The Associated Press released its All-Southwest District football teams Thursday, with several local athletes making the list – highlighted by a Mechanicsburg sweep of the Division VI awards.
In Division VI, Mechanicsburg’s Kaleb Romero was named the Offensive Player of the Year.
M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest has run out of superlatives to lay on Romero, but he says nobody else is more deserving of the award.
“Not only for the statistics and the numbers that he puts up, but also the responsibility he has for putting us in the right positions,” Forrest said, explaining how Romero decides the outcome of many of the plays on the fly. “He plays the game the right way. Very, very hard and very, very physical.”
Phil Cook was named to the Second Team offense.
The Indians also nabbed Defensive Player of the Year with Dylan Hartley winning the honor.
“I just want to thank all the guys. They’ve helped me with everything going on in my life. It’s the best thing that could have happened,” Hartley said.
Dylan’s sister, MacKenzee, was killed in an automobile accident earlier this year.
“It’s put that extra edge (in me). Made me work a little harder. Take that extra step,” Hartley said. “Knowing that she’s watching over me makes me push myself harder, the way that she would have wanted.”
Forrest gushed about his big lineman.
“He’s the rock up there that can’t be moved,” Forrest said. “(The linemen) don’t get all the love, but everything always starts up front in the trenches – and Dylan’s our guy. He’s extremely physical, very strong.”
More than that, Hartley has worked on improving his technique, instead of just using his size to bully everyone. That improvement has shown, with a dangerous combination of pass rushing and run stopping – of size and finesse.
Joining Hartley on the First Team defense were Mechanicsburg’s David Harvey, Colton McMannis and Wade Smiddy.
The trifecta came with a Coach of the Year award going to Forrest, who has navigated the Indians to a 12-0 record so far this season.
“The neat thing about this type of award is that, whenever it comes down to coaching, it’s about getting potential out of your kids,” Forrest said. “That’s a direct reflection of the type of team we have and the kids we have and the coaching staff we have. You have to have talented kids and you have to have a lot of success to even be considered. It’s a culmination of all that and it’s a team award, in my opinion.”
Other honors in Division VI included Triad’s Trent McIntyre being named to the First Team offense, Timmy Marsalis being named First Team defense and Jacob Thompson earning honorable mention.
West Liberty-Salem’s Trent Schmucker was named First Team defense, while Trevor Anderson nabbed Second Team offense and Dusty Moell earned Second Team defense. Brandon Upton earned honorable mention.
In Division III, Urbana’s Cooper Johnson and Graham’s Allen St. Myers earned honorable mention.