Pennsylvania's best high school football teams, preseason players of the year and games to watch.
Pennsylvania Preseason Top 10
1. Gateway Gators (Monroeville)
Loaded with Division I athletes, Gateway is the favorite to finally capture district and Class 4A state titles. Star wideout/defensive back Montae Nicholson headlines a half dozen D-I prospects, and new coach Donnie Militzer might have one of the elite secondaries in the state.
2. St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks (Philadelphia)
Prep lost in the district final, but some youthful Hawks, including junior running back Olamide Zaccheaus, should challenge again.
3. Central Catholic Vikings (Pittsburgh)
Linebacker Niko Thorpe and defensive back Tre Tarpley lead a defense that pitched five shutouts last year.
4. West Allegheny Indians (Imperial)
Now juniors, quarterback Andrew Koester, running back Chayse Dillon and linebacker Armand Dellovade could challenge for a state title.
5. Archbishop Wood Vikings (Warminster)
The 2012 Class 3A state runners-up will go with a youth movement behind sophomore quarterback Tom Garlick and junior linebackers Andrew Guckin and Jake Cooper, all D-I prospects.
6. Bishop McDevitt Crusaders (Harrisburg)
Running backs Rashad Lawson (1,002 yards, 12 TDs) and Andre Robinson (1,034 yards, 18 TDs) both return.
7. North Allegheny Tigers (Wexford)
The defending Class 4A state champs reload with senior two-way star Elijah Zeise (four TDs, three INTs) and junior linebacker Layne Skundrich (96 tackles, six sacks).
8. Coatesville Red Raiders
The Class 4A state runners-up return athlete Daquan Worley (1,779 yards, 20 TDs) and linebacker Tyler Burke (208 tackles, 11 sacks).
9. La Salle College Explorers (Wyndmoor)
Jimmy Herron leads the offense, and linebacker Zaire Franklin headlines the defense on a team that’s won four straight district titles.
10. Cardinal O’Hara Lions (Springfield)
Transfer running back J.T. Blyden joins quarterback Dashawn Darden (1,607 yards, 20 TDs) and receiver Thaddius Smith (eight TDs).
Five Can't Miss Matchups
8.31 – Harrisburg at Bishop McDevitt
McDevitt opens its new field, and both teams get a chance to make an early statement.
9.7 – St. Joseph’s Prep at Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)
SJP hops the state line for a game against a perennial top-100 team in the country.
10.4 – Cathedral Prep at McDowell
A heated public/private rivalry game in Erie, the game’s been played every season since 1958.
10.4 – Gateway at North Allegheny
Top challenger Gateway gets a shot at dethroning the defending Class 4A state champs.
11.28 – Phillipsburg (N.J.) vs. Easton
Financial woes nearly ended Easton’s program, giving the nation’s oldest interstate Thanksgiving game a new perspective.
2013 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Robert Martin, RB, Harrisburg
Senior, 6-0, 191
Martin missed his sophomore year at Steel-High, but his transfer to Harrisburg injected life into the moribund program and shot him onto the recruiting radar. Martin ran for 1,812 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games as a junior and is poised for a dominant encore performance in 2013.
2013 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Dravon Henry, DB, Aliquippa
Senior, 5-11, 190
Henry has 15 interceptions in two seasons, and early comparisons are being made to fellow Aliquippa grad Darrelle Revis. Henry’s also an accomplished running back for the perennial contender. He chipped in 1,919 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns to go with his presence in the secondary.
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