Written by: Greg Ricupero on Friday, August 12th, 2022
LHAC 2022 Season Preview
Three star senior quarterbacks and three rookie coaches!
2021 Rankings Record-Overall-Conference
Central 14-1 (10-0)
Richland 11-3 (7-2)
Bishop Guilfoyle 11-4 (6-4)
Penn Cambria 6-6 (5-5)
Bedford 10-2 (9-1)
Chestnut Ridge 6-5 (6-4)
Forest Hills 7-6 (5-5)
Westmont Hilltop 3-8 (3-7)
Bishop McCort 3-7 (3-7)
Johnstown 0-10 (0-10)
Central Cambria 4-6 (4-6)
Somerset 1-8 (1-8)
The Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference will play this year with twelve schools before becoming a twenty team super conference next year. The Central Scarlet Dragons will be the team to beat again. Coach Dave Baker needs only five wins for 100 in his career. Central will battle BG and Richland the first two weeks and then should coast to the end. They were one win short of a state championship berth and should compete again. They have the conference’s best player in quarterback Jeff Hoenstine. Their offense scored 40 plus points in every conference game last year and is a good bet to repeat. Parker Gregg is gone but Hunter Smith showed last year he can carry the load on the ground and through the air.
The Richland Rams loss their quarterback and their #1 deep threat in Kellan Stahl and Griffin Larue. However coach Brandon Bailey has build a winner in Richland and has the horses to win a fifth straight D6 2A championship. Sam Penna and Grayden Lewis will lead an explosive offense. I would expect the Rams to run more this year with their losses. “The 2022 team has worked hard in the offseason to prepare for another successful season. Although we expect a very challenging schedule in the always tough Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, we are planning on competing for conference and PIAA D6 titles prior to advancing and making noise in the PIAA state playoffs” Said Bailey.
Returning Players: Grayden Lewis SB, SS • Sr. • 6′ 0″ • 182 lbs, Jordan Nichols TE, OLB • Sr. • 6′ 1″ • 195 lbs, Sam Penna WR, CB • Sr. • 5′ 9″ • 155 lbs, Evan McCracken RB, MLB • Jr. • 5′ 9″ • 180 lbs, Ryan McGowan WR, CB • Sr. • 5′ 10″ • 170 lbs, Brock Batche MLB, TE • Sr. • 5′ 11″ • 180, lbs Declan Piscatello T, DT • Jr. • 6′ 3″ • 270, lbs Darden Horsley C, NG • Sr. • 6′ 0″ • 260 lbs, Zachary Hancock DT, G • Sr. • 5′ 11″ • 215 lbs
The Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders have moved up from single A to double A. It shouldn’t change anything. They will continue to win. Their advantage in their state championship runs have been playing bigger schools in the LHAC during the regular season than feasting on smaller schools in the playoffs. The Marauders loss lineman Anthony Edwards and all conference kicker/punter Deven Wyandt. The offense will be led again by quarterback Karson Kiesewetter. They should battle the Rams for the D6 title, but I just think Richland has a few more playmakers.
“After winning a state championship in 2021 the Marauders bring back a core of the team including five Allstate players and the Player of the Year in 1A Karson Keisewetter. BG will have a lot of experience at the skill positions, but the young OL will need to gel fast. This season outlook is Bright but playing in one of the toughest conferences in the state will test the Marauders early and often.”
Returning Players: Karson Keisewetter QB/FS 6’1” 187, 2023 Cooper Rother RB/C 5’11” 183, 2023 Dominic Yanoshak WR/LB 6’0” 192 2023 Drew Abraham RB/LB 5’10” 196, 2023 Anthony Cioffarri TE/DE 6’3” 223, 2023 Sante Bambocci OG/DT 5’11” 205, 2023 Joe Eckenrode OT/DT 6’2” 247, 2025 Ryan Hostler Center 5’10” 232, 2024 Ryan Hagg DB 5’10” 192, 2024 Kaden Wyandt MLB 5’10” 201 2024
I’m looking for the Penn Cambria Panthers to make a move up the standings this year. Senior quarterback Garrett Harold is a special kid. Last year he threw and ran for over 1000 yards each. Also returning is Zach Grove, the running back just missed a 1000 yards rushing and was the teams leading receiver. The Panthers have no problems scoring and if they can get their defense playing well, could surprise a few teams.
The Bedford Bison are probably going to take a step back.The Bison have bi shoes to fill with quarterback Mercury Swaim’s exit. They also loss their top two rushers in Trenton Price and Swaim. Head coach Kevin Steeler’s streak of three straight ten win seasons could be in jeopardy! However Bedford should be able to win their first five games before playing a brutal second half schedule. “We are excited and working hard for the upcoming season. Our goal is to compete for a Laurel Highlands and District 5 championship” said Steele
Returning players: Ethan Weber, RB/LB, 5′ 10″, 190, 2023, Max Washington RB/DB, 5’11” 190, 2023 Dom Whetstone, OL/DL, 5’11, 235, 2023 Jacob Styer, OL/DL, 6′ 2″, 240, 2023 Kevin Ressler, DB, 6’2″, 195, 2023 Quincy Swaim, DB, 5’10”, 165, 2025 Tyler Zuck, DL, 5’10”, 245, 2023
The Chestnut Ridge Lions have seen their win totals decline the last three years. Coach Max Shoemaker has had a winning season every year since 2013. Something has to give. The Lions defense which struggled against the top LHAC teams must be rebuilt due to graduations. The offense also loss four of its top five scorers.
The Forest Hills Rangers had a great playoff run behind 2600 yard rusher Damon Crawley. However Crawley is gone and the Rangers need to find a replacement. Forest Hills has a brutal first half schedule and could start the season off 0-4. Coach Justin Myers started last year 2-5 before winning five straight and may have to do that again.
The Westmont Hilltop Hilltoppers struggled last year. Coach Pat Barron’s team don’t like to throw the ball. I’ve been to many a Saturday afternoon game where they might throw between 0 to 2 passes. But things are changing the Hilltoppers are getting a turf field and lights. Quarterback Eli Thomas is going to have to throw the ball to win.
The Bishop McCort Crimson Crushers co-op with Bishop Carroll will enter its second season. The Crushers have some very good skill players in Trystan Fornari, Johnny Golden and Ibn Shaheed. But they lack the size to play with the bigger schools. However once the D6 playoffs roll around BM could be a force and will be looking to replace BG as the single A standard.
The Greater Johnstown Trojans have a new coach in Antwuan Reed and a new hope as the 2022 season starts. Quarterback Jon Updyke returns to lead the Trojans. Johnstown is 1-28 in the last three year.
Central Cambria Red Devils are looking at a tough hill to climb. Don Fyfe takes over as coach. The Red Devils are getting an all new offense and a brand new defense. The have only a hand full of seniors and loss most of their leaders. Nolan Wyrwas returns to lead the offense. “A lot of new starters with limited experience. Our success will depend on how quickly we can gel offensively and defensively.” said Fyfe.
Key Returning players: Nolan Wyrwas WR/CB 5-10 185 Senior, Zach Taylor WR/LB 6 175. Senior, Grady Snyder RB/LB. 5-10 165 Sophomore, Karter Quick T. 5-11 235. Senior
The Somerset Golden Eagles also have a first year coach in Jeff Urban. The Eagles will start a ton of sophomores including quarterback Lane Lambert. Somerset will take its lumps but the playing time the underclassmen get, should result in dividends the next two years. “This is my first year as HC, I have been an Assistant Coach since 2011. The past several seasons we have been facing low overall team numbers. We are trying to make football a priority again in Somerset. Somerset has the athletes to be successful in LHAC, it is just a matter of getting them out for Football and putting them is best situations to benefit the team” Said Urban.
Key Returning Players: Zane Hagans Soph Center 6 foot 210, Tyler Zimmerman Sr RB 5 10 175
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