So you’ve read all my predictions for the 2013 season, which is just a few hours away from kickoff. Now, let’s take a look at where the teams stand going into the season, including a look at the Top 5 in each class. (Those rankings will be expanded as we get deeper into the season.)
First of all, here’s a peek at how I ranked ’em to finish last season. Now, here’s a look at where they start 2013:
1. New Rochelle (11-1 last season, Class AA state champ) — The Huguenots retain the top spot almost by default. It’s not that I don’t expect them to be good; I do. But there certainly are questions as to how New Ro will replace 18 of its 22 starters. Of course, other contenders for the top spot face their own questions entering the season. There’s really no better option for No. 1, so the champs deserve this ranking for now.
2. Iona Prep (8-2, CHSFL AAA semifinalist) — Like its former crosstown rival/practice buddy, Iona lost a significant amount of talent to graduation. Still, you have to respect the Gaels’ ability to reload. In this case, it means expecting the likes of QB Robert Maidson and TE Qaadir Sheppard to step in and be game-changers immediately. That’s a lot to ask of young players, but Iona has a history of making that happen.
3. North Rockland (7-2, Class AA runner-up) — Last year’s runner-up lost the bulk of its skill talent, but has several high quality, all-section level talent returning up front on defense. I think that should allow the Red Raiders to be competitive until the offense gets some rhythm. Frankly, they might not need many points if the D is as good as I think.
4. Harrison (8-1, Class A semifinalist) — Harrison had a chance to beat an excellent Somers last year before a late fumble in the semis, and this team could be better than that one. With all the talent the Huskies return and Art Troilo’s maniacal preparation, I can’t imagine any team in Section 1 is more ready to start the season, including the AA powers.
5. Stepinac (4-6, CHSFL AAA quarterfinalist) — Last year was a disappointment for Stepinac, but the outlook appears to have improved. The Crusaders have speed and a loaded junior class that includes Demarcus Miller, Malcolm Major and Brandon Coleman. They’ll have to mature quickly for Stepinac to be near the top of the league, but they certainly have the talent to do it.
6. Mahopac (5-3, did not qualify) — The best team to miss the playoffs last year, no doubt. Mahopac should be just as strong or stronger this year, and it’s offense should be more diverse. If the Indians can play as well defensively, they should be even better and could contend for a Class AA title.
7. John Jay-East Fishkill (5-3, Class AA semifinalist) — With just six starters back, John Jay pretty much landed this ranking based on respect, but they have earned it. Tom O’Hare has proven himself to be capable in the past. In fact, just last year the Patriots were hurt by graduation in the wake of their run to the 2011 Class AA final, yet they were still the third-best team in the class. Don’t expect them to fall off. It will be interesting to see what they can do running the Pistol, which could give the offense more punch.
8. Rye (5-3, did not qualify) — Rye was better than given credit for last season, and that was when the team was riddled with key injuries. The Garnets basically played Harrison without all of their running backs and were competitive. Now, with Shane O’Malley, Connor Murphy and Tim DeGraw all healthy and a year older, Rye should have an explosive offense if the line can protect QB Andrew Livingston. He looks like a different QB this preseason, and is at home throwing the ball regularly out of the Pistol.
9. Ketcham (4-4, did not qualify) — I’ve been down this road before with Ketcham, as a reader has been kind enough to point out. But the Indians should be one of Class AA’s best offensive teams. They have good, quality players back that have a diverse skill set, led by QB Kevin Duke. Now is their time to make positive strides and join the list of AA contenders.
10. Yorktown (6-2, did not qualify) — Class A remains a pretty muddled field to me. I know Harrison will be good. I think Rye will be good. Who else will join them? Well, even though tomorrow night’s opener with Panas is iffy (I think Panas is a playoff-bound team), I expect Yorktown to be good this season. The ‘Huskers are very strong at the skill positions. Their line play is usually a strength. If it can be solidified, Yorktown will be in line for a playoff berth, which should put the team in Top 10 conversation all season.
Here are my class-by-class rankings:
1. New Rochelle
2. North Rockland
4. John Jay
5. Putnam Valley
2. Rye Neck
3. Dobbs Ferry
1. Iona Prep
4. Rye Country Day