Ottawa's Jake Ovanic (57) finished the season with 101 tackles, including eight for a loss and 2 1/2 quarterback sacks.
Ottawa's Jake Ovanic (57) finished the season with 101 tackles, including eight for a loss and 2 1/2 quarterback sacks. — For The Times | Katy Arnold

Four playoff teams including a pair of state semifinalists (Fieldcrest in Class 2A, Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland in the I8FA) highlighted the 2019 football season in the area, and these players highlighted the action.

The Times Sports staff is proud to present The Times 2019 All-Area Football Team:

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FIRST TEAM

Preston Aukland, FB/LB

Marquette, Sr.

An imposing All-Northeastern Athletic Conference linebacker, Aukland was also a load at fullback with 670 yards and 10 touchdowns on a team-leading 112 carries.

Caleb Boucher, OL/DL

Marquette, Sr.

The 6-3, 290-pound Boucher was a force for the Crusaders' offensive line, earning First Team All-NAC honors.

Kenton Castrejon, RB/LB/DL

Fieldcrest, Sr.

The workhorse, 210-pound bruising tailback finished with 246 carries for 1,570 yards and 24 touchdowns, also adding 10 receptions for 163 yards and a score.

Luke Couch, RB/DB

Marquette, Jr.

Couch developed into playoff-qualifier Marquette's most dangerous weapon, hauling in 14 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns, carrying the pigskin 97 times for 915 yards and 10 more scores and returning two punts for TDs as well.

Jaxon Cusac-McKay, WR/RB/DB

Fieldcrest, Jr.

A threat to score on receptions, handoffs, interceptions or kick returns, the ultra-athletic Cusac-McKay finished with 59 receptions for 792 yards and 10 TDs, 387 yards and six touchdowns rushing, and six INTs.

Mason Faulk, OL/DL

Fieldcrest, Sr.

The Times 2019 Football Player of the Year was simply a dominant force for the Class 2A state semifinalists. The 6-2, 280-pound lineman was the cornerstone of the area's best offensive line and defensively finished with a team-leading 81 tackles (49 solo).

Cole Frieders, OL/DL

Sandwich, Sr.

The 5-11, 240-pound center for the Indians' run-first attack, Frieders earned All-Interstate Eight Conference honors for his play.

Dameon Hunter, OL/DL

FCW, Sr.

Offensive game-schemers in the Illinois 8-Man Football Association learned pretty quickly to keep an eye on Hunter, who finished the season with just under 60 tackles including a whopping 18 TFLs.

Austin Leiteritz, OL/DL

Marquette, Sr.

A disruptive force for the tough Marquette defense, the 6-0, 210-pound Leiteritz earned First Team All-NAC honors on that side of the ball.

Nic Lidinsky, RB/DB

Sandwich, Sr.

The workhorse Lidinsky carried the ball 192 times for the Indians, racking up 1,098 yards and 11 touchdowns — six of those in a single game against Ottawa. He also recorded 33 tackles and an INT.

Ryan McCauley, RB/LB

Seneca, Jr.

A robust 7.5-yard-per-carry average showed McCauley's abilities, as the Fighting Irish back ran for 836 yards and nine touchdowns, also adding a team-high eight receptions for 171 yards and three scores. Defensively, he recorded 27 tackles and an INT.

Vic Mullen, TE/DL

Marquette, Jr.

While the wing-T offense doesn't ask its tight ends to do a lot of receiving work, the 6-6 Mullen stood out not only for his blocking but also for his eight catches for 175 yards and a team-leading four receiving touchdowns.

Jackson Murphy, RB/LB/K/P

Sandwich, Sr.

Murphy was all over the field for the Indians in 2019, as the All-I-8 performer rushed for 300 yards and four TDs, had 89 yards receiving with two TDs, kicked and punted, and finished the fall with a team-high 56 tackles and two interceptions.

Trever Murphy, RB/WR/DB

Streator, Jr.

Murphy was quite simply a top-notch playmaker for the Bulldogs, finishing leading the squad in rushes (60), rushing yards (179), rushing TDs (2), receptions (37), receiving yards (700) and receiving TDs (8) in addition to adding a kick return TD and an INT.

Jake Ovanic, OL/DL/LB

Ottawa, Sr.

The Pirates' leader in tackles was unstoppable this past season, racking up 111 total (45 solo) including 2 1/2 quarterback sacks and eight TFLs, in addition to his work on the offensive line.

Tavarre Phifer, RB/DB

FCW, Sr.

Phifer was absolutely electric for Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland, finishing the season rushing for 1,457 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding TDs both in the defensive and return games.

Gavin Robertson, RB/DL

Seneca, Jr.

Robertson rushed for 104 yards, but it was his work on the defensive side — including 39 total tackles with 11 going for losses and three quarterback sacks — that made the most impact.

Carter Spears, OL/LB

Streator, Sr.

Spears racked up 110 tackles over nine games for the Bulldogs — 56 of those solo — including seven tackles for loss and three quarterback sacks in earning All-ICE honors.

Travis Sunken, OL/LB

Fieldcrest, Jr.

Sunken was the starting right tackle for the Knights' powerful offensive line, while on defense the 220-pound linebacker notched 70 tackles.

John Thompson, OL/DL

Marquette, Sr.

Thompson capped off his career with another all-conference campaign, as the 6-4, 250-pounder was an anchor for the Cru.

Trey Thorsen, TE/DL

Seneca, Sr.

Thorsen was a cornerstone of the playoff-qualifying Fighting Irish's offensive line, while on defense he recorded 11 tackles for loss, earning the 6-2, 200-pounder All-Sangamon Valley Conference honors.

Jimmy Tredway, QB

Streator, Sr.

The strong-armed, 6-3 Tredway had a stellar season throwing the football, finishing with 99 completions for 1,320 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had one rushing TD.

Kyle Uhl, OL/RB/DL

FCW, Jr.

Uhl was a force on the lines for the I8FA state semifinalist, and was also an effective short-distance back — especially on two-point conversions — on his way to an all-state campaign.

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SECOND TEAM

Matt Ahearn, OL/DL

Ottawa, Jr.

A cornerstone along with Ovanic on the Pirates' offensive line, Ahearn defensively finished with 26 tackles including two for loss.

Blake Bratt, TE/DL

Fieldcrest, Sr.

Bratt was primarily a blocker on offense, hauling in two receptions for 47 yards, and defensively recorded 59 tackles including eight solos in the opening round of the playoffs.

Max Coldwate, OL/DL

Sandwich, Jr.

The 5-10, 220-pound Coldwate was a force for the Sandwich O-line, earning I-8 Honorable Mention.

James Coleman, RB/DB

Sandwich, Jr.

Coleman finished the 2019 season with 770 yards and four touchdowns rushing, caught 40 yards worth of passes for another TD and led the team in kickoff-return average at 18.8 per return.

Tisen Covington, WR/DB

Fieldcrest, Sr.

Covington brought in 38 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns, and defensively had one INT.

Cedric Fairrow, RB/DB

Ottawa, So.

Fairrow recorded 53 tackles and added a fumble recovery and interception for the Ottawa defense, while on offense accumulating 244 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns.

Brett Galletti, QB

Ottawa, Jr.

Galletti finished 2019 with 65 completions for 767 yards and seven touchdowns, earning All-Interstate Eight Honorable Mention.

Tyler Harms, WR/DL

FCW, Sr.

Harms was a tall and dependable target for FCW, closing out the season with 48 receptions for 676 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Jordan Hochecker, OL/LB

Fieldcrest, Jr.

Another piece of the Knights' not-so-secret weapon, their O-line, Hochecker defensively tallied 54 tackles with two fumble recoveries and an interception.

Matt Lorton, QB/DB

Fieldcrest, Sr.

The Knights' primary signal-caller, Lorton completed 98 of his 174 pass attempts for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns, also rushing for three TDs.

Riley McCurdy, RD/DB

Streator, Sr.

The Bulldogs senior recorded 72 total tackles (31 solo) and had 11 receptions for 78 yards for the Bulldogs in 2019.

Myles Mitchell, RB/LB

Seneca, Sr.

Mitchell rushed for 497 yards and five touchdowns, while defensively the senior recorded 36 tackles and intercepted a pair of passes.

Briar Naggs, WR/DB

Ottawa, Jr.

The speedy Naggs was Honorable Mention All-Interstate Eight Conference after hauling in a team-best 19 receptions for 338 yards and four TDs — including an 81-yarder.

Haydn Rathbun, OL/LB

Streator, Sr.

Rathbun was a force for the 2019 Bulldogs, especially on defense where the 5-10, 180-pounder recorded 58 tackles including three quarterback sacks and five TFLs.

Edgar Reyes, OL/DL

Seneca, Sr.

A quarterback sack, a pass defensed and two fumble recoveries along with stellar work on the O-line made Reyes stand out in 2019.

Shane Reynolds, RB/DB/LB

Marquette, Jr.

Reynolds was a star on the defensive side for the Crusaders, but contributed offensively too, to the tune of 539 total yards and nine touchdowns.

Keegan Robbins, WR/DB

Fieldcrest, Sr.

Robbins rushed for 185 yards and five touchdowns, added 10 receptions for 151 yards and two scores, and recorded 51 total tackles while intercepting five passes.

Jay Scott, QB/LB/K

Marquette, Sr.

Marquette's quarterback completed 37 of 69 pass attempts for 618 yards and eight touchdowns, also booting through 32 PATs.

Kyler Sprowls, OL/DL

Ottawa, Sr.

Sprowls notched four quarterback sacks and four tackles for loss this past season, finishing with 33 total tackles.

TJ Van Ness, TE/DB

Seneca, Sr.

Van Ness recorded 29 tackles and intercepted three passes for the Irish, while on offense he racked up 101 yards receiving and caught two two-point conversions.

Maveric Varland, OL/DL

Seneca, Jr.

The 6-1, 190-pound Varland was a standout offensive lineman for the rush-first Irish, and defensively recorded 37 tackles (four TFLs).

Braden Wallace, QB/DB

FCW, Sr.

The Falcons' senior signal-caller, Wallace finished completing 78 of 146 passes for 1,021 yards and a dozen touchdowns.

William Weber, RB/LB

FCW, So.

Weber contributed on offense, but it was his team-leading 79 tackles which earned his spot on our All-Area Team.