(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
KELLY GREEN: Stuart junior field hockey star Kelly Bruvik, center, battles for the ball in action this fall. With Bruvik scoring a team-high 43 points, the Tartans went 17-1-2 as they posted the best mark in program history. Stuart's special fall was highlighted by its 2-1 win over Allentown in the Mercer County Tournament championship game, giving the Tartans their first outright MCT title.
He is not that big at 5'9 and 165 pounds and he doesn't possess blazing speed.
But when Alexz Henriques gets the football in his hands, the Princeton High junior running back turns into an unstoppable force.
Displaying an elusive style reminiscent of USC superstar Reggie Bush, Henriques left many a tackler grasping air as he put together one of the most remarkable seasons in recent years.
Henriques rushed for 1,707 yards, setting a PHS single-season record and piling up the second most in CVC history.
Along the way, Henriques produced some truly remarkable performances as he helped lead PHS to a 6-4 mark, the program's best record since the mid-1990s.
Against Hopewell Valley, Henriques rushed for 266 yards and five touchdowns on just nine carries. He piled up 226 yards and two touchdowns in PHS' loss to Monroe in the NJSIAA consolation round.
In the season finale, Henriques ripped through the WW/P-N defense for 250 yards to help PHS to a 42-0 rout of the Northern Knights.
PHS head coach Steve Everette knows that coaching a back like Henriques is a rare opportunity. "Alexz is a special kid, he does things I can't take credit for as a coach," said Everette. "We run an offense that allows him to be able to go out and make a lot of plays."
With Henriques needing 1,327 yards next season to break the career mark of 3,779 set by Trenton's Corey Brown, Everette realizes that his star running back can't rest on his laurels if he is to accomplish that record,
"Hopefully he's going to do the things he needs in the classroom and the weightroom and go out and defend his rushing title," said Everette.
For shredding CVC defenses in an unprecedented fashion, Henriques is the choice as the Town Topics' top male performer of the fall season.
Top Female Performer
Entering her junior season with the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team, Kelly Bruvik was a few inches taller and a step faster than in 2004.
The attacker showed that her stick skills had kept pace with her physical development as she fired in two goals in the Tartans' season-opening 7-1 win over South Hunterdon.
Bruvik continued to find the back of the cage all fall, scoring a team-high 43 points on 22 goals and 21 assists to help lead Stuart to a 17-1-2 record, the best in program history.
She displayed her brilliance when it counted most, firing in both Stuart goals as it beat powerful Allentown 2-1 in the Mercer County Tournament title game as the Tartans won their first-ever outright MCT title.
The humble Bruvik spread the credit as she reflected on Stuart's sweet win over Allentown. "I think we are faster this year," said Bruvik after the win over Allentown. "We had a lot of help from the back. Our transition game starts inside the circle. We've never scored on them. That was our first goal against them; it got everyone fired up."
Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, Kelly's mother and herself a record-setting scorer for the PHS field hockey team in the late 1970s, was fired up by the way her daughter came through against Allentown.
"We've been stymied by them; we lost 0-1 and 0-2 the other two times we played them here," recalled Bruvik. "Jackie [Gaudioso Radvany] and Kelly really work well together. I think the confidence that they've had all season in putting the ball in certainly paid off.
For her combination of skill and coolness under pressure, Bruvik earns the nod as the top female performer of the fall season.
Erik Lefebvre broke five minutes in the mile on the way to setting school records during his time at the Timberlane Middle School.
Joining the Princeton Day School boys' cross country team this fall, Lefebvre showed he wasn't an ordinary freshman.
The gifted Lefebvre took a place at the front of the PDS pack along with senior Jeff Moll from day one.
In the Patriot Conference Meet, Lefebvre helped the Panthers win the team title as he placed second, covering the 3.1 mile course at Gill St. Bernards in a time of 17:46. At the Prep B meet, Lefebvre finished 13th in a time of 18:31 on the hilly course at Blair.
PDS head coach Eamon Downey was taken aback by Lefebvre's rapid progress in his high school debut season.
"I thought he might step in and be top-five on the varsity," said Downey. "He's caught up with our workouts, His biomechanics are good and he is a strong runner. He has a great head for competition, nothing rattles him."
Lefebvre's rapid ascension into the elite of the local cross country scene makes him the choice as the Town Topics' top male newcomer of the fall season.
When the Stuart field hockey team played at Lawrenceville in the fall of 2004, the Tartans put pressure on the Big Red but couldn't break through as they fell 1-0.
This past fall, freshman Jaclyn Gaudioso Radvany got the Tartans on the board early as she found the back of the cage minutes into the game. In overtime, Gaudioso Radvany broke free and slammed home a Kelly Bruvik feed to give Stuart a dramatic 3-2 victory.
The precocious Gaudioso Radvany, who played with the U.S. Junior Olympic team last summer, proved that her effort against Lawrenceville was no fluke as she scored 32 points on 17 goals and 15 assists.
Gaudioso Radvany relished the move up to high school field hockey. "I love the competition," said Gaudioso Radvany. "Winning is the best thing.
For Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, having Gaudioso Radvany in the lineup helped maximize the Tartans' chances of winning. "She is completely poised with no fear," asserted Bruvik. "She is an attack player. She has a way of putting the ball on someone else's stick if she doesn't find the cage."
For stepping right into the Stuart starting lineup and emerging as a top gun from day one, Gaudioso Radvany gets the nod as the Town Topics' top female newcomer of the fall season.
When Bruce Devlin took over the Princeton Day School football program in 2003, he wasn't taking on a plum assignment.
Undermanned on an annual basis, the Panthers had become accustomed to a steady diet of losing.
In that first fall, Devlin made little inroad as PDS went 2-7. In 2004, though, the Panthers showed marked progress as they went 4-4 and posted four shutouts.
Building on that progress, the Panthers emerged as one of the major surprises in local football circles this fall. Utilizing a bruising ground attack and a stifling defense, PDS went 7-1. In so doing, the team tied the program record for wins, matching the 7-1 mark posted by the 1981 squad.
Devlin's proudest coaching feat came in mid-October when he took his club up to the Harvey School on October 18 and led it to a 34-12 victory in a make-up and then guided the the team to a 26-18 win over George four days later in the team's home finale.
In reflecting on his team's special fall, Devlin said the success was the result of diligence and togetherness.
"We practice hard and work hard," said Devlin. "The team was a like a big family. The kids got along well in the preseason working hard in the summer heat. There was great chemistry."
For being the person having the biggest role in creating that special mix, Devlin is the top coach among male teams this fall.
Coming into this fall, Joan Nuse had some juggling to do with her Hun School girls' tennis team.
Having lost Angela DiPastina, her top singles player for the previous four seasons, to graduation, Hun was looking at a seismic shift in its lineup.
The talented and mentally tough DiPastina had been the constant as the Raiders won four straight Mercer County Tournament titles as well as Prep A and Mid-Atlantic Prep League crowns over her glittering career.
Inserting Angela's younger sister, Lucy, at first singles and working in transfer Hillary Drewry at second singles and Anna Wiinberg at first doubles, Hun didn't lose its championship mettle.
At the MCT, after being tied with Stuart and Notre Dame after the first day of competition, Hun broke away from the pack to win its fifth straight team title. In the Prep A tournament, the Raiders battled hard to finish in a first-place tie with Lawrenceville to earn their third-straight Prep crown.
"I think overall as a team they did well," said Nuse, who has been coaching the Hun program for the last 17 years. "On different days, different people stepped up. We lost three seniors from last year's team. To have three straight Prep A titles and five straight county titles is awesome. It shows the consistency of the program."
Nuse's ability to draw the most out of her reshuffled team and keep it on a title track makes her the choice as the top coach among female teams this fall.
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