CanTroSports "Fab Five" Male Athletes of the Year (2012-07-10)
We continue our end of the school year awards with the naming of the CanTroSports Male Athlete of the Year, and our "Fab Five" selections.
While the unfortunate trend of high school athletes choosing to not play three available sports is becoming more and more common, our area was fortunate to have several outstanding, three-sport male athletes this past year.
One of those young men, Canton's Ben Pepper, performed above the bar in all three seasons, and is our first member of our Fab Five.
As a third-year starter at quarterback, Pepper threw for over 1,000 yards and was the focus of the Warrior offense, leading Canton to a 7-4 record and the small-school NTL title. Pepper also rushed for 600 yards, and added to his duties by manning a corner on the Warrior defense, as well as serving as the team's punter. Pepper hit the mats for the winter wrestling season, compiling a 22-13 record for the Warriors, then finished up his high school athletic career as Canton's centerfielder on the baseball diamond. Pepper batted .352 for the Warriors, went 3-2 on the mound and led Canton to the District IV title game. Ben recently decided to continue his athletic career in college, and will join the Mansfield Mountaineer sprint football team this fall.
Justin Fitzwater is our next member of the Fab Five. While Fitzwater was a huge contributor to the Trojan baseball team, leading the Trojans into post-season play and being named a 1st-team NTL West All-Star, he made a bigger mark for the Troy soccer team this past fall. Fitzwater led the Trojans to an NTL championship from the goalie position. He totaled 9 shutouts for the Trojans this season, including a 16-save performance in a 1-0 win against Athens. Fitzwater was rewarded for his dominance by being selected as the player of the year by NTL coaches. He will suit up for the Penn State Altoona soccer team this fall.
Sophomore Jed Wright makes the Fab Five on the back of his consistent performances in football, basketball and track & field for his Troy Trojans. Wright burst onto the NTL football scene with 670 yards rushing last season, scoring 7 rushing touchdowns. He added 275 yards receiving and two touchdown receptions, threw for a touchdown, and returned kicks and punts for the Trojans as well. Wright was named an Honorable Mention NTL All-Star for his efforts. In basketball, Wright led the Trojans with a 10 point per game average, earning a 2nd-team NTL All-Star nod. On the track, Wright was a member of two District medal-winning relay teams, earning eighth-place finishes in both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays.
With two spots left on the Fab Five list, the Male Athlete of the Year still open, and two glaring omissions so far, it's only right to name our next two athletes as Co-Athletes of the Year. As teammates in two of the three sports that each plays, it's nearly impossible to distinguish one's value over the other. Each had tremendous success in their third sport as well, making it a lock that they share the honor.
We recognize both Eddie Larcom and Emmett Watson for their performances this past school year as the Male Co-Athletes of the Year, as well as our final two members of the Fab Five
As members of the Canton Cross Country team, Watson and Larcom led the Warriors to an undefeated regular-season and the NTL championship. Neither runner ever distanced himself very far from the other, choosing instead to feed off of one another and their teammates, epitomizing the "pack mentality" of running. The two juniors finished most races together, and that was the case at the NTL Coaches Invitational, where Larcom was 6th and Watson was 7th, just .02 seconds apart. They carried that same philosophy into the District IV championships, where Larcom earned a 7th place medal and Watson took the 11th spot, giving Canton the runner-up team medal and a berth in the PIAA meet. There, Watson finished in 69th place and Larcom was 70th. Along with their teammates, Canton was able to finish as the 6th best cross country team in the State. Both were rewarded with selections to the 1st team All-NTL squad. Watson and Larcom then took to the hardwoods, and as teammates, led a minor turn-around in the Canton basketball program. Again, the two were nearly identical in their stat lines, with Larcom averaging 12.5 points per game on the season to Watson's 12.3, a difference of only 5 points over the 22 game season. They led Canton to a 9-13 record and exceeded the program's win total for the past eight years. Larcom was selected to the NTL coaches' 1st team and Watson got a 2nd team nod. In the spring, Watson helped lead the Warrior baseball team to the District final game. As the team's most versatile player, Watson played wherever he was needed in the field, and batted .302 at the plate. Larcom took to the track for Canton, winning the NTL small-school 400 meter title, qualifying for Districts in both the 400 and the 200 meter sprint, and bringing home a 4th place medal from Districts in the 400, the highest individual boys' medal earned in our area.
Congratulations to ALL of our Fab Five selections, as well as to the numerous other young men who were considered for the honor, including:
Scotty Rockwell was a senior standout on the Canton baseball and football teams this season.
Zack Despreaux, a Troy senior, contributed strong performances for both the Trojan cross country and track teams.
Sophomore Garrett Wesneski excelled on the wrestling, baseball and football teams for Canton.
Clint Vermilya was a senior leader for the Troy wrestling and baseball teams.