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 (http://www.theintell.com/sports/high-school/) and Courier Times (http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/sports/high-school/) 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.
SuburbanOneSports.com: North Penn defeated CB East 28-21 to win the SOL National Conference but not before the Patriots rallied from a three-touchdown deficit to knot the score 21-21. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “I was a bit surprised with CB East. They’ve had a good season, but now you’re stepping up to play undefeated North Penn. It was a seven-point game, and that’s a good job by East. North Penn is always a mountain to climb for all these teams. That’s just the way it is. You compare yourself to them. When they played CB West, North Penn beat them 28-14. In the second half, North Penn didn’t score against West because West adapted when they had to, and they slowed them down. What North Penn has been able to do is get a lead on teams with a quick start. I don’t want to say they’re holding teams off. They’re doing what needs to be done, and they have some excellent weapons on offense. When they get deep in the district playoffs, is their defense going to hold up enough? That’s something we’ll have to keep an eye on, but for CB East, they’re going to be in the playoffs. They play CB West on Saturday in the big rivalry game. That game, to me, is basically a coin flip. I’m going to pick West in the picks, but it will be close. I could see that being a field goal game because East is just playing well. They do a lot of things well. They do a lot of different things on offense. With Pat Keller at quarterback, if you load up to stop Ethan Shine in the running game, they’ll just throw it over you.
“The conference itself between North Penn, East, West, Pennridge and South, who will probably make the playoffs too – it’s a lot different because the two other stalwarts in Pennsbury and Neshaminy aren’t going to the playoffs. It’s not been completely flipped on its head because North Penn and Pennridge are still there. You’re getting some other folks involved, and that’s never a bad thing.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Central Bucks West will travel to Central Bucks East for the annual rivalry game with the winner earning the CB Cup. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “West sits at number nine in the power points, and obviously, they want to get into the top eight if they can, so they can get a home game in that first round, but they have to beat East. They have to win the game, and they have to get some help elsewhere to push them into one of those top eight spots. That should be a very good one. West has lost to Coatesville and they’ve lost to North Penn. They beat Pennridge, they beat South. They’ve played very well, and they have that running style – that wing-T kind of thing that teams aren’t used to seeing. They just try and pound the ball, they’re more than satisfied with three or four yards at a clip. They want to hold the ball, shorten the game, keep the other offense off the field, and it’s working.
“Hopefully, the weather will cooperate on Saturday. Obviously, it means a lot in the rivalry, but it’s going to mean something for the district playoffs too. If East would win, they would get moved up, and you get an easier game in the first round. You could also say this game should be played on Thanksgiving like it used to be. Somehow, I’m on the Easton athletic department’s email list, and they’re sending out notes saying – we need to know if you’re coming to the Thanksgiving Day game, so we know how much space we need to allot for the press box. Easton’s game against Philipsburg – they’ll get 12,000 people.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Quakertown defeated Bensalem to clinch the SOL Continental title. A win over Truman on Friday will wrap up a 10-0 season for the Panthers. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “That’s a great job at Quakertown by George Banas. They’re number five in the latest District One 6A power points. There’s only three undefeated teams in 6A in the district – North Penn, Garnet Valley and Quakertown, and Garnet Valley is seeded first and North Penn is seeded second, so you’d think in a perfect world Quakertown would be third. Well, a lot of it is strength of schedule. The forfeit with Hatboro-Horsham, an 0-7 team – that doesn’t help you with the power points. These things always end up being razor thin, who gets in, who gets out, who gets seeded eighth or night or fourth or fifth. That fourth seed is important because if form holds, which it never does, but if it did, now you’re looking at two home games potentially, and that’s a huge thing. If you get the fifth seed and form holds, it’s a road game, so you may be going down, lord knows where, to play a game on a Friday night and you’re dealing with traffic and different surroundings. It just makes it harder.
“The season they’ve had – they rarely even have a close game. I saw them take apart Upper Dulbin, then they pulled away from Souderton. Have they really been tested? We’ll find out. They play Neshaminy, but it’s a 1-8 Neshaminy team, which is rare. It’s not Quakertown’s fault that Neshaminy had an off year. They just played the schedule they have.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Souderton lost its game last week to a Hatboro-Horsham forfeit, and Cheltenham lost its game to New Hope-Solebury, so the two teams played each other. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “Kyle Berger does all the calculations for the district – he’s a former WNPV radio guy. He does a great job. People have so much faith in him that he’s the guy that does this. Thank god there is that guy because I know I couldn’t do it. From what he has said – again, this is very rare, but the top 16 teams that we see now are going to remain the same almost regardless of what happens this weekend, so maybe that 16th seed that’s Bensalem might get bumped out, but for Bensalem, that’s a great story. They’ve never made the district playoffs, so if they could get in even as a 16 seed and if you’ve got to go to Garnet Valley, it doesn’t matter. Just the fact that you got in is remarkable.
“Souderton hosts Bensalem on Friday. Souderton finds out that Hatboro-Horsham is forfeiting. Then you get word on a Monday or Tuesday that New Hope-Solebury is forfeiting to Cheltenham, and somebody got on the phone – I don’t know if Souderton called Cheltenham or Cheltenham called Souderton and said, ‘Hey, let’s just play.’ Nobody had an advantage because nobody knew they were playing each other, but they put a game together. The extra points that Souderton received by beating a 5A team with wins like Cheltenham as opposed to a 5A team like Hatboro-Horsham that was winless may have secured them a spot in the district playoffs. That’s a good job by both schools to get a game on very short notice.
“I’ve had so many coaches tell me - especially last year with COVID and this year with the shortage of buses and some teams having COVID issues – they’ve learned to adjust on the fly when they’ve never ever had to do this. So, if there’s anything positive to last year’s COVID mess with football, maybe it’s this.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Quarterback Aiden O’Brien scored the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line with less than a minute remaining to edge Upper Moreland and clinch the SOL American. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “That’s just a good 5A game. Plymouth Whitemarsh scored late to beat Upper Moreland, a very good 4A team. It gives Plymouth Whitemarsh the American Conference title. For Upper Moreland’s sake, it gives them some confidence. In PW, we have a good 5A team, and that win pushed PW into the top five. I’m sure they’re thinking like Quakertown – let’s get into the top four if we can. I hate the phrase win-win, but that was a win-win for both.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Springfield, sixth in Class 4A, will play Cheltenham this week. Only four teams will make the district tournament, and it’s a long shot that the Spartans will get in. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “I don’t know all the math that would or even could get Springfield in with a win over Cheltenham. In District One, the schools are so top heavy with heavy enrollments, and you only have a handful of 4As and 3As, and the 2As and 1As are very, very few. That’s just where we live. You go into other parts of the state, and you can’t find a 6A or 5A school. They’re all 1As and 2As. It’s just the way things are divided up in Pennsylvania. For Springfield, they probably won’t get in, but they played Upper Moreland, the two seed, in a tight one all the way, and they battled Plymouth Whitemarsh. There will always be teams that you look at and say, ‘That was a pretty good team, they should have gotten in,’ but on the smaller level with only four getting in, then you can really say, ‘Boy, that team was legit, and they’re not getting the opportunity.’ That’s just a shame, but it’s all numbers. I’m sure Chris Shelly would say – ‘hey, we needed to win more games.’ That’s the bottom line. It’s just hard when you see that and you feel bad.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Pennsbury and Neshaminy have one win between them and have never squared off in the final game of the season in a situation like this. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “Pennsbury goes in at 0-9 and Neshaminy goes in at 1-8, which is unheard of for two tradition rich programs. I was doing some research the other night on this game. Nobody knows for sure, but it’s been at least 60 years since Pennsbury’s had a winless season, and Neshaminy hasn’t had just one win in forever. Would it save Pennsbury’s season if they beat Neshaminy? It might, and vice versa. And Neshaminy – their inspiration could be ‘We could make Pennsbury 0-10 for the first time ever.’ This is a blip year you would imagine with the teams playing so poorly, but if you look at that series, this will be the 91st meeting, and it’s 42-42-6. It wasn’t that long ago that Neshaminy beat Pennsbury in the regular season, but Pennsbury beat them in the districts. Without that district playoff matchup, which is basically the luck of the draw, you’d have Neshaminy with a one-game lead. Of course, I’ll find out later that my math is wrong, but I don’t think it is. That’s remarkable, that’s a true rivalry. Talk about an even rivalry. Look at CB West, I think it’s 35-10 versus East.”
Drew Markol’s picks (Winners in bold)
Pennridge @ Abington
Bensalem @ Souderton
North Penn @ Central Bucks South
Cheltenham @ Springfield Twp
Council Rock North @ Council Rock South
Harry S Truman @ Quakertown
Neshaminy @ Pennsbury 7pm
William Tennent @ New Hope-Solebury 7pm
Wissahickon @ Plymouth Whitemarsh 7pm
Upper Darby @ Upper Moreland 7pm
Central Bucks West @ Central Bucks East 1pm