A Way Too Early Look at Suburban One National for 2017
Last year was the first time I dabbled in such predictions and I did not feel overly confident in my predictions. However, I did a pretty good job based on the results of the 2016 season, so I thought I should try again; and likely spoil my record.
This year appeared to pose a different slant, as the top team in the conference seemingly lost the most to graduation this season. But, not so fast, my friend.
While every position on a team is instrumental to wins with proper play execution and savvy playing choices, there is no question that a good QB leads a team in general. Three-year starting QB Mason Jones, who eclipsed the passing yardage record for Neshaminy (2756 yds, 33 pass TDs, 3 rushing), is first on the list of graduation. Additionally, the Skins’ also lost their leading rusher (Will Dogba 1395 yds), a strong receiver (Zach Tredway 718 yds, 8 TDs), 3 of 5 O linemen, and an excellent 4-year placekicker. But as we again enter cliché-land, do the Skins rebuild, or reload? A team that went 11-1 and were conference champs must be thought of as the favorite for the next go-around; especially when speaking about traditional football powers.
The question is; does anyone else in the conference bring back enough talent to challenge? The cupboard is not exactly bare at Neshaminy. Two sophomores that stood out in 2016 were Oleh Manzyk, a two-way LB and tight end that made some spectacular receptions, leading that category with 1003 yds, and 15 TDs in 2016; and Corey Joyce, WR, also with some key catches. Mike Garlick was also a Jones target and should be back for his senior season. The question is who will be throwing to these fine receivers? I believe that junior Billy Clark took some snaps as a 2016 QB, and four other sophomore QBs dot the roster. A three-year starting QB is hard to replace, unless one appears from outside the system. Otherwise it is a somewhat inexperienced backup that has to come to the rescue.
Wilson, Parry and Sanko will be missed on the O line, but two coming seniors, Figueroa and Napadano return. A replacement for fine 4-year kicker Dylan McDonald will have to be found. Junior Mike Crescenzo got some time at running back behind Dogba and Rooney.
The defensive side of the ball had some issues (even though going 11-1!) in 2016. It was mostly perception, with tackling the key issue. But, the defensive average was 16.6, better by a point than last’s years 17.6 and the best in three years with 2014 being 22.0. The vibrant offense made up for any perceived defensive lacking for sure. We must remember that with the offenses today – spreads, multiple formations, hurry-up, and other schemes; in general defensive averages have suffered over the recent passing seasons. Getting the defense spread out and getting the ball to a talented back or receiver in space means a lot of one-on-one defense and open-field tackling; not an easy task.
That said, the 3-man pre season starting defensive line of three-year starter Kyle Osterhoudt, and two-way linemen Wilson and Parry are gone.
But two defensive linemen not listed as pre-season starters, Chauncy Kratee 5-11 272, and Luke Hitchen 6-2, 197 were accorded all conference selections, so there are two solid DL returns.
Only Rooney will be missing from the LB corps, with Manzyk and Garlick returning. Dylan McDonald the placekicker also did the punting, and so a new punter must be found.
Joel Stills is the only defensive back of three projected starters to return. Here Tredway, and Jake Gordon, whose 7 picks was tie for tops in the east with 3 others, will be missed. But Joe Stills played DB good enough to make third team all conference.
All conference (a-c) for the Skins in 2016 were- First team: Mason Jones QB, Will Dogba RB, Zach Tredway WR, AJ Sanko OL, Dylan McDonald PK, Eddie Parry DL, Oleh Manzyk SOPH, LB, and Jake Gordon DB. Second team: Mike Garlick WR, Eddie Parry OL, Chauncy Kratee SOPH, DL, Kyle Osterhoudt DE, Mike Garlick LB, and Zack Tredway DB. Third team- Oleh Manzyk TE, Chris Wilson OL, Will Dogba LB, and Joe Stills DB. Honorable mention (HM) – Hayden Rooney RB, Corey Joyce SOPH, WR, Ben Raab TE, Giovanni Figueroa OL, Nicholas Napadona OL, Luke Hitchen SOPH DE, and Dylan McDonald P.
All conference lists will be presented this way with underlined players returning juniors, unless other class listed in CAPS. Players appearing in a second position will be italicized.
Neshaminy is tied with two other teams in returning players with 11 (in conference four teams return more). But in returning all conference players the Skins return 10, second most in the conference. Chief needs – QB and placekicker/punter.
General note: We see much controversy regarding all-league, or all-conference teams. A lot of fans feel there are too many per organization; the old, “medal for everyone” cliché. Regardless of the fact, I use it in my calculations because it does certainly point out the TOP talent (arguably); but it also shows players that appeared enough to get recognized beyond the pre season starters predicted in the newspapers. And four placements – first, second, third, and honorable mention for 7-team conferences I believe is just on the cusp of “too many”.
A favorite the Skins should be; but will they ease through pre-season as well as 2016, and is there a conference team or two that will give the Skins a bigger hassle than normal?
I did not see the Abington Ghosts in 2016, not a normal situation. The Ghosts did well in their first year under head coach Kevin Conlin. They turned a 1-10 prior season to 6-5 for 2016. They logged a 5-1 league record for a second place finish, losing only to Neshaminy 0-21 in league play. They made the District One class 6A playoffs and lost in Round One to a dynamic Coatesville team 0-42. But a dramatic turnaround they made. I sure hope to see them in 2017.
Analyzed a little deeper, the Ghosts five losses were to teams that ended 8-3, 8-3, 11-1, 14-1, and 11-2. The first two were 7-point losses each time. A chief loss from the 2016 season turnaround squad starts with Temple-bound wideout George Reid.
While modest numbers with 5 TD receptions and a 75-yard fumble return for a TD; senior leadership was provided by George Reid; something every coach looks for from their seniors annually. The offensive line was four seniors and must be rebuilt around returning junior (for 2017) Tom Lukens, 6-3, 255 a two-way OL and DL who moves well on both sides of the ball.
Two juniors saw time as QB in 2016, Connor Reed 5-7, 175, and Billy Griffenburg 6-0, 175 and it appears from newspaper accounts that Griffenburg saw the most time in the position. But an important returning player will be RB Darryl Davis-McNeil who was first team all league RB and scored 18 TDs on 261 carries for 1875 yards for the season. That is 6th best in the east, and Darryl was accorded PA Football Writers 6A All-State selection. Darryl should be a weapon for 2017. Davis-McNeil’s 18 TD output ties or excels 3 different TEAMS in the National conference. Joining Darryl in the backfield should be Jackson Taylor 6-2 240 for his senior go around. He is also the only returning LB, and according to Coach Conlin, a potential high-level D1 recruit at that position.
The lone returning wide receiver is Taji Redd, 5-11 195 who will likely be the chief target for the 2017 QB, but speedy receivers seem to be aplenty for the Ghosts. With Davis-McNeil, I suspect the run will be the chief weapon for the 2017 Ghosts however.
Both the OL and DL will have to be rebuilt around Lukens on O; and on D – Lukens and Jamil Robinson 5-10 195 pound (2016) returning senior. The LB corps lost 3 of 4, but as mentioned above, Taylor is a good one returning to rebuild on. WR Taji Redd is also the only returning defensive back at corner. Reid played safety, and another corner, departing senior Jeremiah Scott will be missed as another leader; he won the “Iron Ghost” award for his diligent work in the 2016 offseason.
First team all-league punter, Joe O’Brien 6-7 265, who was also a WR, will be missed for 2017. And Casey Hesdon, possibly a soccer-team steal, will be missed as placekicker, as his third team all league placement was just behind fellow seniors Dylan McDonald of Neshaminy and Matt Corbett of Bensalem.
Abington all conference for 2016 – First team: Darryl Davis-McNeil RB, George Reid WR, Jamil Robison DL, George Reid DB, and Joe O’Brien P. Second team: Tom Pencale OL, Barry Johnson OL, Barry William LB, and Taji Redd DB. Third team: Jackson Taylor RB, Keenan Lambright SOPH RB, Casey Hesdon PK, Joe O’Brien DL, and Shakur Williams DE. HM: Dillon Scheuer OL and Isaiah Cruz LB. Returning players for 2017 underlined, two-position a-c players italicized.
Returning the top running back in the league plus two other all-conference RB picks, two QBs, and turning around a 1-10 to 6-5 season record should have the Ghosts rattling the chains to take the field in August 2017.
Overall the Ghosts are in a three-way conference tie with 11 returnees; four teams have more. They are also in a tie with all-conference picks at 5; four teams have more, one less. Chief needs placekicker/punter, offensive linemen.
General note: There is some duplication in both returning players and returning all-conference players for all teams. In order to cover EACH POSITION, one player filling two positions will be counted as two separate entities; i.e. a placekicker/punter would be in 2 places, but one player. The slot filled with experience is more important than how many actual players fill them. It does affect depth, but I can’t possibly bring depth into these capsule analyses.
I do not think it is way out there to see the Ghosts in second again, or possibly challenging the Redskins for the top spot next season. In years when the Skins and Ghosts have had about equal talent they have had some classic matches.
Bensalem. A success story to rival the Ghosts was that of the Owls in 2016. Coming out sporting an almost 3-year losing streak of 28 straight games, the Owls righted the ship with a .500 5-5 season following 0-11 and 0-10 trips. Ed Cubbage and staff did it at Truman, and for now, it seems at Bensalem as well. Kudos to the staff and players at Bensalem.
The Owls returned in better numbers, a little bigger physically, possessing some speed, and most of all, experience; for the 2016 season. Their 14 returning players were most in the conference. And they earned a third place tie overall record with Pennsbury, both at 5-5, .500 seasons. A one-point season ending loss to Harry S Truman cost them their first shot at district playoffs ever, and was a disappointing adversity to the end of the year.
Graduation, as always, puts this great turnaround into the question: one-time, or sustaining? A good start is that QB Drasaun Moore (2nd team all-conference) should return for his senior season.
A full year of experience, 4 rushing TDs, and at least 4 passing TDs are to his credit. Moore logged second team all conference behind Mason Jones of Neshaminy.
Missing will be chief rushing weapon Malcom Carey, 6-0 215 departing senior, who had 8 rushing TDs and one on a reception, and was a first team all conference RB. Returning will be versatile Keith Parrish, who lined up as wide receiver, defensive back (1st team all-conf.), and also as a running back, and produced 7 TDs on five rushing, one fumble return, and one pick six. Also returning will be QB Moore’s primary target, Isaiah Murray 6-2, 165 WR who snagged 4 TD passes for the 2016 season.
Only four starting linemen were listed for some reason, and two of those will return. They are Kyle Woelk 5-8, 205, and Vince Citrino 6-5, 335. Citrino not only has the size, but Coach Cubbage says he has the intelligence to be a an interesting prospect. All conference two-way lineman Blake Morgan 6-4, 265 will certainly be missed on both sides of the ball for 2017. He was all conference first team in 2015, and again in 2016.
The Owls’ defense, yielding a 22.9 ppg average was the team’s best in 5 seasons, coming down from 41.3 – 45.6 – 38.4 – and 34.3 going backwards the past four years. The O averaged 22.1 ppg, the balance of the two averages equating to a .500 season most times.
That said, the Owls have some rebuilding to do on the defensive side of the ball. One of three DL returns, Brandon Koch 6-1, 250. The linebacking corps listed five in the pre-season, only Elijah Jackson 6-2 180 of pre-season starters returns; but Nadir Smith and Kobe Jacobs, juniors not seen on pre-season reports made all conference teams for the Owls as LB’s. Malcom Carey will be missed from this group. The defensive backs also return only one of four, but it is Keith Parrish, a good one to return. Keith also did the punting for the Owls, and will be a versatile return as RB, DB, and P for 2017.
All conference placekicker Matt Corbett (2nd team behind Neshaminy’s McDonald) will most certainly be missed. In addition to his PATs made, he hit at least four FGs of 32, 31, 24, & 23 yards for the Owls. One should never diminish the importance of kicking in football.
All conference for Bensalem in 2016 – First team: Malcom Carey RB, Blake Morgan OL, Saleem Martin DE, and Keith Parrish LB. Second team: Drasaun Moore QB, Keith Parrish RB, Saleem Martin OL, Matt Corbett PK, Nadir Smith LB, and Rob Fund DB. Third team: Isaiah Murray WR and Kobe Jacobs LB. HM: Donovan Hensley OL, Vince Citrino DL and Gerald Whea DB.
The Owls are the middle of the pack with returnees at 12. Three schools return just one less returning at 11, and three schools return more. The 7 returning all-conference place the Owls in the middle of the conference (tie), three teams above, and two teams below. The Owls also have the top placing returning all-conference QB for 2017 in Moore.
Just as with the Ghosts of Abington, the Bensalem Owls should be looking forward to playing in 2017.
They were in every game in 2016, including a one-point loss, an OT loss, and the closest score with mighty Neshaminy in 4 seasons. I can see the Owls with at least as high a finish as 2016, with the swing game being Council Rock South.
Pennsbury. One thing you can say about the Falcons is that even in their “down” years, they win about as many as they lose. They put in a 5-5 tour for 2016 after losing a 14-year, longest term coach in the school’s history, and as we say, “a ton” of talent.
I can go back to 1951 with the Falcons, and most of their “worst” seasons were records of 4-6. To get a feel, these 4-6 records occurred in 1958, 1982, 1995, 2001, and 2007. An all-time worst Falcon record since 1951 was 1954 at 2-5-2. Second to that was a 3-8 in 1998. Since 1951 the Falcons have never seen a “no-win” or even 1-win season.
History aside, the Falcons struggled mightily this 2016 season. You might, and I did, expect this with such a great turnaround in total personnel. But the player turnaround was the key, new HC Dan McShane had been in the Pennsbury system for five seasons, most recently as defensive coordinator. Not ironically, it was the defense at 19.2 ppg that was the strong suit for the Falcons, because the offense could not fly at 11.7 ppg; the lowest offensive average since 1977 (9.6). The ground and pound was history.
Gone were all but 3 or 4 players from a team that had recorded a 32-8 record the last three tours, including a District One Championship in the tally. Thirteen Falcon seniors dotted the 2015 all conference selections. And in their departure were outstanding examples of skill sets, speed, experience, and size. The cupboard did appear bare at Pennsbury.
To add to the woes, projected starting junior QB Zach DeMarchis began the season nursing a broken arm back to health suffered in summer American Legion Baseball. A bit undersized at 5-8 150, his replacement until recovery was to be junior Nasan Robbins 5-9 152, about the same size. Robbins was to be a RB and was joined by Tyrone Hodges 5-10 180 senior, who also was a safety on defense. Both DeMarchis and Robbins return with a year of experience for the 2017 season. In fact Hodges was a 2015 non-senior Falcon all-conference selection.
Six wide receivers were listed at the start of 2016, and 5 of them, all junior’s last season return for 2017. Matt Lewis 6-2, 175, and Bill Turk 6-2, 187 are good size for that slot, and smaller are Jason Cook and Dave Burke; but I have no idea how the skill sets and speed apply.
The offensive line was the bright spot last season coming in, because 3 returnees including Maurice Stukes 6-8 365 (3rd team all conference), and Zach Bucksar 6-4 264 (1st team all conference) provided a great degree of bulk and experience. They have both graduated for 2017.
But, from observation, (I saw 5 Falcon games) the O line just did not take charge and, “enforce its will,” as Falcon O lines did in the past. Possibly the new schemes, new coach, and new personnel just did not allow the necessary chemistry to develop.
The defensive line will return two of five for 2017. Tim Ponento 6-0 195, and Mike Gabora, 6-1, 170, both juniors, should be back. Tim made 3rd team all conference, and Coach McShane said of Gabora he had great ability to get to the QB from defensive end. Three of five LBs return for 2017. One of them received an honorable mention nod for all conference, Andrew Basalyga. The “new” secondary last year should return 2 – Nasan Robbins 5-9 152, and Gary Minnes 5-5, 140.
The placekicking/punting should be in good hands for the Falcons this season as Chris Knop should return for his senior season and he was HM placekicker and 2nd team punter on the all conference teams, behind seniors in all cases.
All conference selections for 2016 for Pennsbury – First team: Zach Bucksar OL, Mike Gabora DE, and Ryan Harrah LB. Second team: Chris Knop P. Third team: Maurice Stukes OL, Tim Ponento DL, Tyrone Hodges DE, and Gary Minis DB. HM: Joe Meglin RB, Chris Knop PK, Matt Rossi DL, and Andrew Basalayga LB.
It is hard to begin to figure the Falcons for 2017. They carried a roster of 96 for 2016, few teams match that. No real superstar developed during the season, and most TDs were short runs by DeMarchis or Hodges. Improvement will have to come from retooling. The offense did not click, a confidence-boost is necessary. The defense kept the games fairly close in most cases.
The Falcons return 15 players that gained experience in 2016, second in the conference behind two teams tied with 16. And in all-conference selections, a total of 7 made it, for third best (tie) in the conference; only two teams returned more. Chief needs – players and scheme to recharge the offense.
Experience usually leads to improvement unless the talent pool is exhausted, but with senior leadership and fresh underclassmen; if the team comes out to “put the pride back” in Falcon football with a vengeance; the Falcons can be back near the top.
An interesting development had recently taken place at Harry S Truman. Head Coach Jon Craig who had done a good job there decided to step away. Fairly quickly former Pennsbury assistant Mike LaPalombara was hired. With him came former HC at Pennsbury and Truman Galen Snyder as an assistant, and experienced former HC and assistant, Dave Sanderson. All have coached together before; all have extensive experience, and all have had a year off to come in fresh and ready.
They come into a good situation, Truman has played improved football the last six or seven years, but ran out of experience for this season.
And they were not gun shy with the schedule, opening at Ridley and hosting Upper Dublin their first two games.
Their starting QB senior Jordan Freeman was the ONLY returnee with much playing time or acclaim for 2016. And he made 3nd team all conference this season behind Mason Jones of the Skins and Drasaun Moore, Bensalem.
In a game I attended, the backup QB was Rob Tressler, a sophomore with pretty good size and poise who threw a nice short dart that was carried to the end zone after Tressler had replaced a dinged Freeman. It would seem he is the heir apparent as a junior in 2017. An unusual skill mix is David Akinwande, a 5-11, 205 power/speed merchant at RB, and on defense, nose guard to anchor the D line. He should be a force in his senior year. Returning wide receiver Sayyid Saunders 5-8, 160 has speed to burn as he placed 6th in the PIAA 200 meter dash in spring competition in 2016.
Unlike 2016, the Tigers’ return a wealth of experience in most areas, a direct opposite of last season. In addition to those mentioned above, three RBs return, Akinwande, Habeeb Baba 5-8 170, and Mike Nicholson 5-11 185. Saunders at WR is joined by another coming senior, Chris Andreacchio 5-11 195.
The offensive line in 2016 was four seniors and a junior, so one returns for 2017. He is Kyle Garcia, 5-9, 195 and will have to anchor and meld four new players into an effective line. He is also a two-way defensive lineman and joins Akinwande as the only two of four returning on the defensive line.
Two of three LBs return in Jackson Sutton 5-9 175, and Dan Aquilone 5-8 170. Tyrone Willis also returns at LB; he was not listed as a starter, but made 2nd team all conference. Five DBs return for 2017; all of them only sophomores or juniors this 2016 season. They included two-way Baba from above, and Fields, Gipli, Andreacchio from above, and Snelling.
Truman all conference for 2016 – First team: None. Second team: David Akinwande RB, Sayyid Saunders WR, David Akinwande DL, and Tyrone Willis LB. Third team: Jordan Freeman QB, Tom Hirsch OL, and Tom Guilliam OL. HM: None.
Sixteen Tigers return experienced in 2017, a tie for tops in the conference, in fact, tops for both conferences. Only 4 were recognized all conference, lowest in the conference, but not far behind three other schools. Six returning on offense and 10 returning on defense should make the new coaching staff happy at Harry S. Truman. Chief need – QB and establish a kicking game.
The Tigers were wiped out by graduation in June 2015, but as described above there is a vast level of playing experience returning for 2017. And, if any of the team members follows other developments in high school football they should realize their new coaches are experienced and positive-results men. They follow two men who led staffs that did a stalwart job to restore a once declining, almost breathless, Truman program; Ed Cubbage and Jon Craig.
I think the Tigers could prove to be a tough out for 2017.
Council Rock South. I missed on the Golden Hawks in 2016, placing them a couple of places higher than they finished. They seemed to be the most stable program with three other opponents in their conference changing coaches in 2016.
I acknowledged that the Hawks had only 3 players back on offense, 2 that received all SOL honors; and 4 back on defense, one that was all SOL in 2015. And their JV squad was only 1-4-1 in 2015. But their Frosh of 30 players was 6-1 and it was hoped that they would be a strong cast of incoming sophomores for 2016. The 2016 Frosh listed 36 players, but no results were available when I visited the website. Football is definitely alive at Council Rock South.
As with almost all the teams in this conference, the Hawks were young and inexperienced for 2016. This usually equates to underclassmen playing and gaining experience for the next season, however painful it may be. The question is, do we get better next season or is it two seasons away? Most likely it is a two step improvement, better each year.
The Golden Hawks struggled to reach the end zone in 2016, but a breakdown of their eighteen successes reveals promise. Nine players made those scores, and only ONE TD was by a senior, Ryan Magrann.
Touchdowns were scored by Juniors Elias Mayo (3), Jake Diaz (2), and QB Christian Jabbar one, all rushing. And that 2015 Frosh class I mentioned above did contribute greatly as now sophomores – five reached paydirt. Chase Patterson (6), Brad Kraut, and Sammy Vaniver had rushing TDs. Andrew Vera caught a TD pass from Jabbar, and Nick Gallo snagged a Jabbar aerial TD and also returned a blocked punt for a TD on defense.
Jabbar (Jr) was the HM all conference QB for 2016. Patterson was 3rd team, behind seniors and juniors at RB. Vera was 3rd team, again, every one above him were upperclassmen. Sophomore Nick Gallo was FIRST TEAM tight end all conference as a sophomore. He was also second- team DE for 2016. Gallo and Patterson are legacy names at Council Rock South and should be watched as potential all conference residents.
The offensive line is the same story. Only one returned from 2015, senior Andrew Short 5-11 285. Pre-season listed seven O linemen, and only two, including Short were seniors. And junior John Dooley 6-2 270 had a great year making 3rd team OL and FIRST team DL, all conference. An HM also went to another Golden Hawk OL, junior Joe Erardi 6-0 215. And two other sophomores display good size with growth potential for the job, Shane Anderson 6-1 255, and Shamir Parker, 5-10 245.
Gallo is the only returning wide receiver, but he was the most productive one and at 6-4 215 is a good target.
The two returning RBs accounted for 50% of all Hawk TDs in 2016, Patterson and Mayo. The Hawks potentially can return experience at just about EVERY offensive position for 2017.
On paper, that cannot be said of the defensive side of the ball, based on pre-season expected starters. But we do not know how many, and what players did get backup experience. The 5-man DL lost three seniors. But Gallo and Dooley represent two fine returnees. Short (285) and Benner (265) will be sorely missed to graduation.
Coach Bedesem thought Benner may have been the team’s number one potential D1 athlete. Tyler Berghaier 6-0 185 is the only one of three LBs returning, and the two gone – Magrann and Mackin are truly losses to replace. Returning Tyler was accorded 3rd team all conference though, as was departing Magrann.
Only two DBs were listed pre-season, and one returns; Shane Carter 5-10 165. He was 3rd team all conference and a departing senior Nick Lauletta was accorded HM all conference, but of course is lost to graduation. Senior placekicker Brett Gold was also lost to graduation.
It appears that no one in the conference will return as much on the offense as CRS for 2017. But there will be some gaps in the D to fill. The 2016 offense struggled with inexperience and recorded a 12.2 ppg average. I would expect that to improve for 2017. The D yielded 27.4 ppg and even in this era of high-powered offenses; that is too much, unless you also have a dynamic scoring offense yourself to offset the fact.
Council Rock South all conference for 2016 – First team: Nick Gallo SOPH TE, Alex Benner OL, and John Dooley DL. Second team: Nick Gallo SOPH DE. Third team: Chase Patterson SOPH RB, Andrew Vera SOPH WR, John Dooley DL, Alex Benner DL, Ryan Magrann LB, Tyler Berghaier LB, Shane Carter DB, and Andy Witten P. HM: Christian Jabber QB, Joe Erardi OL, and Nick Lauletta DB.
The Golden Hawks top the conference (tie) in 16 returning experienced men for 2017. But, in addition, they also top the conference (alone) in returning all-conference players with 12. Chief need – placekicker.
There should be improvement for sure in the Golden Hawks next season. The only question is will the challenge for the top be next year, or a season yet away next year. It appears that the fine Frosh team of 2015 is indeed paying dividends.
Council Rock North. Although in general never a power-football school program, the Indians are not used to basement dwelling either; in any sport.
Not much worked for the Indians in the 2016 football season. The roster listed 60 names, big enough, but not the numbers of years back (even after the 2002 school district split). Perhaps the usual chemistry and newness issues with a coaching change played a part in the season results.
Despite the loss of perhaps the top football/baseball athlete to ever attend Rock to graduation, I would not think that high school football athletes would linger thoughts about that; but for four years he had been the major part of the offense at Rock North.
From the outset it seemed the hex sign was on the team. They had no week one game (or by PIAA officially week 0); schedule mishap – one game experience behind starting out. Then the first two non-league games are CB South (8-3), Coatesville (11-2); and first league game, Neshaminy (11-1). Additionally, another non-league game was kept on the schedule later in the schedule, CB East (also 8-3).
The Indians struggled on both sides of the ball, averaging 13.3 ppg O and allowing 32.9 ppg on defense. Again, the era of high-powered offenses is yielding higher defensive averages for most teams, but you cannot win many with an almost -20 ppg differential.
What can we look forward to for 2017? The bad news is that about 2/3rds of the teams’ TD output in 2016 were by seniors. The good news is that the other 1/3rd was scored by Michael Welde, a returning senior running back/kick returner that is very fast and able to change direction in a flash. And he was the most dynamic and versatile back with long runs and returns in scoring six TDs – 4 rushing, a kickoff return, and a pass reception.
Unfortunately (for 2017) three senior QBs battled to earn the 2016 spot; Evan Devine eventually the choice for 2016. Two junior and two sophomore QBs dotted the Indians roster, but I do not recall seeing any of their names during the season, so do not know who the heir apparent is. Safe to say a fairly inexperienced QB is a possibility, but again, the JV, Frosh, and substitution participation situation is unknown.
Welde at RB and as a kick returner should be a potential weapon and hopefully Matt Shenot 5-8 180, out with an early serious injury last season, can, and will, return to the backfield. Three wide receivers graduated in June 2016. Returning pass receivers who scored last season are but Welde with one TD receiving, and Jason Walter with one TD reception. Walter is a 6-1 215 LB junior in 2016, and obviously saw additional action beyond the LB slot.
Somewhat of a puzzle given the 2016 season results is presented in that the 2016 team started with 5 experienced offensive linemen. And one was senior Pat Bartlett 6-5 315 who was entertaining offers from Illinois, Syracuse, Monmouth, and Florida Atlantic among others. Regardless, two were juniors and return for 2017 hopefully – Mark Anastasi 6-3, 260, and Dom Hipple 5-11, 235.
As with the O, the defensive side of the ball has gaps to fill for 2017. The 3-man D line returns only one – Alec Leyferman 6-1 250. Likewise only one of the 3 listed LBs return – Jason Walter 6-1 215 returning for his senior season. Au contraire, 3 of 4 DBs return for 2017. Nick Muro 5-8 160, Andrew Cabo 5-9 165, and Michael Oudenne 5-8 160 are the returnees.
No kickers were listed on the roster, but Alexio Troia, a junior, did the kicking and I would assume returns for next season.
Indian all conference for 2016 – First team: Pat Bartlett OL and Mason Luff LB. Second team: Michael Welde RB, Jason Walter TE, Mark Anastasi OL, and Pat Bartlett DL. Third team: None. HM: Andrew Kelly RB, Phil Huddy WR, Shane Oros OL, Alec Leyferman DL, Ethan Hines DE, Jason Walter LB, and TJ Ayer DB.
CR North is in a tie of three teams with 11 players returning for 2017. Four teams return more. Five all-conference selections return, tied for second to the least of the seven conference teams. Chief need – QB and greater aggressive defense.
It would appear that there are many gaps and questions to be taken care of to allow the Indians to escape the cellar next season. Unlike their sister school who was also inexperienced, the Indians lost many seniors while the Golden Hawks return many of their underclassmen. And with the rebirth of the Bensalem program and strong experience and staff replacement at Truman, the conference may just be a bit stronger in 2017, at least for in-conference competition.
It would appear that based on returning experience and all-conference selections, the National may be the stronger of the two big SOL conferences this season. The teams in the National return 91 experience positions, the Continental 75. The National returns 50 all-conference choices, the Continental 32. It appears that the Continental teams, generally speaking, were the hardest hit by graduation.
Will the Skins be as good next year as this year because they are “Neshaminy”?
Will the Ghosts maintain the great turnaround experienced in the 2016 season?
Ditto for Bensalem, a marked improvement in 2016; one-time or sustaining?
Will the Falcons snap back to a contender, or will it take a slow build back?
Will the returning experience at Truman and new coaching staff meld a tough out?
Is it a turnaround year for the Golden Hawks, or are they as we say, “a year away”?
Was it just a one-year dynamic at Rock North, or will it take some time to right the ship?
A possible 2017 finish:
- Neshaminy 2. Abington 3. Council Rock South 4. Bensalem 5. Truman 6. Pennsbury 7. Council Rock North.
General note: These team capsules are meant for off-season reading, and should be taken with a grain of salt. At no time do I suppose I know something the capable coaches and staffs; players and administrations of the schools do not know. Nor will many of the readers not know. But it is an honest effort of what I saw in person and my interpretation of possible teams’ movement for 2017 based on the teams’ 2016 pre-season published starting lineups, the teams’ all-conference selections, known graduation losses, and prominent players returning. I can have no knowledge of players entering or leaving a school system, and very little knowledge of experience gained by players substituting in 2016.
Many readers will have a better knowledge of the particular team they follow than I do, but hopefully; putting this compendium of each conference in writing will provide some insight and off-season reading.
Bucks County Courier Times/Intelligencer
Philly.com high school sports
team’s in narrative football home websites
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: