This is the 11th edition of our Five To Watch series. We thank The Mattioli Law Firm for returning as our title sponsor for Five To Watch. There are 33 teams in the WVC and LFC so it’s impossible to recognize every single player who might be deserving. The players we do list are some of the best at their position or have an interesting role coming up in 2022 for their team. Players will be recognized at only one position, even if they are capable two-way players. For players who don’t make the list, we hope you strive to make our lists at the end of the season because they are the ones that really count.
Here are the linebackers:
Luke Janizewski, Sr. – Western Wayne
Height: 6-0 Weight 205
Janiszewski was a major factor on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats, stepping into the roles of his older brother who had graduated. His season ended prematurely because of an injury, but he should be back to 100% for 2022. Before he went down, he was Western Wayne’s leading tackler with 46 tackles, 6 tackles-for-loss, 3 sacks and a forced fumble in 5+ games. He was also the leading rusher for the ‘Cats with 880 yards and 9 touchdowns. Janiszewski was an LFC Division II First Team linebacker and Honorable Mention running back in 2021.
Spencer Kishbaugh, Sr. – Berwick
Height: 6-3 Weight 185
Kishbaugh had a break-out season on another very good Berwick defense. He was the leading tackler for the ‘Dawgs with 94 tackles, 25 tackles-for-loss, 9 sacks and 3 picks.Kishbaugh also played tight end on offense and was an adequate blocker. He will play his colleg football at Division I FBS Kent State. Kishbaugh was a District 2 All-Star linebacker, WVC 4A Defense Player of the Year and First Team linebacker last season. He also received all-state honors.
Ty LaFave, Jr. – North Pocono
Height: 6-1 Weight 225
LaFave helped North Pocono to a division title and was the leading tackler for the Trojans that only gave up 88 points in the regular season. The middle linebacker moves good in space and gets to the football with excellent balance and form. He truly is a power linebacker. On offense, he had 14 receptions for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns. LaFave was a District 2 All-Star linebacker, an LFC Division I First Team linebacker and Honorable Mention tight end in 2021.
Ryan Matyas, Sr. – Hazleton Area
Height: 5-10 Weight 195
The Cougars defense was overshadowed by its high-powered offense, but it ended up helping them win games last season and Matyas was the leader of the unit. He had 79 tackles, 6 tackles-for-loss, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions for Hazleton. He also contributed on offense as a fullback with 20 carries for 124 yards and 12 receptions as well. Matyas was a District 2 All-Star Linebacker, WVC 6A/5A Defense Player of the Year and First Team linebacker last season.
Josh Spindler, Sr. – Old Forge
Height: 5-11 Weight 195
The Blue Devils defense was one of the best in the area in 2021 and Spindler was right in the middle of it. He led Old Forge with 13 tackles-for-loss and added two sacks, two interception and a forced fumble. On offense, Spindler ran for 581 yards and is the returning leading rusher for the Devils. He also had 15 receptions and 9 total touchdowns. Spindler was named an LFC Division IV First Team linebacker and Honorable Mention running back last season.
A.J. Kucharski, Sr. – Valley View
Height: 6-1 Weight 180
Kucharski started the season as a special teams player but worke his way into the regular rotation at linebacker by the postseason for the district champion Cougars. Valley View used him as hybrid on both sides of the ball, rushing the QB and dropping in coverage on defense and playing tight end and quarterback on offense. He caught a touchdown pass in the state playoff game for the Cougars.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Javon Borger, Sr. – Lake-Lehman
Nick DonVito, Jr. – Dunmore – Highlights | Twitter
Cole Kakalecik, Sr. – Crestwood – Highlights | Twitter
Jeffrey Kozerski, Sr. – Holy Redeemer – Highlights | Twitter
Jayden Winters, Sr. – Mid Valley