Two Sandy Creek High School football players have been placed on the 2013-14 all-state football first team, recently announced by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
Linebacker Jake Benedict and lineman Matt Ennist were among nine players from the Section III Class D teams to receive the honor.
Benedict, a senior at Sandy Creek High School believes his work in the off-season helped elevate him as a player.
“I did everything possible,” he said, “I was hoping for a good year to end my high school football career.”
Benedict, who only played six games in the regular season due to an ACL injury, credits his coach, Mike Stevens for helping develop a great team that worked together.
“Coach supports team unity,” said Benedict, “and we are a close-knit group, on and off the field.”
Benedict hopes to play football at the college level and is looking at his options for the future before making a final decision on where he will go.
An excellent student, Benedict is also a member of the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society.
The varsity football team also received scholar athlete recognition for an overall average of 90 or above.
Ennist, was also named to the all-state first team for the second year in a row.
He is also the only junior this year in the first and second teams for Section III Class D. He was pleased to hear the news of the first team announcement and humbly said he felt he was noticed because of his “heart for the game.”
This football season, which Ennist called “crazy,” was filled with ups and downs for the Sandy Creek Comets who ended the season with an overall record of 8-2.
“We only lost one game in regular season,” said Ennist. “But, that pushed us to win the next game and pushed us harder.”
The Comets won their division, but injuries plagued the team and they were defeated in the Section III championship game at the Carrier Dome against Herkimer, ending their dream of a state championship.
The young men praised Coach Stevens for his leadership, but Stevens was quick to turn the focus back to the students.
“I am very proud of both of them for all of their hard work and success,” he said. “This recognition was well-deserved. They’re good kids, not just great athletes. Coaching is easy when you have that combination. It doesn’t matter what play I call when you’ve got kids like that on the team.”
Stevens also noted that their commitment to the game and to improving their athletic ability was another factor that set them apart.
“These two took it upon themselves to do things in the off-season to make themselves better,” he said. “I’m just pleased to have been part of it.”