When St. Thomas Aquinas ran the table in the Big Central in 2021, and quarterback Jayden Young led an offense that put up big numbers, many pointed to their strength of schedule.
What do they point to now?
The numbers weren’t as gaudy, but the Trojans were productive, and so was Young, who is the Central Jersey Sports Radio Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Central for 2022.
Why? Only the senior quarterback’s 1,658 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for another 577 yards on 75 carries and 11 TDs.
That caps a career that saw him and his team win 17 straight Big Central Conference games, the best in the league, and a mark Aquinas looks to extend into next year.
Young finishes his career as the winningest quarterback in school history, with 25 career victories, having gone 18-3 overall in the last two seasons, with only one of those losses coming in the regular season. He has amassed 5,013 passing yards in his career and 54 touchdowns passes.
Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko of Central Jersey Sports Radio talk with Jayden Young, the 2022 CJSR Offensive Player of the Year
There were so many great offensive players in the Big Central this year that five others received Honorable Mention status. All were honored individually among our specialty awards.
Luke Martini of North Hunterdon was the leading passer in the BCC this year, throwing for 2,306 yards and 22 touchdowns, with about half the yardage and 14 TD’s coming in a four-game span that stretched from the last game of the regular season – a win in the annual Milk Can Game against Vorhees – through the North 2, Group 4 title game win over Randolph. For that, he picked up “Playoff Beast” honors.
Kente Edwards of North Hunterdon also had a fantastic season, rushing for 1,442 yards, the most in the Big Central this season by a runningback (the only two to rank higher were quarterbacks) along with 15 touchdowns. Impossible to bring down, head coach Kevin Kley calls him”the most feared runner int he conference.” He was part of CJSR’s “Best Backfield Duo” award, shared with Alex Uryniak.
Jaeden Jones of Colonia actually rushed for more yards than he threw for, sprinting to the tune of 1,661 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground, but he was still a thousand-yard passer, amassing 1,059 yards through the air, connecting for six touchdowns en route to a division title for the Patriots. And there’s still more to come for Jones, the only junior in this bunch; he received the “Top Returning QB” Award this season from CJSR.
Matt Yascko of Edison has been a starter since his freshman year, and won this year’s “Longevity Award.” This year, he threw for 1,900 yards even and 16 touchdowns, with just four interceptions, while also rushing for 583 yards on 102 carries and 11 TDs. That’s even missing two games due to injury.
Matt Sims of Brearley is another one who ran more than the threw. He needed just 67 pass completions to eclipse the thousand-yard mark, going for 1,063 and 10 TDs with just a single pick all year. Sims, one of two to pick up “MVP” honors from CJSR – along with Manville’s Shawn Purcell – carried a whopping 219 times for 1,523 yards, making him the second-leading rusher in the Big Central this season, behind only Jaeden Jones. And his 26 touchdowns on the ground were the sixth highest total in the entire state.
Shawn Purcell of Manville could have been the MVP two years running, really. A three-year starter on both sides of the ball, he made his biggest impact on the program at runningback, where in 2021 and 2022 he rushed for a total of 2,414 yards and 37 touchdowns. With him carrying the ball, Manville went 14-5 over the last two seasons, its best run since 1968 and 1969 when the combined to go 14-4.