Each week, football writer Josh Thomson will give his opinion on the best high school football teams in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties. This year's rankings begin where last year's ended — with the same team a clear choice for No. 1.
Preseason lohud football rankings
Top 10 overall
1. Stepinac – The cupboard is hardly bare for the defending CHSFL AAA champs. The area's best defense returns multiple stars and talented quarterback Tyquell Fields is among those ready to fuel a retooled offense for the Catholic league's preseason favorite.
2. John Jay-East Fishkill – The defending Class AA champ will have to recover from heavy losses from graduation, especially at the skill positions. Still, the Patriots return perhaps Section 1’s top quarterback, Ryan Schumacher, and have proven in recent years that they are a perennial contender.
3. Iona Prep – Last year’s CHSFL AAA runner-up suffered heavy losses to graduation. If the Gaels can break in some new weapons and survive a difficult early schedule, it will be because of featured back Shane Martin and returning starters on defense, including Martin and Dean Nigro.
4. New Rochelle – The Huguenots could be a work-in-progress early this season, especially on defense, which is traditionally their strength. But the offense has immediate promise with returning quarterback Greg Powell and talented sophomore Jared Baron and senior Keelan Thomas in the backfield.
5. Mahopac – With 13 starters returning, including all-section picks Dan Foley and Christian Donahoe, Mahopac is well-fueled to improve on last year’s first-round playoff exit. The Indians have a chance to avenge one of last year's losses in Week 1 against Mamaroneck.
6. Mamaroneck – The Tigers lost some of the area’s most talented players to graduation, but they return 1,000-yard passer Bill Flatow and two of his top options, Emerson Genovese and Peter Matt, who was among the area leaders in sacks last year as well.
7. Scarsdale – Led by two-way star Michael Rolfe, the Raiders appear poised to return to the top of Class AA. Rolfe, the quarterback, will be surrounded by speed, including Sam Squadron, and a strong but athletic offensive line, led by Andrew Liskin.
8. Clarkstown North – The Rams return a strong group of seniors led by 298-pound lineman Prince Emili and speedy back Michael Porco. Their biggest addition might be another returning player, senior Jack Abrams, who will be back under center after suffering a broken leg in Week 1 last year.
9. Rye – Gone is the most dynamic duo in Section 1 history, Andrew Livingston to Tim DeGraw, but the defending Class A champ might be set to reload. Five players who earned significant snaps as sophomores are back, led by Brett Egan, as are veteran seniors Chase Pratt, Patrick Hull and others.
10. Arlington – The Admirals upset New Rochelle and were a surprise finalist in 2014 thanks to strong defense and a ball-control offense. They lost plenty of key components of that team, but return Rob Tannenbaum and Justin Leigh. Greg Siebold anchors a line that should still be a strength.
On the bubble: North Rockland, Yorktown, Nyack.
Class AA – 1. John Jay-East Fishkill, 2. New Rochelle, 3. Mahopac, 4. Mamaroneck, 5. Scarsdale, 6. Clarkstown North, 7. Arlington, 8. North Rockland, 9. Carmel, 10. White Plains.
Class A – 1. Rye, 2. Yorktown, 3. Nyack, 4. Panas, 5. Somers, 6. Sleepy Hollow, 7. Lourdes, 8. Eastchester, 9. John Jay, 10. Byram Hills.
Class B – 1. Nanuet, 2. Westlake, 3. Pleasantville, 4. Ardsley, 5. Bronxville.