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August 17, 2011
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In this two-week series, Rivals.com is taking a look at the high school football talent in rival regions - breaking down the best prospects, best teams and giving our vote for which area is superior.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: North Jersey vs. Eastern Pennsylvania
The Case for North Jersey
North Jersey has become known as a hotbed of football talent and this year, in large part to Don Bosco Prep, it's especially strong. The area boasts five Rivals250 members, four of them from Bosco itself.
On offense, Devin Fuller from Old Tappan can play quarterback and is a danger through the air and on the ground, but Sean Maguire from Seton Hall Prep, a Florida State commitment, is also very talented. 2013 quarterback Kevin Olsen from Wayne Hills could be the best passer of the bunch as well.
Running back is not very strong, but Elijah St. Hilaire from Palisades Park is worth mentioning. The wideout group is a bit top-heavy led by wide receiver Leonte Carroo from Don Bosco and Ruhann Peele from Linden, and tight end Michael Giacone from St. Peter's Prep, all Rutgers commitments.
The biggest question for North Jersey: Where are the offensive linemen? Connecticut commitment Tyler Samra from Don Bosco leads the 2012 class and Marcell Lazard from Bloomfield has a lot of potential as a 2013 prospect, but it's not a deep group.
On defense, defensive end Darius Hamilton from Don Bosco is the nation's No. 5 overall prospect and would be a terror off the edge or in the middle while Julian Pinnix-Odrick from Montclair (Rutgers commitment) is a nice complement. Linebacker Mike Strizak (Boston College) from Don Bosco leads his group and is joined by Steve Longa from Saddle Brook (Rutgers).
The secondary for North Jersey is amazing, led by Bosco teammates Yuri Wright and Elijah Shumate. There also is Davon Jacobs (Rutgers) from DePaul Catholic, safety D.J. Singleton from St. Peter's Prep and 2014 standout Jabrill Peppers from Bosco, who could end up being the best of the bunch.
The Case for Eastern Pennsylvania
Everything east of State College is essentially what we are considering Eastern Pennsylvania which means there is a ton of talent to scout. There are numerous solid quarterbacks led by Blake Rankin from Bloomsburg, a Rutgers commitment, and the running back position is deep with Drew Harris from Downington East, Desmon Peoples from Archbishop Wood Catholic (Rutgers commit) and 2013 future star David Williams from West Catholic.
Wide receiver Eugene Lewis from Wyoming Valley, a Penn State commitment, is one of the most fluid players at his position in the country while wide receiver Kyle Kerrick from Coatesville Area Senior, a Michigan State commitment, is very solid. At tight end, Florida commitment Colin Thompson from Archbishop Wood Catholic can catch and block while 2013 star Adam Breneman from Cedar Cliff can slot out.
However, the biggest strength on offense appears along the offensive line with Chris Muller from Boyertown Area (Rutgers commitment), J.J. Denman from Pennsbury (Penn State), Frank Taylor from Archbishop Wood Catholic (Boston College) and his teammate Brandon Arcidiacono (Rutgers) and Adam DePietro from Lancaster Catholic (Northwestern). Throw in 2013 standout Mike McGlinchey to this formidable group.
On defense, the state's top player and national top 15 prospect Noah Spence from Bishop McDevitt leads the way off the edge. Fellow defensive end Jake O'Donnell, a Miami commitment from Central Bucks East, is a nice bookend and 2013 defensive end Justin Moody from George Washington could grow into a tackle. Linebacker is deep led by Nyeem Wartman from Valley View (Penn State commitment), Brock Dean from Bishop McDevitt (Maryland) and 2013 linebacker Brandon Chatmon from Cardinal O'Hara.
An area of concern for Eastern Pennsylvania is at defensive back. Nate Smith from Archbishop Wood Catholic is the best of a thin group.
North Jersey fans could make a case that Don Bosco alone could defeat an all-star team from Eastern Pennsylvania and they could be right. However, this is about the depth of talent in each region and it is clear that Eastern Pennsylvania is much deeper than North Jersey, even though the top part of the Garden State has more national flair.
The rise and reign of Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco puts this debate out of reach for an ever-improving Philadelphia area. In terms of depth the Keystone State would take this argument as Wyndmoor (Pa.) LaSalle, Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood and Landsdale (Pa.) North Penn all will likely check in between Don Bosco and the No. 2 team in North Jersey. However the dominance that Don Bosco has shown regionally and nationally casts a very large shadow over the Eastern area of Pennsylvania. Piscataway (N.J.) High and Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic give a nice boost to the area but not on the level of Bosco, which carried this debate by itself.
- Dallas Jackson