Every Friday, I’ll rank the top 10 teams in the area, followed by the top five in each class in Section 1. For your reference, here’s how I ranked the teams before camp started. Note: There have been a few changes.
1. New Rochelle: The two best programs in the area the last five or so years have been New Rochelle and Iona Prep. The Huguenots have enough back to believe they are still the favorite in Class AA. They deserve the top spot until proven otherwise.
2. White Plains: The Tigers begin the season ranked this high based on a bevy of returning players. Remember, in addition to their run to the semis in Class AA last year, this group also beat Stepinac on Thanksgiving, vaulting it ahead of the local Catholic powers.
3. Iona Prep: Many of you won’t like seeing such a lofty ranking for a 4-6 team riddled by losses to graduation. Still, the Gaels have proven the strength of their program through the years by reloading when need be. I think this team has the ability to be better than some think and is deserving of a spot until proven otherwise — even if the proof comes as soon as tomorrow.
4. Stepinac: The Crusaders return some of the top players in the area and could supplant Iona as the area’s top Catholic program. But they must prove it first.
5. Arlington: Dom DeMatteo has the Admirals primed to repeat last year’s impressive League AA-North title. If they can repeat, the next step will be proving they can defeat one of Class AA’s top programs when it counts. A good opportunity comes on Oct. 16 at North Rockland.
6. Roosevelt: The Indians are another team that have earned their respect until proven otherwise. They are not only the defending Class A champs, they looked sharp this summer and return seven seniors who played key roles on last year’s team.
7. Rye: Entering this year, Rye and Roosevelt are probably co-favorites bases on our poll votes and the reactions of readers. Rye beat the Indians head-to-head last season but it was Roosevelt that emerged with what counts. They don’t meet in the regular season, so if both play as well as expected we may need to wait to determine the better team.
8. Ketcham: Color me impressed with what I saw at White Plains last week. Yes, it was a scrimmage, but it wouldn’t be fair to stick the Indians behind others (namely, North Rockland) after they looked so prepared for the new season.
9. North Rockland: I’m torn about what I expect on Sunday. Will we see a North Rockland team ready to contend again or one that is several steps away? If the Red Raiders have suspect line play, will they open up the offense more than normal? There are a lot of questions left to be answered.
10. Bronxville: I know some will scoff at their inclusion in the Top 10 — and that others will be outraged that they are not ranked higher — but the Broncos will be the most difficult team to rank all season. Sure, they play against Class C competition, but they also feature more than a dozen proven varsity players, some of who rank among the area’s most talented individuals. Trust me, Bronxville would beat its share of Class AA, A and B schools. The question is: How many? Right now, I’m saying most.
On the bubble: Mahopac, Harrison, Nyack, Nanuet, Horace Greeley, Poughkeepsie.
TOP 5 BY CLASS
1. New Rochelle
2. White Plains
5. North Rockland
5. Horace Greeley
3. Dobbs Ferry
5. Rye Neck