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THE SPORTS REPORTS: ATHENS' DAVIDSON NAMED 2023-24 'BOYS NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR;" ONE TIOGA COUNTY ATHLETE MAKES THE LIST (2024-07-08)

The Sports Reports
Athens’ Connor Davidson started, and excelled, in three varsity sports — football, wrestling, and baseball — as a freshman. He is The Sports Reports’ 2023-24 All-Region “Boys Newcomer of the Year.”

In the fall on the gridiron, Davidson was a dual-threat QB for the Wildcats on offense, and a difference-maker on defense.

Davidson completed 42.1 percent (72 of 171) of his passes for 841 yards, and 11 TDs, with six interceptions. He rushed for 512 yards, and four TDs on 143 carries. He also had two receptions for 17 yards.

Defensively, he led the Wildcats with 61 tackles, including 26 solo stops, and two tackles-for-loss.

On the mats, Davidson posted a 28-13 record, wrestling at 152 and 160 pounds — not easy weight classes for freshmen. He finished second at the North Section Tournament.

On the diamond, Davidson hit .300 (21 hits in 70 ABs) with three doubles, nine RBI, 17 runs scored, and four stolen bases. He also walked 11 times and had a .390 on-base percentage.

(NOTE: This award is designed to honor student-athletes who participate in multiple sports, but on a rare occasion a one-sport athlete may make the list.)

The 2023-24 Baker’s Dozen “Boys Newcomers of the Year:
Connor Davidson, freshman, Athens:
See above.

Graham Wanck, freshman, Athens: Wanck made an immediate impact for the Wildcats, qualifying for States in the fall, and narrowly missing out in the spring.

In the cross-country postseason, he finish third at the NTL Coaches Invite, and 13th at District 4 Championships, before capping off the season with a 53rd-place finish at the PIAA Championships.

This spring, Wanck finished second in 1,600 and in the 3,200 at the NTL Championships, and was on the fourth-place 3,200-meter relay team. At the District 4, Class 3A Championships, Wanck finished third in the 3,200-meter run in a school-record time of 9:38.42 — eclipsing the previous mark by more than 19 seconds, and his previous-best time by more than 20 seconds. He missed out on States in 3A, but would have easily qualified in 2A. He was ninth in the 1,600 at Districts, and ran on the seventh-place 3,200 relay.

Luke Kreger, sophomore, NP-Mansfield / NP-Liberty: Kreger quickly became a favorite target of veteran quarterback Karson Dominick and helped the North Penn-Mansfield Panthers to a District 4 playoff appearance by hauling in 28 receptions for 539 yards and seven touchdowns.

In the winter, Kreger came off the bench for the 12-12 North Penn-Liberty Mounties and averaging 8.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. This spring, Kreger was a consistent point-winner for the NP-Mansfield track & field team, and won a District 4 medal with a fourth-place finish in the high jump.

Reed Palmer, freshman, Troy: Palmer was a major contributor for the Trojan wrestling squad, then was a key cog on Troy’s first NTL championship baseball team in more than 20 years.

This spring, Palmer hit .419 in his first varsity season with 27 RBI, 23 runs scored, and 12 doubles. On the mound, he threw 23 2/3 innings with a 2.07 ERA.

On the mats this winter,  Palmer was 21-17 on the season at 215 pounds. He placed third at the North Section Tournament, and eighth at the District 4 Championships.

Brendan Cooke, freshman, Athens: Cooke made a big impact for the Wildcats on the diamond, and the mat, and showed he will be a major contributor on the gridiron the next few years.

This spring, Cooke led the Wildcats in hitting, and was one of three to earn Gold Gloves on the All-Valley team. He hit .412 (21 hits in 51 ABs) with three doubles, one triple, one home run, 10 RBI, eight runs scored, and one steal. He walked 11 times, was hit by pitches twice, and had a .531 on-base percentage, to go along with a .580 slugging percentage for 1.110 OPS.

On the mats, Cooke posted a 17-15 record in a very tough 139-pound weight class. He finished fourth at the North Section Tournament.

On the gridiron, Cooke had 16 tackles, including seven solo stops, in eight games. He also had one interception, and one pass break-up.

Eli Hicks, freshman, Athens:
Hicks narrowly missed out on a trip to States on the links, then made it to States in a swim relay this winter.

In the fall, Hicks finished fourth in the NTL with an 82.4 scoring average in his first varsity season on the links. He finished third at the District 4, Class 3A Championships, losing out in a playoff to his teammate Evan Cooper for the final spot at States.

During the winter season, Hicks swam on the District 4 gold-medal 400 free relay team, and also on the second-place 200 medley relay. He was eighth in the 100 free, and ninth in the 50 free at Districts.

Ben Shaw, freshman, Waverly:
Shaw shined on defense for the state champion Wolverine football team, and was a big part of the baseball’s Section IV championship game appearance.

A high-energy sideline-to-sideline defender at inside linebacker, Shaw led the Wolverines with 101 tackles, including 38 solo stops. He also had three fumble recoveries. Offensively, Shaw completed 10 of 13 passes for 106 yards, and three TDs, and rushed 12 times for 53 yards.

This spring, Shaw, a very good defensive catcher, hit .214 (12 hits in 56 ABs), but walked 18 times and was hit by seven pitches for a .457 on-base percentage. He had two doubles, 11 RBI, 12 runs scored, and three stolen bases.

Luke Rothermel, Wellsboro, sophomore: Rothermel was a major contributor for the Hornets on the hardwoods, and the tennis courts.

Rothermel averaged 8.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.7 steals as a starter for the Hornets, and scored career-high 16 points in a Wellsboro win over Jersey Shore.

He went 9-3 at No. 2 Singles for the NTL champion Hornets tennis team and also won a first-round match at doubles’ districts.

Danny Smith, freshman, Cowanesque Valley / Williamson: On the links in the fall, Smith finished with the second-lowest average (94.63) for Cowanesque Valley and was 19th in the NTL.

This spring, Smith hit .424 with a .525 on-base percentage He had 14 hits, 11 runs scored and five doubles for the Williamson baseball team.

Dave Hess, freshman, Cowanesque Valley: On the gridiron, Hess gained more 800 all-purpose yards and scored eight touchdowns in his inaugural season, He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and gained 550 yards on the ground with five TDs and had 13 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

This spring, Hess was 3-1 with a 3.89 ERA over 21 innings pitched with 22 strikeouts.

Marek Mascho, sophomore Wellsboro: Already established as a baseball standout, Mascho pulled double-duty in the Fall, playing golf and football.

In six golf matches for the Hornets, Mascho had an average of 107 and a low-round of 91. On the gridiron, he completed 39 of 88 passes for 390 yards, rushed for 66 yards rushing, and added 80 receiving yards and three TDs.

This winter, he scored 4 points per game for the Hornets’ basketball team, adding 36 rebounds, 33 assists and 17 steals.

David Seeling, sophomore, Wellsboro: A starting midfielder for the NTL champion Hornets’ soccer team, he scored one goal and doles out four assists.

This spring, Seeling was third in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles and sixth in the high jump at the NTL Championships.

Michael Knefley, freshman, North Penn-Mansfield:
Knefley finished fourth at the NTL Coaches Cross Country Invite, and was 17th at the District 4 Championships — missing out on States by one spot.

This spring, Knefley earned a pair of third-place finishes at the NTL Championships — in the 1600-meter and the 3200-meter runs. He narrowly missed the podium in the 1600 at Districts.

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