Continuing our list of Top 25 student-athletes to keep an eye on during the school year, we have a group of five that includes one of the best quarterbacks in Section II, a young track and field star and a standout basketball player with a familiar last name.Dan Kellenbenz, Germantown
Whether its on the basketball court or the baseball diamond, Germantown’s Dan Kellenbenz stands out. The senior led the Clippers to a state ranking in basketball and an 18-game winning streak throughout the season. The Clippers closed out at 19-2 with Kellenbenz averaging double digits on the offensive end. His efforts landed him a CHVL first team All-Star honor. At the end of his junior campaign, Kellenbenz was injured during baseball season. Before the injury, he batted .552 through 10 games and had a 1-0 record on the mound.Alysa Houghtaling, Maple Hill
It’s hard to believe that Alysa Houghtaling still has a year left to play basketball and softball for Maple Hill. The senior Wildcat has two Patroon Conference second team All-Star awards (2014, 2017) and three first team All-Star nods (2015, 2016, 2018) to her credit. Playing on the varsity level since seventh grade, Houghtaling has been a model of consistency and a team leader.
“Alysa has been with us since the 7th grade. She’s been a workhorse for us on the mound since she joined the varsity program and gives us a chance to win every game she pitches,” MH softball coach Pat Austin said. “She’s very tough to score runs against and has over 700 career strikeouts. One of her strengths is her ability to work out of jams. She really grinds it out on the mound and seems to get stronger in the later innings of big games. She has also been an asset for us at the plate and has found herself among the top 3 on the team in most major offensive categories the last few seasons. We are looking for her to take on more of a leadership role this season with last season’s captains having graduated.”Justice Brantley, Catskill
A two-time Patroon Conference first team All-Star, Justice Brantley has shined on the basketball court for Catskill. Brantley proved to be a leader when it counted most, scoring 24 points in Catskill’s Section II, Class B quarterfinal win over Fonda-Fultonville last year. He tacked on another 24 points in a semifinal loss to Watervliet and helped the Cats post a 19-3 record as a junior. If there is an early front-runner for Patroon basketball MVP this year, it’s Brantley.
“I’ve known Justice since he entered seventh grade and I feel very comfortable in stating he is all-in as a ballplayer,” Catskill coach Doug Lampman said. “He is a self-made, hard-working athlete that bleeds orange for his school and community. If there is something that places him apart from most athletes, it is his ability, at a young age, to be empathetic to his teammates and put the team way before himself. With all the pressures he feels from many in his circle to ‘take over’ or ‘get yours’, Justice has a very mature understanding of the game of basketball. He knows when to step up and when it’s time to allow the process to play out. He is one of the most evolved and mature players we have ever had and his selflessness has allowed him to rise above many. Justice is certainly a joy to be around on and off the court. We hold him up as a role model of what Catskill Basketball is all about.”Clare Howard, Taconic Hills
Clare Howard has shined in every sport that she tries. While she plays, and excels at, soccer, Howard is a dominant force on the track. She holds the school record at Taconic Hills in the 400 Hurdles (1:07.04) and placed first at the NYS D2 400H qualifiers as an eighth grader. As a freshman she took second in the qualifiers for the 400H. Howard is a two-time first team Patroon Conference All-Star in Track & Field and was a 2018 400H Patroon Conference champion. Outside of school, the sophomore took gold for the NY Minute Track and Field Club at the USATF Region I Track and Field Junior Olympic Championships. Howard has also fared well in the Pentathlon.Kaleb Taylor, Chatham
A successful high school football team needs a quarterback, and Kaleb Taylor is one of the best in Section II. As a junior, Taylor led Chatham to the Section II, Class C semifinals and a 6-3 overall record. In the postseason quarterfinals, he had five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and accounted for 260 total yards. Taylor was also named a first team Patroon Conference All-Star in baseball and stood out on the basketball team, as well.
“Kaleb worked hard in the offseason to prepare to be a better football player and teammate,” Chatham coach Rich Sitzer said. “Excited to see him get on the field for his senior season and lead our team. He is one of the smartest quarterbacks our program has seen. Along with the other seniors, he has some lofty goals for the season. Our coaching staff is working hard to put the guys in position to obtain those goals.”