April 23, 2018

MSA high school football power rankings: Week 0

Game week is here for private schools, and we got you covered. Photo by Kyle McFadden/MSA.

It’s that time of year again: When we take a shot in the dark and produce high school football rankings with minimal information to fall back on. As it should, these rankings will stir discussion, whether it’s championship hype or controversial because your team isn’t ranked high enough. Let’s put it this way, you gotta start somewhere. 

Every team — from top to bottom — has questions to answer and roles to be filled. Can DeMatha carry on its dynasty without three-year starting quarterback Beau English? Or will St. John’s (D.C.), Gonzaga (D.C.) or Good Counsel end DeMatha’s WCAC rein? With a loaded roster, will St. Frances achieve maximum potential and burst onto the national scene, and does anyone else in the MIAA have anything for the Panthers? On the public school side, will Damascus, Wise and Fort Hill pull of the trifecta and five-peat, respectively?

Below are our Week 0 power rankings, which exist for a different purpose than the state media poll (this is where strength of schedule and quality of play matters), along with a tidbit about each team. Questions and comments shall be sent to kfadd32@gmail.com, otherwise, buckle up for another season on the gridiron.

RELATED: Way-too-early high school football championship predictions

1. DeMatha Catholic Stags (Last year’s record: 12-0)

County: Prince George’s, WCAC

This week: at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), 9:00 p.m. EST on Friday (aired on ESPNU)

DeMatha begins its pursuit of five straight WCAC championships on Friday, when they play at Bishop Gorman on national television. Overall, 11 starters return from last year, including a pair of Maryland commits in two-way linemen Austin Fontaine and Evan Gregory.

CAPSULE: DeMatha pulls off comeback for the ages against St. John’s (D.C.) to win fourth straight WCAC title

RELATED: 2017 DeMatha football preview

2. St. Frances Academy Panthers (Last year’s record: 10-2)

County: Baltimore City, MIAA A-conference

This week: vs. Canada Prep, noon on Saturday

St. Frances made a big splash this offseason by getting former Gilman coach and Michigan Wolverines associate head coach Biff Poggi on the staff, along with adding national recruits Joachim Banga and Shane Lee from St. John’s (D.C.). Not to mention the Panthers retain nine starters from last year’s conference championship team.

CAPSULE: St. Frances flexes defensive muscle in shutout of Calvert Hall

3. St. John’s College Cadets (Last year’s record: 8-4)

County: District of Columbia, WCAC

This week: vs. Jones (Orlando), 2:00 p.m. on Saturday

The Cadets squandered a 15-point lead with eight minutes to go in the WCAC title game, which would have been the program’s first conference championship since 1987. On top of the lingering bitterness, three of its top underclassmen left the program in addition to graduates Kasim Hill (Maryland), Cam Spence (Maryland) and Calvin Ashley (Auburn). The face of St. John’s football is unclear at the moment, but 3-star running back Keilan Robinson is back in the mix and Kevin Doyle (33 college offers), one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects, joins the Cadets from Pennsylvania.  

4. Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. Pumas (Last year’s record: 14-0)

County: Prince George’s, MPSSAA Class 4A

This week: Bye

The two-time defending state champion Pumas ride a 28-game win streak into the 2017 season, and there’s no sign of them slowing down.

CAPSULE: Wise rocks Quince Orchard to claim second straight state title, 42-7

Though they graduated dynamic quarterback Jabari Laws (Army), Quinton Williams (6-foot-4) comes over from Good Counsel with practically the same skillset and even more upside. Leading rusher John “MooMoo” Oliver and 5-star receiver/cornerback A.J. Lytton (Florida State commit) are back in the fold as well.

RELATED: Wise football coach DaLawn Parrish and Florida State commit A.J. Lytton discuss the upcoming season

5. Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers (Last year’s record: 9-2)

County: Anne Arundel, MIAA A-conference

This week: Bye

Archbishop Spalding will have to cope without quarterback Evan Fochtman, who is now off at Navy. But on the brightside, the Cavs retain 17 starters from their 9-2 team a year ago, including nine on an offense that averaged 45 points per game. 

6. McDonogh School Eagles (Last year’s record: 8-3)

County: Baltimore County, MIAA A-conference

This week: vs. No. 21 Pallotti, 7:00 p.m. on Saturday

Conference foe St. Frances has unquestionably the most talent in the MIAA, but with quarterback DeJuan Ellis (Virginia Tech commit) and P.J. Mustipher (Penn State commit) — one of the top defensive tackles in the country — the Eagles will always have a chance.

CAPSULE: Virginia Tech commit DeJuan Ellis leads McDonogh past Gonzaga (D.C.), 32-29

7. Gonzaga College Eagles (D.C.) (Last year’s record: 8-3)

County: District of Columbia, WCAC

This week: at No. 14 Gilman, 1:00 p.m. on Saturday

The Eagles are still searching for its first WCAC title since 1997, and they’ll have to do it without all-time leading rusher Tyree Randolph, who graduated this past year. Gonzaga will also have to replace quarterback Sam Brown and receiver Max Fisher (N.C. State). Indiana commit and 3-star offensive tackle Aidan Rafferty returns up front.

CAPSULE: Gonzaga storms from behind in epic fashion to squeak by Georgetown Prep, 21-20

8. Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets (Last year’s record: 14-0)

County: Montgomery, Class 2A

This week: Bye

Everyone wants to talk about Jake Funk’s record-setting season in 2015 and the blistering speed of Markus Vinson in 2016 — both skill players who charged the Hornets to back-to-back undefeated championship runs.

CAPSULE: Damascus outlasts Franklin, 14-12, to win second straight state title 

But when you boil it down, the root of Damascus’ dominance the past two seasons are the big boys up front. They return four of five linemen from last year’s title team, including three-year varsity players Michael Jurgens (Wake Forest commit) and Division I prospect Jordan Funk. Oh, and it’s also worth noting they now have the top-rated player nationally in the Class of 2020, defensive end Bryan Bresee (offers from Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, among others). 

RELATED: Damascus coach Eric Wallich, Bryan Bresee and Michael Jurgens discuss the upcoming season and more

9. Quince Orchard Cougars (Last year’s record: 12-2)

County: Montgomery, Class 4A

This week: Bye

The Cougars strung off 12-straight wins to reach the state title game in 2016, and then fell victim to four turnovers that resulted in a 42-7 thumping from Wise. Three-year starting quarterback Doc Bonner is equipped for an accoladed senior campaign and Coach John Kelley claims this year’s group of skill guys are the most dynamic he’s ever had. Is it enough to unseat Wise? We’ll see.

RELATED: Quince Orchard coach John Kelley and quarterback Doc Bonner discuss the upcoming season and more

10. Good Counsel Falcons (Last year’s record: 6-5)

County: Montgomery, WCAC

This week: Bye

Maryland’s all-time winningest coach Bob Milloy hung up the headset last year after 47 remarkable year and over 400 wins to show for. Now, Andy Stefanelli takes control of the storied Falcons program that returns 13 starters from a six-win 2016 season. Offensive centerpiece, workhorse back Mohamed Ibrahim is off at Minnesota, and will also need to be replaced. Dual-threat quarterback Kam Snell is expected to start under center and Division I recruit Tremayn Stott is positioned to inherit the bulk of the carries. Offensive lineman Tyler Baylor and defensive back Micah McNeil, both Division I recruits, return as well.

CAPSULE: Legendary coach Bob Milloy gets historic win No. 400

11. Mount St. Joseph Gaels (Last year’s record: 7-4)

County: Baltimore City, MIAA A-conference

This week: Bye

Coach Rich Holzer and the Gaels return 12 starters from last year’s seven-win unit, including one of the state’s most productive ball carriers in Sam James (Cincinnati commit). However, if MSJ wants to compete for a MIAA A-conference crown in 2017, it’ll have to improve the 1-4 mark against teams with losing records.  

CAPSULE: Mount St. Joseph uses potent and stingy defense to down Gilman, 34-20

12. Northwest Jaguars (Last year’s record 7-4)

County: Montgomery, MPSSAA Class 4A

This week: Bye

After a relatively down year, the Jaguars return 15 of 22 starters and appear in much better position to return to championship formality. Quarterback Chris Craddock looks more comfortable, and with a stable of skill guys around him, including Division I recruits, receiver Alphonso Foray and running back Juwon Farri, the Northwest offense should flow more freely. National recruit, defensive end DeAndre Jules, leads the defensive charge.

RELATED: Northwest football coach Michael Neubeiser, DeAndre Jules and Chris Craddock discuss the upcoming season and more

13. Bullis School Bulldogs (Last year’s record: 7-3)

County: Montgomery, IAC

This week: Bye

Last year was the first time in four years that Bullis didn’t win the IAC title. With extra motivation, the Bulldogs return nine starters, including playmaker Bryson Shaw (seven FCS offers).

14. Gilman Greyhounds (Last year’s record: 2-9)

County: Baltimore, MIA A-conference

This week: vs. No. 7 Gonzaga (D.C.), 1:00 p.m. on Saturday

A young Gilman team endured its fair share of lumps in 2016, only winning two games and having four losses decided by two scores or less. This season, the Greyhounds look to turn it around with starting quarterback Purnell Hills and ball carriers Brandon Madison and Brandon Willis back in the fold. 

15. Walkersville Lions (Last year’s record: 14-0)

County: Frederick, MPSSAA Class 2A

This week: Bye

Fresh off sweet redemption — leaving no doubt in an undefeated state title season after losing the 2015 Class 2A state title game by one point to Patuxent — the Lions bring back a plethora impact players for 2017.

CAPSULE: Walkersville gets redemption, captures Class 2A title in 33-6 rout of Elkton

Eight starters return from a defense that didn’t allow more than eight points a game in 2016. In addition, three-year starting quarterback Billy Gant and do-it-all playmaker Jacob Wetzel are primed for memorable senior campaigns. 

WATCH: Walkersville football coach Joe Polce and Jacob Wetzel discuss the upcoming season and more

16. Georgetown Prep Little Hoyas (Last year’s record: 7-3)

County: Montgomery, IAC

This week: Bye

The Little Hoyas will have to replace their heart and soul in utility man T.J. Dozier, who is now off at Harvard, but they do return linebacker Jonathan Hayes (Army offer) and defensive back/receiver Matthew Kane (four Division I offers).

17. Linganore Lancers (Last year’s record: 7-4)

County: Frederick, MPSSAA Class 3A

This week: Bye

After reeling off four-straight wins to squeeze into the playoffs, and sticking with eventual Class 3A state champion Damascus, Linganore appears ready to return to prominence. The Lancers return 15 starters, including college prospect, 6-foot-5 quarterback Ryan Leyh, ball carriers Zamarre Snowden and Davon Butler, and leading receiver Joe Kollick. Joey Felton, formerly from Good Counsel, will start at receiver and cornerback, and all-area linebacker Luke Freeman will lead the front-seven.

RELATED: Linganore coach Rick Conner, Luke Freeman and Zach Willett discuss the upcoming season

18. Calvert Hall Cardinals (Last year’s record: 7-5)

County: Baltimore City, MIAA A-conference

This week: vs. Silver Oak Academy, 2:00 p.m. on Saturday

The Cardinals hope to make another run at the MIAA title in 2017 with outside linebacker Chance Campbell (Maryland commit), offensive lineman Reginald Sutton (Rutgers commit) and cornerback Isaiah Watson (10 Division I offers) leading the way. 

19. Bishop McNamara Mustangs (Last year’s record: 4-6)

County: Prince George’s, WCAC

This week: vs. No. 22 Riverdale Baptist, 2:30 p.m. on Saturday

Bishop McNamara will look to weather its brutal WCAC schedule with a sturdy offensive front in 3-star Spencer Anderson (Maryland commit), Eric McDowell (Waynesburg commit) and Steven Scott II. 

20. Oxon Hill Clippers (Last year’s record: 11-1)

County: Prince George’s, MPSSAA Class 3A

This week: Bye

The Clippers look to avenge a triple-overtime playoff loss to rival Potomac that spoiled a perfect regular season and ride Penn State commit Daniel George (15 touchdown receptions in 2016) and quarterback DaJuan Rollins (182 pass yards a game, 28 touchdowns in 2016) to the promise land in a wide-open Class 3A.

21. St. Vincent Pallotti Panthers (Last year’s record: 10-2)

County: Baltimore, MIAA B-conference

This week: at No. 6 McDonogh, 7:00 p.m. on Saturday

College recruits, running back Blake Corum and defensive lineman Coziah Izzard, are back in the mix for the Panthers, who look to repeat as MIAA B-conference champs.

22. Riverdale Baptist Crusaders (Last year’s record: 6-5)

County: Prince George’s, Independant

This week: at No. 19 Bishop McNamara, 2:30 p.m. on Saturday

Riverdale Baptist returns quarterback Trent Jackson and will ride its defense led by cornerback Daymon Williams (offers from Marshall and Morgan State), which pitched a pair of shutouts and allowed nine points or less in five games last year.

23. Fort Hill Sentinels (Last year’s record: 14-0)

County, Allegany, MPSSAA Class 1A

This week: Bye

For the first time in their championship reign, the Sentinels don’t have a Division I playmaker to lean on. In 2013 and 2014, it was current Maryland running back Ty Johnson. In 2015 and 2016, it was UCONN’s Brayden Brown. Additionally, quarterback Nathaniel Graves and running back Raen Smith — both three-year starters — have graduated. So, who will step up to the plate this year and lead Fort Hill to its fifth straight state title? Running back Troy Banks III, who rushed for 189 yards and four touchdowns in the 2016 Class 1A title game, and hard-hitting linebacker Luke Hamilton (Navy offer) will now carry the weighty torch.

CAPSULE: Fort Hill pulls away from Havre de Grace to capture historic fourth straight state title

24. Franklin Indians (Last year’s record: 11-2)

County: Baltimore, MPSSAA Class 3A

This week: Bye

The Indians made a hard charge at the Class 3A state title last season before Damascus edged them in the championship game, 14-12. If they want to get back there, Franklin will have to cope without quarterback Joshua Turner, leading rusher Justin Spence, leading receiver Michael Gibson and defensive leader Aaron Webb. Larry Smith (nine touchdown passes in 2016) will presume quarterback duties and second-leading receiver Assanti Kearney (430 yards and five touchdowns on 30 receptions) return for senior seasons.

25. Sherwood Warriors (Last year’s record: 10-1)

County: Montgomery, MPSSAA Class 4A

This week: Bye

The Warriors will be without Gatorade Player of the Year, running back Travis Levy, but they return 13 starters from last year’s 10-win group. They’ll also have one of the best playmakers in the state under center in Michael Mbony (13 college offers), who will give Sherwood a chance to beat anyone on any given night.

RELATED: Q&A with Sherwood quarterback Michael Mbony

On the bubble: Allegany, Annapolis, Broadneck, Calvert, Douglass-PG, Dunbar, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gwynn Park, Howard, Kent Island, Lackey, Liberty, Long Reach, Loyola Blakefield, Mervo, Milford Mill, North Caroline, North Point, Oakdale, Old Mill, Parkside, Patuxent, Perry Hall and Tuscarora

About Kyle McFadden 416 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
Contact: Twitter

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