Saturday, July 26, 2014

2014 ICC Football Preview

Gold Division

1. Bellwood-Antis

KEY Players - Jake Burch (QB/S) Zach Mock (LB)  Cameron Wood (DB)

The old saying goes, "some teams don't rebuild - they reload" and that is certainly the case with Bellwood-Antis. The Blue Devils will say goodbye to yet another successful senior class, but they have kids waiting in the wings ready to leave their mark. Jake Burch had a moderately successful year as a sophomore starting quarterback, and he will certainly get better as his career progresses. Burch was not asked to do a whole lot last season, but still posted 1,000 yards in the passing game. Expect to see more responsibility thrown Burch's way this season. The running game takes a big hit with the loss of Casey Gray, but Matt McMillan, Kyler Larderi, and Cameron Wood will all get chances to take on the role by committee. While the offense sorts out its personnel, the defense should carry the load. Zach Mock, Tyson Miller, and Trenton Creppage were big parts of the defense last season, and they will anchor an experienced unit this year. 

Bottom line - Bellwood-Antis is set to have the best defense in the ICC, and they have an offense loaded with potential. Year after year Bellwood always puts together a solid team, and this year is no different. Bellwood should most certainly take control of the ICC, but also make a run at Bishop Guilfoyle for the district crown. John Hayes is one of the best around, and his team will be ready to take on anyone. 

2. Mt. Union

KEY Players - Trevon Walker (QB)  BJ Loner (WR) Brody Suter (DL)

Mt. Union posted one of its most successful seasons in recent memory with a 9-2 record and a berth in the District Six AA playoffs. The Trojans were very close to making it to the second round, and revenge will be on their minds this season. The offense is in very good hands with Trevon Walker. The senior quarterback had a breakout year last year by throwing for 20 touchdowns and rushing for 5 more. He is one of the league's most dynamic players. BJ Loner returns after showing to be one of the more versatile players in the ICC by rushing for 444 yards and posting 510 reviving yards. With this connection, the Mt. Union offense is expected to post big numbers. Brody Suter is one of the anchors of the defense after having a big junior campaign that included 6 sacks. Loner posted 5 interceptions, again showing his versatility. 

Bottom line - Mt. Union will be a big threat to take down Bellwood for the ICC crown. The Trojans have a solid offense with experience that is capable of putting up big numbers in a hurry. Mt. Union will be a confident football team in 2014, and will be looking to get back to the playoffs, and they could make some noise in a wide open AA field. 

3. Northern Bedford 

KEY Players - Austin Heck (RB)  Jacob Dasher (WR)  Elias Brailler (FB/LB)

Northern Bedford will likely switch gears from the past few seasons, and reinvent the offensive game plan. The high flying attack that Blake Over and Kyler Diehl displayed over the past few seasons is gone, but an emphasis on the running game may now be established. Austin Heck certainly looks the part, and will have a big role on this team after rushing for 8 touchdowns last season. Elias Brailler rushed for 275 yards last season, and he should help make up a powerful duo in the running game. The Panthers have four offensive linemen and things are shaping up for a big year on the ground. Despite all those factors, Northern Bedford could still have a big passing game with Jacob Dasher on the roster. Dasher is just a sophomore, but had 998 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and is easily the best receiver the ICC has to offer.

Bottom line - The potential of Northern Bedford's offense is real.The running game will be dynamic and effective, and if Aaron Batzel is up to the task at quarterback, things could go very well for Northern Bedford this season on the offensive of the ball. They may not be in the class of Mt. Union and Bellwood just yet, but they could potentially give those teams some problems.

4. Everett

KEY players - Kyle Sheaffer (WR/CB)   Jacob Jay (RB/LB)   Josiah Cogan (WR)

Everett is coming off a disappointing 4-7 season, but they were not far away from being 7-4, though. The Warriors lost three games by three points each, and finishing games will be a bigger point of emphasis in 2014. Everett returns one of the league's most explosive players in Kyle Sheaffer, and he could post even better numbers this season. Jacob Jay also returns after leading the team in rushing in 2013. The duo should account for most of the yardage again this season. The quarterback situation remains unsettled, but the Warriors definitely have enough firepower to help ease in a new starter.

Bottom line -  Everett is graduating a good portion of their team from last year, but don't expect a step backwards. The Warriors have some talented players, and a host of young guys ready to step in and take their place. 

5. Southern Huntingdon

KEY Players - Tyler Carowick (QB)  Mason Parks (RB/LB)  Storm Vaughn (RB)

Southern Huntingdon returns an intriguing group of skilled players that could make for a surprising season. Tyler Carowick had a successful year on the ground at quarterback, but made too many mistakes in his passing. With a year of experience, he should be a better player in 2014. Mason Parks and Storm Vaughn had productive years as running backs, and both went over 500 yards. Between the three of them, the Rockets could have a vaunted rushing attack. Cam Woodward provided a good receiving option, and should see more pas targets his way this season. Mason Parks led the tam in tackles by far, and is one of the better linebackers in the league.

Bottom line - The Rockets will have a solid offense, but can they slow down the opposition? Too many times last season they found themselves on the wrong end of some blow-outs, but the offense should make for some more exciting and closer games in 2014. The defense will not be fixed overnight, and that is the biggest concern coming into this year.

6. West Branch

KEY Players - Kris Smeal (RB)  Walker Williams (QB) Hunter Sample (OL)

Low numbers have hurt the West Branch program recently, and it will be another issue heading into this season. The Warriors failed to win one game last season, as they only suited 17 players, and 5 of those players have since graduated. Fortunately with low numbers, it creates experience for everyone on the roster. West Branch has one of the league's top players in Kris Smeal. He is a workhorse running back, and will be going for his second straight 1,000 yard season. Walker Williams will be asked to have a better season at quarterback to create some diversity in the offense. Hunter Sample and Smeal were two of the big forces on defense last year, and will be once again this season.

Bottom line -  West Branch has a strong offensive line and a very good running back. They should be able to put together a strong offense, but numbers and fatigue will eventually catch up with them. They are a tough bunch, but they have a lot working against them. 

Silver Division 

1. Tussey Mountain

KEY Players - Daniel Taylor (QB) Quinn Barnett (QB)  Curtis Wentz (LB)

Tussey Mountain returns a 1,000 yard passer and a 1,000 yard rusher off a district championship team, and the Titans are on the short list to win that title once again. Quinn Barnett calmly operated a powerful offense last season by tossing for 1,465 yards and 14 touchdowns. He will be in his senior year, and perhaps playing his best football yet.  The Titans had a two-headed monster at running back last season, but Darrin Sipes has moved on, leaving Daniel Taylor to carry the load.  Taylor led the team in touchdowns last season, and proved to be a good receiver on top of his running prowess, making him the league's most versatile offensive threat. Quinn Barnett led the team in tackles as a Safety, and is one of the best defensive backs in the league. Curtis Wentz is a very good linebacker, and Michael Mitchell had a productive year as a defensive end giving Tussey plenty of playmakers on defense.

Bottom line - Tussey Mountain should have one of the more dynamic offenses in the ICC, and they should be right in the thick of things for the conference and District 5 A final. Daniel Taylor is a very good player, and a big season could be in the making for him. It is a fun time to be watching football in Saxton, PA.

2. Moshannon Valley

KEY Players - Eric Sherkel (QB/DB)  Cody Hamilton (LB)  Ryan Thomas (RB) 

Moshannon Valley has one of the best kept secrets in all of district six; Eric Sherkel. The junior quarterback is an electrifying talent that threw for 11 touchdowns and rushed for 13 more. He is a dual threat in every sense of the term, and is one of the area's top playmakers. The Knights offense will center around him, and ICC defensive coordinators will need to figure a way to slow down Sherkel. Ryan Thomas and Levi Frailey have some experience carrying the ball, and will have more prominent roles this season. Sam Demko will assume the top receiver spot after hauling in 12 passes last season. Ryan Thomas, Cody Hamilton, and Craig Ohs should form a solid core of linebackers, while Sherkel is an all-state caliber defensive back as well.

Bottom line - The Black Knights have a pretty solid team, and could most certainly sneak up on some teams. Sherkel is a legitimate talent, and the potential is there to have a pretty stout defense.  If they can develop some skilled players around the field, this could be a very dangerous team overall. 

3. Juniata Valley

KEY Players - Aaron Maysonett (RB)  Sam Singer (Ath)  Bryce Mills (LB)

Juniata Valley will be dealing with quite a bit of turnover in 2014. They will be without successful coach Mike Smith for the first time in a number of years, and Juniata Valley lost a good senior class. Still, the Hornets have a proud program and they will be in contention once again. Aaron Maysonett is a serious talent that will be the focal point of the offense after being a big part of the running and passing games. Sam Singer and Nate Leydig will battle it out for the quarterback spot, but Singer can be a weapon in other parts of the field if he does not take the QB job. Bryce Mills, Noah Hess, and Ryan McMullen are returning starters on defense and could make for a stout unit overall.

Bottom line - Juniata Valley will be in transition to a degree, but they have a strong program in place with kids accustomed to winning. The Hornets may not win the ICC, but they can hang with anyone in their section. I would put them at having an outside shot at a district six playoff berth.

4. Williamsburg 

KEY Players - Mike Biddle (RB)  Bryce Young (WR)  Tyler Shaw (WR)

Williamsburg enjoyed their first winning season since the early 1990's, and they still have some pieces in place to have another competitive season. Austin McMonagle leaves the Williamsburg program as one of the more decorated athletes in school history, and he will be surely missed. Mike Biddle was one of McMonagle's favorite targets from last season, and he could be the main man this year. Biddle rushed for 600 yards, and nearly caught for the same amount. He is a very versatile player that could be due for a big season. Bryce Young was one of the top receivers in the ICC last year, and he is also back for another go at it. The big key will be filling the QB's shoes. Tyler Shaw should be the man for the job, and his athleticism should help the Pirates. 

Bottom line - Williamsburg is not blessed with huge numbers, but they have kids that work hard. They finally got a taste of winning in 2013, and they certainly have some pieces to be a tough team once again. Will they hit the high water mark of 6 wins again?  That remains to be seen, but they will be a tough game on the schedule for most of the teams they will face.

5. Claysburg-Kimmel

KEY Players - Logan Johnson (RB)  Korey Moses (OL/DL)  Bryce Walter (DE)

Claysburg-Kimmel will enter the 2014 season with the hopes of a big running game to carry the team. Logan Johnson had a big junior year by nearly rushing for 1,000 yards, and the hope will be that he can eclipse that mark this season.  Developing a quarterback will be key for this offense, as Rodale Weyandt and Colby Cowher are the two returning quarterbacks on the roster that will be competing for the job. If they can develop any sort of passing game, it would be a huge help. Defensively, the Bulldogs should have a very solid defensive line with Korey Moses and Bryce Walter coming off big seasons.

Bottom line - Claysburg will be tough to slow down with Logan Johnson carrying the ball. He is a talented player and can carry the load, but can the passing game improve any?  Claysburg only threw for 297 yards total last season, and that really puts a lot pf pressure on the running game.  The Bulldogs have some talent, but could be easy to figure without the threat of a passing attack. 

 6.  Glendale 

KEY Players - Jon Rojas (WR)  Craig Hewitt (LB)  Shea O'Donnell (DE)

Glendale comes into 2014 with two quarterbacks. Alex Iraca and Nate Braniff both split time last season, and may very well continue to do the same in 2014. Between the two, they threw for 9 interceptions to just 2 touchdowns. Handling the ball and limiting mistakes will be the key for these two players. The running game struggled last season by only posting 3.8 yards per carry. Craig Hewitt looks to be the first in line to take over as the primary ball carrier. Jon Rojas is a good athlete, and should be the leading receiver, but also a threat to run the ball. Big Shea O'Donnell could be one of the better defensive ends in the league, and as an imposing 6'5" player he could really take a step forward after posting a solid 5 sacks in 2013.

Bottom line - The Glendale Vikings struggled big time last season with only 2 wins to their name. Turnovers and costly mistakes really held this team back, and it will be tough to overcome those same problems once again. Sometimes it can be tough to operate an offense with two quarterbacks splitting reps, and that could be what is holding this team back to a degree. Look for the defense to hold it's own, but scoring will be the issue. 

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