The first day of football camp in Section 1 is just a week away (the Catholic schools start on Sunday). Before then I wanted to issue another preseason rankings, both in the Top 10 and Top 5 forms.
Large school poll
1. New Rochelle: Even though the Huguenots have no clear-cut running back and are replacing their whole secondary, you have to put them here.
2. Iona Prep: The quarterback situation is still unresolved. But the running backs and receivers sure isn’t. There’s more depth here at those positions than anywhere in the area. As long as the line develops, this team will put up ridiculous numbers.
3. Carmel: I told you’d there would be some surprises. The Rams are loaded on the offensive and defensive lines and return a stud quarterback in Ryan Shilling. While I don’t expect he’ll throw for quite as many yards with a new crop of receivers, his experience and poise will carry this team — assuming they survive the first two games against New Rochelle and North Rockland.
4. Stepinac: Let the comments about me being pro-CHSAA begin. Although the Crusaders will lose a few more games moving into the AAA, this is an excellent team. If you haven’t seen Maurice Easterling play, you’re missing out. Joe Collins is a third-year starter and the defense returns a star in LB Ryan Hunt.
5. Ossining: It was probably unfair for me to jump Somers ahead of Ossining, the defending Class A champs and state semifinals. I’ll move the O back ahead, especially after a few conversations I’ve had with people around the team. The offensive weapons are limitless. James Brundage was a first-team all-star. Justin Kreamer grew into a fine QB in the postseason. And according to coach Dan Ricci, Jesse Drinks is even faster than last season (which I didn’t think was possible). Still the team to beat.
6. Somers: My original No. 1 team in Class A takes a backseat to the defending champs. I still, however, like the Tuskers’ chances of breaking through. This team is more than just Rob Lombardo and Matt Deiana. Just watch. I’m anxious for people to see the depth this offense has.
7. North Rockland: Could I have put the Red Raiders higher? Perhaps. Mike Fasano continued to improve throughout last season and is such a good dual-threat in the spread offense. There are some holes to fill on both sides — which North Rockland will inevitably fill based on history. Until then, though, we’ll slot the Raiders here.
8. Harrison: Loved what I saw at Champions Camp. But I think there’s still question marks. The line has to come together a little bit more. And the team just has to get a little bit crisper on both sides. As much as any team in the area, I think Harrison has the most room to grow as the season goes on — assuming it can stay healthy.
9. Eastchester: Many believed I wouldn’t actually rank the Eagles after overlooking them last season. I’ve wised up, and I watched them at Champions Camp. The line looks polished already and Joe LaRocca runs the option to amazing precision. As long as Chris Perugini and Kevin Bronner stay healthy, this team will contend for a Class A title.
10. Nyack: Another team that has been building for this season. Anthony Davis and Dominic Leonard are an excellent tandem, and there’s depth and experience at just about every position.
On the brink: John Jay; John Jay-EF; Poughkeepsie; Yorktown; Mount Vernon; Ramapo.
Small school rankings
1. Rye: Based on preseason projections, the Garnets seemed headed for another championship. I’ve lost count.
2. Dobbs Ferry: Whatever Rye has, just add three and that’s how many the Eagles are about to win. Devonte Brailsford has a chance to run away with the rushing title if healthy.
3. Rye Country Day: A team that doesn’t get much attention. This season, though, that should change. RB Nick McKoy is the real deal.
4. Pleasantville: Unfortunately for the Panthers, their toughest games is their first — vs. Rye. I do believe, though, they’ll play them again in the end.
5. Byram Hills: It was tough picking a fifth team. By all accounts, Byram Hills has a nice group of backs returning and should contend.
1. New Rochelle
3. North Rockland
4. John Jay-EF
3. Byram Hills
1. Dobbs Ferry
5. Rye Neck
1. Iona Prep
3. Mount St. Michael
4. Fordham Prep