Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10
1. La Salle College (Wyndmoor)
(11-1: Weeks rated: 13. Last Week: 1.)
2. Archbishop Wood (Warminster)
(12-0: Weeks rated: 13. Last Week: 2.)
3. North Penn (Lansdale)
(12-1: Weeks rated: 13. Last Week: 3.)
4. West Catholic (Philadelphia)
(10-2: Weeks rated: 13. Last Week: 4.)
5. Neshaminy (Langhorne)
(12-1: Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 6.)
6. Strath Haven (Wallingford)
(12-1: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 7.)
7. Council Rock South (Holland)
(11-2: Season over.)
8. Bayard Rustin (West Chester)
(11-2: Season over.)
(10-3: Season over.)
(9-3: Season over.)Click here to view MaxPreps' Pennsylvania football playoff brackets.
This could be the year the threshold breaks. West Catholic has been banging on the PIAA Class AA state championship door the last two years, reaching the state championship in 2008 and the state semifinals last year, losing to eventual state champion Lancaster Catholic and star quarterback Kyle Smith.
This season, the five-time defending Philadelphia Catholic League Class AA champions and three-time defending Philadelphia City champions (District 12) are once again the favorites to reach the PIAA Class state finals.
Standing in the way of the Burrs is District 11 champion Northern Lehigh (Slatington)
, a team that carries a 13-0 overall record and is led by senior tailback Cody Remaley
, who's rushed for an incredible 2,248 yards (averaging 172.9 yards/per game) and 37 touchdowns this season. The 5-10, 185-pound Remaley owns every Northern Lehigh school record.
The Burrs and Northern Lehigh will meet Friday night at 7 p.m. at Allentown's Birney Crum Stadium.
West Catholic coach Brian Fluck has a good idea of what his team is up against — an explosive offense that can put piles of points up in a hurry, just like the Burrs.
"Cody is their all-time leading rusher, and they run a lot of toss, power and counters with him," Fluck said. "They also have an outstanding wide receiver, Jake Kern
, who they put into the wildcat and can do plenty of things, too. When they need a big play, they go to Cody, who's their bulldog. Our goal will be to concentrate on their big weapons and try and stop them."
Fluck right now likes the way his team looks. After beginning the season 1-2, the Burrs enter the game with a nine-game winning streak and a 10-2 record. The Burrs average 35.1 points a game and have outscored their opponents by an outrageous 422-116, blasting teams 210 to 36 in the second half.
A young offensive line, featuring junior right tackle Eric Wyant
(6-2, 215), junior guards Mike Makor
(6-3, 315) and T.J. Waters
(6-3, 210) and junior center Dominic Digalbo
(6-4, 255), along with senior left tackle Rodney Linder
(6-0, 275), has merged together to create space for West Catholic's talented and swift running corps.
"We're a lot more confident in ourselves, we've walking with a little more swagger, and that's come up front with those guys," Fluck said. "Our guys all are on the same page now, and they were young in the beginning of the season, it took some time to get together. Once we got that going, we get the ball in our skill-position players' hands to make things happen."
Seniors Brandon Hollomon
and Joshua Mathis
have done the bulk of the damage, rushing for a combined 1,890 this season, while new quarterback Anthony Reid
, a transfer from defunct North Catholic, has filled in quite well, throwing for 1,265 yards and 13 touchdowns against three interceptions.
"What I like about our offense is that we're much more balanced than we've been in the past," said Fluck, who watched the Burrs explode against Bok Tech, breaking open a 6-6 tie to score 28 straight unanswered points to win the city title game, 34-6, on Nov. 20.
"I can't say enough about our defense [which is giving up a scant 2.8 yards/per rush and 4.1 yards per/pass]; it's been great all year. We're still the same team we've been in the past. It just took us a little time to get going. But these seniors were sophomores that played in the state championship game in 2008. They saw what it was like for the seniors of that team to walk off the field for the last time without winning the state title. I can tell you, it's a feeling these seniors don't want to experience again."WILL 2010 MARK PHILADELPHIA CATHOLIC LEAGUE DOMINANCE?
With West Catholic in Class AA, Archbishop Wood in Class AAA and defending PIAA Class AAAA (large school) state champion La Salle all still alive in the state championship hunt, it's very possible all three teams could make it to Hersheypark Stadium for championship weekend, Dec. 17-18.
In just three years being affiliated with the PIAA, the Philadelphia Catholic League has become a force across the state. Wood and West reached their respective state championship games in 2008 and La Salle made history in becoming the first Philadelphia Catholic League school to win a state championship in football last year.
None of this surprises West Catholic head coach Brian Fluck. He saw this coming.
"I believe the Philadelphia Catholic League could win three of the four state championships; and I think it's a great tribute to a great league that's always been one of the toughest leagues not just in Pennsylvania, but on the East Coast," Fluck said. "I know people talk a lot about the WPIAL [Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League] around Pittsburgh, but with the talent of three teams we still have alive, I really think we could have three state championships.
"I absolutely feel the Philadelphia Catholic League is the best league in the state, and I have no problems saying that, unless someone comes along and proves otherwise. Remember, this is only our third year in the PIAA and Wood and us have been to state finals, and La Salle won it all last year. It's a league of great coaches, talented players, and it's a league where you play the best all of the time. It's just a shame just one team [from each classification] can advance."Joseph Santoliquito can be contacted at JSantoliquito@yahoo.com.