Welcome newcomer.

A college recruiting Web site note on former American Christian player George Harper says he's a "long athletic forward whose massive hands engulf the ball and make for soft shots."

Any coach would like to have an impact player like that in his gym. And that's what happened to Phoenixville coach Bill Detwiler. With American Christian in Aston closing, Harper's family looked to move out of Philadelphia.

"They had a friend in Phoenixville and moved here,' said a grateful Detwiler.

In addition to having those massive hands, the rest of Harper goes 6-foot-7. He's just what Detwiler needed to battle defending champion Pottstown in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Both teams are in the Frontier Division.

The Phantoms will have a couple of pillars inside with Harper and 6-6 Greg Peters. Other key players are Yusef Brown and Corey Gordon.

Key pair return.

Although Pottstown lost three players to graduation and four more to transfers, a pair of the league's top players return to the team that won the PAC-10 and District 1 Class AAA crowns.

"It's our goal to win our division first," said coach John Iswalt, "but we know we have to finish in the top two to be able to win the league championship. Last season, Pottstown defeated Liberty Division champ Spring-Ford for the overall title, then went on to win the District 1 Class AAA crown.

"It sounds like [Harper] could be a difference-maker," added Iswalt.

New to the block

. Methacton makes its debut in the league this season having left the American Conference of the Suburban One League.

"In the long run, I think it will be a good for our school and community," Warriors coach Adam Slavin said of the move to the PAC-10. The Warriors were 13-12 a year ago.

"The word was that we were going to be moved to the [SOL's] Continental Conference, which would have meant some longer bus rides. I think we'll be able to spark some rivalries."

Trying to spark something for this season will be senior guard J.J. Klinger and senior forward Tim Smith.

Two key Rams back.

Spring-Ford returns three players from its Liberty Division championship team, including 6-5 senior center Scott Sisson. Senior forward Doug Berzins averaged 14 points last season.

"I expect us to be in the mix at the finish," said Rams coach Mike Young.

Father-son combo.

Veteran St. Pius coach Randy Reber will again be directing his junior son, Ron. A guard, the younger Reber hit 54 three-pointers last year while averaging 10 points game. He was an honorable mention all-PAC.

Andrew Meszaro will serve as a cocaptain. Sophomore Paul Mills is being counted on to do a little bit of everything for the Lions.

Around the league.

Mike Fergus is the new coach at Upper Perkiomen. He had been at North Penn for the previous 12 years. "I wanted to get back to a smaller [school] situation." he said. "We have a good nucleus." That includes 6-5 senior Tom Pace.

Jim Stinger is the new coach at Perkiomen Valley. He had served as an assistant at Phoenixville for five years.

Owen J. Roberts and Pottsgrove will have two of the league's tallest players in 6-8 senior Kevin Henry and 6-6 junior Joe Bell, respectively. Henry has been hurt on occasion and had battled a fractured toe but seems to be fine. Seniors Tyler Seltzer and Seth McNaughton will complement Henry.

Boyertown will be looking to improve on a 7-16 record last season.

- Don Beideman