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: A big game in the SOL National Conference was the CB East at CB South game. You were there – share your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “As far as the 6A schools, CB East is the only unbeaten team left, and we’ve only played four weeks, which is kind of hard to believe. I guess parity is better than not, but to have only one unbeaten team is just odd, and we still have two more weeks in September to go. You have to give them credit. Souderton , which is a pretty good team, came in for the first game under the lights, and East beat them. Then East has to go over to South, which is a rivalry. I was talking to some of the East players, and it’s not as big as East versus West, but it’s still more of a rivalry than other games they play. There is crossover growing up. The kids know each other from youth football, and South was undefeated. East just took it to them. It was only 7-0 at the half, but statistically, I want to say that East ran 38 plays in the first half to 12 for South.
“They just dominated, but at the end of the first half, it looked like South was going to go in and score – you’re going to have this lopsided statistical first half, and the game’s tied at 7. It gives South – which has a nice home crowd, an always raucous student section – a lot of momentum, and then Declan Kelly steps in front of the South pass on the goal line and makes a huge play. It took the momentum away from South, for sure. Without that interception, who knows?
“East had a long drive to start the game, but they fumbled deep in South territory. Ethan Shine, East’s running back, does not go down with first contact. He’s always bulling his way forward. He had 60-plus yards in the first half, and he finished with over 200 for the game. Teams just get worn down. When you’re out there for so many plays and he’s pounding away at you – they also have other good runners. Declan Kelly is a nice runner, and the quarterback, Pat Keller, can scramble and run too. When you play defense against them, you do a lot of chasing, and you’re also getting hit. That takes a toll, and it adds up.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Pennsbury travelled to Central Bucks West for its SOL National Conference opener and came away with a huge win. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “Pennsbury opens the season with a loss against Coatesville, and you’re thinking, ‘Well, they didn’t win last year, they lost 17 straight going back to 2019. They lose to Coatesville – all right, it is Coatesville, but still, they lost 28-6.’ Then they win a couple, but now they’re going to West. I picked CB West to win that game. That was a shocker, but it wasn’t even as close as the final score. Conor McFadden, the CB West junior who’s a track standout, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and had a 95-yard touchdown reception, and the one he ran 95 yards, he took a short pass and went the distance. That was a dominating win for Pennsbury.
“West is 1-3, and they’ve only beaten Quakertown, but they’ve played some really good teams. West is not a bad team, by any stretch, so for Pennsbury to go and do that - it hasn’t taken Galen Snyder very long to start to change things around. Pennsbury at 0-10 last year was just hard to fathom. They’re quicky forgetting about that, I ‘m sure. Now you’re 3-1 and you’re on a roll. G Mulbah, the senior running back, has been fabulous every week. He just keeps doing it, and all of a sudden, Pennsbury is Pennsbury again.
“This week is another good test for Pennsbury when they play CB South. All the Central Bucks schools are pretty good this season. West is only 1-3, but they’re not a bad team, nor is South. South was 3-0 before East beat them last week, and now Pennsbury goes in to play them. South’s senior quarterback Brett Szarko is a nice quarterback. He knows what he’s doing back there. Senior receiver Tommy Donnelly is small, but when he gets the ball, he can hurt you. That will test Pennsbury, but South just could not run the ball against East. Pennsbury does its ground and pound thing. It will be G Mulbah again, who is a lot like Ethan Shine from CB East, just a bruising runner. If you looked at that game two weeks ago, you’d say, ‘Oh, that’s a CB South win.’ Now you’re flipping a coin. Good for Pennsbury. It’s a remarkable turnaround in a very, very short time, and that’s very hard to do.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: North Penn defeated Neshaminy in overtime in another SOL National contest. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “North Penn loses their opener to La Salle and then they beat Quakertown, which is very young. They lose to Upper Dublin, which is very good, the number two team in the state in 5A. They take on a Neshaminy team that started out 2-0 and then lost to Downingtown West and now North Penn. North Penn could not get its running game going against Neshaminy, and not being able to run is just very out of character for them. One of Neshaminy’s strengths, coach Steve Wilmot said before the season, was their defensive and offensive lines, but North Penn coach Dick Beck said the same thing about his lines – that he had some experience there, and he expected good things.
“North Penn is going to play a role in all this thing with CB East and Pennsbury. That’s always going to be the litmus test. You’ve got to go through North Penn, and I still think that’s the case, but the Knights have to work on their ground game. Ryan Zeltt had a big game against Neshaminy – he threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns, but you can’t win by just throwing.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Pennridge, which has won its last two games, is playing CB East on Friday. Can the Rams give the Patriots a run for their money?
Drew Markol: “I think they can. With Pennridge, you kind of put them on the backburner after they started out 0-2, but they’ve won two in a row. They’ve got some bulk up front. Brennan Fisher, the Army commit, is a very good running back. Last week, Nate Mossbrook had a couple of touchdowns for them, and they had an interception return on defense against Abington. You pick that game, and you’d have to favor East. East is on a roll. They know they’re good, and they’ve got all the momentum. When East and Pennridge play, it’s always brutal. They really go at it. Don’t think Pennridge wouldn’t love to hand East its first loss.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Council Rock South, which defeated Truman, is facing Quakertown. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “There are pieces there for Quakertown. George Banas the head coach, is playing a lot of sophomores. They’re taking their lumps, but they’re going to be good. It might not be until later in the season or next year, but they’re going to get there. They have a quarterback in Vince Micucci, the junior. It’s just a matter of getting senior running back John Eatherton up to speed. After last year when you started out 13-0, and all of a sudden you’re 1-3, and it’s a different vibe around practice. That’s another game that’s probably a tossup. CJ Szydlik, the former Upper Moreland coach, is now at Council Rock South. He knows how to coach. Give him a little bit of time, and he’ll get the Golden Hawks going. The time might not be week five of the season, but he’ll get them there.”
Markol’s picks (Winners in bold)
Abington @ Neshaminy
Pennridge @ Central Bucks East
Pennsbury @ Central Bucks South
Central Bucks West @ North Penn
Upper Darby @ Cheltenham
Quakertown @ Council Rock South
Harry S Truman @ Souderton
Hatboro-Horsham @ Lower Moreland
Plymouth Whitemarsh @ McCaskey HS
Upper Dublin @ Wissahickon
William Tennent @ Central HS
Bensalem @ Council Rock North
New Hope-Solebury @ Upper Moreland