Bicentennial Athletic League
Team League Overall
New Hope-Solebury 6-0 8-4
Bristol 5-1 10-2
Delaware Christian 4-2 8-3
Lower Moreland 3-3 6-5
Jenkintown 2-4 3-6
Calvary Christian 1-5 1-6
Morrisville 0-6 1-10
Team League Overall
Bristol 4-0 10-2
Lower Moreland 3-1 6-5
Academy New Church 2-2 5-4
Pennington School 1-3 2-7
Morrisville 0-4 1-10
Note: Pennington School, N.J. left the Independence League after the 2013 season.
RB Donte Simmons Bristol
WR/DB Kyle Slivka-Fralin Bristol
OL/DL Robert Jones Bristol
QB Josh Reichenbach Calvary Christian
WR Sam Heath Calvary Christian
LB/DB Alex Linton Delco Christian
Fb/LB Franco Mannino New Hope-Solebury
DT/OL Jake Clair Lower Moreland
OL/DL Elliott Bense Jenkintown
RB/LB Shane McCurdy Academy New Church
OL/DL Antonio Nakos Academy New Church
Bristol is the favorite to win both the Bicentennial and Independence leagues. Warriors RB/DB Donte Simmons (5-8, 175, Sr.) is the most dynamic player among these PIAA AA and A teams. He has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his first three seasons. Bristol steps up to AA playoff competition this season after winning the PIAA District 1/12 Subregional A championships in 2012 and 2013. A rematch with former BAL rival Springfield Township in the AA playoffs is possible. New Hope-Solebury, which upset Bristol during the regular season to win the Bicen championship, and Delaware County Christian have continued to improve and will mount a stiff challenge to the Warriors in the BAL. Lower Moreland and Calvary Christian are also in the mix. Both have derailed the athletes and firepower of Bristol before. “I just think it’s a better league than it used to be,” says Bristol head coach Leo Plenski, who has both played and coached against league rivals. Valley Forge Military Academy joins the BAL this season. Somewhat of a hidden team, Academy of the New Church has the veterans and firepower to push Bristol for an Independence League championship.
Around the Bicentennial/
Simmons, WR/DB Kyle Slivka-Fralin (5-10, 165, Sr.), OL/DL Robert Jones (6-3, 255, Sr.), QB R. J. Collins (5-11, 210, Jr.), WR Aiden Coughlin (5-10, 185, Sr.), Slotback Phil Krause (5-8, 165, Sr.) and SS Isaiah Carroll (6-0, 200, Sr.) return for Bristol. Plenski expects freshman WR Camir Brisbon (6-0, 195) to emerge as a playmaker in an offense dominated by veterans where 10 of 11 starters have game experience. Collins answered the call during the 2013 playoffs when starting QB Trevor Leone was injured. Simmons has drawn recruiting interest from Stoney Brook and Delaware. “The more we can spread out the defenses the more opportunities for Donte and our other playmakers,” says Plenski. The Warriors have a potent offense but their defense is untested. “Many more players will have to play both ways,” says Plenski. “That’s something we have been fortunate not having to do the last two seasons.”
Delaware County Christian head coach Drew Pearson says the offensive and defensive lines are the strength of the Knights, who intend to once again challenge Bristol and stay in the PIAA A playoff mix. DCC lost to Bristol in the PIAA District 1/12 A Subregional championship game last season. “Our kids have bought in,” says Pearson. “We’re not satisfied.” First-year starting QB Sterling Williams (5-11, 175, Sr.) and returning RB Seth Ellis (5-9, 185, Sr.) need to recover what Pearson called “90 percent of production” that departed when starters graduated. LB/DB Alex Linton (5-11, 210, Sr.) is a leader on defense. OL/DL Kyle Winters (5-11, 265, Jr.) and D. J. Lanetti (6-1, 235, Sr.) are mainstays on the line of scrimmage.
They are underclassmen but C/DT Matt Fest (6-2, 245, Soph.), FB/LB Franco Mannino (5-9, 175, Jr.) and FB/LB Tommy Capriotti (5-10, 180, Jr.) return after playing important roles for New Hope-Solebury, during its BAL championship season in 2013. NH-S also qualified for the PIAA District 1/12 playoffs but lost to West Catholic. Mannino had 62 tackles and Capriotti had 33 tackles last season. First-year starter RB/LB Brendan Shadle (5-9, 170, Soph.) replaces RB/FS Danny Freeman, who transferred to Archbishop Wood, as the workhorse on offense. Blake Hildebrandt (5-10, 155, Jr.) and Nick Garritano (6-2, 160, Fr.) are in the mix at QB. Lions head coach Jim DiTulio says there’s stability on the line of scrimmage and the skill position players must respond. “Losing 13 seniors hurts,” says DiTulio. “Although we will be very young, I do not think we are rebuilding.”
DB/RB Matt Gallagher (5-9, 170, Jr.), LB/FB John Chung (5-9, 185, Sr.), DT/OL Jake Clair (5-9, 185, Sr.), LB/WR Joe Nihill (6-2, 190, Sr.) and QB Matt Abramson (5-9, 145, Sr.) are the top returning players for Lower Moreland. Gallagher is the top playmaker for the Lions who need to develop more playmakers and an OL. “Our challenge is difficult,” says head coach Mark Mayson.
The pass-catch combo of QB/DB Josh Reichenbach (6-2, 185, Jr.) and WR/DB Sam Heath (6-1, 180, Sr.) returns for Calvary Christian. LB/Wing Back Doug Medvic (6-0, 180, Sr.) and DE/OT Zach Nester (6-3, 265, Jr.) return after leading the Cougars in tackles last season. Reichenbach, son of head coach and former Philadelphia Eagle Mike Reichenbach, completed 44 of 77 pass attempts for 684 yards and seven TDs last season. After back-to-back PIAA District 1/12 A Subregional championships in 2009 and 2010, CC didn’t field a team in 2012 but returned last season. “We lack size and depth and experience on both sides of the ball,” says Mike Reichenbach. “We will have about 20 players.”
QB/LB Jamie Griffin (5-10, 185, Sr.), OL/DL Elliott Bense (5-9, 200, Sr.), OL/DL John Ballentine (5-11, 215, Sr.) and RB/DB Julian Goldhill (5-6, 155, Sr.) return for Jenkintown. Drakes head coach Anthony Owens says the Drakes’ strengths are QB and defensive secondary. “We are a young team that was able to gain valuable experience last year,” says Owens.
Derick Savage replaces Bill Quill as head coach of Morrisville. RB/LB Justin Young-Heyward (6-0, 195, Sr.), OL/LB Nathan Vincent (5-10, 260, Sr.), OL/DL Jon Cosme (6-0, 225, Sr.) and RB/WR/DB Donovan O’Brien (5-10, 180, Jr.) are the nucleus for the Bulldogs. There’s playmakers but the OL and DL need depth after the first six players. “I’m excited to see how they all share the ball,” says Savage. “With the recent struggles to even field a team, we are more concerned with making it through the season.”
The transition from a team that once played post-graduate players to a PIAA team continues this season when Valley Forge Military Academy, which didn’t win a game playing as an independent in its first season as a PIAA member in 2013, joins the BAL. Top players for the Trojans are RB/FS Bronson Szallar (5-9, 175, Sr.), WR/DB Darius Daniels (5-9, 165, Sr.), LB/RB Audley Isaacs (5-10, 180, Soph.) and OL/DL Christopher Byrd (5-8, 265, Soph.). With a strong group of skill position players gaining varsity experience, head coach Paul Noon expects the wins to start coming. “We will be competitive in our inaugural season in the BAL,” says Noon.
Academy of the New Church only competes against Bristol, Lower Moreland and Bristol for an Independence League championship. Pennington School (N.J.) left the league after last season. Head coach Ty Klippenstein expects the Lions, which are not a PIAA team, to challenge Bristol for the league championship. RB/LB Shane McCurdy (6-0, 200, Sr.) and OL/DL Antonio Nakos (6-3, 270, Sr.) are four-year starters. QB Charley Coyle (5-8, 160, Jr.), WR/DE Carnel Harley (6-6, 200, Sr.) and RB/LB Anthony Weizer (5-8, 185, Sr.) are returning starters. McCurdy is the workhorse on offense and Harley is the stopper on defense. There are nine starters returning on offense and defense. “We have high expectations this year,” says Klippenstein. “We’re as talented as we’ve been in a long time. We have a host of returning starters, some great athletes at the skill positions, and even some depth.”
2013 Standings AAAA Division
Team League Overall
St. Joseph’s Prep 3-1 12-3
La Salle 3-1 8-3
Father Judge 2-2 7-4
Roman Catholic 1-3 4-7
Archbishop Ryan 1-3 8-3
Archbishop Wood 3-0 13-2
Cardinal O’Hara 2-1 4-6
Bonner-Prendergast 1-2 3-8
Lansdale Catholic 0-3 6-4
West Catholic 4-0 9-3
Neumann-Goretti 3-1 6-5
Archbishop Carroll 2-2 3-6
Bishop McDevitt 1-3 2-7
Conwell-Egan 0-4 3-7
Catholic League 11
OL Ryan Bates Archbishop Wood
LB Jake Cooper Archbishop Wood
QB Antwain McCollum West Catholic
DB/WR John Reid St. Joseph’s Prep
RB/DB Olamide Zaccheaus St. Joseph’s Prep
OL/DL Jon Daniel Runyan St. Joseph’s Prep
RB/DB/WR D’Andre Swift St. Joseph’s Prep
QB Kyle Shurmur La Salle
WR/DB Jimmy Herron La Salle
RB Demetri Kelly Roman Catholic
RB Samir Bullock Archbishop Ryan
Defending PIAA state champions St. Joseph’s Prep (AAAA) and Archbishop Wood (AAA) along with West Catholic in AA are clear favorites to win their Divisions in the regular season and the playoffs. All three are major contenders for state championships. Rated as the top major college football recruit in Southeast Pennsylvania, The Prep’s John Reid is one the most dynamic playmakers on both offense as a WR and defense as a DB in PA. Wood has its playmakers as well on both sides of the ball. Considered a top major college football recruit alongside of Reid, the Vikings’ powerful OL Ryan Bates, who’s headed to Penn State on a scholarship, embodies Wood’s ability to manhandle and crush opponents week-in and week-out. West Catholic simply has more athletes than its AA rivals, led by QB Antwain McCollum, a three-year starter who has passed for nearly 3,000 yards. The Burrs have won a division championship eight straight years. The Catholic League realigned this season. Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Carroll join the AAA Division. Lansdale Catholic moves from the AAA Division to AA. And Bishop McDevitt has dropped from PIAA class AA to A, which sets up the possibility that the Catholic League could sweep all four PIAA state championships this year. Not that the Catholic League would need to sweep the state championships in Hershey to prove what has already been established (move aside WPIAL)—that it is the top high school football league in PA.
One Suburban One League coach said that St. Joe’s Prep has more fast and talented playmakers at wide receiver than the entire Suburban One League has combined. That’s how stocked the Hawks are as they defend their state championship. Reid, RB/DB Olamide Zaccheaus (5-9, 185, Sr.), WR/DB D’Andre Swift (5-8, 195, Soph.) and WR Justin Montague (5-11, 170, Sr.) return. The Hawks are stocked with veterans on the line of scrimmage. OL/DL Jon Daniel Runyan (6-4, 280, Sr.), a Michigan recruit, OL/DL Shane Davis (6-4, 305, Sr.), OL Ed Mooney (6-1, 250, Sr.) and OL Mark Ehrlich (6-1, 235, Sr.) return. DL/OL Jake Strain (6-3, 255, Sr.) is the leader on defense. At QB, Jake Clements (6-4, 185, Sr.) and Kevin Show (5-11, 160, Jr.) are in the mix. As a backup QB last season, Clements deserved some of the credit for the state championship when he stepped in for an injured Chris Martin and guided the Hawks to a narrow but comfortable 10-7 win over Frankford in the PIAA District 12 championship game. They continue to stockpile talent as they expect a blue-chip transfer from head coach Gabe Infante’s prior team Paramus Catholic (N.J.). Ironically, Paramus Catholic has won back-to-back state championships. Just a sophomore, The Prep coaching staff expects Swift to emerge as a dynamic playmaker. Winning the state title last season may have come sooner than first anticipated by The Prep staff. 2014 was initially the target. “We weren’t stunned,” says assistant coach Bill Morris. “We have talent and you win with talent. We had some hiccups that actually helped us. Our players need to understand that we now are the hunted.” Still, Morris warns, the Hawks could start the season winless in their first four games. A demanding schedule to say the least, they open with Mount Carmel in Chicago, Don Bosco Prep, St Ignatius in Ohio and at St. Joseph Regional (N.J.).
If the target has shifted back to The Prep, that’s a welcome change for La Salle, which had been the dominant AAAA team in SE PA since the Catholic League joined the PIAA in 2008. Not that La Salle is taking a back seat to any team. The La Salle-SJP rivalry continues to evolve into a tug-of-war of Giants. La Salle QB Kyle Shurmur (6-4, 215, Sr.) chose the Explorers over the Hawks after he came to Philadelphia from Ohio when his father joined the staff of the Eagles. For the Prep, then Sr. QB Chris Martin put the “what ifs” to rest with a clutch playoff performance last December. “(The rivalry) has been the last 10-15 years,” says La Salle coach Drew Gordon. “Gil Brooks (SJP coach prior to Infante) took them to a much, much higher level. It took (Infante) a year or two to get everything in place.” Game on. Joining the fray is former Neshaminy head coach Mark Schmidt, who is now an assistant coach for La Salle working with the OL and TE. The smooth, strong-armed pocket passer Shurmur gives the Explorers a chance against the Prep. The Vanderbilt recruit passed for 2,472 yards and 25 TDs last season. The Explorers have two of the best playmakers on both sides of the ball in WR/DB Jimmy Herron (6-1, 185, Sr.) and RB/DB Jordan Meachum (5-10, 190, Sr.). Herron has 1,402 yards receiving the past two seasons. LB/SS Ryan Brady (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR Charles Headon (5-9, 175, Jr.), TE Chuck Hencher (6-3, 190, Sr.) and LB Aiden Kerrigan (6-0, 215, Sr.) are important players for the Explorers. Gordon warns of a lack of size and depth. But La Salle’s set of playmakers are a tough cover for opponents.
The timing isn’t what Roman Catholic head coach Joe McCourt would hope for. The Cahillites are stacked with enough talent to win a league championship anywhere but in Philadelphia. “Any other year,” says McCourt. “I really like our team.” So do others. “Roman is dangerous,” says The Prep’s assistant coach Bill Morris. The centerpieces are RB/DB Dimetri Kelly (6-0, 190, Sr.), OL/DL Gavin Wiggins (6-3, 250, Sr.), WR/DB A. J. Frazier (6-0, 175, Sr.), RB/DB/KR John Chaney III (5-10, 180, Sr.) and OL/DL Manny Taylor (6-6, 280, Sr.). QB Tre Smith (6-1, 170, Sr.) is a first-year starter with a lot weapons to work with. “Gavin is one of the best lineman we’ve ever had here at Roman,” says McCourt. “Our offensive line has the potential to be the best its been here. We have tons of playmakers on the field. We are going to be a tough out for anybody.” Kelly has rushed for 2,449 yards the last two seasons. Wiggins has a scholarship offer from Youngstown State. After his sudden emergence at recruiting combines and football camps, Taylor has committed to Rutgers.
Father Judge is fighting to keep pace with the stacked AAAA field. RB/SS Yeedee Thainrat (5-10, 185, Jr.) is a versatile, dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball that has the tools to keep the Crusaders in play. He rushed for 1,051 yards and scored nine TDs, had 94 tackles and three interceptions. OL Dan Sipps (6-0, 240, Sr.) is a three-year starter. DE Joel Ageydu (6-1, 215, Sr.) and QB Zach Carroll (6-2, 210, Sr.) also return. Carroll passed for 794 yards and four TDs last season. Head coach Mike McKay says the Crusaders’ strength is team speed and veteran skill position players. He’s concerned with untested defensive linemen and linebackers.
With a lineup that’s annually loaded with Division 1 recruits, Archbishop Wood looks like a AAAA state power. Their 18 returning starters are reason enough that they are favorites to successfully defend their AAA state championship. Rated the top OL recruit in SE PA, Bates is headed to Penn State along with LB Jake Cooper (6-3, 230, Sr.). RB Jarrett McClenton (5-8, 170, Sr.) is a Villanova commit. He rushed for 1,705 yards last season. LB/WR Justin Rubin (6-2, 210, Sr.) has drawn scholarship offers from Lafayette, Central Connecticut and Bryant. DE/TE Christian Lohin (6-3, 235, Sr.) has offers from Bucknell, Lafayette, Byrant, Albany and Central Connecticut. Only a sophomore, WR/DB Mark Webb (6-4, 180) already has a Temple scholarship offer on the table. DT/FB Devon Cobb (6-0, 235, Sr.), DB Gianni Cruel (5-10, 165, Jr.) and DL/TE/FB Nafeez Brown-Carter (6-2, 220, Sr.) also return. The Vikings are big, strong, fast and very well-coached. Team speed is a strength, says head coach Steve Devlin. They attack opponents in every way possible and on both sides of the ball. QB Tom Garlick (6-4, 180, Jr.), who passed for 1,329 yards last season, is a three-year starter. “We have a lot of experience coming back from a state championship team,” says Devlin. “I would like to think we can make another run.”
Archbishop Ryan drops from AAAA to AAA this season to provide a serious challenge to Wood’s domination. RB/DB Samir Bullock (5-8, 175, Sr.), one of the top running backs in SE PA who has rushed for 3,141 yards the past two seasons and has offers from a slew of FCS teams, FB/LB Bobby McDevitt (5-11, 215, Sr.), DE Dylan Dopkin (5-10, 190, Jr.) and LB Jason Wahger (5-10, 180, Jr.) return. Matt Romano (5-11, 175, Soph.) is a first-year starter at QB. Raiders head coach Frank McArdle says there’s plenty of firepower at the skill positions but the offensive line is untested.
Archbishop Carroll moves up in class from AA to AAA. QB/LB Sean McMorran (6-0, 185, Sr.), LB/TE Harry Rolhfing (6-0, 180, Jr.), WR/DB Christian Ritter (5-11, 170, Sr.) and FB/LB Brandon Pearson (5-11, 205, Sr.) are the top players for the Patriots, who figure to feel the pinch of only three returning starters. “We are confident that we will compete this year at a higher level,” says head coach Joe Powel. “But winning will be difficult with such a young team and lack of size in the 3A Division.”
Football doesn’t seem all that important after the sudden tragic death of Cardinal O’Hara head coach Danny Algeo on July 3. But the Lions will continue to move forward with their coach forever in their hearts. “I’m in my 27th year coaching and I have never seen a team go through what they’re going through,” says interim head coach Paul Strus, who was an assistant coach to Algeo. “It’s a very emotional time for the kids. We’re not losing sight that he’s their real coach.” A defensive leader last season, Brandon Loughlin (6-1, 210, Sr.), brother of former O’Hara QB Ryan (2009-2010) who plays at Holy Cross, is a first-year starter at QB. The Lions gain a dynamic speedy playmaker with the addition of Interboro transfer WR/DB Mark Everton (6-0, 200, Sr.), who had 1,142 receiving yards the last two seasons. WR/S Donovan Pierce (5-10, 170, Jr.) is a leader on defense. TB Max Ferguson (5-10, 170, Sr.) and OL Andrew Gallagher (6-1, 255, Sr.), a three-year starter, return. Strus expects LB Anthony Amoroso (5-11, 200, Jr) to emerge as a playmaker and another transfer, OL/DL Tim Aikens (6-3, 290, Sr.), from Haverford School, to make an impact. OL is one of the Lions’ strengths.
Veteran QB Colin DiGalbo (6-3, 195, Sr.), a three-year starter, is the centerpiece for the Bonner-Pendergast attack. He has 2,810 yards passing the past two seasons. TE Tyler Higgins (6-4, 235, Sr.), WR/TB Aaron McCastle (5-9, 170, Sr.), WR Joe Oquindo (6-3, 185, Sr.), LB Tommy Becker (5-11, 200, Jr.), OL/DL Christian DiGalbo, Colin’s twin brother, and OL/DL Lou “Lump” Lombardo (6-4, 260, Jr.) return for the Friars. Jr. T. J. Snyder (5-9, 200) is in the mix at TB with McCastle. Friars head coach Greg “Bubba” Bernhardt says DiGalbo and Higgins are drawing interest from FCS recruiters. “It all starts with Colin,” says Bernhardt. “Offensively we should be pretty good. We’re a lot faster than we’ve been. I think this is a special group with chemistry. Wood doesn’t have a lot of guys going both ways like we do.”
West Catholic has dominated AA, winning eight straight Division championships. The Burrs also won four straight PIAA District 12 AA championships before losing the championship game to Imhotep the last two seasons. Imhotep’s move to AAA this season paves the way for the Burrs to make a state playoff run once again. QB Antwain McCollum (6-0, 170, Sr.), WR/DB Ahkil Crumpton (5-9, 160, Sr.), OL/DL Tymir Oliver (6-4, 265, Jr.) and LB/WR Neil Satterwhite (6-0, 195, Sr.) return. McCollum has passed for 2,890 yards in his career. “We have very good skills players with varsity game experience,” says head coach Brian Fluck. He is concerned with the depth on the line of scrimmage despite calling the linemen “a good group in the first six or seven players.”
Lansdale Catholic moves to AA from AAA challenged to find replacements for a large group of linemen who graduated from the 2013 team. QB Joe Pinzka (6-1, 190, Sr.), LB/OL Andrew McClintock (6-0, 220, Sr.), OL/DL Chris Sniscak (6-2, 235, Sr.) and RB/DB Ryan Quigley (5-11, 175, Jr.) are the top players for the Crusaders. Head coach Tom Kirk says the Crusaders’ strength is an array of playmakers. The step down in class might be give the Crusaders an edge but Kirk warns, “In our league, every team seems to reload each year.”
Neumann Goretti advanced to the AA championship game last season and the Saints intend to make it back this season. QB Ray Lenhart (6-0, 175, Sr.), a three year starter who has passed for 2,374 yards the last two seasons, RB/DB Kahlil Roane (5-10, 185, Jr.), LB Mike DiFrancesco (6-1, 220, Sr.) and OL Joe D’Emilio (6-5, 300, Sr.) return. Like many AA teams in Philadelphia, the Saints have speedy playmakers in skill positions but lack depth, especially on the line of scrimmage. Charley Szydlik replaces his son C.J. Szydlik as head coach.
Conwell Egan head coach Jack Techtmann expects the Eagles to have a potent passing attack and be a handful on the line of scrimmage. QB Mike Alley (6-4, 210, Jr.) returns after passing for 626 yards last season. TB/LB Joe Ruggerio (5-11, 185, Sr.), LB/TE Wyett McLeod (6-0, 220, Sr.), OL/DL Sam Cooper (6-2, 260, Sr.), FB/SS Andrew Liner (5-10, 190, Sr.), DL Keenan Baines (6-3, 280, Sr.) and WR/DE Jordan Burney (6-1, 190, Jr.) return.
With only three seniors, Bishop McDevitt leans on multi-tasking RB/Slot/WR/LB/DB Stephen Leach (5-7, 150, Sr.) as its playmaker on both sides of the ball. QB Max Bryson (5-11, 175, Soph.) returns after moving to starter near the end of the 2013 season. TB Vince Deleo (5-11, 180, Jr.) and PK Brandon Hannigan (5-10, 170, Sr.) return. Head coach Pat Manzi says the Lancers have talent but new starters have to gain their footing quickly. After a long tradition of doing battle with heavyweight AAA and AA Catholic teams, Manzi says the Lancers have a PIAA State Class A playoff run in their sights.
Team League Overall
Garnet Valley 9-0 11-1
Haverford 7-2 8-3
Upper Darby 7-2 8-4
Penncrest 6-3 7-3
Conestoga 5-4 6-4
Ridley 5-4 6-5
Springfield Delco 5-4 6-5
Marple-Newtown 3-6 3-7
Strath Haven 3-6 4-6
Harriton 2-7 2-8
Radnor 2-7 3-8
Lower Merion 0-9 0-10
OL Jonah Jackson Penncrest
QB Dan Fisher Penncrest
OL Ted Field Garnet Valley
DL Joe Granahan Garnet Valley
LB Connor Faith Garnet Valley
LB Adam Krauter Springfield
WR Martin Dorsey Conestoga
LB Eddie Jean Conestoga
OL/DL Aex Anderson Radnor
OT/DT Justin Fremont Strath Haven
RB Adrian Sapnas Marple-Newtown
The track record of Garnet Valley in the Central League points to the Jaguars as perennial favorites. Since it joined the league in 2008, GV has won four of the six championships; has won 48 of 54 league games. Hard to argue with that record. But Haverford will. The Fords have finished second in the league the past two seasons and their head coach Joe Gallagher says it’s about time to finish their climb to the top. There’s no blue-chip recruits but Haverford has a lot of talented, solid, determined and coached-up football players. “We’ve been knocking,” he says. “Our goal is not to finish second.” There is sure to be a lot of traffic along the way. GV has a legion of players (117) from which to pick to replace 47 seniors who graduated from the 2013 team. And the Jags’ returning cast is seasoned and talented. Penncrest is sure to be in the mix with Rutgers OL recruit Jonah Jackson and veteran QB Dan Fisher. Upper Darby aims to ride its momentum from last season. Ridley can’t be dismissed. The Green Raiders have a state-record 58 consecutive non-losing seasons. “The Central League is the strongest it’s even been,” says Conestoga head coach John Vogan.
Around the Central
Gallagher believes Haverford has the clutch playmaker at QB in Jack Donaghy (5-10, 170, Jr.), a two-year starter who didn’t pile up yards last season, just wins. “He’s an athlete and a leader,” says Gallagher, who always recalls Donaghy answering the call as a freshman when he was pressed into duty during a playoff game because starter Eddie Durkin was lost to an injury. Donaghy is the point guard on the basketball team that qualified for the PIAA state tournament last season. TE Sam Romanofsky (6-1, 200, Sr.), OL Brian Ross (6-3, 300, Sr.) and LB Mike Chicano (6-2, 210, Sr.) return. Gallagher expects speedy WR Nick Costello (6-4, 190, Sr.), who he calls an “undercover surprise,” Slotback John Kim (5-10, 175, Sr.) and transfers TB Ashton Smith (6-0 185, Jr.) from Upper Darby and DE/RB Kareem Bernard (6-1, 210, Soph.) from Penn Wood to emerge as impact playmakers for the Fords. Recent Haverford talents Durkin, Kevin Layden and Kai Thornton have all graduated but Gallagher says the Fords aren’t going away. “We don’t have that kind of talent,” says Gallagher. “You’ve got to have talent and we’ve been blessed. But our kids are also motivated. We expect to compete for the championship.”
There’s not a lot of returning starters but those who do give Garnet Valley a strong nucleus on which to reload. The biggest returning starter is OL Ted Field (6-5, 325, Jr.). who already has committed to play for Rutgers after his senior season in 2015. Field gave serious consideration to transferring to Cardinal O’Hara but decided to stay with the Jaguars. LB/S Connor Faith (5-8, 210, Sr.), a three-year starter, DE Joe Granahan (6-3, 235, Sr.), C Shane Stabinski (6-0, 260, Sr.), RB/WR/KR Zach Nelson (5-10, 190, Sr.) and FS Jack Diggory (6-2, 185, Sr.) return. How does GV remain steady year-to-year? “We’re lucky,” says head coach Mike Ricci. “Our assistant coaches are really good teachers and our kids buy in.” Steve Flanagan (6-1, 190, Sr.) is a first-year starter at QB. “He runs the option very well,” says Ricci. “Has a strong arm and is a respected leader.” Ricci expects the Jaguars to be fast and aggressive on defense and stay with their tried and true formula for success on offense—strong linemen plowing under defenses for talented running backs.
Fisher (6-2, 195, Sr.), Jackson (6-4, 290, Sr.), OT Carlos Ruiz (6-2, 300, Sr.), C Sean Stitz (5-11, 170, Sr.), WR Bob McCaffery (5-10, 165, Sr.), WR Zane Horn (6-2, 175, Jr.) and LB Diego Zubieta (5-11, 195, Sr.) are returning starters for Penncrest. Fisher passed for 1,197 yards and 14 TDs last season. Head coach Rick Stroup expects the Lions to have a strong defense and for Fisher to take care of the ball at QB. The Lions need a reliable running back to emerge. Stroup says the Penncrest lacrosse team which won the PIAA state championship in June has set a championship tone for the football team. Some athletes play both lacrosse and football. “We have the talent,” says Stoup. “It’s whether we can stay healthy.”
After qualifying last season for the PIAA District 1 AAAA playoffs for only the third time, Upper Darby is energized to remain in the league championship and post-season mix. On paper, the formula for that is simple. “Last year was one of our most successful years,” says offensive coordinator Eric Ruffenach. “If we can reduce turnovers and play disciplined football we can turn our two Central League losses into wins and compete for a league title.” Easier said than done but OL/DL Scott Rucci (6-3, 260, Sr.), OL/DL Nataar Henderson (6-5, 305, Sr.), RB Lawrence Bowden (5-8, 170, Sr.), C Madhat Fares (6-0, 240, Sr.) and FB/LB Chris Gambone (5-11, 215, Sr.) are the returning starters to keep the Royals on a roll. Ruffenbach and head coach Rich Gentile expect S Rociado Jennings (6-0, 175, Sr.) to emerge as a playmaker on defense. Christoff Minot (5-9, 160, Jr.) is a first-year starter at QB. Rucci is the nephew of former Penn State and NFL lineman Todd Rucci. Fares is a national honor society student. After years of struggling, the Royals revamped and it clicked, recapturing a taste of their once-winning tradition. “The players’ commitment, accountability and knowledge of the game played a role,” says Ruffenbach. “We upgraded the number of coaches on the staff. We got the players to recognize that we were a dominant team at one time. Playoffs will be a goal every season.” Having one of the best all-around QBs in UD football history, Chris Rossiter, who graduated after producing 2,187 total yards and 25 TDs, helped a lot as well. An honorable mention on the all-conference team last season, athlete Kevin White was dismissed from the team before preseason camp.
For Ridley, strong play by the Quarterback and the defense has been the ticket to winning league championships and reaching the PIAA District 1 playoffs. The Green Raiders are breaking in a new QB and a new defensive coordinator this season. Former Bishop Shanahan assistant coach Jeff Hanson takes over the Ridley defense this season. Under respected veteran DC Ralph Battie, who retired after 36 years in coaching, the Raiders always had an answer for opponents’ potent offenses. And they always find a QB who can execute the passing attack. This season Jake Hoffman (5-9, 170, Sr.) and Tre Hinchey (5-11, 185, Sr.) are in the QB mix. A former Ridley QB, head coach Dennis Decker says he’s looking for a QB who is consistent. WR Jasir Minor (5-9, 170, Sr.), WR Christian Dunn (5-9, 175, Jr.), OL/DL Jesse Lesher (6-4, 310, Sr.), LB Ryan Dougherty (5-11, 205, Sr.) and DL Antonio Betril (5-10, 210, Jr.) are returning starters. Decker says the Raiders’ strength is their group of linemen and a lot of first-year seniors will be starters.
TE/LB Adam Krauter (6-1, 225, Sr.), QB/S Brian Allen (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR/C Mike Fleagle (5-9, 165, Sr.) and WR/C James Harris (5-8, 160, Sr.) return for Springfield, who have eight starters returning on defense and six starters returning on offense. Chris Britton, who replaces Tom Kline as head coach, says the Cougars will rely on the defense until the offense finds its identity.
WR/FS Martin Dorsey (6-4, 190, Sr.), FB/LB Eddie Jean (6-3, 205, Sr.), C/DT Lenny Watson (6-1, 260, Sr.), FB/LB Matt Prestipino (6-0, 185, Sr.) and TE/LB Jack McClain (6-3, 200, Sr.) return for Conestoga. Tim Miller (6-1, 170, Jr.), who was the starter last season, and John Loctore (5-11, 170, Jr.) are in the mix at QB. Dorsey had 44 receptions for 559 yards and seven TDs last season. Jean was in on 90 tackles last season. Head coach John Vogan says the Pioneers have a strong group of skill position players—both starters and important substitutes—returning. And the need to find linemen is helped by returning players who saw playing time last season. “It should not take them long to become a solid unit,” says Vogan.
For Strath Haven, the margin between a successful season and a losing one grows tighter every year. “We have 12-13 pretty good players,” says Panthers head coach Kevin Clancy. “They play both ways. The drop off from 12 to 14 is our problem. The weakness is depth. We cannot afford injuries to top players.” A strong nucleus of returning players aim to rebound from rare back-to-back losing seasons for Strath Haven, the perennial Central League champion and state powerhouse in the 1990s. QB/HB/DB Alex Bratsis (5-11, 180, Sr.), a versatile playmaker who moves to QB, OT/DT Justin Fremont (6-3, 265, Sr.), WR/DB Paul Somaru (6-2, 170, Sr.), who runs a 40 in 4.55 seconds, and RB/DB Nick Milone (5-10, 180, Sr.) return.
Former Marple-Newtown QB Chris Gicking replaces Ray Gionta as head coach for the Tigers. Gicking QBed M-N from 1993-1995 and passed for a Delaware County career record 5,897 yards. RB/DB Adrian Sapnas (6-0, 175, Sr.), RB/DB Abel Hoff (5-9, 155, Jr.), RB/LB Adriel Maas (5-11, 165, Sr.) and WR/DB Lucas Maas (6-0, 175, Sr.) return. There will be a learning curve because Gicking plans on introducing new offensive and defensive schemes.
OL/DL Alex Anderson (6-2, 270, Sr.), RB Aaron Fuller (5-10, 170, Jr.), Slotback/WR Alex Hineo (5-11, 175, Jr.) and LB John Lord (6-0, 210, Sr.) return for Radnor. Anderson is a three-year starter who has attracted Ivy and Patriot league recruiters. Also returning are Chris Layton (6-1, 180, Sr.) and Vinnie Kelly (5-10, 170, Jr.) who split time at QB last season. Red Raiders head coach Tom Ryan expects RB Aaron Fuller (5-10, 170, Jr.) to emerge as a playmaker. It’s a tough climb to get to .500 in the Central League for Radnor, Lower Merion and Harriton. “Playing against the bigger schools puts us in a tough spot,” says Ryan.
OL/DL Yuejay Reeves (6-1, 250, Sr.), WR/DB Jaylen Glasgow (5-9, 170, Sr.), TE/LB Mike Berg (6-1, 200, Jr.) and RB/DB Brandon Jones (5-9, 160, Jr.) return for Lower Merion. Brian Scopelliti replaces Dana Keith as head coach of the Aces, who begin the season on a 20-game losing streak.
TE/LB Sam Schlichting (6-4, 240, Sr.), RB/DB Eddie Byrd III I5-8, 150, Sr.), WR/DB Jordan O’Donnell (5-9, 155, Sr.) and QB/DB Patrick Stewart (5-11, 165, Jr.) return for Harriton. The multi-threat Byrd rushed for 240 yards and caught eight passes for 76 yards last season. Schlichting was in on 41 tackles. Head coach Justin Mellor says the Rams will rely on a lot of young, inexperienced players.
Team League Overall
Rustin 6-0 10-1
Unionville 5-1 8-3
Great Valley 4-2 8-3
Oxford 3-3 7-4
Kennett 2-4 3-7
Octorara 1-5 1-9
Sun Valley 0-6 2-10
Downingtown West 6-0 8-3
Coatesville 5-1 9-2
Henderson 4-2 7-5
Bishop Shanahan 2-4 5-5
Downingtown East 2-4 4-6
West Chester East 2-4 6-5
Avon Grove 0-6 1-10
RB Terry Loper Rustin
QB Alex Pechin Unionville
DL Ryan Buchholz Great Valley
QB Jon Jon Roberts West Chester East
WR Cary Angeline Downingtown East
OL Bryan White Henderson
OT/DT Doug Costin Bishop Shanahan
WR Ryan Hubley Oxford
WR Jay Stocker Coatesville
DB Ahkeema Evans Coatesville
TE Amir Ealey Coatesville
There hasn’t been an American Division opponent that has been able to stop consistently the rushing attack of Rustin, which has won five of the last six Division championships. With RB Terry Loper, a FCS recruit, and a veteran offensive line returning for the Golden Knights, Rustin has the muscle and firepower to remain on top. Unionville, which interrupted Rustin’s reign in 2012, and Great Valley are sure to challenge. Unionville is led by versatile veteran QB Alex Pechin and C Andrew Jones. Penn State recruit DE Ryan Buchholz leads Great Valley, which is now coached by former Downingtown QB Dan Ellis, who left West Chester East. Both the Indians and Patriots are stocked with talent and veterans.
First Henderson, then Downingtown East and finally Downingtown West has denied Coatesville a National Division championship the last three seasons under ambitious head coach Matt Ortega. Once again, with four major college recruits who are playmakers and a stockpile of athletes to turn to, Coatesville has the look of a favorite. But so does Downingtown East, Henderson and Downingtown West, all of who have veteran-dominated starting lineups and who also have major college recruits as well. Even Bishop Shanahan and West Chester East put an array of college prospects on the field. The Red Raiders, who were PIAA District 1 AAAA champions and advanced to the PIAA State AAAA championship game in 2012, just may be due to clear the hurdle that’s been most elusive.
Around the American Division
Loper (5-10, 195, Sr.), who rushed for 1,734 yards and also plays strong safety, has scholarship offers from Buffalo, Rhode Island, Monmouth and Bryant. Loper, OL/DE Phil Vechiolli (5-10, 240, Sr.), TE/DE Matt Hosking (6-1, 245, Sr.), FS/RB Mike McKnight (6-1, 175, Sr.), LB Greg Krikorian (6-2, 215, Sr.) and OL Ray Borderly (6-6, 310, Jr.) are the top players for Rustin. Krikorian is the leader on defense and McKnight had five interceptions. There’s seven returning starters on offense and five on defense. Head coach Mike St. Clair expects the Division 1 offers to start coming Borderly’s way. The Golden Knights have a dominating rushing attack with Loper and four returning starters on the offensive line which includes Vechiolli, Borderly, OL Nick Leonard (6-3, 275, Jr.) and OL Christos Moscaros (6-4, 270, Sr.). Evan Wlock (5-10, 175, Jr.) and Jack Carfagno (6-0, 185, Sr.) are in the mix at QB. Some on defense are untested where there’s first-year starters at LB and in the secondary. Championships are always on the agenda at Rustin. “First we want to win the battle of West Chester,” says St. Clair. “Then we want to win the Ches-Mont. Going deeper into the district playoffs is a goal.”
Buchholz (6-6, 245, Sr.), who also plays TE, SS/WR Nasir Adderly (6-0, 185, Sr.), DDB/RB River Johnson (5-10, 175, Sr.) and FS/WR Doug Strang (5-11, 165, Sr.) return for Great Valley, where Dan Ellis moves from West Chester East to replace Mike Choi as head coach of the Patriots. There’s a lot of returning players on both sides of the ball who were starters or saw significant playing time last season. “Our strength is our quickness and speed,” says Ellis. “Our weakness is size. Our lines are not as big as they have been in the past.” Zack Ludwig (5-11, 175, Sr.) and Nick Cionci (5-11, 160, Jr.) are in the mix at QB. Johnson is the first RB but there are many in the rotation, including speedy RB/LB Carter Rubin (6-0, 180, Sr.) who Ellis expects to emerge as a playmaker.
With Pechin (6-0, 175, Sr.), Unionville has one of the top offensive playmakers in the Ches-Mont. He passed for 1,887 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for six TDs last season. He also kicked two 40-plus yard field goals. Jones (6-1, 275, Sr.) is a four-year starter and has been named to the All-Ches-Mont American team the past three seasons. Army has offered him a scholarship. LB Quinn Cheyney (6-1, 220, Sr.), a four-year starter, and LB Michael Weber (6-1, 195, Sr.) also return. These four give the Indians a strong nucleus. Still, head coach Pat Clark says he’s concerned there are only 11 seniors on the team. “So juniors and sophomores must be ready to play,” he says.
Playing QB and RB, Alex Gooden (5-11, 185, Sr.) has produced 3,236 total yards of offense the past two seasons for Octorara. He has drawn recruiting interest from a range of FCS teams, including the Ivy League. Also returning for the Braves are RB/FS Corey Cooper (5-10, 175, Sr.) and WR/LB Nate Reynolds (6-1, 175, Sr.). All three are two-way, three-year starters. OL/DL Brandon Gregor (6-0, 210, Sr.) returns. Soph. Jamison Schempp (6-0, 175) splits time with Gooden at QB. With these veteran leaders and playmakers among 10 seniors who have a lot of playing time since their sophomore seasons, head coach Jed King expects the Braves to finish the season above .500 for the first time. “This year should be better than the last two years,” says King. “The best team in school history was 5-5. We’re looking to be better.”
Oxford head coach Mike Pietlock believes the seven wins last season—the most for the Hornets since 1997—is a confidence-builder for this season. Adding to the confidence that comes from success is a group of returning veterans led by WR/S Ryan Hubley (6-2, 195, Sr.), RB Zach Deasey (5-8, 180, Sr.), TE/LB Brad Way (6-0, 205, Sr.) and OL Brandon Liberato (6-6, 215, Sr.). Hubley, who is drawing the attention of FCS recruiters, had 653 receiving yards and scored nine TDs and had 106 tackles last season. Deasey rushed for 565 yards and scored five TDs. Way is a two-way, three-year starter who had 65 tackles last season. It’s a tall order for the Hornets to find a QB to follow Ethan Herb, who graduated after passing for 4,025 yards the past three seasons. Dan Green (6-0, 185, Jr.) and Eric Impriano (5-9, 180, Soph.) are in the mix at QB. “Hubley will be the best player on the field for most of the schedule,” says Pietlock. “There’s a good set of skill position players around him.” But Pietlock says the Hornets will be forced to play as many as five sophomores among the seven first-year starters on both sides of the ball. Pietlock expects WR/DB Mike Williams (5-8, 170, Jr.) and WR/DB Connor Hilaman (5-11, 175, Jr.) to emerge as playmakers.
QB Nick Dunleavy (5-11, 155, Jr.), OT Austin Gray (6-2, 245, Sr.), SS Jake Rose (5-10, 165, Sr.) and DT Lee Woodall, Jr. (6-3, 235, Sr.) are the top players for Kennett and head coach Scott Green. Assistant coach Adam Burawski says the Blue Demons return just two starters on offense and six on defense. Woodall, who moved in from California, is the son of former NFL (49ers), West Chester University and Carlisle High School player Lee Woodall. Underclassmen will fill most of the starting positions.
Ray Gionta left Marple-Newtown to replace Jim Grugan as head coach of Sun Valley. RB Juwan Chandler (5-8, 150, Sr.), who missed last season due to an injury after he emerged as a playmaker as a sophomore, returns for the Vanguards. OL/DL Ed Racine (6-1, 320, Sr.), TE/DE Nate Cusumano (6-3, 210, Sr.), RB/DB Kijana Gordan (5-9, 170, Sr.) and RB/LB Mike Fisher (6-1, 190, Sr.) also return. Soph. Gabe Boccella (5-10, 165) is in the mix at QB. Gionta says the Vanguards have capable skill position players but they will be forced to depend on in experienced underclassmen on the line of scrimmage.
Around the National Division
With the departure of 30 seniors who graduated, Coatesville will have eight first-year starters on defense and six on offense. At least on paper, not the look of a favorite. But there’s major college football talent in important positions on both sides of the ball to cover until the new starters ramp up. WR/DB Jay Stocker (6-2, 190, Sr.), TE/DE Amir Ealey (6-4, 230, Sr.) and DB Ahkema Evans (5-10, 180, Sr.) are headed to Division 1 football teams. Stocker has 20 scholarship offers. Ealey has 11 and Evans has committed to Temple. QB Jordan Young (6-2, 200, Jr.) is a returning starter to whom Temple has already offered a scholarship. TB Jalen Hudson (5-8, 175, Sr.), OL/DL Garrett Muroski (6-3, 300, Sr.), WR Keenan Coleman (5-10, 160, Sr.) and LB Stephen Pawling (6-0, 200, Sr.) also return. Ortega says the secondary is solid but the offensive and defensive line units are “big question mark.” There’s no question about the Raiders’ determination after finishing in second-place the last three seasons.
With five starters returning on offense and nine on defense, Downingtown West has what it takes to repeat as Ches-Mont National Division champions. The Whippets have won or shared three Ches-Mont National championships since 2008. QB Tyler McNulty (6-1, 190, Sr.) gained valuable experience last season from platooning with veteran Nick Pagel who graduated. WR Jim DiSantis (5-11, 170, Jr.), OL John West (6-4, 225, Jr.), OL Jackson Hale (6-5, 205, Jr.), OL Sam Drill (6-2, 225, Sr.), RB Jake Barr (5-11, 175, Jr.), WR/DB Tom Mattioni (6-1, 185, Jr.) and Braden Harper (6-0, 190, Jr.) return on offense. DT Tom O’Brien (5-11, 235, Sr.), DB Ryan Schmitt (5-9, 165, Sr.), DL Brandon Peterson (6-3, 220, Jr.), DL Mike Withka (5-10, 165, Sr.), LB Brandon Myers (6-1, 205, Jr.), LB Lucas McMahon (5-11, 180, Sr.) and FS Jason Borosky (6-0, 170, Sr.) return on defense. Barr and Mattioni are playmakers on offense and McMahon, O’Brien and Schmitt are leaders on defense. Head coach Mike Milano expects the Whippets, who started seven sophomores last season but surprised everyone, to be even better this season. “We started 1-2 last season,” says Milano. “Downingtown East and Coatesville had all of those Division 1 kids. But the kids kept working. We were undersized last year. We’re one year older.”
After two seasons playing in PIAA AAA, Henderson has bounced back over the dividing line just into the AAAA classification—a move that tosses the Warriors into the crowded pool of 44 AAAA teams competing for 16 playoff spots. They first have their hands full in the Ches-Mont. With eight starters returning on offense and seven back on defense, the Warriors have a veteran lineup that can meet the challenge. OL/DL Bryan White (6-1, 270, Sr.), RB/QB/DB Noah Richard (6-3, 205, Sr.), RB/DB Trey Green (6-0, 180, Sr.) and OL James McDonald (6-4, 275, Sr.) are Henderson’s top players. White had 90 tackles, 18 for loss yards, last season and has committed to play for Villanova. Richard had 39 tackles and Green had 44 tackles. The Warrior’s veer offense is tough to stop and they emphasize defense. “Our strength for the last eight to 10 years has been our defense,” says head coach Steve Mitten. “And a lot teams with their spread offenses, trying to get 90 plays in a game, we want to play ball control with the veer and put them in a position to make every one of their plays count.” Matt Dinacci (6-1, 200, Jr.) and Richard are in the mix at QB.
Downingtown East has a strong group of returning starters on both sides of the ball with five returning on offense and eight on defense. QB Ryan Rumor (6-2, 200, Sr.), WR/TE Cary Angeline (6-7, 230, Jr.), WR Dan Chisena (6-1, 170, Sr.), Tyler Zuraski (6-2, 250, Sr.) and HB/FB Keith Conner (5-10, 200, Sr.) return on offense. LB Tyler Buban (6-0, 200, Sr.), DB Justin Cohen (5-9, 160, Sr.), DE Thad Stevenson-Pancisan (6-2, 225, Sr.), DE Caleb Fell (6-3, 240, Sr.), LB Brody Wilson (6-2, 225, Jr.), LB Adam Stata (6-0, 170, Sr.) and DL Jason Gibson (6-0, 190, Sr.) are returning starters on defense. Cougars head coach Mike Matta says Angeline has 11 scholarship offers. Among those are offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern and Rutgers. “He could be one of the best all time,” says Matta.
Dave Gueriera replaces Dan Ellis, who is now the head coach at Great Valley, as head coach at West Chester East. . It took three seasons for Ellis to get the Vikings back to a winning record, their first winning season since 2006 when they won the Ches-Mont championship. There’s a solid group of playmakers to help Gueriera to take it from there. QB Jon Jon Roberts (5-10, 165, Jr.) has emerged as a prolific passer. He passed for 2,644 yards and 23 TDs last season and now has 3,227 yards passing in his first two seasons. DE/OT Kevin Murphy (6-2, 265, Sr.) has commited to Connecticut. He has seven sacks last season. WR/SS Pat Downey (6-2, 165, Sr.) had 45 pass receptions last season. WR/FS Evan Anderson (5-10, 165, Sr.), who had seven interceptions last season, also returns. The Vikings offensive line remains mostly intact. Gueriera is focused on improving the defense, which allowed 33 points per game last season.
QB Dan Murphy (6-1, 180, Sr.), OT/DT Doug Costin (6-3, 265, Jr.), TE/LB Cody Smith (6-1, 245, Sr.) and WR/DB Jeff Zebrowski (6-0, 180, Sr.) return for Bishop Shanahan. A dual-threat, Murphy rushed for 910 yards and had 700 yards passing. Smith had 450 receiving yards. Head coach Paul Meyers says the Eagles have the athletes with speed to give Ches-Mont opponents matchup problems. But they need to develop linemen.
Former Unionville assistant coach Harry O’Neill replaces Doug Langley as head coach of Avon Grove, which has won just seven of its last 40 games since it tied for the Ches-Mont championship in 2009. LB Ryan Hoffman (5-11, 230, Jr.), OT/DT Kyle Speer (6-3, 240, Sr.), RB Nate Jones (5-8, 170, Soph.) DB Kyle Harris (6-1, 175, Sr.) and DL Bashom Haith (6-0, 255, Sr.) are the top players for the Red Devils. O’Neill expects Jones to emerge as a playmaker in his first season as a starter. At the top of his agenda, is to get the Red Devils turned around. “Hoffman and Speer have set the tone for a change of culture,” says O’Neill. “My expectations are to compete on a weekly basis, which hasn’t been the case here for most of the short history.”
Team League Overall
Glen Mills 5-0 9-4
Academy Park 4-1 10-3
Interboro 3-2 6-5
Chichester 2-3 5-7
Chester 1-4 2-8
Penn Wood 0-5 1-9
TB Deron Savoy Glen Mills
TE/WR Anthony Johnson Glen Mills
OT Naje Lathan Glen Mills
OL/DL Jeremiah Dellipriscolloi Interboro
QB/LB Sean Menold Interboro
LB/RB Danny Nea Interboro
RB/LB Jermaine Wesley Academy Park
RB/LB Jeremy Dembry Academy Park
OL/DL D’Andre Gill Chester
RB/DB Edward Nelson Chester
RB Tavon Ruley Penn Wood
Glen Mills, which has won two of the last three Del-Val championships, and Academy Park, which won the league in 2012 and the PIAA District 1 AAA championship last season by defeating Glen Mills, have pushed once-dominating Interboro out of the way. The Battlin’ Bulls coaching staff has improved on its off-season evaluation on how the lineup is going to take shape. The Knights have gotten a handle on how to develop their athletes. Not that Interboro is sliding backwards. The Bucs won the District 1 championship in 2012. Now the Del-Val is home to three of the top AAA teams in District 1. The margin between the three teams is small. But Glen Mills owns an edge provided by a stable of athletes with size and speed.
Around the Del-Val
TB Deron Savoy (5-9, 185, Sr.), TE/WR Anthony Johnson (6-7, 230, Jr.), OT Naje Lathan (6-3, 265, Jr.) and DB Quinton Christian (5-10, 175, Sr.) return for Glen Mills, poised to defense its Del-Val championship. “That’s a lot of returning starters for Glen Mills,” says assistant coach Robert Hall. “Last year we pieced it together. This is the first time since I’ve been here we haven’t declared we don’t know what we have. We’ve got some bodies.” Hall says the Bulls will continue their tradition of physical football with a grind-it-out rushing attack. There’s always ample numbers of big and fast athletes at Glen Mills and this season is no different. The challenge for the Bulls’ coaching staff is getting them all on the same page. When the chemistry develops, the Bulls are a handful for any opponent. Head coach Kevin Owens expects Savoy to emerge as a playmaker on offense and Lathan to be one of the best offensive linemen in the league. “This is the best our defense has looked this early,” says Hall.
In contrast to Glen Mills, Interboro has remained one of the top football teams in SE PA year-in and year-out because of players who are willing to do whatever it takes to win. “We are not always as big or as fast as our opponents,” says veteran head coach Steve Lennox. “But we have hard-nosed kids who play their hardest on every down. We have real tough kids. We have some athletes but we don’t have the numbers others do. We have to be disciplined.” The Bucs will lean on QB/LB Sean Menold (5-10, 180, Sr.), a playmaker on both sides of the ball, RB/LB Mike Ochuida (5-9, 175, Sr.), OL/DL Jason Miksit (5-10, 175, Sr.) and OL/DL Jeremiah Dellipriscolloi (5-11, 180, Sr.). They are first-year starters who saw important playing time last season. Assistant coach Joe Coffey expects RB/DB Sean Douglas (5-11, 185, Jr.), RB/DB Chris Hummel (5-10, 165, Jr.), RB/DB Lamar Shaw (6-0, 255, Jr.) and RB Paul Bilardo (5-9, 165, Sr.) to make an impact in the rushing attack. Lennox expects TE Chase Pattinson (6-2, 190, Jr.), WR Naim Bey (5-11 175, Sr.), WR Blake Dalesio (5-11, 150, Sr.) and WR Paul Younkman (6-1, 170, Sr.) to emerge in the passing attack. LB/RB Danny Nea (6-0, 205, Jr.) is a leader on defense. One of the top playmakers last season, WR Mark Everton, has transferred to Cardinal O’Hara.
WR/DB Clarence Buchanan (5-11, 170, Jr.), LB Anthony Balogh (5-11, 190, Jr.) RB/LB Jermaine Wesley (5-11, 185, Jr.) and RB/LB Jeremy Dembry (6-0, 195, Jr.) are the top players for Academy Park. Head coach Jason Vosheski has energized and raised the profile of Academy Park football. But with only five returning starters, the challenge to reload rather than rebuild will be difficult this season. “We do not have a lot of field experience returning,” says Vosheski. “We have a tremendous junior and sophomore group of players.” Allon Ruffin (5-11, 175, Sr.) is a first-year starter at QB. Wesley and Dembry are the go-to guys in the rushing attack. OL Chris Thomas (6-3, 180, Soph.) is the only returning starter on the offensive line. It will be difficult to replace the dynamic playmakers from last season, RB Jerry Lanier and QB Brian Ingram, both who graduated.
A former head coach in the Philadelphia Public League, Tony Beaty replaces Chuck Crews as head coach of Chester. WR/DB Hassan Bush (5-9, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Edward Nelson (5-10, 185, Jr.), OL/DL D’Andre Dill (6-3, 275, Jr.) and TE/DE Andre Fambro (6-2, 200, Sr.) are the top players for the Clippers. Offensive coordinator Dahnte Crawley says there are a lot of returning starters who saw a lot of playing time as sophomores. But there’s concern with a lack of depth with linemen.
Chichester head coach Ryan Smith expects QB Greg Mills (6-1, 170, Sr.), RB Kevin Miller (5-10, 190, Jr.), TE/FB Danny Sullivan (5-10, 215, Sr.), RB/WR John Lawrence (5-11, 175. Jr.), OL/DL Colin McAllister (6-3, 290, Sr.) and LB Isaiah Bobo (5-9, 205, Sr.) to be the nucleus for the Eagles, who have a lineup dominated by first-year starters. “We are very raw, very young,” Smith says. “We’ve got a lot to prove.” Smith says the rushing attack needs to be a strength and that team speed is better than past years.
Former Imhotep Charter assistant coach Nick Lincoln replaces Troy Brooks as head coach of Penn Wood. Despite the fact that the Patriots have won just two games over the past three seasons, Lincoln declares that it won’t take long for Penn Wood to jump back into the mix in the Del-Val. “I don’t think it’s a rebuilding year,” he says. “Our players are extremely hungry. We’ve got skilled kids. It’s up to me to get our linemen figured out.” Fred Johnson (5-8, 180, Sr.) returns at QB where dual-threat Soph. Edward Fields III (6-1, 175) is also in the mix. Lincoln expects RB Tayvon Ruley (6-0, 180, Sr), WR Kwabriem Jenkins (5-10, 180, Sr.), WR Malik Grant (5-9, 160, Soph.), OL/DL Jordan Johnson (6-4, 245, Jr.) and FS/SS Casheim Harris (5-11, 180, Sr.) to be the main contributors on both sides of the ball. He says Ruley and Jordan Johnson are emerging impact players.
Team League Overall
Haverford School 4-1 6-5
Malvern Prep 4-1 8-2
Episcopal Academy 3-2 8-3
Germantown Academy 2-3 6-4
Penn Charter 1-4 4-6
Springside Chesnut Hill 1-4 5-5
RB Phil Poquie Haverford
LB/WR Derek Mountain Haverford
LB L. J. Barlow Haverford
QB Ryan Whayland Episcopal Academy
OL/DL John Minicozzi Episcopal Academy
QB Alex Hornibrook Malvern Prep
OL/DL Hayden Mahoney Malvern Prep
OL/DL Jacob Rebisz Malvern Prep
LB/RB Trevor Morris Malvern Prep
QB Paul Dooley SCH Academy
OL/LB Pat McInerney Penn Charter
Haverford School and Episcopal Academy have made in-roads, but identifying the favorite in the Inter-Ac always begins with Malvern Prep. The four top players for the Friars are major college football recruits, including Pitt-commit Alex Hornibrook at QB. Still it’s hard to pick against Haverford with a large veteran group of returning starters led by playmaker Phil Poquie. The Fords have won or shared the Inter-Ac title three times since 2009. Malvern and Haverford have the same 20-5 league record since 2009. It should be no surprise if Haverford overtakes Malvern. What may shape up as the year of the QB in the Inter-Ac, EA, which won the championship in 2012, is led by QB Ryan Whayland. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy is dangerous with returning QB Paul Dooley. QB Michael Hnatkowsky returns for Penn Charter. These four QBs combined for 5,600 passing yards last season.
Around the Inter-Ac
One of the top versatile offensive threats in the Inter-Ac, Poquie (5-9, 185, Sr.) rushed for 825 yards, had 122 yards receiving and scored eight TDs last season for Haverford. The Fords have 15 returning starters—that’s a lot for and not often the case with Inter-Ac teams. OL/DL Chauncey Simmons (6-4, 310, Sr.), LB/OL L. J. Barlow (6-3, 215, Sr.), WR/DB Dox Aitken (6-4, 190, Jr.), LB/MP Niles Easley (6-1, 195, Sr.), and OLB/WR Derek Mountain (6-5, 205, Sr.) return. Kevin Carter (6-0, 185, Jr.) is a first-year starter at QB. Poquie has offers from Holy Cross, Fordham and Richmond but is leaning towards lacrosse in college. He is on the radar of lax recruiters from Virginia and Notre Dame. New Hampshire has offered a scholarship to Mountain. Head coach Mike Murphy expects Easley to emerge as a multi-purpose threat on offense moving between TB and slotback. Barlow is the leader on defense. “This is a senior-dominated and experienced team,” says Murphy. “We will be a balanced team.”
Aaron Brady replaces Kevin Pellegrini as head coach at Malvern Prep and finds a four major college football recruits. Pitt-bound Hornibrook (6-4, 205, Sr.) returns at QB after passing for 1,190 yards last season. Returning OL/DT Hayden Mahoney (6-5, 295, Sr.) has made a commitment to a scholarship offer from University of Miami (Fla.). LB/RB Trevor Morris (6-1, 205, Sr.) has full-rides from Buffalo, James Madison and Ohio to consider. TE/LB Ryan O’Neill (6-3, 230, Sr.) is an Ivy and Patriot league recruit. RB/DB Dymond Wright (5-9, 175, Sr.) and OL/DL Jacob Rebisz (6-2, 250, Sr.), one of the top linemen in the Inter-Ac, also return. The Friars, who have six starters returning on offense and five on defense, are strong on the line of scrimmage and have a steady hand at QB. They need to shore up their linebackers and secondary—especially with the veteran QBs they will face in the Inter-Ac. Brady expects Wright to emerge as playmaker on offense. This season is the first since 1977 that a Pellegrini is not the Malvern head coach. Gamp Pellegrini was head coach from 1978 through 2008 and his son Kevin followed him until stepping down after last season.
Whayland (6-2, 210, Sr.), OL/DL John Minicozzi (5-10, 260, Sr.), LB/TE Jake Martilotti (6-0, 210, Sr.) and RB/LB Dee Barlee (5-8, 190, Jr.) return for Episcopal Academy. The potent passing attack remains intact with Whayland on the trigger after passing for 2,095 yards and 17 TDs last season. Barlee rushed for 679 yards. EA also has a veteran lineup. “We return a good amount of key players in key positions who have experience,” says Churchmen head coach Todd Fairlie. The Churchmen need to develop linemen.
SCH Academy has won just two league games over the past two seasons but one of those was a 24-21 win over Haverford last season. The Blue Devils then lost a 63-50 shoot out to Malvern Prep. So they aren’t far off from climbing back to contender status. There’s seven returning starters on both sides of the ball. Dooley (6-1, 205, Sr.), DB/QB Dylan Parsons (6-1, 180, Sr.), WR/S Sameir Madden (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/DB Jordan Johnson (5-7, 140, Sr.) and OL/DL Darian Bryant (6-6, 335, Sr.) return. Dooley passed for 1,625 yards and 22 TDs last season. Head coach Rick Knox says there’s a strong, veteran group of playmakers on offense but the Devils need to develop linemen.
Hnatkowsky (6-1, 185, Soph.) returns at QB. Penn Charter head coach Tom Coyle says Pat McCain (6-3, 175), who played WR/DB last season, is also in the mix at QB. The Quakers have 10 returning starters. TE Evan Ferrel (6-4, 210, Jr.), H-back/WR Kenny Bergmann (5-11, 200, Jr.), TE/LB Rob Keehfus (6-0, 195, Sr.), OL/LB Pat McInerney (6-1, 225, Sr.), OL Sean Foley (6-4, 245, Jr.), OG Bill Costello (5-11, 265, Soph.), OL Alex Slook (6-2, 230, Soph.), OL/DL Jelani Buie (6-3, 225, Sr.) and H-back/LB Frank McGlinchey (5-11, 180, Sr.) return. Coyle expects Central Bucks transfer Jeremy Bass (6-2, 225, Soph.) to make an impact and for WR/DB Denari Beard (6-3, 185, Soph.) to emerge as a playmaker. McInerney is a three-year starter who is a Ivy League recruit. Keehfus is headed to Navy to play lacrosse. McGlinchey is the younger brother of former Penn Charter lineman Michael, who is playing at Notre Dame. “We’re better at each position,” says Coyle. “We’re a year older, stronger, wiser. We weren’t good at finishing games last season. We need to improve our depth and get stronger.”
RB/LB Ryan Calhoun (6-1, 210, Sr.), WR/DB Kashta Davis (5-10, 180, Sr.), OL/DL Max Hanamarian (6-0, 250, Sr.) and WR/DE Andrew Simon (6-3, 210, Sr.) return for Germantown Academy. The Patriots have to recover from 15 contributors graduating from the 2013 team. Davis is one of the top defensive backs in the Inter-Ac. Head coach Matt Dence says there’s talent at the skill positions, LB and the secondary but the lineup will include a lot of untested underclassmen. Kyle McCloskey (6-3, 185, Soph.) and Isaiah Jones (6-2, 185, Fr.) are in the mix at QB.
Team League Overall
Pottsgrove 9-0 11-1
Spring-Ford 8-1 10-3
Perkiomen Valley 7-2 10-3
Methacton 6-3 7-4
Boyertown 5-4 7-4
Phoenixville 4-5 4-9
Owen J. Roberts 3-6 3-9
Pope John Paul II 1-8 1-9
Pottstown 1-8 1-11
Upper Perkiomen 1-8 1-9
OL/DL Patrick Finn Pottsgrove
DB Michael Fowler Pottsgrove
OL/DL Seth Jonassen Perkiomen Valley
WR Taiyir Wilson Perkiomen Valley
QB Conner Derrickson Methacton
Slot/DB Akeem Walcott Methacton
WR/DB Matt Palubinsky Phoenixville
QB/DB Gary Wise Pottstown
QB/S Mitch Bradford Owen J. Roberts
QB/WR/FS Matt Mesaros Pope John Paul II
QB Brandon Leacroft Spring-Ford
Pottsgrove, which has won the last two PAC-10 championships (four since 2008) and has qualified for the PIAA District 1 playoffs eight straight years, has gone it alone when carrying the league banner into the post season—where the Falcons have built a dangerous reputation with the top AAA teams in SE PA. At last, Pottsgrove now has company. In 2012, Spring-Ford was the first PAC-10 AAAA team to win a District 1 playoff game. The Fords won three playoff games and then lost the district final to Coatesville in 2012. Then Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford had first-round playoff wins last season over Ches-Mont teams. PV also won its quarterfinal before losing the semifinal to North Penn. From no victories to six the past two seasons. The PAC-10 stock is up for the AAAA teams but Pottsgrove is still the kingpin to win its third PAC-10 title in a row. Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley and Methacton are the challengers. There’s a wild card that could impact who’s left standing. “The league had such a turnover of seniors,” says Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed. “Our league in general is starting over. We have to replace nine on defense. Pottsgrove replaces 10 on defense. Spring-Ford replaces all 11 on defense. And there’s four new coaches.” Linemen are expected to make the biggest impact this season in the conference. Pottsgrove OL/DL Patrick Finn and Perkiomen Valley OL/DL Seth Jonassen are major college football recruits.
Around the PAC-10
Pottsgrove has won 25 straight PAC-10 league games and no PAC-10 opponent appears able stop the Falcons’ roll. “Over the past seven or eight years,” says Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker, “this is the best football we’ve had.” The Falcons often have size on the line of scrimmage and their trademark speed on offense and defense. They have been the dominant team in the PAC-10 because the Falcons most often own the edge in critical matchups. Despite just three returning starters each on offense and defense, this year’s team is no different. Returning are Finn (6-4, 250, Sr.), DB Michael Fowler (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR Wyatt Porter (6-0, 190, Jr.) and TB Devon Fink (5-8, 160, Sr.). Fink rushed for 503 yards and returned two kickoffs for TDs last season. Finn is a two-way workhorse on the line of scrimmage who has scholarship offers from Navy, Villanova and Delaware. He is flanked on the OL by four juniors including Jake Adams (6-3, 280). Pennypacker says Fowler is the best skill player in the conference. Pennypacker doesn’t shy away from using the word “rebuild” for this season but he also is confident that the Falcons will fill the mold of recent successful Pottsgrove teams that pile up rushing yards and shut down opponent offenses with a quick, physical defense. “That’s our brand of football,” says Pennypacker. “We’ll just continue to do the things we do.” And he says they plan to add a new wrinkle this season. Troin Verdone (6-0, 170, Sr.) and Dyon Doctor (6-1, 165, Jr.) are in the mix at QB. “They are more athletic and better passers than we’ve had at quarterback,” says Pennypacker. “We’re looking to throw more than we have.” They will have a lot to live up to. Terrell Chestnut (2007-2010) and Tory Hudgins (2011-2012) quarterbacked the Falcons from 2007 through 2012. Chestnut produced more than 5,000 yards offense and Hudgins generated more than 4,000 total yards. “We had to replace our quarterback, running back and fullback going into last season,” says Pennypacker. “Everybody thought we’d take 10 steps back.” That’s not how it works at Pottsgrove.
QB Conner Derrickson (5-9, 170, Sr.), Slotback/DB Akeem Walcott (5-10, 190, Sr.) and Slotback/S Louis Cotetta (5-8, 175, Sr.) return to give Methacton tested firepower on offense. And the Indians have a veteran-dominated group of linemen. OL Justin Bossard (6-1, 195, Sr.), Jake Keim (5-11, 225, Sr.), Ryan Huhl (6-2, 190, Sr.) and Luke Miller (5-10, 215, Sr.) return. There are six starters returning on offense and five on defense. “We need to rely heavily on our offensive and defensive lines,” says head coach Paul Lepre. “Offensively, we have decent speed in the slot positions.” A dual-threat at the controls of fast-paced spread offense, Derrickson rushed for more than 600 yards and passed for more than 400 yards and had a hand in 24 TDs in just eight starts last season. Nick Nwankwo (6-2, 200, Sr.) and Jimmy Keenan (5-10, 185, Jr.) are the FBs. “We have more speed on the edge than we’ve had,” says Lepre. With visions of qualifying for the district playoffs, the Indians, who were 6-5 in 2012 and 7-4 last season, want to avoid the slow starts of the last two seasons. “We finished strong the last two seasons,” says Lepre. “We want to start in mid-season form at the beginning of the year. We’re sitting right in the middle of the PAC. That’s a good position to be in, being the chaser and being chased.”
Spring Ford, which does not have a returning starter on defense but has depth at the skill positions, has stepped up its game under head coach Chad Brubaker. “We always expect to compete for a PAC-10 championship,” says Brubaker. QB Brandon Leacraft (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR/DB Brandon Barone ( 5-8, 150, Sr.), WR/DB Danny Matthews (5-10, 175, Sr.) and OL/DL Zach Dorsey (6-2, 275, Sr.) return for the Rams. Leacraft, who was one of four different QBs to play last season, passed for 751 yards and seven TDs in seven games. Barone caught three passes for 71 yards and one TD and Matthew caught 13 passes for 170 yards and one TD.
OL/DL Jonassen (6-3, 285, Sr.), WR/LB Taiyir Wilson (6-2, 21, Sr.), RB/LB Ryan O’Donnell (5-10, 175, Sr.) and RB/DB David Williams (5-10, 160, Soph.) return for Perkiomen Valley. Stephen Sturm (5-11 165, Soph.) and Bobby Pagel (6-2, 180, Sr.) are in the mix at QB. Towson is close to giving a scholarship offer to Jonaseen. Wilson has committed to Temple. Indians head coach Scoot Reed expects Williams to emerge as an impact playmaker. The Indians’ strength is at OL and RB but the lineup is dominated by first-year starters. They are hard-pressed to recover the near-7,400 yards of total offense generated the past two seasons by QB Rasaan Stewart, who graduated. “We are starting over again it is very difficult to project expectations,” says Reed.
Former Pequea Valley head coach Evan Breisblatt replaces Bill Furlong as head coach at Phoenixville. RB/LB Zack Gallo (6-2, 230, Sr.), OL/DL Jason Waltman (5-8, 210, Sr.), OL/DL Dave Rosati (6-0, 275, Sr.), WR/DB Matt Palubinsky (6-3, 200, Jr.) and QB/DB Ian Brown (5-9, 160, Jr.) are returning starters. Brown and Palubinsky are the playmakers on offense. The Phantoms must adapt to a new staff and new system. “We want to keep the winning tradition going,” says Breisblatt. “It’s going to take time to implement the no-huddle spread offense. We need numbers and we need athletes.”
With an offensive unit dominated by returning starters in the backfield and on the line of scrimmage, Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead expects the Trojans to make dramatic improvement over a challenging one-win season in 2013. QB/DB Gary Wise (6-1, 190, Sr.), RB/S Brandon Tinson (5-10, 175, Jr.), OL/DE Alex Hummas (5-9, 220, Sr.) and TE/LB Vaughn Bertoti (6-0, 180, Sr.) are the top players for Pottstown. “Our running game will be our strength,” says Grinstead. “We believe we have a shot to be a winning team this year.” A dual-threat, Wise had more than 800 yards passing and more than 500 yards rushing last season. Bertoti and Tinson, who had three interceptions last season, are playmakers on defense.
Owen J. Roberts has the multi-threat, veteran offensive combo of QB/S Mitch Bradford (5-10, 175, Jr.) and WR/RB Brad Kinthner (5-11, 170, Sr.) to torment defenses this season. “We’ll focus on Bradford,” says Wildcats coach Tom Barr. “He’s elusive.” Also returning are C Kolten Hainsey (6-3, 285, Sr.), a three-year starter, and DE William Dawson (6-0, 220, Sr.) who lead what Barr calls “a good group of juniors and seniors.”
George Parkinson replaces Mark Scisly as head coach of Boyertown. QB/DB Lawrence Garnett (6-2, 180, Jr.), RB/LB Will School (6-0, 210k Sr.) and DB/WR Justin Siejk (6-1, 175, Sr.) are the top players for the Bears.
Rory Graver replaces Mike Santillo as head coach of Pope John Paul II. Returning for the Golden Panthers are QB/WR/FS Matt Mesaros (6-3, 190, Sr.),who has 1,182 yards passing the past two seasons, RB/LB Tyler Nugent (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR/C Jared Lupold (5-10, 175, Jr.) and OL/DL Darren Gregory (6-2, 230, Sr.). Graver expects the Panthers to improve. On offense, there’s veterans on the offensive line and depth at wide receiver. On defense, there’s depth at LB and experience in the secondary. “We should have the opportunity for a successful season,” he says.
Upper Perkiomen hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 and won just one game over the past two seasons. New head coach Tom Hontz, the longtime Upper Perk wrestling coach who replaces Steve Moyer, knows the athletes and says the Indians have the players to quickly turn it around. RB/S Mike Felix (5-10, 165, Jr.), RB Sonky Akoponuno (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR Wyatt Brumm (6-0, 180, Sr.), OG/DL Mahlon Schaffer (6-0, 240, Sr.), OT/DL Mitch Fretz (6-2, 240, Sr.), LB Jake Pirri (5-10, 185, Sr.) and LB Dylan Croissette (6-1, 200, Jr.) are the top players. Jake Bryer (6-1, 190, Jr.) and Zeke Hallman (6-1, 175, Soph.) are in the mix at QB. And there’s talent joining in, says Hontz, who coached the 9-0 eighth-grade team last season. He expects that freshmen will be starters this season in a number of positions. “Don’t be surprised if we win three or four ballgames,” he says.
AAAA Gold Division
Team League Overall
Frankford 5-0 8-4
George Washington 4-1 5-6
Northeast 3-2 5-7
Fels 2-3 4-8
Central 1-4 7-5
Furness 0-5 1-10
AAAA Silver Division
Southern 4-0 9-3
Lincoln 3-1 5-7
Mastbaum 2-2 4-9
Edison 1-3 1-9
Olney 0-4 4-7
Mastery North Charter 7-1 10-2
Martin Luther King 6-2 10-3
Franklin 6-2 9-3
Overbrook 5-3 6-6
Gratz 5-3 5-7
West Philadelphia 3-5 6-6
Dobbins 2-6 2-10
Boys’ Latin 1-7 4-8
Bartram 1-7 3-7
Imhotep Charter 4-0 13-3
Prep Charter 3-1 7-4
Roxborough 1-3 5-7
Future 1-3 4-8
Delaware Valley Charter0-4 3-9
DL Shareef Miller George Washington
WR D. J. Moore Imhotep
TE Naseir Upshur Imhotep
QB Andre Dreuitt Parks Imhotep
LB Shaquille Jones Imhotep
RB Nasir Bonner Del-Val
QB Kevin Campbell Franklin
OL/DL Dwayne Young Martin Luther King
QB/DB Asa Manley Northeast
TE/DE Gladimir Paul Northeast
QB Vian Dolo Prep Charter
The Public League has undergone a major realignment. This season the new AAAA Division 1 is comprised of Bartram, Central, Fels, Frankford, Gratz, Mastbaum and Southern. The new AAAA Division 2 includes Franklin, King, Lincoln, Northeast, Olney, Roxborough and George Washington. The AAA Division has Boys’ Latin, Dobbins, Future, Imhotep, Mastery North, Overbrook and West Philadelphia. Delaware Valley Charter, Kipp DuBois, Palumbo, Prep Charter and Strawberry Mansion now make up the AA Division. This is the first season of varsity football for Kipp DuBois Collegiate Academy, The Academy at Palumbo, Strawberry Mansion Promise Academy and Kensington. Edison and Kensington are competing as independents this season. In AAAA Division 1, Frankford is the favorite. In AAAA Division 2, George Washington is the favorite and King is the chief contender. It will be a challenge for Frankford to win its third consecutive Public League AAAA championship. GW stands the best chance to win the Pub. In AAA, Imhotep is the favorite. In AA, Delaware Valley is the favorite. Players to watch include Washington lineman Shareef Miller, Imhotep WR D. J. Moore, TE Naseir Upshur and QB Andre Dreuitt-Parks and Del-Val Charter RB Nasir Bonner.
Around the Pub
With just one returning starter for the two-time defending Public League AAAA champion, Frankford is looking for a new set of playmakers to remain among the top teams in The Pub. That returning starter, DB Devontae Lee (5-11, 175, Sr.), is a versatile athlete and playmaker and he figures prominently on offense and defense. “He will be much more vital in the offense,” says assistant coach Dave Cebular. “He will play all over for us on offense and probably even do some wildcat from the quarterback position.” Head coach Will Doggett expects important contributions from RB/LB Ralph Hyland (5-8, 175, Sr.), who is a transfer from Central, DB Byshawn Jenkins (5-10, 170, Sr.) and RB/DB Ruben Simmons (5-8, 155, Sr.). Hyland rushed for 497 yards last season. The Pioneers enjoy a steady supply of athletes with the speed to develop into playmakers on offense and defense. But they need linemen, especially after DL Shareef Miller (6-5, 230, Sr.), a major college recruit, transferred to rival George Washington. “We should have kids that are athletic and well-put together,” says Cebular. “As a whole, the team will be inexperienced.”
Gratz jumps up in class from AAA to AAAA. QB/DB Musa Al-Suliamani (6-2, 180, Sr.) and RB/LB Chris Rhone (5-6, 205, Sr.) are two veteran playmakers who give the Bulldogs reason to believe they’re ready to jump into the playoff race. Gratz has linemen with experience and size and skill position players with experience nd speed. Al-Suliamani had 947 yards passing and 10 TD passes last season. Rhone had 614 yards rushing and scored nine TDs. Head coach Erik Zipay expects the Bulldogs to be one of the top teams in Public League AAAA. “We should be capable of playing with and beating anyone in our division,” says Zipay. “We have a very sound first 20 kids.” OL/DE Raquan Thomas (6-4, 320, Jr.), a major college football prospect, and TE/LB Shawn Jenkins (6-0, 220, Jr.) are two more of them. Jenkins is a three-year starter who had 117 tackles last season. Only injuries can derail the Bulldogs, who lack depth behind starters.
Bok brought its football success and its crafty veteran head coach Frank “Roscoe” Natale to Southern last season and both took hold immediately. The Rams won nine games, the AAAA Silver Division regular season championship and their first playoff game in nearly 50 years. Bok was the dominant team in Public League AAA and AA before it closed in 2013. Natale expects RB/LB Quazi Jones (5-11, 185, Sr.), C/DL Rashaun Carter (6-2, 240, Sr.), FB/DT Justin Belle (5-10, 235, Sr.), WR/DB Nicholas Coffie (6-1, 180, Sr.) to make major contributions. “Last year’s team was a compilation of players,” says Natale. “We graduated that team. This is a new team again. We played a lot of players to get them used to my system of offense and defense. Hopefully this will pay off this year.”
Central is accustomed to the Frankford, George Washington and Northeast level of fast and physical competition. To have a chance to win against those teams, head coach Rich Drayton says the Lancers must have a rushing attack that enables them to control the clock. That could be a tall task for a team whose strength is its group of skill position players but whose shortcoming is a lack of offensive linemen. QB Jeff Coplin (6-0, 175, Jr.), WR/DB Jaron Waring (6-0, 180, Sr.), OL/DL Shafique Cooley (6-1, 240, Sr.) and OL/DL Jeff Johnson (6-3, 275, Sr.) are top players for Central.
For Fels, returning dual-threat QB Aasim Campbell (5-10, 170, Jr.) had a break-out season as a sophomore in 2013 when he had 1,439 yards passing and 16 TDs. He produced almost 1,800 total yards. With three athletic playmakers like combo RB/Slotbacks Kordell Robinson (5-8, 170, Sr.), and Wesley White (5-4, 150, Sr.) and Khalif Whitaker (5-7, 145, Soph.) among seven returning starters on offense, Fels has the offensive firepower to demand attention from the AAAA teams. OL/DE Curtis Frederick (6-1, 240, Jr.), and OL/DL Alvin Johnson (5-11, 220, Sr.) give the Panthers veterans on the line of scrimmage. Head coach Bill Harrigan says Frederick is the Panthers’ top lineman and defensive player. Harrigan is pushing the Panthers to pick it up on defense. “We’re dedicating ourselves to stop the run,” he says. “We want that to improve dramatically.”
Talented playmakers LB/WR Justin Freeman (6-1, 200, Sr.), WR/DB Ta’shawn Stringfield (5-10, 170, Sr.), WR Gary Grisson-Johnson (6-0, 175, Sr.) and FS Marquis Broxton (6-0, 175, Sr.) give Bartram head coach Jim Chapman every reason to believe that the Maroon Wave are more than dangerous underdogs in AAAA. “We have a very strong group of athletes,” says Chapman. “Kids who are willing to do whatever it takes to win. If we start off on the right foot, we turn some heads.”
Versatile QB/WR/DB Derrick McLean (6-0, 185, Jr.), WR Wadu Loper (5-10, 180, Sr.) and WR/DB Keon Robinson (5-11, 165, Sr.) are returning playmakers for Mastbaum. The strength of the Panthers is up front led by OL/DL Edward Johnson (5-10, 200, Jr.), OL/DL Tyius Cambell (5-11, 205, Jr.) and OL/DL Marquis Ross (5-10, 190, Jr.). There’s 15 returning players who started or saw playing time last season from a team that had 18 seniors. But they need to find more playmakers on offense. “We have more linemen with experience than in all my years of coaching,” says head coach Ernie Diggs. The Panthers have had five straight losing seasons and Diggs says it’s time to end that streak. “I’m trying to get them over the hump,” he says.
It’s no wonder George Washington is always counted among the favorites to win the Public League championship. Annually stocked with plenty of talented athletes in the backfield and on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the Eagles don’t face the challenges of many teams in the Pub. Depth isn’t the issue for Washington it is for others. So when DL Shareef Miller (6-5, 230, Sr.), the top major college recruit in the Pub this season, decided to transfer from Frankford to Washington, the rich just got richer. Now with Miller, who still has work to do with his studies, teamed with returning OL/DL Brandon Brown (6-2, 230, Sr.) and OT/DE Kevin Abrokwah ( 6-3, 220, Sr.), GW has the players to claim the line of scrimmage. There’s a tested set of playmakers with RB/LB Shawn Henderson (5-11, 225, Sr.), RB/DB Terry Hall (5-8, 165, Sr.), RB/DB Bruce Smalley (5-9, 175, Sr.) and WR/DB Donnell Smith Miller (6-1, 180, Sr.). Now wonder head coach Ron Cohen says the Eagles are going back to their traditional game plan to simply run over opponents. “We’re going back to Washington football,” says Cohen. “More of what I’m used to. We’re going to run the ball.” A starting QB needs to settle in but Cohen says there won’t be a lot asked of him. “I like the kids’ chemistry,” he says. “We’re not as talented as last year, athletically.”
Martin Luther King head coach Ed Dunn deserves a tip of the hat after bringing together and coaching up the Germantown and Martin Luther King players last season and guiding them to a 10-3 record and the Public League AAA championship. Germantown had closed in the spring of 2013. King was 1-10 in 2012. According to tedsilary.com, it was the greatest one-season turnaround in Public League history. The Cougars have veterans on defense but need to find skill position players to replace dynamic playmakers in QB Joe Walker, RB Devonte Hunter and WR Delane Hart, who combined for nearly 2,500 yards on offense and graduated. Hart finished his career with more than 2,000 receiving yards. Dunn expects first-year starters QB/DB Nasir Boykin (6-0, 180, Soph.), RB Ishmael Dargan (5-8, 190, Sr.), RB Jann Gunter-Scott (5-10, 180, Jr.) and RB Tyreek Mathis (5-10, 175, Jr.) to pick up where Walker, Hunter and Hart left off. He expects the defense to be solid, led by four players who are major college football prospects. DL/OL Dawayne Young (6-2, 290, Sr.), DB Donte Terry (6-0, 185, Sr.), LB/SS Jayni Harris (6-2, 195, Sr.), LB/SS Quron Tisdale (6-0, 190, Sr.) are returning starters. “These guys have been here,” says Dunn. “They have played together. They’ve spend more time at the unified school at King. Germantown is in the past.” Young has scholarship offers from Temple and Delaware State and is on the radar screen of West Virginia and Pitt. Terry has an offer from St. Francis. WVU, Temple and Rutgers are interested in Harris. With his 4.5 40, Tisdale is drawing recruiting interest.
QB/DB Asa Manley (6-0, 190, Sr.), TE/DE Gladimir Paul (6-3, 220, Sr.), LB Steven Rowe (6-1, 220, Sr.) and C/DL Charles Anderson (6-1, 250, Sr.) are the centerpieces for Northeast, which is a serious challenger to Washington and King in AAAA 2. Paul and Manley are major college football prospects. Paul, who had 23 sacks last season, has drawn scholarship offers from Towson, Albany, Villanova, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Monmouth and Temple. Manley, who is rated among the Top 30 college prospects in PA by the recruiting website 247, moves from RB to QB. He had 812 yards rushing last season. Anderson is an Ivy League prospect with his 3.6 GPA. Rowe led the Vikings in tackles last season. Soph. Brandon Pridgion (6-0, 160) is in the mix at QB. “We have a lot of athletes and team experience,” says head coach Phil Gormley. “We played a lot of guys last year. So we are looking for tha to help us this year. If we can get them all on the same page we can make some noise.”
Franklin head coach David Carter says returning QB/DB Kevin Caldwell (5-11, 190, Sr.) came back from the Peyton Manning Quarterback Camp last summer “a different kid.” No doubt. He passed for 1,744 yards and 22 TDs—more yards than any other Public League QB. So too were the Electrons a different team. Last season they had their first winning season since 2008. With an array of returning playmakers such as RB/LB Edward Dennis (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/SS Rafael Rodriguez (6-0, 200, Sr.) and WR Javier Buffalo (6-0, 175, Jr.) the Electrons offense will be difficult to stop for any AAAA defense. LB Brian Harvey (5-10, 170, Jr.) returns to lead the defense and OL/DL Taj Clea (6-3, 215, Sr.) returns as the top lineman. Rodriguez had 473 yards receiving and 11 TDs. Buffalo had 676 yards receiving and 10 TDs. Dennis had 540 yards rushing. “Harvey lights you up on defense,” says Carter. “Dennis can run between the tackles and hit a home run.”
Lincoln head coach Ed McGettigan expects the Railsplitters to improve this season which would get them over the hump. They finished in second-place the past three seasons in AAAA Silver division. McGettigan overhauled the offensive approach last season by installing the spread offense. “Even though we are very young,” says McGettigan. “We expect to improve. It’s our second year running the spread offense so we should be even better on that side of the ball.” QB/DB Hosea McClam (5-10, 175, Jr.), OL/DE Yusuf Robertson (5-10, 200, Sr.), OL/DL Theodore Tootle (6-3, 300, Sr.) and OL/DE Kenny King (6-4, 215, Jr.) are the top players.
The centerpiece for Olney Charter is dual-threat QB/DB Kadir Chisholm (6-4, 190, Sr.), who passed for 806 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for 233 yards and three TDs last season. He also had two interceptions on defense. Others expected to make important contributions by head coach Mike Andolina include RB/DB Sultan Johns (5-7, 160, Sr.), RB/LB Kevin Cato (5-9, 220, Jr.) and TE/LB Justin Williams (6-1, 175, Sr.). Williams led the Trojans in tackles and Johns had two interceptions.
Roxborough leaps up from AA to AAAA competition this season but that should help, not hurt, the Indians caliber of play, says head coach Mike Stanley. “We thought we’d play better in the upper divisions,” says Stanley. “It’s worth a shot. If it doesn’t work out, we can always go back to AAA.” QB/DB Eduando Sanchez (5-10, 165, Sr.), RB/WR Editon Wright (6-1, 215, Sr.), WR Donta Alston (5-9, 155, Jr.), OL/DT Nasir Topping (6-2, 255, Sr.) and LB Robert Taylor (6-0, 185, Sr.) are the top players Stanley is counting on for an overhaul of the Indians attack on both sides of the ball. “We have to get better at throwing the ball,” he says. “We have to be able to stop spread offenses.”
Major college football recruiters have long made George Washington, Frankford and Northeast routine stops on their recruiting trips through southeast PA. They’ve added Imhotep Charter to their itineraries. The Panthers have become a stockpile of college football prospects and one of the top teams in SE PA, regardless of school size. “Our 2016 class is loaded with at least 12 Division I players,” declares head coach Albie Crosby. And that group will follow this season’s array of recruits led by WR D. J. Moore (6-0, 195, Sr.), LB Shaquille Jones (6-2, 195, Sr.) and DE Qwamere Wright-Downing (6-1, 230, Sr.). Moore has committed to Maryland. Jones is deciding between committing to Illinois, Cincinnati, Buffalo and James Madison among others. Wright-Downing has an offer from Monmouth. With four-year starting QB Andre Druitt-Parks (6-2, 185, Sr.), who has passed for more than 3,100 yards in his career, while playmakers abound on offense and defense, the Panthers have their sights set on making another run at reaching Hershey in December, even though they are stepping up from AA to AAA, where defending state champion Archbishop Wood looms in a potential PIAA District 1 final. Imhotep lost the PIAA State AA championship game to South Fayette in 2013. “(State final) is always going to be a plan,” says Crosby. “This may be our best team ever. It’s their third year together. There’s a lot of talent. Good skill players and offensive linemen.” As for the juniors (Class of 2016), RB Tyliek Raynor (5-10, 185, Jr.), who covers 40 yards in 4.3 seconds, has offers from Temple, Buffalo and Rutgers. OL John Carlo Valentin (6-5, 315, Jr.) has offers from Temple and Massachusetts. DE Shaka Toney (6-5, 220, Jr.) has offers from Buffalo and Massachusetts and Vanderbilt has shown serious interest. The biggest name in recruiting for the Class of 2016 in Pennsylvania is TE Naseir Upshur (6-4, 230, Jr.). He’s rated among the top three tight ends nationally with as many as 18 scholarship offers from teams like Alabama, Michigan and South Carolina. Crosby expects the recruiting stock to rise for RB Mike Waters (5-10, 185, Jr.), OL Yasir Durant (6-7, 335, Jr.), DB Terrell Gillett (5-10, 170, Sr.), S Seifuddine Black (5-11, 185, Sr.) and S Romeo Gunt (5-10, 195, Sr.) who transferred from West Catholic.
With seven returning starters, defense is the strength of Mastery Charter North, which last season won the AAA Division and then lost the playoff championship game to King. The Bulldogs have moved quickly into the playoff mix in just three seasons of varsity football. DE/OL Isaiah Freeman (6-0, 210, Sr.), DL/OL Dante Simms (6-0, 235, Sr.), DB/WR Idris Mateen (5-10, 165, Sr.) and versatile athlete Taqee Ross (5-9, 171, Sr.) are the leaders on both sides of the ball. Freeman was in on over 100 tackles last season. Bulldogs head coach John Davidson expects the linebackers to be the centerpiece of the defense.
Returning starters for Boys’ Latin include QB Troy Hester (5-11, 195, Jr.), RB Tony Henderson (6-0, 190, Sr.), DB Clarence Rowland (5-11, 195, Sr.), OL/DL Ezekiel Adens (5-9, 280, Sr.), Javon Ogelsby Rice (6-2, 190, Jr.), WR Michael Hammock (6-2, 200, Sr.) and WR/DB Damere Gilbert (5-9, 180, Sr.). Head coach Mike Rufo expects the Warriors, who lack size and depth but have a veteran set of skill position players, to play “solid football” and contend for a playoff spot.
QB/DB Diamir Copes (6-0, 180, Sr.), RB/DB Christian Jones (5-9, 170, Sr.), OL/DL Marcus Wright (6-0, 275, Sr.), OL/LB Joseph Butler (5-10, 220, Jr.) are returning starters for Dobbins. The Mustangs have the athletes, speed and tested QB to grow into a contender for a playoff spot, say head coach Joe Sullivan. But they are short on linemen. “We should be more dangerous than the last couple of years with more offensive weapons,” says Sullivan.
QB Nasir Mickens (5-9, 150, Sr.), Slotback Quincey Fairy (5-10, 145, Soph.), WR Jameer Bryson (6-2, 185, Jr.), WR Clifford Brinkley (6-2, 195, Soph.), DB Bassey Ukpong (6-0, 185, Sr.), OL Christopher Hayles (6-1, 280, Jr.) are the top players for Overbrook. Head coach Rendell Ivory says the Panthers, who have back-to-back non-losing seasons, have the skill position players to win but need offensive linemen.
West Philadelphia has two big, strong and talented linemen who, says head coach Frank Steed, will make an impact. OL/DE Kwadere Fleming (6-4, 295, Jr.), Teair “Pop” Tart Spencer (6-3, 290, Sr.), TE/LB (H, WT, YR) return for the Speedboys, who have a solid group of linemen and underclassmen.
High School of the Future steps up from AA to AAA this season. QB/WR Jalil Neale-Savage (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/DB Chris Bangura (5-9, 180, Sr.), WR/DB Shawn Upson (5-7, 145, Sr.), OL/DE Robert Nobles (6-4, 300, Sr.) are the top players for the Firebirds. Head coach Eros Uthman-Olukokun says there’s a dynamic group of underclassmen but there’s a lack of depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
One of the top RB recruits in PA, Nasir Bonner (5-10, 190, Sr.), who rushed for more than 1,700 yards the last two seasons, transferred from Imhotep to Delaware Valley Charter. With Bonner and the move by Imhotep from AA to AAA, the path to a AA championship is paved for the Warriors. RB/WR/SS Dwine Walls (5-10, 170, Sr.), OL Mikel Cherry (6-5, 290, Jr.) and DB Desmont Pugh (5-10, 175, Jr.) return. Andrew Sumpter (6-4, 180 Jr.) and Shane Smith (6-2, 180, Jr.) are in the mix at QB. Head coach Troy Gore, the former Imhotep assistant who replaced Jamel Newton, says the Warriors have talent in the skill positions. “We have multiple players who are capable of scoring from anywhere on the field,” he says.
With four dynamic playmakers among 18 returning starters, Prep Charter is toe-to-toe with Del-Val. The Huskies won their first-ever playoff games last season and intend to take the next step this season. A three-year starter, QB/DB Vian Dolo (6-0, 200, Sr.) has more than 2,400 yards passing in his career. RB/S Quadir Strothers (5-8, 160, Sr.) rushed for more than 500 yards and nine TDs and had more than 160 yards receiving last season. OL/DE Marquel Hardy (6-3, 300, Sr.) had 75 pancake blocks last season. OL/DE Karamo Dioubate (6-4, 260, Jr.) had 13 sacks and 25 tackles for a loss. The entire offensive line returns. Head coach David Hand says the Huskies have a “ton of talent” among their first-year starters and backups. “Our kids really understand the technique, concepts, work ethic that we’ve been instilling,” says Hand. “I think we are the team to beat in our division.”
Strawberry Mansion Promise Academy launches its varsity football team this season with head coach Steve Quigley. RB/DB Jyquan Owens (5-8, 165, Sr.), RB/DB Niyair McKnight (5-10, 145, Sr.), C/DT Yahmir Sterling (6-0, 260, Sr.), DE Jerrick Fripps (6-3, 160, Sr.) are the top players for the Knights. Quigley expects the RBs to emerge as the top playmakers while linemen develop.
Former Southern head coach Scott Pitzner is head coach of The Academy at Palumbo, a first-year varsity team that includes players from Furness, which won one game last season in AAAA Gold Division. TE/WR/DE Michael White (6-0, 165, Sr.), OL/DL Nigel McKnight (6-3, 250, Sr.), Deon Slocum (6-2, 250, Sr.) are the top players for the Griffins. Pitzner needs to find a QB and RBs but he has confidence in the linemen. “The OL and DL should the strength of the team,” he says.
This is the first season for varsity football for Kipp DuBois Collegiate Academy. Head coach Kerry Dias says the Lions began play last season as a junior varsity team that had a 7-3 record. QB Domair Harris (5-10, 185, Sr.), RB Nazir Feller (5-6, 165, Jr.), RB Paul Bresil (5-11, 195, Sr.), WR Kyree Ruffin (6-3, 185, Sr.), OL/DL Haley Wilson (5-10, 215, Sr.), OL/DL Daiyaan Waller (5-6, 160, Soph.), LB Eric Boatwright (5-11, 205, Sr.) are the top players for the Lions.
Joe Gifford replaces Paul Kabara as head coach of Edison, where times have been tough. Gifford is the fifth head coach in the last five years. The Owls had a 1-9 record in the AAAA Silver Division last season—one loss was a forfeit because their own players were fighting with each other. Their record since 2007 is 4-59. Edison is playing as an independent this season. QB Jahliel Hall (6-1, 180, Sr.) and RB/LB Deion Nicholson (5-11, 195, Sr.) are three-year starters. WR/DB Raheem Pagan (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR/DB Kwiese Barnes (5-8, 165, Soph.), OL William Darrious (6-2, 240, Soph.) and LB Talib Adams (6-1, 220, Soph.) are first-year starters. “We’re optimistic but also realistic,” says Gifford, a former assistant coach at Southern, Dobbins and Overbrook, who is hoping to reign in and reset football at Edison.
After three years of junior varsity football, Kensington is playing a varsity schedule as an independent team in the Pub. RB/Slotback Chris Danzler (5-10, 180, Sr.), OL/DL Josh “Diamond” Williams (6-3, 260, Sr.), OL/DL Kyree “Big Man” Wade-McClean (6-6, 290, Jr.) are the top players for the Tigers. Khyree Wise (6-0, 190, Sr.) and Shannon “Squirrel Man” Squire (5-7, 160, Sr.) are in the QB mix. Assistant coach Sean Ryan says Danzler is a playmaker who is “exciting to watch.” Erb says the the Tigers have speed and toughness and are “hungry to start hitting at the varsity level.”
Team League Overall
Plymouth-Whitemarsh 7-0 8-3
Upper Dublin 6-1 9-2
Wissahickon 5-2 6-4
Cheltenham 4-3 6-6
Springfield Township 3-4 5-5
Upper Moreland 2-5 5-7
Upper Merion 1-6 3-7
Norristown 0-7 0-11
North Penn 7-0 10-4
Central Bucks West 6-1 9-3
Pennridge 4-3 8-4
Central Bucks East 3-4 4-6
Quakertown 3-4 7-5
Central Bucks South 2-5 4-6
Souderton 2-5 2-8
Hatboro-Horsham 1-6 4-8
Pennsbury 7-0 10-2
Neshaminy 6-1 13-2
Abington 5-2 10-4
Council Rock North 4-3 7-4
Council Rock South 2-5 2-8
Truman 2-5 5-6
Bensalem 1-6 1-9
William Tennent 1-6 2-8
Suburban One 11
RB D’Andre Pollard Neshaminy
RB Josh Adams Central Bucks South
OL Ryan Bischoff Plymouth-Whitemarsh
DL Connor Guzy Council Rock North
QB/P Brandon McIlwain Council Rock North
PK Matt Ammendola North Penn
OL Frank Tranzilli North Penn
RB Nyfease West North Penn
RB Charles Snorweagh Pennsbury
OL/DL Alex Jordan Central Bucks East
QB/DB Chris Stone Springfield Township
The Suburban One League has undergone major realignment. The new National Conference is made up of the schools with the largest enrollment including North Penn, Pennsbury, Neshaminy, Souderton, Pennridge, Central Bucks South, Abington and Bensalem. In the Continental Conference is Truman, Council Rock North, Council Rock South, Central Bucks East, Central Bucks West, Norristown, Quakertown and William Tennent. The American Conference includes Plymouth-Whitemarsh, Hatboro-Horsham, Upper Dublin, Upper Merion, Upper Moreland, Wissahickon, Cheltenham and Springfield Township. Pennsbury is the favorite and North Penn the main contender in National. Council Rock North is the favorite in Continental. Central Bucks West and East are the top challengers. Plymouth-Whitemarsh is the favorite in American with Upper Dublin and Cheltenham the main contenders.
Pennsbury is on a roll. The Falcons have won back-to-back National Conference championships with a 14-0 conference record. They have the firepower to remain in charge. “Our strength is having experience in all areas—offense, defense and special teams,” says head coach Galen Snyder. RB/S Charles Snorweagh (5-10, 175, Sr.), who has committed to a scholarship offer from Rutgers, OL/DT Austin O’Neil (5-10, 260, Jr.), SS/FB Victor Delgado (5-8, 175, Sr.), FS Anthony Pitt (5-11, 180, Sr.) and C Mason Houriet (6-1, 250, Sr.) are the top players among eight starters returning on defense and five returning on offense. Last season’s starting QB Breon Clark won’t be back. He’s moved to Baltimore where he plans to attend St. Francis Academy. Cody Tabeek (6-0, 170, Sr.) and Robert Daley (5-11, 180, Jr.) are in the mix at QB. A four-year starter, Snorweagh has 2,147 yards rushing in his career. There’s at least one speed bump lurking for the Falcons. North Penn, which knocked the Falcons out of the PIAA District 1 AAAA playoffs last season, rejoins the National Conference. Pennsbury hasn’t beaten the Knights since 1996, a streak of 13 straight losses. “We get a chance to do it,” says Snyder. “That’s for sure.”
The return of North Penn to the National Conference sets up regular season showdown matchups between some of the perennial top teams in Pennsylvania that remind longtime fans of the old Power 10 Conference. North Penn vs. Neshaminy, North Penn vs. Pennsbury, North Penn vs. Pennridge. North Penn vs. Central Bucks South. North Penn vs. Abington. High school football doesn’t get any better. The Knights have what it takes to take on the best. RB/S Nyfease West (5-11, 185, Jr.) returns after rushing for 1,596 yards and 12 TDs. The offensive line has four starters returning including OL Frankie Tranzilli (6-2, 275, Sr.) and OL/DL Andrew Thomas (6-2, 250, Sr.). DB/WR Mike Liddy (6-0, 165, Sr.) and DB Marquise Watson (5-8, 165, Sr.) also return. PK Matt Ammondola (5-10, 185, Sr.), who kicked a state-record 56-yard field goal, is back. Recruiters from Temple, Pitt, Rutgers and Villanova are watching West. Thomas, Tranzilli and Liddy are FCS prospects. The Knights need to settle on a QB and develop first-year starters at LB. “I really like us upfront offensive line-wise,” says head coach Dick Beck. “Three-four explosive running backs and fullbacks that could make us dangerous.”
Tom Hetrick replaces Dave Rackovan as head coach at Central Bucks South. Rackovan resigned and is now the head coach and athletic director at The Hill School. The Titans like their chances to be a serious contender for the conference championship when they get one of the top RBs in PA back on the field. Josh Adams (6-3, 210, Sr.), a Notre Dame recruit, is returning from an injury that ended his 2013 season after seven games. He has rushed for 2,823 yards in his career. RB Deion Clifton (5-7, 160, Sr.), who rushed for 655 yards and four TDs last season in Adams’ absence, gives the Titans depth at RB. Hetrick expects S Luke Wiley (6-1, 180, Sr.), OL Jack Mummert (6-2, 295, Sr.), OL Dan Young (6-1, 245, Sr.) and DL Bill Donahue (6-2, 270, Jr.) to make an impact. QB Kevin Witchey (5-10, 170, Sr.) is a first-year starter at QB. In a backup role last season, he passed for 276 yards and two TDs.
Neshaminy has undergone a major turnover in players and coach. Mike Frederick replaces Mark Schmidt as head coach of Neshaminy. Schmidt resigned and is now an assistant coach at La Salle. Gone from the defending PIAA District 1 AAAA champions are 19 starters. “There’s a lot of unknowns,” says assistant coach Neil French. There’s one important proven piece still in place. The primary offensive threat last season, RB D’Andre Pollard (5-7, 170, Sr.), the PA AAAA Player of the Year according to the statewide sportswriters vote, returns. Pollard rushed for 2,929 yards and scored 39 TDs last season. French expects first-year starting QB Mason Jones (6-0, 160, Soph.), OL/DL Hunter Kelly (6-2, 275, Jr.), WR/FS Denzel Hughes (6-1, 170, Jr.) and TE/DE Billy Ritchey (6-2, 235, Jr.) to make an impact for the Redskins. Not that the cupboard is bare. “There’s a lot of skilled players who return on offense and defense,” says French.
RB/DE Imeir Simmons (6-1, 215, Sr.), RB/SS Joe Unangst (5-10, 180, Sr.), OL/DL Sifee Good (6-0, 240, Sr.) and FB/LB Judens Desrosiers ( 5-11, 210, Jr.) are the top players for Pennridge. Head coach Jeff Hollenbach says the Rams have speed to that should help the defense improve. “That will also help on offense,” says Hollenbach. “However, most of our key contributors last year were seniors.” The Rams need to settle on a QB and go-to RB to recover the offensive production of RB Mike Class and QB Matt Pasquale, who both graduated after they combined for more than 3,000 yards offense last season.
Returning QB David Kretschman (6-0, 180, Sr.) passed for more than 1,000 yards last season for Abington. WR/DB Jordan Neely (5-9,160, Sr.), OL/DL Omar Peterkin (6-2, 280, Sr.), FB/LB Daron Boone (6-0, 195, Sr.) also return for the Galloping Ghosts. A versatile athlete, Neely was the top wide receiver, had two interceptions, returning one for a TD, and returned two kickoffs for TDs last season. Boone was the leading tackler. Peterkin had five sacks. Head coach Tim Sorber says there’s speed and veteran LBs on defense and depth at RB and WR. But the Ghosts need to develop linemen.
WR/DB Markeem Graham (6-1, 210, Sr.), OL/DE Evan Sweet (6-0, 270, Sr.), FB/LB Blake Gular (5-9, 205, Jr.), HB/DE Nate Landes (6-1, 200, Sr.), HB/DB Jamar White (5-8, 165, Jr.), LB/TE Matt Pierce (6-0, 190, Jr.) and LB/OL Andrew Horton (5-9, 200, Jr.) are among six starters returning on offense and five returning on defense for Souderton. Soph. Joey Curotto (6-0, 190), who also saw time at safety last season, is in the mix to replace his older brother A.J. at QB. At LB, Gular, Landes and White combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing last season. All Soph. starters at LB last season, Horton, Gular and Pierce teamed up on nearly 100 tackles. Indians head coach Ed Gallagher expects the Indians to be in the pack chasing the conference heavyweights Pennsbury, North Penn and Neshaminy. “With more experience on offense,” he says, “ we should be able to score points, control the clock and be very competitive.”
Bensalem head coach Kevin Kelly expects the Owls to hold their own on the line of scrimmage. OL Will Roller (6-5, 295, Sr.), OL Danny Dalessandro (5-10, 280, Sr.) and OL Kyle Crane (6-0, 230, Sr.) return. RB Devonte Portor (5-8, 175, Sr.), RB Matt Huffner (5-7,160, Jr.), WR Jordan Jones (5-11, 170, Sr.) and LB Ramsey Traubolsi (5-11, 225, Sr.) also return,
Council Rock North has two major college recruits and a group of veterans on both sides of the ball that make the Indians a contender for the Continental Conference championship and a PIAA District 1 AAAA playoff spot. The outlook wouldn’t have been as bright in the National. A three-year starter and dual-threat, QB/DB Brandon McIlwain (6-1, 210, Jr.) has 2,979 yards passing and 1,309 yards rushing. Already he has been offered scholarships by 23 major college football teams. DE/RB Conner Guzy (6-4, 260, Sr.) has committed to Western Michigan. Also returning are RB/DB Chris Welde (5-8, 165, Sr.), a three-year starter who runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds, and SS/WR Mitch Maisel (5-11, 170, Sr.). The Indians are solid at most positions on offense and defense but need to develop defensive linemen. “We will not be very big but we are athletic,” says head coach Adam Collachi.
OL/DL Brian Miller (6-3, 265, Sr.), OL/SL Noah Hill (6-1, 240, Jr.) and OL/DL Conner Steele (6-3, 200, Sr.) return to give Central Bucks West one of the most imposing offensive lines in Suburban One. If the Bucks find playmakers to replace the nearly 3,500 yards offense that RB Marvin Todd and QB John Fritz produced last season before they graduated, they will be in the driver’s seat in the Continental Conference. The return of WR/LB Matt Kilkenny (6-0, 190, Sr.) is a start to do that where just four starters in skill positions return. Kilkenny had 97 receiving yards, scored two TDs and on defense, intercepted three passes. “We have tremendous size and experience on the offensive line and in the defensive front seven,” says head coach Brian Hensel.
Conner O’Keefe (6-2, 180, Sr.), who moves to QB from starting WR last season, RB Alex Gibson (5-10, 180, Jr.), who rushed for 1,236 yards and 16 TDs, OG/DT Alex Jordan (6-3, 275, Sr.), who has committed to Bucknell, LB Jack Lamb (6-0, 195, Jr.), LB Connor Pattyson (6-2, 190, Sr.) and LB Chris Krier (5-10, 180, Sr.) give Central Bucks East a strong set of veterans. Most of the lineup for the Patriots will be first-year starters with just four returning on defense and three on offense. LBs and skill position players are strengths. They need to develop linemen.
RB/DB Vincent Alimenti (6-1, 195, Sr.), OL/DL Conner Brunetti (5-8, 210, Sr.), FB/DL Emeka Enogwe (5-9, 190, Sr.) and TE/DL Mike Crowley (6-1, 245, Sr.) are the top players for Council Rock South. The Golden Hawks need to develop depth on both sides of the ball. Their triple option offense can give any defense fits. “We like our chances to be very competitive,” says head coach Vince Bedesem.
QB Alex Vera (6-4, 185, Sr.), RB Rob Burns (5-10, 170, Jr.), WR Kyle Baskin (6-4, 170, Jr.), OL/DE Brett Graver (6-0, 240, Sr.), DE/OG Micah Jones (6-3, 210, Sr.) and TE/LB Hunter Nice (6-2, 220, Sr.) are the top players for Quakertown. “Expect us to be pretty seasoned,” says Panthers head coach George Banas. “The big question as always is how our line performs.” Ironically, Banas claims that the Suburban One realignment worked in the Panthers’ favor. They traded North Penn, Pennridge and the three Central Bucks teams for Norristown, Truman, William Tennent and Hatboro-Horsham. “That benefits us,” he says.
Jon Craig replaces Ed Cubbage as head coach at Harry S. Truman. RB/LB Trysten Hunt (5-9, 200, Sr.), RB/SS Brandon Hill (5-9, 190, Sr.), OL/DL Connor McAdams (6-1, 275, Jr.) and OL/LB Tim Kenny-Schwartz (6-1, 195, Jr.) are among seven returning starters on defense and six on offense. Hunt and Hill are four-year starters. Hunt rushed for more than 550 yards on 70 carries for 7.9 yards per carry and was the leading tackler with 51 tackles. Craig says the Tigers have a strong defensive unit and offensive line, where there’s four returning starters. But skill position players, including QB, will be first-year starters. Jr. Mark Lopez (5-10, 170) and Soph. Jorden Freemen (5-10, 170) are in the mix at QB. Truman has never played in the district playoffs but Craig believes the Tigers are in a better position than they have been now that they are in the Continental Conference and no longer have the National heavyweights on the schedule. “Fair shot, better than in the past,” he says. “I feel very good about the direction we’ve moved in the last four years.”
William Tennent head coach expects the Panthers to be much improved on both sides of the ball. QB Nik Banks (5-11, 185, Sr.), WR/QB John Ryan (6-4, 180, Jr.), OL/DL Corey Schriver (6-2, 310, Sr.), TE/DE George Froggatt (6-1,190, Sr.) and RB/DB Macho Mendez (5-7, 180, Jr.) are the top players for Tennent which escaped the grueling National Conference in realignment.
Jason Powel replaces E. J. Smith as head coach of Norristown, which moves from the American to the Continental Conference. QB Desmond Gorski (6-0, 185, Jr.), LB Isaiah Samuel (6-0, 210, Sr.), LB Joe Cross (5-8, 220, Sr.), the leading tackler last season, WR Rashon Wiggins (6-1, 180, Sr.), OL Josh Heath (6-0, 265, Sr.) and RB Corey Davenport (5-11, 175, Jr.) are the top players for the Eagles, who have a 1-21 record the last two seasons. Realignment only made the challenge to turn it around more difficult. “The division does not bode well,” says Powel. “It will be a new day for us with a new style, new approach, new offense and defense. Our work is cut out for us to lay a good foundation for the future.”
In the past 10 years, only North Penn (64-6) and Neshaminy (56-14) have better winning percentages in Suburban One Conference play than Plymouth Whitemarsh, which has won the last three American Conference championships and 22 straight conference games. There’s no reason to believe that any conference rivals have closed the gap. OL/DL Ryan Bischoff (6-5, 310, Sr.) has committed to Virginia. RB/DB Nafeese Nasir (5-8, 160, Jr.), RB/LB Jake Winterbottom (5-11, 190, Jr.) and OG/DT Steve Kovacic (6-2, 285, Sr.) also return. There’s four starters returning on the offensive line, led by Bischoff and Kovacic. Head coach Dan Chang says the Colonials have explosive athletes who only lack playing time. “The bullseye is on our back from history,” says Chang.
Upper Dublin head coach Brett Stover declares that the Cardinals will have a say about who wins the American Conference. FB/LB John Lee (5-11, 200, Sr.), WR/DB Matt Thompson (5-9, 165, Sr.) and OL/LB Henry Winebrake (6-0, 215, Jr.) are returning starters who made an impact last season. Lee had more than 600 yards rushing and scored 12 TDs last season. Thompson caught three TD passes. Winebrake was the leading tackler. Ryan Stover (6-4, 195, Jr.) is a first-year starter at QB/FS. Only eight seniors are on the roster so how quickly the underclassmen is critical. “This group will be extremely young and will have to grow up in a hurry,” says Stover.
Cheltenham has the look of a darkhorse contender. Brandon Mack (6-4, 195) moves to QB from WR, where he started last season. RB/S Greg Morris (6-0,185, Sr.), a four-year starter who had 1,075 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs last season, is the centerpiece on offense. OL/DE Jack Gordon (5-10, 215, Sr.) is a three-way starter. OG/DT Jared Applebaum (6-0, 225, Sr.) was a two-way starter last season. Veteran head coach Joe Gro says there’s an “inordinate amount” of skill position players which has him counting “ifs” and thinking that the Panthers are ready to spring a surprise on favorites P-W and Upper Dublin. “If we can go injury free,” he says. “If we can find linemen to give us some balance.”
An impact playmaker on offense and defense for Upper Moreland, RB/DB Tyler Whitmore (5-10, 185, Sr. ) returns after more than 1,600 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving and scoring 23 TDs last season. He also intercepted four passes, returning three of them for TDs. OL/DE Colin Tice (5-10, 220, Sr.), OL/DL Shane Tice (5-10, 220, Sr.), TE/LB Colton Hooker (6-2, 215, Sr.) also return for the Bears who are banking on speed and experience of their veterans to stay in championship contention. Josh Abrams (5-10, 180, Sr.) is a first-year starter at QB, who, says head coach Adam Beach, has tremendous promise and leadership abilities.
Hatboro-Horsham has veteran firepower and what head coach Mike Kapusta calls “a wealth of experience in the skill positions” to challenge the traditional frontrunners in its first season in the American Conference. QB Casey Walsh (5-10, 155, Jr.) had 1,389 passing yards and nine TD passes last season. WR/S John O’Malley (6-1, 180, Sr.) had 60 receptions for 1,169 yards and 10 TDs. RB/DB Kingsley Nworu (5-7, 175, Jr.) had 565 yards rushing and scored six TDs. OL/DE Luke Kwon (5-11, 250, Sr.) is also a returning starter for the Hatters, who need offensive linemen.
Wissahickon has strung together three winning seasons under head coach Jeff Cappa. “We want to take the fourth year of the program and try to develop us as a consistent winning team,” says Cappa. Looks like that’s in the cards with eight starters returning on defense and playmakers returning on offense. QB Michael Marino (5-9, 160, Jr.), RB/DB Josh Smith (5-9, 170, Sr.), DL/OL Kyle Stein (5-11, 185, Sr.) and SS Colin Williams (5-11, 195, Sr.) are returning starters. Smith rushed for more than 600 yards and scored four TDs and added 184 yards passing and four TD passes last season. Marino had 823 yards passing and seven TD passes. Stein was in on 42 tackles and Williams had 33 tackles. Stein and Williams each had two sacks.
QB/DB Chris Stone (6-2, 175, Sr.), RB/LB Marten Worgan (6-0, 185, Sr.), OL/DL Martin Vido (6-1, 240, Sr.), OL/DL Louis Haase (6-3, 225, Sr.) and OL/DL Adam Hockenberry (6-2, 250, Sr.) are the top players for Springfield Township, which is a AA team in a AAAA-dominated conference. Head coach Chris Shelly expects underclassmen will make an impact for the Spartans. “We have a lot of speed and potential in skill positions,” says Shelly. “It’s a young and promising sophomore class who can have an immediate impact.” The Spartans face a tough challenge in the American Conference but should be a factor in the PIAA District 1-12 AA Subregional playoffs. Stone, who Shelly calls “dynamic”, returns after sitting out last season.
QB/S Isaiah Graham-Mobley (6-1, 200, Jr.), WR/DB Tyler Thornton (6-0, 170, Sr.), TE/LB Ryan Thornton (6-4, 225, Sr.) and OL/DL Zach Lane (6-3, 295, Sr.) are the top players for Upper Merion. Head coach Harold Smith says the skill position players are a strength for the Vikings.
Mid-Atlantic Prep League
Team League Overall
Blair Academy 5-0 6-2
Peddie School 4-1 5-3
Lawrenceville School 3-2 5-3
Hun School 2-3 2-6
The Hill School 1-4 1-7
Mercersburg Academy 0-5 2-6
After four years as head coach at Central Bucks South, Dave Rackovan replaces Grey Simpson as head coach at The Hill School, which competes in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League. OL/DL Tom Sivick (6-3, 240, Sr.), RB/DB Trey Humes (5-10, 180, Sr.) and RB/LB Kirk Cherneskie (5-10, 190, Pg.) are the top players for the Blues. Rackovan says the Blues’ strength is skill position players but there is a lack of depth on the offensive and defensive lines. Lawrenceville School (N.J.) is the favorite to win the league.
Perkiomen School plays as an independent and is not a member of the PIAA. RB/DE Thomas Aaron (6-0, 205, Sr.), Ja’Ren Hampton (6-4, 185, Jr.), OL/DL Quinn Kasner (6-3, 265, Jr.) and OL/DL Isaiah Armstrong (6-5, 350, Jr.) return for the Indians. Head coach Tom Calvario says the offensive line and linebackers should be a strength. “We’ll have some experience returning,” he says. “But overall, we will be very young and inexperienced.”
George School did not respond to requests for information.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Ryan Bates
Archbishop Wood OL Ryan Bates (6-5, 285) is one of the top recruits nationally.
He is rated by the four prominent recruiting publications (Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247sports.com, ESPN) among the top 180 recruits in the nation and among the top three recruits in Pennsylvania.
A consensus of those four publications rate him second only to St. Joseph’s Prep DB John Reid among the top major college football recruits in Southeast Pennsylvania. Despite 16 scholarship offers including ones from Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and South Carolina, Bates wasted no time making his decision in February to play for Penn State.
Bates is a powerful, tenacious blocker both on the line of scrimmage and down field in Wood’s potent rushing attack.
Wood head coach Steve Devlin: “Ryan has improved every year. He’s so athletic. He moves. He has a mean streak. He has great technique. He’s a smart kid. He’s got all of the tools. He’s taken the ownership of our offensive line. He’s gotten the other linemen to improve with him. They take pride in the quarterback, running backs and wide receivers getting all of the accolades.”
Bates took a break to have a conversation about his decision to play for Penn State and the upcoming season.
When and how did you reach the decision to accept the scholarship offer from Penn State?
I attended the Blue-White game in my sophomore year (2013). The second or third time up there I fell in love with the place. It’s close to home—only about three hours from home. My parents can come see me play and support me. It’s great academics. It’s one of the largest alumni associations. It’s the second biggest stadium. The fans. What’s not to like about Penn State?
What other schools did you give serious consideration?
For a while I knew I was going to Penn State. There was South Carolina. But there was no real competition.
How much did playing for Coach Bill O’Brien or Coach James Franklin mean to you?
Not at all. I looked at the university. Coaches come and go. God forbid I get hurt and can’t play. I have the university.
What about your impressions of Coach Franklin?
He’s a great guy. High tempo. High energy. Great sense of humor. I like being around him.
Any sense you will have a chance to see playing time in your freshman year?
I’ll be playing against 22 and 23 year olds and they’ve been lifting. It would be awesome. That’s everyone’s dream. They’re so low on depth on the offensive line with only 12 scholarship guys.
You’ve been part of Wood’s three straight PIAA State AAA championship games and you’re defending state champions. Wood’s profile is statewide. Everyone has expectations of Wood winning the state championship again.
We play for the people around us. My teammates and my coaches. There’s such a high level of talent but we don’t look at state or national rankings. They mean nothing to us.
Is the only measure of success for this season winning the state championship?
I feel like it kind of does. Our goal every year is to get to the state championship. We have good coaches who put in the time and effort. Everybody else puts in the time and effort. We’re there every day. It’s hard work. We may have taken two and one-half weeks off after the state championship game last year and we were right back in the weight room again working to get stronger, trying to get better for this season. It’s all the mental aspect of the game. In your head, you have to be into it. Hopefully, I will play the best football I have ever played.
- Gorden Blain
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: John Reid
St. Joseph’s Prep DB/WR John Reid (5-10, 180) is one of the top recruits nationally.
He is rated by the four prominent recruiting publications (Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247sports.com, ESPN) among the top 125 recruits in the nation and among the top two or four recruits in Pennsylvania.
A consensus of those four publications rate him as the top recruit in Southeast Pennsylvania. He has 17 scholarship offers including offers from Penn State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan and Miami (Fla.). He expects to play defensive back in college.
A four-year starter for The Prep, Reid is a fast, smart and versatile playmaker. He has a “nose” for the ball and a “knack” of making the play. His keen anticipation as an opponent’s play develops is the result of his dynamic combination of athletic ability and mental preparation.
In 2013, Reid had 41 receptions for 698 yards and eight TDs. For his career, he has 13 interceptions, has returned two INTs for TDs, has two kickoff returns for TDs.
While watching from the sidelines Reid and St. Joseph’s Prep dominate Pittsburgh Central Catholic 35-10 to win the PIAA State AAAA championship game last December in Hershey, then Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien was asked, “What do you think of John Reid?” Without hesitation, O’Brien answered: “He can play for us right now—tomorrow.”
St. Joseph’s Prep assistant coach Bill Morris: “John’s a student of the game. He’s always watching film, trying to improve his craft. He’s definitely going to take it very seriously. I’ve coached teams where the great players know it and act like it. John’s very humble. He doesn’t act that way and doesn’t play that way. He’s a leader and does it in a humble way.”
Reid took a break to have a conversation about the recruiting and the upcoming season.
When will you narrow down your list of schools under consideration?
“I’m pretty open. I want to take my official visits. I haven’t set up the visits.”
What are the priorities that are part of your decision?
“The biggest thing is education. The coaches I’ll be working with. The environment.”
How important is the chance for immediate playing time?
“Obviously it means a lot to me. I’m not necessarily worried about playing time. I know my abilities, the knowledge I have. We play a college-style defense and even beyond. I’m not worried about the transition. Maybe the speed of the game I’m not sure about. “
Recruiting publications, the media, football people have been talking about you since the eighth-ninth grade…How much is the recruiting attention trying your patience?
“It gets rough sometimes. Not talking to the coaches but all of the other phone calls. I like it when it’s constant football. I happen to be blessed and I thankful for that. I love the learning aspect of football. It’s very addicting for me.”
The Prep is now the defending state champion. With that comes expectations. You’ve got to win it again. What’s the mindset of you and your teammates?
“Sure that’s our biggest goal. But we expect to become the best players and the best team we can be. If we do that, the rest will come. We hope that will mean a state championship. We’re bringing a lot more experience this season.
In the playoffs last season, your team seemed to make big improvements each week. How did it come together like that?
When we’ve had losses, we corrected the mistakes. Each week we got closer and closer as a team. We got better and better in some aspect.