In 2011, Episcopal Academy won its first league game in more than three years. Now, Todd Fairlie's squad returns a senior-heavy roster with a lot of experience and an optimistic and confident outlook.
It all starts with senior quarterback Adam Strouss for the Churchmen.
Strouss missed five games with an injury last season, but came on strong late. Other key players are senior running back and wide receiver Ian Strain, who has committed to play lacrosse for Lehigh, and big-play wide receiver Quinn Hager, a senior who has a knack for going up and coming down with the ball.
Last season, Malvern Prep finished atop the Inter-Ac with a 5-0 mark, going 9-2 overall. Right on the Friars' heels were Chestnut Hill at 4-1 in conference play and Haverford School, which went 3-2.
To repeat, the Friars will look to running back Eric Purnell, quarterback Billy Ford, and wide receiver Ryan Ammerman to make the offense go. Malvern also is strong on the offensive and defensive lines with three players who are at least 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, but coach Kevin Pellegrini thinks it is the Friars' improvement at the skill positions that could make them more dangerous.
Haverford School standout Matt Galambos, headed to Pitt to play linebacker next fall, is one of the league's top defensive threats. The Fords are strong on defense with Darren Watson, Hannibal Mathis, and Anthony Hill in the secondary, but the offensive line might give them problems.
Coach Mike Murphy, in his eighth season with the Fords, lost four members of his starting offensive line from last season.
"I think it's a very balanced year in the Inter-Ac. I think we have the potential to have a big year," Murphy said.
Tight end and defensive end Semaj Reed (6-7, 260) could make a big impression for Haverford, as well, and kicker Aron Morgan can put the ball consistently through the uprights.
For Chestnut Hill, a player to watch is senior wide receiver and linebacker Bobby Keyes, who averaged more than 20 yards a catch last season. Michael Hayes, a senior quarterback who is dangerous with his legs, will lead the Blue Devils offense.
The last game of the regular season, Nov. 10, will feature Malvern and Chestnut Hill facing off in a rematch of last year's league title game.