It's an early East vs. West showdown.
In the type of matchup usually reserved for the third weekend in December, Archbishop Wood and Pittsburgh Central Catholic will battle Sunday for early state bragging rights.
If the so-called experts are on the mark, Central Catholic is the real deal. In preseason polls, the Vikings were ranked No. 27 in the nation by ESPN Rise and 28th by Rivals.com.
"We'd prefer being under the radar, but there's nothing we can do about it," said Terry Totten, Central Catholic's seventh-year coach. "We might as well embrace it."
Central Catholic handled the preseason hype splendidly in 2007. Ranked in the top 25 in some national polls, it went 16-0, outscored foes by 612-168, and won its third PIAA Class AAAA title.
Sunday's 2 p.m. clash between the Pennsylvania powerhouses will be televised by ESPN2. "We've done it before, but it's always an exciting thing for our kids and our community," Totten said of playing on TV.
Totten has a 63-11 mark at his alma mater. In 2004, when the squad beat Neshaminy for the state championship, he was the defensive coordinator.
This year's team is powered by quarterback Perry Hills, wide receiver/safety Anthony Nixon, and tailback Damion Jones-Moore. Hills and Nixon are ticketed for the University of Maryland; Jones Moore is hearing from Mid-Atlantic Conference and Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) schools.
With a Pro-I scheme, the Vikes averaged 30.1 points last season. Hurt by a late rash of injuries, Central Catholic bowed to eventual state champ North Allegheny, 17-7, in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) semifinals.
Central Catholic must contend with a Wood offensive line that, including tight ends Colin Thompson and Jonathan Vicari, averages 6-foot-3 and 250-pounds. "I would say they have a little bit of a size advantage on us," Totten said.
Of Wood, ranked No. 1 in the area by The Inquirer, Totten said, "It's an excellent football team. It's the best offense I've seen."
All that's left is to play the game.
Solid debut. In Friday's opener vs. Lower Moreland, Keith Young showed how eager he was to take over as Bishop McDevitt's go-to ballcarrier.
The 5-8, 175-pound Young, stuck behind all-state tailback Gary Postell last year after transferring from West Catholic, carried 24 times for 209 yards and four touchdowns as the visiting Lancers romped to a 40-0 win over the Lions.
"He's got excellent speed, but he's also pretty strong," McDevitt coach Pat Manzi said. "We expect him to get better and better."
The Lancers, who totaled 332 yards on the ground, scored four of their six touchdowns after intermission.
On just three touches, junior reserve Gerald Fuller, the heir apparent to Young at tailback, gained 87 yards, including a 40-yard TD on his first carry and a 36-yard burst that set up backup QB Sean Bryson's 8-yard score.
Quotable. Downingtown West coach Mike Milano on Bishop Shanahan QB Ryan Egolf, a 2,137-yard passer last season: "He's got moxie. I've seen teams bring the house against him. He hangs in there and makes plays."
Extra points. Because of family and work commitments, Brett Gordon did not return as La Salle's offensive coordinator. Joe Wade, formerly the Explorers' running backs coach, is now the coordinator. . . . West Chester Henderson senior linebacker T.J. White has scholarship offers from Western Michigan and Bucknell. Delaware, Temple, and Villanova also have expressed interest in the 6-2, 230-pound senior. . . . In the first half of Neshaminy's 20-13, come-from behind win over visiting Souderton, when the Indians racked up 155 rushing yards on 29 attempts, Redskins cornerback Cole Creighton made six solo tackles.
As part of next weekend's six-game Patriot Classic at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., St. Joseph's Prep will play Gonzaga Prep (D.C.) at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. . . . Pennsbury's J.J. Denman, a 6-6, 310-pound lineman and Penn State recruit, sat out Friday's 24-0 loss to Easton with an unspecified leg injury. Falcons coach Galen Snyder said the injury was not serious. "He'll be back very soon," Snyder said. . . . Kavon Johnson, a 6-2, 260-pound lineman from Plymouth Whitemarsh, is getting looked at by Akron and Rutgers. . . . Upper Darby's Ayitey Kwei-Quaye, a 6-0, 295-pound lineman, is hearing from Villanova and Delaware.
Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or @ozoneinq on Twitter.