Photograph by Don Schill
The Colonial Conference announced the 2015 Patriot League All Conference Selections.
Garnets who were recognized:
First Team All Conference
Nick Smith-Offense (Wide Reciever)
Billy Ray-Offense (Lineman)
Jake Barr-Defense (Defensive End)
Second Team All Conference
Roman Massi-Offense (Running Back)
South Jersey All Academic Team Selection
Jake Barr ( TE/DE)
Garnets' Smith: Athlete for all seasons
By Marc Narducci
Because of increased emphasis on specialization, the three-sport athlete keeps diminishing in high school sports.
And that is what makes Haddon Heights senior Nick Smith stand out even more. Not only is he a three-sport athlete, but he's a former four-sport participant.
Smith will open the football season Saturday against Gateway in a Colonial Conference Patriot Division matchup.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Smith is one of the most versatile players in South Jersey. And he's also pretty dynamic with the ball in his hands.
"We expect a lot from him," Haddon Heights coach Ralph Schiavo said.
That's because last year the Garnets received a lot.
In earning first-team all-conference honors as a receiver, Smith had 46 receptions for 676 yards and six touchdowns. As a safety he recorded 50 tackles and three interceptions. For good measure, he averaged 33.8 yards per punt.
Not bad for a former soccer player.
As a freshman, Smith opted to play soccer and saw considerable varsity time on a Haddon Heights team that won the Group 1 state title.
"It was definitely a great experience to win a state title and I had a lot of fun with the team," Smith said.
Yet there remained a void. Smith played some organized football growing up and yearned to return to the sport. So he went out for the football team as a sophomore, and was primarily a JV player.
Smith admits it wasn't an easy decision to switch sports.
"It was a tough choice, especially after winning a state championship, but I think I made the right choice," Smith said.
He would get no argument from Schiavo.
"Last year Nick kind of came into his own," Schiavo said. "He was raw and said he played a little football before high school but it took nearly a year and a half for him to get his feet under him."
Smith has been a varsity basketball player since his freshman year. He also participates in track, and last season and won the South Jersey Group 1 title in the long jump. Smith won with a leap of 22-feet, 3.25 inches.
For good measure he finished third in the high jump at an even 6-feet.
The next week, Smith placed third in the state Group 1 meet in the long jump and eighth in the high jump.
Don't tell him that concentrating on just one sport is the best route to go.
"I think all people should pick to multiple sports, just because you might pick up something from a sport that you can bring back," he said.
He gave track as an example. Besides the jumps, he also runs the 100 and 400 meters.
"I do that to try to get me faster and build up my speed for playing wide receiver and it has really helped," he said.
It also helps him develop stamina, which Smith will need plenty of this season. He also could be on the kick and punt return teams. And in practice he has worked as an emergency quarterback.
Still, nothing excites Smith more than doing his specialty.
"There is no better feeling than catching a ball over the middle and having nobody catch you as you run toward the end zone," said Smith, who indicated he'd like to continue playing football in college. "There is nothing like feeling so free."
It's a feeling he experienced countless times last season and is prepared to do so again in the favorite of his four sports.
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