Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier: "Let's Talk Football (9-3-21)

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.  Drew, you covered the Souderton/North Penn game. Your thoughts.


Drew Markol:  “This was one of the marquee games in the state at North Penn’s brand new field and track. It looks beautiful. I talked to Souderton coach Ed Gallagher before that game, and one of his biggest concerns was just getting worn down because he said in previous years they haven’t beaten North Penn – and still haven’t - since 1989. He said, ‘I’m afraid they’re just going to wear us down like they’ve done in the past. We might have a lead early in the game and we can play with them for a half or three quarters and then all of a sudden, they pound, pound, pound. They have a runner like Khaloni Eaton who can just do that to you.’ That’s pretty much exactly what happened. Souderton came out and played very well. They had the lead for a while. On the last play before the half, Souderton gave up a 35-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Zeltt to Levi Carroll. That really hurt. Carroll gets overlooked because of Eaton and Zeltt, but he’s a fabulous football player. He returned the second half kickoff about 95 yards for a touchdown to bookend Carroll’s touchdown at the end of the first half.


“To make matters worse for Souderton, midway through the third quarter, their best player – junior Shaun Purvy – was returning a kick, and he just crumbled to the ground with  a knee injury. Nobody hit him, and he was down on the ground for quite a few minutes. Then he had to be helped off, and Ed Gallagher said –  teams avoid him because he’s such a dynamic returner, and they finally kicked to him, nobody hits him and he hurts his knee. He tried to be optimistic about the diagnosis, but he said – the non-contact knee injuries are a lot of times worse than the contact ones. If Souderton were to lose Purvy for an extended period of time – hopefully not for the season – that is a crushing blow to their chances going forward.


“North Penn did just what Ed Gallagher had feared – they wore them down. They fed Eaton on every play on a drive to start the third quarter for nine or 10 straight plays. He just hammers away and hammers away. He finished with 238 yards. He just gets yards in chunks. He was running over players, literally running them over, because he’s very big and very strong. Souderton had a lot of guys get hurt, and they had some two-way players that got hurt. They put in replacements that aren’t quite ready for prime time and that hurt them.


“We can’t draw too much for any teams from week one, you need a larger sample size, but North Penn looked pretty good against a good Souderton team.”  Bensalem defeated Norristown in overtime to win its first game since the final game of the 2019 season. Your thoughts.


Drew Markol:  “A new coach, Alexander Houston, takes over that Bensalem team. He played at Bensalem and was a very good player, and they bring him home. To get a win like that - statistically, Norristown held some big edges, but that doesn’t matter. They got the win, and that was the important thing. A team that’s coming off a winless season regardless if it’s a COVID-shortened season or whatever you want to call it – it’s still a winless season. That’s a team that needs a jolt of confidence, and getting a win like that does that. Now they get to host Hatboro-Horsham this week, and they have a chance for another win.


“Hatboro-Horsham didn’t play last week because of COVID. It was the only game in the area that was ‘Covided out,’ if I can coin a term. I think this game is big for both. It’s a game both teams think they should win. If you’re Bensalem, you have a shot to go 2-0 under a new coach and that doesn’t happen very often. My god, they’ll be flying high if that happens. For Hatboro, they don’t play William Tennent last week, and they have to sit again, and that’s hard for a team. You’ve been practicing all summer after going through that whole mess last year, and then, all of a sudden, the rug gets pulled out from under you again. Now you have to practice for another week to wait and see what you have.


“Bensalem/Hatboro should be an interesting one this week. I’m sure Bensalem is not talking about league titles or anything like that. It was just one win, but there’s a school that’s gone almost 50 years without a league title. That would be a heck of a story down the road if that were to happen.”  Abington earned a win over Cheltenham in a rivalry game and this week travels to North Penn. Your comments.


Drew Markol:  “Cheltenham played in the spring and only played four games. They had high hopes for last year, but they didn’t play in the fall. This year they have a new coach (Troy Gore). That’s why I have to give Abington even a little more credit. You’re playing a neighborhood rival with a new coach. That’s a recipe for a loss. Abington wins the game and does a nice job there.


“Again, we don’t know. They go to North Penn this week. Can they play with North Penn? We’ll find out. You don’t want to draw too much from one week, but North Penn again looks like a very tough out. They could be playing a long time until the weather is very cold.” Neshaminy and Pennsbury both had tough games against highly regarded opponents. Your comments about both of those teams.


Drew Markol: “When you look at your surprises from last week, Pennsbury goes down to Academy Park, and they had that horrible shooting incident where the young girl was killed. That’s just a terrible thing to have happen. On the field, Academy Park is a pretty good 5A program, and Pennsbury got beat 42-0 after going 0-5 last year and losing their last district playoff game in 2019, so they’ve lost seven in a row. They were outscored 34-0 by Neshaminy in their final game last year, so the last two games over two season they’ve been outscored 76-0. They need to try and right the ship when they play at Pennridge this week.


“Then you look at Neshaminy. They hosted Archbishop Wood, and that game was all Wood from start to finish, 37-0. You have two of the stud teams in the SOL in Neshaminy and Pennsbury, and both are off to poor starts. Now Wood is a very good team as is Academy Park so we’ll learn more. This week Neshaminy will play Central Bucks East which has a lot of players back and lost a tight one to Ridley last week. Nobody wants to start off 0-2, so that will be interesting to see which one of those teams bounces back.


“The same for Pennsbury/Pennridge. Pennridge lost to Downingtown East 14-7. Pennridge’s Adam Mossbrook scored on the opening kickoff, and that was all of its offense. They did not score again, so Friday’s Pennsbury game could be a 6-2 score or something like that, who knows? Again, the only thing worse than 0-1 is 0-2. When you only play 10 games, you need to get on the winning track. I’m not going to call them must-wins yet for those four teams, but next week, two of those teams are going to be 0-2. Then we’ll be talking must-wins for them.”  You’ve mentioned several games already, but what are some other games to watch on this week’s schedule.


Drew Markol: “This week there are a couple of good ones. Starting in the National Conference, CB South is coming off a win over Plymouth Whitemarsh and plays at CB West on Friday. CB West got steamrolled a bit by a very good Coatesville team, which was an ambitious game for West to play, but I give them credit for playing it. South/West is a pretty good rivalry, not as good as CB East/CB West, but you have a 1-0 Titans team coming in, and West needs to bounce back after a tough one against Coatesville.


“We talked about Hatboro/Bensalem, and that will be an interesting one too. Bensalem at Pennridge - that’s another interesting game. Pennsbury has got to get out of this funk, and can Pennridge get any kind of offense going?  They lose 14-7 to Downingtown East. It was a pretty good defensive effort by Pennridge when your offense isn’t helping you. It just shows you – the Pennridge defense again led by junior Phil Picciotti at linebacker is probably still pretty good. You expect a low-scoring one there.


“Abington at North Penn – you have to give North Penn the edge. North Penn had a big win over Souderton, and Abington had a nice win over Cheltenham, but I think we’re going to start hearing every week that North Penn is going to be the team to beat until somebody beats them.


“Council Rock North is playing at Quakertown. Quakertown thumped Southern Lehigh out of District 11, 42-7, and Council Rock North did a number on New Hope-Solebury on Saturday. You have two teams there flying high with Quakertown only allowing seven points and Council Rock North pitching a shutout. That’s another game that should be pretty good to see.


“Souderton is at Truman. Both teams lost last week – Souderton lost to North Penn and Truman lost to Chichester. Truman had played in the spring as had Chichester, and they lost a close one. Those are two teams that have visions of getting to a district tournament. Again, they need to turn it around. Souderton got banged up against North Penn, and you don’t know who will be back for Souderton. That one has some early implications in the Continental race, for sure.


“In the American, nice job by Upper Dublin kicking off the season and just really putting it to what we thought might be a pretty decent Wissahickon team. Upper Moreland wins it 43-0. They’re up 22-0 at the half, and this was never in doubt who was going to win. Colin O’Sullivan, their junior quarterback, had three touchdown passes. Upper Dublin – and we’ve talked about this before – is no longer just a good team, they’re a good program. They have been a good program for a decade. It looks like they could be legit again. They host Council Rock South this week. Last week, Council Rock South lost to a pretty good Upper Moreland team 21-7, so this is a bit of a test for Upper Dublin. Upper Moreland is a very good 4A team. It will be interesting. Upper Dublin could be off to a 2-0 start and on their way.


“Upper Moreland will play Archbishop Ryan. The two teams played in the state tournament, and Upper Moreland won its first state tournament game 35-0. “


Drew Markol’s picks (Winner in bold)

Abington at North Penn

Central Bucks South at Central Bucks West

Hatboro-Horsham at Bensalem

Council Rock South at Upper Dublin

Souderton at Harry S Truman

Central Bucks East at Neshaminy

Plymouth Whitemarsh at Methacton

Council Rock North at Quakertown

Academy of the New Church at Springfield Township

Archbishop Ryan at Upper Moreland

Wissahickon at Owen J Roberts

Academy Park at William Tennent

New Hope-Solebury at Pope John Paul II