By Scott Huff
Friday Night Lights
Downingtown East (6-4) @ Neshaminy (9-1)
Downingtown East lost its first three games of the season, but rallied to win six of its last seven games. Only loss in that stretch was to Downingtown West (21-14). The Indians lost their second game of the season to Souderton (46-14). East [#14 seed] defeated West Chester Henderson 19-13 in its last game.
Neshaminy – the Suburban One National Conference champion – has won nine straight games. The Skins only loss was a season-opening setback to Souderton (14-13). Neshaminy offensive weapons include quarterback Brian Titus and running backs Quilan Arnold and Bryan Dean. Neshaminy [#3 seed] edged Pennsbury 16-13 in its last game.
Neshaminy head coach Mark Schmidt said:
“Downingtown East has a very young and very talented team,” said Schmidt. “They have beaten some very good football teams, and have played very well lately.
“They have an excellent sophomore quarterback and they run a very balanced offense,” added the coach. “We have to take care of the line of scrimmage and take care of the football if we want to beat them.”
Abington (8-2) @ Glen Mills (8-2)
Glen Mills has an impressive 20-6 victory over Pennsbury on its resume. The Battling Bulls, though, have a pair of losses to Interboro (27-14) and Downingtown East (15-14). Glen Mills [#8 seed] thumped Penn Wood 35-14 in its last game.
Abington has shown the ability to pass the football with the skills of quarterback Sam Kind and the receiving talents of Anthony Hensley and Dom Massey. Julien Ireland was been a terrific sophomore running back. The Ghosts [#9 seed] blasted Harry S Truman 40-16 in their last game.
Abington head coach Tim Sorber said:
“Glen Mills probably has the best pair of running backs that we have seen all season,” said Sorber. “They run the ball about 85 percent of the time, and their offensive line is huge and averages around 275 pounds
“We need to step up and play well in a big play,” continued the coach. “We have to play without turnovers – limit penalties – and if we can do that, I like our chances.”
Ridley (8-2) @ Quakertown (8-2)
Ridley enters the contest as the defending PIAA District One champion. The Green Raiders have dropped just two games this season including a 26-19 loss to Penncrest. Ridley [#11 seed] also lost its last game of the season, 41-28, to unbeaten Garnet Valley.
Quakertown is perhaps the surprise team of both the Suburban One League and District One. The Panthers – who feature the throwing of QB Ryan Tincknell and the running of Tony Latronica – have won three straight games. The only Q-town losses came against North Penn and Hatboro-Horsham. The Panthers [#6 seed] edged Souderton 27-25 in their last game.
Quakertown head coach John Donnelly said:
“There is no question that Ridley is an excellent passing football team,” said Donnelly. “They have a very creative offense, and are a quick and aggressive team.
“We have to be able to put points on the board early and keep our fans into the game,” added the coach. “We want very much to use that home field advantage.”
Pennridge (6-4) @ Garnet Valley (10-0)
Pennridge has been a team of streaks this season with a pair of three-game winning streaks sandwiched around a three-game losing streak. The Rams showcase the talents of quarterback Brad Herrmann who is a threat both throwing the football and running the football. Pennridge [#15 seed] was handled 42-21 by North Penn in its last game.
Garnet Valley went through its season with an unbeaten record. The Valley outscored opponents by a staggering 321-113 this season. Garnet Valley [#2 seed] outscored Ridley 41-28 in its last game.
Pennridge head coach Randy Cuthbert said:
“It is very special to still be playing this time of year,” said Cuthbert. “Garnet Valley runs a good veer offense and has a very big defensive line.
“We have to play with a lot of discipline on defense – they can hit you with the big plays,” added Cuthbert. “If we can control the ball on offense with the run, I think we can score some points.”
Conestoga (7-3) @ Upper Dublin (8-1)
Conestoga is currently on a five-game winning streak. The Pioneers have lost three games this season – to Strath Haven [22-0], Ridley [19-0], and Garnet Valley [45-10]. Conestoga [# 12 seed] is fresh off an impressive 56-40 victory over Penncrest.
Upper Dublin – co-champions of the Suburban One League American Conference – is on a four-game win streak. The lone loss for the Cardinals – who are led by running back Josh Mastromatto – came in a 20-12 setback to Norristown. Upper Dublin [#5 seed] defeated Wissahickon 41-28 in its last game.
Friday Night Lights
Souderton (5-5) @ North Penn (10-0)
Souderton finished the season at .500 but still qualified for the playoffs with early season wins over both Neshaminy [14-13] and Downingtown East [46-10]. The Indians rely on a rushing attack that features the talents of Justin Powell. Souderton [#16 seed] lost is last game of the season to Quakertown, 27-25.
North Penn finished its season unbeaten and earned the top seed in the playoffs. The Knights feature a terrific defense that combines the offensive talents of Ronnie Akins, Tyler Smith, and quarterback Justin Davey. North Penn [#1 seed] rolled over Pennridge 42-21 in its last outing.
Souderton head coach Ed Gallagher said:
“We got into the playoffs, and I’m thrilled about that,” said Gallagher. “Hopefully we can get a couple of breaks and be able to stay with them and make a game of it. No one’s found a way to beat them yet.
“When we were at full strength, I think we could have played with anyone in the district,” continued the coach. “It’s not a knock on the kids that are still playing, but more of a testament to the kids that we lost (8 starters). We proved that when we beat both Neshaminy and Downingtown East the first two weeks of the season.”
North Penn head coach Dick Beck said:
“The fact that we played Souderton before really isn’t an advantage to either team,” said Beck in reference to the Knights 33-10 win earlier this season. “We will prepare the best that we can and now that they might throw the kitchen sink at us.
“Souderton really has nothing to lose,” added Beck. “I’m sure that they are excited to be in the playoffs – so are we.”
PIAA Class AAA Playoffs
Phoenixville (7-3) @ Upper Moreland (8-1)
Phoenixville suffered three losses this year. The Phantoms dropped games to Owen J. Roberts (27-7), Pottsgrove (21-7), and Great Valley (21-7). Phoenixville [#8 seed] is coming off a 27-22 victory over Methacton.
Upper Moreland showcases the awesome talents of running back Chris Smallwood. The Golden Bears – co-champs of the SOL American Conference – lost only to Upper Dublin (19-14). Upper Moreland [#1 seed] crushed Norristown 34-0 last week.
Upper Moreland head coach Adam Beach said:
“Phoenixville is a very fast team – not real big – but very fast,” said Beach. “They like to create confusion on defense, their defense has created a lot of turnovers.
“I think for us to be successful we have to do a good job of blocking and tackling,” added the coach. “If we do that, we can make some big plays.”
Saturday Playoff Action
Penncrest (8-2) @ Pennsbury (8-2)
Penncrest completed a fine season that saw them suffer just a pair of defeats. Penncrest lost early in the season to unbeaten Garnet Valley (37-21). P-crest [#10 seed] also lost its last outing to Conestoga, 56-40.
Pennsbury finished the season as the runner-up to Neshaminy in the SOL National Conference. The Falcons feature a punishing rushing attack that features Brandon Pepper, Richie Applegate, and Dante Devine. Pennsbury [#7 seed] lost in the conference championship game to Neshaminy last week, 16-13.
Pennsbury head coach Galen Snyder said:
“The district playoffs give us a second chance,” said Snyder moments after his Falcons dropped its SOL championship game to Neshaminy. “We have to forget about this game and prepare for the next one.”