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September 02, 2021

PhillyVoice high school football Top 10: St. Joe’s Prep is the area’s No. 1 team

But the gap is closing...

High School Football high school football top 10
Prep-title-team_112920_JS Joe Santoliquito/for PhillyVoice

St. Joe's Prep players and coaches celebrate their third consecutive state title.

The gap is still there. It’s just not Grand Canyon-wide as it has been the last four years. As high school football begins in the area these last few weeks, the standard remains the same. St. Joseph’s Prep, nationally ranked again and the defending three-time PIAA 6A state champions, are the standard once more in the Delaware Valley area.

Gone are Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (Clemson) and Marvin Harrison Jr. and Kyle McCord (both at Ohio State) and coming to national TV real soon on Saturdays on their way to Sundays, though returning is a group of juniors and seniors that have championship-winning experience and FBS Power 5 talent.

Returning are senior defensive back Keenan Nelson, bound for South Carolina, junior middle linebacker Josiah Trotter, who has narrowed his college choices down to four, offensive lineman Brad Harris, Temple-bound receiver Reese Clark and sophomore defensive back Omillio Agard, who has already received offers from LSU, Miami, Penn State and Florida State.

“Our seniors are doing a good job of leading, and our coaching staff did a great job of adjusting to develop our young guys,” Hawks’ coach Tom Roken said. “I would say most of our veterans are back on defense, with the mix of some young guys. Most of our experience is back on the offensive line, with a pair of senior running backs in Josh Barlow and Blaine Bunch.”

The Hawks open their season against St. Mary's Ryken (MD) Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. in the first game of the Rumble on the Raritan Showcase at Smalls Athletic Field in York, Pa.

Teams that will be challenging Prep for the top spot are Imhotep Charter, which features a pair of national-level defensive ends, 6-foot-5, 230-pound Enai White, considered the nation’s No. 1 edge rusher who is considering Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Texas A&M, and Penn State-bound Keon Wylie. The Panthers opened the season with an impressive 12-6 over Pittsburgh Central Catholic—at Pittsburgh.

The other challenge will come from Prep’s Catholic League Red Division traditional rival La Salle, which features Penn State-bound linebacker Abdul Carter and Rutgers-bound power back Sam Brown. Prep and La Salle will play on Saturday, Oct. 2, 3 p.m. at Penn’s legendary Franklin Field.

On the South Jersey side, Holy Spirit, St. Augustine Prep and Millville appear to be the teams to beat.

The PhillyVoice Area Top 10

Week of Sept. 3, 2021

1. St. Joseph's Prep (0-0)

2. Imhotep Charter (1-0)

3. La Salle (1-0)

4. Archbishop Wood (1-0)

5. North Penn (1-0)

6. Holy Spirit (NJ) (0-1)

7. St. Augustine Prep (NJ) (0-1)

8. Garnet Valley (1-0)

9. Neumann-Gorretti (1-0)

10. Millville (NJ) (1-0)

Under consideration: Northeast (0-1), Salem (NJ) (1-0), Malvern Prep (0-0), Paulsboro (NJ) (1-0), St. Joseph Academy (NJ) (1-0), Ocean City (NJ) (1-0), Woodrow Wilson (NJ) (0-0), Academy Park (1-0), Downingtown East (1-0), Coatesville (1-0), Camden (NJ) (0-1) , Bonner-Prendergast (1-0).

The PhillyVoice Southeastern PA Top 10

Week of Sept. 3, 2021

1. St. Joseph's Prep (0-0)

2. Imhotep Charter (1-0)

3. La Salle (1-0)

4. Archbishop Wood (1-0)

5. North Penn (1-0)

6. Garnet Valley (1-0)

7. Neumann-Gorretti (1-0)

8. Malvern Prep (0-0)

9. Downingtown East (1-0)

10. Northeast (0-1)

Under consideration: Academy Park (1-0), Chester (1-0), Spring-Ford (1-0), Coatesville (1-0), Germantown Academy (0-0), Quakertown (1-0), Upper Dublin (1-0), Bonner-Prendergast (1-0).

Game to watch

St. Joe’s Prep (0-0) vs. St. Mary’s Ryken (MD) (0-1), 6:30 p.m. Saturday night at Smalls Athletic Field (York, PA)

It will be interesting to see the Hawks this season for the first time. St. Mary’s Ryken is coming off a 14-10 loss to Mount St. Joseph (Baltimore) last weekend, which included a goal-line stand by the Knights. St. Mary’s Ryken has a formidable defensive front and held a 10-7 fourth quarter lead on a short fourth-down TD run. The Knights were beat on a 37-yard TD pass on a second-and-16 play with 2:30 remaining in the game. St. Joe’s Prep and the Rumble on the Raritan Showcase organizers did their homework. St. Mary’s Ryken is an actual high school that does exist.

Please check out the Pre-Snap Look podcast, which features the best in high school football from across the region, and, the only thing better is being at the game.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has been writing for PhillyVoice since its inception in 2015 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.