2011 Football Fever (Vol. 8)

By Scott Huff

Is there really a level playing field in the Suburban One League?

There is an apparent class warfare going on with teams that compete in football in the Suburban One League.  There are nine teams in the SOL that play home games on marvelous turf fields, while the remaining teams are forced to play on the good old grass and dirt fields of yesteryear.

The haves of the SOL are Souderton, Central Bucks West, Central Bucks East, Council Rock North, Council Rock South, Harry S. Truman, William Tennent, Plymouth Whitemarsh, and Wissahickon.  Both CB West and CB East share War Memorial Field in Doylestown, while both CR North and CR South share Walt Snyder Stadium in Newtown.

The have nots of the SOL are Pennridge, Quakertown, North Penn, Central Bucks South, Abington, Neshaminy, Pennsbury, Bensalem, Cheltenham, Upper Dublin, Upper Moreland, and Upper Merion.

Moving on up to the turf field status for the 2012 football season will be both Norristown and Hatboro-Horsham.  Both the Eagles and the Hatters are road warriors this season while the turf is being installed in their respective stadiums.

Perhaps the most entertaining game of the season was held this last weekend when host Souderton desperately clung to a breathtaking 44-42 victory over Central Bucks South.

The game was originally scheduled to be played on Friday Night in the quagmire that was Titan Field – it was moved to the fast track that is Indian Field.

 “(CB) South came to us and wanted to know if we wanted to make the switch,” said Souderton head coach Ed Gallagher after yet another week of rain created deplorable field conditions at many SOL dirt and grass fields.  “They played North Penn on that field under similar conditions, and the field really seemed to take them out of what they wanted to do on offense.”

The Titans – who have averaged over 37 points per game this season on turf fields – managed a season low 14 points and a meager 188 yards of offense in the loss to the Knights.  Of course, North Penn is the class of the conference and had its own strong hand in the miserable CB South offensive production.

 “We knew that both teams would take advantage of the turf, but we were still happy to make the change,” said Gallagher.  “(Souderton senior running back) Javon White was back from injury, and we felt that it would be a benefit to him for us to play on our home (turf) field.”

Yeah.

White carried the ball 30 times for an astounding 271 yards and scored five touchdowns for the Big Red.  Souderton rushed the ball for an overwhelming 500 yards as a team and punched the ball into the end zone six times.  The Big Red rushed the ball a total of 68 times during the course of the game for a gaudy 7.4-yard average per attempt.

Central Bucks South also collected some impressive numbers as Titan quarterback Matt Johns had himself a splendid 310 yard passing performance and two scores.  Johns – who will play football at the University of Virginia next fall – completed nine passes alone to senior Chris Veal for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Senior Dan Brown carried the ball 16 times for a remarkable 222 yards and three touchdowns.

The combined 1000-plus yardage and 86 points surely would not have taken place on the sloppy track at Titan Field.

 “Sure both teams play on the same field, and neither team should have a real advantage no matter what the field conditions are,” said Gallagher.  “But I’m not too sure that is always the case.”

And then there is Poppy Yoder Field – home of the Pennridge Rams.

The adjectives to describe that playing field in 2011 have not been kind to one of the oldest and legendary venues in the Suburban One League.  That damaging list of adjectives includes disgraceful, shameful, appalling, reprehensible, dreadful, and embarrassing.

Poppy Yoder – the beloved local schoolteacher who supervised the ‘Welcome House’ for the Pearl S Buck Foundation – deserves a much better legacy.

 “The field is in horrible shape, and it has been for years,” said Pennridge head coach Randy Cuthbert.  “The field just doesn’t drain well, and we have just gotten used to playing our home games in the mud.”
The irony of the Pennridge football field situation is that the school does have a turf field on the high school campus.  The field has lights – but no substantial stands or bathrooms – thus the trek must be made from Pennridge High School to Pennridge South Middle School each Football Friday Night.

To play those home games at Poppy Yoder Field.

 “When we played Souderton, they wanted us to move the game to their field,” said Cuthbert as the Rams defeated the Big Red – 27-7 – in the muck at Poppy Yoder Field.  “But no matter how bad our field is, we’re not giving up a home game.  We know all too well how to play on a bad field.”

Souderton – which had an eye-popping 500-plus yards of offense in the win over CB South on the Indian Field turf – had a paltry 44 yards of total offense in the loss to Pennridge in the ‘Swamp’.

 “Pennridge was the better team that night, and I don’t have any problem saying that,” said Gallagher who was the offensive coordinator with the Rams under former head coach Jeff Hollenbach.  “But that field is really embarrassing.”

Souderton will play its next game against North Penn at Crawford Stadium – the home of the Knights.  And that stadium is surely not known for its magnificent playing surface.

 “(North Penn head coach) Dick Beck told me that he thought his field was the worst field in the state,” said Gallagher.  “But after playing in Quakertown last week and knowing he has to play at Pennridge – he said that he might have to change his mind.”

Pennridge is getting ready for Homecoming this week when the Rams host Central Bucks West.

 “We’ll have to put the sprinklers on Thursday night if it doesn’t rain all week,” said Cuthbert.

I think he was kidding.

Plymouth Whitemarsh has emerged as one of the best teams in District One and the Colonials (6-1, 4-0) play their home games on the turf at PW.

 “Being able to play our home games on turf is fantastic,” said Plymouth Whitemarsh head coach Dan Chang.  “One of the best things about it is that we are always able to practice.  It can be pouring rain, and we can still be out on our field getting things done.”

The game-breaking talents of senior quarterback Russhon Phillips and Xavier Ellington are showcased under the bright lights and fast track at Colonial Stadium.

And then there is the North Penn footnote.

The Knights are unbeaten on the grass and dirt fields with a 4-0 mark – and on the grass North Penn has scored an average of 34.5 points per game and allowed an average of just 7.0 points. 

On the turf, the Knights are 1-2 with an impressive scoring average of 32 points per games – but NP has allowed an average of 33.3 points per contest losing to the likes of La Salle (44-27) and St. Joseph Prep (51-33) at PW, while defeating Lansdale Catholic (36-6) at Souderton.

The who you play still trumps the where you play.

The only difference may be the laundry bill.

This was ‘The Week That Was’ in the SOL

SOL National Conference
Abington (7-0, 4-0) remained the only unbeaten team in District One
as the Ghosts captured a critical 20-7 victory over Pennsbury (5-2, 3-1).  Both teams entered the game undefeated in conference play.  Abington scored on two one-yard scoring drives in the first period and led at the first quarter break – 17-0.  The Ghost defense limited the high-powered Pennsbury offense to just 118 yards of total offense.  Ken Cropper and Ray Schreiner scored touchdowns for the winners.
Bensalem (2-5, 0-4) lost its fifth straight game as the Owls were clipped by William Tennent (3-4, 2-2) – 21-18.  Freshman Alex Arcangel scored on a four-yard run for Bensalem, while Davonte Newkirk scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kevin Hopkins.
Next:  Abington Ghosts @ Bensalem Owls – Friday 7 pm
Last Year:  Abington 41 – Bensalem 6
Prediction:  Abington 45 – Bensalem 13

Pennsbury (5-2, 3-1) lost its first conference game of the season as the Falcons were gunned down by unbeaten Abington (7-0, 4-0) – 20-7.  Senior quarterback Bruce Campbell broke loose for a 45-yard touchdown run in the third period as PHS closed to within 17-7.  The Falcon offense could generate only 2.2 yards per play on the remaining 34 snaps from center against a swarming Ghost defense.  The Falcon defense held the Ghosts to just three points over the final three periods.
Council Rock North (4-3, 3-1) inched over the .500 mark for the first time this season and remained in contention for a conference title as the Indians caged the Truman Tigers (0-7, 0-4) – 48-6.  Quarterback Trevor Guzy rushed for a pair of scores and also threw a pair of touchdown passes.  Guzy threw for 237 yards that included eight completions to Billy McAlister for 88 yards.  AJ Nielsen led the Indians in rushing with 90 yards and also scored a couple of touchdowns.
Next: Council Rock North Indians @ Pennsbury Falcons – Saturday 7 pm
Last Year:  Pennsbury 29 – Council Rock North 7
Prediction:  Pennsbury 21 – Council Rock North 14

Council Rock South (6-1, 3-1) remained in the SOL National hunt as the Golden Hawks stunned Neshaminy (4-3, 1-3) – 41-17.  Anthony Alimenti – who rushed of a game-high 139 yards - scored on runs of 29 and 55 yards to spark a 355-yard Hawk rushing offense.  Christian Crane scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and fired a 21-yard scoring strike.  Ryan Whiteley collected 94 yards rushing that included a six-yard touchdown burst.
William Tennent (3-4, 2-2) evened its SOL National record with a 21-18 victory over Bensalem (2-5, 0-4).  It was the ‘Jeff Ledford Show’ for the Panthers as he scored on a 76-yard punt return and scored on a 21-yard pass reception.  Connor Geiger scored on an eight-yard run for Tennent in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Next:  William Tennent Panthers @ Council Rock South Golden Hawks – Friday 7 pm
Last Year:  Council Rock South 43 – William Tennent 0
Prediction:  Council Rock South 38 – William Tennent 13

SOL Continental Conference

North Penn (5-2, 4-0) won its 25th consecutive conference game as the Knights put a mercy-rule grip on host Quakertown (4-3, 1-2) – 35-0.  Knight senior quarterback Corey Ernst was brilliant with a four-touchdown performance that included passing for a game-high 223 yards.  Ernst threw a pair of touchdowns passes to Ralph Reeves, and threw solo TD strikes to both Kyle Mayfield and Shayne Watson.  Mayfield – who accounted for 208 yards of total offense – led the Knights in rushing with 90 yards on 11 carries,
Souderton (4-3, 3-1) kept its conference title hopes alive with a thrilling 44-42 victory over Central Bucks South (4-3, 2-2).  The Big Red piled up 500 yards of rushing offense and was led by senior Javon White.  White scored five touchdowns for Souderton and garnered a team-high 271 yards on 30 carries.  Joe McNamara pounded his way for an additional 169 yards on 26 totes and scored a touchdown.
Next:  Souderton Big Red @ North Penn Knights – Friday 7:30 pm
Last Year:  North Penn 40 – Souderton 22
Prediction:  North Penn 24– Souderton 17

Pennridge (4-3, 3-0) remained unbeaten in conference play as the Rams rallied for a 20-13 victory over Hatboro-Horsham (3-4, 1-3).
Sophomore Mike Class once again put up some impressive numbers as he rushed for a game-high 143 yards on 24 carries.  Class scored on a 41-yard run and also found the end zone with a four-yard touchdown reception from Alex Krivda.  Krivda – who was six-of-eight for 84 yards – also threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Dubyk.
Central Bucks West (3-4. 1-3) won its first conference game as the Bucks survived against cross-district rival Central Bucks East (0-7, 0-4) – 13-7.  CB West needed a defensive stop at the end of the game to secure the win – and that stop was provided by Jake Poeske who broke up a pass play in the end zone.  The touchdown makers for the Bucks were Poeske – on a two-yard burst – and Sherrod Higginbotham, on a six-yard blast.  The West defense held East to a single score and only 140 yards of total offense.
Next:  Central Bucks West Bucks @ Pennridge Rams – Friday 7 pm
Last Year:  Central Bucks West 13 – Pennridge 3
Prediction:  Pennridge 21 – Central Bucks West 13

Central Bucks South (4-3, 2-2) lost a track meet of a game to host Souderton (4-3, 3-1) – 44-42.  The Titans rolled for 553 yards of total offense but could not secure the win.  Senior quarterback Matt Johns completed 14 passes for 310 yards and his favorite target was Chris Veal who caught nine balls for 267 yards and touchdown catches of 88 and 20 yards.  Dan Brown pounded his way for 222 yards on 16 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Hatboro-Horsham (3-4, 1-3) had a heartbreaking conference loss as the Hatters dropped a 20-13 verdict to Pennridge (4-3, 3-0).  It was the second heartbreaking loss in a row for H-H as the Hatters dropped a 28-27 overtime loss to Souderton the week before.   Dom DeFazio led the Hatboro-Horsham rushing attack with 104 rushing yards.  Quarterback Aaron Channing fired a 21-yard touchdown pass to Frank Coluntuoro.
Next:  Central Bucks South Titans vs. Hatboro-Horsham Hatters @ War Memorial Field – 7 pm
Last Year:  Central Bucks South 51 – Hatboro-Horsham 33
Prediction:  Central Bucks South 45 – Hatboro-Horsham 35

Quakertown (4-3, 1-2) has lost three of its last four games as the Panthers were caged by North Penn (5-2, 4-0) – 35-0.  Quakertown has been outscored in its last two conference games by a 72-13 margin as CB South caged the Panthers 37-13 two weeks ago.  In the loss to North Penn, senior quarterback Zac Gravelle completed eight passes for 82 yards.
Central Bucks East (0-7, 0-4) is still in search of its first win of the season as the Patriots lost a gutwrenching 13-7 contest to district rival Central Bucks West (3-4, 1-3).  CB East had a chance to win the game on the final play, but a pass fell incomplete in the end zone.  Brandon Sparks led the Patriots with 110 yards, while Josh Bernard scored the lone East touchdown on a two-yard run.
Next:  Central Bucks East Patriots @ Quakertown Panthers – Friday 7 pm
Last Year:  Central Bucks East 40 – Quakertown 6
Prediction:  Quakertown 21 – Central Bucks East 14

SOL American Conference

Norristown (4-3, 2-2) dropped to .500 in the conference as the Eagles were clipped by Upper Dublin (5-2, 3-1) – 35-14.  Senior quarterback Shannon Mayer figured in both touchdown plays for Norristown.  The lanky signal caller scored on a 17-yard dash and also threw a touchdown aerial.  The scoring pass was a 56-yard strike to Brandon Shippen.
Cheltenham (4-3, 1-2) led first place Plymouth Whitemarsh (6-1, 4-0) early in the game but failed to secure the lead as the Panthers lost to the Colonials – 30-12.  Mark Thompson – who led Cheltenham in rushing with a team-high 108 yards – also scored both touchdowns.  Thompson scored on runs of 46 and 23 yards for the Panthers.
Next:  Norristown Eagles @ Cheltenham Panthers – Friday 7 pm
Last Year:  Cheltenham 28 – Norristown 21
Prediction:  Norristown 28 – Cheltenham 21

Upper Dublin (5-2, 3-1) remained in the hunt for a conference title with a 35-14 victory over Norristown (4-3, 2-2).  Senior quarterback Andrew Derr fired three touchdown passes – one to Sean McAneney – a second to Luke Felix – and a third to Rick Boyer - to lead the Cardinal offensive attack.  Khalid Weems scored on a 15-yard burst for the winners.
Upper Moreland (0-7, 0-3) is still in search of its first win of the season as the Golden Bears were caged by Wissahickon (5-2, 2-1) – 41-19.  Robert Knox scored a pair of long distance touchdowns for the Purple and Gold – one on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Hooker – and the other on a 79-yard run.  Hooker completed six passes for 174 yards.  Tyler Whitmore scored the third Bear touchdown on a two-yard run.
Next:  Upper Dublin Flying Cardinals @ Upper Moreland Golden Bears – 7 pm
Last Year:  Upper Moreland 14 – Upper Dublin 13
Prediction:  Upper Dublin 42 – Upper Moreland 13

Wissahickon (5-2, 2-1) remained one loss off the conference lead with a 41-19 victory over winless Upper Moreland (0-7, 0-3).  Quarterback J.T. Crits was a perfect 10-for-10 throwing the football for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  The scoring passes went to Jared Reed (19 yards) and Anthony DeLegall (three yards).  Crits, Ricky O’Donnell, and Dan Murphy all registered rushing scores for the Trojans.
Upper Merion (0-6, 0-3) had a bye last week.  The good news for the Vikings is that they have averaged 13.3 points per game this season – the bad news is that Upper Merion has yielded an average of 34.3 points per game.  Junior Hassan Gardner has led the Vikings in rushing for most of the season.
Next:  Upper Merion Vikings @ Wissahickon Trojans – Friday – 7 pm
Last Year:  Wissahickon 34 – Upper Merion 23
Prediction:  Wissahickon 42 – Upper Merion 14

Plymouth Whitemarsh (6-1, 4-0) kept a vice grip on first place in the conference with a 30-12 victory over Cheltenham (4-3, 1-2).  Xavier Ellington was once again the ‘X’ factor for the Colonials with three rushing scored and a TD receiving.  Ellington scored on runs of 81, seven, and 56 yards and caught a 15-yard scoring pass from quarterback Russhon Phillips.  PW had 400-plus yards rushing and were led by the 231-yard performance from Ellington.  Phillips also broke the 100-yard barrier with 104 yards.
Next:  Bye Week

Suburban One Sports.com
***Top Ten***

1.  Abington Galloping Ghosts (7-0, 4-0)
2.  North Penn Knights (5-2, 4-0)
3.  Council Rock South Golden Hawks (6-1, 3-1)
4.  Plymouth Whitemarsh Colonials (6-1, 4-0)
5.  Pennsbury Falcons (5-2, 3-1)
6.  Souderton Big Red (4-3, 3-1)
7.  Central Bucks South Titans (4-3, 2-2)
8.  Neshaminy Redskins (4-3, 1-3)
9.  Upper Dublin Flying Cardinals (5-2, 3-1)
10.  Wissahickon Trojans (5-2, 2-1)