zach Tarnowski. "They made it so difficult to get to the outside." 
Ian Troiani
6-1, 225, Sr.

"He was definitely our best defensive player, and on offense, our best blocker," Tigers coach Bart Guccia said. ... Voted top defensive lineman by his teammates. ... "He's a stud," Vestal coach Dave Williams said. "We had a tough time with him up inside." ... Was one of Union-Endicott's co-captains. ... "He played tough, hard-nosed football the entire time," Binghamton coach Doug Stento said. "He gave us fits defensively." ... "He had to take on all the power stuff," Guccia said. "He did his job all the time."  
James Coughlin
5-7, 201, Sr.

A starter at offensive and defensive tackle for three seasons. ... Made 47 solo tackles this season, particularly impressive given a defensive scheme that doesn't lend itself to big numbers for tackles. ... "He'd take on a double-team, split it and make the tackle," Tioga coach Will Cook said. ... Manned the critical right tackle spot on the offensive front, and handled all the offensive-line calls. ... "And I don't think there was a kid he played this year that he couldn't handle one-on-one," Cook said.
Luke Robbins
5-10, 235, Sr.

A starter at offensive and defensive tackle for three seasons. ... Made 47 solo tackles this season, particularly impressive given a defensive scheme that doesn't lend itself to big numbers for tackles. ... "He'd take on a double-team, split it and make the tackle," Tioga coach Will Cook said. ... Manned the critical right tackle spot on the offensive front, and handled all the offensive-line calls. ... "And I don't think there was a kid he played this year that he couldn't handle one-on-one," Cook said
Dusty Andrus
6-2, 215, Sr.

"Probably one of the best linebackers, in my opinion, in the section," said Lynne Simmons, who stepped down as Greene coach following the season. "He was disciplined and reacted properly to his keys." ... Called all of the defensive signals and was the leading tackler for Greene, which won three of its last four games. ... Among his senior-season highlights was a 20-tackle performance against Division V champion Walton. ... Dedicated weightlifter who also excelled at fullback for the Trojans, and rushed for 127 or more yards in four games.  
Kirk Fletcher
5-11, 174, Jr.

Considered by opponents to be Walton's best all-around player. ... Third-season varsity player who called all of the Warriors' defenses. ... "Just a natural," Walton head coach Jim Hoover said. "And he hits people. When the crowd goes 'oooh' and 'aaahhh,' it's usually him making the hit. He's one good-looking football player." ... An impact player in most every game he played, though hampered part of the season by a high ankle sprain. ... Top showing on offense was a 136-yard, two-touchdown effort in a win over Windsor
Jim Hurtubise
6-4, 210, Sr.

Three-season starter who led Oneonta this year in both tackles and interceptions. ... "In a couple of crucial wins, he was a big offensive player for us as well," Oneonta coach Art Rigas said. ... Active and physical defender that offenses had to account for every down he was on the field. ... "He did all the blocking for (tailback Geoff) Bean, and I thought he was the leader of their defense," Norwich coach John Pluta said. ... Though his backfield role emphasized blocking, he had rushing games of 73 and 71 yards.
Nolan Robinson
Johnson City
6-0, 195, Sr.

His 106 tackles were second-best this season on JC charts. ... Bench-presses 330 pounds, runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash-- both appeal to Ivy League recruiters. ... Two-season captain of the Wildcats. ... Top all-around performance came against Elmira Southside, when he rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns, returned a fumble recovery for a score and added a TD on an 85-yard kickoff return. ... JC head coach Tony Romeo has referred to him as "one of the hardest-working kids I've ever coached at any school." ... Section 4 wrestling place-winner last season. ... Ranks fourth in his class.
Defensive back
Jared Carey
6-1, 190, Sr.

Golden Bears captain and strong safety -- or, "Grizzley Back" -- who was the leader of one of Section 4's finest defensive units. ... "He's a complete football player," Vestal defensive coordinator Tank Anderson said. ... Equally adept in pass coverage or chasing down a ballcarrier out of the backfield. ... "He's instinctive in that he'd read a play, and then come up and make the tackle," Anderson said. ... Highly effective blitzer whose plusses include strength, mobility and tenacity.
Defensive back
Geoff Bean
6-1, 180, Sr.

Arguably the finest three-sport athlete on this All-Metro squad, with All-Metro basketball and state-caliber track credentials as well. ... "He's incredible," Owego coach Steve Virkler said. ... "He had eight interceptions last year, so no one threw his way," Oneonta coach Art Rigas said. ... Fastest player on the field most every time he suited up, and covered ground accordingly. ... "The Bean kid is a heck of a player," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. ... "Everything they do kind of revolves around Bean," former CV coach Bob Zanot said.
Defensive back
Matt Juriga
Chenango Forks
6-3, 205, Sr.

A huge force on both sides of the line for a team that reached consecutive Class B state championship games. ... "He was a physical presence at cornerback, a big kid with mobility," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. ... Made smooth transition from safety to cornerback due to early-season injury to a teammate. ... "As quarterback, he made great decisions on the option and he's a terrific DB," Norwich coach John Pluta said. ... Shared quarterback duties much of the way, then took over solo for the final two playoff games-- and passed for three TDs in state semi.
James Toal
5-11, 150 Sr.

Handled all of Owego's punts, kickoffs and extra-point kicks. ... 17-for-20 on PATs. ... Closed the season with a 39.8-yards-per-punt average-- "With some clutch punts, too," coach Steve Virkler said, citing a 62-yard blast from the Indians' end zone while holding a 21-14 lead over JC. ... "He was very consistent placing his kickoffs inside the 10-yard line, and we try to put it between the numbers and the sideline, and he was consistent at that, too," Virkler said. "In high school football, field position means a lot."


Joe Talbut
6-1, 165, Sr.

A cool customer under pressure who quarterbacked the Golden Bears to a 20-3 record and back-to-back Section 4 titles the last two seasons. ... "When they needed a big play, the Talbuts performed in an outstanding way," Binghamton coach Doug Stento said of Joe and twin brother/receiver Conor. ... Joe passed for 1,045 yards in an offense geared primarily toward the running game. ... "He made their offense go," U-E coach Bart Guccia said. "His forte is, when he gets flushed, he's able to move around, find the open man and get him the ball."
Running Back
Kelsey Jenks
Chenango Forks
6-1, 229, Sr.

Obvious choice as the Press & Sun-Bulletin football Player of the Year. ... Premier performer on a Chenango Forks squad that won 24 of 26 games and was Class B state runner-up the last two seasons. ... Third-year All-Metro selection who this time makes the squad on the offensive side. ... Was moved from tackle to fullback for his senior season and responded with 1,502 rushing yards, a 6.6 per-carry average. ... Attracted regular double-team attention in his role at nose guard. ... First-team all-state a season ago and a lock to repeat.
Running Back
Brian Soeffing
Whitney Point
6-1, 210, Jr.

Rushed for 1,005 yards -- a 6.8 per-carry average -- and 10 touchdowns. ... "He ran around people, over people and through people," Golden Eagles coach Joe Pagano said. ... Top single-game performance came against Windsor, when he rushed 28 times for 220 yards and three TDs. ... "He's a real solid football player," Owego coach Steve Virkler said. ...  
"He rushed for 1,000 yards, and they were well-earned yards," Norwich coach John Pluta said. "He's got good speed and he can bring it. He's a big, physical kid."
Tight End
Zach Tarnowski
Chenango Forks
6-3, 236, Sr.

Primary role in Forks' run-oriented offense was as a blocker, and he excelled. ... "His receiving stats weren't much, but it was always a big catch that he made," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "We'd come out of our huddle and see (defenders) pointing, 'There's No. 49.' " ... His big-play ability was on display in the state semifinal, when he sprinted under a deep sideline pass from Matt Juriga and raced the final 43 yards to complete a 66-yard TD play. ... "The kid's a player," Green said that day. "Somebody better understand that at the next level. He's a player."
Wide Receiver
Matt Luhrs
6-4, 195, Sr.

"He certainly was our go-to guy any time we needed something," Owego coach Steve Virkler said. ... Doubled as free safety, and made all the Indians' secondary calls. ... Demonstrated his special-teams playmaking ability by blocking two PAT kicks and a punt in one game. ... Made three or more receptions in all but one game this season. ... "He was excellent," said coach Tony Romeo of Johnson City, which was stung by five Luhrs receptions. ... "He really stood out in our game," Whitney Point coach Joe Pagano said.
Wide Receiver
Conor Talbut
6-1, 165, Sr.

One of seven holdovers from last season's All-Metro team, and this time around is joined by twin brother Joe, the quarterback. ... Neither size nor speed were what separated him from the rest, rather it was from the shoulders up where he excelled. ... Outstanding pair of hands coupled with outstanding route-running ability and improvisational skills made him particularly difficult to cover man-to-man. ... With Conor Talbut in the lineup, Vestal lost one game each of the last two years (he missed the 2002 opener with an injury).
Justin Bomysoad
6-0, 275, Sr.

"He was definitely the main guy on our offensive line," Golden Bears coach Dave Williams said. ... A strong, mobile lineman with good, quick feet-- in part the result of his work toward becoming Section 4's top shot-putter. ... "In our first game with them, he made it difficult for us to run the ball," Binghamton coach Doug Stento said of Bomysoad's defensive ability. ... Showed his versatility by playing some at fullback, and was particularly impressive at that spot in the state quarterfinal. ... "Either way, he was a quality player," U-E coach Bart Guccia said.
Mike DePersis
Johnson City
6-0, 214, Sr.

Three-season starter for the Wildcats. ... "We do a lot of trapping, and as fast as he is at linebacker, he's that fast and brings it at offensive guard," JC coach Tony Romeo said. "He was our best offensive lineman for three years." ... Well-rounded; started three seasons at linebacker and caused seven fumbles and intercepted two passes. ... Also handled JC's punting-- "And you hear that sound that's a little different than when other kids kick the ball," Romeo said.
Chris Locke
6-0, 251, Sr.

The primary force on an offensive front that led Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton to five games with 323 or more yards rushing, two of those 500 yards or better. ... "He's a big, strong kid who played well on both sides of the ball," Norwich coach John Pluta said. "We scored 14 against them and they came the hard way-- and he was a big reason why." ... Three-season varsity starter with a sound grasp of blocking fundamentals and a knack for finishing the play. ... "Tough kid," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. "He's a good one."  
Thad Loomis
6-5, 270, Sr.

Big, strong and physical tackle who was a major part of the Purple Tornado's resurgence from a winless 2001 season to a berth in Section 4's Class B final. ... "The kid's a winner," Norwich coach John Pluta said. "In the big games, especially, is when he really stood out. He was as good an offensive lineman as we saw all year." ... Leader of a line that was the root of Norwich's ability to gain better than 300 yards of offense in five games this season.
Juan Mendoza
Chenango Forks
6-0, 228, Sr.

For two seasons, Mendoza performed as a true "impact player"-- uncommon for a player who lines up at center. ... "I don't think there's a better center in the area, and I don't know if you'd find a better one in Class B in the state of New York," Forks coach Kelsey Green said. ... His combination of intelligence, mobility, strength and supreme technique enabled the Blue Devils to throw some sophisticated wrinkles into their blocking schemes. ... Standout in a line that cleared the way for an average of a shade over 295 rushing yards per game.  
Coach Of The Year
Kelsey Green
Chenango Forks
7th season

Head of a program that generated 12-1 records each of the last two seasons and has gone 57-15 in the seven seasons since he became head coach. ... Among the positive moves he made this season was moving Kelsey Jenks from offensive line to fullback-- "Once in a while you do something right," Green said with a laugh. ... Age 50. ... Graduated from Forks in 1970 and played cornerback. ... "We feel we're the better-coached team week-in and week-out," said Juan Mendoza, two-way starter on the line for the Blue Devils.

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