The Scranton Prep football team has experienced a lot of success over the past four seasons, winning 37 of 47 games. Its recent run has included the program’s first District 2 title in 2015, an undefeated regular season in 2013 and an Eastern Conference championship in 2012.
Despite the loss of several key players to graduation and the retirement of head coach Nick Donato, Prep returns some experienced players who will try to keep the positive momentum rolling.
Terry Gallagher, who served as defensive coordinator under Donato for the past three seasons and has been a member of the Cavaliers coaching staff for 10 years, takes over the reins of the program.
“I want to make sure the kids know their alignments and assignments, mesh together, play as hard as they can and reach their fullest potential,” Gallagher said. “We don’t really talk about wins and losses, we just talk about us getting better as a team, but we expect to be competitive.”
Scranton Prep will make the switch from Division 1 to Division 2 of the Lackawanna Football Conference this season and while there will be some familiar faces on the schedule, including Valley View and West Scranton, the team won’t play some of its traditional opponents.
“We always enjoyed playing Scranton, it’s a nice little rivalry and we don’t play them anymore,” Gallagher said. “We always liked playing Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack and we don’t play them anymore. We picked up a lot of teams in the Wyoming Valley Conference.”
The Cavaliers return seven seniors starters who are all expected to contribute on both sides of the ball.
“We’re going to lean on our senior leadership,” Gallagher said. “We had a lot of injuries to skill position kids last year, so a lot of seniors played different positions and I think that’s going to help us out.”
Jake Ryan returns at quarterback and cornerback after missing the final six games of last season with a knee injury.
Ricky Morgan returns at tailback and linebacker. He rushed for 1,038 yards and 12 touchdowns last seasons in 10 games while splitting carries with several other players.
Braden Burrier and Kyler McAllister return at fullback and linebacker.
Mario Giannone, who returns at wide receiver and defensive back, is confident the Cavaliers will have a successful season.
“Coach (Nick) Donato really turned the program around a couple years ago,” Giannone said. “Now, coach Terry (Gallagher) is here and we’re hoping to continue the success. We want to be just as good as we were last year, if not better.”
Max Borgia is back as a guard and defensive tackle.
Kyle Polishan returns as an offensive and defensive lineman.
Junior Lucas Stage returns as a starting wide receiver and linebacker.
Senior Jake Grady is expected to contribute as a wide receiver and cornerback.
Senior Domenic Giacobbe and junior Junior A.J. Kohut are competing for time at center.
Junior Matt Gilmartin will likely see time at running back.
Junior Tommy Doherty should serve as a wide receiver and free safety.
Junior Ivan Balavage will see time at fullback and linebacker.
Junior Anthony Rossi will serve as a guard and defensive tackle.
Junior Charles Farrell will see time as an offensive and defensive tackle.
Junior Cree Coccodrilli should contribute as a tight end and defensive end.
Gallagher believes the team’s winning ways has let to an increase in participation in the program.
“More kids have come out over the years due to the success,” he said. “It’s allowed us to have more competition at practice, and the more competition we have the better the kids are going to be.”
The first-year coach feels the success of this year’s team may hinge on the development of the offensive line.
“We lost three kids upfront from last year’s team,” Gallagher said. “We have some pretty good juniors who are big, athletic kids with great potential. We just have to make sure we catch them up (on our system) and push them as hard as we can.”
Gallagher expects North Pocono, Valley View and West Scranton to provide the toughest competition within Lackawanna Football Conference Division 2 play.
Scranton Prep will open its season by hosting Abington Heights at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27 at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.