Tag: Adam Elsias

A disruptive force, Somerville’s Pena named Defensive Player of the Year

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.”

WATCH: A.J. Pena’s senior year highlights

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.

LISTEN: Elsias, Canucks cruising to best start since 2010

Sean Levonaitis – Hillsborough’s heart and soul – grabs Longevity Award

by Mike Pavlichko

He got his first varsity touch his freshman year, and his first start in Hillsborough’s first-ever meeting with Colonia his sophomore year.

From start to finish, he compiled 3,169 career rushing yards, and 37 touchdowns, narrowly missing a third straight thousand-yard season that he would have captured had it not been for a global pandemic. (He finished with 958 yards in a season where he was on pace for a career high had it been a normal year.)

And it felt like Sean Levonaitis did all of that in about six seasons in Hillsborough.

He actually did it in four, it just seemed like he was around forever.

Maybe that was because his brother Scot was a Raider standout at wide receiver, who played his senior year in 2014 and finished with 1,811 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

But there were three years between the brothers, lest they be confused, although Scot was always one Sean looked up to.

Sean, a 5-7, 175 pound senior is the first winner of the Central Jersey Sports Radio Big Central “Longevity Award,” given to the conference player who has made significant contributions to his team for at least three seasons at the varsity level, at any position on either side of the ball.

Click below to hear Dom Savino’s conversation with Sean Levonaitis about his long Raider career:

Three other players were considered Honorable Mentions for the Longevity Award: Bernards QB Teddy Gouldin, Watchung Hills QB Chad Martini, and North Plainfield linebacker Adam Elsais.

Gouldin put together a career for the record books, quite literally. He finished his career with 4,733 passing yards, 54 career TD passes and 68 touchdowns overall in his career, part of a portfolio including more than a half-dozen Mountaineer all time records and/or firsts.

REWIND: Bernards cruises past Johnson behind Gouldin, balanced attack

Martini nearly reached the 5,000 yard mark in the passing game, hurling for 4,941 yards, including 1,544 his sophomore year, as well as 21 career touchdowns. He was a four-year starter, and a captain for the last three, as well as a leader for Rich Seubert’s squad on the field and in the classroom.

Elsais helped lead North Plainfield to its best season in a decade, a 7-1 campaign that may not have happened without him. Elsais stuck through the lean years, with the program going 4-6 last year, but 3-18 combined his freshman and sophomore years. Through it all, he was a defensive stalwart, amassing 323 tackles in three years as a starter. He also led by example in the classroom, ranking third in his class in GPA, according to his head coach, Jimmy DiPaolo.

LISTEN: Elsais, Canucks cruising to best start since 2010

North Plainfield named Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Turnaround Team of the Year

Following a 1-10 season in 2018, North Plainfield got things headed in the right direction with a 4-6 record in 2019.

In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Canucks almost entirely reversed field, and finished with a 7-1 mark, their lone loss coming by a 30-14 score in a Week 8 postseason affair with Linden.

It was their best season by far and away since North Plainfield went 9-1 in 2010, their lone loss to Carteret in the state playoffs.

Head coach Jimmy DiPaolo’s squad only won three games in his first two seasons at Krausche Field, but now are 11-7 over their last two seasons.

LISTEN: Elsais, Canucks cruising to best start since 2010

Adam Elsais was a big reason why. The three-year starter at linebacker was a big influence on the team, which also saw like Kahn-Yae Stevens emerge. The junior, who played in all three phases of the game, scored at least a touchdown in each of them. Fellow junior Keiahn Grenald at QB will help form a solid base for the future as well, for a team that learned from Elsais and other seniors, but will have to forge their own way in 2021.

Click below to listen to head coach Jimmy DiPaolo talk about North Plainfield’s big turnaround:

Honorable mentions for Turnaround Team of the Year include Monroe and Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

Monroe finished 5-1, by far its best record since Chris Beagan left in 2016 to coach his alma mater, Sayreville. Dan Lee’s squad went 8-30 in his first four seasons, but this year’s 5-1 record – interrupted by a COVID stoppage – included wins over two solid teams in South Brunswick and, ironically, Sayreville. The Falcons’ only loss came to Old Bridge, which ended the season ranked 7th in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten.

LISTEN: Monroe senior QB Aidan McLaughlin credits his teammates for his record-setting performance

Scotch Plains-Fanwood, meanwhile, finished 5-2 in head coach Austin Holman’s second year, following a 4-6 record in his first campaign. From 2013-2018, under Jon Stack, then Mark Ciccotelli, the Raiders had gone a combined 9-50 over six seasons. This year, they lost only to Woodbridge – which finished 7-1 and was ranked No. 1 for most of the year in the Central Jersey Sports Radio Top Ten and Big Central Media Poll – and Cedar Grove, which finished 5-1 playing in the North Jersey Super Football Conference. The Raiders also picked up blowout wins over Princeton, JFK and Colonia by a combined 136-29 margin.

AUDIO: Canucks cruising to best start since 2010

by Mike Pavlichko

An undefeated season may come with an asterisk in 2020, but the folks in North Plainfield don’t care about that.

The Canucks are halfway there.

Not that fourth-year head coach Jimmy DePaolo is thinking about that. Quite the opposite, he and his players are taking it one game at a time.

But North Plainfield is 3-0 for the first time since 2010, when the team went 9-1, finishing with a perfect regular season. Their only blemish was an opening round playoff loss to Carteret, an eventual sectional finalist who lost to Rumson.

Central Jersey Sports Radio got a chance to catch up with DiPaolo, as well as senior linebacker Adam Alsais, a three-year starter and two-time captain who has seen two very lean years on varsity, and is enjoying every minute of a COVID-shortened 2020.

Head Coach Jimmy DiPaolo

Senior LB Adam Elsais