Here’s a challenge: you need one defensive stop and then a score to win. Luckily, any high school player in the area is available to you. Who do you pick?
Also in your favor is an absurd amount of talented players on both sides of the ball to pool from. Below is one lineup. These players excelled all year, both in the regular season and playoffs. They’ve been selected to their conference’s top teams and come from schools in every classification.
Each brings something a little different, but they all bring a lot of skill and a will to win. The game’s up for grabs, who are you taking?
QB: Ryan Stover, Upper Dublin
Stover found a way to improve on a great junior season and as a result, led the Cards to their first ever District I title. Blending a strong arm with mobility, Stover made UD’s prolific offense go. He cut down his turnovers and made full use of the weapons around him in a memorable campaign.
OL: Kurt Stengel, Archbishop Wood
Wood’s dynamic offense wouldn’t have gone far without its line clearing the way. A standout at tackle, Stengel is off to the US Naval Academy. Before that, he plowed through plenty of defenses in his senior year as Wood rolled up yards and points.
OL: Mark Funk, Pennridge
It’s pretty much a given that the Rams will have a good ground game. Funk, a first team all-conference pick, helped create holes all year for the backs.
OL: Connor Dolan, Upper Moreland
Upper Moreland and productive running backs just go together and the secret is the guys up front. A towering presence, Dolan was an earth mover all year as he cleared lanes for 2,000 yard back Rodney Morgan. The senior’s dominant play is a big hole for the Bears to fill.
OL; Jimmy Morrissey, LaSalle
An anchor of the Explorers’ veteran and powerful offensive line, Morrissey and crew turned heads by beating mighty St. Joe’s Prep for the PCL AAAA title. LaSalle’s rush attack was again strong, thanks to the space the guys up front gave the stable of backs to work with.
OL: Vince Picozzi, LC
LC’s potent running attack wouldn’t have gone far without the guys up front. Picozzi, along with his other veteran linemates went to work and opened plenty of holes for their backs. While the runners gave the guys plenty of props, their work also spoke plenty.
OL: Nick Schuck, Hatboro-Horsham
After a slow start, the Hatters came on strong at the end of the season and their spread offense was a big reason why. Schuck was a big reason that QB Casey Walsh had the time to hit his guys for big plays.
RB: Ryan Quigley, LC
Named the PCL AA MVP for the second straight year, Quigley led the Crusaders to the PCL final. A ground churning machine from the opening week, Quigley spearheaded LC’s huge senior class to a year to remember. He’s off to Princeton to continue his career.
RB: Nyfease West, North Penn
The Knights’ feature back was as advertised in his senior season. Once the Knights developed their passing game, it only gave West more room to run roughshod on defenses. A player at his best in big games, the senior had a great final campaign.
RB: Syaire Madden, LaSalle
It was a breakout year for the junior, who rose to the role of lead back and just kept gaining yards. The right mix of strength and speed, Madden fashions his game after a backyard style and refuses to go down without a fight. He figures to have a big role again next year.
RB: Rodney Morgan, Upper Moreland
Any questions about how the Golden Bears would replace all those rushing yards were answered pretty quickly by this senior back. A true workhorse, Morgan routinely broke the 150-yard mark as he rushed for more than 2,000 yards. He also put in work on defense, a sign of his durability.
WR: Mark Webb, Wood
A prototypical receiver, Webb’s size and speed made him a top target in the PCL. Fielding offers from several top colleges, the junior was on the receiving end of plenty of long scores from Anthony Russo. An explosive senior year will only help his stock.
WR: Ricky Johns, North Penn
A big, athletic target, Johns was the guy for QB Reece Udinski. His ability to create separation and make the catch added variety to the Knights’ attack and helped them all the way to the district final.
WR: George Reid, Abington
It was a rough year for the Galloping Ghosts, but Reid was a bright spot on offense. A focal point for every team Abington played, the receiver still found ways to impact the game. His hands are a strength and Reid made some acrobatic grabs throughout the year.
WR: Dontae Mason, McDevitt
A true speed threat, Mason was a handful for every defense he lined up against. Mason could break a long score from anywhere on the field and he was a key part of the team’s late season push to a District I A title.
TE: Ryan Norton, Upper Moreland
Norton played his role to perfection. A fierce blocker, he helped his line get push and if needed, he was a safety valve for QB Casey Decker. His work earned him a first team SOL American nod.
K: Dan Zanine, Wood
Zanine’s foot delivered one of the highlights for Wood this season when he beat LaSalle at the buzzer. After waiting for his chance, the pure kicker was consistent
KR: Stephen Charlemagne, Jenkintown
Hailing from one of the smallest schools in District I, this junior plays nearly every snap for the Drakes at tailback and linebacker. Tough but shifty, Charlemagne was a threat to score any time he touched the ball, and made several long TD runs.
DL: Omar Peterkin, Wood
Transferring from Abington for his senior season, Peterkin filled in right away on both lines for the Vikings. His work as a stuffing defensive tackle put him on the first team all PCL and his ability to eat up blocks paved the way for the ends to rush and the linebackers to attack the ball.
DL: Keith Earle, North Penn
A tremendous athlete, Earle was the first point of attack for a rigid Knights defense that gave most teams fits and gave up few points. With a long wingspan and good burst off the line, Earle was a tough assignment for SOL linemen.
DL: Alex Schmidt, Pennridge
Strong line play is a given in Perkasie and Schmidt was a force on the defensive side. A first team conference pick, he led a group that filled gaps and ate up running lanes. Opposing coaches often cited the Rams’ defensive line as a major headache.
DL: Chris Maloney, LaSalle
One of the young pups on LaSalle’s front, Maloney was still a handful for every team he lined up against. The sophomore is a talented rusher with a knack for finding the ball and his stock should only rise as he continues to refine his craft. A bigger role is a given with a number of seniors departing.
LB: Henry Winebrake, Upper Dublin
UD’s defense flew under the radar but Winebrake was hard to miss on the field. The leader of the defense, the senior had a nose for the ball and if a play was to be made, there was a high chance he’d be one of the guys coming out of that pile.
LB: Christian Leighton, Upper Moreland
A hard hitter and sure tackler on defense, Leighton is also a standout offensive lineman. Running backs that met No. 50 usually saw their runs coming to an end right there. His durability was a trademark for the Bears.
LB: Nick Tarburton, Pennridge
A rising star in the SOL, Tarburton impressed every time out. A linebacker who could cover the entire field, this sophomore’s best football is still ahead of him. Already a force, it wouldn’t surprise if he’s among the area’s best players by his senior season.
LB: Matt Pierce, Souderton
Injuries and setbacks plagued Souderton, but it didn’t slow Pierce from turning in a strong season. The linebacker was a first team conference pick and a consistent performer against the tough SOL National competition.
LB: Brett Righter, Springfield Twp
Small Springfield relies on its guys to do a whole lot and Righter was a prime example. A bruising fullback, he also left bruises as a playmaking linebacker and key piece on special teams. A captain and leader, Righter’s play stood out week in and week out.
CB: Nick Rinella, LaSalle
The senior had a knack for making the big play at the right time. His dramatic catch beat The Prep in the PCL title game, then he had a huge day on defense in the District 12 title game. Hard nosed, Rinella is the player any coach would love to have.
CB: Justin Ostopowicz, North Penn
High school teams will throw the ball at some point and Ostopowicz was there to make them pay against North Penn. The Knights’ top cover man, he drew plenty of tough assignments in the conference and did his job as North Penn had another standout defense.
CB: Mike Sowers, Upper Dublin
Sowers didn’t cut a big shadow but he made big plays for UD. With a few teams in the SOL American liking to air out the ball, Sowers was there to provide blanket coverage.
CB/S: Jimmy McAfee, GA
A true ballhawk, McAfee had an innate ability to pick off passes for the Inter-Ac group all season. A pretty solid return man too, any pass that went up was in danger of having his hands get on it.
S: Branden Mack, Cheltenham
Mack was the leader of a young Panthers team and he impacted games on both sides of the ball. At safety, the Temple bound senior used his athletic gifts to cover a lot of ground and was often among the team leaders in tackles. In a pinch, he could slide over to corner for lockdown coverage.
S: Isiah Jones, LaSalle
In his first year with the Explorers, Jones made most of his imprint as a crushing safety. A sophomore, but built like a much older player, Jones brought a good mix of range and force to the position. He’ll see a bigger role as a QB next year, but he’ll still be there to make plays in the secondary as well.
P: Marlen Fenstermacher, LC
The foil to Ryan Quigley in the backfield, this LC senior’s foot earned him a first team PCL selection at punter as well. When LC had to punt, Fenstermacher usually gave his defense some room to work with while he chipped in everywhere else on the field.