Preseason lohud football rankings
1. Stepinac — The two-time defending CHSFL “AAA” champ has some question marks at quarterback and on the offensive line, but they are all relative. The Crusaders not only have the most talent in the area, they should also contend for another league title. They are especially loaded at the skill positions. If Stepinac develops someone to get those players the ball and block for them, it will be scary once again.
2015 rankings: Defending champs open atop preseason football rankings
2. New Rochelle — Although the defending Class AA champs graduated key players, a strong junior class should carry the Huguenots into contention once again. Jared Baron, Jonathan Saddler, Romeo Holden and Lloyd King are all two-way players who made a key impact as sophomores. They should be ready to make another leap and will be bolstered by key newcomers, including junior Myles Taylor.
2015 Class AA championship: New Rochelle makes an emotional return to the top
3. John Jay-East Fishkill — The Patriots will miss star quarterback Ryan Schumacher, but last year’s Class AA runners-up have established themselves as a perennial power in Section 1. John Jay’s size and depth will help account for its losses to graduation. Big tackle John Ryan and running backs Danny Diedrich and Jaivon Reynolds could be the next emerging stars.
4. Iona Prep — Although the roster is thin and relatively young, the Gaels gained plenty of experience last year due to injuries and have a strong core of returning players. Iona Prep has dropped down to the CHSFL’s ”AA” division and should be a serious contender for the league title in the head-coaching debut of alumnus Joe Spagnolo, the former Stepinac offensive coordinator.
5. Rye — Although the Garnets lost several key linemen, the bulk of their skill talent has returned from last year’s Class A runner-up. That group includes seniors Mat Bruno, Brett Egan and T.J. Lavelle, who all helped Rye reach a third straight Section 1 final last fall. The team also has an early test: the annual rivalry game with Harrison is scheduled for Sept. 10.
2015 Class A championship: Turnovers cost Rye a chance to repeat
6. Somers — With a deep roster and key returning pieces, like the backfield of Messiah Horne and quarterback Kevin Olifiers, Somers should contend after last season was disrupted due to injuries. But Tony DeMatteo will begin his 48th season coaching with plenty of talent elsewhere, including star lineman Nick Gargiulo.
7. Scarsdale — The Raiders have reached the playoffs seven straight years, but they hope this is the one where they can break through and contend. Last year’s team reached the semifinals and lost to eventual champ New Rochelle. Scarsdale has a strong contingent of linemen returning and believe new quarterback Barry Klein can help replace the production of two-way star Michael Rolfe.
8. Clarkstown South — The Vikings should feature one of the section’s top backfields, with quarterback Matt Jung and running backs Kyle Samuels, Sam Mistretta and Ryan Thomas all back. The team will need to replace all-section linemen Jack Spreckman and Vince Maraia, but South’s overall experience could make it a Class AA challenger.
9. Yorktown — Led by electric quarterback Jose Boyer and a deep roster, the Huskers should contend again in Class A. They’ll need to replace the production of all-time leading rusher Nick Santavicca, but a strong offensive line will certainly help. Seniors Steven Veteri and Justin Cavallo lead a strong group up front.
10. Lourdes — The Warriors lost several stars that steered last year’s run to the Class A state final, including record-setting quarterback Dean Rotger. Running back Joe Scaglione and receiver Corey Mullaly emerged during the team’s run to a Section 1 title and could help turn this rebuilding project into a quick reload.
On the bubble: Ketcham, Brewster, Arlington.
Class AA — 1. New Rochelle, 2. John Jay-East Fishkill, 3. Scarsdale, 4. Clarkstown South, 5. Ketcham, 6. Arlington, 7. North Rockland, 8. Spring Valley, 9. Carmel, 10. Clarkstown North.
Class A — 1. Rye, 2. Somers, 3. Yorktown, 4. Lourdes, 5. Brewster, 6. John Jay, 7. Harrison, 8. Panas, 9. Pearl River, 10. Sleepy Hollow.
Class B — 1. Westlake, 2. Nanuet, 3. Pleasantville, 4. Ardsley, 5. Putnam Valley.
Class C/D — 1. Woodlands, 2. Rye Neck, 3. Dobbs Ferry, 4. Bronxville, 5. Tuckahoe.
Catholic/Private — 1. Stepinac, 2. Iona Prep, 3. Rye Country Day, 4. Hackley, 5. Kennedy.