Catholic League Football Preview/Thumbnails, 2012

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By Ted Silary
          Nine months later, it seems even more surreal. Think about it. Has the dominance truly registered?
          Not only did Archbishop Wood High last season win the PIAA Class AAA state football championship, it outscored its opponents by 699-124 and stormed to victory in the semis and final, respectively, by 70-14 and 52-0.
          A 122-14 advantage in the last two games of a state tourney? Can't imagine THAT has happened too often, anywhere.
          But that wasn't all. The Catholic League also produced state semifinalists at the AAAA (La Salle) and AA levels (West Catholic), making the 2011 season a true memory-maker and running the CL's title streak to three (La Salle in '09, West in '10).
          As for what's on the encore docket . . .
          Expecting a repeat would be unrealistic and it appears the W teams will face at least a hint of an uphill climb. La Salle, however, already looks to be in midseason form.
          "Our line guys are bigger than in most years," said coach Drew Gordon, whose son, Brett, is back as the offensive coordinator, "and at the skill positions, even though most of the guys are new, we're finding we have some depth. If (quarterback) Chris Kane continues to develop . . . "
          Elsewhere in AAAA, the strongest push should come from Roman Catholic, thanks to star wideout William Fuller (Notre Dame) and quarterback Michael Keir, and/or St. Joseph's Prep, which won its opener last week in Florida against a notable foe.
          In AAA, Wood is strong again thanks, in part, to the transfer winds. Gale force, in this case. The headliner among the numerous newcomers is senior rusher LaQuille "Dice" Nesbitt (Northeast). The top holdover is Rutgers commit Nick Arcidiacono, who has switched from grunt to tight end on offense.
          It's suspected the Vikings' only true opposition will be provided by Cardinal O'Hara.
          West, which long had fared well in the transfer sweepstakes, suffered a big hit when rusher supreme David Williams departed for Imhotep Charter, of the Public League. The Burrs, who are led by two-way line stud Jaryd "Burger" Jones-Smith (6-7, 320), should still have enough to capture AA Cath honors, however.
          There are two new coaches: At Lansdale Catholic, Tom Kirk has replaced 44-year vet Jim Algeo (father of Cardinal O'Hara coach Danny Algeo), and the new boss at Bonner-Prendergast is Greg "Bubba" Bernhardt.
          Lansdale has moved up from AA to AAA. Archbishop Carroll has dropped from AAA to AA. Bonner has added a hyphen and the name of the girls' school that was right next door.

THUMBNAIL SKETCHES

AAAA DIVISION
ARCHBISHOP RYAN
Coach: Frank McArdle Jr., 4th year; Education: Ryan, James Madison. Career: 8-25.
Last year: 0-4, 5th; 5-6.
Great eight: Sam DuMond, WR-S, 5-8, 160; Ed Bier, L-DL, 6-2, 280; Brian Robbins, L-DL, 6-foot, 245; Bobby Romano, WR-DB, 5-11, 160; Connor Golden, TE-LB, 6-foot, 190; Jesse Wireman, RB-LB, 5-9, 195; Sean Boylan, TE-DE, 6-4, 205; Joe Hansbury, L-DL, 6-3, 250.
Happy about: Both fronts, toughness.
Concerned about: Production of wide receivers.
McArdle’s comment: “We just need to keep chopping.”
 
FATHER JUDGE
Coach: Tommy Coyle, 13th year; Education: Judge. Career: 70-71.
Last year: 2-2, triple tie 2nd; 7-4.
Great eight: Ryan Mackiewicz, QB, Dennis Boice, RB-DB, Marquis Seamon, RB-DB, Brandon Spatz, Rec.-LB, Tommy Bayer, C-DT, Albi Arabaj, TE-DE, Matt Robinson, Rec.-DB, Connor Foley, K-P.
Happy about: Big-play capabilities, deep secondary.
Concerned about: Rash of early injuries, performance of lines.
Coyle's comment: "We feel we should be a playoff team, and we’ll be looking to play high-level football come November.”

LA SALLE
Coach: Drew Gordon, 7th year; Education: McDevitt, Villanova. Career: 63-18.
Last year: 4-0, 1st; 12-2.
Great eight: Sean Coleman, WR-S-PR-KR, 5-9, 180; Zaire Franklin, LB, 6-1, 210; Tom Spiteri, L-DL, 6-2, 270; Trent Simmons, FB-LB, 6-foot, 220; Chris Kane, QB, 6-foot, 210; Jared Herrmann, RB, 5-11, 185; Patrick Hoffman, L-DL, 6-4, 260; David Losier, L-DL, 6-foot, 255.
Happy about: Offseason work ethic, chemistry.
Concerned about: Inexperience at most offensive skill positions.
Gordon’s comment: “We seem to have a good mix of returning experienced players and first-time starters.”
 
ROMAN CATHOLIC
Coach: Joe McCourt, 5th year; Education: Roman, Lafayette. Career: 26-20.
Last year: 2-2, triple tie 2nd; 8-4.
Great eight: William Fuller, WR-DB, 6-2, 175; Michael Keir, QB, 6-3, 215; Chris Cruz, WR-QB-LB, 6-1, 200; Mike Joyce, L-DL, 5-11, 230; JJ Logan, L-DL, 6-4, 315; Collin Shields, L-DL, 5-11, 220; Phil Forrence, L-DL, 6-3, 240; Hezekiah Trahan, L-DL, 6-4, 225.
Happy about: Good combination of character and talent.
Concerned about: Five new starters in back seven on defense (excepting Fuller/Cruz).
McCourt’s comment: “We have a good group who are willing to work and get better every day. I really like the makeup of this team.”

ST. JOSEPH'S PREP
Coach: Gabe Infante, 3rd year (also Paramus Catholic, N.J., 2008-09); Education: Memorial (West New York, N.J.), Holy Cross. Career: 21-21; 11-11 at SJP.
Last year: 2-2, triple tie 2nd; 7-4.
Great eight: Todd Jones, LB, 6-2, 215; David Tracz, T-DE, 6-3, 230; Fran Grey, C, 6-1, 260; Chris Koilor, G-DT, 5-11, 240; Paul Johnson, DT, 6-foot, 290; Dan Sherry, TE-S, 6-2, 210; Jawan McAllister, Rec.-DB, 5-10, 170; John Reid, RB-Rec.-DB, 5-10, 175.
Happy about: Maturity/focus, offensive line.
Concerned about: Inexperience at key positions.
Infante's comment: "Like I always tell the kids, ‘One day at a time.’ We need consistency.”

AAA DIVISION

ARCHBISHOP WOOD
Coach: Steve Devlin, 6th year; Education: Ryan, Lycoming. Career: 59-11.
Last year: 3-0, 1st; 14-1.
Great eight: Nick Arcidiacono, TE-DE, 6-4, 235; Andrew Guckin, RB-LB, 6-foot, 200;  Fran Walsh, L-DL, 6-1, 245; LaQuille “Dice” Nesbitt, RB-WR-DB, 5-9, 165; George Griffin, L-DL, 6-4, 280; Jake Cooper, FB-LB, 6-2, 230; Benji Abercrombie, WR-LB, 6-5, 215; Anthony Roakes, WR-DB, 5-8, 165.
Happy about: Experienced lines, quick development of young players.
Concerned about: How young kids respond in big games.
Devlin’s comment: “Our league is very tough, so we need to get better every day to get our team ready to compete.”

BONNER-PRENDERGAST
Coach: Greg "Bubba" Bernhardt , 1st Year; Education: Bonner, St. Francis (Pa.). Career: 0-0.
Great eight: Jim Haley, QB-S, 6-3, 180; Joe Smith, L-DL, 6-1, 240; John Durkin, L-DL, 6-4, 220; Mike Palmer, L-DL, 6-3, 220; Mike Roman, WR-S, 5-11, 180; Vince Brooks, WR-CB, 5-10, 180; Kyle Dawson, RB-LB, 6-1, 180; Mike Ockimey, TE-WR-S, 6-3, 185.
Happy About: The kids working hard on a daily basis, QB play and young linemen.
Concerned About: Tough early schedule, youth of starters.
Bernhardt’s comment: “If we continue to work hard and get better every day we should be okay down the line.”

CARDINAL O'HARA
Coach: Danny Algeo, 9th year (also Roman, 1996-99; Phoenixville, 2000); Education: Lansdale Catholic, Gwynedd-Mercy. Career: 89-58; 59-31 at O'Hara.
Last year: 1-2, 3rd; 6-4.
Great eight: Dashawn Darden, QB, 5-10, 175; Thaddius Smith, RB-WR-DB, 5-10, 170; Steve Weyler, K-P, 5-11, 170; Carmen Cervella, T-DT, 6-1, 285; Tyler Dinnella, G-DT, 6-foot, 240; Joe DeMaio, WR-DB, 5-11, 175; Nick Moriconi, TE-LB, 5-11, 195; Tarron Dunbar, FB-LB, 6-foot, 195.
Happy about: Camaraderie, work ethic.
Concerned about: Trying to establish an identity, developing backups.
Algeo’s comment: “We are just trying to get better one day at a time.”

LANSDALE CATHOLIC
Coach: Tom Kirk, 1st year; Education: Wood, Delaware Valley. Career: 0-0.
Last year: 2-2, triple tie 2nd in AA; 2-7.
Great eight: Evan DeHaven, DL, 5-11, 200; Pat Duggan, QB, 6-foot, 190; Dan Pederson, C-DL, 5-11, 200; Kevin Sabo, RB-LB, 5-10, 190; Tyler Viers, DL, 5-11, 215; James Ward, RB-DB, 5-8, 165; Ryan Gianoni, LB, 6-foot, 210; Zach Talley, TE-DL, 6-3, 215.
Happy about: great camp, players’ commitment to getting better, lots of underclassmen will get significant playing time.
Concerned about: small roster, dependence upon too many two-way players.
Kirk’s comment: “Our seniors will determine the path of this team.”
 
AA DIVISION

ARCHBISHOP CARROLL
Coach: Joe Powel, 2nd year (also Kenrick, 1990-92; Harriton, 1993-94; Wood, 2004-06; Upper Merion, 2007-10); Education: Kenrick, Widener. Career: 59-78-1; 1-9 at Carroll.
Last year: 0-3, 4th in AAA; 1-9.
Great eight: Sal Bello, QB 6-foot, 190; Eric Massenburg, RB-FS, 5-9, 175; Dan Bier, WR-DB, 5-9, 160; Shawn Collins, L-DL 6-2, 245; Evan Harvey, TE-LB 6-foot, 220; Tyler Rongione, WR-LB 5-8, 170; Matt DeSipio, L-DL 5-11, 210; Jake Keczik, WR-DB 6-foot 170.
Happy about: Overall team speed.
Concerned about: The number of two-way starters.
Powel’s comment: “We’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

BISHOP McDEVITT
Coach: Pat Manzi, 31st year; Education: Judge, Temple. Career: 179-129-5.
Last year: 2-2, triple tie 2nd; 5-5.
Great eight: Tymere Wilder, RB-Rec.-DB, 5-7, 160; Christian Connor, QB, 6-1, 175; Gerald Amondei, L-DL, 6-1, 225; Gerald Fuller, RB-DB, 5-10, 170; Chris Leahy, L-DL, 6-1, 265; Chris Davis, L-LB, 5-10, 175; Anthony Gordon, Rec.-DB, 5-7, 150; Emmett Gallashaw, L-DL, 5-11, 220.
Happy about: Speed, big-play capability.
Concerned about: Inexperienced lines.
Manzi's comment: "We need to work on controlling the ball because big plays aren’t always going to be there. For now, we’re struggling with that.”

CONWELL-EGAN
Coach: Jack Techtmann, 2nd year (also Egan/Conwell-Egan, 1991-93); Education: Egan, Delaware Valley. Career: 6-36; 1-10 this stint.
Last year: 0-4, 5th; 1-10.
Great eight: Shane Phillips, L, 6-5, 310; Tim Bolton, WR-DB, 5-11, 180; Kyle Techtmann, QB-DB, 5-11, 175; Chaz Cason, RB-DB, 5-8, 160; Dan McLaughlin, RB-LB, 6-foot, 190; Bobby Simcox, RB-DB, 5-9, 180; Matt Toner, L, 6-2, 230; Joe LaRosa, TE-LB, 6-1, 200.
Happy about: Increased numbers, players’ comfort level with system.
Concerned about: Inexperienced line backups.
Techtmann’s comment: “The players and coaches are looking forward to this season like no other. We think that we will show a vastly improved team that has worked hard on and off the field.”
 
Ss. NEUMANN-GORETTI
Coach: Charles "CJ" Szydlik , 2nd year (also Jenkintown, 2010); Education: Frankford. Career: 5-14; 4-7 at N-G..
Last year: 2-2, triple tie 2nd; 4-7.
Great eight: Sharif Custis, TE-LB, 6-4, 215; Jamal Custis, WR-LB, 6-6, 205; Sihmare Morgan, RB-CB, 5-7, 180; Ray Lenhart, QB, 6-foot, 165; Eric Holt, WR-LB, 6-3, 200; Eric Neill, WR-DB, 5-8, 170; Mike DiFrancesco, FB-LB-K, 6-foot, 190; Jose Rodriguez, L-DL, 6-1, 305
Happy about: Numbers, effort.
Concerned about: Youth.
Szydlik 's comment: "We’re ready to make the leap forward. We have a good, young team.”

WEST CATHOLIC
Coach: Brian Fluck, 14th year; Education: West Catholic, Temple. Career: 119-53.
Last year: 4-0, 1st; 10-4.
Great eight: Jaryd “Burger” Jones-Smith, L-DE, 6-7, 320; Shaquille James, WR-DB, 5-9, 150; Ronald Womack, WR, 6-foot, 185; Dominic Toney, TE-DE, 6-3, 245; Antwain McCollum, QB, 5-10, 160; Gregory White, RB-SS, 5-10, 185; Rae’Quan Williams, RB-DB, 5-9, 150; Eric Rutherford, L-DL, 5-10, 185.
Happy about: Speed of skill players, size on lines.
Concerned about: Overall inexperience, defensive consistency.
Fluck’s comment: “If we we can weather the storm early and gain confidence, I believe we can make a run at the state title.”
 
RETURNING ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS

Selected by Daily News

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
Lineman: Nick Arcidiacono, Wood.
Receivers: William Fuller, Roman; Sean Coleman, La Salle.
Running backs: *-David Williams, West.
Kicker: Nick Visco, Wood.

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
Linemen: Jaryd "Burger" Jones-Smith, West; Sharif Custis, N-G.
Back: Jim Haley, B-P.

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
Quarterback: Michael Keir, Roman.
Kicker: Connor Foley, Judge.
Punters: Ryan Winslow, La Salle; Dan Sherry, SJ Prep.

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
Lineman: Tom Spiteri, La Salle.
Backs: Kyle Techtmann, C-E; Dad Poquie, La Salle.
*-Now at Imhotep (Public League)