2019 Season Preview: LFC Division II

Coaches Consensus Predictions:
1. Valley View
2. Scranton Prep
3. West Scranton
4. Honesdale
5. Western Wayne

The Cougars knocked the Cavaliers off the top of the division and those two should be battling again for a title. West Scranton could be a sleeper while Honesdale and Western Wayne will try to replace good senior classes.

Valley View Cougars
Coach George Howanitz  (12th season, 80-58)
Class 4A
2018 Record: 13-1 (4-0)
Stadium: John Henzes Veterans Memorial Stadium

Valley View is looking for a threepeat in the district and a repeat as division champs. The Cougars program is on a roll and LFC II Coach of the Year George Howanitz believes more good things are ahead.

“We expect to compete at a high level and work towards attacking the District Championship”.

All-State quarterback Janassah Boone returns for his senior season. The Cougars will have to replace All-District running back Mason Kordish and Zach Manchak is first up to fill those shoes. Fullback T.J. Noto and tight end Dylan Howanitz return as does wide receiver Zack Kovalchik. Alex Savkov will be the other wide out. Up front will be the big question. Valley View lost four offensive linemen with John Shnipes the lone returning starter. Cyler Rozina moves over from tight end and Bob Ferraro, Logan Burns, Tyler Swartz, Patrick Murphy and Danny Visloski will fill the other spots. Kovalchik will take over the kicking duties.

The defense could be even better this season with Rozina, Jon Clark and Swartz returning up front. Burns, Shnipes and PJ Schuster will rotate in. Cain Bennett and Ryan Turlip are the returning linebackers while Corey Coulthard will get first crack at the other spot. The secondary has three returning starters including Jordan Conserette, Savkov and Kovalchik. Boone, who was a standout defensive back as a sophomore, will see reps in the secondary this season.

Scranton Prep Cavaliers
Coach Terry Gallagher  (4th season, 38-5)
Class 3A
2018 Record: 13-2 (3-1)
Stadium: Scranton Memorial Stadium

The Cavs keep rolling as they attempt to win their fifth straight district title. Class 3A has gotten tougher so it won’t be easy, but until some knocks Prep off, they are the favorite.

“We have a great group of leaders in this senior class,” remarked head coach Terry Gallagher. “We return a solid nucleus on both sides of the football, but must replace a few guys along the offensive line and an all-state quarterback. The junior and sophomore classes have great potential, and it should be exciting to see them develop. We hope to be very competitive.”

Paddy Grady will try to be the next championship quarterback. Tucker Johnson moves from fullback to tailback while Vito Gianella will move into the fullback spot.  Carter Odell returns as the leading wide receiver and Bo Lynett, Christain Graniel snd Robert Rossi will all be in the mix.  Brendan Colleran is a returning starter at tight end. The offensive line will need to replace some very good players but Jake Aebli and Connor James are returning starters. Joey Cholish, Anthony Giacobbe, Reinor Lowe and Jimmy Burke will vie for the other three spots. Chase Stevens will do the kicking.

Aebli is a returning starter on the defensive line and James, Cholish and Burke will fill the other three spots. Johnson is one of best linebackers in the LFC and Colleran is also a returning starter. Ginanello and Giacobbe will play in the other two spots. Odell is the lone returning starter in the secondary. Christain Graniel will take one spot while either Grady or freshman London Montgomery will fill the other.

West Scranton Invaders
Coach Brian Fahey  (6th season, 18-35)
Class 4A
2018 Record: 7-5 (1-3)
Stadium: Scranton Memorial Stadium

The Invaders won a district playoff game last season and finished with a winning record for the first time since 2010. Coach Brian Fahey expects more in 2019.

“We have some depth, experience, and talent at the skill positions. But, a lack of depth and experience on the OL and DL. If we can stay healthy, eligible, and mature quickly in the places we lack experience OL/DL we can be a competitive playoff team by year’s end.”

Cayden Merrifield, who got some reps last season, will be the No. 1 quarterback. Veteran Kevin Williams is the No. 1 offensive weapon at tailback while Ryan Bianco starts a fullback. Mason Spano and Evan McLoe will see reps the running back, too. It’s all new faces at wide receiver with Nick Forsette, Skyler Esquillin and Devin Chollette expected to see time. Same at tight end with John Walsh and Joschua Perez.  Joe Evanosky and Fushawn Liggins are returning starters on the offensive line and Na’il Mulgrew, Rondell McCullough and Gianny Andrade will fill the other three spots.

Liggins is the only returning starters on the defensive line. Brian Lipscomb, McCullough and Mulgrew are the other members of the unit. Cholette and Bianco are the linebackers and  Zach Darbenzio, Spano, Forsette are experienced in the secondary.  Scranton High transfer Al-Khabar Russell will be get an opportunity to play.

Honesdale Hornets
Coach Mike Jurkowski  (5th season, 7-34)
Class 4A
2018 Record: 3-8 (1-3)
Stadium: Honesdale Stadium

The Hornets only won three games last season but were not an easy opponent. They almost upset No. 2 seed Dallas on the road in the district playoffs last season. They hope to build on that performance. “With very good off season participation, several players returning from last season, and a great mental attitudes of the players, we plan on being very competitive and hope to return to the playoffs,” said head coach Mike Jurkowski.

It will be a whole new backfield for Honesdale as Pete West will take over at quarterback, Jim Ludwig at tailback and Jacob Orrick at fullback.  Both starting receivers return in Luke Bancroft and Ethan Parker. Vance Hiller and Nate Hendrickson will also see time there. Brady Carmody is the new tight end. Despite the loss a year early of Florida State recruit Alex Atcavage, the Hornets have three starters returning on the line – Walker Carney, Geoffery Johnson and Jordan DeGroat. Bradley Bennett and Kane Rogers fill the other spots.  Robbie Campen returns as the kicker.

Carney is the lone returning starter on the defensive line while Will Bowen, Kyle Hanson, Sam Deron and Rogers will rotate in the other spots. All of the back seven are returning starters including linebackers Jakob Burlein, Orrick, Ludwig and Parker. Bancroft, Hendrickson, and Hiller give the Hornets an experience secondary.

Western Wayne Wildcats
Coach Randy Wolff  (4th season, 19-15)
Class 3A
2018 Record: 6-6 (1-3)
Stadium: Sharkey Rosetti Sports Complex

It was a banner year for Coach Randy Wolff whose Wildcats won a district playoff game and gave district champions Dunmore and Valley View everything they could handle during the regular season. However, Western Wayne lost some very good talent from their graduating senior class and will have the mature quickly.  “We need young players to rise to the challenge of our schedule for us to compete on a weekly basis,” commented Wolff.

Western Wayne does return quarterback Matt Valanda and fullback Adam Silfies but will have a new starting tailback in Zane Janiszewski. The wide receivers are also new – Caleb Brungard and Ezra Tetreault. Derek Mason does return at tight end.  The offensive line will be the biggest concern with only two starters returning Jack McAllister and Parker Howell. Chris Heenan will fill one of the other spots. Jake Shepherd will do the kicking again.

McAllister is their best defensive lineman and he will welcome new starters Howell and Heenan up front. Janiszewski and Mason are returning starters at linebacker and Silfies will take one of the other spots. Only Brungard returns to the secondary and will get some help from Tetreault.