Welcome to the 2016 Varsity Sports Network preseason Top 20 football poll. VSN ranks the top teams in the Baltimore region which covers public and private schools in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Cecil County, Harford County and Howard County.

As we progress towards the regular season, we will countdown our 2016 VSN Football Preseason Rankings from No. 20 all the way to No. 1.

5. Mount St. Joseph Gaels 

2015 record: 8-3 (Final VSN Top 20 ranking: No. 8)

Coach: Rich Holzer (2nd season at MSJ, 8-3; 6th season overall, 41-16 )

Returning starters – 12

Key returning starters – Darren Dunmoodie, , Sr., wide receiver/defensive back, 5-foot-9, 170 pounds; Chris Hailey, Jr., wide receiver/defensive back, 6-2, 190; Kyle Hunter, Sr., offensive line, 6-2, 305; Sam James, Jr., running back, 5-11, 225; Aaron Johnson, Sr., linebacker, 6-1, 205; Ahmad McCullough, Sr., defensive back, 6-3, 195; BJ Morgan, Sr., defensive line, 6-2, 220; Anthony Ruffin, Sr., offensive line, 6-3, 335; John Snyder, Jr., defensive line, 6-2, 290; Frankie Stevens, Jr., linebacker, 6-1, 205; Bailey Toth, Sr., defensive line, 6-2, 335

Key returning players –  Christian Carter, Sr., quarterback, 6-1, 215; Michael Corbi, Jr., offensive line, 6-1, 290; Ryan Gorman, Jr., linebacker, 6-1, 200; Juan Mendoza, Jr., wide receiver, 5-7, 165; Brandon Savage, Jr., defensive back, 5-9, 165 

Key newcomers – Joey Jones, Jr., defensive back, 5-10, 175; Josh Jones, Fr., athlete, 5-9, 170; Matt McDonald, So., wide receiver, 6-4, 185; Marlowe Wax, Fr., defensive back/running back, 6-2, 185; Dalton Slater, Jr., offensive line, 5-11, 280; Josh Wilson, So., defensive back, 5-11, 175

Outlook – The Gaels could be ready for a serious run at the MIAA A Conference title. The west Baltimore school return 30 letterwinners from a squad that tied for second in the area’s toughest league last fall. 

Mount St. Joseph have four staters back on offense, but Holzer expects to throw the ball more with Carter and talented crop of wideouts. Dunmoodie and Mendoza are the fastest player on the roster, and McDonald was top receiver on the Gaels’ junior varsity last fall.

James will be the featured back and primed for a breakout campaign. Holzer is looking to newcomers Jones and Wax to contribute.

Ruffin and Hunter will anchor the front with Corbi and Slater, a transfer from South Carroll (played at MSJ as freshman) battling at center.

“Their potential for this crew is through the roof,” said Holzer. “There’s a lot of young talent and we’re fast.”

Morgan (end), a Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 pick, will lead the defensive front with Snyder (tackle) and Toth (nose guard). Johnson and Stevens are back at linebacker with Gorman moving into a starting role.

The secondary is arguably the Gaels’ best overall defensive unit with McCullough (strong safety), Dunmoodie (free safety) and Savage (cornerback), a Division I prospect. Jones and Wilson will see considerable time.

“With injuries, a lot of young kids played a lot of meaningful minutes,” said Holzer. “They’re very deep, experienced and tough.” 

Mount St. Joseph opens Saturday against Good Counsel, ranked No. 2 in the state media preseason Top 25. Holzer thinks the Gaels’ speed will make them very competitive this fall.

rich holzer“Some of our young guys will have to gel,” said Holzer, whose team is ranked 14th in the state preseason Top 25 poll. “If we can develop our vertical passing game, we’re going to be tough to deal with.”

2016 schedule

Sept. 3 vs. Good Counsel, 1 p.m.

Sept.  10 vs. St. Mary’s Ryken, 1 p.m.

Sept. 17 vs. Avalon School, 1 p.m.

Sept. 24 vs. Capital Christian School, 1 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Gilman School, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 8 vs. Silver Oak Academy, 1 p.m.

Oct. 14 at Loyola Blakefield, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 22 vs. Calvert Hall College, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 28 at McDonogh School, 7 p.m.

Nov. 5 vs. St. Frances Academy, 2 p.m.

Nov. 11 at Archbishop Spalding, 7 p.m.

 

2016 VSN FOOTBALL TOP 20 (5 thru 20)

 

RANK
TEAM
05 Mount Saint Joseph
Last Year: 8-3 (No. 8)

06 Old Mill
Last Year: 11-1 (No. 6)

07 Calvert Hall
Last Year: 5-6 (Not Ranked)

08 Franklin
Last Year: 10-2 (No. 10)

09 Gilman
Last Year: 10-1 (No. 1)

10 St. Frances
Last Year: 2-10 (Not Ranked)

11 Dunbar
Last Year: 9-3 (13)

12 South Carroll
Last Year: 10-2 (No. 14)

13 Dundalk
Last Year: 12-2 (No. 9)

14 John Carroll
Last Year: 12-0 (No. 3)

15 Annapolis
Last Year: 8-3 (No. 17)

16 Loyola Blakefield
Last Year: 5-6 (Not Ranked)

17 Arundel
Last Year: 7-3 (No. 11)

18 Bel Air
Last Year: 9-2 (No. 20)

19 Milford Mill
Last Year: 4-6 (Not Ranked)

20 Archbishop Curley
Last Year: 6-4 (Not Ranked)