INQUIRER PRESEASON TOP 25
With last season's record.
1. Coatesville (13-3)
The Red Raiders, with ample speed and eight returning defensive starters, are primed to make another strong postseason run. Speedster Daquan Worley, a 1,700-yard rusher last season, returns to the backfield. Tyler Burke, Devonte Suber, and Steve Pawling are part of a stellar linebacking corp.
2. La Salle (12-2)
It's true the Explorers were hit hard by graduation. But look for them, as always, to make major noise. Rising quarterback Kyle Shurmur, running back Jordan Meachum, and handyman Jimmy Herron are the focal points on offense. Linebacker Zaire Franklin anchors a young but improving defense.
3. Neshaminy (9-4)
Expectations, for good reason, are high in Langhorne. D'Andre Pollard and Trokon Buesmaill should find plenty of daylight running behind an offensive line that includes center John Koch (6-1, 245) and tackle Mike Palmer (6-4, 265). End Luke Carrezola and linebacker Denny Lord lead a rugged defense.
4. Archbishop Wood (12-3)
Look for the Vikings, quick and strong, to again contend for statewide glory at the Class AAA level. QB Tom Garlick returns, as do running backs Josh Messina and Jarrett McClenton. A 4-4 defense will feature linebacker Jake Cooper, end Christian Lohin, and cornerback Kendall Singleton.
5. Downingtown East (10-1)
Like Neshaminy, the Cougars have considerable beef up front. The offensive line includes guard Alec[CQ] Petrillo (6-3, 270), center Mike Whalen (6-0, 220), and tight ends Mike Reichwein (6-5, 250), and Alec Coyle-Nicolas (6-5, 245). That spells continued production from rusher Ryley Angeline.
6. St. Joseph's Prep (10-1)
Gabe Infante's squad won't sneak up on anyone this season. QB Chris Martin can turn to four dangerous playmakers: John Reid, Olamide Zaccheaus, Jawan McAllister, and up-and-coming rookie De'Andre Swift. The big question: Can the Hawks adequately fill the up-front vacancies?
7. Imhotep Charter (14-1)
The Panthers are on a mission to take the next Class AA step and reach Hershey. Nasir Bonner and company have the luxury of running behind a line that features guard Aaron Ruff (6-5, 295), center Gordon Thomas (6-0, 305), and tackles Taleem Muhammad (6-6, 305), and Yasir Durant (6-7, 310).
8. North Penn (6-4)
It's hard to imagine another subpar, non-playoff season in Lansdale. The Knights have experienced players in QB Austin Shearer, wingback Kris Akins, fullback Luke Berry, and halfback Nick Wright. The top offensive lineman is Frank Tranzilli, a 6-1, 275-pound junior.
9. Spring-Ford (12-3)
The Rams are contenders in the Pioneer Athletic Conference behind speedy backs Jarred Jones and Tate Carter, and wide receiver Gary Hopkins. Carter can play multiple positions, including QB. A 4-3 defense is spearheaded by linemen Mason Romano, Rob Varner, and Alec Vagnozzi.
10. Cardinal O'Hara (5-5)
QB Dashawn Darden, running backs J.T. Blyden and Lamont Veal, and wideout Thaddius Smith are home-run threats on offense. The goal of dethroning Wood also hinges on the play of two-way linemen J. Kraiza and Eric Trainor, linebacker Nolan Cummings, and kicker Steve Weyler.
11. Interboro (11-3)
With six starters back on both sides of the ball, the Bucs have a good chance to repeat as District 1 Class AAA champs. Sonny Armstrong is a bruising fullback and linebacker; Matt Gould (6-5, 310) is a handful as a two-way tackle; and Mark Everton is a threat as a receiver and cornerback.
12. Pennsbury (9-3)
The rebuilding Falcons are a year away from being a real power, but will still be formidable. A wing-T attack revolves around halfback Charles Snorweah and QB Breon Clark. Mycah Mollohan (6-0, 230), Austin O'Neill (5-11, 260), and Sam Raywood (6-2, 360) are interior stalwarts.
13. Ridley (11-1)
The Green Raiders lost a lot to graduation, but can never be counted out in the Central League. They bring back savvy QB Collin[CQ] Wright, outside linebacker Lou Harrison, and receivers Jabree Savoy and Matt Borchert. Swift two-way back Malik Jones came over from Roman Catholic.
14. Pottsgrove (11-1)
The Falcons return nine starters on defense, including nose guard Anthony Pond, end Patrick Finn, linebacker Jeff Adams, and cornerbacks Mike Fowler and Marquis Barefield. Riley Michaels is the new QB, with Barefield and fullback Sene Polamalu as two of his hand-off options.
15. Garnet Valley (8-3)
Another strong turnout (47 seniors) bodes well for the Jaguars. QB Christian Portale has halfback Jake Irving and split ends Jude DiGiacomo and Aaron Parenti at his disposal. A stellar linebacking unit is made up of Vince Razzano, Brandon Dowd, Martin Faith, and Tyler Shankle.
16. Central Bucks South (10-2)
The Titans' no-huddle, spread scheme is ignited by tailback Josh Adams, coming off a 2,000-yard season, QB Matt Radwanski, and wideout Paul Weeks. A lot depends on the growth of an inexperienced offensive line. The defensive charge is led by guard Dan Young and end Ryan Sullivan.
17. Abington (8-4)
Tailback Craig Reynolds, a 1,200-yard rusher last season, is set for another big season. Support comes from fullback Keith Boggi, QB Anthony Lee, and receivers Shamar Farmer and Christian Werner. The unquestioned leader on defense is hard-nosed tackle Jake Clark, a four-year starter.
18. Archbishop Ryan (6-5)
A strong nucleus is made up of two-way end Sean Boylan, receiver-safety Connor Golden, two-way tackle Joe Hansbury, linebacker Jesse Wireman, and QB Mark Ostaszewski. The arrival of Samir Bullock, a 1,000-yard rusher at Father Judge, was just what the offense needed to thrive.
19. Pennridge (12-2)
New coach Jeff Hollenbach did not find the cupboard completely bare. The Rams return dynamic tailback Mike Class, who ran for 2,417 yards and 32 scores last season, two-way tackle Shayne Kraynik, and receiver Micah Stutzman. Matt Pasquale is settling in nicely as a first-year QB.
20. Downingtown West (7-4)
The Whippets are not conceding anything in the Ches-Mont National. The spark plugs on offense are running backs Mitch Meleski, Braden Harper, and Jimmy DiSantis The defense leans on linemen Gabe Hale and Pat Coyle, linebacker Lucas McMahon, and safety Kyle Goodrich.
21. Frankford (9-3)
Quinton Ellis and Damion Samuels are breakaway threats at running back; two-way end Shareef Miller is a bruiser; and linemen Javez Baker-Hall (6-3, 250) and Kadar Jones (6-2, 300) are solid run-stoppers. The Pioneers have early tests versus Downingtown East, Pennsbury, and Wood.
22. Roman Catholic (6-4)
With experience along the offensive line, Cahillites boss Joe McCourt expects to have rushing success. The top grunts are Mike Joyce, Phil Forrence, and Ricky Rivera. Dimitri Kelly and John Chaney III are dangerous backs. Two-way end Hezekiah Trahan is a Division I-A prospect.
23. West Catholic (7-4)
The Burrs, who are seeking their eighth consecutive Catholic League title, should flourish on offense. The attack is ignited by tailback Greg White, a 1,400-yard rusher last season, QB Antwain McCollum, and swift receivers Patrick Amara, Ahkil Crumpton, and Craig Jones.
24. Malvern Prep (6-5)
The pieces are in place for the Friars to reclaim the Inter-Ac League title. The catalysts on offense are handyman Troy Gallen, fullback Hunter Paulus, and promising QB Alex Hornibrook. Paulus, fellow linebacker Jake Anderson, and end John Nassib are among the leaders on defense.
25. Haverford High (7-4)
Looking for a dark horse to win the Central League? The Fords fit the bill. They have a trio of solid running backs: Kevin Leyden, Jai Thornton, and Alex Drum. QB Jack Donaghy saw time at the end of last season. Tackle Chip Rossino and Matt Skurka anchor a young offensive line.
Under consideration, listed alphabetically: Episcopal Academy (10-0), George Washington (8-3), Haverford School (7-4), Perkiomen Valley (8-3), Plymouth Whitemarsh (9-2), West Chester Rustin (8-3).