JA'QUAN NEWTON is gone so that means Ss. Neumann-Goretti High will fold up shop and give up on chasing consecutive championship No. 7, right?
"This is the fifth funeral I've had as a coach so I'm used to it," N-G coach Carl Arrigale said. "Since the first time we had a championship and lost some of our guys . . . we're not going to go quietly. People will know they're in a game with us."
The Saints also graduated Jamal Custis (Syracuse, football) while Tony Toplyn and Troy Harper are both now hooping at Campbell University.
But, over 10 of the last 14 seasons, the Saints have seized crowns while the rest of the PCL fell short.
With Newton, the PCL's all-time leading scorer (1,972), putting in work at the University of Miami, Lamarr "Fresh" Kimble (Saint Joseph's University commit) now headlines for N-G.
However, the 6-foot senior guard will have help from Quade Green, a 5-11, sophomore guard and Vaughn Covington, a 5-11, junior wing. Green and Covington are the last remaining major contributors to last season's championship team (PCL and PIAA AAA).
Contenders to the throne in AAA play will again be Archbishop Carroll, led by senior forwards Derrick Jones (UNLV) and Ernest Aflakpui (Temple), who is currently injured.
In AAAA play, Roman Catholic, which beat N-G in the regular season last year before falling in the championship game, is led by junior guard Tony Carr and seniors TreVaughn Wilkerson and Gemil Holbrook.
Chris Clover again gets top billing for St. Joseph's Prep in his final season before he flies with the collegiate Hawks.
La Salle soared to improbable heights last season after a runner-up finish in the Class AAAA state title. The Explorers, who finished fourth in the PCL regular season last year, are led by seniors Najee Walls, David Krmpotich (Colgate) and Shawn Witherspoon.
In AA, Conwell-Egan and West Catholic will compete for supremacy. The Eagles are led by junior guards LaPri McCray-Pace and Stevie Jordan, while versatile senior wing Jahmil Harris facilitates for the Burrs.
Sean Ryan and Jack Concannon will X-and-O for the first time with Bishop McDevitt and Bonner-Prendergast, respectively.
Ryan was an assistant for former longtime coach Jack Rutter (19th seasons) and also served as interim coach in 2005 while the now-retired Rutter battled cancer. Ryan is a 1996 McDevitt grad and also coached eight seasons at Friends Select.
Concannon is a 1983 Monsignor Bonner grad, who also coached the school from 1991 to 1996, earning a 76-55 record.
Chris Podsobinski is also a first-year skipper for Lansdale Catholic. Podsobinski played as a Crusader (2002-2003) after transferring from Owen J. Roberts High in Pottstown. He also walked on at West Chester.
(Win totals heading into season)
Coach: Paul Romanczuk, 12th year (missed '05 on medical leave). Education: Carroll, Penn. Career: 197-102.
Last year: 23-5, 11-2.
Savvy seven: Derrick Jones, 6-7, F; Samir Talyor, 6-0, G; Ryan Daly, 6-4, F; Josh Sharkey, 5-10, G; John Rigsby, 6-3, G; David Beatty, 6-3, G; Jesse McPherson, 6-5, F (Ernest Aflakpui, 6-9, F, currently injured)
Romanczuk's comment: "We're figuring out how to battle through some early-season adversity with the belief that the best is yet to come."
Coach: Bernie Rogers, 15th year.
Education: Ryan, Ursinus. Career: 202-148. Last year: 10-12, 2-11.
Savvy seven: Austin Chabot, 6-4, F; Austin Slawter, 5-9, G; Kevin Nichols, 5-8, G; Izaiah Brockington, 5-10, G; Fred Killian, 6-5, F. Chris Kuhar, 5-11, G; Chris Guest, 6-1, G.
Rogers' comment: "Trying to get ready for our league."
Coach: John Mosco, second year. Education: St. John Neumann. Career: 11-12.
Last year: 11-12, 7-6.
Savvy seven: Luke Connaghan, 6-4, F; Cody Fitzpatrick, 5-9, G; Tommy Funk, 6-0, G; Tyree Pickron, 6-3, F; Jason Babb, 6-2, G; Collin Gillespie, 6-0, G; Ryan Neher, 6-4, F.
Mosco's comment: "We're experienced with upper classmen but inexperienced with minutes."
Sean Ryan: Education: Bishop McDevitt, La Salle University. Career: 0-0.
Last year: 12-13, 5-8.
Savvy seven: Jayson Clark, 5-11, G; Fateem Jackson, 6-4, F; Allen Harmon, 6-1, F; Emanuel Folkes, 6-4, F; Isaiah Brooks, 6-3, F; Qadir Burgess, 6-1, G; Jaron Macon, 6-2, G.
Ryan's comment: "We are striving to get better every day. We believe our hard work will translate to success on and off the floor."
Coach: Jack Concannon, first season (also Monsignor Bonner from 1991-96) Education: Monsignor Bonner, St. Joseph's University. Career: 76-55.
Last year: 2-20, 0-13.
Savvy seven: Tom McLoone, 6-3, F; Tyler Higgins, 6-4, F; Marques Jackson, 6-6, F; Keith Washington, 5-11, G; Dillon Haas, 6-7, F; Joe Oquendo, 6-3, F; Christian Lane, 5-8, G.
Concannon's comment: "We'll count heavily on our seniors to lead us and carry us. Hopefully, we'll be competitive in the league this season."
Coach: Steve Cloran, second year (also Haverford School, 2003-11). Education: Cardinal O'Hara, St. Francis (Pa.). Career: 97-131.
Last year: 6-16, 2-11.
Savvy seven: Tip Swartz, 6-4, F; Zakee Griffin, 6-0, G; Kairi Jones, 5-10, G; Lou Repsys, 6-8, F; Ahmad Williams, 6-1, G; Ahmin Williams, 6-1, G; Alvin Eburuoh, 6-3, F.
Cloran's comment: "Stop. Score. Win."
Coach: Frank Sciolla, second year. Education: St. Joseph's Prep, Cabrini. Career: 15-8.
Last year: 15-8, 6-7.
Savvy seven: Stevie Jordan, 5-10, G; LaPri McCray-Pace, 6-2, G; Chase Kumor, 6-3, F; Jordan Burney, 6-1, G; Vinny Dalessandro, 6-7, F; James Thompson, 6-0, G; Sean Kelly, 6-4, G.
Sciolla's comment: "We are practicing and playing hard in the hopes of participating in the ever-popular district tournament."
Coach: Sean Tait, sixth year (also Wood, 2009). Education: Judge, Cabrini. Career: 64-48; 56-56 at Judge.
Last year: 8-15, 5-8.
Savvy seven: Will Brazukas, 5-9, G; Marc Rodriguez, 6-0, G; Pat Mulville, 6-2, G; Quincy Reed, 5-11, G; Justin Fleming, 6-1, G; Nick Nowack, 6-3, G; Aaron Higgins, 5-10, G.
Tait's comment: "Last year was our season to gain experience, so now we have some guys back and we're looking to be a few wins better and be in the mix come mid-February."
Coach: Chris Podsobinski, first year. Education: Owen J. Roberts High (Pottstown) and Lansdale Catholic, University of South Florida and West Chester. Career: 0-0.
Last year: 10-12, 5-8.
Savvy seven: Jake Sada, 5-9, G; Ryan Quigley, 5-11, G; Dan Modestine, 6-2, F; Nick Maloney, 5-9, G; Tyler Grant, 6-5, F; Colin McGuire, 6-3, F; Ryan Braun, 6-6, F.
Podsobinski's comment: "With no returning varsity players, it's a fresh start for us. Our goal is to fight our way into one of those last playoff spots, establish ourselves defensively and earn respect."
Coach: Joe Dempsey, 11th year. Education: Archbishop Kennedy, Elizabethtown. Career: 144-114.
Last year: 23-7, 9-4.
Savvy seven: Dan Corr, 6-1, G; Shawn Witherspoon 6-1, G; Najee Walls, 6-0, G; David Krmpotich, 6-8, F; Shane Stark, 6-6, F; Ryan McTamney, 6-5, F; Jarrod Stukes, 5-8, G.
Dempsey's comment: "Going to the state championship was a huge accomplishment for our players and our program. All that said, we're just trying to get through the league - one game at a time. It is as strong top to bottom as any year I can remember."
Coach: Chris McNesby, seventh year.
Education: Roman, East Stroudsburg. Career: 112-49.
Last year: 23-5, 13-0.
Savvy seven: TreVaughn Wilkerson, 6-6, F; Gemil Holbrook, 6-4, G; Manny Taylor, 6-6, F-C; Tony Carr, 6-4, G; Nazeer Bostick, 6-3, F; D'Andre Vilmar, 6-3, G; Paul Newman, 6-7, F
McNesby's comment: "Good group of kids working hard who want to be good. Senior leadership will be key."
ST. JOSEPH'S PREP
Coach: William "Speedy" Morris, 14th year (also Roman, 1968-81; Penn Charter, 1983-84). Education: Roman. Career: 347-82; 275-86 at SJ Prep.
Last year: 16-7, 8-5.
Savvy seven: Chris Clover, 6-3, G/F; James McGovern, 6-0, G; Brendan Burns, 6-4, F; Pete Gayhardt, 6-5, F; Chris Montie, 6-5, F; Jack Henkels, 6-0, G; Mark Scarlett, 6-0, G.
Morris' comment: "Winning is a combination of hard work, competiveness and desire."
Coach: Carl Arrigale, 17th year. Education: Penn Charter, Lycoming. Career: 376-88.
Last year: 27-4, 12-1.
Savvy seven: Lamar Kimble, 6-0, G; Vaughn Covington, 5-11, G; Quade Green, 5-11, G; Zane Martin, 6-2, G; Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, 6-8, F; Rasheed Browne, 6-2, G; Emil Moody, 6-6, F.
Arrigale's comment: "We're going to be fun, I'll tell ya that."
Coach: Jasmine "Jazz" Williams, second year. Education: West Catholic, Millersville, West Chester. Career: 12-14.
Last year: 12-14, 6-7.
Savvy seven: Jamil Harris, 6-4, F; Pasquale DiMascio, 6-4 F; Brandon Cole, 6-4, F; Jeohnni Moore, 5-8, G; Stephon Maddox, 5-8, G; Keyohn Maddox, 5-8, G; Stefan Jones, 6-4, F.
Williams' comment: "Trust your teammates, trust your system, trust yourself . . . if we can consistently do this, we'll be fine."
Returning all-Catholic players (selected by coaches)
Chris Clover, SJP, G; Derrick Jones, Carroll, F; Lamarr Kimble, N-G, G; Ernest Aflakpui, Carroll, F.
Dave Krmpotich, LS, F; Manny Taylor, Roman, F; Najee Walls, LS, G; Luke Connaghan, Wood, F; Stevie Jordan, C-E, G; LaPri McCray-Pace, C-E, G.
Tony Carr, Roman, G; Jahmil Harris, W-C, F; Shawn Witherspoon, LS, G.