2015 LHAC Football Preview

High School & College Sports Enthusiast Jim Hammett breaks it down for you!
Crimson's Ghost
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2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by Crimson's Ghost » July 26th, 2015, 11:59 pm

[center]Section I[/center]

[center]1. Bishop Guilfoyle[/center]

KEY Players - Aaron Yasulitis (RB/LB) Evan Chadbourn (RB/DB) Sam Keating (WR/DB)

Last season Bishop Guilfoyle became just the second team in District Six history to win a state championship. The Marauders joined the 1999 Tyrone squad as the only other one to accomplish that feat. The 2014 Marauders had a magical run that saw them go 16-0 and defeat state power Clairton in a memorable state title game by a score of 19-18. So how do they follow that it up this season?

Bishop Guilfoyle loses an incredibly gifted class of 2015, but the cupboard is far from bare. The core is in place to have another successful season, and at the very least, be on the short list of contenders to win the District Six Class A Championship. With three offensive linemen returning, the skilled position players should have time to adjust to their new roles as starters. Evan Chadbourn might be the player to watch for this offense. He can be used in a number of different ways with his versatility and can be a weapon in the running and passing games. Aaron Yasulitis has the makeup of a solid starting running back, and should see considerably more touches this season. That tandem right there should be the focal point of the offense.

Quarterback will be a bit of a question mark with the void being left by Brandon Chadbourn, but Josh Trybus looks to be the top candidate to step in after having served as a backup that saw some playing time last season. Sam Keating will be back to assume his role as a starting receiver and should see more looks this season.

Bishop Guilfoyle's defense was downright smothering at times last season, as they only surrendered 26 points total in ten conference games. They will look to some experienced players to upkeep that tradition. Aaron Yasulitis finished sixth on the team in tackles last season, and will be looked upon to have a leadership role as the top linebacker this season. Evan Chadbourn led the team with six interceptions in 2014, and will be counted on to be a top defensive back for Justin Wheeler's secondary.

Bottom Line - Basically, you have a team with state championship experience, and nobody else in the league can claim that. They certainly have some important holes to fill, but they do have a good nucleus with the talent to achieve another big season. State Championship caliber? Hard to say at this point, but they'll be right in the thick of things in the LHAC and District Six for sure.


[center]2. Forest Hills[/center]

KEY PLAYERS - Ian Weiczorek (RB/LB) Eric Elgin (FB/LB) Eric Kudlaweic (WR/S)

Forest Hills looks to bounce back after a 5-6 injury-riddled campaign in 2014. The Rangers lost some very talented players to graduation, but being one of the more consistent programs in the league year after year, they always seem to find a way to compete. But, do the Rangers have enough to overtake the defending conference champions, Bishop Guilfoyle? It is certainly possible.

Losing quarterback Joe Donoughe hurts, but he was injured for a good portion of the season in 2014 and Forest Hills was forced to adjust. Don Bailey turned to Erik Kudlawiec at times last season, and he responded with some big throws, but consistency was and still is a concern with him. With another year of working at it, he could be a viable option at quarterback in 2015, that is, if he can hold off incoming freshman, Adam Cecere. It is not often you get to hear about a freshman, but he has the size and reputation following him, and he very well could take the job.

If a young quarterback like Cecere were to win the job, he would have the luxury of throwing to veteran receivers Erik Kudlaweic, Andrew Pinkas, and Dallas McClintok. The Rangers also have a pair of capable backs to alleviate the pressure for a freshman QB in Ian Weiczorek and Eric Elgin. The skill is there, but finding healthy and consistent line play is key, and Tanner Gavlak can be the anchor to the men up front.

An improved defense would go a long way for the Rangers, as they suffered some lopsided losses in 2014. The trio of Weiczorek, Elgin, and Blake Ivock form one of the best sets of linebackers in the LHAC. They do not need to be a light's out defense with their offensive potential, and they can have a bend but do not break mentality and take some risks on this side of the ball.

Bottom Line - Forest Hills has a talented, yet unproven roster. If they can sort things out, they have a nice cast of offensive skilled players to spread the ball around nicely. Line play and defense were faulty at times last season, and those areas could stand for the biggest amount of improvement this year. Don Bailey has the pieces in place to make a run, and they should be one of the better AA teams in the district.

[center]3. Central Cambria[/center]

KEY Players - TJ Adams (QB) Kerry Kirsch (RB) Kevin Sisco (RB/LB)

Central Cambria had a mildly disappointing season after going into 2014 with some pretty high expectations. Still after a slow start, the Red Devils found a groove mid-season, but their 5-5 record ultimately left them on the outside looking in for the District Six AA playoffs. Bill Corrente's squad will look to get themselves back into the playoffs in 2015.

The offense will look a little different without Will Seymour running the show, but senior TJ Adams is more than capable of running the show on offense. Adams is a good athlete that has some speed, and has some experience playing QB. The Red Devils have speedy running back Kerry Kirsch back, and with 849 career rushing yards, he is a solid start to the ground attack. Kevin Sisco should also see some carries after posting 220 yards last season. Matt Gillen at receiver and big 6'5" sophomore Matt Holsinger should provide two good receiving options for new QB TJ Adams.

Sisco, Kirsch, and Adams are the team's three leading returning tacklers on the defensive side of the ball. Riley Drahnak at safety is another name to watch as he helps round out a strong secondary. Up front, big Luke Sokira and Tom Janosko should anchor a strong and sizable defensive line.

Bottom Line - A lot is returning from a pretty formidable team in 2014, but the area that needs to be improved is most certainly the defense. The Red Devils struggled with teams that have explosive offense like Bishop Guilfoyle and Bedford. Central Cambria will be able to score some points with their offense led by Adams and Kirsch, but limiting big plays on defense is a must to breakthrough to the postseason.


[center]4. Penn Cambria[/center]

KEY Players - Nick Hite (RB/DB) Jacob Driskel (OL/DE) Daniel Roberts (RB/LB)

Penn Cambria managed to get themselves back into the postseason in 2014 after a brief one year hiatus. The Panthers gave heavily favored Central all they could handle in the playoffs before bowing out, and while Penn Cambria loses a lot of significant players from that team, they have a foundation and some momentum to carry into the 2015 season.

With Mark Madula gone, a re-emphasis of the running game should be on the way. Penn Cambria starts with a big and physical line and a few capable backs that should be able to split the carries. Still, finding a Quarterback is a must. Junior Jeremy Kost has attempted six passes in his young career as a reserve, and junior Garrett Martynuska should also in the mix.

Nick Hite will likely be the number one option on offense for Jason Grassi's team. Hite finished second on the team in all purpose yardage last season. Hite showed some versatility and big play ability out of the backfield as a receiver, and look for him to get plenty of touches in 2015. While passing doesn't figure to be a strength for PC, Zach Krug is one of the better tight ends in the league, and will be a reliable threat for whoever wins the QB race.

Defense has seemingly always been a calling card for Penn Cambria, and last year the defense started to play some very good ball in the second half of the year. Success will start up front with senior defensive end, Jacob Driskel. The senior end finished with 10.5 sacks, and will be counted on to create pressure up front. Daniel Roberts finished second on the team in tackles, and will anchor the linebackers along with some help from Austin Zupan. The secondary will be led by Nick Hite, who came down with a pair of interceptions last season.

Bottom Line - Penn Cambria's bread and butter will have to be running the football and playing tough defense. The Panthers do not have the type of offense that will wow you, but Nick Hite is certainly the type of player you can ride a long way. The key for this team will be ushering in a lot of new starters on defense. If the defense can emerge early, Penn Cambria should find themselves in the running for a playoff bid once again.

[center]5. Cambria Heights[/center]

KEY Players - Dennis Link (RB) Eddie Link (QB) James Baum (RB)

Cambria Heights had a couple of close losses in the early part of last season. Perhaps with a few bounces and little better start they could have gained some momentum to have a better season. Ultimately it was a tough 2-9 campaign for the Highanders in 2014. Part of their struggles had to do with inexperience and youth, but the team returns nine starters on a promising offense, and that was a unit that started to find itself throughout the year.

Dennis Link quietly put on one of the better seasons for a running back in the conference. Link finished with 1,011 yards and 14 touchdowns while toppling the 200 carry mark in 2014. The senior back is durable and should be in line for another 1,000 yard season this year. James Baum is a versatile athlete that can line up in the backfield or as a receiver, and will see plenty of touches. Trenton Coy is another name to watch on that side of the ball. Eddie Link is back at QB and will have a very dynamic sophomore to throw the ball to in Nick Brawley. With three linemen back led by Alex Albright, this has the makings of being a very strong offensive unit.

Obviously shoring up the defense will be key for the Highlanders. Like the offense, they bring back nine starters and the added year of experience should help this side of the ball. Ben Yahner was just a freshman last season, but ended up leading the team in tackles. Yahner along with Angelo Snyder form a solid defensive end duo. Dennis Link will be there to anchor the linebackers, and most of the secondary returns led by Brawley and Baum.

Bottom Line - Cambria Heights is certainly a sleeper team in this section. If they can be clicking on all cylinders, they should be a very dangerous team. Heights has size, experience, and a number of good athletes that should make for an improved team in 2015. They should be able to win more than two games, and competing for a district six A playoff berth is very realistic.


[center]6. Bishop Carroll[/center]

KEY Players - David Swatsworth (RB) Chris Steffen (WR) Matt Bohrer (LB)

Bishop Carroll is coming off a rough 1-9 season. The Huskies struggled with injuries and depth all season long, and by the looks of it, depth will be an issue once again. Carroll was once a proud program that has come on hard times, they have some talent in the ranks, but will be up against it in a very competitive section I of the LHAC.

The Huskies lacked a solid passing game in 2014, and will usher in a new quarterback this season. David Swatsworth looks to be a candidate to be a featured player on offense, and could take snaps under center or as a running back. Sophomore Zach Bohrer will be in contention at QB. Chris Steffan will be a key player as a receiver, and senior Matt Bohrer should also see a more prominent role on offense. RJ Clark, Geno Laurer, and Braden Przbys give Carroll a good start on the offensive line.

The defense also proved to be an issue in 2014, but they have a few key players back on that side of the ball. Swatsworth is the team's leading returning tackler, while Chris Steffan and Matt Bohrer also had nice seasons as starters last season. The defense managed to keep them around in some games, but with lack of offensive production and depth the numbers do not really support that, but this was the better unit last season.

Bottom Line - Bishop Carroll is hovering around 30 players on the roster, and second-year head coach Joe Ridgeley will have a tall task ahead of him this season. Bishop Carroll has really lost the luster of being one of the top small school programs in the state, but don't count them out entirely, they have bounced back in tough times before, but this appears to be another long season for the Huskies.

[center]Section II[/center]

[center]1. Bedford [/center]

KEY Players - Austin Montgomery (QB) August Cook (RB) Zach Shaffer (WR)


After going 17-6 the past two seasons, Bedford is ready to take things to another level. Led by 21 seniors on the roster, and 21 starters back total, things are lining up for a big season down in Bedford. Led by a poweful and dynamic offense, and a strong defense, there really is not a whole lot to dislike about Bedford heading into the 2015 season.

Austin Montgomery is back for his third season as the starting quarterback, and is one of the better players in the region. Montgomery threw for over 1,700 yards in 2014 while throwing 16 touchdown passes, and accounting for another 11 scores on the ground. He is a dual-threat QB with a lot of skill and experience and is a great leader for Kevin Steele's team. August Cook had a breakout season last year as the featured back, and with a 6'3" 220 frame, he is a perfect fit for a downhill rushing attack. Zach Shaffer has a big season as wide receiver in 2014, and is arguably the top player at his position in the area. Shaffer also provides a threat as a ball carrier as well. Conner Lazorka can be used in a number of ways, and is a quicker back to shake things up from Cook. The line returns four starters including Brayden Crawley, Tanner Fitchner, Vincent Fernandez, and Matt Kline.

The defense plays with a little "bend but don't break mentality. Bedford knows their offense can outscore teams, and it led to some shootout games in 2014. They will be looking for a little bit more consistency on the defensive side of the ball. Tanner Coughenourhad a monster season as a sophomore middle linebacker, and will be looked upon to be a force once again. Uriah Costal and August Cook round out a fine linebacker unit. Zach Shaffer led the team with four interceptions, proving he is one of the better two-way players in the area.

Bottom Line - All things are pointing to this being Bedford's time to shine. The LHAC is always very competitive, and teams will certaonly challenge them, but they have the most complete team heading into 2014. With Montgomery leading the way on offense, and Coughenour anchoring an improved defense, you have to like Bedford's chances to win the LHAC, overtake Chestnut Ridge in the District 5 AA race, and perhaps make some noise in the state playoffs.

[center]2. Somerset[/center]

KEY Players - Dylan Barnes (QB) Jake Heiple (RB) George Coyle (WR)

Somerset is coming off perhaps the best season in school history. The Golden Eagles compiled a 14-2 record that saw them advance the whole way to the AAA state semifinal and with their only two losses coming at the hands of a pair of state champions, Bishop Guilfoyle and Archbishop Wood. Somerset will feel the losses of an incredibly gifted senior class, but with a dynamic backfield still in place, another big year could be on the horizon.

Dylan Barnes had an incredible 2014 campaign with 20 passing touchdowns and 9 rushing touchdowns. Barnes orchestrates a powerful, quick-strike offense with big play potential on any given snap. Jake Heiplealso had a monster season in his first year as the featured running back with 1,583 yards and 26 touchdonws. Heiple is a speedster, and is very shifty in the open field. Between the two right there, you might not find a faster and more athletic backfield in District Six. Austin Hemminger is a good reserve running back, and should have more of an opporunity in 2014. George Coyle is a very athletic wide receiver, and should assume the role as the go-to target for Barnes. They will look to replace some valuable players on the line, but Chase Marple and Brock Laezier are a good start,

The defense is going to look very different in 2014. Gone are defensive keystones like Logan Eller, Bryce Mostoller, and Colton Slayback among others, but they have some pieces back ready to take leadership of the defense. Barnes and Heiple front a strong secondary. Nick Holto and Brock Laezier should be the main cogs on the line, while Austin Hemminger should anchor the linebackers. There is some talent around, but it is hard to dismiss the talent they are losing.

Bottom Line - Behind Barnes and Heiple, Somerset has a chance to win every game they are in this season. Somerset has the talent to take down Bedford, but at this time its fair to assume they are the slight underdogs at this point in time. The Golden Eagles have the skill in place to employ a powerful offense in week one, while the defense gains it's footing. With the confidence around the program these days, expect another strong season out of Somerset.


[center]3. Greater Johnstown[/center]

KEY Players - Jeremy Updyke (QB) Terrell Jones (RB) Exree Loe (DB)

Johnstown cleaned up a pair of losing seasons with a strong 7-4 finish in 2014. Johnstown handled business against the teams they were supposed to beat, but struggled against some of the better teams. If Johnstown can play consistent football, they should be able to challenge for a better finish in 2015.

The offense will be centered around senior Quarterback, Jeremy Updyke. The 6'2" senior tossed 18 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions in 2014. Updyke is a goo pocket passer with some mobility, but will be challenged after losing his top four wide receivers. The Trojans should benefit from the return of Terrell Jones after an injury in 2014. Jones looked to be on his way to a big season until injuries derailed him, but if he is back to full health a stable running game should return to the Johnstown offensive attack.Tavis Price led the team in rushing last season, and will also be back in 2015. Exree Loe is a great athlete, and Johnstown will find different ways to get the ball into his hands. Lorenzo Miller will be the leader up front as Johnstown looks to replace three starters on the line.

Zack Odum led Johnstown in tackles and tackles for loss as a junior and will be the team leader on defense in 2015. Ameer Connor and Tavis Price help shape up a strong group of linebacker/end types and should provide Johnstown with a solid pass rush along with Orlando Ellis. Exree Loe is a budding star and already a division one prospect having been offered by Pitt this offseason. Loe looks to follow the likes of Antwaun Reed and Kareem Gibson as division one cornerbacks from Johnstown. Theo Tinsley is another solid young player in the secondary as well.

Bottom Line - Johnstown has to find a way to replace the production from their wide receivers. Part of what makes Johnstown so great is being able to spread the ball around to multiple players and get them in space. Updyke is a good quarterback and should be able to break in some new targets. The emergence of a running game could be game changing for Johnstown and give the Trojans some balance. As always, Johnstown is a dangerous team and could challenge anyone in the league.


[center]4. Richland[/center]

KEY Players - Jonny Kutchman (QB) Colby Warshel (RB) Anthony Moran (LB)

After one of the best three year runs in school history, Richland took a bit of a step back in 2014. The Rams ushered in a number of new starters, and they competed, but fell short of a playoff bid. With some returning talent in the fold, Richland looks to get back into the playoff race in 2015.

The Richland offense will start around senior quarterback, Jonny Kutchman. In his first year as a starter, Kutchman toppled the 1,000 yard mark and tossed 8 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. All good numbers, but Richland will expect more in 2015. The Rams also return speedy running back, Colby Warshel. Wasrshel is a dynamic player on offense and can impact the running and passing game. Ryan Ball is back at tight end, and will likely be featured more on offense in 2015. Richland returns four linemen up front led by seniors Anthony Moran, Nolan Bloom, and Karsen Bailey.

Richland surrendered a lot of points in 2014, and playing better defense will be a key to success this season. Leading tackler, Dan Verhovsek, returns to lead the way. Anthony Moran is back after a solid season in 2014, and Ryan Ball will look to lead the pass rush with his great 6'5" 215 pound frame. Ethan Dabbs and Logan Bowser played prominent roles as freshmen in 2014, and should only improve in their sophomore campaigns.

Bottom Line - Richland has an offense led by two very good seniors Jonny Kutchman and Colby Warshel. Richland is led by one of the better offensive coaches in the area in Brandon Bailey, and he should be able to have the Richland offense operating at a high level. They need some guys to step up, but Richland should improve upon their four win mark of last season.

[center]5. Bishop McCort[/center]

KEY Players - Levi Cook (QB) Anthony Walters (LB) Carnell Andrews (RB)

Bishop McCort is coming off a strange off-season to say the least, and their hope is just to get back to playing good football on the field. Brain Basile becomes the fourth head coach in the past three seasons, and will look to stabilize the once dominant program. Bishop McCort featured a number of young players in 2014, and hope the experience will carry them this season.

The offense is led by junior quarterback, Levi Cook. After starting some games as a freshman, he took the reigns full-time last season. Cook is a good runner and has some skills as a passer, but needs to limit the turnovers. Carnell Andrews showed promise at times in his freshman season, and will be looked upon to be one of the primary ball carriers this year. Anthony Walters is another talented sophomore that should see an increase in carriers. Look for senior Zef Leech to see some touches on offense as well. The line had a lot of shuffling last season but seniors Conner Imler and Stefan Vyhonsky are two experienced players.

The defense was led in tackles by freshman, Anthony Walters. As a sophomore, Walters will assume a lot of responsibilities to lead the defense already. He has a good nose for the ball and should post another big year. Zef Leech, Mike Stem, and Carnell Andrews should make up for a strong returning secondary.

Bottom Line - Bishop McCort should be a better team that will compete more, but will it show in the standings? After relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores last season, they should see improvements with the added experience. Still, the talented sophomore class will still be a little inexperienced going up some of the senior laden teams of the LHAC.

[center]6. Westmont[/center]

KEY Players - Evan Dluhos (RB) Kyler Pyshnik (RB) Chase Davis (QB)

Westmont started the year with a win, but it all went downhill from there. The Hilltoppers struggled through a nine game losing streak to end the year. Pat Barron's squad only featured a number of seniors in 2014, and with a team loaded with returning starters, Westmont will look to improve on last season.

Westmont was able to establish a good ground game with Evan Dluhos and Kyler Pyshnik. The duo returns for another year, and they give Westmont a great start on offense. Chase Davis is back to run the offense at quarterback, and will look to improve his passing game to give Westmont another element on offense. Westmont has a big line up front, with three returning starters in the fold led by Mike Weinzierl (6'0" 295) and Mitch Hochfield (6'1" 255).

The Hilltoppers return plenty of players on defense, and they will look to take big strides forward in 2015. The defense was a major issue in 2015, and they surrendered 48 or more points in five of their losses. The offensive backfield of Chase Davis, Evan Dluhos, and Kyler Pyshnik form the secondary. Zach Krieger has a productive year last season, and will be one of the team leaders as a linebacker.

Bottom Line - Westmont will be able to employ a powerful running game that should be able to control the clock. The Hilltoppers have a big line with two talented backs to lead the offense. Westmont's best defense may be controlling the tempo on offense, and they have the personnel to make that happen. Westmont should improve as a team, but will struggle to show that in the win/loss column.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by Crimson's Ghost » July 27th, 2015, 12:08 am

Hey everyone, hope you enjoy the 2015 LHAC Preview. I have been doing this sort of thing the past few years for the D6 Sports Network, but if you have been following along with my new page (Crmson's Corner), you know I plan to do all of my regular high school football writing here on Bleachercoaches now.

I hope to get similar previews for the WestPac, ICC, Heritage, and Mountain as well, and I will try to get them going as soon as possible. These take some work and time, but I hope to start pouring out more high school football content as we near kickoff.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and if I missed something feel free to mention it, I base a lot of my previews off of Maxpreps, Hudl, and Youtube. Obviously those are great and helpful assets, but things slip through the cracks, it happens. Any help or insight you want to add, please let me know. But if I nailed it, let the debates on the picks begin.

Thanks again

Jim

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by Manfred » July 27th, 2015, 8:29 am

Very nice capsules. I don't easily dispense compliments, but nice job!

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by sydfinch » July 27th, 2015, 8:49 am

Great job as usual. One thing: I think Heights drops to Single A this year. Westmont, too.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by Crimson's Ghost » July 27th, 2015, 10:19 am

Yep, actually happened last year. I'll adjust it when I get the chance. Thanks.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by SFB14 » July 27th, 2015, 10:48 am

Nicely done Crimson. Very well researched and I can't really disagree with any of your picks. The Bedford/Somerset battle in Section 2 will be very interesting to watch all season. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. It won't be long now until the pads are popping.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by peytonsaturday » July 27th, 2015, 11:10 am

Well done sir. Keep doing what you're doing.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by peytonsaturday » July 27th, 2015, 11:12 am

I hate to sound greedy, but when do you think you will have other previews up? General ballpark idea. This one was great, and spot on in my opinion.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by Crimson's Ghost » July 27th, 2015, 11:22 am

The goal is to have Westpac done by the weekend.

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Re: 2015 LHAC Football Preview

Post by billmurray » July 27th, 2015, 4:18 pm

great job!

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