Some kids are considered impact players.
They make special plays every now and then.
Westfield’s Owen Kessler is different.
He makes special plays – it seems – all the time.
“He was very special and very dominant,” said Westfield head coach Jim DeSarno, who will be excited to see Kessler play one more time before he heads to Georgetown.
An nj.com First Team All-State selection and the Mid-State 38 Conference’s Player of the Year in 2016, Kessler will lead the North against the South in Monday’s 39th annual Phil Simms North-South High School All-Star Football Classic at Kean University in Union. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
A standout lineman, which is where he will play at Georgetown, Kessler was the main focal point of a Westfield defense that yielded just under 10 points last season. His prowess as a defensive stalwart the past three years as a starter helped the Blue Devils reach the North 2, Group 5 semifinals in 2014 and then win the section for the first times in 2015 and 2016. Westfield went 12-0 the past two seasons for the first time ever.
“He made such an impact every game,” DeSarno said. “He did something every game for us. He’s the kind of player we won’t be able to replace, certainly with one player.”
A quiet kid who led by example, Kessler made his presence felt – perhaps – in the biggest manner during Westfield’s 15-13 win over Bridgewater-Raritan in last year’s N2, G5 final at MetLife. He was simply unblockable at key moments in the game, often pressuring the quarterback and constantly in the backfield to make a tackle.
“He continued to make himself better,” DeSarno said. “He is a ferocious pass rusher and more powerful than he looks.
“You put all of those traits together and you have one heck of a player.”
Last fall, Kessler produced 56 tackles, including 13 for sacks. His play on the defensive line the last three years is a big reason why Westfield will open its 2017 campaign on a 25-game winning streak.