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: Upper Dublin blew open a close game to defeat Plymouth Whitemarsh 30-0 in Friday’s battle of neighboring rivals in the District 1 5A semifinals. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “You look at Upper Dublin’s much anticipated matchup against Plymouth Whitemarsh in the semifinals last week. Plymouth Whitemarsh had beaten Upper Dublin last year in a district second round district game, 42-36, in overtime, so you had the whole revenge angle going. Upper Dublin wins the game 30-0 going away, but it was much closer than that. It was 7-0 at the half and 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter, but Plymouth Whitemarsh could do nothing offensively. I believe they rushed for less than 30 yards and pretty much no passing yards. When you get that kind of defense and a shutout in a district semifinal against a team that had beaten you and scored 42 points a year earlier, that tells you that you have it all working.
“The old cliché – it’s hard to win if you don’t score. Well, the best stat about this whole Upper Dublin run in districts is that in three games they’ve scored a hundred points – 35, 35 and 30 last week against PW, and they have not allowed a point. That is just remarkable that they’ve done that. They’re well aware of it, I’m sure, and they want nothing more than to keep it going. That’s just an incredible feat that they’re just mowing everybody down. It’s absolutely remarkable.
“Now Upper Dublin plays West Chester Rustin for the district title, but this is an Upper Dublin team that beat North Penn, they beat Souderton, they beat CB West who is going to the 6A final, and they beat them handily (35-7). Upper Dublin has pretty much torn through everybody. Their big test doesn’t come Friday. It comes a week from Friday when they will more than likely face Imhotep Charter in the state semifinals, but I think that will be the de facto state title game. Not to take away anything from West Chester Rustin, but Upper Dublin is just a couple notches above them with the way they’re playing. They’re beating not just 6A programs as a 5A program, they’re beating 6A programs decisively, and that tells you all you need to know.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Central Bucks West edged Perkiomen Valley 14-13 in the Class 6A semifinal. You were there. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “CB West keeps it going. An 11 seed makes the district final. They knocked off CB East, beat them for the second straight time the last game of the season and the first round of the playoffs. They beat North Penn again, and that put them against Perk Valley, the number two seed. That game – like all the games on Friday – was played in a mix of snow, wind and bitter cold. Neither side was world beaters, but West was able to do enough to get a 14-13 win. They had a big interception return by Jack Williams, the junior linebacker, who made a great play. They were trailing at the half again for, I believe, the third straight time, and they managed to come back. Ganz Cooper, the junior quarterback, finished off a drive with a QB sneak for a touchdown, and West finds itself playing for its first district title since 2000.
“Eli Boehm, who had 330 yards rushing against North Penn, is held under 40 yards, and there were a lot of negative carries. West won with offense against North Penn, but they won with defense against Perk Valley when they needed it. To beat a number two seed at that number two seed’s home stadium, that’s just a great win, there’s no doubt about it.
“Now they play Garnet Valley, the number one seed and defending district champion, at Garnet Valley. There are 33 6A programs in District 1, and Garnet Valley is the third smallest enrollment of those 33. Only Wissahickon and Cheltenham are smaller enrollment-wise than Garnet Valley, and they’re just dominating. To be able to do that – you have schools in District 1 that have double the numbers Garnet Valley has and even more. Schools like North Penn, Neshaminy and Pennsbury have more than double the number of students to draw from, and Garnet Valley is doing this. It’s just remarkable. It’s a great argument for – anybody can do that. I guess it’s hard work, execution and all the bad cliches you want to use, but they’re doing it with really low numbers. They’re close to 5A numbers. Wouldn’t that be something to see Garnet Valley and Upper Dublin play? That cutoff number changes frequently. It’s a very small school numbers-wise, but they’re winning. They’re 13-0 and going for a second district title in a row. They won in ’06 and ’07 too, so It’s not completely foreign territory at all for them to be this successful.
“You have an 11 versus a one in Friday’s district final, but West has already beaten a six seed, a 12 seed, and then they beat a second seed the other night at Perk Valley. West played Garnet Valley the first game of the season at Garnet Valley and lost 14-7 when Garnet Valley scored a touchdown in the last minute to beat them. That’s an advantage for West that they’ve played this team already, and they didn’t lose to them 48-7. They lost 14-7, so you’re studying that film and saying, ‘We’ve gotten better’ as I’m sure has Garnet Valley, but I don’t think you have that intimidation factor that you would have a lot of other times.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Pennridge will travel to Quakertown for the annual Thanksgiving Day game on Thursday. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “I love the Thanksgiving games, and I wish everyone did them, but so few do. That’s just the way things are. I’m glad Quakertown and Pennridge continue to do it, and I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere because if anyone’s against it – they’ll take a lot of grief. It varies by year. Last year, you had Quakertown going to the district semifinal – they lost in the semifinal, and the game was the following Thursday.
“It always means a lot to both teams, but when you look at Pennridge, they were 2-8, they lost a bunch of close games and obviously didn’t make the district playoffs. This is their shot. Quakertown beat them last year, shut them out 21-0. Quakertown is a very young team this year that not much was expected of them. They finished 5-5 and got the final spot in the district playoffs. They had to play Garnet Valley again. They lost that game, but they did get into the playoffs, which is always a goal for every coach for their team to get to the playoffs, and Quakertown did that.
“Again, it’s a huge rivalry for both teams still but maybe a smidge more for Pennridge this year because of their season and that they lost last year. Most of your high school football teams are made up of juniors and seniors, and this year Pennridge doesn’t want to lose a second straight time to Quakertown.”
Markol’s picks (Winners in bold)
(Last week: 4-0)
Central Bucks West at Garnet Valley
West Chester Rustin at Upper Dublin
Pennridge at Quakertown