On the 60-year anniversary of Ernie Davis’ Heisman Trophy triumph, four high school football players added their names to the list of athletes forever connected to the Elmira legend.
Seniors Noah Bennett of Thomas A. Edison, Riley Loomis of Horseheads, Tyler Marks of Elmira High School and Tyler Richards of Elmira Notre Dame were announced Saturday afternoon as nominees for the Ernie Davis Award, presented annually since 1963 to a Chemung County player based on performance and character.
The ceremony took place at Center Court at Arnot Mall as youngsters gave their Christmas wishes to Santa Claus nearby.
“This is a special day, a special moment for four young men, but really for the Southern Tier,” said Horseheads Athletic Director Charles DeTaeye, coordinator of the award.
Winner to be announced at luncheon
The winner of the Ernie Davis Award will be announced Dec. 16 during the Elmira Kiwanis Club luncheon at the Holiday Inn in Elmira. Voting of coaches and media members will decide the winner.
Players were nominated by their coaches, with each recognized in letters for academics, character and the significant impact they had on their teams.
This will mark the second presentation of the award this year. Horseheads’ Ryan Scott won it in the spring after the 2020 football season was moved back because of the pandemic.
Davis was a star football player at Elmira Free Academy and Syracuse University who died of leukemia in 1963 at the age of 23. He won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player in 1961.
His bravery while facing death and the manner in which he lived have led him to remain an influential figure in Elmira, Syracuse and elsewhere.
More on the nominees
Noah Bennett: He played running back and cornerback for Edison and led the team with 604 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 89 carries (6.8 yards per carry). He added six pass completions for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Bennett had 108 tackles and three interceptions.
“It’s a great feeling, one of the best feelings in the world,” he said of being nominated. “I can’t put it into words.
Riley Loomis: Loomis, a running back and safety, rushed for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns on 181 carries this season for Horseheads, which won a division title and advanced to the Section 4 Class A final. He was second on the team with 59 tackles, along with one interception. Loomis missed the second half of the sectional final against Union-Endicott with a sprained collarbone suffered in the opening quarter.
“I’ve seen it in the past with Horseheads players and it’s an honor to be up for the award,” he said.
Loomis added of being part of some of Horseheads’ top teams over the last 20 years: “We all worked hard as a group of kids and definitely was a special group my four years with everybody and it was fun getting to know everyone and work hard every day.”
Tyler Marks: Marks was sidelined for the final four games but made a significant impact at fullback, wingback and linebacker.
“It feels great,” he said of the nomination. “It’s one of the best things a high school football player can do around here. It’s an honor to be nominated.”
Marks played four seasons of varsity football for Elmira, whose home games were played at Ernie Davis Academy, which has a statue of Davis near its entrance. Marks said Davis’ presence carries a great deal of weight in the school district.
“It sets a standard for every one of us to try to not live up to the name, but play for him in a way,” Marks said.
Tyler Richards: Mike Johnston Sr., Notre Dame’s head coach, wrote of Richards in his nomination letter: “Tyler Richards possesses the same qualities that Ernie possessed. Tyler’s high standards of performance on the field and off the field reflect the finest qualities of competition, sportsmanship and scholarship.”
Richards played receiver, linebacker and defensive end. He is a three-sport athlete and has been class president for the last three years.
“It’s a great honor to represent my school, my team and to be able to embody who Ernie Davis was – his character, him playing on and off the field, how he was as a person,” Richards said.
Ernie Davis Award winners
1963: Ray Fratarcangelo, Elmira Free Academy
1964: Mike Malone, Elmira Notre Dame
1965: Jack Leonard, Notre Dame
1966: Joel Ramich, Notre Dame
1967: Charley Collins, Elmira Southside
1968: Dana Carpenter, EFA
1969: Jim Savino, Southside
1970: Mark Riopko, Thomas A. Edison
1971: Sam Crumpton, Southside
1972: Jim Greene, EFA
1973: A.J. Nassar, Notre Dame
1974: Jamie Krum, Southside
1975: Brad Clark, Horseheads
1976: George Swan, EFA; and Matt Riordan, Notre Dame
1977: Steve Ramich, Notre Dame
1978: Bruce Stayments, EFA
1979: Marty Chalk, EFA; and Eric Rice, Edison
1980: Blaine Fowler, EFA
1981: Tony Prettyman, EFA
1982: Pete Curkendall, Southside
1983: Pete Curkendall, Southside
1984: Dan Callahan, Southside
1985: Jim Polcyn, Notre Dame
1986: Joe Paradis, Edison
1987: Bob Grosvenor, Notre Dame
1988: Bert Conklin, Horseheads
1989: Kevin Murphy, EFA
1990: Geoff Woodworth, Notre Dame
1991: D’Andre Fulmer, EFA
1992: John Maio, Notre Dame
1993: Orlando Smith, EFA
1994: Joel Stephens, Notre Dame
1995: Josh Trexler, EFA
1996: Brad Polk, Notre Dame
1997: Nate Watkins, Horseheads
1998: Matt Tunison, Horseheads; Chris Mallette, Edison
1999: Cory Kilpatrick, Notre Dame
2000: Cory Kilpatrick, Notre Dame
2001: Pat Manuel, Notre Dame
2002: Paul Harnas, Edison
2003: Joel Coon-Ribble, Elmira
2004: Matt Manganaro, Horseheads
2005: Pat Schweiger, Edison; Zack Manuel, Notre Dame
2006: Luke Herrington, Horseheads
2007: Mike Ficarro, Southside
2008: Matt Buice, Notre Dame
2009: Terrell Brown, EFA
2010: Jordan Shay, Southside
2011: Trevor Maycumber, Elmira
2012: Tom Agan, Notre Dame; Glen Watson, Horseheads; Jerry McPeak, Elmira
2013: Eli Thomas, Elmira
2014: Jerry McPeak, Elmira
2015: Allaah Sessions, Elmira
2016: Derrick Stark, Notre Dame
2017: Dan Fedor, Elmira
2018: Maurice Rankins Jr., Horseheads
2019: Gavin Elston, Horseheads
2021 spring: Ryan Scott, Horseheads