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.

2. Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers

2015 record: 8-4 (Final VSN Top 20 ranking: No. 7)

Coach: Kyle Schmitt (4th season at Spalding, 19-14; 8th overall, 57-23)

Returning starters – 11

Key returning starters – Cody Anderson, Jr., defensive back, 5-11, 185; Julius Chestnut, Jr., running back, 5-11, 200; Evan Fochtman, Sr., quarterback, 6-1, 180; Corey Gaines, Sr., linebacker, 6-1, 195; Daniel Hood, Jr., linebacker, 6-0, 235; Jamari Jones, Jr., wide receiver/Devin Miller, Sr., offensive line; Nick Vermillion, Sr., 6-0, 235, fullback/tight end; Cody Winokur, Jr., offensive/defensive line, 6-2, 265; Sean Spencer, So. defensive back, 5-11, 180; Daesean Winston, Jr., wide receiver/linebacker, 6-2, 180

Key returning players – Zaire Allen, So., defensive back, 5-9, 180; Larry Brown, Jr., wide receiver, 6-2, 185 

Key newcomers – Jahmeer Carter, Fr., offensive line, 6-2, 260; Chris Clark, So, defensive back, 5-8, 150; Stephen Cobbs, So., defensive line, 6-1, 225; Chris Ford, Jr., defensive line, 6-0, 215; Logic Hudgens, So., running back/defensive back, 5-8, 190; Jared Inniss, Jr., running back, 5-8, 190; Lewis Shepherd, Jr., running back, 5-9, 180

Outlook – The Cavaliers should contend for the MIAA A Conference championship. Last fall, the Anne Arundel County school finished tied for second behind area and state top-ranked Gilman School.

Spalding has Fochtman, arguably the area’s top quarterback, back in the fold. Fochtman, an all-MIAA A selection in 2015, totaled more 2,800 yards and 34 touchdowns last fall.

Chestnut (tailback) and Vermillion (fullback) are the veterans in the backfield with Jones (519 yards) leading a young and talented receiving unit. Winokur and Miller will anchor the front with Carter likely get a starting nod.

“We feel confident being able to spread the ball around. Obviously, Evan is the point guard,” said Schmitt. “We feel still good about simplifying things from a formation standout because we’re confident in our skill players.”

Winokur will lead the defensive front with Carter, Miller and Ford doing double duty. The linebackers are experienced with Vermillion, Chestnut, Gaines and Hood, who’ll be eased into the rotation after knee injury during the spring. 

Jones, Anderson, Spencer and Clark will be in the secondary with Fochtman seeing some time at safety. Hudgens and Allen, both junior varsity promotees, will get reps.

“I think we’re more athletic than last year,” said Schmitt. “We want to put pressure, stop the run and limit the explosive plays. We want to dictate tempo.”

The Cavaliers have taken incremental strides since moving the A conference in 2010 after a successful run in the B. Schmitt thinks the 2016 team could be his best since coming to Spalding in 2013.

kyle schmitt“Our goal is kind of move past 8-3,” said Schmitt, a former University of Maryland tight end who led Atholton to four straight state playoff appearances. “The standard has been raise and want to take it to the next level. It’s an exciting group.”

2016 schedule

Sept. 2 at St. Mary’s, 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 vs. Good Counsel, 7 p.m.

Sept. 16 at St. Mary’s Ryken, 7 p.m.

Sept 23 vs. Avalon School, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30 at Loyola Blakefield, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Calvert Hall College, 7 p.m.

Oct. 14 vs. Riverdale Baptist, 7 p.m.

Oct. 21 at McDonogh School, 7 p.m.

Oct. 28 vs. St. Frances Academy at Patterson Park, 7 p.m.

Nov. 4 vs. Gilman School, 7 p.m.

Nov. 11 vs. Mount St. Joseph, 7 p.m.

 

2016 VSN FOOTBALL TOP 20 (2 thru 20)

 

RANK
TEAM
02 Archbishop Spalding Last Year: 8-4 (No. 7)
03 Broadneck Last Year: 10-3 (No. 5)
04 Howard Last Year: 13-1 (No. 4)
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)