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Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
October 31, 2006              
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise

A look at District Two's Top 4 teams:
Last week we took a look at District Eleven's top three teams in a short feature entitled Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, coming to the unscientific conclusion that Easton, Parkland and Liberty may not be so big or bad after all, despite the high rankings bestowed on them by numerous polls. Time will tell.  

Moving on, I thought it might be fun to take a look elsewhere, beyond our borders to the far off hinterlands of District Two for a look at four teams having strong seasons, Abington Heights, Hazelton, Wyoming Valley West and Delaware Valley, all 8-1 through last week's games. This is what I found.

Abington Heights, Lackawanna Football Conference, Division 1: Looking back over the last seven years by way of EpaSports.com, you'll find the Comets have been a steady program, with only one losing season and 5 PIAA playoff appearances. Their 7 year won-loss is 55-23. Against D-1 in s they're 0-2, losing to Central Bucks West in '99, 35-7 and Cheltenham in '02, 21-14.  This year's team looks like one that could make a dent in the playoffs. All that separates them from an even better record is a missed extra point in the second game of the season against powerful Wyoming Valley West with :48 left  to play. WYW left Clarks Summit with a 28-27 win after statistically pounding the Comets 255 rushing yards to 87. Since then they've have been on a roll, beating Lakeland, Valley View and Delaware Valley. Lakeland (7-1) and Valley View (5-3) are both solid AA teams, particularly Lakeland. What the smaller schools don't have is depth, but they can have a strong first unit. Lakeland does. The 21-13 win at Delaware Valley was impressive. All totaled, the Comets have faced 4 Quads, two 3A teams and two AA teams. The combined won-loss of their opponents is 46-26, against which they've scored an average of 32 points per game, while allowing 11.

Delaware Valley, Lackawanna Football Conference, Division 1: Delaware Valley may be a newcomer to the D-2 power structure but they seem to be a legitimate one. From '99 through '01 they won 4 games against 27 losses. From '02 on they went 7-4, 5-5, 9-2 and 8-3 last year. Their seven year won-loss is 33-41. The bottom fell out of the 2005's season when injuries devad the team, ruining an 8-0 start. Ironically, that was the only season in the last seven years that they made the playoffs, losing to Hazelton 42-21. This year they've played five AAAA, three AAA teams and one AA. They are clobbering most opponents except for Abington Heights who beat them in Milford 21-13. The Warriors average 39ppg and allow 13. The combined won-loss of their opponents is 33-40. A division one talent plugs the middle of their defense. At 6-2, 330 pounds, nose guard Trevis Romer usually gets the attention of two opposing linemen. He's joined by juniors Brendon Myer, 6-2, 225 and Ben Webb, 6-2, 238 and Don Bickman. It's a young but fast group. Last year's # 1 tackle, senior linebacker Ian Summer, 5-10, 220 and NG Romer are the heart and soul of the defense that yields 112 rushing yards per game. The OL averages 230, mostly juniors, with a monster sophomore, Chris Conklin, 6-5, 286. The line has evidently jelled with senior running back Kenny Domzalski at 1273 yards through the Scranton game. With all that youth up front, he must hit the hole quick. QB Josh Navitsky filled in last year, throwing for 500 yards and has surpassed the 1000 yard mark this year. Most of their receivers return. They score on average 39 points per game and allow 13. Coach Keith Olsommer says they have great speed defensively and get to the ball well. Offensively, they have a few that could make the track team so they seem to have skills and weapons.

Hazelton, Wyoming Valley Conference, Division 4A: Here's an old, historic power that has gone 41-15 the last five years. They are 2-4 in s after four appearances since 1999. Against district one they are 0-1, losing to Interboro 41-35 in 2002. Last year's playoff hopes were crushed by Liberty in the second round, 42-7. Following that 10-2 campaign, Hazelton set their sights high for this season. With a decent nucleus returning, why not? Then the reality of a sneaky good Abington Heights team came to town and stuffed them in the opener, 21-0! That could have been a fatal blow, but Head Coach Rocco Petrone rallied the troops. They've since gone on a eight game winning streak. Last week they went to East Stroudsburg to face a good South team (7-2), and came home with a hard fought 28-12 win. After giving Wyoming Valley West their first loss of the season the week before, 19-7, E-Burg South was a tough road opponent. On the year they're averaging 24ppg offensively. The schedule to date is made up of six AAAA and 3 AAA teams. The season ends Friday at Berwick. They evidently have a decent ground game and defense. Against WVW, they rushed for 157 yards while holding the Spartans to 89 yards. For the year they've allowed 89 points, or 10ppg. If they can hold down a Curry coached Wyoming Valley West team, you suspect they can play with a number of teams.  

Wyoming Valley West: Wyoming Valley Conference, Division 4A: Wyoming Valley West has a new head coach this year whose  may ring a bell to many of you, George Curry. Coach Curry left Berwick after a 35 year stint to take up the reins at Valley West. WVW went 30-24 from 2001-2005, so it was clear the proud program was going in the wrong direction. In came 61 year old Coach Curry to straighten things out. The Spartans are back to their winning ways again with a typical Curry team that runs over most opponents with a monster sized team. They got out of the gate on fire this year by winning their first seven games, averaging 227 rush yards per game. Then came the Hazelton game two weeks ago where the Cougars manhandled them, holding them to 89 yards rushing in a 19-7 loss. But they bounced back with a 57-13 win at Pittston. Mimicking the Central League, their schedule is a mixed bag of 4A and 3A teams. This year they've played six AAAA teams and three AAA teams. The offense is huge at 34 points per game while the defense is disappointing at 15 ppg. Physically, they're huge across the lines, averaging 6-4, 265.

Summary
It's difficult getting a handle on these teams since they don't go beyond their borders in non-conference games. Abington Heights has two impressive road wins, Hazelton and Delaware Valley. In terms of playoff experience, most of it came between 1999 and 2002.  They've had one appearance since then, a 13-10 loss to Whitehall last year. Delaware Valley is impressive on paper but lost at home to Abington Heights. Their only playoff appearance was last year where they lost to Hazelton 42-21. Hazelton got good playoff experience last year advancing to the second round before losing to Liberty 42-7. The win two weeks ago against Wyoming Valley West in Hazelton says they may have taken the next step. Although Wyoming Valley West lost at Hazelton, they won at Abington Heights and will only get better under Coach Curry's guidance. That's why they should make noise in s, with savvy, playoff experienced Coach Curry at the helm. The question, can they get out of the district?

* The number following a team's won-loss is the projected seeding order for playoff purposes through last week's games.

1. St. Joseph's Prep (7-2, 6-0, #1 CLRed) The combination of St. Joseph's beating North Catholic 28-0 and Ryan upsetting LaSalle sewed up another Red Division championship for the Hawks, their second in a row and fifth in the last seven years. The win also locks up the top seed for the playoffs with Roman and LaSalle two games off the pace at 4-2. For the second consecutive year, the Hawks play Cardinal O'Hara in the regular season final. At the beginning of the year, didn't we think this was going to be a titanic game? But O'Hara has struggled mightily, losing to Roman last week in a game that seriously jeopardizes their chances of making the playoffs. Their won-loss is 3-6. You always have great expectations when these two get together, but unless there is a miraculous turnaround over the next few day, look for the Hawks to handled the Lions as convincingly as they did last year, 31-7 in the regular season and 41-7 on the Red Final.  

2. West Chester East (8-1, 6-0, #4) Go west young man, go west! That would be a bad idea this year in the district with teams like these Vikings, Downingtown West and Downingtown East lying in wait. Even Henderson's getting in on the action by winning three of their last four, lifting their selves up to a 5-4 record. And do you really want to mess with a mean, albeit struggling bunch of Red Raiders from Coatesville? This year East took full advantage of a favorable schedule that saw Dtown West, Coatesville and Dtown East come to them. These weren't narrow victories either. Rather, each one was defeated by significant margins of 35-24, 31-14 and 28-7 respectively. The defense allows a suspect 17 points per game, but considering it is forced back onto the field every few minutes with a high flying offense averaging 39 ppg, it has done pretty well. They're home against Rustin Friday meaning the first units should get valuable time off.

3. Ridley (9-0, 8-0, #3) Ridley beat winless Lower Merion 49-0 last week to secure their first outright Central League championship in 15 years. The drought makes more sense when considering the historic run Strath Haven made over the years with some monster teams. Conestoga and Upper Darby had good teams as well. Strath Haven won league championships in 92, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 02 and 03. They also won District One titles in all those years as well as last year. Then there were  titles in 1999 and 2000. So there has been one big, bad Panther in the neighborhood to deal with over the years! Check out havenfootball.net for more. Back to Ridley; for a change, Ridley's D is getting some press as well it should by allowing 23 points the entire season! No one has scored on them at home. This is statistically the best defense and offense they've had the last eight years. At 27ppg, they finally have an offense to support the defense. That wasn't the case over the years, especially in postseason action. After beating Neshaminy in 2002's first round, 17-16, they lost to North Penn 28-7 with an offense averaging 23ppg and a defense allowing 13. 2003's offense was just as powerless against North Penn who beat them again by a 28-7 score. Ridley averaged 21 a game that year and allowed 13. In 2004, they lost the opener to Pennridge, 14-6, despite the Rams coughing up 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles. The score was 7-6 until Ryan Greiser broke loose on a 74 yard scoring jaunt at the timeHour10Minute5410:54 mark of the fourth quarter. That edition could only manage 20ppg offensively. The difference between previous Raider teams and this group is a big offense, for a change, coupled with the quickest group of defenders they've ever had.      

4. Council Rock North (9-0, 6-0, #1) If defense wins championships, expect Ridley and this Council Rock North team to go far. Factoring in playoff experience is another issue but well coached teams have a way of getting past that. North is averaging 30 points per game while yielding 8. In the highly competitive Suburban One-Continental Conference, they've shutdown their main antagonists, Hatboro Horsham, Tennett and Souderton. Hatboro averages 27ppg but North held them to 14. Souderton averages 30ppg but North held them to 10 at Souderton. Same for Tennett. They were held to 7 points on their turf, 21 points below their season average. If they can get by arch rival Council Rock South Saturday, they'll have sole possession of first  and will have avenged last year's 16-7 home loss to the Hawks. They'll also have secured the top seed in the playoffs. What a turnaround for a team that had one heartbreaking loss after another in last year's 5-6 campaign.     

5. Archbishop Wood (8-1, 6-0, #1 CLBlue) Archbishop Wood kept their eye on the prize last week by defeating Cardinal Dougherty 44-6. The win keeps them one game ahead of West Catholic, setting up a grand finale against the Burrs at Widener University Saturday. West has come alive the second half of the season, winning five of their last six games. Hard as it is to believe, the Vikings are going for their fourth consecutive Blue Division championship. They had some issues a few weeks ago, going into a slump against Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Carroll. They lost to Ryan 21-19 but came back from a 25 point deficit to defeat Carroll 26-25. Since then they've been unstoppable, rolling over five opponents by an average score of 33-7. Don't forget, this is the team that beat North Penn in the opener and good Penn Charter team the following week.  

6. North Penn (7-2, 6-0, #7) After a rocky 0-2 start, this is not what the rest of the district wanted to see; a healthy North Penn team firing on all cylinders on a seven game winning streak. Anyone seeing how they took apart Neshaminy two weeks ago knows this is just about where Coach Beck wants his team at playoff time. They routed Truman last week 41-0 and will probably do the same in the closer Friday against Central Bucks South.    

7. Pennsbury (8-1, 5-1, #5) Almost every year Pennsbury and Abington provide us with some of the most competitive games in the district. As far back as 2002, Abington's 2-8 team gave Pennsbury's 6-4 group a hard time before falling 26-13. In 2003, they lost 21-12. In 2004 the Ghosts pulled one out, beating Pennsbury 14-12. In last year's classic, a 7-5 Abington team was nipped by an 8-3 Falcon team 21-20. But the topper was last week's show stopper that went four overtimes before the Falcons were able to eke out a 35-28 win. After a game like that, you've got to hope there's a  for a team like Abington in the playoffs. The win keeps Pennsbury one game behind North Penn in the National Conference race with one game to go, at Neshaminy Friday night. The Skins routed them last year in Fairless Hills, 35-14 and could pay for that here. I was remiss in failing to mention Pennsbury's Jackson Fagan running for 333 yards two weeks ago at Pennridge.  

8. Downingtown West (8-1, 4-1, #2) Downingtown West turned back Coatesville 20-14 to stay one game behind West Chester East in the Ches-Mont with one game to go. They close out the regular season at Bishop Shanahan where their ninth win of the season will secure an extremely high seed for the postseason. Maybe it's time to reflect briefly about the proud program at Downingtown. In the four years before the school splitting into East and West, Downingtown was one of the top programs in the , with a won-loss of 40-7 (85%) the preceding four years before the split. Not even Central Bucks West topped that, although they did come close at 42-8, a winning percentage of 84%. There was the  championship in 1999! Stepping down a classification, Strath Haven took overall honors with a 58-2 won-loss and two  championships. If we stray to the Catholic League, Archbishop Carroll had their great run in that period, cranking out a 45-7 record, for an 86% winning mark. Pardon that aside. For West, things went south as they limped through a 5-6 season, followed by consecutive 4-7 campaigns after the split. The point of all that was to say they are having a fine and special year as this year's group brings that winning tradition back to the old school at West.    
9. Souderton (7-2, 4-2, #9) 9th ranked Souderton lost to 14th ranked Harboro Horsham October 13th, 21-14. Part of the problem in having rankings make even a little bit of sense is that by their very design, they must become convoluted over time. As an e.g., unranked Cardinal O'Hara, with a 3-6 record, would have to be ranked above North Penn, a team they beat 14-0 in the second week of the season if the rankings were forever pegged to that one game. Ryan at 3-6 would have to be above Archbishop Wood's 8-1 after upsetting them September 18th. And then there's the matter of where a team was positioned before winning or losing. The bottom line, shouldn't rankings reflect the level a team is playing at now and not always be a reflection of what they did in the past? Back to football, Souderton got their second shutout of the year last week by blanking last year's divisional champ Central Bucks East, 35-0. It gets tougher Friday in an important Continental game at second  Tennett. Souderton edged the Panthers last year 34-28. If they can duplicate that, they'll likely end up facing them one more time in the First Round of the playoffs. In previously road games the Indians defeated Spring-Ford, CB West and Norristown, while losing to Hatboro Horsham. Tennett should be their toughest road game of the season.     

10. Tennett (6-2, 5-1, #8) Tennett got past improving Council Rock South last week 21-14. Didn't the weather mirror the season's first week with steady rains turning the fields to quagmires? The difference in this game was turnovers. Tennett had one, South had five and still lost by only a score. No one said road wins were easy. Senior Kevin Rose rushed for 148 yards on 18 carries. Because CR South is struggling with a depressing 2-7 record, you don't hear much about them, but they do have a quality back in Ryan Phares. He has had a couple big games this year and had one last week, cranking out 165 yards on 13 carries. Up next for Tennett is Souderton. Their home schedule is far more difficult than Souderton's away schedule, facing the likes of Downingtown East, Council Rock North and Hatboro at home. This should be one of the very best games to see Friday.  

11. Downingtown East (6-3, 3-2, #12) Downingtown East fell to 3-2 in the Ches-Mont but is hanging on for a spot in the postseason after losing to West Chester East 28-7. It will be interesting seeing how they respond to their second straight loss. Realistically, many teams would be in trouble facing Downingtown West and WC East on consecutive weekends, especially with your quarterback sporting a non-throwing hand cast and used in passing situations only. What a tough blow for QB Pete O'Connor. They can't afford any let up Friday with red hot Henderson in town. The Warriors, winners of three straight and four of their last five are a bubble team fighting for a playoff spot. A steady dose of running back Richie Walls could burst their bubble.    

12. LaSalle (7-2, 4-2, # 2 CLRed tied) After straying for four weeks in a surprising losing slump, Archbishop Ryan came back to the fold by upsetting the Explorers 14-12. The win puts them in a dead heat with O'Hara for the 6th and final seed in the Red playoffs, meaning, if they beat Father Judge Saturday, they're in, unless O'Hara upsets St. Joe's. Both Ryan and O'Hara are 2-4 with O'Hara holding the tie breaker by way of a regular season 14-13 win at Ryan. Back to LaSalle; after starting the year 7-0, they're now in the throes of a two game losing streak, not a good way to enter the playoffs. They're also in a tie with Roman (4-2) for the second seed that will be decided on the field Friday at Roman Catholic. That's a tough closer but at least the issue will be decided on the field.

13. Neshaminy (6-3, 4-2, #13) It's certainly been a disappointing season for the Skins but there is definitely no give up in them. After the St. Joe's loss they came back with a 27-7 win at home against inconsistent but dangerous Archbishop Ryan. Following the 33-13 home loss to Pennridge, they came home to beat Central Bucks South 43-29. And finally, after the 29-7 loss at North Penn, they returned home to beat Bensalem 21-7. Before judging them too harshly in the Bensalem win, remember North Penn beat the Owls 24-14. Plus, the Owls D at 20ppg is well improved over last years unit that allowed 27ppg. A more accurate measuring stick may be check how that Skins have done against plus .500 teams. The answer is 1-3. That does not bode well with Pennsbury in Friday. This is the biggest Falcon attack in years at 27 points per game, backed by an equally impressive defense allowing 12ppg, a 7 year “low” in terms of points allowed. For all their troubles, Neshaminy still fields a sizeable offense at 25ppg, with a defense that allows 16 a game. There are a number of schools out there that wish they could have a team as bad as this one! Look for a knock down back yard brawl in Langhorne Friday as we see what Pennsbury has after the multi-overtime heavyweight slugfest with Abington.          

14. Hatboro Horsham (7-2, 4-2, #6) Hatboro held on to their high seed and third  in the Continental (tied with Souderton) by routing Norristown 28-6. They are a legitimate team if some tried and true indicators mean anything. They're winning on the road with a 3-2 won-loss and 4-2 against winning teams. At 16ppg yield, this is their best defense over the last eight years. The offense is sizeable at 27ppg so this is an exciting team that also plays decent D. Central Bucks East is up next on the road, Friday. The Pats beat the Hatters last year 20-7.

15. Roman Catholic (7-2, 4-2, #2 CL Red tied) Roman Catholic is having a great year. The only team to beat them decisively is St. Joseph's six weeks ago. In what has to be called an upset, Father Judge beat them 10-7 two weeks. Last week they beat Cardinal O'Hara 17-7, holding the Lions to 135 total yards of offense while Roman got 242. 189 yards of Roman's total were rushing yards. They are home Saturday in a game against LaSalle that will decide second  in the Red Division and the 2 seed that goes with it.  

16. Penn Charter (6-2, 3-0) William Penn Charter makes their first visit to the Top 20 after beating Malvern Prep last week 23-19. The win puts them in sole possession of first  in the Inter-Academic League. Penn jumped on Malvern Prep with unaccustomed ease, getting a quick touchdown in the first quarter, followed by two more in the second to take a 23-7 lead into the locker room. But this is Malvern Prep. No team coached by Gaspare Pelligrini ever went away easy. Back came the Friars with a safety, a TD strike from QB Ryan Nassib to Joe Hoban and a 27 yard field goal by Joe Buckley, cutting it to 23-19. Malvern made one last effort in the fourth quarter, moving to Penn's 3 yard line with 14 seconds left in the game. But a goal line stand and a powerful hit resulted in a fumble as time expired. Penn moves on to play Haverford School (1-8, 0-3) at home Friday before closing out the season with a tough road trip to Germantown Academy (6-2, 2-1).

17. Malvern Prep (5-2, 2-1) It wasn't a shock but it was a mild surprise seeing the Friars go down to defeat at Penn Charter last week. We were set up by their going through the Inter-Ac schedule last year without a defeat. The thing about Penn is they very often have good teams that somehow take a back seat to Malvern Prep despite the Quakers having tremendous success in the league. The loss means that Episcopal Academy (4-4, 0-3) will probably have a long day against the Friars Friday, maybe as long as last year where they lost at home to Malvern, 39-0. Excluding the 3-8 anomaly of 2004, the Prep is 9-1 following a loss since 1999.   

18. Interboro (7-2, 3-0, #10) On the strength of a blocked field goal, Interboro fell to  Delaware's # 1 team, Salesianum, by a narrow 14-13 margin in overtime. One thing is certain, the team that battled the Sals is not the same team that lost to Unionville in the opener. Fullback Harry Broomall filled in admirably for FB/LB Mike Sullivan who went down with a season ending injury two weeks ago. 6-5, 290 pound OL/DL Rob Johnson had a monster game as well. Broomall rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries with Tom Ridewood leading the Bucs with 74 yards after 21 attempts. Salesianum's fine tailback Sal Viscount led all rushers with 154 yards on 32 carries. The Bucs are at Chichester Friday looking to gather in another Del-Val title and enter the playoffs with momentum.

19. Frankford (6-1, 5-0) Frankford won their sixth consecutive game with a 20-0 win at Northeast last week. The win also locks up Frankford's first outright Philadelphia Public League Red Division title, having shared last year's with George Washington and Northeast. Thursday's game has them against the Public League White Division champion, Philly Central (7-1, 5-0). About the upcoming playoffs, eight District Twelve teams make the 4A playoffs, with the winner facing whoever comes out of District dateMonth2Day4Year20112/4/11 Sub Regional playoffs. Frankford isn't as powerful as last year but they do have size and speed that will represent the Pub well should they get that far.  

20. Abington (5-4, 3-3, #17) It isn't often but sometimes you have to reward a team for losing. That was the case this week with Interboro's outstanding performance against Salesianum, losing by a point in OT and this Abington team forcing Pennsbury to four overtimes before succumbing 35-28. If Abington gets into the playoffs they are going to be a handful for whoever they play. The schedule maker did them no favors this year with away games at Plymouth Whitemarsh, Neshaminy, North Penn and Pennsbury. Four of the five winning teams faced to date were played on the road. Only Pennridge, a team the Ghosts destroyed by 21 points played at Abington. Aside from the oddity at Whitemarsh, a 26-9 loss, and North Penn shutting them out 35-0, they are averaging 27ppg. They're allowing 24ppg but remember they had close calls at Neshaminy, a 27-21 loss and last week's thriller at Pennsbury. If you can take those two teams to the edge, you can hang with just about any team in the district.   

Honorable Mention

Chestnut Hill Academy (7-1, 2-1)
North Catholic (5-4, 3-3, #4 CLRed)
Father Judge (5-4, 3-3, #5 CLRed)
Coatesville (5-4, 1-4, #22)
Plymouth Whitemarsh (5-4, 4-2, #16)
Wissachickon (7-2, 4-2, #15)
Upper Darby (7-2, 6-2)
3A Sun Valley (7-2, 4-1)
3A Unionville (7-2, 5-1)
3A Strath Haven (6-3, 6-2)
3A Garnet Valley (7-1, 4-1)
3A Upper Perkomen (8-1, 7-0)
3A Upper Moreland (7-1, 5-1)



Top 20 High School Football Rankings
Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
October 24, 2006              
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise
Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?
It seems all you hear this season is how weak District One teams are and what little chance they have of getting to Hershey. In conjunction with that, a considerable number of print and electric media would have you believe District Eleven is loaded and a lock on representing the East in Chocolate town. Maybe District One, Two, Four and Twelve shouldn't even show up! Remember, last year's “awesome” Bethlehem Liberty edged North Penn (Pete Stoll, Alex Johnson injured) 14-12 on the strength of 2 missed extra point conversions at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown. In the  Final they were mauled by McKeesport's Tigers 49-10, despite top Tiger back Travis McBride sidelined with a bad hamstring from the second quarter on. Still, McKeesport rushed for 384 yards! This year the media would again have you believe District Eleven's trilogy of  Easton (8-0), Parkland (8-0) and Liberty (7-1) are invincible. Across the  they're in nearly everyone's top ten. While all three teams are impressive, a fast look at the schedules might show another side. Coming into last weekend, five of  Easton's opponents had losing records for a combined 8-27 won-loss. The rest were all 4-3. All totaled, their opponents won-loss was 20-36. Parkland played four opponents with a combined won-loss of 3-25. The three winning teams were 4-3. Bethlehem Catholic was 6-1 for a combined won-loss of 21-35 for all opponents.  Bethlehem's Liberty High has played five opponents who have a combined won-loss of 6-29! Two were 4-3. The other was Bethlehem Catholic. The combined won-loss of all their opponents is 20-36.

In comparison and keeping this within the PIAA, District One's top three teams could very well be the two undefeated teams, Ridley and Council Rock North, and  North  Penn. Through last week's games, the won-loss of Ridley's opponents was 30-34, with four of their opponents having losing records. CR North faced a slate with a combined won-loss of 31-34. Four have losing records. North Penn's opponent's won-loss is 34-29, with three having losing records.

In terms of head to head games, there are only two such encounters between District Eleven's top three and any District One team.  Easton edged Cardinal O'Hara (3-5) 6-0, while  Parkland beat Glen Mills (4-4) 27-19. All Easton could muster against O'Hara was a blocked punt run in for the score. Since then they've averaged 41 point per game. In  Parkland's win, Bulls' running back Raymone West rushed for 229 yards on 29 carries! Statistically, all three seem awesome. Easton averages 36 ppg while allowing only 14 points all year. Parkland is averaging 40 offensively and allowing 5. Liberty scores 43 a game while yielding 13. This isn't rocket science nor is it definitive by any means, but it does suggest Easton's, Parkland's and Liberty's records and numbers are inflated with a strong dose of weak opponents. Time will tell, but the way North Penn, Ridley, Council Rock North, Pennsbury and the Ches-Mont reps from West Chester East and Downingtown are playing, I'm saying, bring em on! ET.  


1. St. Joseph's Prep (6-2, 5-0) The Hawks battered upstart LaSalle in a divisional show down to take sole possession of first  with a 42-14 win. Talk about making a ment! If there was ever doubt before, there is none now about who is the top dog in the Red Division. Was there ever a doubt? St. Joe's out rushed LaSalle 276 yards to minus 25 yards. Minus 25 yards! Another upstart visits the Prep Saturday when North Catholic pays a visit. North is 5-3 on the year and 3-2 in Red play. The Hawks should dominate the smaller Falcons unless there's a hangover from LaSalle.   

2.  West Chester East (7-1, 5-0) East moves into the two spot with LaSalle's lopsided loss and there own destruction of Bishop Shanahan 48-7. They are undefeated in league play but have one more major Ches-Mont challenge in the form of Downingtown East Friday. The Cougars are 3-1 in league action, 6-2 overall, coming off a hard fought 24-13 loss at Downingtown West last week. The emotional after effects of a rivalry loss are bad enough. Add to that the West Chester East team on the other side of the field with the bitter after taste of last years 57-28 rout at Dtown East.     

3. Ridley (8-0, 7-0) The Raiders put Upper Darby in their , second  to be exact, in a four way tie with Marple-Newtown, Conestoga and Strath Haven, two games off the lead with two games remaining by stuffing the Royals 27-6 on  Upper Darby's field. Winless Lower Merion is next. They are 0-8, averaging 7 points a game with a defense that allows 39. Ridley closes with Springfield who is currently 1-7, meaning the next two weeks will see lots of playing time for the second units and rest for the starters.   

4. Council Rock North (8-0, 5-0)  Last week's thoughts went like this about Council Rock North's pending game with Central Bucks East. “The Patriots (3-4) have had some dings but managed to hang tough in 3 and 7 point losses to Pennridge and Abington respectively. A well coached, proud team like East has nothing to lose. Used to hate games like this. North is much better but needs to take care of things here”. Coach had them ready enough as they managed to hold off a tough East squad 17-7. All that stands between the Indians and a Continental title are road trips to Central Bucks West Friday, followed by arch rival Council Rock South who incidentally has been playing much better the last few weeks.

5. Archbishop Wood (7-1, 5-0) Archbishop Wood sent Conwell Egan packing with a decisive 42-14 Blue Division win. The win keeps them undefeated atop the Blue, one game ahead of a team we haven't heard much from this year, West Catholic. You'll be hearing a lot about them soon after the youth movement this year. In fact, they're on something of a roll now with wins in four of their last five games getting them to 4-4. If they beat Carroll next week and Wood does Dougherty Friday, we'll get to see a fine Blue Division regular season final at Widener between Wood and West.   

6. North Penn (6-2, 5-0) North Penn reasserted itself as the dominant alpha team in the National Conference by crushing Neshaminy 29-7. How often do you see anyone rush for 341 yards against Neshaminy? It even looks like a misprint, as does a 409 to 213 total yardage advantage. All that in just 9 possessions! The line was firing and dominating. Unfortunately for the rest of the district, perhaps further, running back Tyrece Ervin is now healthy. He dominated this one, rushing for 215 yards on 20 carries and 3 scores. Even quarterback Kyle Feister looked good toting the ball. The Knight's D was on the money, holding Neshaminy to 139 yards on the ground. North Penn is two games away from securing the National Conference title. Truman is up Friday on the road followed by Central Bucks South at home.   

7. Pennsbury (7-1, 4-1) Pennsbury took no prisoners last week against Pennridge as they routed the Rams 42-19. The win keeps them one game off the pace behind North Penn. That's a gap they'll not likely close considering North Penn's schedule. Conversely for Pennsbury, they have a dangerous home game against Abington Friday, followed by regular season ending road game at Neshaminy. Those aren't the easiest teams to close against. Abington's in a must win situation with a loss ending any post season playoff hopes. They battled hard last year losing a 21-20 nail biter to the Falcons. Like CB East at CR North last week, Abington has nothing to lose. With a quarterback like Kevin Morton, it could get interesting.

8. Downingtown West (7-1, 3-1) Downingtown West passed a test of sorts last week by defeating bitter rival Downingtown East 24-13 in a key Ches-Mont game. The win avenges last years 28-0 shutout, gives East their first league loss and keeps West one game behind league leader West Chester East. Downingtown East is still right there, one game off the pace with a 3-1 Ches-Mont record. Guess who Dtown West is rooting for this week when Dtown East and West Chester East collide? The Whippets have a tough assignment themselves with fired up Coatesville coming in after being upset by Henderson last week. But Coatesville put a 44-9 hurtin on West last year so rest assured they'll get their full attention.

9. LaSalle (7-1, 4-1)  LaSalle lost to St. Joseph's 42-14. A more believable score might have been 42-28, maybe a field goal getting it to 42-31, but 42-14! More than a few of us felt it would be a competitive game. But then how could it be when a glance at the box shows Hawk's tailback Jamir Livingston running for 250 yards (34 carries), fully 25 % of his total yards rushing for the year. That had to hurt more than just the physical. LaSalle's running game was stuffed (-25 rush yards) and the passing game for all its size, 290 yards on a 23 for 42 outing, produced one TD strike. But this LaSalle bunch is made of good stuff. They'll bounce back strong against an Archbishop Ryan team in full retreat! Ryan got our attention at the top of the season with a 10-7 loss to Pennsbury. Two weeks later sitting at 0-2, they upset Archbishop Wood 21-19. Since then they've gone 1-4 and are currently in a 4 game slide. Look for LaSalle to let loose here if there's anything left after the St. Joe's debacle.

10. Downingtown East (6-2, 3-1) East saw their six game winning streak come to a close at Downingtown West last week, losing a game that was closer than the score, 24-13, indicated. Because this is the same team that beat Tennett and Coatesville, both on the road, West Chester East needs to take care of things Friday or the Cougars will steal one. This is a solid team with strong armed quarterback Pete O'Connor and lightening quick running back Richie Walls both capable of taking over a game. They are special talents that can light it up. Walls is a double threat, one of O'Connor's favorite targets. This is going to be a tremendous game with the Cougars fighting for the Ches-Mont title and their playoff lives.

11. Souderton (6-2, 3-2) After losing two tough ones to CR North and Hatboro Horsham, Souderton got back on the winning track with a overwhelming road win at Norristown. The 42-19 victory ups their road record to 3-1. The Indians can be explosive at times. That's the third time they've topped the 40 mark. On the year they're averaging 29 ppg and allowing 13. The next game is against Central Bucks East. At 3-5, East is struggling, but it's a key game for Souderton with an away game at Tennett the following week. East won last year 23-3.

12. Malvern Prep (5-1, 2-0) Malvern Prep got into a running game with  Germantown  Academy (5-2, 1-1) but came away with a 40-30 win in their Inter-Ac home opener. Up next is a difficult game against rival Penn Charter (5-2, 2-0). Both are undefeated in league action. Penn's a tough road opponent with competitive losses to Archbishop Wood and   Valley Forge Military Academy. Maybe there's some extra incentive knowing Prep pounded them last year 44-24.

13. Tennett (5-2, 4-1) With Council Rock North finally getting some press and what precious little is left for the oft overlooked Continental Conference going to Hatboro and Souderton, guess who just snuck into second  in the standings? They got there by not folding their tents after the 17-7 home loss to CR North back on September 21st, and winning their next four games. Last week's 37-28 win against Hatboro Horsham was the most impressive. To keep it going they'll have to beat improving Council Rock South away, then, tackle Souderton the following week at home. CR South is 2-6 overall but 2-2 the last four. Three of those were on the road including a 12-0 loss at Souderton, a 24-21 loss at CB East a home win against Norristown 22-7 and away against CB West last week, 49-14. Their last 3 games are home so look for inspired efforts.    

14. Neshaminy (5-3, 3-2)  Neshaminy is out of the running for the National title. That's not easy to say, especially after putting together a four game win streak after the season opening loss. They were actually looking like something close to the Neshaminy of old, meaning last year's team. What followed was a bad stretch of road where the wheels blew off by allowing 91 points in their next three games. 91 points, Neshaminy! What happened to the defense that sacked St. Joe's quarterback 5 times in the opener? Throughout most of the season the Skin's could at least count on their offense. That piece came apart as well last week where 9 possessions against North Penn resulted in 4 punts, 1 fumble, 2 interceptions, 1 score, and one possession just as the first half ended. North Penn routed them 29-7. Bensalem is up next on the road followed by the closer against Pennsbury.

15. Hatboro Horsham (6-2, 3-2) After winning their first four games, Hatboro cooled off to a 2-2 won-loss the last four outings. Losses to CR North and to Souderton last week 37-28, knocked them out of contention in the Continental race. But they're still good to go for the playoffs. They are home Friday against plummeting Norristown. The Eagles lost their last five games by an average score of 9 to 30. The Hatters then close out on the road against always feisty Central Bucks East.

16. Roman Catholic (6-2, 3-2) Roman Catholic was upset last week by a Father Judge team (4-4, 2-3) that awoke from a three week slumber to shock the Cahillites 10-7. It's a bad day when you hold the other guy to 45 yards rushing, 85 through the air and lose. As things stand now, Roman hangs onto the third seed for the Red playoffs by way of a 14-13 win against North Catholic (5-3, 3-2) two weeks ago. The problem for Roman is the schedule that has them closing with Cardinal O'Hara and LaSalle. Further bad news for RC, O'Hara is getting healthy. Running back John Dempsey is now 100 % as evidenced by his 19 carries against Bonner last week that netted 142 yards. Last year's best team with a losing record was 5-6 Council Rock North. This year's recipient could well be Cardinal O'Hara at 3-5.  

17. Coatesville (5-3, 1-3) Coatesville is 0-2 against the West Chester teams, losing on consecutive weekends to East High, then Henderson last week 27-20. Worse still, they're playing themselves right out of the playoffs. Were they held today, the Red Raiders would be on the outside looking in as the 17th seed in a 16 team format. Three weeks ago the Red Raiders were 5-1. A loss at Downingtown West Friday will likely seal their fate.   

18. Unionville 3A (7-1, 5-0) Unionville held onto the SCCL's top spot by winning another road game, this one at Great Valley 30-13. Garnet Valley and Sun Valley are in contention at 3-1. Both Uville and Sun Valley control their own destiny in a face off Friday at Sun. Uville won last year's game 28-14 and will settle for a similar score here.

19. North Catholic (5-3, 3-2) North Catholic slugged their way back into the Top 20 by winning at Archbishop Ryan 31-15. Nice win and a good rebound from the 14-13 loss at Roman the week before. Against Ryan, star running back Daryl Robinson rushed for 178 yards on 29 carries. That's a workout! On the year he has rushed for 932 yards on 152 carries, a stellar 6.1 yards per carry. Many thanks to the good folks at TedSilary.com for that information. The opponent this week is juggernaut St. Joseph's Prep. A hangover from LaSalle could keep it respectable and a look ahead to O'Hara makes it a “sandwich” game for North. North should not win but LaSalle shouldn't have won last year's Thanksgiving Day game against the Hawks either.

20. Interboro (7-1, 3-0) The hordes are pacified! Just kidding, this is not to quell the Interboro faithful. Interboro earned their way back into the Top 20 not by just beating teams, but by devastating them by the average score of 41-9, since the loss to Unionville at the top of the season. That's the good news. The bad news is they lost perhaps their best player last week, FB/MLB Mike Sullivan, with what appears to be a broken ankle. You hate seeing that. He'll be missed. Delaware's # 1 team, undefeated Salesianum (7-0) is up next Friday night at Interboro. The Bucs lost a close one last year in Wilmington 27-21 and should do better here at home with a more mature team. The problem is the Sals are an experienced, veteran team that's healthy. This should be a competitive game with a lean to the hometown Bucs.  

Honorable Mention

Chestnut Hill Academy (6-1, 1-1)
Penn Charter (5-2, 2-0)
Frankford (5-1, 4-0)
Father Judge (4-4, 2-3)
Wissachickon (7-1, 4-1)
Abington (5-3, 3-2)
3A Upper Moreland (6-1, 4-1)
Upper Darby (6-2, 5-2)
Conestoga (5-3, 5-2)
3A Strath Haven (5-3, 5-2)
3A Garnet Valley (6-1, 3-1)






 Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, the Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
October 17, 2006              
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise
1. St. Joseph's Prep (5-2, 4-0) St. Joseph's holds onto the top spot after gaining their third shutout of the season in a 24-0 Red Division win against Father Judge. Up next is a rare event where the Hawks have a game against a division opponent that beat them last year, LaSalle. The Explorer's were a thorn in St. Joe's side last year, even during the regular season by refusing to go away easy in a 21-14 loss. Then came the annual Thanksgiving week game. That one was decided by special teams play when LaSalle's Scott Waters blocked a 36 yard field goal attempt by Tim Edger with 5 seconds left in regulation. LaSalle scored first in OT when a John Harrison pass to Jack Forster resulted in a mid air wrestling match won by Forster who ripped the ball out of Hawk's defender Andy Shalbrack's hands for the score. St. Joe's roared back with Chris Whitney hitting Bill Edger for 6. Poor special teams play reared its head again when a bad snap for the extra point ended the game in LaSalle's favor 14-13. You can bet St. Joe's staff and players are looking forward to this one. Check out TedSilary.com to see how many regular season consecutive wins the Hawks have.   

2. LaSalle (7-0, 4-0) LaSalle is having a fine season but many don't realize just how close they came last year to having a special season. They started off 5-0, with two shutouts, then lost to O'Hara 14-0, SJP 21-14 and Roman 26-23 in overtime to end the regular season 7-3, oh so close to a far better record. In the first round of the Red Division playoffs they swamped Ryan 28-3 only to be routed by O'Hara in the second round, 35-14. But they finally broke through to gain something other than a moral victory by upsetting St. Joseph's in overtime 14-13. They've used the momentum of that win, plus the return of some very fine players to win eight in a row counting the year ending win against the Hawks. So here they are off another big win, Bonner 35-7, tied with the Hawks atop the Red Division and looking forward to a showdown Saturday against St. Joseph's. You've got to give the edge to St. Joe's with their 8-2 run to pass ratio producing points at the same level as the Explorers, but against a tougher schedule. There are no Neshaminys, Don Bosco Preps or Davidson s on their schedule and they allowed two more points per game. The Hawk's average 6 yards on every carry. Their passing game is underd at a 54% completion rate that has generated 905 yards. At 22 yards per completion, it can be explosive. LaSalle runs the ball 57% of the time for 3.6 yards per carry. Nothing special there but enough to keep opponents honest. The passing game is exceptional at 65% for 1087 yards, 182 more than St. Joe's. Their yards per completed pass average is 12.1. Statistically, the Hawks win this one. But they don't play on paper! Add to that the intensity of Coach Brooks and players towards an opponent that beat them and the emotional edge is theirs as well. Toss this one up and expect the Explorer's to keep it tight.

3. West Chester East (6-1, 4-0) East High thumped Ches-Mont power and rival Coatesville last week 31-14 to remain undefeated in league play. That's two solid teams East defeated counting the win against Downingtown West three weeks ago. They're at winless Bishop Shanahan Saturday before coming home for the showdown with Downingtown East.

4. Ridley (7-0, 6-0) Wow, Ridley's D is something to see! They got their fourth shutout of the season last week against powerful 3A playoff hopeful Marple Newtown, 24-0. The Tigers were held to 148 total yards and 7 first downs. The loss knocked them back to 4-2 in league action and kept the Raiders unscathed at 6-0, atop the Central League, one up on Upper Darby, their opponent Friday in Upper Darby.

5. Council Rock North (7-0, 4-0) 49-0 over Norristown! Looks like Coach isn't letting up and that comncy will not be an issue with this group. It's little signs like that that let you know this is a special team. 49 points is quite a ment after running the table against Tennett, Hatboro Horsham and Souderton. Again, the schedule is favorable, with the most difficult of the last three remaining opponents coming to Newtown, Central Bucks East. The Patriots (3-4) have had some dings but managed to hang tough in 3 and 7 point losses to Pennridge and Abington respectively. A well coached, proud team like East has nothing to lose. Used to hate games like this. North is much better but needs to take care of things here.  

6. Downingtown East (6-1, 3-0)  No one expected the Cougars to have any trouble with undermanned Bishop Shanahan (0-7) and they didn't in rolling to their sixth straight win since the controversial loss at Lancaster McCaskey in the opener. In that one, with East trailing 24-21 with seconds left on the clock, Richie Walls retuned a kick off to McCaskey's 20 where the Red Tornadoes were flagged for a late hit. But the refs said the clock had expired, so the game was over. Evidently games can end on a defensive penalty in Lancaster. Anyway, East shutout Shanahan 24-0.  They're at Downingtown West Saturday in a game that will impact the Ches-Mont, seeding for the post season and more importantly, bragging rights in the Downingtown area. Dtown East embarrassed Dtown  West last year 28-0. With two gun slinging quarterbacks in Nolan Kearney for West and Pete O'Connor for East, look for a tremendous offensive display with lots of highlight footage.

7. Archbishop Wood (6-1, 4-0) Archbishop Wood remained undefeated in the Blue Division by holding off Bishop McDevitt 10-0. “All Everything” Chris Lorditch scored all the points with a 21 yard field goal and a 44 yard return of a fourth quarter interception. Still, give McDevitt credit for stepping up to keep Wood's offense out of the end zone. Big game at Conwell Egan Saturday. The Eagles are 3-4 overall but 3-1 in the Blue after losing to Neumann Goretti last week 44-26. Hard saying how they'll come out after such a home pounding but rest assured Coach Powel will have Wood ready.

8. North Penn (5-2, 4-0) North Penn took Abington apart last week 35-0. That's the problem with teams like Abington in the National Conference, you win a few games, make some noise and the big boys take notice. For North Penn, a win like that strongly suggest they've ironed out the kinks and are rounding into shape, playoff shape. One thing for certain, they are beating the teams they have to beat, teams like Pennridge, Pennsbury and now Abington meaning a win against Neshaminy Friday essentially locks up the National Conference. Talk about owing these guys one for last year! Neshaminy routed the Knights 41-13 with Jarred Kinney running wild for 217 yards rushing. Don't count on that happening this year, not in Lansdale. If anything, look for the reverse of that if Neshaminy's defensive yields the last two games mean anything. In those games, both at home, the Skins allowed 62 points, 33 points to Pennridge and 29 to CB South. North Penn allowed 89 points all year!      

9. Pennsbury (6-1, 3-1) The Falcons got their wings clipped against North Penn three weeks ago but have been flying high ever since with a 42-13 win against Truman followed by a shutout of Bensalem last week, 27-0. Plain and simple, this is one of the best defenses in this corner of the . They've allowed as many points for the entire season as Neshaminy allowed the last two games, 62. With a slate of opponents that includes Archbishop Ryan, Glen Mills, CB South and North Penn, that's saying something. A revitalized Pennridge team is up next. The Rams won their last two games against Neshaminy 33-13 and Truman last week 20-7. Earlier in the year they lost a nail biter to North Penn 19-13. So as much as it seemed the Rams would disappear this year, they very clearly have not. Pennsbury struggled with them last year barely winning at home, 14-7. Should be a good one!    

10. Downingtown West (6-1, 2-1) I used to say about these Whippets ”whip it good”. Then someone misunderstood the phrase, telling me I had gone off the deep end. A few others said they never heard of the group Devo. Anyway, they are whipping it good the last two games by trouncing Henderson, 42-0 and then Avon Grove last week, 38-6. Those lopsided wins may not seem beneficial, but they do allow your offense to develop and find its stride. Nothing wrong with a little chest thumping, plus, people other than your first unit get playing time. Defending Ches-Mont champ Downingtown East is in town Friday for what should be a memorable encounter. They've proven themselves on the road (2-1) with wins at Tennett and Coatesville. The offense is huge at 33 point per game but the D allows 18 ppg. The Whippets O is just as big at 33 ppg, but the D is more stubborn, allowing a mere 10 ppg.   

11. Neshaminy (5-2, 3-1) Neshaminy defeated CB South 43-29 to remain one game behind front running North Penn in the conference race. The clash between these two National Conference titans takes  Friday in Lansdale. If North Wins, they pretty much knock the Skins out of conference contention. If Neshy wins and Pennsbury beats Pennridge, there's a three way tie between NP, Neshaminy and Pennsbury. It gets interesting with Pennsbury still having to play Abington and Neshaminy. Stay tuned!

12. Hatboro Horsham (6-1, 3-1) Hatboro Horsham beat Souderton 21-14 last week in a critical Continental Conference game to stay one game back of undefeated Council Rock North. Staying on the North's heels will be difficult with a tough road test Friday against Tennett. Tennett whipped them last year 32-6 and will do the same here unless the Hatters bring their A game.

13. Roman Catholic (6-1, 3-1) North invaded The Empire last week and were defeated in a tight one 14-13. North Catholic was peaking, with the 8 point loss to LaSalle, the one point win against O'Hara and the romp over Father Judge 34-14. North will have its hands full at Archbishop Ryan this weekend as will Roman against Father Judge as the fight for postseason playoff seeding gets fierce.

14.Coatesville (5-2, 1-2) The Red Raiders are a passing attack away from being a real force in the district, instead of a powerhouse with flaws. The loss last week at West Chester East demonstrated again that speed tends to kill and absolute speed kills absolutely. Lord Acton didn't play football but he'd probably agree with that. East ran around and sometime through larger, slower Coatesville for an impressive 31-14 win. They get another go at a West Chester school Friday at Henderson.   

15. Souderton (5-2, 2-2) Souderton lost their second key Continental Conference game in a row last week by losing to Hatboro Horsham 21-14.  With three of their remaining four games on the road, the playoff picture just got a bit dimmer. Norristown's up Friday, then a homer to CB East followed by hard games at Tennett and Abington who are both fighting for their playoff lives.

16. Malvern Prep (4-1, 1-0) Malvern Prep often starts the season a week after everyone else. Plug in a bye week to make it more difficult to even see this team, let alone get a reasonable fix on them. Now that they've got Salesianum under their belt and other games by which to measure them, the word is out. The Friars again field a powerful team. What's new? The only loss is to a veteran, undefeated Salesianum team that had to go OT to beat them, 22-15. Prep opened Inter-Ac comp last week with a 41-0 shutout of Haverford School. Germantown Academy is next.     

17. Upper Darby (6-1, 5-1) Upper Darby rebounded from the Strath Haven loss to defeat Penncrest 34-17 and stay one game off the pace set by hard charging Ridley. Realistically, this is the last opportunity for the Royals since it is unlikely Ridley will lose in upcoming Central League games to Lower Merion or Springfield. So it's up to the Royals who may use last year's 32-17 loss at Ridley as extra incentive, not that it's needed.

18. Pennridge (4-3, 2-2) Pennridge won their last two in a row for some good confidence Friday at home against powerful Pennsbury. Forget the Abington disaster. Any team that can lose to North Penn by 6 and crush Neshaminy by 20 points at Neshaminy, can beat Pennsbury. The Rams beat Truman last week and will be sky high for the Falcons with both fighting for a spot in the postseason playoffs.     

19. Tennett (4-2, 3-1) Two road wins, and a three game winning streak fueled by shutdown defense has the Panther's sky high and back in the Top 20. Nicely done! This is a team that lost heartbreaking games to high quality competition, 6-1 Downingtown East and undefeated Council Rock North, 7-0. And remember, Tennett is right there with Hatboro Horsham (3-1), one game off the lead behind Council Rock North. So this is still about the conference race. In fact, as a football player, it's more about the conference race than the playoffs. You win your games, the playoffs take care of themselves. Tennett will be hard to beat at home on a Friday night.

20. 3A Unionville (6-1, 4-0) How much longer can you ignore a team that opens the season with a 34-0 destruction of 4A Interboro, then goes on a tear winning 5 of their next 6 games? The inexplicable 21-20 loss to Avon Grove, who struggled with 3A Bishop Shanahan and Oxford is a mystery. Still, hats off to Avon Grove. Back to Unionville; they shut everyone up about their graduation losses by cranking out a 6-1 campaign, topped by last week's win at previously undefeated  Garnet  Valley, 29-28. Coach went for 2 with 131:26 in the fourth and got it! The win puts them in sole possession of first  in the SCCL with games against Great Valley this week, followed by Sun Valley the following. Unionville and Garnet Valley have been getting some deserved press, but no one is talking much about Upper Moreland (5-1), who has defeated both 4-3 Plymouth Whitemarsh and 6-1 Wissachickon on the road. They currently hold the top seed for the 3A playoffs, followed by Unionville, Upper Perkiomen, Garnet Valley, Sun Valley and Marple-Newtown in the 6th and final spot for District One. Lurking at 7 are the Panthers of Strath Haven, waiting to pounce at the slightest sign of weakness. Ironically, the victim could be Sun Valley, the same Sun Valley that beat Strath Haven 12-7 at the top of the season. Their upcoming games include an away game at Kennett, followed by homers against Unionville, Garnet Valley and Haverford. Unionville is definitely more than Sun and the Jags of Garnet Valley are just as special. If Sun can run that gauntlet, they will have earned it. The same holds true for Strath Haven who must also win out. Keep up with the Panthers at HavenFootball.net.     

Honorable Mention

North Catholic (4-3, 2-2)
Chestnut Hill Academy (5-1, 0-1)
Penn Charter (4-2, 1-0)
Frankford (4-1, 3-0)
Abington (4-3, 2-2)
Wissachickon (6-1, 3-1)
3A Upper Moreland (5-1, 3-1)
Interboro (6-1, 2-0)
Glen Mills (4-3, N/A)
3A Strath Haven (4-3, 4-2)
3A Garnet Valley (5-1, 2-1)



Top 20 High School Football Rankings
Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, the Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
September 26, 2006              
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise
1. St. Joseph's Prep (2-2) LaSalle's poor showing against North Catholic combined with St. Joseph's overwhelming win against a good Roman Catholic team, lifted the Hawks back into the top spot. Although no one knew it then, the game against Roman was over in the opening few seconds as St Joe's Brian Brinkmann returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for the score. The final 34 points were then, ah….pointless?  The Hawks got their first shutout of the year, 40-0. The next opponent is scrappy Archbishop Ryan. It's easy to say the entire southeast corner of the  is in a down cycle, but that's a bit vague and too inclusive unless you're discussing historic powers only. Then it's perhaps uniquely true since we haven't suffered a power outage of this proportion in years. The point of that aside is to say some teams are actually experiencing an “up” year. This Ryan team is one of them. After an 0-2 start that included a 3 point loss to Pennsbury and a misleading 27-7 loss to Neshaminy (Raiders led 7-0 at half), they regrouped and upset Archbishop Wood 21-19 on the road, then pounded Monsignor Bonner last week, 41-20. None of that means they can hang with the Hawks, but a schedule read says they won't be intimidated, while their performance to date says they are capable.  

2. LaSalle (4-0) The Explorers dropped a notch in the rankings after squeaking past North Catholic 14-6. That's no disrespect to North, they are improved and it was the Red Division opener for both teams. Still, more was expected from a LaSalle team that was averaging 37 points a game. Back to North for a moment; this is a team that has not had a winning season since1987, 19 years ago! That matters little to the players who approach each game with expectations of winning, expectations well founded with an offense averaging 25 points per game and a defense allowing a respectable 16. Last year's team allowed 29 a game. Their won-loss is 2-2. Don't be surprised if they pull the upset somewhere along the line this year. For LaSalle, that's one down and six to go in Red Division play. Talk about teams that are up this year, here's a great example in Father Judge, 3-1, fresh off a 35-28 win at Cardinal O'Hara. Except for O'Hara and St. Joe's who have clearly come back to the pack, and poor Bonner who, hard as it is to imagine, are diminished, the rest of the division is improved. So hold tight for what should be one of the most competitive Red Division seasons in a long time. That will be the case Saturday when LaSalle visits Judge, their first road game since September 1st.
3. Pennsbury (4-0) The Falcons have gone undefeated against a pretty decent schedule. They're not pouring it on with 35-7 wins and probably won't in their scheme. They are very happy handing the ball off to a number of talented, versatile backs, keeping it on the ground and eating up clock. Why pass if you don't have to, especially in high school. The problem comes if you have to and can't. But so long as the defense and special teams continue playing as well as they have thus far, they won't have to pass. Last week it was again special teams and defense that won the game with a late 4th quarter interception by linebacker/kicker/running back C.J. Marck, who moments later nailed a 31 yard field goal with 6 seconds left on the clock to quell the talented Titans. I know, calling the Titans talented sounds off. In the SOL, once you get a rep you're stuck with it. That's compounded by the league having such stellar programs as North Penn, Neshaminy and Pennridge to  a few, then going back not so long ago, Central Bucks West. The problem is when another good team comes along, few believe they're for real. I think that was the case in 2004 despite Tennett's 8-3 team barely losing in the postseason to Coatesville 24-20. A fumble at the goal line prevented their winning that one. Hatboro  had a strong team as well, but sat on the sidelines with a glittering 10-2 record. Last year many called Central Bucks East a pretender, despite their beating Conestoga in the first round and losing to Neshaminy in the second round, 19-16. A similar bias could prevent CR North, Hatboro, Souderton and a combative CB South team from getting due recognition. Abington may be 2-2, with a talented quarterback injured and not playing, but you've got to give them props for the fight they gave Neshaminy last Saturday. Back to Pennsbury; for the Falcons to have any chance in Lansdale Friday against North Penn, they have to decrease penalties. They had 12 penalties for 103 yards at Glen Mills and 10 against CB South. The feeling here is that Pennsbury is a better team than North Penn. The question is, does Pennsbury believe that?  
4. Souderton (4-0) What's not to like about this team? They're on a 10 game winning streak including the 2005 season, are well coached by Coach Ed Gallagher, have great team speed and special teams, power and speed at the running back positions with Ronnie Powell and Ryan Brown, an accompanying strong line that opens things up, a steady quarterback in Mike Franklin with good receivers, especially Ryan Dickerson and decent depth. And check out Coach Gallagher who after going 0-11 his first year, has since gone 9-3, 9-3 and 4-0 this year. The winless `03 team scored on average 8 points per game and allowed 36. The '04 team scored 26 and allowed 18. Last year's edition scored an average 24 points per game while allowing 18. This year's team is averaging 39 ppg and allowing 7. Keep in mind from 1999 to 2003 they won a total of 7 games. Talk about a coach, staff and dedicated players turning things around!  So long as these guys stay healthy, it's going to be a fun season and postseason. Imagine going 9-3 two straight years and not making the playoffs! That will not be the case this year. Council Rock South is up next. This was a strange bunch that last year lost to Norristown and Truman, and beat CR North and Souderton. Go figure. This year they are off to a bad start at 0-4, but have a good running back in Ryan Phares.         

5. Neshaminy (3-1) Neshaminy won their third straight game and conference opener against an unexpectedly competitive Abington team playing without quarterback Kevin Morton. Freshman Sam Kind filled in. A win is a win but the Skins got a real scare from the Ghosts who tied it up at 21 all with timeMinute45Hour142:45 left in the game. Then, on the first play from scrimmage, running back Jason Ulmer went 67 yards for the score, putting Neshaminy up 27-21. Abington blocked the extra point attempt. The Ghosts marched right down the field only to stall on Neshaminy's 30 yard line. What a game, and something of a heads up that things are wide open everywhere, even in the Suburban One National Conference. Status Quo is often the reality for a number of leagues in more recent years. For years it was Strath Haven in the Central, St. Joe's or O'Hara in the CL Red, Wood and Carroll in the Blue, Interboro in the Del-Val, Coatesville or Downingtown East in the Ches-Mont, Malvern Prep in the Inter-Ac and one of the big three in the SOL-National, North Penn, Neshaminy or Pennridge. That is changed this year as early scores demonstrate with the Neshaminy-Abington outcome, Pennsbury nipping Central Bucks South 17-14, even North Penn edging Pennridge 19-13. Nothing is a given anymore in the National. Neshaminy will get win # 4 Friday at Truman in their first road game of the year. Then they're home for two straight against Pennridge and Central Bucks South. You've got to thank the schedule maker for that one with six or their first 7 games at home.      

6. Upper Darby (4-0) Upper Darby moved to 3-0 in the Central League by crushing Lower Merion 54-20. This one got out of hand early with the Royals putting up 13 points in the first quarter, 21 in the second and 14 in the third quarter for a 48-6 lead entering the final quarter. LM got a couple cheap scores in the fourth against other than first unit players. On the year, the Aces are 0-4 and have scored 26 total points while allowing 176. Basketball season cannot get here soon enough! Upper Darby had 492 total yards of offense. Quarterback Blaine Fox continued to impress, completing 7 of 12 for 158 yards and no interceptions. He tossed two scoring strikes of 17 and 24 yards to the big target at tight end, Dave Wilson, 6-5, 215. The maturity of Fox and Wilson and a ton of backs running behind a substantial line have their attack larger and more versatile than usual. They haven't produced at this level since the 2000 team that went 9-3, with a 31-9 points for, points against average. The three losses came to Ridley (8-4), 14-7, AAA  Champion Strath Haven (15-0), 7-0 and Central Bucks West (14-1) in the first round of playoffs, 32-8. No one touched the Bucks that year until the  Final when they lost to a great Erie Cathedral Prep team 41-35. This week the Royals face another 0-4 team, Springfield before they finally and hopefully get a test from Strath Haven.     

7. Downingtown West (4-0) With Downingtown West out the gate at 4-0 and Downingtown East off to a 3-1 start with road wins at Tennett and Coatesville, imagine the team we'd have if the school didn't split after the 2002 season. As is, both field powerful teams that will face off October 20th at West. The Whippets continued their winning ways last week by overpowering Boyertown 38-0. It was worse than that actually with total yardage stats showing West ahead 460 to 138. Hopefully running back Roshaad McCain will soon get credit as one of the more exciting backs in the area. He motored over and around the Bears for 248 yards on 21 carries. All totaled, West rushed for 363 yards to the Bears 115. Like running back McCain, West Chester East has flown under the radar in most polls and papers but not here. The Vikings are up next with their huge offense, 41 ppg, and improved defense. They got into a wild one with Newark, DE two weeks ago, losing 50-48. That skewed the stats to a 26 point average yield. Minus that one and they're at 17 a game. Stats are fun, but only an indicator at best. More than an indicator, they kept up with fast breaking Newark on one hand; while on the other, they went toe to toe with a struggling but physical Conestoga team, winning 33-13. Conestoga's losses came to teams with a combined won-loss of 11-1. This is a tough spot for West since the feeling here is West Chester East is the Ches-Mont dark horse, and a talented one at that.   

8. Ridley (4-0) Ridley didn't drop in the rankings but were leapfrogged by Upper Darby and Downingtown West because of a second consecutive mediocre performance by the offense. Having said that, they got it done in the end by going on a 70 yard scoring drive with time  5:30 left in the game to beat Conestoga 7-0. The defense was there as it has been all season, holding the larger Pioneers to 10 first downs and 156 total yards of offense. When Stoga gets it together, beginning this week at home against Lower Merion, it will be in part because of their fine running back Tyreek Clark who dented the Raider D for 135 yards on 21 carries. Stoga's got some players, but an opening slate of West Chester East, 3-1, Upper Darby, 4-0 and Ridley, 4-0, made for a tough start for a rebuilding team. They'll win the next four to be 5-3 going into Strath Haven October 27th. Ridley has smooth sailing the next two against Radnor and Haverford. Then there's 3A playoff hopeful Marple Newtown, 3-1, before the Upper Darby game October 20th. Radnor is up next, on the road Friday.

9. Council Rock North (4-0) Council Rock North is off to a great start, having beaten a strong Father Judge team in the opener, then winning three consecutive road games. The transition from the rugged Suburban One-National to the highly competitive Continental Conference has been a positive one with the Indians winning the conference opener at Tennett 17-7. Unbelievable as it sounds, we are coming to the mid point of the season, which means it's time for a schedule read. The majority of North's toughest games in the coming weeks are home against Hatboro Horsham, Norristown and CB East. Road games have them visiting a strong Souderton team, CB West and rival Council Rock South. The season ends November 3rd for North, meaning if they qualify for the playoffs, they'll get an extra week practice for a postseason that has expanded to 16 teams. Playoffs are predicated on winning and another big step in that direction will occur Friday night if they beat an undefeated Hatboro Horsham team. Hatboro and Souderton are North's chief contenders for conference honors, although CB East and Tennett will have an influence. This is a huge game for both teams. Both are putting up big numbers while largely shutting the other guy down, so it will be an exciting game.  

10. Hatboro Horsham (4-0) Hatboro closed out last season on a 3-1 roll and started this season even hotter. 4-0 with three road wins is a great start. Getting the fourth consecutive road win should be more difficult with Council Rock North dead ahead. The Hatters handled Council Rock South last week 28-7, but will find the team to the North a more difficult challenge. Hatboro is primarily a passing team. Quarterback Marshall Vogel has great vision at 6-4, and has completed 45 of 86 attempts (52%) for 658 yards. Weighing in at 220 makes him hard to bring down. His favorite target is senior Nick Lackman. At 6-0, 180, he's a big target. The OL averages 212 pounds and is anchored by junior Travis Poston, 6-5, 278. It's a quick line that has opened holes when necessary (493 rush yards), for senior fullback Matt Zoback, 5-8, 190 and sophomore Michael Bolorin, 5-11, 190. Sophomore Dan Schandein's speed (5-9, 165) compliments the power running of Bolorin and Zoback. The DL is quick and light, averaging 200. Fullback Matt Zoback doubles at linebacker where he is the team's top tackler. Council Rock North is led by quarterback Scott Bradish. Like Vogel, he has great vision at 6-4, 190. He's completing 60% of his passes (many to wide receiver Jeremy Lugg), and has bulked up enough to run with authority. Talented running back Dan Collins averages 6.0 yards per carry! The D led by linebacker Michael McCory, is a tough one, allowing 9 points per game. DB Colin Firz-Maurice can make things happen to. Hatboro and CRN haven't played each other since 2002 when North won 28-3. These two seem so even that it will probably be something like an untimely turnover or penalty and special teams play that determines the outcome. But you've got to like North's balance in Bradish and Collins, the defense, home field edge and a solid field goal kicker.      

11. West Chester East (3-1) East put a hurtin on Henderson last week winning 44-19. Henderson has speed all over the field but couldn't keep up with the multi-faceted Viking attack. Senior quarterback Bob Brice has been red hot this year. Last week he completed 10 of 13 for 168 yards and a score. Add to that the running of Jarrod Williams who gained 150 on 6 carries and powerful Fred Maldonado (5-11, 190) gaining another 78 yards, to get a glimpse of East's big, balanced attack. They'll need it Friday when undefeated Downingtown West pays a visit. The Whippets have a balanced attack themselves, and score 32 points a game. Like Council Rock North and Hatboro, here's another team with a big quarterback in Nolan Kearny, a 6-4, 220 pound junior. He's not alone. Fullback Rhett Bull, as the  implies at 5-10, 210, hammers people while Roshann McCain, 5-11, 180 is more than impressive. The defense is allowing a paltry 7 ppg! Last year's game saw a younger but scrappy West Chester team lose a tough one to West, 27-21. This is going to be one of the best games in eastern PA. Upset?  


12. Downingtown East (3-1) Downingtown East rolled out a quarterback last week who did as good a job of imitating  passing record holder Pat Devlin as could be done. Junior Pete O'Connor threw for 320 yards and completed 21 of 28 passes at previously undefeated Coatesville. When someone comes into your house and does that, they deserve to win, almost have to win as Downingtown East did, 30-21. What has often gone unmentioned at D-town East is the number of quality receivers they develop. Someone has to catch those passes and it seems everyone on the team can including Justin Blye, Danny Weber and running back Richie Walls who caught a second quarter strike of 24 yards to knot the score at halftime 14 all. The Raiders got some easier than expected yards on the ground against the Cougars but not enough with their ability to come back so quickly. Looking at the schedule says there are only two team left that have a reasonable chance of beating the Cougars, West Chester East and Downingtown West. East is home next week where they should get their fourth win of the year against 3-1 Avon Grove.  

13. Coatesville (3-1) When a quarterback scorches your defense for 321 yards passing, it's safe to say you're having a bad day. More impressive, it was accomplished by a junior quarterback, Pete O'Connor, in only his fourth start. Now, put that quarterback on the road against one of the top teams in the area to see what a sterling performance it truly was. Looking on the bright side for Coatesville, the likelihood of a similar occurrence happening again this year is remote. And if you could eliminate a fumble returned for a score and a safety, it's 21 all. But you can't do that, it's part of the game, so the bottom line read Downingtown East 30, Coatesville 21. East is the first team to shutdown fullback Derrick Morgan, holding him to 57 yards on 15 carries. That kind of attention freed up Raider back Kieron Hutchenson for 198 yards rushing on 22 carries, 9 yards per carry. Not to rain on East's parade, but unless they are able to duplicate O'Connor's passing feats weekly, they'll be in trouble with such a sieve-like defense against the run. And that's another bright spot for the Raiders, the OL and running game are fine. After such a tough loss, going to Glen Mills is probably not what the doctor ordered. Glen Mills is Glen Mills, but they gave Coatesville their toughest game of the year last season before losing 21-14. The Bulls are usually about unfulfilled potential, with talent everywhere negated by fumbles and penalties. They have a good line with plenty of beef and a running back in Raymone West that is one of the best in the area. A good Pennsbury team couldn't stop him two weeks as he ran for 143 yards on 27 carries. The Red Raiders just came through a hard game and disappointing loss. Any hangover would be fatal here. With no conference title to go for, all they are talking about at Glen Mills is making the playoffs.    

14. Father Judge (3-1)  Father Judge 35, Cardinal O'Hara 28. How surprising was that score?  It's hard calling this an upset with Judge out rushing O'Hara 220 yards to 93 and winning the total yardage battle 374-361. Quarterback Paul Volpe completed 9 of 13 for 155 yards. Running back Jim LaVelle had a super night, gaining 170 yards on 25 attempts. For the year, the Crusaders are averaging 28 points a game and allowing 17. Since the 20-14 season opening loss to undefeated Council Rock North, they've rolled over Philly Northeast, Neumann Goretti and now O'Hara by an average score of 32-16. Because there are many quality backs in the Red Division receiving most of the press, running back Jim Lavelle has gone unnoticed. He's averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 87 carries for 430 yards. Quarterback Paul Volpe is getting little press despite having one of the top completion percentages in the area at 61% after completing 34 of 56 passes. Good returning linemen in Brendan Kwisz and Dave Smith coupled with underclassman wide bodies filling holes have provided for a good line. Round 2 in the Red Division wars begins Saturday at home against LaSalle.    

15. Archbishop Wood (3-1) The one constant about good football teams, especially championship caliber teams is they usually and somehow find a way to win, despite circumstance. When you put two of the classier programs on the same field, there is some likelihood of viewing a demonstration of that scenario. By the third quarter of the game between Archbishop Wood and Archbishop Carroll, Wood found themselves in a 25 to nothing hole, without their quarterback Sean McCartney. No problem, in comes Mike Cattolico who throws two touchdowns (2 interceptions), and completes 10 of 23 passes. Not bad! Wood exploded in the third quarter for 20 points, got another 6 in the fourth quarter, all the while holding Carroll to zero points and eking out a 26-25 win. No one except these two have won the CL Blue Division title over the last 6 years, so it was almost appropriate we get a game like this. If Wood can win a tough road game like that against a respected opponent, who's going to prevent them from a 4-peat?  They're home Friday against Kennedy Kenrick.

16. Cardinal O'Hara (1-3) Back to the drawing board! There is a great quote from Vince Lombardi when his team was just abysmal, seemingly not knowing up from down, where he stood in front of them and said ”This is a football”. Don't you get a sense that that's where Coach Algeo and staff are this week after losing to Father Judge 35-28? So it will probably be pretty vanilla at North Catholic Saturday, keeping it simple and fighting off another improved Red Division team.

17. North Penn (2-2) After starting the season 0-2, 2-2 is a good  to be. North Penn beat Carroll two weeks ago then won at Pennridge last week 19-13. All of that is prelude to the big game Friday against undefeated Pennsbury. Both have played a comparable schedule, although the Knights have played more ”” teams, teams that in some cases have proven to be less than advertised. Pennsbury beat an underrated Ryan team, and handled Frankford's and Glen Mills size and speed, then beat a solid CB South team last week 17-14. It's tough calling a game like this one but the Knight's have home field advantage and must be feeling desperate at 2-2, relative to the Falcons coming in 4-0. But Pennsbury has a lot of talent and maybe the most underrated back in the SOL in Jackson Fagan (520 rush yards, 7 TD's), accompanied by bruising fullback Josh Parkes. Defensively, C.J. Marck solidifies a strong defensive front. North Penn's fine back Tyrece Ervin is rounding into shape after missing the first two games. Already he has run for 350 yards. This promises to be a hard hitting affair, with two of the better running backs on display.    

18. Malvern Prep (2-0) The Friars were idle last week after thumping Chester in the opener, 42-0, and Henderson two weeks earlier, 31-7. Evidently they've red a particularly talented array of skill people from last year. They are home Saturday against Peddie School of New Jersey. Peddie lost at home last week to Penn Charter 19-0, and to Malvern Prep last year 44-24. The Friars will get past this bunch with ease, then go on the road against undefeated Salesianum (3-0) of Wilmington, Delaware, the # 1 team in the .
19. Roman Catholic (3-1) Roman Catholic lost to St, Joseph's Prep 40-0. You felt this one coming, not the enormity of the loss, but the fact that St. Joe's was in a mood to pound someone after 3 point losses to some of the best football teams in the country. Roman was blindsided in this one and held to 58 yards rushing. Remember, they have a back, Balial Lewis, who quietly came into this game with a 6.1 yards per carry average after toting it 55 times for 336 yards. But the Hawks had his number all night, holding him to 25 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Chris Johnson was held to 4 completions on 11 attempts for 78 yards. The Cahillites got it handed to them but you know they'll bounce back. The competition is especially difficult this year in the Red Division but the schedule is favorable with most of the better teams including Ryan, O'Hara, LaSalle and North, coming to them. The road games are Bonner and Judge with Bonner up next.

20. Abington (2-2)  The Galloping Ghosts remounted last week, riding into Langhorne on a mission. Because junior quarterback Kevin Morton was sidelined, the mission was even more difficult. But they battled hard, with the goal line in sight 30 yards distant as time expired, allowing Neshaminy to pull out a 27-21 win. What an effort and what a baptism under fire for Abington's freshman quarterback Sam Kind. Their running back Kahlil Pittman rushed for 122 yards on 30 carries. Down the road the Ghosts may look at this one as the one that got away, especially with future dates at Central Bucks South, North Penn and Pennsbury. The home schedule features Pennridge, Bensalem, Truman and Souderton. The reason things are looking dicey at 2-2 instead of 3-1 to qualify for the expanded playoff number of 16 teams, is because qualifiers will likely have to get to the 7 win level if the last 6 years history means anything. Since 2000, the number of 4A teams winning 7 or more games has gone as follows; 16 teams in 2000, 15 in 2001, 16 in 2002, 16 in 2003, 16 in 2004 and 15 last year. The study caused double vision so leave room for error, and did not take into account points, that could see a 6-4 team with a higher total than a 7-3 team. Still, to be safe, you better win 7 games. Looking at the schedule above says Pennridge is a must win game for Abington Friday. To do that, they have to stop Tristan Roberts who has already rushed for 530 yards.

Honorable Mention
Archbishop Ryan (2-2)
North Catholic (2-2)
Pennridge (2-2)
Central Bucks South (2-2)
Tennett (1-2)
CB East (2-2)
Wissahickon (4-0)
Plymouth Whitemarsh (2-2)
Interboro (3-1)
Glen Mills (2-2)
Strath Haven (2-2, 3A)






Top 20 High School Football Season Rankings
Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
  September 12 , 2006              
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise
1. St. Joseph's Prep (1-1) In a battle between two of the best teams in the East, St. Joseph's dropped a close decision to Don Bosco Prep, 31-28. But the Hawks proved they “belonged” by racing out to a 21-7, 3rd quarter lead. It's safe to say they gave Don a rare scare. Unfortunately for the Prep, it also served as a wake up call. Up to that point, the Hawks had shut down the Ironmen. Not many teams shutout Don Bosco Prep for an entire half on their field. And not many teams score 24 points on the Hawks in the 4th quarter. But that's exactly what the Ironmen did, icing the thing in the final 12 seconds on an 18 yard field goal. Tough loss for St. Joe's. Coach Paterno always said the most important aspect of football is special teams, followed by defense, then offense, in that order. That's what won it for Don Bosco Prep. The defense scored on a 38 yard interception in the 3rd quarter, then Brian Hanly's field goal. Up next is their 3rd straight road game against a tough opponent, Hilliard Davidson. Davidson is a Division 1 (large school) team playing in the Ohio Capital Conference, Buckeye Division. It's a tradition rich program with playoff appearances in '93, '94, '00, '01, '02,'04 and '05. They had undefeated regular seasons in '78, '94, '01 and `05. Last year's team went through the regular season unscathed, winning 3 playoff games before losing in the Semi Final to Cincinnati power St. Xavier, 17-10. St. Xavier won Ohio's Division 1 title to finish 15-0. To date, the Wildcats are 3-0, scoring 30 points per game while allowing 14. The wins came against Middletown 35-26, Mason 13-10 and Independence 43-6. They are on a 22 regular season winning streak, and haven't lost since the first game of '04 to Brother Rice (New Bloomfield, MI) 28-12.  

2. LaSalle (2-0) LaSalle is on a roll aren't they? That's 3 wins in a row counting the 14-13 win against St. Joe's to end last season. And they are winning impressively. Last week saw them get their first shutout of the season, a 40-0 rout of Neumann-Goretti. Before that they beat Plymouth Whitemarsh 29-8. They are off to a promising start. The triumvirate that is quarterback John Harrison, running back Chris Ashley and receiver Jack Forster, has proven to be productive. QB John Harrison completed 8 of 10 passes for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chris Ashley caught a 51 yard touchdown pass and rushed for another 57 yards on 6 attempts. Receiver Jack Forster had 2 touchdown catches and 4 receptions for 56 yards. Combined, the Explorer's rushed for 145 yards on 26 carries.  The next opponent is West Catholic who will try to end a 2 game slide. The 22-7 loss to Roman at the top of the year was followed by a loss last week to St. John's (D.C), 29-13. The game is Saturday at LaSalle University where LaSalle will likely go to 3-0.      

3. Cardinal O'Hara (1-1) Cardinal O'Hara rebounded from the Easton loss by shutting out North Penn 14-0. Because running back John Dempsey was still sidelined, the Lion's were forced deep into the depth charts to find freshman Corey Brown and sophomores Evan Higgins and Bill Morgan. Brown rushed for 60 yards on 16 carries while Higgins got 58 on 11 totes. How good is Bill Morgan feeling after scoring on a 7 yard run, and getting 13 carries and 46 rushing yards for the night? All totaled, O'Hara ran through North Penn for 181 yards. In the 4th quarter, Chichester transfer Chris Smith, a junior, caught a 35 yard TD strike from sophomore quarterback Tom Savage to seal the win. How's that for a frosh, 3 sophs and a transfer? For the second week in a row, O'Hara's defense did not allow an offensive touchdown. North Penn was held to 6 first downs and 90 yards rushing. That's the good news. The bad news, Ohio powerhouse Colerain is next. McDonald's Kirk Herbstreit Ohio verses USA Challenge pits many of Ohio's best teams against top teams from across the country. And they're playing in Ohio's hottest of scholastic football hotbeds, Cincinnati and Massillon. It's too special not to list the entire schedule so here goes. Ohio teams are listed on the left of all match ups.  
Sept. 15 at University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium: timeMinute30Hour186:30 p.m. Findlay vs. Texas High (Texarkana, Texas); timeMinute30Hour208:30 p.m.- Colerain vs. Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield, PA.)
Sept. 16 at University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium: 11:30 a.m. Moeller vs. Byrnes, S.C.; 2 p.m. - St. Xavier vs. Lakeland; 6 p.m.- Centerville vs. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.); 8:30 p.m. - Elder vs. De La Salle.
Sept. 16 at Massillon High's Paul Brown Massillon Stadium: 2 p.m. Hilliard Davidson vs. St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia); 5 p.m. - Lakewood St. Edward vs. Springdale, Ark.; 8 p.m - Massillon vs. Hamilton High (Chandler, Ariz.).
Colerain is a public school powerhouse from Cincinnati. They beat one of Texas' top teams last year, Tyler Lee, in the inaugural “Herbstreit”, 27-12. The actual  of the school is Robert E. Lee, from Tyler, Texas. Talk about a hotbed! Cincinnati is also home to St. Xavier, Elder and Moeller! To date the Cardinals are undefeated at 3-0, with wins against Mason, 41-14, Columbus Brookhaven, 70-0, and Fairfield last week, 51-0. They have a huge attack, scoring 54 ppg! The defense has allowed a total of 14 points, and registered 2 shutouts. They are coming off a 10-2 season where the only losses were to Division 1 champ St. Xavier. In Colerain's second game this season, they ran up 558 total yards of offense while holding Brookhaven to negative 4 total yards. This sure looks like a tough spot for O'Hara. In Easton and North Penn, they faced modest offenses, nothing near Colerain's size. Against Colerain's explosive speed, they'll be in trouble if they don't show more offensively. The defense is there but in truth, it hasn't been fairly tested. Colerain's scores suggest they haven't been tested either, but it is rare when Brookhaven is beaten so decisively.  

4. Pennsbury (2-0) Pennsbury showed some offense last week, running effectively in their 22-0 home win against Frankford. Frankford didn't have much, but they were able to rush for 123 yards on 33 carries. The week before, Archbishop Ryan got 58 on the ground. The Falcons kept it simple against Frankford with the big back Josh Parkes getting 100 yards on 14 carries. Running back Jackson Fagan had a spectacular outing with 3 touchdowns and 168 yards rushing in 18 carries. 9.3 yards per carry is heady stuff. And it's always nice getting the shutout. The feeling here is they'll get their first real test Friday at Glen Mills. The Bulls broke into the win column last week by routing Simon Gratz, 45-12. This year's showcase running back is Raymone West. He's quickly making Darius Hodges a dim memory. In the opening week against respected Parkland, he exposed them in some ways by rushing for 229 yards on 29 carries, 7.9 yards per carry. You knew he'd run at will against Gratz, and did he ever by rushing for 182 yards on 18 carries. That's 10.1 ypc! It is even more special knowing the first unit was pulled at the end of the first half. West's backfield mate is fullback Travis Lintz, a real bull at 6-1, 222. QB Tyree Bryant got in on the fun by completing 4 of 6 for 108 yards. He had 1 interception and 1 touchdown pass. Maybe Coach Kevin Owens has turned it around. One thing is certain, this is the best team Pennsbury has played to date and it's on the road. Despite having a ton of talent, the Bulls usually shoot themselves in the foot through turnovers and penalties. Still, this is a tremendously athletic team that has weapons. Playing teams like North Penn from`02 to`05, Neshaminy from`02 to'03, St. Ignatius, Ohio from'99-'01, and more recently Parkland, the District 11 power from '04 through this year, says they're used to playing top programs and will not be intimidated. This could be a surprise and minimally, should be a good game.           

5. Archbishop Wood (2-0) Wow, that's a solid win, coming on the heels of the momentous win at North Penn the week before. Wood beat Penn Charter 35-14. That's two strong performances, both on the road, with a rebuilt line, and a first year sophomore quarterback at the helm. In game 1, you just hoped quarterback Sean McCartney made good decisions. He did. In game 2 he played a more integral part of the game plan by completing 8 of 13 passes for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns tosses. Impressive numbers. Running back Matt Little had another strong outing, gaining 97 yards on 17 carries. All totaled, the Vikings had 154 yards rushing. On the other side, the Quakers have some players to, but their yardage figures of an impressive 176 yards rushing (31 carries), and another 63 through the air (completed 6 of 8), netted them a lowly 14 points. That's 17.1 yards to get a single point, or, yards per point. That's a long way to go to get a point. Conversely, the Vikings 320 yards of total offense translates to 35 points, or 9.1 ypp. The opponent this week is 0-2 Archbishop Ryan. They're a spooky bunch that hung with Pennsbury 2 weeks ago before falling 10-7. Last week they gave Neshaminy a scare by holding a 7-0 half time lead. The Skins recovered to win 27-7. Depth? And guess who inflicted 1 of only 2 losses on Archbishop Wood last year. Right! And that's the last time Wood lost a football game, September 16th, on the road to Ryan, 28-26.  

6. Souderton (2-0) The Indians came in 2nd  last year in the Suburban One Continental Conference. Judging by their performances to date, they are poised for a serious run at it again. This year the conference promises to be more fiercely contested. 4 teams are undefeated going into the weekend, Council Rock North, Hatboro Horsham, Norristown and Souderton. Tennett will recover from the Downingtown East loss and CB East will be heard from if they get healthy. Hang on for what should be the most competitive race in the area. Souderton routed hapless Quakertown last week, 41-10. What can you say about a team whose running back gets over 200 yards rushing in the first half? What does that say about the opponent?  For Tennett, it says they have a good line and back. Ronnie Powell rushed for 252 yards in 10 carries. 10 carries! It suggests junior quarterback Mike Franklin isn't making many mistakes and that they are balanced. For Quakertown, at this point you have to think about morale with back-to-back blowouts. Their ballyhooed line clearly isn't getting it done. And at some point you think injuries or lack of team speed. Souderton has a favorable schedule that should have them undefeated at 5-0, September 29th for a home game against Council Rock North. The favorable part of the schedule has them playing Methacton this weekend, followed by Central Bucks West. Imagine not so long ago finding anything favorable about a game with the Bucks!    

7. Neshaminy (1-1) Neshaminy returned to the win column after a hard fought game with Archbishop Ryan. Ryan put up a fight, taking a 7-0 lead into the locker room. 142 yards rushing against the Skin's D is respectable, but it was unsupported by anything from the air, with the Raiders completing just 5 of 12 thrown for 49 yards. For Neshaminy, it took a half to work the kinks out from the Prep game the week before. Once that happened, they erupted for 27 2nd half points and held Ryan scoreless. Andrew Flogel had a good game that included a 75 touchdown run, a 74 yard strike to Ian Capanna, and another score through the air to Jason Ulmer of 40 yards. Jason also ran one in from 6 yards out. The Redskins get an opportunity to build off the momentum of that 2nd half when Germantown comes in Friday night. The Bears cannot have anything left after devastating losses to DeMatha and Coatesville.         

8. Coatesville (2-0) The preseason is over and it's time to play a serious football team. Coatesville breezed past Carroll and Germantown by a combined score of 65-6. About Germantown, your heart goes out to them after facing a schedule of DeMatha in the opener, Coatesville last week, and Neshaminy this week. Coatesville won't have an easy time of it either this weekend. If you want to see a great game, go to Coatesville Friday night to see one of the best rivalries you never hear about, Coatesville and J. P. McCaskey. These two go way back. A more recent peek at epasports.com shows the Red Tornadoes owning the Raiders in 5 of the last 7 games. In '99, a 2-8 McCaskey team beat an 8-3 Coatesville 28-0. The powerful '04 Raider team that went 11-1, struggled with a 7-4 McCaskey team before winning 21-14. Last years 8-3 Raider team barely edged a 3-7 JPM team 34-29. Clearly the Red Tornados get up for this one. This year's team has enough speed but can also play power football. They beat Downingtown East in the opener 24-21. East showed their capabilities last week against Tennett. In the second week of the season, McCaskey handled York High's heralded line by beating the Bearcats on the road, 31-14. This is a legitimate team that can and will beat Coatesville if they don't play at their best.    

9. Ridley (2-0) The Green Raiders won the home opener on new artificial turf by defeating bitter rival Strath Haven, 14-0. This is Ridley's spot but a word on Strath Haven. They are in a real spiral downward! Last season ended with an embarrassing playoff shutout by Pottsville, 35-0. This year began with a 12-7 loss at Sun Valley. Good for Sun, but Strath Haven doesn't often lose games like that. Then last week they looked bad again, putting them in a un-Clancy like 3 game losing streak. They've been outscored 61-7. The one thing you could always say about Coach Clancy's teams is they didn't turn the ball over and never beat themselves. Against Ridley they had 5 turnovers; 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions. Back to Ridley; what jumps out about them is what we mentioned in the preseason write-ups, defense. Haven was held to 6 first downs, 56 yards rushing and 142 total yards of offense. The week before they held Bensalem to 38 yards rushing. They are a swarming, quick, yet physical team that gets after you. The myth of having to have a powerful running team to have a physical defense is just that, a myth. The offense is always just big enough. QB Al Humes had a great night completing 12 of 18 for 150 yards and 2 touchdown tosses. The backs ran for 97 yards on 41 carries. Looking ahead finds few opponents that can beat Ridley, meaning they could be undefeated, 7-0, going into Upper Darby October 20th. They are at Penncrest Friday.    

10. Upper Darby (2-0) We have another strong edition out of Upper Darby this season. What's new? Actually something is new. Running back Aaron Duncan, the Roman Catholic transfer, settled in at the fullback position. He gained 123 yards rushing last week in a 20-12 win against Marple Newtown. He's a good addition to Brandon Murray who can beat you up the gut or outside. Topping that is maturing quarterback Blaine Fox who completed 12 of 21 for 172 yards and 2 TD passes. This is new for the Royals, having an effective air attack to help the ground game that's always there. They crushed the Tigers with 236 yards rushing, pounding them with 52 carries. The final score is a good example why final scores in and of themselves are often misleading. Marple got 4 first downs, 79 yards rushing and 16 through the air in a game they lost by 8 points. The Royals are home Friday against Conestoga.      

11. Downingtown West (2-0) At this time last year the Whippets were 0-2, losing at 3A Allentown Central Catholic 25-20 and at home to Middletown, DE, 42-14. Middletown often fields some of the best teams in Delaware. They were 9-2 last year. This year's team began the season ranked 5th in the , but they didn't have enough for West and fell 25-13. Barring a major dose of comncy, they'll get win # 3 Saturday in their 3rd consecutive away game. The opponent is Chester. Not only are they winless at 0-2, they are scoreless with losses to Henderson 26-0 and Malvern Prep 42-0.

12. Roman Catholic (2-0) Roman Catholic crushed 2A Milton Hershey last week 31-13. Balial Lewis rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries following his 198 yard effort against West Catholic the week before. Add to that the dimension of strong armed quarterback Chris Johnson and you have the makings of a potent attack. Johnson completed 5 of 9 for 140 yards. They rushed for 161 yards on 33 carries. Valley Forge Military Academy is up next. VFMA went 7-0 last year and won their opener against Fork Union Military Academy of Virginia, 35-12. Roman would like to even things up from the 14-6 loss last year. Need to focus here with St. Joe's on deck.

13. North Penn (0-2) Like Strath Haven, North Penn is in a 3 game losing streak counting last year's season ending playoff loss to Liberty. The difference is that North Penn is showing a pulse, however weak, by scoring 30 points in those 3 games. Strath Haven scored 7. With that said, both were shut out last week by the final score of 14-0. How unusual is that for household s like North Penn and Strath Haven to lose 3 straight? Speaking of showing a pulse, what was felt to be a much improved Archbishop Carroll team is up next for the Knights. They got their first win last week against 3A Upper Merion, 20-6. The week before that they lost at Coatesville, 21-6. In both, they showed decent balance, with Rush/Pass yardage against Coatesville of 125/111, and 161/102 against Upper Merion. Quarterback Matt Cantafio has completed 15 of 29 passes on the year, while wide out Wiley Flowers has 9 receptions for 149 yards. This is an offense that can hurt the Knights if they don't show some ”O” themselves. The Cardinal O'Hara loss is a tough game to recover from. It was emotionally intense and a hard hitting game. But the Knights are home and if healthy, will have enough to handle Carroll.       

14. West Chester East (2-0) Our neighbors to the South in the great  of Delaware had a special season opener last week when Salesianum (10-3 last year), the top ranked team in one preseason poll, faced off against Newark (9-4), the 2nd rated team. As fate would have it, preseason hype was as exciting as it got. Salesianum rolled, 48-14. To give you a hint of Delaware ball compared to Pennsylvania football, last year's team edged an average Interboro team at home 26-21, then got it handed to them at Malvern Prep, 48-21. That says a 2-0 West Chester East can go with Newark this year. East has it going with a 33-13 win against Conestoga followed by a 40-20 win last week against Owen J. Roberts.  

15. Council Rock North (2-0) Council Rock North followed the opening game win against Father Judge but defeating Truman on the road, 27-7. Looking at their schedule says they should go 7-3 at worst. The hardest games come right after this week's opponent, Conwell-Egan, when they play Tennett, Hatboro and Souderton in consecutive games. That's looking WAY too far ahead, but it is interesting reading the schedule to come up with the 16 teams that will make the playoffs this year. If they stay healthy, this is certainly one of them. Egan is up next and they are in free fall. They lost the opener to Upper Moreland 27-21, after rushing for 268 yards! Last week they were routed by North Catholic, 55-21, and rushed for 35 yards. Council Rock is on the road again, but if form holds, they will handle the Eagles as easily as they did last year where they won 39-0.  

16. Hatboro Horsham (2-0) Hatboro-Horsham passed a test last week by getting a road win at West Chester Henderson, 21-16. It wasn't easy as Henderson got out to a 10-0 lead. Thereon, it was all Hatboro as the Hatters outscored them 21-6. Hatboro has a decent passing attack and defense, but they'll have to get the ground game going for encounters that await them in the Continental Conference. They got 114 yards rushing against Henderson on 31 carries. That's improvement over the 58 yards gained against Pennridge in 26 carries. There could be a few balls in the air this weekend when Hatboro travels to Plymouth Whitemarsh. QB Marshall Vogel will air it out but needs to find more accuracy after throwing 5 interceptions in 2 games. He's completed 21 of 45 for 320 yards, meaning he's just over 15 yards per completion. They owe them one for last year's narrow loss at Hatboro, 27-21. That was one of three games lost by 6 points. Should be a good one.    

17. Central Bucks South (2-0) It's early, but the Titans are starting to look like something with runaway scores of 34-7 and 47-20 against Council Rock South and Central Bucks West respectively. That's not the stiffest of competition, but it does build momentum. So does the schedule that has them home for the first 4 games, and 5 of the first 6. Despite CB East getting dinged early in the season and winless at 0-2, they are the best team South has faced. East played a more difficult schedule to, and routed them 41-13 last year. It should be a tight one, and with a win, a good stepping stone for South.  

18. Downingtown East (1-1) After last week's 23-21 win at Tennett, and the preceding week's narrow loss at McCaskey, 24-21, Downingtown East is back in the Top 20. For those just arriving in southeast PA, or District 1, their biggest graduation loss was record setting quarterback Pat Devlin. He passed for 8164 yards. Not bad! Backup Leo Hamilton also graduated. This season they are young but talented. Junior quarterback Pete O'Connor, 6-3, 175, has an arm. And tailback Richie Walls has bulked up to 185 from last year's 175. After the first two games, you've got to like a few things about this team. The new quarterback is obviously poised. The scare they gave J. P. McCaskey shows a lot for a young team. And the comeback win at Tennett, where they were down 21-7, says something about their ability to not wilt under pressure, on the road. The defense stepped up real big, shutting Tennett down while the offense scored the last 16 points of the game. QB O'Connor completed 27 of 40 passes for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns. After the display Downingtown East put on last year, you'd think Tennett might be ready for the hurry-up offense. They weren't. This week finds East home against last year's best kept secret out of District 3, Hempfield. The Black Knights went 10-2, losing to Bishop McDevitt in the 2nd round by one, 31-30. Much of that team graduated. They are 1-1 with a 28-24 win against Conestoga Valley and a 34-10 loss to Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt.

19. Plymouth Whitemarsh (1-1) The Colonials responded to the LaSalle loss by beating Abington 26-9. The margin of victory was in part due to Abington losing their quarterback to injury. The opponent this week, Hatboro Horsham, will be just as dangerous as Abington would have been with a healthy quarterback. They are 2-0, with wins against Pennridge 26-7 and Henderson, 21-16. They gave Whitemarsh a good game last year before losing 27-21. Quarterbacks Lance Wilson for the Colonials and Vogel for Hatboro Horsham should make for an exciting game.

20. Abington (1-1) What was expected to be a competitive game turned into something less when Abington lost at Plymouth Whitemarsh 26-9. It didn't help that the future was made cloudy by quarterback Kevin Morton's injury. The opponent this week is Philly Pub member Northeast. The Vikings are 0-2, with a competitive loss to Norristown 17-14, followed by a 27-7 loss to Father Judge. Northeast is a running team. Against Norristown they got 121 yards on 31 attempts, but had the door slammed on them against Judge where they rushed for 62 yards. They are of little threat through the air. Defensively, Judge ran at will, getting 218 yards on 36 carries and another 182 yards passing. Quarterback Morton's status is unknown. With or without him, Abington should roll here to a big win.  

Honorable Mention

Malvern Prep (1-0)
Archbishop Carroll (1-1)  
Father Judge (1-1)
George Washington (2-0)
Tennett (1-1)
Henderson (1-1)
Glen Mills (1-1)
Interboro (1-1)
Unionville (3A, 2-0)
Phoenizville (3A, 2-0)

Top 20 High School Football Preseason Rankings
Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, the Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
 September 6 , 2006              
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise
What an opening week of high school football! When was the last time Cardinal O'Hara, North Penn, Neshaminy, Interboro, and Strath Haven all lost on the same weekend? It doesn't matter when but it sure was unusual. As bad as it was, our Top 10 went a respectable 6-4. Actually, it was disappointing that four teams lost. Compared to a newspaper Top 10 located in a large, nearby  going 3-7, we didn't do all that bad. The bottom line, the Top 20 was shaken to its core last week with many teams dropping out after poor performances. How about Interboro shut down by Unionville 34-0, and held to 40 yards rushing?  We just knew Sun Valley was going to beat Strath Haven 12-7, right?  And didn't we all bet the house on Archbishop Wood beating North Penn! What happened to a decent Quakertown team getting shellacked at home by Emmaus, 28 to zip?  No disrespect to the winning teams, but those were surprising scores. Some teams will probably work their way back into the rankings since the lower 10 are often more volatile than the Top 10. It's only the second week of the season but don't you feel a heightened sense of anticipation, maybe even change, after last week's games?   

1. St. Joseph Prep (1-0) The Hawks won their opener by defeating rebuilding Neshaminy 16-6. Tropical depression Ernesto blew through, reducing playing conditions to a bare minimum. Most of our area teams played in windy, rainy conditions. But that didn't stop St. Joseph's running back Jamir Livingston from punching through Neshaminy's defense for 127 yards on 23 attempts. He went up the middle at will against the scrappy but undersized Skins. By games end, the Hawks had 206 yards of total offense. The defense played well, except for a 4th quarter breakdown where Neshaminy's Mike Ellershaw broke free on a 55 yard touchdown run. Physically, it was a mismatch, with St. Joe's larger lines, especially the DL, largely dominating the Skin's OL. Neshaminy was held to 136 total yards. This week, the Prep faces a more talented opponent in Don Bosco Prep, from Ramsey in northern New Jersey. Don Bosco Prep has a male enrollment of 875 in grades 10 thru 12, making them the equivalent of our AAAA teams. Simply put, they are loaded, with many returning from last year's 11-1 team. They're probably the best team the Hawk's will face this year unless Hilliard-Davidson (game 3) successfully red a number of key graduates. DBP returns senior quarterback Matt Simms, 6-2, 190, the son of New York Giant great Phil Simms. He threw for 2744 yards and 30 touchdowns last year. Both running backs return, junior Guy Germina, 5-10, 205, 847 rush yards, and senior Dale Fava, 5-7, 180, who got 561 rush yards. Most of the receivers are back and enough linemen, notably, center Eric Gormeley, 6-1, 260. Key people returning to the defense are DE Justin Trattou, 6-4, 240 (Notre Dame), DE Ike Garrow, 5-11, 245, and LB Sam Griffin, 6-4, 220. They have size and speed, and won't be pushed around as Neshaminy was. The Ironmen will be a difficult team to beat.  

2. LaSalle (1-0) With North Penn and Cardinal O'Hara losing, LaSalle moves into the 2 slot behind St. Joseph. New head coach Drew Gordon got his first win at LaSalle as the Explorer's opened in near mid season form by routing Plymouth Whitemarsh 29-8. The Colonials got their score with less than a minute left against LaSalle's reserves. That's two years in a row that they've pounded PW. Last year's score was 42-21. Running back Chris Ashley always comes up big in the stat department, this time getting a career high 135 yards rushing. He's 5-8, 170 pounds. Last year he gained 728 rushing. Next up is the home opener against what should be an improved Neumann Goretti team. The Saints (want to say Pirates) come in off of a hard fought win against North Catholic in Wildwood, 16-12. They're led by senior QB Matt Hatty. 1242 pass yards and 13 TD's from last year says the Saints are capable of giving LaSalle a challenge.  

3. Cardinal O'Hara (0-1) Couldn't drop the Lions too far, not after losing to a quality opponent like Easton. Easton scored as a result of a 3rd quarter blocked punt run in from 25 yards out. So the D played well. But what happened to the offense, and an offensive line that was supposed to be a team strength? This will look like a misprint, but the Lion's rushed for a total of 19 yards! Although top running back John Dempsey went down with a sprained ankle in the 1st quarter, those are nearly unbelievable statistics for a program of this level. Other stats show Easton holding them to 6 first downs and 131 total yards. Receiver Wedderburn caught only 2 balls. Quarterback Tom Savage completed 6 of 24 passes for 114 yards, and had 3 intercepted. The Red Rovers had 186 total yards of offense. Moving ahead, North Penn is in this week to set up one of the more important games in the area. The Knights are themselves coming off a disappointing 25-18 loss at home to Archbishop Wood. Whoever losses here drops to 0-2. It doesn't seem possible we're having a conversation like that about these two teams. Going back to last season, both teams have lost their last 2 games. North Penn closed out last year with a loss to another Lehigh Valley team, Bethlehem Liberty, who play in the same conference and division as Easton. Talk about District 11 earning some bragging rights toppling these two! For Cardinal O'Hara, a win evens the count for last years 35-28 loss at North Penn. Going back to last year, a win will also end a skid that has seen them lose 3 of their last 4 games. Here's where the skid ends.

4. Pennsbury (1-0) Right up front, Pennsbury did not look good in defeating Archbishop Ryan last week 10-7. And a whole bunch of teams looked even worse in losing to provide space for them here at # 4. In openers, especially with remnants of a hurricane dumping rain and wind on you, you take the win anyway you can get it. So while the Falcon's offense was a no-show, defense and special teams came through to save the day by holding Ryan to 58 yards rushing and 26 passing. Dan Johnson ran in an interception from 30 out to tie the game in the 4th quarter. Then, special teams won it with C.J. Marck booting an 18 yard field goal. Frankford is up next. Pennsbury handled them last year 28-7, and should do the same here.

5. Archbishop Wood   (1-0) This is about as radical a adjustment as possible, moving Archbishop Wood from 19 to 5. But, when you beat a team of North Penn's stature, especially in their house, it's justified. And it wasn't a fluke. Quarterback Sean McCartney was poised, leading an offensive unit that gained 245 total yards. McCartney rushed for 32 yards on 13 carries, and completed 2 of 8 for 28 yards. How about that, a sophomore, winning his first start on the road at North Penn. Underrated Matt Little filled in well for graduated Bryan McCartney with 125 yards in 12 carries. The Viking's ripped into the Knight's defense for 217 yards on the ground. What a great win for the Catholic League's Blue Division that is too often perceived as a weak sister. This one turned heads across the  and sent a message to others that Blue Division contenders must still go through this team. Scary thinking how they will develop as the season progresses. The next game is at Penn Charter, a team they beat last year 21-14.      

6. North Penn (0-1)  It's fortunate for North Penn the 4A playoff format expanded to 16 teams this year since they stand a good chance of losing their first 2 games. The feeling here is the Knight's will get it together and become a solid team. But they do have strong challengers in the Suburban National this year, more than last year. Their old nemesis Neshaminy will recover from the loss to St. Joseph to field a dangerous team. Pennridge is down, but Abington and Pennsbury are stronger than last year's editions. The Titans from Central Bucks South shouldn't be overlooked either. At the end of the day, losing to a team like Archbishop Wood with their 3 consecutive Blue titles, and a coach of Coach Powell's stature is no disgrace. Wood is clearly a good football team. About O'Hara this week; the Knight's showed a decent enough offense considering conditions and their opponent. But the D was not there. O'Hara showed no offense at Easton last week but did bring a strong defense. Because good coaches and teams usually show great progress in game two, we'll probably have one heck of a football game Friday.    

7. Souderton (1-0) Souderton began the new season with an impressive 27-7 road win against Spring-Ford. The Indians had it going with a balanced attack. QB Franklin threw for 150 yards on a 7 for 11 outing. The ground game was also productive with 36 carries gaining 176 yards. Defensively, they held the Rams to 70 rushing and 96 through the air. Souderton is really on a roll. Going back to last year, they've won 7 straight. That includes 4 on the road. This week they have their home opener against a disappointing Quakertown team. The Panther's had nothing in their home opener last week against Emmaus, and were shutout, 28-0. An embarrassing loss of that magnitude will have them amped up for Souderton.  

8. Neshaminy (0-1) Tough start for the Redskins who battled until the end but came up short against St. Joseph Prep 16-6. Considering how out manned they were along the line of scrimmage, they did about as well as could be expected. A positive is their getting to St.Joe's QB Chris Whitney for at least 4 sacks. The game was largely a one man show with running back Kit Anderson sidelined. With him healthy, quarterback Flogel and a swarming defense, they'll be fine in upcoming games. They came out of this one healthy and won't play a better team for the rest of the season. The schedule is favorable with Archbishop Ryan up next, followed by Germantown. All are home games. Then they play Abington in their 4th consecutive home game.  

9. Coatesville (1-0) Here's another team with a sweet schedule of 4 consecutive home games to start the season. It began with Archbishop Carroll giving them a competitive game while losing, 21-6. The score was 14-0 through 3 quarters. Carroll wasn't a pushover. They managed 125 yards on the ground without running back Brent Christie, and passed for another 111 yards. Coatesville meanwhile was a bullish on the ground, with FB/DE Derrick Morgan, 6-4, 255, plowing ahead for 120 yards. Kieran Hutchenson got another 64. Senior quarterback Scott A'Hara opened up early, hitting Kahlil Brewer with a 23 yard 1st quarter scoring strike. Last year's team had the ability to run around you with diminutive tailback C.J. Gray. This year's edition will run over you, keeping you honest with an experienced senior quarterback. They are something like North Penn, run after run, followed by more running. The difference, Coatesville will use their quarterback to pass the football. Exciting team! Next up is Germantown High from Philadelphia's Public League, or District 12. Good for the Bears, getting out of the  and scheduling Coatesville and Neshaminy this year. Why not? G-town is one of the more successful programs in the , with a 52-23 won-loss the last 7 years. Only George Washington at 66-17, Frankford at 63-16, and Northeast at 58-20, have done better over the same period. The Bears are coming off a 49-0 loss to (sit down for this one) DeMatha, from Hyattsville, Maryland. Dematha is essentially a Washington, D.C. suburban school that has fielded some of the best football and basketball teams in the East. They were 11-1 last year and loaded again this year. For Germantown, stepping up is one thing, but stepping beyond your ability to compete raises real questions. Coatesville isn't DeMatha, but it should be a big win for them.  

10. Abington (1-0) The Ghosts got off to a good start by coming from behind to defeat a tough bunch from Central Bucks East, 21-14. It looked bleak, with East jumping out to a 14-7, 2nd quarter lead. Abington responded by shutting down the Patriots and scoring the last 14 points of the game. They showed a lot of maturity marching on a clock-eating 70 yard drive with just over 8 minutes left in the game. Co-Captain, senior running back Jon Natter punched it in with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock. Not bad clock management for a high school team. Abington gets their first road test of the young season at Plymouth Whitemarsh Friday.

11. Ridley (1-0) Ridley opened with a 21-7 road win at Bensalem. The new offensive line played well with Raider backs getting 127 yards on 27 carries. It was a balanced attack with quarterback Al Humes going 13/21/2 for 169 yards. Heralded wide receiver Marcus Payton caught scoring strikes of 18 and 68 yards. Ridley's quick, swarming defense held the Owls to 38 yards rushing and 127 through the air. Talented running back Raju Easterling was held to 26 yards on 20 carries. That's 1.3 yards per carry. Strath Haven is up next on Friday. With the Green Raider's looking good early in the year, coupled with Strath Haven's poor performance at Sun Valley last week, it appears the Panther's could be looking at a 0-2 start. Add to that the huge turnout and home field advantage, and Ridley looking to get even for last season's worst loss, 28-6, and you've set the emotional bar sky high along the Green Raider sideline.   

12. Upper Darby (1-0) Upper Darby opened with a comfortable 20-14 win against Monsignor Bonner. Many contributed but two seniors had strong season opening performances for the Royals. Quarterback Blaine Fox completed 8 of 14 with 1 interception for 115 yards. Running back Brandon Murray contributed by gaining 94 yards on 8 carries, and another 9 yards on 2 completions. Roman Catholic transfer Aaron Duncan had 5 carries for negative 4 yards. Marple Newtown is up next in their home opener, feeling good after securing a win last week at Avon Grove, 7-6. They're coming off back to back 7-4 seasons, looking to get one of the six slots for the 3A playoffs.

13. Downingtown West (1-0) Downingtown West won a big game last week. The win came against an unspectacular team from Warwick (District 3, 4A), of the Lancaster Lebanon League. The Warriors won 9 games the last 3 years. What made it a big win is that it broke a 3 game losing streak from last year. It was worse than that actually as they lost 5 of their last 6 games! Since the split in 2003, the Whippets have gone, 5-6, 4-7 and 4-7. So with some good looking talent back this year, all they needed was a win to set a positive stage. Adding to that, it was a road win. This week's opponent is Middletown, DE, a perennial power who went 9-2 last year. Middletown pounded West last year 42-14, and are expected to again be strong. One service has them as the 5th rated team in the .

14. Roman Catholic (1-0) Roman Catholic went to Wildwood last week and came home with an easier than expected 22-7 win against West Catholic. The Cahillites ran all over West, gaining 238 yards on 44 carries. Questions about the running back position were answered, in particular by Balial Lewis who rushed for 198 yards on 23 carries! West Catholic was held to 64 yards rushing and 94 through the air. That's an impressive win. This week they are at Milton Hershey, a 2A team playing in the Mid-Penn Capitol Division. Curious game for Roman, but the Spartans have put 4 winning season together, totaling out to a 30-11 won-loss record. They regularly face some of the better programs in the area, and the  in the case of Steelton-Highspire. Others include Camp Hill and Lancaster Catholic. They lost their opener to bitter rival Hershey High, and should not have anything for Roman.      

15. Tennett (1-0) Tennett is gunning for their 4th consecutive winning season. Unusual scheduling saw them on the road 7 times last year. Still, they ended the year at 7-4, in large part after winning 5 or those 7 road games. You've got to like that! They started this year off with a bang by destroying Cheltenham 35-0. Things are looking up for Tennett, more so if they can handle the pedigree that Downingtown East brings to the field. They should answer that in the affirmative. The game is at Tennett.

16. West Chester East (1-0) Looks like it's going to be a long year at Conestoga after West Chester East took them apart 33-13. East High held Stoga to 66 yards on the ground. Well done! They have another home game this weekend against Owen J. Roberts from the PAC. The Wildcats are rebuilding. That's not good for a young team, on the road, against a confident East team that has one game under its belt. East should roll here. Then they need to suck it up for a tough road game at always strong Newark of Delaware.

17. Council Rock North (1-0) The outlook for the Indians is good if for no other reason than they moved from the SOL National to the Continental Conference. No more North Penn, Pennsbury, and Neshaminy. Pennridge and Abington aren't on the schedule either. Central Bucks East, who they beat last year, Souderton, Tennett and Hatboro-Horsham aren't lightweights, but this isn't the National. Last week's 20-14 win over Father Judge may not be appreciated as it should. Judge is not an abject, talentless team. Having said that, North did a decent job of holding them to 93 yards rushing and 82 passing. Their next 3 are on the road starting with Truman Friday. Then they're at Conwell-Egan before the Tennett game. They should be 3-0 going into Tennett.   

18. West Catholic (0-1) You've got to think the Burrs have more in them than was shown in Wildwood last week against Roman. They had little offense. 64 rushing yards says they are having trouble with the new line. Yet they are loaded at running back. The defense was non existent. How often have you seen West yield 238 yards rushing the last few years? With a road trip at St. John's of D.C on Saturday, they need to regroup fast. No rest for the weary after that with LaSalle on deck. Without a turn around, West stands the real likelihood of going 0-3.        

19. Hatboro Horsham (1-0) The Hatters got off to a great start last week by defeating Pennridge 26-7. They'll need the confidence gained in so thorough a win with the next 4 games away. It begins Friday in West Chester against Henderson. The Warriors are in their home opener, fresh off a 26-0 win at Chester. Maybe the Warriors will surprise us this year because they really disappointed us last year. They seemed poised for a special season, but couldn't recover from tight losses early in the season. 8 points is all that separated them from being undefeated facing Downingtown West at home in game # 7. One of the losses was to Malvern Prep, 28-27. Instead, they were 4-3, before losing their next 3. They managed to win their last 2, meaning they're on a 3 game winning streak with the Chester win. This is a tough spot for the Hatters. But if they can duplicate the balance shown last week, with a good enough ground game and senior quarterback Marshall Vogel cool under fire (completed 13 of 26, 2 TD's, 204 yards) then they can beat Henderson. This is a good, early season test for the Hatters.  

20. Central Bucks South (1-0) It gets murky down here but the Titans seem ready to emerge from the doldrums of two listless campaigns, to field a competitive team. In truth, they had their moment last year. In game 4, they lost a close one at Souderton 29-22. Following that one, they lost at Quakertown, 28-20. And finally in the 7th game of the year, they lost competitively to Tennett, 20-7. “Close”, only goes so far. The area is growing and big numbers are coming out for the sport. Central Bucks South is now the 9th largest school in the district, with 926 boys in grades 10 thru 12. None of that means a thing if they can't win on the field. In that regard, they got off to a good start by defeating Council Rock South 34-7. A quick schedule read says they should beat CB West, Truman, Pennridge, Bensalem, and a win a tight one at home against CB East. It's safe to say they should lose to North Penn, Neshaminy, Pennsbury and Abington. But, Pennsbury and Abington are at South, and North Penn and Neshaminy are diminished. Last week showed us the possibilities on any given night. Central Bucks West is in Friday.  

Honorable Mention

Malvern Prep
Archbishop Carroll (0-1)  
Newmann Goretti (1-0)
Central Bucks East (0-1)  
Henderson (1-0)
Downingtown East (0-1)
Glen Mills (0-1)
Strath Haven (3A, 0-1)
Unionville (3A, 1-0)
Sun Valley (3A, 1-0)



Top 20 High School Football Preseason Rankings
Southeastern Pennsylvania Football
Featuring District 1, 12, the Philadelphia Catholic League and the Inter Ac
August 30, 2006              
Won-loss reflects last year's performance
All teams are 4A unless indicated otherwise

Hello everyone. Another great year of Pennsylvania High School Football is upon us. After digging through last years notes, making some phone calls and using great resources of TedSilary.com, HavenFootball.net, ePaSports.com and DelawareCountySports.com, we're ready to talk football and have some fun.
Bare in mind the views expressed here are just one guy's opinions.
The crystal ball was shattered in '99 when my cousin's  Cumberland Valley team lost to Central Dauphin. Still don't believe that one. In the final analysis, the write ups are as much a forum to disseminate information as anything.  We hope you enjoy them. I've got to give a special thanks to Ed “Huck” Palmer of Ted Silary.com for providing players s and information I otherwise could not have obtained on the Catholic League.  Wow. What a resource of unending information. Louise of DelawareCountySports.com, Mike at HavenFootball.net and Don at ePaSports.com are good enough to list the write ups on their fine websites.
Check them out. All are high quality websites.
Let the games begin!
  Ed Thomas.   

Reviewing the 2005 PIAA playoffs:

4A  McKeesport (14-2, District 7) had a surprisingly easy time with Bethlehem Liberty (13-2) from District 11 in last year's PIAA Final where they trounced the Hurricanes 49-10. It wasn't supposed to be that easy! In fact, many felt it would be an evenly matched contest. The previous week saw  Liberty beat always powerful and slightly favored North Penn, 14-12. At the same time, McKeesport was pulling off a surprise (not really an upset), of their own by defeating highly regarded Bishop McDevitt from Harrisburg, 14-13.  So who could imagine a 39 point margin of victory for either team? Actually there was another camp who felt the Western Final was “the” Final! With Liberty returning good talent, particularly QB Dan Persa, a return to Hershey is possible. But grad losses were severe. Knowing star linebacker Andres Morales 6-2, 255, DL's Alex Watty, 6-0, 280, and Mike McClarin, 6-2, 225, plus marauding 6-1, 175, Darrin Walls from the secondary are gone, says they'll be less this year than last. For McKeesport, they'd have to pull the rebuild of rebuilds. Then again, few expected them or Liberty in Hershey last year. Did someone say Neshaminy? A peek back then forward to the coming season suggests the power structure of 4A football has changed little over the years. Teams ebb and flow to be sure but it's often a reshuffle of a familiar deck. The fun part is seeing who will become the wild cards, and how strong or diminished historic powers will be. This year's deck should include North Penn, Liberty, Parkland, Easton and maybe a surprise from Wyoming Valley West to  a few. Abington Heights and Interboro move up to the 4A classification from 3A this season. Out west there is no shortage of teams capable of a legitimate run at the title. District 7 is stacked! Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Woodland Hills, Upper St. Claire and North Hills look strong. As always, the Erie teams will represent with Cathedral Prep and McDowell from District 10. The Harrisburg area (District 3) always has serious teams and this year is no different with Bishop McDevitt's neighbor of a few blocks distance, Harrisburg High, fielding a potent unit. Injuries decimated the team a year ago, although they managed a 7-3 season while losing nail biters to Carlisle by 6, and Cumberland Valley by 3. Almost the entire team returns. 2 sleepers from the Mid Penn Commonwealth are District Six's  College and especially Altoona. McDevitt won't go away quietly, and the Reading area has a good looking team in nearby West Lawn at Wilson High. The other Manheim school, Township, returns an impressive QB in Dan Bostick, 6-4 ½, 225. Locally, District One has expanded the playoffs to allow 16 teams in this year. Last year it was 8, so look for an unusually exciting playoff with so many new faces entering the fray.    

3A In the East, perennial powers Manheim Central and Strath Haven while good, did not field teams as strong as other recent editions. After beating an undefeated Unionville team in the first round, Strath Haven was shutout by Pottsville 32-0. That got your attention. For Central, the undersized Barons were more competitive in post season action, hanging in until the Semi-Finals before falling to Pottsville 14-9. The real muscle in 3A last year was out west where teams like General McLane, Perry, Franklin Regional and Thomas Jefferson fielded dominate, nearly even teams. Special teams like Pine-Richland (9-2), and in particular West Mifflin (11-1) failed to make it out of Districts! With West Mifflin on the sidelines, the Western crown appeared to be TJ's to lose. And lose it they did in the first round against Franklin Regional 31-14. Wins against Selinsgrove and undefeated General McLane from District 10 put the Panthers in the Final where they held off Pottsville, 23-13. The West has won 4 of the last 5  Finals. And the way talent seems to unendingly flow to Thomas Jefferson, Blackhawk, Pine-Richland, West Allegheny, Hopewell, Franklin Regional and West Mifflin in District 7, says it's safe to say the Western Champ will again come from that district. Pittsburgh's Perry Traditional Academy in District Eight (Pittsburgh  League) always rebuilds well. They'll go for their 7th straight league championship this year. Erie Strong Vincent (D-10) is again powerful but D-7 is the force out west. Back east, flip the coin with a real war developing in District 11 where a number of veteran teams return talented players. District 3 has Manheim Central asserting itself as usual. A capable playoff hopeful from Gettysburg will get a shot at the Baron's Sept 8th. Back to D-11, its Pottsville, but Lehighton, coming off a 9-3 season and possibly Blue Mountain will challenge. Lehighton returns junior QB Thad Kosciolek, 6-1, 180 (starting since frosh year), his top 3 receivers, a plus 1000 yard running back in Robbie Frey, 6-1, 195; senior linemen Levi Stern, 6-0, 295; Ben Tkach, 6-0, 255; Jordan Long, 6-2, 240; junior linemen Todd Kriner, a 6-1, 250 and Ron Reed, 6-0, 220. Junior Jared Hawkley, 6-0, 285, fills in. Since the ascension of Strath Haven, Berwick has fallen on harder times. This year they have big numbers returning, especially to the D from a 7-3 outing. They also have a new coach in Gary Campbell. Coach went 83-23-1 in 10 years at Wahconah Regional, Dalton, MA, winning 2  titles. Coach George Curry moves on to Wyoming Valley West after a 35 year stint at Berwick. WVW and Berwick will lock horns in the Wyoming Valley Conference, Division 1. Strath Haven returns a veteran quarterback with big numbers on the D side. The playoff format in D-1 has expanded to 6 teams. The top seed plays the 6th seed, 3 plays 4, with the winner of the 2 verses 5 seed playing District 12's champion out of Philly. Last year's D-1/12 sub-regional had 3 teams from D-1, Unionville 9-1, Strath Haven 10-3, and Phoenixville 10-2, and one from D-12, Bok 9-1. Teams like Interboro 9-3 and Chichester 9-2, Pottsgrove, Upper Perkiomen and Marple Newtown, all 7-4, watched from the sidelines. That won't happen this year. The expanded playoff format at 4A and 3A promise far more excitement so hold on!     

2A South Park out of District 7 went a perfect 15-0 by beating Wilson  in the Final 28-17. With their big, mobile line, a tailback like Tyler Scruggs (2082 rush yards), and QB Connor Dixon to keep opponents honest, they were the entire package. Still, it wasn't easy. The Eastern rep from District 11 was no soft touch as evidenced by their 10 point half time lead. Back in the Semi Final, Wilson beat a strong contingent from Montoursville 33-32. South Park earned their perfect season and a 2nd PIAA title. They got their first in 1997 against South Williamsport, winning 20-0. It'll be difficult for South Park to defend their title with the loss of 6-5, 185lb QB Connor Dixon, RB Scruggs, OL Kirk Fulton 6-1, 255 and TE Adam Gill, 6-3, 240. But they do return one of the top OL'ers in Mike Chavis, 6-3, 275 to build around. This year look for teams like Aliquippa and Greensburg Central Catholic to make a serious run at dethroning South Park, and then some. In the East it's wide open with solid squads spread throughout the districts. Down south in Littlestown on the Maryland line, the Thunderbolts are again strong, as is Lancaster Catholic. Both are from District 3. Wilson won't go quietly with senior QB D.J. Lenehan returning. He set a PIAA playoff record against South Park in attempts, completions and yardage going 27 for 52 for 346 yards. Mount Carmel should recover from lackluster 6-4 and 8-3 seasons. And Montoursville (12-2, D-4) is still strong after 1 point losses last year to powerful Selinsgrove and Wilson. But the real force could be Wyoming  High from District 4. They've dropped to 2A this season after narrowly losing in the 1st round of playoffs to the 3A Finalist representative Pottsville, 14-6.


1A Southern Columbia (13-2, District 4) routed previously undefeated Duquesne (14-1, District 7) 50-19 to win their fourth consecutive  title. Four straight! Equally impressive, perhaps more so, last year's appearance was their 8th consecutive appearance in the  Final. Talk about something in the water. Their 7 year won-loss is 92-13, 88%. And they always have size, size that in some instances is D1 material like 6-2, 245 pound senior fullback Henry Hynoski (+2000 rush yds, verbal to Pitt), and monster DT Josh Marks, 6-5 300 pounds, who has committed to Penn . The really scary thing about last year's team is it was considered a rebuilding year following the 14-1 season in '03 and the 15-0 mark in `04.  So after 8 straight Single-A Final appearances, why wouldn't we expect a 9th?  Perhaps because almost the entire D front was wiped out including Eric Spotts, 6-1, 265; Khyle Berns, 6-0, 240; and Ian Fuller, 6-4, 275. LB Vic Northern, 5-11, 210 and DBs Kyle Connaghan, 6-2, 205 and Marcus Odorizza, 6-2, 175, have also moved on. We'll see. Out west, Rochester is always strong, stronger still with QB Dan Camp and RB Reon Hunter and others returning. Kennedy Christian from D-10 returns a lot of skill but will miss DL standout Eric Rodemoyer, 6-3, 310. Perennial eastern powers like Steelton-Highspire and Camp Hill from District 3, as well as Marian Catholic and Shenandoah Valley (QB returns) from District 11 will field good teams again. As always with Pennsylvania football, it's going to be a great year!



1. St. Joseph's Prep (11-2) St. Joseph's ended last season with a resounding 41-7 win against Cardinal O'Hara in the Catholic League Red Division Final. The win secured their 4th title in the last 5 years. In the regular season, the Hawks beat O'Hara 31-7, leaving little doubt who was the top dog. Their only losses were in overtime to powerful Gilman 22-19, and upcoming LaSalle 14-13. But the regular season consecutive game winning streak is still intact at 41 and counting! Because such a strong nucleus of starters returns for this season, look for the streak to continue. 3 starters return to the offensive line plus TE Steve Schell who got playing time last year. The linemen are Jeff Battipaglia, Joe D'Orazio and John Gazzola.. They also return one of the top QB's in the area in Chris Whitney, and running back Jamir Livingston. Jamir filled in impressively for injured John Shaw who went down game 4 against Roman, by gaining 1078 rushing yards. Pretty impressive for a 5-7, 155 pound sophomore. Defensively, the Hawks suffered heavy losses of special talent at linebacker and the secondary. But DL Ryan Haber and Neil Doogan at DE or MLB will help plug the front. Like last year, the schedule is front loaded with the opener September 1st at Neshaminy, followed by a September 8th date at Ramsey, NJ to take on one of the best teams anywhere, Don Bosco Prep (11-1). DBP is rated in the top 25 of most national polls. Their only loss came in the playoffs to St. Peter's (12-0) from Jersey . St. Peter's is ranked as high as 11th in one national poll. And finally, the Hawks stay on the road for the 3rd consecutive week with a game in Ohio against big school (Division I) power Hilliard-Davidson. Hilliard, from the Columbus area went 13-1 last year, losing competitively in the Semi Final to St. Xavier (15-0) of Cincinnati. Hilliard returns 6 to the offense, 4 to the defense and are rated 6th in the  by one poll. Week 4 is the home opener against Roman. In this part of the , the Hawk's really do look special, and seem in a class to themselves.    

2. Cardinal O'Hara (9-3) Like St. Joes, the Lions suffered considerable grad losses but return a ton of talent and experience. Highly regarded sophomore QB Tom Savage is at the helm this year, supported by 3 offensive linemen, a multi talented running back in John Dempsey, and wide receiver Mark Wedderburn. Jerry Penrose, an All-Catholic Daily News lineman will stabilize the line. The D returns just 3 starters from a group that allowed 14 ppg. Despite real losses, the Lions will reload. Whoever said “one man's gain is another man's pain” nailed it with Chichester's promising quarterback Chris Smith (Junior, 5-10, 160, QB/DB), transferring to O'Hara this year. Those of us who saw him last year against Interboro know he'll play somewhere. This year's schedule like last year's is difficult right up front with the opener at Easton September 1st. Easton was 7-4 last year, but good enough to beat  4A finalist Bethlehem Liberty 28-21 in the regular season. The year before in `04, they were 13-1, losing to Neshaminy in the Semi Final, 21-14. In `03 they went 11-1, with another Semi Final playoff loss to a Suburban One power North Penn, 38-21. The point being, Easton is a solid program. Game 2 is a tough one but its home where the Lions are looking for pay-back against North Penn. They lost on the road last year to the Knights 35-28. That one was decided on a 1 yard plunge by often unstoppable Peter Stoll in the last minute and 12 seconds of the game. Stoll was a bulldozer that night, getting 145 yards on 19 carries. Game 3 has them against Cincinnati's public league west side power Colerain, one of Ohio's best from the same  as nationally ranked St. Xavier and frequent flyers Elder and Moeller. Colerain, a public school, is ranked 3rd in Ohio by one respected web site after winning the big school title in `04. They went 10-2 last year with both losses coming to  champion St. Xavier.      

3.  North Penn (12-2) Except for the 41-13 loss at Neshaminy last year….  That's probably the wrong way to begin a write up about a program like North Penn, knowing they've won 74 games the last 7 years while losing 17. That's special, churning out an average won-loss of 11-2. So you know it's a rare occasion when they lose to anyone by 28 points. After blowing everyone away the first 7 games of '05, except for O'Hara, the Knights were 7-0 entering the Skin's game, and fresh off a 28-7 win at Abington. Cocky? That's unlikely knowing they lost the last game of '04 to Neshaminy 51-34. Whatever else football is, it's a game of emotion. That emotion manifested itself in how Neshaminy controlled the line of scrimmage that game. Jarred Kinney, all 5-7, 160 pounds of him, rushed for 218 yards! By the end of the game, North Penn had gained but 52 yards rushing. After the loss, they reverted to form by winning 5 straight, including Truman and Council Rock North to end the regular season, then Coatesville, Central Bucks East, and a 55-20 blow away of Downingtown East to win Districts and move into the  Semi Final. So they were looking good. Neshaminy was out of the way, and they'd just taken out dangerous Downingtown East. But their opponent in the Semi Final was an underrated, well coached bunch loaded with talent. With Dan Persa at quarterback and a backfield of Andrew Lee and Charles Irvin, they were a big play, athletic team. Agile, quick linebacker Andres Morales cleaned everything up. Bethlehem Liberty (13-2) came into the game on fire with playoff wins against Easton, Hazelton and Frankford by a combined score of 132 to 23. As good as they were, it still took injuries, a few bad bounces, a missed extra point, and finally a failed 2 point conversion to hold off North Penn 14-12. For this year, the nucleus is there for another strong season. Some wonderful talent has graduated. There are holes to fill. But look at the group that graduated the year before them. North Penn always has the horses. Seniors Kyle Feiser at quarterback and running back Tyrese Ervin will help get the year off to a good start. Many experienced players return. They open with Archbishop Wood at home September 1st, followed by a severe test at Cardinal O'Hara. Then they take on what could be one of the more improved teams in the CL this year in Archbishop Carroll. The final was 41-21 but Carroll actually hung with these guys last year through the middle of the 3rd quarter in a 14-14 tie. Game # 4 is at Perkasie, then home for a monster game against Pennsbury. Mark it down, September 29th.      
4.  LaSalle (9-4) New Head Coach Drew Gordon takes over for Joe Colistra who retired after a 21 year stint at LaSalle. The transition should be a smooth one since Coach Gordon put in 5 years as an assistant for Coach Colistra. Making things even smoother is the return of junior quarterback John Harrison, senior running back Chris Ashley, senior wide receiver Jack Forster, and good experience at the fullback position. Harrison was a load last year throwing for over 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns. While the Explorer's need to rebuild the line, the D returns 8 starters from last year's stingy unit that allowed 11 points per game. Good special teams and defense should give the offense field position and every chance to be productive. Last year's group was close, losing to O'Hara 14-0, St Joes 21-14, then pulling the Red shocker of the year by beating the Hawks 14-13 in overtime. The schedule is tough this year with the opener at Plymouth Whitemarsh. Da'Rel Scott is gone (2324 rush yards last year), but QB Lance Wilson returns. Game two is home to dangerous Neumann-Goretti. Then a road match at West Catholic followed by a home game against North Catholic. The Explorers looked primed for a strong year.   

5.  Neshaminy (10-2) Neshaminy's season last year ended like it began, with a disappointing loss. They lost the opener at home to St. Joseph's Prep 28-14. You remember that one where St. Joe's quarterback Chris Whitney hit receiver Bill Edger on the first play from scrimmage with a 76 yard TD strike. Conversely for the Hawks, their season opened with a bang and ended the same by winning the Red title. Back to the Redskins, the opener revealed two distinctly different games, with St. Joes winning the first half 14-0, and the Skins toughing out a tie in the 2nd half, 14-14. The closer was a near to unbelievable loss at home to Downingtown East. In between all that was a 10 game winning streak that had them looking very much like the next  champion. And why not, the Suburban One League had won 5 of the last 9  crowns, with 2 other silver medals as runner-up. 7 Finals visits in the last 9 years leads to high expectations. Between the SJP and D-town East loss, the Skins averaged 40 points a game on offense while allowing a mere 8. Against an SOL National slate that's saying something, ly, that they were playing championship caliber football. And that held true into the 4th quarter at home against Downingtown East in the District 1 Semi Final (PIAA  1st Round), where they held a seemingly comfortable 31-21 lead. Then All-Everything, record setting quarterback Pat Devlin plain and simply took over the game, leading Downingtown to 3 fourth quarter scoring drives, including a ½ yard sneak with 10 ticks left on the clock to pull out a 45-38 upset. So that was that, and the team almost everyone felt was destined for gold was eliminated. With talent like running back Jarred Kinney, wide receiver Doug Rosnick, and linemen Tom McEowen, Chris Daino and Scott Schiavo, et al graduating, you suspect the Skins will take a hit, and they will, ”early”, with St. Joseph's coming in for the opener September 1st. But a seven year won-loss of 63-20 (9-3 yearly W/L average), one  title and one silver medal, and a coach like Mark Schmidt says they'll rebuild and field a powerful team. So does the return of QB Andrew Flogel and running back Kit Anderson.           

6.  Pennsbury (8-3) This is the team that's always lurking just out of view, close, but not quite there. Yet, they've only had one losing season in the last seven. Two others ended at 5-5. When you play in a conference with North Penn, Neshaminy and Pennridge, you've got to be more than “close” to get noticed. Last year's team did just that, and turned out a respectable 8-3 campaign that earned them the 6th seed in Districts where they lost to 3rd seeded Downingtown East in a game they could have won. 1st quarter breakdowns put them in a 13-0 hole from which they could not recover. They won the last 3 quarters 21-13, but it wasn't enough as the Cougars prevailed 28-21. While a lot of senior leadership graduated from that team, they return enough to again be strong. The key returnee on defense is one of the best linebackers in this part of the , 6-2, 228, C.J. Marck, last year's leading tackler. On the other side, the quarterback graduated. But fullback Josh Parkes returns. The schedule mimics last year's and provides an opportunity to develop momentum with a home opener against Archbishop Ryan, followed by another homer with Frankford. Then it's Glen Mills for their first road game. The Bulls are looking to get out of a 6 year funk where they've gone 29-32, a far cry from earlier years. The game could be a measuring stick if Glen Mills is improved since they will have played a strong Parkland team 2 weeks earlier. After GM the Falcons are at Central Bucks South, meaning they stand a real chance of going into North Penn 4-0. That's how they were last year, undefeated at 4-0.     

7.  Souderton (9-3) You don't often see programs turn things around as effectively as Souderton has the last two years. Their season record from 1999 through 2003 was 2-9, 2-9, 3-8, 0-12 and 0-11. A 7-49 won-loss spanning 5 years is about as low as a program can go. The resurrection began in 2004 when a few measuring points demonstrated positive change. First, they began winning the close ones, including 1, 3, 5, 5 and 6 point wins, against two 3 point losses. And they began winning on the road where they went 3-3. The ability to defend the home turf is always a good sign as well. Souderton was unbeaten at home, 6-0. And finally, they showed the ability to win against winning teams. Although it was only one win, it was against a decent Quakertown team. They went 1-2 against +.500 teams and ended the year 9-3. Last year they showed even more improvement by going 4-2 away, 5-1 at home and 4-1 against winning teams to again finish 9-3. That's a nice turnaround. The run should continue this year with a number of talented players moving from backup, into starting roles. The schedule is a winnable one but appears back-loaded with the last 3 being home to CB East, then on the road verses Tennett and Abington. 4 of their last 5 games are on the road. The season begins at Spring-Ford, then home to improved Quakertown, followed by Methacton.          

8.  Interboro (9-3) The always tough Bucs are going for their 9th consecutive Del-Val title this year, and they are loaded. Nearly all their skill people return. And there is speed spread throughout the team. QB Jim Takacs returns along with running backs Tim Ridewood, 5-9, 172, and powerful Mike Sullivan, 5-10, 198 at fullback. They have a few holes on the OL but senior's Rob Johnson, 6-4 268 and Matt Rowe, 5-9, 252 and junior Sean Menro, 5-11, 185 will get good help from Brian Margetich, 6-1, 270 and Mark Gionta, 5-9, 225. Starting tight end Eric Brown 6-0, 185 is back. The Bucs were a young team last year, so a lot of people got playing time. A peek at their schedule says they'll need that experience since the first 4 games are on the road including Unionville, Bonner, Council Rock South and Kennett.  For the opener, Unionville graduated a lot of people, but do return a decent QB in junior Matt Carroll, a low to the ground, hard nosed running back in Joe DiProspero 5-10, 192, and one of the best linemen you never see in junior OT/DT Steve Caputo, 6-4, 310, getting looks from a number of major powers. Unionville has good stuff coming up so Interboro needs to bring it. The Suburban One crowd can catch the Bucs at CR South September 15th.

9.  Coatesville (8-3) What a great run the Red Raiders had the last 2 years, especially the '04 team. They seemed unstoppable, going through the regular season undefeated, then beating Tennett in the playoff's 1st round. Tennett could have won that one. And Coatesville could have won the next but didn't as Neshaminy hung on for a hard fought 23-20 2nd round win. That was one of Coatesville's best teams in many years. They allowed 12 points per game while scoring 30. Last year's team dropped off from that by allowing 20 ppg, and scoring an average 33ppg. North Penn eliminated them in the 1st round 27-13. Things are looking good for this season despite the loss of running back C.J. Gray. Battle tested QB Scott A'Hara returns along with Khali Brewer and a few linemen. As always at Coatesville, there is no shortage of athletes or wide-bodies moving into the lines. The defense returns one of the top talents in this part of the  in 6-4, 255, DE Derrick Morgan.   

10. Abington (7-5) Like so many teams in the Top 20, Abington returns a starter at quarterback in junior Kevin Morton. In fact, most of the skill position players return, giving the Ghosts a better chance to get off to a good start. Last year was the Ghost's first winning season since 1989! Speedy Brandon Collins at 5-4, 140, and powerful Jim Natter, 6-0, 210, at fullback are a nice combo. Defense is usually way ahead of the offense and that's where Abington needs to show improvement to move to the next level. The hurry up, razzle-dazzle is ok occasionally but doesn't cut against the Neshaminy's and North Penn's. Yet, for a team that allowed 24 ppg, getting 7 wins was pretty good. It happened in part because of a productive offense that on average generated 27 ppg. Despite the liability that was their defense, they nearly won 9 games, with two 1 point losses at home to Pennsbury and Cheltenham. The only winning team they beat was Plymouth Whitemarsh, another team with issues on defense. With more young talent and returning experience along the lines, and quarterback Kevin Morton having a year under his belt, the offense should be at least as large as last years. More if the D comes along as it should. The big DT, Rashad Miller at 6-3, 252 anchors what will be an improved defense. The schedule is a little tougher this year than last. Replacing J.P. McCaskey, CR North, Upper Dublin and Boyertown, are CB East, Souderton, CB South and Northeast. They start off at home against CB East, at Plymouth Whitemarsh, then home to Northeast.

11. Strath Haven (10-3, 3A) The tremor in the force that was the 2004 season was stilled by Strath Havens return to the playoffs last year, and winning the district crown. Since 1999, Strath Haven has won 89 games and lost 8. That's special. But it is interesting that 63% of their losses (5) came in the last 2 seasons. They lost to Conestoga the last two years, Ridley in 04, and Upper Darby and Pottsville last year. No shame there. Both regular season losses last year were in overtime. The Stoga loss was double overtime. In a lot of ways it was a frustrating year with the OT losses mixed in with 10 wins that were blowouts. Speaking of blowouts, the year ended with Pottsville routing the Panthers in the Quarterfinals 32-0. This year's team returns what appears to be real strength at defense, and in the lines. Maybe the best part of it is returning their starting quarterback, Mike Wray. The line will jell around 2nd team All- Bob Wise, a 6-1, 272 pound senior and 3 other returning starters. There should be a spot for promising junior Nick Carullo, 6-0, 255. All the running backs graduated, plus the tight ends. But there are plenty of experienced backs returning. Roy-Al Edwards returns at SE and speedy senior Aaron Benson, 5-10, 162 will impact somewhere. The D returns a starter and (or) experience at NG, and 2 DT's, 3 in the DB and 3 backers. Add to that the young ones coming up and Haven could again be special. They open at Sun Valley, then have a tough one at Ridley.     

12. Ridley (7-4). Preseason polls will probably see Ridley as a prohibitive favorite to win the Central League this year, but they do have significant holes to fill. The entire offensive line graduated. All of them, Nick Politarhos, Anthony Ambrogi, Mark Zeigler, Chris Greller and Matt Alessandrine. But in Ridley's scheme, the offensive line is easier to re than other schools that depend on brute strength, i.e., larger linemen. What they do return is a +2000 yard quarterback in Al Humes, 6-1, 190, and the best receiver in southeast PA, Marcus Payton, 6-3 188. Both are seniors. And about the line, there is plenty of size with some weighing in at 252, 256, 237, 250 and 317, but Coach Waller prioritizes speed. Not only do the lines need rebuilt, they lost 3 linebackers. The biggest loss there is Anthony Ambrogi. Last year's super soph Shamar Savoy, a 5-8, 185 pound dynamo, returns to the DL. That has been a team strength at Ridley over the years, lightening quick defense, not the more oft mentioned offense. Since 2001, Ridley's points against average has been 12,13,13,10, and 10 again last year.  Surprisingly, the offense has averaged over 23 ppg just twice in the last 7 years. But still, the perception is the Raiders are all about offense. Maybe that's the Green Mystique. Having said that, the offense will now go out and have a record year! The schedule opens on the road vs Bensalem (nice RB), then home for Strath Haven. The Raiders have a new artificial turf field this year. That could be an advantage playing early in the year against neighboring rival Strath Haven September 9th. Haven plays on the real stuff.

13.  Upper Darby (9-3) Many expect the Royals to disappear after last year's fine season. And they did have severe graduation losses, especially Simoni Marco Lawrence, their outstanding running back who concluded the year with 2142 rushing yards. They'll miss TE Nick Ciccone, Kicker Dan Dibona and many others, but Upper Darby typically has as much talent if not more than any team in the Central League. The OL will build around seniors Joe Ciarrocchi, 6-2, 270; Pete Pappas, 6-4, 280 and Bill Davis, 6-3, 250. TE Dave Wilson, 6-5, 215 returns, and HB Brandon Murray at 5-9, 175. The more interesting addition is running back Aaron Duncan, a transfer from Roman Catholic. He won't re Lawrence but he can scoot. And Blaine Fox returns at QB. The schedule opens well with a homer against Bonner, a road game at Marple-Newtown, then home verses Conestoga. Thereon they're away for 2 straight against Lower Merion and Springfield. They could get out the gate at 5-0 before facing Strath Haven October 10th at home.

14. Archbishop Carroll (8-5) You've got to like Carroll this year to do big things. There is the recent history of not getting past West and Wood, but both are rebuilding. If there ever was a year, this is the Patriot's year to slip (back!) in there. Almost the entire team returns, with standouts John Pettine, 6-3, 250, and Jordon Faust, 6-3 305 on the OL and DL. QB Matt Cantafio quietly threw for over a 1000 yards last year. And running back Brent Christie is an unheralded talent after a so-so season last year. Top receiver Wiley Flowers is also back. This could be the year that mimics the outstanding teams of 1999, 2000 and 2001 where the Patriots went 11-2, 13-0 and 12-1. We'll find out early at home (Radnor) against Coatesville, then Upper Merion. Game 3 is the one, against North Penn in Lansdale. Then 2 home games against Wood and Neumann-Goretti will tell us if the Pats are back. They certainly are on paper.

15. Quakertown (4-8) Here's another example of a team playing 2 completely different seasons. After starting the year 4-2, the Panthers went into a nosedive, all the way to the ground, losing their final 6 games. That's the first losing season since 1998. Don't expect that to continue. With senior linemen Caleb Rush 6-3, 292, (full ride to Rutgers) joined by another senior Brian Lorman, 6-2, 255, and juniors 6-0 Hemsley Perez, 6-0, 270, Anthony Petrecca, 5-9, 272, Kyle Stump, 6-0, 235, and returning tight end Nate Sims, 6-3, 215, they should have an outstanding line. They need a quarterback, with Jim Bowman gone, but senior running back Dustin Fischer returns. They open at home to Emmaus, then head to the road for 3 straight against Souderton, CB West and Cheltenham, before returning home against Upper Dublin. The Panthers move to the American Conference this season, from the Continental.

16. Downingtown West (4-7)  Looking back not too many years says you've got to wonder about the landscape of scholastic football if all the schools that recently split, had not done so. There were and are real ripple effects from Central Bucks South's creation in 2004. And we'll see how new school Bayard Rustin High effects the other two West Chester teams. How about Council Rock's dismantlement and reincarnation as Council Rock North and Council Rock South? The first year of the split in 2002 saw North go 7-4 while South went 8-3. Wouldn't you have liked to see the split come a year later? If they merged today they'd still be smaller (male enrollment 10 thru 12) than North Penn. And poor Downingtown. Here we had one of the real powers in the  disassembled. The Whippets were 40-7 the 4 years preceding the split. Were they to remerge today, they'd have 90 less males enrolled in grades 10 through 12 than Pennsbury. Back to the present; after 3 losing seasons, it's time for the Dtown to re-emerge. With a stable of running backs, lots of big linemen and a 2nd year, junior quarterback like 6-4, 215, Nolan Kearney, it could happen. RB's Roshaan McCain and Pete Hamill are back for their senior year along with FB Rhett Bull, 5-9, 210. The schedule is favorable beginning with road games at Warwick and Chester. The home opener follows against Boyertown, then back on the road to West Chester East before coming home to Henderson. The schedule is there for a strong start!

17. West Catholic (10-3) How about West, back to back double digit winning seasons! Last year's 10-3 season was exceeded only by the previous year's 11-2 campaign. With a great coach like Coach Fluck, you know they'll refill holes and field an exciting team. The OL returns Isiah Edmonds and Ode Evans. Behind them are numerous and talented backs including Marquese Sanders and Dennis Shaw. Junior Eric Brennan and promising soph Curtis Drake will battle it out at QB. On defense, the linebacker corps will be a team strength. 1st team All-Catholic defensive lineman Anthony Rhodes returns. The secondary graduated every starter. Good things are happening at West the last few years so you almost expect Coach to continue cranking out quality editions. He's certainly been getting exciting talent to come to West. This could be a good year for them to sneak in there on rebuilding Archbishop Wood. But because they to typically field well coached teams, it looks like a 3 horse race between Carroll, West and Wood. The schedule is a rough one, beginning with a road opener against Roman Catholic at Wildwood, followed by another road trip to rugged St. John's of D.C.

18. Roman Catholic (7-5)   As the saying goes, close doesn't count except in horseshoes, hand grenades and nuclear warfare. Let's hope we don't find out, especially the latter two. Roman lost a close one last year to undefeated Valley Forge Military Academy, 14-6. That's more impressive knowing VFMA gave 10-1 Malvern Prep their only loss, 40-23. They also knocked off Poly Prep of New York, 31-14. But the worst for Roman was a bitter loss to Cardinal O'Hara in week number 9. Roman came to play that day, holding the Lions to 77 yards rushing and 4 first downs! They even had a 7-0 half time lead. But then, O'Hara Coach Algeo unleashed his secret weapon, 15 year old freshman quarterback Tom Savage (15 years old!) who went to work quickly, firing two 3rd quarter scoring strikes of 67 and 13 yards to the starting senior quarterback Anthony Walters. The 3rd quarter ended with O'Hara up 14-7.  RC's defense shutdown O'Hara in the 4th, then scored on a 56 yard bomb from QB Chris Johnson with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left. Out trotted the kicker who pulled it wide right, and O'Hara escaped with a 14-13 win. To show what a classy group these guys were, on the following weekend they beat LaSalle (9-3) 26-23 in double-OT. So overjoyed were the Legions, they lost to Father Judge the following week, 27-19. But that's why we love it. It's high school football. Poor Roxborough, was next on the schedule and felt the pain of the Judge loss as Roman rolled 33-6. This year's outlook is promising with QB Chris Johnson back. He's quite an athlete and linebacker. Their strength is on defense with DT Jewhan Edwards, LB Matt Marcinek (plus Johnson) and DB Dom Joseph returning. There were some question about the OL last year that were answered on the field as they'll be this season. Roman always has the players, but they could miss their running back now playing for Upper Darby.   

19. Archbishop Wood (10-2)  4 in a row? Archbishop Wood lost so much talent from last year's team. But, like all the solid programs and well coached teams rebuilding, they'll take some hits and end up with another quality player filling a need. Who could have predicted the year quarterback Joe Kosich had last year? He's gone, along with the entire offensive line and running back Bryan McCartney, a +3500 career rusher. All their receivers return, including CL Blue MVP Chris Lorditch. He'll have to be respected, which should help the new line-QB find time and space. If they can just get a sure handed quarterback and adequate linemen, they'll be okay. Wood's D will be a team strength, with the entire secondary and linebacking corps returning. The schedule begins with two road trips, North Penn and William Penn Charter. Then they're home to Archbishop Ryan before another difficult road game at Carroll.

20. Pennridge (7-5)  A reminder from last year's write ups, the Rams simply could not find any rhythm last season. The season opener with Hatboro-Horsham, a win, was followed by a rout at Central Dauphin. A Bonner win was followed by a North Penn loss. In the next game, a nice win against Abington was followed by a loss to Neshaminy. In game 7 they beat Truman only to have a rugged Pennsbury team up next. Another loss.The entire year went that way, with a win followed by a loss through the first 10 games, leaving the Rams at 5-5. Somehow, coming on the heels of an embarrassing loss to Bensalem, they managed to win their last 2 games. But a  7-5 season is not what the Pennridge crowd is use to, not by a long stretch. They won 56 games the preceding 6 years, getting double-digit winning seasons in 4 of the 6 years! Everyone is looking for improvement in Coach Randy Cuthbert's 2nd season. Difficult getting information on the Rams this year; but if they have their typical line, things will go smooth with running back Tristan Roberts to hand off to. The schedule is more difficult than last year's by starting off with road games at Hatboro-Horsham and CB East. Then they're home to Monsignor Bonner and North Penn. Then back to the road against Abington and Neshaminy. They'll have to have it together early for that schedule.

Honorable Mention
Malvern Prep (10-1)
Newmann Goretti (5-7)
Plymouth Whitemarsh (8-3)
Hatboro Horsham (6-6)
Tennett (7-4)
Central Bucks East (10-2)  
Council Rock North (5-6)
Cheltenham (6-6)
Conestoga (10-2)
Downingtown East (11-2)
West Chester East (4-7)
Glen Mills (5-5)