Back for its 13th 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 at 10 p.m. on 1210AM/WPHT and the Audacy app.
SuburbanOneSports.com: CB West defeated North Penn 44-35 in a wild district quarterfinal. You were there – your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “That was exciting. West had played CB East for the second week in a row – they played them the last game of the regular season, and they played them again in the first round of the playoffs. That was a good East team that only lost three games. West beat them twice, and their other loss was to Pennsbury. It was really impressive to do that. West scored 35 against North Penn in the regular season in a 35-14 win, and then they put 44 on them Friday night in the district quarterfinals, which is really remarkable. It’s hard to beat a good team twice, and it’s really hard to beat a Dick Beck coached team twice and score nine more points than you did the first time. That was unexpected. North Penn lost its best running back – junior Amir Major – at the end of the first half, so they didn’t have him in the second half, which really didn’t help.
“Eli Boehm for West runs for 330 yards on only 26 carries. He was dragging defenders all over the place. It was just remarkable to see because you’re just not used to seeing that against a North Penn team. The way West is playing – they’ve lost one game in the last eight, and that came against CB South. It’s a rivalry game, but it’s week nine, and South was playing very well at the time. West had CB East the following week. From a 1-3 start to the season and now you’re in the district finals, it does prove the point – it doesn’t matter how you get in as long as you get in. West played Garnet Valley to start the season, but they’re a different team now. They’re playing really well. They can win a shootout or they can win a close game.
“Between senior Eli Boehm – who’s just a game-breaker, but they have another one in junior receiver Conor McFadden. He’s known more for his track exploits, but he looks like a college football player. He’s a receiver – they throw him these little outs, and he just turns them into touchdowns. He made an interception to all but end the game. North Penn’s Ryan Zeltt, who’s a very good quarterback, just zipped the pass, and he jumped the route and made the play – didn’t knock it down, he intercepted it. That was a bigtime play. If an opposing running back breaks into the clear, McFadden runs them down. To have players like that – they don’t have a lot of speed at West, but he just gives them another element.
“West’s quarterback, Ganz Cooper, is a three-year starter. He doesn’t run much, but when he runs, he’s tough. His brother was a great player at Archbishop Wood and went on to play at Penn State. He plays angry, which is the way you’re supposed to play. They moved him to safety as well, which they did for the first time against CB East. You probably don’t want your quarterback playing safety in a perfect world, but he’s an enforcer there too, and here they are in the district semifinal. It’s just been a surprising run, and it just shows that Rob Rowan is a very good coach, and I’m not sure he gets all the credit he deserves. That team does nothing but make the playoffs and then win games.
“West has to play the second seed in Perkiomen Valley on the road on Friday. Perk Valley beat Souderton 27-14 in their quarterfinal. Souderton has been playing pretty good defense all year, but two of their better defenders weren’t playing in that game. Can West win that game? Nothing would surprise me now with them. I’m sure West doesn’t want to have another shootout because you never know what can happen in a shootout. I’m sure they would gladly take 21-6, but we don’t see many of those anymore. It’s all about the offense. A couple things have to happen, but if West can beat Perk Valley, which would be an upset with an 11 beating a two. If they can do that – and again, it’s a big if, but if they can do that and Downingtown East could beat Garnet Valley, then West would host the district final because West is an 11 seed, and Downingtown East is a 12 seed. Again, that’s a lot to happen. Garnet Valley is undefeated, they’re the defending district champion. Spring-Ford took Garnet Valley to overtime in another quarterfinal. Again, could Downingtown East have a letdown after upsetting Downingtown West in their quarterfinal? Yes, they sure could. A lot of things have to go right for West to host the district final. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves, but the possibility is there.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Upper Dublin and Plymouth Whitemarsh were on a collision course to meet in the District 1 5A semifinal round. Upper Dublin rolled to a 35-0 win over Great Valley – its second 35-0 win in the district tournament. Plymouth Whitemarsh defeated Chester 30-12 in another quarter final. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “In Class 5A, the matchup everyone was hoping to see was undefeated Upper Dublin, the number one ranked team in the state in 5A, playing Plymouth Whitemarsh. The neighboring rivals didn’t play during the season – they’re in two different conferences. You have an Upper Dublin team that comes into that game 12-0. In their two district games, they’ve had mercy rule wins in both games – 35-0 over Academy Park and 35-0 over Great Valley last week. They’re just rolling. You could argue – they beat the 16th seed and the eighth seed, but I don’t care. It’s still an impressive thing to do back to back. Now they get Plymouth Whitemarsh, which lost its opener to CB South. That seems like forever ago, which in high school football terms it was – that was the end of August, almost three months ago. They also lost to Ridley. They played Chester Friday, and Chester came in and had been scoring a zillion points, averaging 31 points a game, and PW holds them to 12. It was 10-6 at the half, but they beat them 30-12. That’s impressive. You take a Chester team that’s used to scoring a lot of points, and they just shut them down.
“That’s the game of the week, for sure. The winner of that one then plays in the district final against the winner of #2 Strath Haven/#3 West Chester Rustin. You kind of look at Upper Dublin/PW as almost the de facto title game. The winner of that one is probably going to win the district title and then probably going to face Imhotep Charter or Roman Catholic in the state semifinal. That’s such a huge game – it’s a shame they’re not on opposite sides of the bracket, but that’s the way things fall. All good stuff.”
Markol’s Picks (Winners in bold)
(Last week: 4-0)
Central Bucks West @ Perk Valley
Downingtown East @ Garnet Valley
Plymouth Whitemarsh @ Upper Dublin
West Chester Rustin @ Strath Haven