Pioneers follow Cohen.

Whether he's 6-foot-8, 6-9 or 6-10, as he's been listed, Conestoga senior Jake Cohen is bound to make his presence felt in the Central League race.

As expected, the Pioneers are among the favorites this season as the league - with the addition of Garnet Valley and Harriton - goes to a two-division format.

The Davidson-bound Cohen helped lead Conestoga to a 20-5 record last season and a share of the league title with Ridley. Both teams finished 15-3 in league play. Cohen averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Coach Mike Troy has an abundance of seniors with which to surround Cohen. Guard Mike O'Hara gave the Pioneers 14 points and four assists per game last season, while guard Mike DeAngelo added 12 points and five assists. A trio of 6-4 players, Rob Scott, Doug Jakiela and Paul Mita, give Troy some added height.

New format.

Under the new setup, the league's six largest schools - Conestoga, Lower Merion, Upper Darby, Ridley, Haverford and Garnet Valley - will play in the big schools division. All are Class AAAA schools. Springfield (Delaware County), Radnor, Harriton, Marple-Newtown, Strath Haven and Penncrest will make up the small schools division. All are Class AAA, except Penncrest, the smallest of the AAAA schools.

Schools will play each team in their division twice and cross over to the other division once.

The four teams with the best record, regardless of division, will make the league's inaugural postseason playoffs. League officials decided there will be no playoffs, however, if one team goes through the league unbeaten.

Robbins leads Aces.

One of the other teams expected to challenge Conestoga for the championship is Lower Merion, which features one of the league's top players in Greg Robbins.

The 6-4 senior forward averaged 14 points a game last season. He has committed to Richmond.

Two other key components for the Aces will be Harley Williams and Eric Stahler, a pair of 6-4 seniors.

Royals in hunt

. Also expected to be in the championship hunt is Upper Darby, which was 13-12 overall last season and finished third in the league. The Royals return eight of their top nine players.

One of the reasons for their optimism is 6-2 senior Khayri West, who is nursing an ankle injury. Chase Peterson, a 6-4 senior forward, should provide help.

Lions eye turnaround.

Penncrest went 11-13 overall, and 7-11 in the league last year. Coach Mike Doyle hopes the Lions can turn things around this season.

In order to do that, he'll be counting heavily on 6-6 Marvin Holman-Little. Originally from Philadelphia, where he attended several schools, Holman-Little was granted an extra year of eligibility by the PIAA for hardship reasons.

Around the league.

Ridley, which shared the league title last season, and Haverford suffered big graduation losses. The Green Raiders will look to junior varsity players Cameron Gunther (6-8) and Mark Dziadon. Haverford will count on Liam McGrath, Shane McNichol and Ryan Oakes, a transfer from Episcopal Academy, for leadership. Harriton, 8-18 overall last season in the DelVal League, is marking its return to the Central League.

- Don Beideman