He was a force to be reckoned with, even though not all of the stats exist to back it up.
Somerville senior A.J. Pena has been named Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Checking in at 6-3, 240 pounds, Pena is a hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker. Pioneers’ coach Dallas Whitaker calls him “the most dominant player I have seen in six years of coaching high school.”
Whatever you call him, the big number you need to know is 12. That’s how many sacks Pena had this year.
But you also need to know that he got to opposing quarterbacks and runningbacks much more. It’s just that no one can say how much. Whitaker says they don’t keep track of QB hurries or pass breakups. But you can be sure he got his mitts on more than a few.
Click below to listen to Pena and teammate Cookie Desiderio talk about Somerville’s 7-0 season:
Honorable mentions for Defensive Player of the Year included New Providence’s Charlie Barth and North Plainfield’s Adam Elsais.
Barth – CJSR’s Two-Way Player of the Year – led the Big Central in tackles in its inaugural season, registering 115 of them, 16.5 percent of the entire defense. He also added two sacks for the 8-1 Pioneers.
The Canucks’ Elsais registered 109 tackles to lead the team, 10 TFLs and a sack in a 7-1 campaign, the best in North Plainfield in a decade since they went 9-1 with a playoff loss to Carteret. He also ranks third in his class in GPA, according to head coach Jimmy DiPaolo. Elsias will finish his scholastic career with 323 tackles in 3 seasons as a starting linebacker.