Back for its ninth season, the popular Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier Times ‘Let’s Talk Football’ features the ‘Game On’ crew: Drew Markol and Todd Thorpe. To view this week’s show, click on the following link: http://www.theintell.com/videos/hsgameon/ To stay on top of the high school football news in the area, visit the Intelligencer http://www.theintell.com/sportsand Bucks County Courier http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/sports/high-schools web sites.
Check out this week’s picks by our panel of experts: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/football-forecaster
SuburbanOneSports.com: Harry S Truman won its first ever district game with its 27-12 win over Council Rock South. The Tigers will travel to Downingtown West on Friday. Your comments.
Todd Thorpe: “The Truman/Council Rock South game was just what you expected between two teams that were real familiar with each other. I kind of suspected that Truman was going to have the advantage in weapons and in terms of the score, and in the end, they did, but it was an interesting game. Rock South has a really good defense, and they can do different things. In the end, Truman had a few too many weapons, and I give assistant coach and offensive coordinator Galen Snyder a ton of credit for recognizing that the fullback up the middle with Enzo Poulson was going to be so successful. That really was the difference in the game. There were some crazy moments in the third quarter with a blocked punt and several turnovers, and South made it interesting. As I said, they’re a very good defensive team, and they play awfully hard. I thought this time around – especially when you throw in the emotional factor of playing at home in a playoff game, I think that favored Truman from the beginning. The big star of the day has to be Enzo Poulson, the fullback. He was saying after the game that when they played South before the fullback between the tackles was pretty successful. I think that was their game plan. They can go with Terrence Rodgers, they can go with Deondre Winton, and they can go with Javeer Peterson or Gabe Gipli out of the backfield if they want. They just have so many different guys they can go to. It’s tough because they always have fresh legs. They had their first ever home playoff game against a league rival. It was a good game. If the weather was a little more cooperative, it might have been a little bit cleaner.
“Truman is now going to play Downingtown West. Downingtown West has lost one game, and that game was to Coatesville, and they were blown out, but they beat three 6A playoff teams this year – Neshaminy, Perk Valley and Downingtown East. They’re at home and with their experience, I think I’d go with Downingtown West. Their key players are juniors where Truman’s key players are seniors, advantage Truman maybe, but Truman – I’m not going to criticize them because they won the game, but they have to clean up their act a little bit with the penalties and turnovers if they want to win a playoff game on the road, that’s all there is to it. Because of those factors, I still go with Downingtown West in this game but not by much. Truman could win it.”
Drew Markol: “With Truman, all that talk about it was their first playoff game and how would they react. Well, they reacted just fine. They had a great crowd. They avenged their only loss, which was to Council Rock South. I did not see the game, but I heard there were a lot of penalties, things you can’t be doing at this time of the season. Truman has to go down to Downingtown West this week for their quarterfinal. Now you’re on the road, you’re playing a team whose only loss was to Coatesville, and there’s a district pedigree there. Downingtown West is the real deal, so I’m sure Truman’s coaches are telling them – you can’t have stupid penalties, you can’t give them any sort of break or advantage. I think that will be a tough one for Truman. They’ve had a great season, but Downingtown West is very, very good.
“Again, you have four teams from the SOL in the final eight in 6A, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Quakertown travelled to sixth-seeded Perk Valley and pulled off the 26-14 upset win. The Panthers will travel to Garnet Valley on Friday. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “I saw Quakertown and Perk Valley last week. Perk Valley is a team that likes to throw the ball and apparently has some decent receivers, but like a lot of places, it was pouring down rain, they play on grass – in this case, they played on mud, and Quakertown just had no problem at all. I know the score was close at the end, but you really never had the thought that Quakertown was going to lose. They were just the better team. They were moving the ball. Their first drive of the game took almost 10 minutes off of the clock. They looked prepared and took away everything Perk Valley wanted to do and just did a really nice job. Perk Valley was the six seed and Quakertown was the 11 seed, but it looked like they should have been reversed because Quakertown was better.
“Christian Patrick, the senior running back, had 30 carries – which is a ton of carries, but he did a great job. He ran for over 200 yards and had a couple of touchdowns. It was just what they needed because with the rain coming down and Quakertown getting four or five yards a pop, keeping the clock moving, keeping the ball away from Perk Valley - they just did a nice job. They looked prepared. There were a couple of fumbles on either side, but that’s to be expected. They just went out and looked really good. I’ve seen them a lot this year, and this is the best I’ve seen them. I hate to use the word clouded because of all the rain, but the rain aside, it didn’t matter. They just played very well on both sides of the ball.
“Now they’ve got a tough one with Garnet Valley this week. Garnet Valley last week mercy ruled Pennsbury. I know that probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone because Garnet Valley is that good. They’re a team that is having their heyday right now, but unfortunately for them, they’re kind of blocked by Coatesville and North Penn, who have beaten them in the last two district finals. The fact that they’ve gotten to the last two district finals tell you how good they are. They were just able to shut Pennsbury down.”
Todd Thorpe: “I ran into George Banas, and he just said his kids played a great game. They played very well, they executed. They liked the matchup with Perk Valley, and they played their best game. To go on the road and win a game like that is pretty impressive and says a lot about the way they’ve come back as a team because they had a couple of tough losses in their league. They’re still pretty confident. Now they’re going to go to Garnet Valley, and Garnet Valley is coming off a real thumping on Saturday against Pennsbury where seemingly everything they did they did right. That’s a long shot that Quakertown is going to find a way to win this game, but they’re playing confidently, they’re coming off a win on the road, and I’m sure they’re thinking – why not? It’s not like Garnet Valley is going to go spread offense and beat you athletically all over the field. They run their run offense, and it’s tough to stop because you just don’t see it everyday. It’s just about fundamentals and tackling and doing their assignments and not playing to the fakes. It will be interesting. Garnet Valley has kind of rolled everybody this year, so it’s tough to see Quakertown finding a way to win, but I certainly didn’t pick them to win Friday against Perk Valley, so it could really go either way. Good for Quakertown getting that win. When I saw that result, I was like – that’s huge for them and huge for that program, and win or lose, that gives them a boost going into Thanksgiving against Pennridge, a game they like and definitely want to win. George (Banas) has never hid how much he enjoys that game too. This week would be a definite boost if they could pull it off. Weirder things have happened, that’s for sure.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Neshaminy and North Penn were both winners, and as a result, the two SOL rivals will square off in a district quarterfinal on Friday at Wissahickon. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “Neshaminy-Haverford was an eight-nine game where you expect a 21-20 or 14-13 kind of game. Instead, Neshaminy gets the mercy rule, going up 35 points on them and then Haverford scores a late touchdown against the second team. Neshaminy has won six in a row now after kind of a shaky start, and in those six games, they’ve allowed four touchdowns total and those have come against the second team after Neshaminy has had big leads.
“That win leads Neshaminy into the eight-one game against North Penn. North Penn was supposed to play Ridley at home, but they moved it to Wissahickon because North Penn’s field is always a mess and doesn’t hold water well. There’s rumors that North Penn is going to get a new field, and hopefully that will happen and they’ll put some turf in. Until it does, they’re moving their ‘home’ games to different places, which is fine because it’s not like they’re going a thousand miles away, but still, you’re moving from your home field, and it’s just not the same feel. With all the rain, they’ve moved it to Wissahickon again.
“North Penn had a pretty good lead on Ridley, but they fumbled a punt, and Ridley recovered it and scored. Then Ridley got an on-sides kick and made the game a little bit tighter, but that game really wasn’t in jeopardy. It came against a Ridley team that also had won six in a row. North Penn’s ground game – Shamar Edwards had 100-plus yards, and RJ Macnamara, the junior fullback, had a couple of touchdowns, so they did a good job. Now they get Neshaminy. They played the first week of the season – North Penn wins in double overtime 34-33. North Penn has won 10 straight since then, and Neshaminy has won six in a row. That should be a whale of a game. That’s what everybody wants. They do have a history in the district playoffs. Of course, it always seems when they play each other in the district playoffs – one team blows the other one out. You don’t really get that close game, but maybe this time you will. In that game, you have two teams at the top of their game, and that’s pretty good for a district quarterfinal. That will be interesting to see.”
Todd Thorpe: “Neshaminy did what they’ve been doing. They played great defense, and the establishment of Chris James, their sophomore running back, has really made a big difference on offense. It takes a lot of the pressure off of Oleh Manzyk. They don’t have to throw it as much. Brody McAndrew can control the passing game. He’s very effective, and he can be a dangerous quarterback. They have a lot of guys that can catch the ball. McAndrew only threw five passes in that game but he completed all five of them for 84 yards. That was a big win for them. They ran the ball effectively, and they played great defense. That’s going to win a lot of games.
“For Neshaminy, this is the game they’ve been waiting for since the third week of August. You kind of had the feeling these two teams might see each other again.
“North Penn did what North Penn has been doing the past several months and that’s just finding a way to win. That’s what they did against Ridley. It wasn’t pretty. People suspected Ridley was going to be a tough first round opponent as a 16 seed, and they were. They came in with a six-game winning streak, and they played North Penn very tough, but North Penn was too good in the end.
“So Neshaminy gets their rematch, and let’s not forget when they played the first time Neshaminy went for two in the second overtime with a chance to win, so that was a very even game when they played before. I have to think both teams are a little bit better. I know having seen Neshaminy a few times they’re a lot better, especially defensively. If Neshaminy finds a way to win that game, I don’t think that’s an upset. I’m not just saying that. I think legitimately that’s a real pick ‘em type game. At this point, you’re down to the eight best teams, and the seeds – they’re nice to have, but I’m not sure they mean a whole lot when it comes down to matchups. Neshaminy has been playing such great defense, and it’s hard to imagine North Penn putting up a huge number, so if you’re looking at 20-13, who knows which side has 20 and which side has 13. Nobody has touched them defensively in the last six weeks. It’s not like the beginning part of their schedule. They were playing teams in their league, and they did do that to Council Rock South, they did do that to Pennsbury, both playoff teams, and they just did it to Haverford, so that’s three playoff opponents in a row that their starting defense has shut out. I think Neshaminy is a real live eight seed in that game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up with a win.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: A pair of SOL American Conference rivals will do battle in the Class 5A quarterfinals when Cheltenham travels to Upper Dublin. Upper Dublin won the regular season meeting between the two squads 20-7. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “We have Cheltenham at Upper Dublin, and again, this is kind of like Neshaminy-North Penn. This is part two. You have two teams that played before on a sloppy field at Cheltenham the first time. Now they’re playing on the turf over at Upper Dublin, and that may help Cheltenham with a lot of speed not having to worry about mud or anything. The first time they met Upper Dublin won 20-7, but it was closer than that. Upper Dublin scored a late touchdown, but I just think in this kind of game with Upper Dublin’s experience and Bret Stover as the coach – Cheltenham has had a great season and then they go and they win a district playoff game against West Chester East. Anything else is gravy. Would it be a shock if they beat Upper Dublin? No, but I just think Upper Dublin at this time of year is just a little bit more prepared.”
Todd Thorpe: “When these two teams played before, that was an interesting game too. It was interesting to see Cheltenham win a playoff game – that’s just monstrous for them. I give them a ton of credit. That program – where it’s come in two years is unbelievable. And Upper Dublin – I’ve kind of been saying that based on their results that I thought they would be a real factor in 5A, and I still think so. I think they could be a district finalist and maybe they’ll win it, who knows? This game should be a good old-fashioned Route 309 Montgomery County slugfest on Friday.”