This is the 10th edition of our Five To Watch series. We thank The Mattioli Law Firm for coming aboard as our title sponsor for Five To Watch. There are 34 teams in the WVC and LFC so it’s impossible to recognize every single player who might be deserving. The players we do list are some of the best at their position or have an interesting role coming up in 2021 for their team. For players who don’t make the list, we hope you strive to make our lists at the end of the season because they are the ones that really count.
Here are the defensive backs:
Harlem Cook, Sr. – Delaware Valley
Height: 6-0 Weight 175
Delaware Valley has produced numerous game-changing players over the years and now it’s Cook’s turn to step up to that level. On defense, he compiled 44 tackles and was the shutdown cornerback for the Warriors. He has great size and footwork and can make plays in one-on-one situations. Cook will also be the No. 1 receiver for DV. He had 11 receptions last season. Cook was an LFC Division I honorable mention wide receiver in 2020.
Rocco Ormando, Sr. – Dallas
Height: 5-7 Weight 164
Ormando is a two-year starter on defense and offense for the Mounts. Despite having a smaller body frame, he is a fearless defender who is a sure-tackler and will be the leader in the Dallas secondary. Ormando’s had 31 tackles and a sack last season. His presence in the secondary will be important as he is the only returning starter. Ormando is also the leading returning rusher for the Mountaineers so he will have an impact on offense as well. He is also a standout lacrosse player for Dallas.
T.J. Schmalze, Sr. – Wallenpaupack
Height: 5-10 Weight 180
This will be the 3rd year for Schmalze starting at safety for the Buckhorns. He has 10 career interceptions and led the team in tackles this past season. Schmalze has great speed and athleticism. His biggest asset is seeing the whole field and reading quarterbacks which has produced great results. Schmalze will also be a dangerous weapon on offense. He had 15 catches for 422 yards and led the league in yard-per-catch with 5 TDs in 2020. The coaches will try to find even more ways to get him involved on both sides of the ball. He is committed to play Division I baseball at Fairfield University. Schmalze was named an LFC Division I first-team defensive back last season.
Donato Stepney, Jr. – Scranton
Height: 5-10 Weight 170
Stepney started all 11 games as a freshman at cornerback in 2019 and missed the 2020 season due to injury suffered in the scrimmage before the season. He has had a tremendous off-season in the weight room and has improved his speed. Recently tested at a get recruiting site with a 4.51 40-yard dash time. In 2019, he had 24 tackles, 1 interception and 8 passes broken-up. Stepney will also play wide receiver for the Knights.
Ethan Stoltz, Sr. – Crestwood
Height: 6-0 Weight 170
Stoltz will be the only true 3-year defensive starter at the most important position on the Comets defense – free safety. Last year, he really came into his own as a run defender and really changed Crestwood’s defense. An extra guy from the secondary willing to roll up his sleeves and play in the box makes him tough to deal with. Pass defense was much better last season as well, and as he continues to work on that aspect of his game, he could be one of the best all-around defenders in the league. Stoltz was a WVC Division II first-team defensive back in 2020.
Keiran Reyes, Sr. – Dunmore
Height: 5-9 Weight 160
The Bucks only return four starters on defense and Keiran Reyes is expected to take over as the No. 1 cornerback. Dunmore should be fine up front but with three other starting quarterbacks in the division returning, the secondary will be the key on how good the defense will be.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Chris Conserette, Sr. – Valley View – Highlights | Twitter
Leo Haros, Sr. – Wyoming Area – Highlights | Twitter
Evan Litwin, Jr. – Lackawanna Trail
Jon Seamans, Jr. – Lakeland – Highlights
Danny Smith, Sr. – North Pocono – Highlights