Class AA power. With the arrival of former North Catholic quarterback Anthony Reid and a solid one-two rushing punch in Brandon Hollomon and Joshua Mathis, West Catholic is primed for a run at the PIAA Class AA state championship.
Reid threw for 1,100 yards last season while guiding the Falcons to a 6-5 record. Hollomon totaled more than 1,400 rushing yards, with Mathis chipping in 900.
Reid's receiving targets are Quran Kent, Jaelen Strong-Rankin and David Sherman, another North transfer.
"It's probably the best group of receivers I've ever had," Burrs coach Brian Fluck said.
Welcome aboard. Roman Catholic's depth significantly improved with the addition of transfers from North and Cardinal Dougherty.
Former North players expected to contribute right away are receiver/cornerback Taishan Tucker, two-way end Jack Schanz (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), and two-way linemen Kerry Shields (6-3, 260) and Tyrone Brown (6-1, 225).
The top Dougherty imports are two-way linemen Khalif Jackson (6-1, 250), Kyle McDowell (6-1, 250), and Jolan Hardy (6-1, 230).
New home. Lansdale Catholic has moved from Class AAA to AA, where it will compete with West, Bishop McDevitt, Conwell-Egan, and Neumann-Goretti for top honors. Jim Algeo enters his 43d season at the helm.
The Crusaders' catalyst is Devon Barrett, a 6-2, 230-pound senior fullback and middle linebacker. He was a first-team all-Catholic pick on offense last year.
Battering ram. Cardinal O'Hara's already loaded backfield got even better when Brendan McLaughlin, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior fullback, transferred from Avon Grove over the summer.
Last season, McLaughlin, who doubles as a linebacker, rushed for 1,440 yards and 13 TDs. The Lions' wing-T offense is also sparked by 6-2, 200-pound QB Ryan Loughlin, halfback/receiver Adam Dempsey, and 6-1, 205-pound tight end Drew Formica.
Marked improvement. Second-year coach Frank McArdle is confident that Archbishop Ryan, with a crop of promising transfers and underclassmen, will bounce back from a 1-10 campaign. "We're better, and we're deeper," he said.
Dillon Cave returns at QB. Marcus Allen, a 5-7, 155-pound tailback and transfer from Dougherty, takes over as the rushing spark plug. Blocking support comes from fullbacks Anthony Victor and Connor Reilly, formerly of Father Judge.
Three North imports are expected to be regulars: defensive ends Mike Puchalski and Brian Sweeney, and receiver/outside linebacker Pat Boylan.
Moving forward. Judge, eager to prove it can survive Tony Smith's transfer to George Washington, has tabbed 6-3, 175-pound junior Brian Hennessey as its new quarterback.
Until the Crusaders find a go-to rusher, they will experiment with as many as six players, including Nick Myers, Jones Twenefor, Raul Quinones, and Matt Smalley.
Savvy seniors. Monsignor Bonner, boosted by four third-year starters, looks equipped to keep pace with Class AAA rivals Wood and O'Hara.
Quarterback Sean Quarterman, halfback/receiver/free safety Jamie Juisti, linebacker Marcus Collins, and wideout/cornerback Anthony Jackson have been fixtures in the starting lineup since they were sophomores.
Numbers game. As always, Conwell-Egan, which started with 38 varsity players, banks on solid play from a number of two-way starters.
Among this season's workhorses will be 5-11, 225-pound guard/middle linebacker Austin Oscovitch, two-way tackle Steve Humma (6-0, 260), and QB/free safety John Clark.
King of the hill. Don't expect much of a letdown from La Salle, which won its second straight Catholic League championship and earned the Class AAAA title last season.
Villanova-bound tailback Jamal Abdur-Rahman, fullback Tim Wade, and wideout Kevin Forster are back on offense, as are linemen Ryan Geiger (6-0, 265), Cameron Cappo (6-1, 245), and Joe Naji (6-1, 225).
With coach Drew Gordon committed to keeping his best players on the field, Geiger, Cappo and Naji will be positioned on the defensive line, Abdur-Rahman at cornerback, Wade at outside linebacker, and Forster at safety.
Back for more. Wood, the Class AAA state runner-up in 2008 and a semifinalist last season, has what it takes to make another bid for the crown.
The Vikings have three Division I-A recruits: multi-purpose standout Desmon Peoples, coming over from St. Joseph's Prep; two-way tackle Frank Taylor (6-4, 275); and two-way end Colin Thompson (6-5, 245).
Ample speed. With its overall quickness, Bishop McDevitt will keep Class AA foes on their toes.
Tailback Gary Postell, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, and split end Nick Newman, a transfer and first-team all-league performer from Cardinal Dougherty, are among the top speedsters.
Matt Conroy and Martin Henry, likewise quick, were battling to replace Drew Siegfried at quarterback.
- Rick O'Brien