NEast Philly contributors Pat McNally and Bill Achuff will have continuing coverage of the high school football previews for the 2009 season. Below are the previews and standings for the three major Catholic league teams in the Northeast. For the public league previews, click here.
FATHER JUDGE CRUSADERS
Coach: Tom Coyle
Final Record: 6-1 league, 9-4 overall?345 PF, 174 PA?Lost to LaSalle in CL Championship game.
Key Players Leaving: lineman John Lavelle tight end/defensive lineman Ryan Langdon wide receiver, defensive back Tom Ryan (1st team AC both positions), Linebacker Adam Nowak and Joe Swallow (1st team AC), dlineman Jeff Brewer (1st team AC), Center Matt Schule (HM AC), Olinemen Joe Gallelli and Tom Keenan (HM AC),?Key Players returning: Quarterback Tony Smith (HM AC), dbck Kevin Toner (HM AC)
Offense: Tony Smith had an outstanding season last year at quarterback, passing for just under 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns. Curt Wortham returns at running back, after running for 1,562 yards and leading the team in touchdowns. Junior Nick Meyers will spell him in carries, along with promising junior Jones Twenefor. The offensive line will be led by senior tackle Greg Kovacs (also d-end), sophomore guard Eric Condron, junior center Ryan Bernard and senior guard Tim Walsh. Right tackle is a battle between junior Buddy Keyes and junior Idris Harmon. Kevin Leneghan is at tight end, and junior Connor Thompson will lead the receivers, who include Kevin Toner and Matt Geis.
Defnse: Kovacs and Leneghan will see time on the line, but the bulk of the work will fall on the shoulders of junior Bill Swallow, senior Anthony Doria and junior Steve Mullvehill. The middle linebackers are senior Joe Woletmate and junior Connor Reilly. Junior Andrew Toscano will start on the strong side, while the weak side position is still up for grabs between senior Jim Trainer and sophomore Raul Quinones. Toner will resume his All-Catholic duties at safety, joined up by Connor Thompson. Nick Meyer, junior free safety Steve Owen. “These guys saw a lot of action last year,” said Head Coach Tom Coyle.
Special Teams: Senior Owen Radtke will be the kicker, with either Radtke or Connor Reilly punting.
“We believe that we will be competitive,” Coyle said. “The goal is to improve every day and be ready on Sept. 27 against a good Archbishop Ryan football team.”
Forecast: If last week’s 35-21 win is any indication, the Crusaders are ready to roll on offense. Smith had a good game, connecting with Leneghan and Geis for scores, and Wortham rushed for over 200 yards and two scores. If the defense can play well, Father Judge could go a long way this year.
ARCHBISHOP RYAN RAIDERS
Coach: Frank McArdle (1st year) 0-6 league, 0-10 overall?105 PF, 343 PA
Key Players Leaving: QB/Punter Russ Slawter (AC punter HM QB), Oline/dline Steve Verrall (HM AC at both positions), Linebacker Matt Yabor (HM AC),?Key Players Returning: WR Pat Kwiatkowski (HM AC),
Offense: Junior Dillon Cave threw two passes last year, so this year will be a test. At running back, Mark Golic started off strong against Pennsbury and North last year, but tailed off and must contribute. Pat Kwiatkowski is Ryan’s lone returning All-Catholic selection at receiver. He led the team in receptions last year, and also scored four touchdowns. He will be joined by Christian Cruz.
Defense: Seniors Dan Oliveri and Fran Corbett will contribute both on the offensive and defensive line, with senior linebackers Bruce Clift and Tony Vendetti. Rounding out the Raiders’ defense is defensive back Mark Fulforth.
Forecast: Frank McArdle is a rookie head coach, but has a lot of experience as a seasoned coach.. In last week’s 31-0 loss to Marple-Newtown, Cave connected for a few good gains and Golic rushed well. But Kwiatkowski only caught one pass, and he must be included in the mix for the Raiders to be successful. McArdle hopes to bring back a winning attitude to his alma mater, but this could turn into a rebuilding year for Ryan.
NORTH CATHOLIC FALCONS
Coach: Chalie Szydlik
Final Record: 2-2 league, 6-5 overall
203 PF, 169 PA?Lost to Conwell-Egan in CL Playoffs
Key Players Leaving: WR Mike Scott (1st team AC), d-line Kyle Fellenbaum (HM), linebacker Eric Moore, punter Freddy DiMascia, linebacker Joe Mascino (1st team ac), defensive lineman Pete Puchalski (ac),?Key Players Returning: Eugene Byrd (1st team AC), senior center Ray Reusher (HM), senior linebacker David Williams (HM), safety Stephan Singleton (HM)
Offense: Junior quarterback Anthony Reid has a lot of junior varsity experience, according to Szydlik. But running back Eugene Byrd is bigger, stronger and ready to improve upon his All-Catholic performance last year. With junior Shawn Wilson, Szydlik expects a potent tandem. Guard Micale Allen and center Ray Reusher will anchor the line.
“The rest is a work in progress,” Szydlik said. “If they step up, we’ll have a good season.”
Senior Julian Huggins had a good season last year at wide receiver, and more will be expected in 2009. “He is outstanding. He catches every ball near him,” said of his receiver, who boasts a 1200 score on his SATs. With Huggins, Tre Stone-Davis and junior David Sherman, Szydlick sees this position as the one of the strongest on his team.
Defense: On the line, Steve Rooney will be the stalwart of a group of rotating players. All-Catholic David Williams will be joined by Daniel Clark as outside linebackers, with Bob Butler in the middle. Stephan Singleton, another All Catholic performer, will be the leader in the defensive backfield.
On special teams, Szydlik is still looking for a kicker and punter to step up.
Forecast: Szydlik is hoping that his line will come together and open holes for the talented Eugene Byrd. In a 21-13 loss to Chestnut Hill last week, Byrd fared well, but Reid truly impressed, passing for over 180 yards and one touchdown. Byrd will get his yards, but if Reid plays well, the Falcons should once again make the Class AAA playoffs.