’Tis the season

Are you ready for some foot­ball? Here’s a look at your fa­vor­ite neigh­bor­hood squads in the an­nu­al North­east Times foot­ball pre­view.

#5 - (NE) Mar­quis Ed­wards

It’s cer­tainly been a mem­or­able sum­mer — one high­lighted by re­lent­less heat waves, Hur­ricane Irene and even an earth­quake — but fi­nally the foot­ball sea­son is upon us. And once again, it looks like the loc­al squads throughout the North­east could be­come ma­jor con­tenders in the Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic and Pub­lic leagues. 

Some squads like Fath­er Judge and Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln have an abund­ance of re­turn­ing starters on this year’s roster, while oth­er teams like George Wash­ing­ton are at­tempt­ing to fill some big shoes of play­ers lost to gradu­ation. 

Frank­ford has a new head coach in long­time de­fens­ive co­ordin­at­or Will Dog­gett, who was re­cently pro­moted to field boss. And de­fend­ing Pub­lic League cham­pi­on North­east High School is on a mis­sion to claim an­oth­er title. 

So what can you ex­pect from the sev­en high school foot­ball teams hail­ing from North­east Phil­adelphia? Here’s a look at the Raid­ers, Cru­saders, Railsplit­ters, Pi­on­eers, Eagles, Vik­ings and Pan­thers. 

Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic League 

Class AAAA

Arch­bish­op Ry­an

Last year: 0-4 league; 2-9 over­all

It has been a tough run for the Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School foot­ball squad. The Raid­ers haven’t won a league game since 2007, com­pil­ing a dis­mal 0-16 re­cord in league play (3-29 over­all) over the past three sea­sons. 

But ac­cord­ing to head coach Frank McArdle Jr., all of that is about to change. 

“We’re look­ing good. We’re go­ing to be a whole lot bet­ter than in past years,” said McArdle, now in his third sea­son as the Raid­ers’ boss. “I think we’ll fi­nally be able to com­pete with the oth­er teams in our league. We have some re­turn­ing play­ers with a young, tal­en­ted sopho­more class.”

Quar­ter­back Mike Anusky, a seni­or and re­turn­ing starter, is ex­pec­ted to provide stel­lar lead­er­ship for his squad. Fel­low seni­ors in­clude wide re­ceiv­ers Mike Palmer — who also will play at d-back — and Nick Le Van, who led his team in scor­ing last sea­son. 

Seni­or run­ning back and line­back­er Kev­in Newell, who had the second-most rush­ing yards with 377 last year, is ex­pec­ted to again have a strong im­pact on both sides of the ball this sea­son. Seni­or of­fens­ive line­men in­clude Chris Mc­Monagle, Alv­in Al­len and ju­ni­or Ed Bier. 

Sam Du­mond, a wide re­ceiv­er and d-back, will com­plete the Raid­ers’ core lineup.

“Our of­fens­ive and de­fens­ive lines are strong,” said McArdle. “We have great seni­or lead­er­ship sup­por­ted by a very tal­en­ted young­er class.”

Fath­er Judge

Last year: 2-2 league; 8-3 over­all

The Fath­er Judge High School foot­ball team is shap­ing up to be­come a power­house in the Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic League this sea­son. 

The Cru­saders are re­turn­ing with a strong con­tin­gent of varsity play­ers and, ac­cord­ing to long­time head coach Tom Coyle, they have suf­fi­cient depth at every po­s­i­tion. 

“We’re very ex­cited. We have a lot of com­pet­it­ive­ness at every po­s­i­tion,” said Coyle, a 1987 gradu­ate of Fath­er Judge who has guided the Cru­saders for 10 years. “We’re very bal­anced.”

Bri­an Hen­nes­sey and Rob Daniels — both seni­ors — will battle again for quar­ter­back re­spons­ib­il­it­ies. Last sea­son, Hen­nes­sey star­ted the first six games of the year, with Daniels hand­ling the fi­nal five starts. 

Seni­or Raul Quinones — who earned first-team All-Cath­ol­ic hon­ors last year — and Matt Smal­ley will work as tail­backs, with wide re­ceiv­ers John Land­is and Tim Mills round­ing out the Cru­saders’ core of­fense. 

Seni­or de­fens­ive ends and re­turn­ing starters Shawn Hartigan (6-feet-2, 205 pounds) and An­thony Walk­er (6-feet-2, 200 pounds) are ex­pec­ted to play pivotal roles on de­fense. 

Eric Con­dron, a seni­or and the Cru­saders’ team cap­tain this sea­son, will be a key part of the of­fens­ive line. 

“So far, they’re do­ing very well,” said Coyle. “We have a good num­ber of re­turn­ing play­ers. We’re ex­cited.”

Phil­adelphia Pub­lic League

Class AAAA Gold Di­vi­sion

Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln

Last year: 1-5 league; 5-7 over­all

After a tough run last sea­son, the Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School foot­ball team is back. 

And they’re ready for re­demp­tion. 

“We’re look­ing very, very good,” said Railsplit­ters’ chief Ed Mc­Get­tigan, in his second sea­son as head coach. “Last year was a re­build­ing year, so now we have varsity ex­per­i­ence.”

Seni­or wide re­ceiv­er and d-back Sin­cere Merced — who snagged 23 passes for 329 yards and four touch­downs last year, and also re­cor­ded sev­en in­ter­cep­tions on de­fense — will join wide re­ceiv­er Ed­win Wa­ters on of­fense. 

Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln is stacked with seni­or tal­ent on both sides of the ball, in­clud­ing run­ning back and line­back­er Mardy Mc­Far­land, run­ning back and d-back John Mc­Clam and line­man Dami­en Chin-Rose. Line­back­er Mi­chael John­son and de­fens­ive end and tight end Rod­ney Hawkins will com­plete the Railsplit­ters’ core vet­er­ans. 

Ju­ni­or Miguel Sanc­hez will re­turn to his start­ing role as Lin­coln’s quar­ter­back. 

“Our ex­pect­a­tions are to im­prove by com­ing out with one hun­dred-per­cent ef­fort,” said Mc­Get­tigan. “We want to play hard, smart and to­geth­er.”


Last year: 4-2 league; 7-5 over­all

There’s a new boss on the Frank­ford High School grid­iron. 

Of course, many of the Pi­on­eers already know coach Will Dog­gett from his two years as head coach of Frank­ford’s ju­ni­or varsity squad and his past sev­en sea­sons work­ing as the varsity team’s de­fens­ive co­ordin­at­or. 

However, this sea­son, Dog­gett takes over as head coach for Frank­ford, re­pla­cing long­time coach Mike Capri­otti, who com­piled a 48-33 over­all re­cord dur­ing his sev­en years as boss. 

“I’m ex­cited to see what hap­pens,” said Dog­gett, who was of­fi­cially named head coach in May. “I’m really im­pressed with the guys I’ve been work­ing with on the coach­ing staff. I feel very blessed. They’re young and have a lot of en­ergy. It’s been really fun.”

The new head coach will have plenty of tal­ent to work with this sea­son. Re­turn­ing starters in­clude wide re­ceiv­er and corner­back Sa­voy Mar­tin, of­fens­ive line­man Geof­frey Phil­ippe, wide re­ceiv­er and de­fens­ive end Aaron Al­lis­on and run­ning back Kelly John­son. The four seni­ors are ex­pec­ted to play an es­sen­tial role in the Pi­on­eers’ sea­son. 

Seni­ors Brandon Strong and Mar­quan Scott and ju­ni­or Renz Compton will see ac­tion as both wide re­ceiv­ers and d-backs; Ler­enz Compton — Renz’s twin broth­er — is part of the line.

New­comer Tim Di­gior­gio (6-feet-1, 165 pounds) will take over as quar­ter­back, with some help from seni­or Mike Brown — con­sidered by many as the Pi­on­eers’ most ver­sat­ile ath­lete. 

“He can play all over the field — quar­ter­back, wideout, run­ning back, spe­cial teams,” said Dog­gett. “He’s quite an ath­lete.”

Re­ceiv­er Prince Cooper and seni­or tight end Kashif Town­send round out the Pi­on­eers’ stel­lar lineup.  

“We’re look­ing good. We have some young guys and a core group of kids who are do­ing really well,” said Dog­gett. “It should be fun to see how it all works out. We’re look­ing for­ward to it.”

George Wash­ing­ton

Last year: 5-1 league; 8-3 over­all

After los­ing 21 seni­ors to gradu­ation last year — in­clud­ing 18 who re­ceived col­lege schol­ar­ships — the George Wash­ing­ton High School foot­ball team has a lot of shoes to fill. 

“We’re young. We have a lot of kids to re­place,” said Eagles boss Ron Co­hen, who has com­piled a 233-65-2 over­all re­cord in his 25 years as head coach on Bustleton Av­en­ue. “We have some tal­ent. Right now, they’re all fight­ing for po­s­i­tions.”

There cur­rently are three quar­ter­backs vy­ing for a start­ing role — ju­ni­ors Dave Gav­rilov, Al Au­gustine and sopho­more John Santas.  

In ad­di­tion to the young­sters on this year’s roster, there are some re­turn­ing starters hop­ing to make their seni­or sea­son one to re­mem­ber. 

Seni­or run­ning back Ha­keem Sill­man — who led his squad in rush­ing last sea­son with 911 yards — is ex­pec­ted to once again guide the Eagles’ of­fense. He’ll be joined by run­ning back and d-back Aaron White. 

Melvin Mc­Cloud, a 6-foot, 290-pound seni­or, will work as an of­fens­ive and de­fens­ive tackle. Justin Moody — a ju­ni­or who has been highly re­cruited and already offered a schol­ar­ship to play foot­ball at Rut­gers — will play at tight end and de­fens­ive end.

Seni­or line­back­ers Pablo San­ti­ago (5-feet-8, 185 pounds) and Melvin Gonza­lez (5-feet-10, 200 pounds) will join tackle Tyr­one Smith and safety Miguel Cabana on de­fense. Seni­or John Nav­arro will play at line­back­er and cen­ter. 


Last year: 6-0 league; 9-3 over­all

Last sea­son, North­east High School claimed its first Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship since 1983, and it looks like they’re ready to re­peat. 

The mighty Vik­ings have plenty of re­turn­ing play­ers with varsity ex­per­i­ence. The of­fens­ive line — all seni­ors — will in­clude tackles Josh Wal­lace and Nas­ir Bry­ant, guards Isai­ah Ro­gers and Maurice Jack­son and cen­ter Jordan Jones. 

Ju­ni­ors Mar­quis Ed­wards — whose 756 yards led the team in rush­ing last year — and Shimeek Carter, who dashed for 499 yards, will be the run­ning backs this sea­son. 

The Vik­ings have three quar­ter­backs who will see game ac­tion this year: ju­ni­ors Har­old Al­ex­an­der, Dav­id Pul­li­am and Mark Prompt. 

Seni­or line­back­er Mi­chael Brown will again lead the Vik­ings’ de­fense. 

Phil­adelphia Pub­lic League

Class AAAA Sil­ver Di­vi­sion

Samuel Fels

Last year: 6-0 league; 8-4 over­all

The Samuel Fels High School foot­ball team has been im­prov­ing each year since its in­cep­tion in 2006, a pro­gres­sion high­lighted by last year’s un­defeated league re­cord. 

This year, they’re ready to take it all the way. 

“Our over­all ath­leti­cism is strong,” said head coach Bill Har­rigan, in his fourth year as boss. “I’m very ex­cited to be where we are.”

Seni­or wide re­ceiv­er Ni­jay Kelly — who caught 23 passes for 472 yards and 42 points last sea­son — is ex­pec­ted to provide great lead­er­ship for this year’s squad. He’ll be joined in the spot­light by run­ning back and d-back Jam­iel Hines, a ju­ni­or who led the Pan­thers with five in­ter­cep­tions last sea­son. 

Seni­or Stephane Smith will be at quar­ter­back, re­pla­cing last year’s star Tyree Ruck­er, who broke the Pub­lic League’s single-sea­son passing re­cord with 1,994 yards. 

Smith already has a place in the school’s his­tory book this sea­son as Samuel Fels’ first four-year starter on the grid­iron. 

Ju­ni­or cen­ter and de­fens­ive end Dezhuante White, run­ning back and line­back­er Daevon Grasty, and of­fens­ive line­man and line­back­er Rod­ney Drayton will round out the Pan­thers’ core lineup.

ldquo;We lost some im­port­ant guys last year, so we’re look­ing for re­place­ments,” ex­plained Har­rigan. “I’m very happy with the ex­cite­ment and the ef­fort of the young guys. 

“We’re young, which poses some chal­lenges,” he ad­ded, “but it also gives them an op­por­tun­ity to learn and bet­ter them­selves for the fu­ture.” ••

Ed­it­or Melissa Yerkov can be reached at my­erkov@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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