By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — There is a little misconception that continues about Pennsylvania high school football that the best talent and better teams are located on the western side of the state.
Sure, Western Pennsylvania continues to churn out talent—and carries legendary status with the likes of Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino coming out of Western Pennsylvania.
But in the last 25 years, since the PIAA began holding state championships in football in 1988, Eastern Pennsylvania holds a 56-44 edge in the 100 state championship games played (that’s all state title games in Class AAAA, Class AAA, Class AA and Class A). The only edge Western Pennsylvania holds over Eastern Pennsylvania teams is in the Class AAAA (large school), which is 14-11. Otherwise, Eastern Pennsylvania teams hold winning records in Class AAA (15-10), Class AA (17-8) and Class A (13-12).
Eastern Pennsylvania, especially Southeastern Pennsylvania, long a basketball hotbed, is filled with talent in 2013.
Here is a look at the top 10 players in Southeastern Pennsylvania:
2013 Top 10 players
1. John Reid, St. Joseph’s Prep: The 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior is a game-breaking talent with offers from every major college in the country. Don’t be surprised if he lands at an SEC school—that’s how good Reid is. Last year, he scored four touchdowns in four different ways. He finished with five interceptions, two in Prep’s regular-season victory over La Salle. Expect him to be used in a variety of ways on offense, though he’s projected to be a cornerback in college.
2. Daquan Worley, Coatesville: The Penn State-bound, 5-10, 190-pound senior defensive back/running back accounted for 1,779 yards and 20 TD’s as a junior. He’s projected to play cornerback for the Nittany Lions. His priority, right now, is getting the Red Raiders back to the Class AAAA state title. Opposing teams won’t pass in his direction this year.
3. Mike Class, Pennridge: The 5-10, 185-pound senior tailback rushed for a single-season school-record 2,420 yards and 32 touchdowns in 13 games as a junior, averaging more than eight yards a carry. He’s being looked at by Penn State, among a variety of Division I programs.
4. Tyler Burke, Coatesville: The Maryland-bound, 6-4, 240-pound senior linebacker/tight end is a disrupting force on defense. He stood out in the state title game last year against North Allegheny, a stud-filled team that was the No. 4 program in the nation last year.
5. Josh Adams, Central Bucks South: The 6-1, 190-pound junior tailback rushed for 2,089 yards, averaging 8.19 yards a carry, 174.1 yards a game and rushed for 28 TDs. He can pretty pick the college he wants to attend right now. A true game breaker.
6. Zaire Franklin, La Salle: The Syracuse-bound, 6-2, 220-pound senior inside linebacker is a terror. Just ask anyone on Prep’s team. He had two interceptions last season, is a big hitter and has great lateral movement.
7. Olamide Zaccheaus, St. Joseph’s Prep: The 5-9, 180-pound junior tailback rushed for 770 yards and scored eight TDs as a sophomore. He’s also dangerous in the open field. He caught 12 passes for 187 yards.
8. Jamal Custis, Neumann-Goretti: The 6-6, 220-pound senior wide receiver could arguably be the best athlete on this list. He caught 29 passes for 628 yards and scored 11 TDs as a junior—including a TD off blocked punt. He’s also an excellent basketball player, a rare double-threat athlete in a high school-age of specializing in single sports.
9. Eric Gallo, Council Rock South: The Virginia Tech-bound 6-2, 280-pound senior offensive/defensive lineman may be moved to center in coach Vince Bedesem’s triple-option attack. Figure on wherever Bedesem puts Gallo, that’s where the Golden Hawks will run.
10. Nick Apostolu, Springfield (Delco): The 6- 5, 315-pound senior is a two-way terror as both an offensive/defensive lineman. He’s getting attention from a number of Division I schools and is one of the best offensive linemen in Southeastern Pennsylvania. At 6-5, and over 300 pounds, he’s tough to miss—and tough to get by.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.