2018 LHAC Preview

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Crimson's Ghost
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2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Crimson's Ghost » July 17th, 2018, 10:51 pm

Another year, another try.  

1. Forest Hills

KEY Players: Adam Cecere (QB) // Forrest Wolfhope (WR/DB) // Jake Shope (WR/DB)

Forest Hills had a banner year in 2017 with its first District 6 title since 2010.  The Rangers still have some skill in place that it could be another big year in Sidman. Don Bailey is back for another go round and perhaps a back-to-back title is on the horizon. 

The offense starts with senior quarterback Adam Cecere. The future Wake Forest baseball player can really sling it on the football field, and with over 4,600 career passing yards and 1,300 rushing yards and accounting for 67 touchdowns, Cecere may go down as one of the better quarterbacks in Forest Hills history.  His top target Jon Long has graduated, but Forrest Wolfhope, Jake Shope, and Seth Richardson all have talent and experience to make plays. 

Defensively, Forest Hills loses some key players like Eric Elgin and Nick Perratin among others. Still, with guys like Shope and Wolfhopre - the secondary can be a strength. Jason Wissinger and Jake Delic give the Rangers some experienced linebackers. Aidan Balasco should provide a strong anchor up front. 

Bottom Line: Forest Hills won 11 games last season and brought home the District 6-AAA crown.  No reason to think a season like that can’t happen again as long as they stay healthy. 

2. Bishop McCort

KEY Players: Will Miller (QB/S) // Brendon Bair (RB/LB) // Jake Ardary (OT/LB)

Bishop McCort came within a touchdown of winning the District 6-AA championship last season, but will have to replace most of its ground production from a year ago.  Gone are Anthony Walters and Carnell Andrews, a pair of 1,000 yard backs from a year ago.  With a ground oriented offense, where will coach Brian Basile turn for production?

Junior quarterback Will Miller is the team’s leading returning rusher with 827 yards and 10 scores. He needs to improve on his passing to keep teams honest, but if Miller hits the open field he’s one of the faster players in the league. Perhaps McCort goes with another quarterback and slides Miller to running back?  A pair of sophomores, Brendon Bair and Amir Andrews should have every opportunity to be playmakers as well.  Grant Jeanjacquet is another offensive weapon to watch. McCort returns four offensive linemen with starting experience, so that should be a team strength. 

Defensively, seven players are back with starting experience. Bair was the team’s second leading tackler as a freshman, and could be a force again this season. Andrews showed promise late in the season as a corner, and came up with a key interceptions in the District title game against Ligonier. 

Bottom Line: Bishop McCort has seemingly gotten itself back on track after a few years of futility.  With back-to-back district title appearances, there is a group in place that expects to win.  Getting over the hump and winning a district title is the next step.  There’s talent on Osborne Street, and some experience as well with seven starters back on both sides of the ball. 

3. Bishop Guilfoyle

KEY Players: Bryant Speck (OT/DE) / Daniel Potopa (WR/DB) / Kolton McGhee (K/P)

Bishop Guilfoyle is 59-1 over its past 60 games. Of course that one loss came in the district VI title game against Homer-Center, which ended the Marauders’ chance at a state championship four-peat. How does this team respond? It will be interesting to see with a lot of new faces in key places.

Offensively Bishop Guilfoyle loses four of its top five leaders in all-purpose yardage.  So who is going to be the featured players here? At quarterback senior Danny Carrieri played sparingly, but has a little but of game experience.  Also keep an eye on Adam Chadbourn, who could follow his brothers' footsteps as a great player for this program. Caleb Crawford is the top returning rusher, with 128 yards in 2017. The one key returning threat here will be Daniel Potopa, who led BG in receiving a year ago. The line should have some new starters, but look for Bryant Speck to be the leader there. 

On defense, Speck should also be a force on the defensive line.  He has the most game experience among the front seven.  Potopa had five interceptions last season, and his presence in the secondary will be pivotal.  Michael McCall should also be a key for this inexperienced defense. Kolton McGhee is heading to West Virginia as a specialist, and he is one of the best weapons in the conference as a kicker. 

Bottom Line:  Bishop Guilforle lost a lot off of last year’s 12-1 team. The winning streak had to come to an end eventually, and it finally caught up to them. This Bishop Guilfoyle team will still be good, but a lot would need to go right for another undefeated regular season.  I think the league finally has a change to catch up to Justin Wheeler’s squad. 


4. Westmont Hilltop 

KEY Players: Camden Moors (RB/DB) // Tucker Kushner (RB/LB) // Mason Muto (LB)

Westmont has now had back-to-back seven win seasons.  The Hilltoppers’ advanced to the District 6-AA semifinals before falling to rival Bishop McCort. So now where does Westmont go?  I think they could be even better this season. With multiple starters back on both sides of the ball, the Hilltoppers should have another playoff berth on the horizon. 

Offensively, Westmont runs a ball-control offense that is heavy on the run. Camden Moors and Tucker Kushner both enter their senior seasons with some momentum. Both players rushed for 1,000 yards last season and should have the Hilltoppers’ offense moving once again this season. Lee Santee returns at quarterback, and all five starters are back on the line. This offense has a chance to be a well-oiled machine this season. 

Defensively, Westmont returns seven of its top eight tacklers from a year ago. Junior inside linebacker, Mason Muto, was a tackling machine last season and is always around the ball. Also keep an eye on senior safety Michael Barbado.  He recorded 17 tackles in the playoff game against McCort and is poised for a big year.  

Bottom Line: Pat Barron has really helped change the culture for Westmont football.  After years of struggling to win a game, you almost expect them to make the playoffs these days.  7-5 was the mark last season, I think there’s a real chance, and even an expectation it is better this season. 


5.  Richland

KEY Players: Joey Hauser (QB) // Caleb Burke (WR/DB) // Dylan Dininny (OT/DT)

Richland started the 2017 season with a promising 3-1 start, but finished with a 4-6 record.  Brandon Bailey’s team was hit hard by the injury bug last season.  The goal will be to stay healthy, and if they do, they could take another step forward in 2018. 

The offense should be explosive.  Senior quarterback Joey Hauser threw for over 2,000 yards last season. His two favorite targets, Joey Kovachik and Caleb Burke are back to form one of the league’s top receiving duo’s.  Teon Reed will be given the opportunity to be the featured back this season after showing he was capable in spurts last season.  The offensive line should be a strength headlined by senior Dylan Dininny, one of the top college prospects in the conference.  

The defense struggled at time last season, and it needs to be more consistent in 2018. With the majority of the starting unit returning, there is hope it could be better overall this year. Zach Vogelsberger led the Rams’ in tackles last season, with Lucas Sabol right behind him.  The pair should form a solid, experienced linebacker unit in 2018. 

Bottom Line: After going 3-7 in 2016, the Rams moved ahead to 4-6 in 2017.  Now the next step will be is to get to .500 or better and get back in the postseason. All the tools are in place for that to happen and then some.   


6. Greater Johnstown

KEY Players: Roderick Roziek (RB/LB) // Tishaun Carmichael (OL/DL) // D.J Chatman (DE)

There may not be a team in the Laurel Highlands that lost more to graduation than the Johnstown Trojans. Following an 8 win season in 2017, Tony Pena Jr. will have to retool the team and count on some fresh faces this season. 

Johnstown lost nine of its top ten players in all-purpose yardage last season, including do everything quarterback - Austin Barber.  It looks like the quarterback torch will be passed down to Sammy Barber this season. Barber threw for 170 yards last season in limited action. His top playmaker may be senior running back Roderick Roziek. He is the team’s returning rusher (347 yards) and receiver (123 yards). His role will be elevated in a big way this season. 

The defense was also hit hard by graduation. Four of the top five tacklers are gone, but the Trojans do return Tishaun Carmichael, who is coming off a season in which he recorded 10.5 tackles for loss. At 6’2” and 285 pounds, he should be one of the more imposing defensive linemen in the league. 

Bottom Line: Greater Johnstown is the biggest school in the league.  They may not have a lot of returning stars, but there are some talented kids that have been waiting in the wings behind a talented senuor.  Still, it feels like the Trojans have a lot of question marks heading into the season. If they answer them early, sixth may be too low. 


7. Cambria Heights

KEY Players: Tyler Tribes (FB/LB) // Logan Witt (OL/LB) // Damon Maul (TE/DE)

Cambria Heights went 8-4 in 2017. The Highlanders also advanced to the District 6-AA semifinals before falling to eventual champion Ligonier Valley.  It was one of those season that people in Patton won’t soon forget.  Can they have a repeat? It remains to be seen. 

What made Cambria Heights so good last year was the balance they possesses on offense.  The Highlanders had multiple weapons that could make plays, and not just one guy that stood out above the rest.  I think that kind of dynamic can happen again. Tyler Trybus and Cody Stockley are both capable backs that can move the chains.  Damon Maul is a reliable pass-catching tight end.  Now the key will be is finding a quarterback. Sophomore Ryan Bear will have the inside track there. 

On defense, the Highlanders have some return leading tackler Logan Witt.  He had a hand in 99 tackles last season, and will be one of the top linebackers in the conference this season. Stockley will also be a presence at linebacker.  The secondary will be anchored by Seth Link and Cody Gray. 

Bottom Line: Evan Bobby, Lucas Fox, Nick Bralwuy among others - it was a special senior class that has moved on.  Still, the cupboard is not bare.  Quarterback play will be key, but there’s enough talent for Cambria Heights to make some noise and win some games once again. 


8. Chestnut Ridge

KEY Players: Mason McVicker (RB/LB) // Trey Maxwell (OL/DE) // Logan Pfister (QB/LB)

After years of floating without a conference, Chestnut Ridge has found a home (again) in the Laurel Highlands.  The Lions have won 26 games over the past three seasons, including ten last year.  This has been a consistent program, but they may be entering the league in a bit of a rebuild. 

Chestnut Ridge loses nearly all of its offensive production from a year ago, including all-everting quarterback, Logan Hauck.  The position should come down to Logan Pfister and Seth Holderbaum this season. Pfister is a good-looking athlete. Jacob Mowry and Mason McVicker should have elevated roles on offense as running backs. 

The defensive line should be a strength with big Dalton Seace manning the middle. Trey Maxwell is an experienced player at defensive end. Mowry and McVicker are back to form a formidable secondary. The big question mark will be linebacker after losing Noah Dillow. 

Bottom Line: It sure would have been fun if Chestnut Ridge was in the league last season, They aren’t coming in at their best.  Still, the Lions will certainly hold their own in their first season back in the Laurel Highlands. 


9. Bedford

KEY Players: Dylan Arnold (RB/LB) // Zach Price (RB/S) // Mitchell Zembower (WR/LB)

Bedford only mustered three wins in 2017.  Can the Bisons improve this season?  There is a young core in place that has some talent, and perhaps Bedford can get back into the postseason this year. 

On offense, the quarterback spot is looking like it will be manned by sophomore Steven Ressler.  He played in some games as a freshman, and is also a standout in basketball, thus giving coach Kevin Steele an athlete to run his option-based offense.  Dylan Arnold was the team’s leading rusher last season, and should have another strong year. Watch for Zach Price as well, who has some speed and can make some big plays on the outside. 

The defense is also anchored by Arnold, who led the Bisons in tackles last season.  Other notable returnees include Mitchell Zembower and Andrew Foor.  The Bisons have some size, but need improved play on both sides of the line from last season. 

Bottom Line:  Bedford has a lot of question marks, but the offense has a chance to click if Ressler can make the transition smoothly to a full-time starter.  Still don’t think there is a very high ceiling for this team, as the Bisons could still be a year away. 


10. Somerset

KEY Players: Nick Hyde (DE/OL) // Spencer Yutzy (RB/S) // Tyler Rios (QB/DB) 

Somerset suffered its first losing season since 2012. The Golden Eagles dealt with some turnover and injury trouble and never got on track. Now the key for Bob Landis will be to right the ship and get back to the winning ways of 2013-2015. 

Offensively, it looks like Tyler Rios should takeover as the starting quarterback. Last year, Rios played some receiver but should step in and take over the role held previously by Cam Coddington. How he responds may be the biggest key for Somerset this season.  Spencer Yutzy proved to be an effective playmaker last season at times, and will be counted on to do it more often in 2018. 

The defense should be anchored by senior defensive linemen, Nick Hyde.  He finished second on the team in tackles last season. He will be double teamed quite a bit, but should still find a way to make plays for the Golden Eagles this season. 

Bottom Line: Somerset still has a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball. I still think the Golden Eagles may have trouble getting back to .500 in 2018.  


11. Central Cambria

KEY Players: Matt Gauden (RB/DB) // John Croft (FB/LB) // Nick Knopp (RB/LB)

Central Cambria only won two games under first-year head coach Shane McGregor. The goal this year will be to get back to a winning season, something the Red Devils have not accomplished since the 2013 season. 

Last season, Central Cambria was a pass-heavy team, and for good reason. Justin Bezek was an experienced quarterback, and Luke Bennett was one of the best receivers in the league.  So will there be a change in philosophy? Carter Seymour will be then new quarterback. He’ll have some weapons, but the Red Devils may need to establish the run more often in 2018. Nick Knopp and Matt Gauden led the team in rushing last year, perhaps they will see a heavier workload this season. 

If Central Cambria does run the ball more often, they may ease the pressure on the defense a little more by retaining possession a little longer.  At times, the Red Devils got themselves in some shootouts and couldn’t stop the other team. John Croct and Dylan Long should be two solid linebackers that the defense can be built around in 2018. 

Bottom Line: Central Cambria has been on some rough times in recent seasons.  For a proud program, they won’t be down forever.  The record might not indicate it, but they could hang around in some games this season.  


12. Penn Cambria

KEY Players: Derek Brown (RB/FB) // Jake Weigand (WR/DB) // Marcus Wirbel (OL/LB) 

Legendary coach John Franco came to Cresson last season to try to revive the Penn Cambria football program.  It did not go as planned, as the Panthers went 0-10 and scored just 66 points on the season.  Nowhere to go but up, right? 

Penn Cambria’s offense will be centered around Derek Brown, who led the team in rushing a year ago. Jacob Tsikalas rotated in at quarterback as a freshmen, and should improve with some experience around his belt. Ricard Perrone and Jake Weigand are a pair of returning receivers with some experience. 

Penn Cambria only graduated six players off of last year’s team, so there is experience up and down the lineup.  Brown is equally as important as a defensive player, as he led the Panthers in tackles as a linebacker. Marcus Wirrfel and Caleb Hurley are also experienced players that should play big roles on this defense. 

Bottom Line:  Penn Cambria should be improved in 2018, but by how much?  This team can compete better, but will it translate into wins?  At this point, it’s not looking likely. 



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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby DCor50 » August 1st, 2018, 11:42 am

Nice preview! WestPac and Heritage coming soon I hope.

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Crimson's Ghost » August 1st, 2018, 4:08 pm

Maybe WestPac, and I can try Heritage no promises. LHAC is my forte usually.

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Manfred » August 1st, 2018, 5:29 pm

FYI Jake Shope is not listed in "The Blitz", but he didn't come out last year either, a-la LeVeon Bell.
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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Crimson's Ghost » August 1st, 2018, 5:51 pm

Yeah I’m not sure how Blitz works. I don’t know if they get roster submissions or just sort of project off of last year. It comes out pretty early in the summer so it’s hard to imagine coaches and AD’s are that responsive.

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Lionjacket » August 1st, 2018, 6:10 pm

I’m intrigued that you have Richland so high...what made you put them at 5?

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby CCDevil2012 » August 1st, 2018, 9:34 pm

Lionjacket wrote:I’m intrigued that you have Richland so high...what made you put them at 5?

They are one of the higher ceiling teams IMO, they have a lot back, but still a bit of a question mark as to what team shows up. 

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Crimson's Ghost » August 1st, 2018, 10:32 pm

Yeah I think the league overall is down. So I put teams with potential towards the top. Richland at least has that, plus some athletes.

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby fdc173 » August 2nd, 2018, 10:42 am

I think Guilfoyle has to be at the top still until anyone can take them down within the conference

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Re: 2018 LHAC Preview

Postby Manfred » August 2nd, 2018, 12:29 pm

With the size of that line, another Chadbourne, and the ability to bring in talent from anywhere, I agree they are #1.
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