This is the countdown for the NPF Super Six Preseason rankings presented by Al’s Quick Stop. The rankings run weekly throughout the seasos with two divisions comprising the teams from the LFC and WVC. They are separated into the Big School (Class 6A, 5A, 4A teams) and Small School (3A, 2A, 1A teams). A new team will be revealed each day leading up to the season opener
1. Delaware Valley Warriors (2018 record 9-4)
After a slow start last season, the Warriors ran off seven straight wins before losing the state playoffs. Hit hard by graduation, the younger players matured and DV was one of the best teams at the end of 2018. This year, they should avoid the slow start. The Warriors return QB Zach Scillia, RB Josh Balcarcel and FB Jason Henderson, who is also one of the best line backers in the LFC. They also return WR Jawon Foushee and TE Hunter Klein plus four starting offensive lineman. On defense, the linebackers and secondary all return although the defensive line has question marks going int0 Week 1. Delaware Valley looks to be the best team on paper and a heavy favorite in LFC I and Class 6A.
2. Dallas Mountaineers (2018 record 11-2)
The only thing that stood in Dallas’ way last season was Valley View. The Cougars gave the Mounts their only two losses including the district championship game. Dallas returns 10 starters on each side of the ball and they are convinced they have closed the gap. Michael Starbuck returns at quarterback, Lenny Kelley at running back, Jack Farrell at tight end and Luke Delgaudio and Nate Maransky at wide receiver. On defense, Tyler Bolesta and Dylan Shuster are two of the top defenders that will lead the defense. It will be up to the offense to figure out the Valley View and Berwick’s defenses – the two main challengers in Class 4A.
3. Valley View Cougars (2018 record 13-1)
The Cougars are poised to win their third straight district title, but it won’t be easy. Class 4A is the most competitive classification in District 2 and Valley View not only has to replace four starting offensive linemen, they have to replace four all-star offensive lineman. But the cupboard is far from bare. All-state quarterback Janassah Boone returns as well a boatload of talented receivers that were impact players last season. The Cougars defense could be better even without District 2 Defense Player of the Year Traon Jones. The program is deep right now and the backups played a lot last season. The freshmen team has won three straight LFC titles so the feeder system is working. If the offensive line can hold their own, Valley View is the favorite to threepeat.
4. Berwick Bulldogs (2018 record 9-3)
2013 was the last time the Dawgs won a district championship. In the last five seasons, they have made the title game four times but have not been able to jump that hurdle. With new coach Carm DeFrancisco, the defense led by DL Mason Laubach and DB Teagan Wilk, will be one of the best in the WVC. If the offense can improve, Berwick will have a chance to seriously challenge Valley View and Dallas, the only teams they lost to in 2018. The quarterback and running back positions have been a competition in camp but sophomore Aiden Mason could be the new tailback while Ryan Laubach returns at quarterback after taking over late last season.
5. West Scranton Invaders (2018 record 7-5)
The Invaders won a district playoff game last year and hope to take at least one more step in 2019. They return star running back Kevin Williams along with QB Cayden Merrifield who started two game last season. West has a core of young players that will contribute on both sides of the ball, but the big question will be up front in a division and classification that has some very good lines. The Invaders return two-way lineman Fushawn Liggins, but will have to have some younger players play vital roles early in the season.
6. Wyoming Valley West Spartans (2018 record 5-5)
It was a down season for Valley West after being a WVC power for many years. Now, Jack Baranski takes over as the head coach and has the Spartans poised to get back to the level we have been used to. The defense will be the strength with seven returning starters. Three returning offensive linemen should help new quarterback Dontae Rhodes. Nah-Syr Garner is a returning playmaker on both sides of the ball.
1.Scranton Prep Cavaliers (2018 record 13-2)
The Cavaliers have won four straight district championships and until someone knocks them off, they are the No. 1 Small School. The offense and defense will be led by Tucker Johnson, Carter Odell and Brendan Colleran while line is anchored by Jake Aebli. The key will be Paddy Grady who takes over at quarterback and has to produce in the passing game. Coach Terry Gallagher will have his toughest job yet as everyone is chasing Prep and although teams have closed the gap, the Cavs are still the team to beat in Class 3A.
2. Lakeland Chiefs (2018 record 9-4)
Lakeland cleared a hurdle last season by knocking Dunmore off the top of the division and snapping the Bucks 46-game division winning streak. Now, they have their sights set on a District 2 Class 3A title. Offensively, the Chiefs bring back juniors QB C.J. Dippre and RB Giovanni Spataro and two key lineman up front – Cross Douglas and Robbie Thomas. On defense, Lakeland returns six starters including Billy Good and Mike Pidgeon. If the young players on each line step up, the Chiefs could make that run and also clinch a second straight division title. David Piwowarcyzk takes over as the new head coach, but was a long time assistant and former freshman head coach so he is very familiar with the program.
3. Wyoming Area Warriors (2018 record 11-1)
It was an amazing 2018 season for Randy Spencer’s Warriors who went unbeaten in the regular season, won a district playoff game and won the WVC Small School division. The goal this year is to dethrone Scranton Prep in Class 3A and Wyoming Area has many weapons returning to do just that. QB Domenic DeLuca and RB Corey Mruk were division all-stars and leading receiver Brian Williams also returns. Defensive linemen Sammy Solomon, FJ Braccini and Derek Ambrosino should make the Warriors tough again on defense. The biggest question mark for Wyoming Area is the offensive line who will have to have some inexperienced players make their mark.
4. Old Forge Blue Devils (2018 record 8-3)
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Lackawannna Trail rallied from a first half deficit in Class 1A Championship and ended up in Hershey. Many in Old Forge, who beat the Lions in the regular season, feel they could have been the team playing in December. The Devils lost some key skill people but do return junior quarterback Dante Lucarelli. Jonathan Nicholoff will be the leader up front of a unit that has youth but some size. Expect the Holzman brothers, Colin and Casey, to be key on defense while both Tyler Carey and Michael DeGregorio will try to be the playmaker on offense and special teams.
5. Dunmore Bucks (2018 record 9-4)
It’s a new era in Dunmore as Hall of Fame coach Jack Henzes has retired. Don’t expect too many changes as new head coach Kevin McHale has been on staff for years and has been a vital part of the defensive schemes. Assistant coach Jeff Mills will continue to run the offense. The Bucks will have to replace four offensive lineman but we have seen this before. They have several key returning playmakers in QB Steve Borgia, running backs Cristian Buckley and Rayshaun Dawkins and receiver Tommy Lewis. The Bucks are favored to win Class 2A again, but will have to start another LFC streak as they were dethroned by Lakeland last season.
6. Lackawanna Trail Lions (2018 record 14-2)
The Lions have a ton of talent still on the roster but did lose NPF Offense Player of the Year Nate Rolka. Even with the run to the state championship game, there is still some work to be done as Trail did not win LFC Division IV. The key to the season will be how good Nico Berrios will make the transition to quarterback, a position he played in juniors and as a freshman. The Lions do return OL/DL Mark Dunckle, RB Jeffrey Resto, FB/LB Ray Melnikoff and LB Josh Brown to name a few players who were key contributors to last year’s success.