Football Player of the Year: Kieran Presley of Amherst Regional
Kieran Presley rushed for over 1,000 yards in nine games for Amherst Regional. Presley has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Player of the Year in football. Purchase photo reprints »
One of those seniors stood out as the driving force to the team’s season-ending four-game winning streak that assured the Hurricanes of their first above-.500 campaign since 2004.
Running back Kieran Presley capped off his season with a 175-yard performance in a 35-15 victory over Northampton on Thanksgiving. That rushing total put him at 1,009 for the season in only nine games.
“It was so great to finally have a winning season, and that final game against Northampton was a great way to end it,” Presley said. “We were able to turn it around from our freshman year until now. The coaching staff did a great job in my time here, and the mentality of the team definitely changed.”
In the team’s first season under head coach David Thompson, Amherst overcame an inconsistent start to finish 6-3 and just miss out on a Division 2 postseason appearance, which would have been the team’s first since 1999.
For Presley’s part in that turnaround, he’s been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Football Player of the Year.
“Kieran puts in the maximum effort in every sport,” said Thompson. “That talent he showed this season has been in him, and this year the spotlight was put on him and his ability came out for everyone to see. It’s almost as if he’s been waiting to let it out.”
The 1,000-yard achievement is even more impressive because Presley began the season mainly as a wide receiver in Thompson’s spread zone read offense. After 109 yards rushing in the season opener against Westfield, he barely eclipsed 100 over the next four games combined.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get there, to be honest,” Presley said. “Once the coaches moved me to running back permanently, I was really able to take off. We played a short season, so we knew every late game we had to win. So once we got the running game going with me as the primary back, we rode it and were able to put together a streak until the end of the season.”
Amherst’s results tended to revolve around Presley’s production. He had his six best rushing totals and 13 of his 14 touchdowns in the team’s six victories.
“At first, we weren’t quite sure where to use him on offense,” said Thompson. “Early in the season, we would rotate him in different packages. But once he showed that ability out of the backfield, we had no choice but to keep him there.”
His breakout game came against Chicopee on Nov. 2 when Presley rushed for 359 yards and scored four times as Amherst clobbered the Pacers 42-20. Over the final three contests, he gained 684 yards on the ground.
“Right from that (Chicopee) game, the line stepped up big, so I had to step up my game with them,” he said. “For me, playing running back is pretty similar to being a receiver. The biggest difference is that I got the ball quicker from the start of the play. So transitioning wasn’t that difficult for me. The linemen played so well all season. When they made a hole, I just had to find it and get through it as quickly as possible.”
Also a standout cornerback, Presley routinely took away the opponent’s top receiving threat. His defensive highlight was a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown against Chicopee Comp Oct. 12.
“I like playing on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Other than having to tackle, there aren’t too many differences between playing offense and defense. My natural ability helps me do pretty well in both.”
The senior is a year-round athlete for Amherst, as he stars on Thompson’s indoor track team in the winter then moves on to lacrosse in the spring season.
“I run track because of football, and the fact that Coach Thompson is the track coach as well helps that,” he said. “Track keeps me in shape for lacrosse, and lacrosse keeps me in shape for football. It’s really a year-round thing. Speed certainly is important in all three sports.”
That speed was on full display on numerous occasions throughout the latter portion of the season. Presley broke off six touchdowns of 50 yards or more, five of them rushing and one receiving.
“He has that other gear where he can break it 60, 70, 80 yards,” said Thompson. “Once he breaks one and gets to that gear, he’s gone. So our goal was to block it up to get him to that next level. Once we watched tape with him and showed him where to cut back, he showed the vision on the field.”
Presley has been contacted by UMass, Rhode Island, AIC, New Hampshire and Sacred Heart about playing football at their schools. He isn’t yet close to making a decision about the next four years.
“I’m still open to any of them, and they all came to the school to talk to me about football,” he said. “We’ll see what happens, it’s a big decision.”
As Thompson continues to build the Hurricanes program, he hopes to have players like Presley in the future.
“Kieran’s a great playmaker on both sides of the ball. I can put him anywhere on the field and know he’ll do what’s asked. He gets good grades, has tremendous character and is a great leader. He’s the total package, I wish he was coming back next year.”
Presley said, “We really wanted to make the playoffs, but there’s not much to complain about. I’m going to remember my senior season the most, it was the best season I’ve ever had playing sports. I want to thank my coaches and especially my teammates for making this year so fun.”
Shane Andrews, senior, Easthampton
Will Barstow, senior, Amherst Regional
Anthony Bullough, senior, South Hadley
Lucius Burrell, sophomore, Easthampton
Justin Carey, senior, Amherst Regional
Morgan Churchill, senior, Easthampton
Alex Clair, senior, Belchertown
Charlie Clark, senior, Amherst Regional
Max Dowd, senior, South Hadley
T.J. Fitzell, junior, South Hadley
Brandon Garcia, senior, Northampton
John Grimaldi, junior, Northampton
Ian Hanrahan, senior, South Hadley
Tony Pellerin, senior, Belchertown
Kieran Presley, senior, Amherst Regional
RJ Ramsden, senior, Northampton
James Ryan, senior, Belchertown
Bryan Shippee senior, South Hadley
Charlie Tirrell, senior, Frontier Regional
Harrison Tremaine, senior, Northampton
Frankie Weir, senior, Easthampton
Charlie Allard, junior, South Hadley
Steve Boudreau, junior, Belchertown
Jake Bradway, sophomore, Belchertown
Isaiah Davis-Toledo, senior, Amherst Regional
Luke Ferone, junior, Amherst Regional
Jared Fydenkevez, senior, Frontier
Sam Garcia, senior, Easthampton
Colton Garrelli, junior, Easthampton
Nick Leduc, junior, Belchertown
Danny Mam, junior, Northampton
Dan McCarthy, junior, Northampton
Liam Murphy, senior, South Hadley
Matt Popowich, senior, Belchertown
Brandon Rivera, sophomore, Amherst Regional
Sean Rondeau, senior, South Hadley
Andrew Ruszczyk, junior, Northampton
Taj Torres, sophomore, Amherst Regional
Riley Villeneuve, sophomore, South Hadley
Tyler Walsh, senior, Northampton
Bobby Bishop, senior, South Hadley
Austin Cunningham, senior, Amherst Regional
Max Doctor, sophomore, Amherst Regional
Brandon Gorman, senior, South Hadley
Josh Hooper, junior, South Hadley
David Konowitch, senior, Northampton
Jim Kusnierz, sophomore, Belchertown
Tyler LaBombard, junior, South Hadley
Jake LaFleche, senior, Belchertown
Hunter Leveille, freshman, Easthampton
Dan Lee, junior, Amherst Regional
Colin Morley, senior, South Hadley
Alec Perrone, sophomore, Easthampton
Joe Sarno, senior, Belchertown
Chris Toomey, senior, Frontier Regional
Shawn Wackerbarth, junior, Northampton