Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier: "Let's Talk Football (10-14-21)

Back for its 12th season, the popular Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier Times ‘Let’s Talk Football’ features football beat writer Drew Markol. To stay on top of the high school football news in the area, visit the Intelligencer ( and Courier Times ( web sites.


Join Jeff Nolan and Kevin Cooney for the WPHT High School Football Scoreboard Show as they recap the night of high school football on Friday 10 p.m. to midnight on 1210AM/WPHT and the Audacy app.  The big story in the SOL this week was the announcement that Hatboro-Horsham will not be playing its remaining football games. Your thoughts about that situation.


Drew Markol:  “We look at Hatboro-Horsham and what’s going on over there. They forfeited the first time a couple of weeks  ago their game against Council Rock North, and the following week they played Council Rock South and got pretty much walloped by a team that hadn’t won a game (48-13). The following week the Hatters forfeited again, this time to CB West and really fueled the speculation about what would happen with the rest of the season. What we found out the other day is that Hatboro-Horsham has cancelled/forfeited – whatever you want to call it – their final three games of this season. So the teams they’re supposed to play – Quakertown this week, Souderton the following week and then Upper Dublin,and those are all forfeit wins for the teams they’re supposed to play and obviously forfeit losses for the Hatters, but it’s much deeper than that. They have very low numbers, but beneath the surface, Hatboro is also not playing any junior varsity games, and the junior varsity is the lifeblood of any program. I’m also hearing their freshman team is struggling, and they’re considering not even playing what is an abbreviated freshman schedule.


The problems run deep. If you look at it - what do they do next year or the year after? If you’re not playing junior varsity games, and you’re struggling for your freshman numbers, it’s awfully hard to jump into it the following season after all of this. What’s the answer? I don’t know. Shut the program down for a couple years, play just a JV schedule and maybe try and bolster up the JV. I really don’t know the answer, but I’ve had several coaches tell me there’s talent walking the halls at Hatboro-Horsham. This is no great revelation. Several coaches have all said the same thing. You’re got a bunch of kids, and there’s talent there. Getting that talent to come out for the team hasn’t been happening.


“I’ve reached out to folks over at Hatboro-Horsham, and I’m still waiting to hear back from them. It’s been a week or so at least. They’ve circled the wagons with how they’re approaching things, and I’m sure they’re scrambling around looking at each other – ‘What do we do next?’ What the answer is I don’t think anybody knows. You’ve got Upper Moreland, a bordering school with a team that’s playing really well. Springfield Township – a team that went through this several years ago – built itself up and is 5-1 this year. They’re playing Upper Moreland this week, and they’re another one-loss team. A 5A program like Upper Dublin in the same neighborhood – they’re a superb program, a state-ranked program and always a district threat is also a 5A school like Hatboro-Horsham.


“We’ve talked a lot about Springfield and how Shelly brought them back. They lose kids to Wood, they lose kids to La Salle, and they lose kids to Germantown Academy. Their neighbor Upper Moreland is doing okay, and they lose kids to Wood and La Salle. Darryl Dobos made the good point that Springfield came back from the dead, and La Salle plays its home games at Springfield, so don’t you think they lose kids to La Salle? They’re 5-1 and La Salle walks to the games, that’s how close they are. 


“To say it’s a mess is more than fair, and what’s going to happen – I don’t know. I don’t think they’ll play next year. They have to figure something out, let the SOL know, let the district know what they’re going to do or not do. You can’t hold everybody hostage. The coaches and teams they’ve forfeited to, it’s not fair to them. After last year’s COVID mess, you finally get a full season and now you don’t. It’s just a shame in a lot of ways. Think of all their cheerleaders, their band kids that aren’t getting an opportunity. That stinks for them. You look across the state, and there are 1A teams that have 35-40 kids on them at these little tiny schools. We lose sight of that because we don’t ever see it. Hatboro-Horsham has a lot of kids. It just doesn’t make sense.”  Quakertown notched a convincing win over Neshaminy and now has a forfeit this week. Your thoughts about the Panthers.


Drew Markol:  “Quakertown had a gauntlet with Upper Dublin, then Souderton and then Neshaminy. You have three perennial very good power teams, and they handled all three of them in convincing fashion with the latest being a 35-10 win over Neshaminy on Friday. The Panthers are 7-0. There are only three undefeated teams in District One in 6A, and Quakertown is one of them along with North Penn and Garnet Valley. If the dreaded season ended today thing were true, I believe they’d be a four seed tied with Coatesville. You’d love to be one of those first four because if you win that gets you two home games. Their student section is absolutely into it, their band always has the place jumping. Alumni Field is a neat place to watch a game just to see how much their students come out. A lot of schools don’t get that. You get very few if any at a lot of places, but at Quakertown, they show up and they support that team. They’re loud and they look like they’re having the time of their life too - they’re having a blast. It’s just a good thing all around. Quakertown has a lot of pieces this year, and they put those pieces together.


“Who knows with COVID and everything, they may decide that the higher seed may get to host the district championship game because some places may not want to host it. All Quakertown is doing is putting themselves in a better and better spot. This week they got the old 2-0 forfeit win to go to 8-0. You can look at it maybe it’s a bit of a positive because you can get some rest and healed up, but it also slows the momentum. It’s a double-edged sword for sure.

Quakertown is just rolling every week.”  Pennridge travelled to Bensalem and earned a 45-0 win after dropping two straight games to North Penn and CB West. The Rams play CB East this week in a big game. Your comments.


Drew Markol: “We’ve been talking about the storybook tale of Bensalem, and it’s a very good story. They’re 4-3 after seven weeks after not winning a game last year and struggling and struggling all the time. Okay, maybe the bubble burst a little bit last week because Pennridge goes down to Bensalem and beats them 45-0. That Pennridge team – you look at their loses. They’ve lost to Downingtown East, they’ve lost to North Penn and they’ve lost to CB West. Those are three really good teams, so it’s not like they had a blip on their schedule, and now they play CB East, another really good team. They’ve won six in a row since opening the season with a loss. I give a slight edge to CB East, but would I be surprised if Pennridge would beat them? No, Pennridge has to look at it – they’ve got to win two of the last three, I’m sure in their mind, to get to six wins. If you beat a 6-1 CB East, that helps the power points. That’s a really good game. East with Pat Keller the quarterback and Ethan Shine the running back – they’re both juniors, and they’re doing a really good job. You look at Pennridge with another junior in Phil Picciotti, the linebacker and running back who’s one of the best players in the state. There’s a lot of talent on the field in that game. A couple of good ones this week that are absolutely worth going to. Last week was a little bit humdrum, but that changes this week, for sure.” North Penn travels to Central Bucks West on Friday. Your comments about that game.


Drew Markol:  “You look at that game – we talked about this on our podcast. Two years ago, West won the Continental. They had to beat North Penn, and they did. It was like 27-26, a great game, a huge crowd, kind of like what you’re going to have this Friday. Like I said on the podcast, CB West had the best player on the field in Jack Fallon. I think, in this case, North Penn, may have the three best players on the field in senior Khalani Eaton, the running back who was all-state last year, Ryan Zeltt, the junior quarterback and the senior wide receiver Levi Carroll. That just gives Dick Beck a lot of options. I think it will be close, but I think North Penn has a little too much offense. West grinds it out, and they want to hold the ball and eat the clock. If they get stopped, it’s hard for them to score quickly, but that’s not the case for North Penn. Also, for Dick Beck, the North Penn coach, CB West is his alma mater for whatever that means. I don’t know if it means that much anymore, but it might. That will be a good one. Again, if you’re going to go, get there early because it will be packed.”  In the American Conference, PW defeated Cheltenham last week, so PW is the only team without a loss in the SOL American. Upper Moreland and Springfield Township will play this week. Your comments about that conference.


Drew Markol:  In the American Conference, nice job by Plymouth Whitemarsh. Dan Chang, the former North Penn standout, has been at PW for a long time, gets a big win over Cheltenham last week, and they are in a prime position to win the American Conference. A good one in the American Conference is between Springfield and Upper Moreland, two 4A programs. Only four teams make the 4A district playoffs, and right now, both of them would be in – Upper Moreland at number two and Springfield at number four. You walk a tightrope there of getting in or not getting in. I think that one’s close. I called it 17-16 because Upper Moreland has had an awfully hard time putting teams away. I think it will be close again. You look at Springfield as we talked about that last week. They were able to rebuild.”  Souderton is facing Upper Dublin this week. The Indians are seeded 14 and probably need that win. Your comments.


Drew Markol:  “If you look at Souderton, they’re the defending district champs, but in order to get to the district playoffs, you could call this week’s game a must-win because they were supposed to play Hatboro-Horsham the following week, and that forfeit won’t do anything to their points at all. This should be a good one. Souderton beat Abington the other day. Abington is struggling, but that was a game Souderton had to have. They have another one they have to have against a good Upper Dublin team. Coaches will tell you this – they’ll complain that they have a lot of injuries, and they’ll also say that everybody has injuries. Some teams get hit worse than others, and Souderton has been hit really bad by the injury bug, especially at cornerback, but it’s the next man up and the next man up, and that’s what you have to do. That’s the nature of the game. You go out and play and you do your best, and again, that’s another good one. A lot of interesting games with a lot of interesting implications.”


Drew Markol’s Picks (Winers in bold)

Neshaminy @ Abington
Bensalem @ Council Rock South
Central Bucks East @ Pennridge
Central Bucks South @ Pennsbury
North Penn @ Central Bucks West
Cheltenham @ Wissahickon
Plymouth Whitemarsh @ William Tennent
Springfield @ Upper Moreland

Council Rock North @ Harry S Truman
Souderton @ Upper Dublin