Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10
1. LaSalle College (Wyndmoor)
(1-1: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 1.)
2. Ridley (Folsom)
(2-0: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 2.)
3. Archbishop Wood (Warminster)
(2-0: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 4.)
4. Roman Catholic (Philadelphia)
(2-0: Weeks rated: 2. Last Week: 5.)
5. St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia)
(1-1: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 3.)
(2-0: Weeks rated: 2. Last Week: 5.)
7. North Penn (Lansdale)
(0-1: Weeks rated: 2. Last Week: 7.)
8. Interboro (Prospect Park)
(2-0: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 8.)
9. Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield)
(2-0: Weeks rated: 3. Last week: 9.)
10. West Catholic (Philadelphia)
(1-1: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 10.)
When it comes to southeastern Pennsylvania football, talk across the state in the past usually centered on La Salle College, the defending PIAA Class AAAA (large school) state champions, traditional powers St. Joseph's Prep, North Penn and Ridley. It was rare that Archbishop Wood even came into the conversation. Even to an extent today, you don't hear the Vikings as a team to watch on too many lists.
You better check again.
Wood, under fourth-year coach Steve Devlin, a former St. Joe's Prep assistant, has steadily become a powerhouse that merits mention with the other top teams in SE Pennsylvania. The Vikings were Class AAA state finalists in 2008 and reached the state semifinals last year — each time losing to the eventual state champion (Thomas Jefferson in 2008 and Selinsgrove in 2009).
The Vikings are 2-0 this season, and could have arguably the best team in the state, regardless of classification, by the end of the season. Wood picked up explosive senior tailback Desmon Peoples, a transfer from St. Joseph's Prep who has been offered a spot by Rutgers. The Vikings also feature a young core, led by 6-1, 185-pound junior quarterback Joey Monaghan, who threw for a single-game school record 295 yards in Wood's 42-13 victory over Chestnut Hill Academy last weekend.
Protecting Monaghan has a mammoth offensive front that averages 250 pounds, anchored by 6-4, 285-pound OL/DL Fran Taylor (Pitt offer) and 6-5, 245-pound junior tight end Colin Thompson (offers from Boston College and Rutgers). Add in stalwarts like 6-2, 185-pound senior WR/LB Sam McCain, the cousin of Atlanta Falcons star Matt Ryan who has been willing to play multiple positions to do anything needed for the Vikings to win, and there is a strong nucleus here that says this team can go deep into the PIAA Class AAA playoffs again.
So you better get familiar fast with Wood, which has long been in the shadows of the La Salles, Preps and North Penns for some time. That should stop now.
"I'll tell you what, in a way, I don't care," Devlin said. "I care about the kids on our team and what they think. In some ways, I have to admit, we don't get the respect we deserve and what the kids have done. We're a Class AAA school that's always played the big schools. We think we're a very good team, and the program speaks for itself.
"I see things coming around, though. We're starting to get noticed, but it's just the fact that some people only look at your classification. And to some people, Class AAAA schools are all that matter. When we lost to Thomas Jefferson two years ago, they were the best team in the state, Class AAA or not; and West Catholic two years ago was probably the second-best team in the state. If people want to look at us as a small school that can't compete with the big schools, that's fine.”
But an attitude like that would be a major mistake for any big-time program that has to line up against the Vikings.HERE COME THE PATRIOTSArchbishop Carroll (Radnor)
won just three games last year — and only four games the year before that. So it has been a little bit of a bumpy road the last few years for the Patriots, who had a number of strong teams in the early 2000s.
But it seems as if the Carroll program is heading back into a winning direction, getting off a 2-0 start, outscoring its first two opponents 75-6.
"I wasn't sure what we would have this year," Pats coach Dan Bielli said. "I still don't know. But I like what I've seen so far."
What Bielli has seen so far is junior quarterback Jalal Timmons run through defenses, and another weapon in junior wide receiver Teron Dobbs, who can stretch defenses and makes things interesting when he's used as a wildcat option.
"We're confident, we know we can play now," Bielli said. "It's a tough schedule ahead and we're trying to take it one at a time — but it's tough for humans to do that. You can't help yourself but look ahead. We still have Cardinal O'Hara ahead, Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Wood."
Carroll is a victim of timing. The Pats were very, very good in the beginning of the decade, before the Philadelphia Catholic League entered the PIAA and statewide playoffs. Carroll has never qualified for the PIAA playoffs. That could change this year.GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND
Here are a few southeastern Pennsylvania games that bear watching this weekend:La Salle (1-1) at West Catholic (1-1), Friday 7 p.m.:
La Salle, the defending PIAA Class AAAA state champions, lost a tough one to North Jersey power Bergen Catholic, 22-21. The Explorers had the ball on the Bergen 14 when they fumbled in the closing seconds and Bergen recovered for the victory.
This should be a high-scoring affair, featuring two of the most explosive offenses in the area. West Catholic logged one in the victory column by beating Monsignor Bonner 27-6, making up for the season-opening loss to Roman Catholic. La Salle opened the season in highly impressive fashion, rolling by area power North Penn 27-14.St. Joseph’s Prep (1-1) at North Penn (1-1), Saturday 7:30 p.m.:
The Hawks got drubbed 35-7 by North Jersey powerhouse St. Peter's last week while North Penn was faced with a unique situation just two weeks into the season, having to beat Lansdale Catholic, which the Knights did easily, 42-0.
Falling to 0-2 with the prospect of facing a good Prep team this Saturday, and the possibility of dropping to 0-3, could have really stung any playoff hopes the Knights had this season. Instead, North Penn looks to be in a good spot, and Prep will be trying to look for some offense after being stymied by St. Peter's.Joseph Santoliquito covers high schools for the Philadelphia Daily News and is a contributor to MaxPreps.com. He can be contacted at JSantoliquito@yahoo.com.