Gateway, Thomas Jefferson, Aliquippa and Sto-Rox
TERRY SWANSON and DRAVON HENRY – Aliquippa
Before a block was thrown in preseason camp, the Gateway Gators had more than their share of pressure. The resignation of Athletic Director, coach and offensive guru Terry Smith marked the end of an era and now a new regime begins headed by Donnie Milizer. Coach Milizer inherited perhaps the most talented Gateway team in school history.
The talent includes Temple recruits Delvon Randall, Anthony Davis and Brenon Thrift, West Virginia recruit Ricky Rogers and highly prized Division I prospect Montae Nicholson.
SHAI MCKENZIE, WASHINGTON
The Woodland Hills Wolverines won 10 or more games in three of the last four seasons, reaching Heinz Field three times. The Wolverines features one of the state’s top two-way players in Harry Randall, a receiver/defensive back, and he’s joined by other rising seniors, including Chris David, Trevon Mathis and Daechaud Ausbrooks on defense. One name to keep an eye on offensively is running back Miles Sanders. Only a sophomore, Sanders rushed for 738 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012.
Central Catholic is led by quarterback and Florida State recruit J.J. Cosentino. Cosentino will be throwing to Shafer Swann, the son of Steelers Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann. He will hand the football off to Luigi Lista-Brinza and Grant Foster, the son of Steelers single-season rushing record holder Barry Foster.
ELIJAH ZEISE, N. Allegheny
It seems so hard to believe that we’ve not seen Thomas Jefferson with a PIAA playoff appearance since its last state championship in 2008. TJ will field a very experienced group. The team’s five leading rushers’ return, including Jake Farrell, who rushed for more than 800 yards in 2012, and Michigan recruit Chase Winovich spearheads the defense.
West Mifflin has the fastest running back in the WPIAL in Jimmy Wheeler, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in 2012.
Malik Hooker, of New Castle, should garnish a lot of All-American votes at the end of the season. Hooker is an Ohio State recruit and plays receiver and defensive back.
The Aliquippa Quips, winners of 648 games and 15 WPIAL championships, have only a state championship on their minds. Dravon Henry and Terry Swanson return in the offensive backfield, as does star two-way lineman Jaleel Fields, tight end Donovan Cobb, and Andrew Barton and Tyler Turner defensively, among others.
AAAA Preseason rankings
2. Woodland Hills
3. North Allegheny
4. Central Catholic
AAAA Player of the Year
J.J. Cosentino Central Catholic
AAA Preseason rankings
1. Thomas Jefferson
2. West Allegheny
3. New Castle
4. West Mifflin
5. Central Valley
AAA Player of the Year—Jimmy Wheeler West Mifflin
AA Preseason rankings
3. Shady Side Academy
4. South Fayette
5. Beaver Falls
AA Player of the Year—Shai McKenzie Washington
MILES SANDERS, Woodland Hills
A Preseason rankings
2. North Catholic
A Player of the Year—Brendan Blair Sto-Rox
MONTAE NICHOLSON, Gateway