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Cape Ann Youth Football


Bob Gnoza was the former Commissioner of the Cape Ann Youth Football League and served more than 20 years as a coach, board member, and President of Masconomet Youth Football.  Bob was one of the most progressive CAYFL Commissioners in the league's history, actively looking to expand the league and advocating various rule changes to improve competition and safety.  He was well respected by coaches and officials throughout the league, and loved by the hundreds of youth players he coached throughout his career.  In 2008, he received the highest honor of any coach in league history as he was named Massachusetts Youth Coach of the Year by the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association.
Bob passed away in July, 2014 at the age of 63, but his legacy lives on in the Cape Ann Youth Football League.  To honor his spirit and commitment to youth sports, the CAYFL is proud to present the Bob Gnoza Award annually to a deserving 8th grade player who best exemplifies the principles Bob stood for - dedication, courage, discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
Each year, one 8th grader will be nominated by each CAYFL program.  The head coach of the A (or JVA) team should submit a short bio of the nominated player and discuss his qualifications for the award considering:
* Leadership qualities.
* Teamwork and team spirit.
* Dealing with adversity.
* Respect and sportsmanship.
* Dedication and commitment to team.
* Academics and citizenship.
* Other admirable qualities.
All nominees will be reviewed and voted upon by the Commissioners and head coaches of each program (one vote each and must be for a nominee from another town).  The winner will be announced at the annual CAYFL All Star Banquet.



Lynnfield Pioneers,"#56,Spencer Riley" is a name that everyone knows when they leave a football game he has played in. As his coach for the past 5 years,his reputation has grown well passed any other
player I can think of.  From starting as a 3rd grader, his ability to understand the game of football along
with the athletic  talent and commitment to being his best self at all times has deemed him as a triple threat!

Always showing up early to practice with a willing attitude to work hard and bringing that same attitude to each game makes Spencer the catalyst of pride and determination on his team.  On and off the field, Spencer is one of the politest young men I know, always willing to help and go out of his way to make others happy.  His grades reflect the same mentality and he believes size and physicality mean nothing in football or any sports without a sharp mind.  This shows true in every play in every game, playing the entire game as a running back and a middle linebacker.  Only coming out for water breaks,he is always helping his team on the field if he sees a teammate struggling for any reason. Let's not forget how he always has his hand out to lift up his opponent after a tackle, or give a shout out to a great play.

If I had to highlight  one of Spencer's many displays of sportsmanship  it would have to be during a recent game vs Manchester Essex. He was so concerned that the Hornets thought  he was committing a foul on a last minute play that at halftime,he walked across the field directly to the head coach and team and apologized while explaining his actions. He did this on his own accord,yet I wasn't surprised.  To know Spencer Riley is to know his heart is as great as his talent it would hurt him if others thought less of him.

Spencer may be the leader in touchdowns and tackles on my team for the past 5 seasons, but he will never take personal credit. He knows his success is the team's success since he displays that with his modest personality. My team looks to Spencer for guidance and support  when facing adversity or the unknown. They watch his reactions during challenging times and see the dedication he demonstrates which in turn becomes infectious to everyone.  I believe Spencer Riley has played a big part in the success my team has had in the past 5 seasons and will continue  to be a large part of success in everything he pursues in life.



This was Koa’s first year playing youth football. He joined the team for all the right reasons: his friends were playing, he loves the game and he heard that our team was shorthanded and really wanted to help us have a season. Koa was our most dependable player all season. He was at every practice, every game and took part in every drill. Always with a positive attitude, and an appetite to learn. Koa was our starting safety and regularly played against opponents that outweighed him by 50+ pounds. But Koa never backed down from any challenge, carrying the ball several times, playing on kick off and return teams, and earning his teammates respect at every turn. Koa is also an excellent student, and volunteers his time at local charities. He’s an outstanding young man.


Michael Tilley #24

It's never easy to single out one player out of a team of great young men and football players but when I was asked to nominate one for the Bob Gnoza award, one came to mind immediately. This award represents dedication, courage, discipline, teamwork and sportsmanship. Michael Tilley is the epitome of this award! 
Leadership- Michael is without question a model of leadership. He knows every play and all responsibilities of every position. But what is really impressive is the way that he communicates with his teammates getting them
into the right position and teaching them. One consistent thing on Sunday you will hear during Clipper games is Michael on the field directing assignments, calling tendencies and encouraging his teammates. A lot of kids tend to stay in the back hoping not to be called upon. Not Michael! He strives to be at the front of the pack and wants to share his thoughts and ideas. It’s really quite impressive.
Teamwork- To watch Michael in the huddle is where I would truly see his ability to encourage and demonstrate teamwork! For a young man to understand that a group of players pulling in the same direction is stronger than
several individual players and teach that to his teammates is fantastic to see. Over the last 5 seasons Michael has been willing to do anything and play any position asked of him. He's played Quarterback, Running Back,
Fullback, Wingback, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Guard, Defensive End, Cornerback, Outside Linebacker, Inside Linebacker, and Safety. He's always willing to do whatever is in the best interest of the team. 
Adversity-  We all understand that football is a physically demanding sport where injuries can hamper your season and Michael has been no stranger to this. That being said he constantly kept a positive attitude for himself. He always continued to arrive early for practice even though he couldn't participate and assisted the coaches and other players in various ways such as setting up drills, or teaching players their assignments. He never got down and consistently worked hard to get back on the field.
Respect & Sportsmanship - Although Michael wasn't always the most physically imposing player or maybe banged up a bit, his tenacity on the field would get players and teammates attention and respect. I certainly know he has mine. No matter how hard fought of a game, win or lose, you could without fail find him front and center at the 50-yard line after the game ready to shake hands with the other team. 
Dedication- Over the past 5 years Michael has made every practice and game scheduled and if there was a conflict he would plead with his father to ensure he was at the game! His commitment to the team is unquestionable and unwavering.
Academics & Citizenship - Michael has worked hard to maintain a balance between athletics and school. In addition to Football, Michael plays basketball, baseball, and flag football. He understands the importance of
balancing his time between school, and all his extracurricular activities. When he isn't studying or playing football, he can be found helping out his two younger brother's teams and practices, or attending their games.  In addition, he has volunteered his time serving meals to those less fortunate at My Brothers Table at the Salvation Army in Newburyport. 

Michael has all the qualities that this award represents and I am proud of him for that. But more importantly is the young man that Michael has become over his youth football career.  His heart of gold is never more present than when you watch him interact with his family. Most siblings tend to squabble a bit. Not Michael, when he sees his little brother he runs to him and gives him a huge hug! It's great to see. He truly is a great young man that all of his coaches and teammates hold in high regard.  All of the candidates I know will be deserving but be certain you can't go wrong with Michael Tilley.

Thank you all for considering Michael for this award!
Coach Christopher Smith (Newburyport Clippers, A-team)


 Mike Leon

In regards to football, Mike Leon is the type of player that any coach would want on their team.  Mike is the heart and soul of the Danvers A team.  Every week we would rotate 3 players as captains, the one constant was that Mike was the only year-long captain of the team in 2017.  In the pre-season, the coaching staff agreed that Mike was the only true leader for this season.  What makes Mike a true leader is the fact that he is the first to practice and the last to leave, he is always asking how he can help or what can he do and he puts other players ahead of himself.  The coaches would move Mike to different positions across both offensive and deffensive lines and he would take on that position like he has been playing it since day one. 


Mike is more than an excellent football player.  Mike is an honor student who has been given class leadership awards and has been recognized for bullying prevention.  Mike has proven himself as a selfless individual by donating to those in need, giving to the homeless and volunteering to assist with cleaning up public parks and walking trails within the community. 



In 2014, life as Mike knew it would be turned upside down when Mike's mother, who is his biggest fan and hero, found out she had cancer. Mike was devastated when he heard this news. The next words he heard were that we were going to leave CA and move to MA to be with family.  In a time of such uncertainty, he knew he had to start again from square one both, on and off the Football field. He gave his all each and every time he went to practice or played a game telling his mother, "I'll get another sack and more tackles for you mom!". His efforts didn't go unnoticed. Despite his own adversity, Mike has become a star on the Danvers A Team and a valuable member of the Danvers community.  He's now looking forward to starting the next chapter in his life in High School then off to College with the dream of one day playing for the NFL.


I, Stephen Leonard, nominate David Lonergan for the Bob Gnoza award. David not only shows up for every practice, but he is always the first one there. He begins every practice with a positive attitude that radiates off of him and onto the other players. David is always willing to do whatever is necessary to help practice run smoothly. He never questions authority or has anything other than a positive attitude. David plays with extreme dedication and passion. He is always ready to step up or stand up for any of his teammates, without question. Other players look up to David and are always ready to follow his lead. He is the first to congratulate his teammates on a good play and offer support after a bad one.

David not only exemplifies leadership on the football field, but in the classroom as well. He is able to efficiently balance the importance of schoolwork with the demands of football. David also volunteers at the Ipswich YMCA and is a stand up member of the community. He coaches younger kids and teaches them the importance of being a team player and never giving up. David breaks any stereotypes regarding football players and is one of the most dedicated, positive, and well-rounded players I have ever coached.

Throughout the entire Ipswich-Triton merging process, David was able to handle the transition with class and helped to create a welcoming environment for everyone. I have been lucky to coach such an impressive young man and I know he will have immense success in the future.


Thank you,


Stephen Leonard

Head Coach


A-Team Ipswich-Triton


Jeff Cooper


As a think back and remember Bob and all he stood for as well as the way he always coached all the players, I can think of nobody more deserving of this recognition than Jeff Cooper. Jeff has been playing football since 3rd grade (D Level) through 8th grade, and has always exhibited Bob's R.E.D. mentality. He always is respectful to his coaches, team mates, and referees. He is a natural leader who always leads be example. Jeff decided to play at JVA level even though he could have made the varsity team because he knew he would have better chance to get more reps and play more of the game he loves. Although Jeff is on the smaller side, he makes up for his size in heart. He is always the first one at practice and the last to leave the field to ensure all of the dummies and bags find their way back to the equipment trailer. Jeff always thanks his coaches for their time. Having coached Masco Youth Football for 8 years, I have coached or interacted with many kids along the way, and I cant think of too many kids more deserving of this award than Jeff Cooper.


Luke Benecke 


My staff & I have been together since our 8th graders started in 3rd grade on the North Reading D team 5 years ago.  Most of those players stayed in the program with us all the way through to our A team playoff run this year.  One player has consistently shown the game, himself, his teammates and the coaching staff the proper respect and positive attitude you cherish encountering in young people.  Luke Benecke


Luke Benecke takes pride in being a great teammate, an able player, a respectful student/son/brother and a pleasure to be around in general.  He values loyalty, honesty and hard work.  He’s not the biggest in stature but he never hesitates to do what we ask of him which is often taking on larger players and sometimes taking a back seat to his own teammates for starting roles.  We always find Luke ready with a kind word, quiet resilience in finishing the job at hand and the eagerness to lead the charge into the fray. 


The North Reading coaching staff is honored to nominate Luke Benecke for the prestigious Bob Gnoza award.



Brandon Lee 


I have gotten to know Brandon very well over his years at PYF.  He is a pleasure to coach and I can't think of one occasion where he had to be told "stop talking" or "pay attention" that is often echoed to other kids over the course of a season.  He has always been the smallest kid on the team, yet always had the biggest heart & truly loves the game. He is a multi sport athlete who also excels in basketball and baseball as well.  He is gives 100% at all times and never complains about how much he plays, he just wants his team to win. Brandon has always put the team goals ahead of his own.  Despite physical limitations he makes up for it with knowledge, determination, and courage.  He has played wingback, cornerback, and safety for several years and is often asked to block or tackle kids twice his size but has never backed down from those challenges.  His quiet leadership goes beyond the football field.  He is the kid at school that has no enemies and befriends others regardless of what others may think.  His commitment to sports is equaled in the classroom by his consistent high honors recognition.  

     Lastly, and on a personal level his level of peer acceptance has touched me as a tough coach.  My son Zach does not play sports and has PDD-NOS - a high functioning form of Autism.  Despite him having some social struggles Brandon has always considered Zach as a friend.  When group activities with other kids have come up he makes a point to include Zach when often he may have been left out.  Brandon's ability to not only include Zach, but also help him participate and feel accepted by others is an amazing quality.  He is also the most respectful young man I have ever met.  This young man is a clear representative of what the Bob Gnoza Award stands for.   


The Amesbury Jets Youth Football and Cheer are proud to nominate Drew MacDonald for the 2017 Bob Gnoza Award.
Drew MacDonald is the consummate teammate, player and friend.

Drew is a natural leader who is blessed with quick wit, an eye for knowing when to offer encouragement, and ‘giving his all’ for the sake of the game and his team. He routinely arrives an hour early to practice to throw the ball around with anyone who happens to be there. He enlists the help of his teammates to get the practice pads ready and welcomes the players when they arrive.

Aside from his time spent volunteering with community projects, MacDonald espouses a quiet faith that he models through his positive character.  As coachable as he is versatile, Drew has consistently set his personal preference for a position for the betterment of the team. He’s a quarterback, running back, corner back, and defensive end. He attacks every task, position, and challenge with unrivaled intensity, dedication, and respect for the game.

This year Drew started out as the team quarterback, and coaches saw better fits for quarterback and moved Drew to running back, WR and end. He accepted every change without complaining with a simple “Anything you need, Coach”

With the scoreboard not often in our favor this season, Drew was always heard from the field or the sideline yelling as loud as he can “Let’s go Jets!!” Or Atta boy! Great tackle, catch or run!
He’s the teammate to pick you up when you’re knocked down, and he’s the guy to ride the success with you.

Despite a season-ending injury that required a trip to the ER during a game, you’ll find Drew first at practices, on the sidelines encouraging his team louder than any parent or coach- and he’s there in a second with water- making sure his team stays hydrated.


Drew is a coach, a cheerleader and one hell of a ball player that represents everything Mr. Gnoza would be proud to espouse.   


Mason Klyce



After I read about the Gnoza Award and the type of player it is intended to honor, my choice was crystal clear.  The qualities of leadership, teamwork, dealing with adversity, respect and sportsmanship and dedication to his team are all found in abundance in Mason Klyce. I first remember hearing about Mason as a transfer student to Marblehead Veterans School from Beverly.  I later learned that just a year before he had transferred to Beverly from Gloucester.  Marblehead Veterans School was his third school in three years.  He had a tough up-bringing and again was facing a new school, with new kids and without knowing anyone.  Football was going to be his first chance to find out where he fit in. I was really excited to meet Mason and he did not disappoint.


Mason was the first kid to show up at Football camp last summer. I knew right away that he was going to help our team. He was always full of questions. I remember the night I emailed the kids their play books, within the hour, Mason had texted me and was asking questions about his plays. Importantly, his questions were always insightful, asked respectfully and with the sincere goal of clarifying things not just for himself but for the whole team.  Instead of distracting his coaches and teammates, he helped them focus on the task at hand. 



On the second day of practice, undersized and still an unknown quantity, Mason lined up across one of the biggest hitters on our team. I am sure there were misgivings and snickers among the coaches and players, but Mason put a big hit on his opponent and erased all doubt about his toughness and willingness to sacrifice for the team.  I am sure that in that moment, Mason wanted to prove to himself and his teammates that he belonged and that he was unafraid.  The effect, however, was an unspoken challenge to us, his coaches and teammates, to rise above their self-imposed limitations. From that moment on he was treated with respect the rest of the season.


From then on, Mason was always the first kid at practice and the last one to leave the field every night. He always carried the bags to the shed after practice. Anything that was asked of him by any coach he did without hesitation or complaint. Mason went on to play FB and DB the entire season. 


After the season was over,   I received a text on Monday morning, “I MISS FOOTBALL SO MUCH ”  Mason’s text says it all. For his perseverance, enthusiasm, willingness to learn and sacrifice for the team, I commend Mason Klyce  for your consideration.


Coach Billy Mark



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