Hornell's Ranger named All-State, Haverling’s AJ Brotz named Class Co-Player of the Year

Standouts at Hornell and Haverling earn All-State football honors. Their coaches explain what made their seasons special

Sean Curran
The Evening Tribune

BATH – After one of the most incredible two-sport campaigns Section V has ever seen, AJ Brotz was honored in a big way last week when he was named the NYS Football Class C Co-Player of the year by the New York State Sports Writers Association.

When analyzing his career at Haverling High School, it quickly becomes apparent that Brotz is probably one of the best athletes to ever play in Section V, as he dominated both the football field and the soccer field during his junior and senior seasons as a Ram.

This season, however, was his masterpiece as he led Haverling football to a Section V Championship appearance and the soccer team to a NYS Championship appearance. On the soccer field, Brotz was one of the best goalies in the state, allowing just nine goals to be scored all season long, good for a goals allowed average of just .45.

“As we all know, AJ was a dual sport participant this fall. He was the starting goalie for the Haverling soccer team, whose only loss this entire season was to Skaneatles in the state championship game. The high level of success on the football and soccer fields in the same season is beyond comprehensible. He is an iron man as well, having never missed a varsity game due to being hurt,” said Haverling Head Coach Matthew Ford.

On the football field, he was everything that the Rams needed. He played running back and wide receiver on offense, stepped into the quarterback role whenever he was needed, and then would flip sides and become the best defensive back in Section V.

AJ Brotz, 2021 All-Greater Rochester Football Team

“I believe what stands out most about AJ is his versatility. On offense he played wide receiver, running back, and was also our backup quarterback. He started QB block 2 versus Livonia when our starter Justin Yehl was out with an injury. Mostly going from a wildcat formation, he amassed 225 yds and three touchdowns on 20 carries against a tough Livonia defense. Knowing we could rely on him as a backup helped us coaches sleep at night. On defense, AJ was a lock down safety. He didn’t allow one touchdown thrown over his head all season, and I don’t even think he allowed a TD thrown his way his whole career come to think of it,” said Ford. “He could do anything the team needed him to do. AJ is all about the team.”

But Brotz was not the only Ram honored for his stellar performance on the field. Haverling’s Diallo Wallace was recognized for his dominating season when he was named to the Second Team Offense as an offensive lineman. But Ford was quick to point out that he was just as impressive on the defensive side of the ball as a virtually unblockable defensive tackle.

“In my opinion, and it’s a bold state for sure, Diallo Wallace is one of the best lineman in the state at any classification. At 6-foot, 4-inches, Diallo developed into an explosive force on both sides of the football. On the offensive line, he played tackle, and we knew we could always run off of him and his pass protection was just as impressive. Defensively, Diallo was virtually unstoppable one-on-one. Teams were forced to double and triple team him,” said Ford. “Diallo also started at defensive tackle in the Eddie Meath game and caught the attention of a lot of college coaches.”

While the on-field accolades are impressive, Ford noted that the thing that separates these young men is how they conduct themselves away from athletics as upstanding citizens in the Bath community.

“AJ and Diallo are two great young men. Off the field, they are well-liked by their peers, teachers and community. AJ and Diallo never allow their accolades to get into their heads. They are equally humble young men who simply love to play football. They are courteous to their teachers and adults in the community,” said Ford. “To put it simply, they’re just good citizens.”

Hornell's Ranger didn't have 'a single bad snap'

Right down Route 17, another player was named to the All-State team in Hornell’s Bobby Ranger, who was picked as a third-team member of the offensive line unit. Ranger is a junior center on Hornell who plays a significant role in basically everything HHS tries to do, and Ranger does his job very well on every single play.

“As a center, Bobby is one of the most important positions on the field for us, especially since we were exclusively in shotgun formation this year. I don't recall a single bad snap in a game, which is incredible. He plays with an aggressive style that is necessary for an offensive lineman, and really enjoys the physical aspect of the game. It also helps that he's pretty athletic for a big man, and this comes from playing other sports like wrestling, baseball, and hockey,” said HHS Coach Erik Werner.

As the season progressed, it quickly became clear that Ranger was one of the most important and respected players on the football field. And as a result, he was thrust into a leadership position. By the end of the year, Ranger took on the role very well, and Werner is excited to see how this award motivates him in the offseason to continue to grow both on and off the field.

“As the season progressed, Bobby became more of a leader because he was playing at a high level.  His teammates looked to him to lead the charge, and I think Bobby started to realize how important setting a good example was. I'm looking forward to seeing how he matures as a leader this offseason,” said Werner.

For both Hornell and Haverling, having any player be named to an All-State team is a huge honor, and both coaches stated that this wasn’t just a great thing for the players themselves, but for the entire program moving forward.

“Any time one of your players is recognized for their level of play it gives the other players in the program something to strive for. Offensive line is a thankless job, but to be recognized as one of the best in the state is a nice feather in his cap. I hope Bobby sees this award as a challenge to continue to improve, and strive for even better accolades next season,” said Werner.

“We always tell our players to make plays, to make a lifetime of memories. To have two of our players make the All-State team, one being named the Player of the Year, it makes the whole program from youth all the way up to varsity proud. What a memory for everyone,” said Ford. “This recognition makes the entire Bath community proud. I’m blessed to be able to be a part of it. Lucky me.”