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By: Tim Birney | Waverly Athletics | February 5, 2023 | Photo courtesy Sam Smith


VERONA, N.Y. — Record-breaking Waverly junior Joey Tomasso was named the New York State High School Football Coaches Association Class C “Player of the Year” here Friday night in a ceremony during the annual coaches association meeting at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino.

Tomasso threw for a single-season record of 2,245 yards, and also eclipsed the school’s career yardage mark, while leading the Wolverines to their first Section IV title since 2015, and handing Chenango Forks its first loss in a title game since 1998.

Tomasso completed 63.4 percent (256 of 246) of his passes for 2,245 yards and 24 TDs, with just six interceptions. He also ran for a team-leading 794 yards and 14 TDs on 97 carries.

“It’s a nice honor, as a junior especially, and Joey (Tomasso) is deserving of all the accolades he’s getting,” said longtime Waverly coach Jason Miller.

“I think people were impressed with his play in our win over Forks — accounting for four touchdowns,” noted Miller. “And, the totality of his play throughout the year was impressive.”

Miller notes Tomasso, who has started since 8th-grade is gaining confidence as he matures, and he made a big jump from his sophomore to his junior season.

“He’s becoming more confident, and he’s becoming more of a dual-threat quarterback,” said Miller. “He made more plays with his feet this year … in big games, he made big plays. I think that’s what separates him.

“He’s getting bigger, and he’s faster than he was a year ago.

“He makes a lot of throws, and the guys around him are better, too — he has a lot of weapons,” noted Miller. “It makes it difficult defensively, because you have to defend so much.

“One more year of maturity, there’s really no better way to explain it,” added Miller. “He’s been doing it for four years, and we expect him to make another jump next year.”

The biggest difference in Tomasso’s game in his junior season to his sophomore was his running, where he rushed for 8.2 years per carry, compared to 6.4.

“The difference is less dancing, less trying to avoid getting hit, and more running with a purpose; and that’s getting through the line-of-scrimmage to the second level

“Joey’s had an unbelievable career, but he’s starting to run more like the quarterbacks who have run for us in the past, who have put their head down and run more like a running back than a quarterback,” said Miller.

“He’s explosive, his first couple steps are explosive, and that’s the big difference between this year, and last year,” added Miller. “He’s not looking around for defenders, he’s looking for the end zone, and I think that was the big difference.”

Tomasso’s ability to throw the ball is well-known around the state, and Miller, who has been around a long time, said that’s forced defenses to do some things he’s never seen before.

“His arm strength has gotten so much better,” said Miller. “It’s ironic, though, teams are starting to scout how he throws, and watching his footwork.

“The very first pass in the first Forks game, they jumped a hitch,” noted Miller. “There’s now way … it was so surprising to us.

“Teams are starting to evaluate his mechanics, what he’s doing on the no-step throws,  the catch-and-throw — that’s something we’ve never seen.

“For the next three weeks, we really worked on adapting and changing up his footwork so teams, especially Forks, couldn’t get a read on that, and it hurt them because we hit them deep, and a lot of it had to do with them being aggressive based on his footwork,” continued Miller.

“Joey understands what we has to do to adjust. Saying that is one thing, but actually doing it with pressure is difficult — changing something in the middle of the season that he’s learned for four years, and now because of what teams are doing defensively, he has to change his footwork mechanics is extremely difficult.

“He’s very smart, and he understands that part of the game,” said Miller. “A lot of guys couldn’t change their footwork. It’s not easy. It changes the dynamics because now it’s a short drop, instead of a catch-and-throw — the timing is just very, very different.

“That was a huge thing, and there will be other things defense do that key in things he is doing.

“That was a huge learning point for us as a coaching staff, then conveying that to Joe, and then him working on it, and going out and executing it,” added Miller “That was pretty neat to see.”

Having surpassed the school record for yardage and TDs as a junior, Tomasso is poised to make it extremely difficult for any future QBs to break his records.

“He’s going to put the school records way out there,” said Miller. “And, he’s going to be up there with some of the top throwers in the state.

“He’ll be near 8,000 yards for a career, and that’s pretty good.

“A lot of it has to do with the fact he has some talented receivers around him, who continue to work hard, and get better,” added Miller.

What makes Tomasso the quarterback he is, aside from a tremendous arm?

“The intangibles — leadership and poise,” said Miller. “He’s becoming stronger and faster, and way more athletic than he was two years ago. He’s just a different dude right now.”


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio

Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes five sites in "The Sports Reports" family that cover 24 school districts in five counties: Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020); Northern Tier West Sports Report (March 15, 2021) Southern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 16, 2021).