Intelligencer/Courier 'Let's Talk Football' (9-23-16)

Back for its seventh season, the popular Intelligencer/Courier Times ‘Let’s Talk Football’ features Kevin Cooney, Drew Markol and Jen Wielgus.  Cooney, the Phillies beat writer, will handle the Bucks County Courier Times coverage area and also is part of a panel each Friday night on the WNPV/Intelligencer Scoreboard Show. Markol is the football beat writer for the Intelligencer area. Wielgus is a video sports reporter for the Intelligencer and Courier. All three are regular contributors on the weekly Game On show. To view this week’s show, click on the following link:  To stay on top of the high school football news in the area, visit the Intelligencer ( and Courier Times (

web sites. Check out the picks by our panel of experts: Pennridge earned an important win over Souderton last week. Your thoughts about the Rams’ 38-10 victory over the Indians.

Drew Markol: "We talked in prior weeks that it was a must-win for Pennridge to get back to .500. They're sitting with North Penn next on their schedule this week, and it was their first SOL Continental game. Souderton is their rival and a team that was off to a 3-0 start. Pennridge needed a good showing after getting kicked around a little bit by Perk Valley the week before, and they were able to do that. Now they're 2-2 with a tough one against North Penn on Friday. Let's say they lose to North Penn - they're 2-3 with five games to go. Who knows, they could go 4-1 or 5-0 in those last five, which is possible, so they're 6-4 or 7-3, and either one of those will most likely get them in the bloated district playoffs. If they get to 7-3 with the teams that they've played, the Perk Valleys, the Neshaminys, maybe they get a home game, maybe they get a top eight seed. That's very possible. They don't want to concede a loss to North Penn, but North Penn just seems to be in another atmosphere. They're probably realistically thinking 7-3 - take our shot and maybe play at home for the first week in districts.

"Pennridge is better than you think. They've played some good teams. I think there's a clear delineation. There's North Penn, and then that second tier is Pennridge and maybe CB South, and then it's the rest fighting for fourth."  Central Bucks South earned a 27-6 win over Central Bucks East to improve to 4-0. Your thoughts.

Drew Markol:  “"For years, CB South's better athletes were put on offense, and you didn't have many kids really going both ways. It was like - we're going to outscore you or we're going to lose. What's the saying - offense wins games, defense wins championships. Perhaps they took a look at it and said ‘let's beef up the defense a little bit and see what happens.’ Well, look what's happening. They're 4-0.

"We'll find out about South. They're at Souderton this week and then they have North Penn and then they go to Neshaminy. This three-game stretch will tell us a lot about them. To wedge Neshaminy in there in the middle of your conference schedule is a good thing to do because win or lose, you're going to get a lot of playoff points and you're going to get a good test for your team.

“CB South has allowed 31 points, a phenomenally low number in four games. They're 4-0 and it kind of makes sense.  You look at Abington has allowed 31 points and they're 2-2. Numbers can trick you.”  Pennsbury notched its first win of the season over William Tennent. Your thoughts.

Drew Markol: "With Pennsbury, they have a new coach and they lost 73 starters from last year's team. Still, in the National Conference, are they losing more than one game? I don't think they are. It looks like they'll lose to Neshaminy, but you never know in that game. After that, who's going to beat them?  They're going to go 6-1 most likely in a ‘down’ year in their conference and get a spot in the playoffs like they always do. It is far, far, far from the usual Pennsbury team, and they're struggling, but they had to replace a lot of players and they're putting in a new system. This is what happens. It's just a transition. They'll be back. Even when they're down, that's a two-team conference.”  Quakertown also got in the win column with its victory over Wissahickon and this week will take on undefeated Upper Dubllin. Your thoughts.

Drew Markol:  "It's hard to get your first win after a bunch of losses. Noah Wood, who's far and away their best player, had 200-plus rushing yards, and he does so much on defense from that linebacker spot. Quakertown coach George Banas can never say enough about him, and he delivers. Quakertown is 1-3, but it's the best team Upper Dublin has seen thus far.  If Quakertown has a chance, they would need to score early and startle Upper Dublin a little bit because Upper Dublin comes in - they don't care that the teams they've played have won just two games. They just know they've shut everybody out. If Quakertown were to win the toss, get the ball and drive down and score on them, then I think you'd have something interesting going on. Noah Wood will just pound - he's not the classic tailback, but he's just tough, and he always falls forward. They will feed him the ball 25-30 times, and they'll live or lose with him. He gives them a chance, and that's all that you ask for. That's a more interesting game than you think."

Kevin Cooney:  "We all knew that Quakertown would be in a different position this year because of how much they lost to graduation, but even in the American Conference, they ended up with a little bit of a bad draw going against Upper Dublin this week. It's only been three games, and Upper Dublin is going to have another bye when the Springfield game comes up, but Upper Dublin is 3-0 and doing it the almost exact opposite way they did it last year. Last year, they were so high flying. The offense was so up-tempo and all that stuff. Suddenly now they're team defense. They haven't allowed a point in three games, and maybe that's part of the competition they're playing, but also you have to say it looks like a big time style change. Are they going to be the favorite out of District One in 5A? Perhaps. Right now you see the way they're playing and who are you going to pick over them. That's the question.

“We hear some coaches saying that the playoffs have diluted the season, and maybe it's true. We talk playoff ramifications in week five, but that being said, that genie is out of the bottle and it's not changing."  What are your thoughts heading into week five of the season?

Kevin Cooney:  "I thought an elimination game was there for Pennridge. Lose and they're in bad shape. The way they played in the second half of their win was one of the stronger performances we have seen from them in a while. It also sets up a situation for Souderton - this week is a critical game for them against Central Bucks South. We talk about how close the Continental Conference is - if you're 0-2 in your league and you still have North Penn and you still have CB East and CB West, it's going to be a difficult haul. Souderton did not have the toughest non-league schedule coming in. For Souderton, this is a critical game. They have to prove that they can bounce back and knock off one of the big boys in the Continental, and South, right now, looks like they're probably the second best team on paper in the Continental.”

"The National Conference went according to form. I think the one thing - when you look at the National Conference, and I know this is driving the Neshaminy coaches crazy when I say this, but the biggest challenge for them is going to be keeping everybody focused, motivated and not injured, and that's tough because you get into bad ruts, you get into bad habits. Neshaminy is certainly a very good team. You look at all the weapons they have – Mason Jones, Will Dogba, Zach Tredway. They can beat you a lot of different ways, but you don't want to see them develop bad habits. It's a little bit of the same thing with North Penn, but North Penn has a little tougher road. You can make the argument right now that if North Penn has a B or a C game, they're vulnerable to getting beat. They're going to be the favorite every game. I don't know - if Neshaminy has a B game, who would be able to capitalize on it - maybe Pennsbury, maybe Abington.

“I think the toughest job for Steve Wilmot, Neil French and company is to keep everybody focused and making sure the dull war of the big picture, of everybody saying ‘Okay, they're going to win the National,' doesn’t infiltrate their locker room. It looked like they did a pretty good job with that last week, and it's going to be interesting to see if they can do that for six more weeks.

“Maybe the most interesting game in the National Conference the rest of the way could be Abington and Pennsbury because I think the winner of that probably will finish second, and if you finish second, you're probably 7-3 or 6-4 and you're probably getting into the tournament. It's an interesting dynamic.”

Jen Wielgus: "Last week we talked about everyone is playing for second place behind North Penn in the Continental, and I think what we learned through four weeks is who most likely will be in the second place race. In the National, it's Abington and Pennsbury that are the two teams that you can look at behind Neshaminy. In the Continental, I would say that CB South is the second best team. Pennridge is right behind, and then you have a logjam with Souderton, CB East and CB West. Definitely, CB South has kind of cemented itself as the second best team in the Continental.

"What's really interesting is the American at this point, and maybe people don't look at it this way, but Quakertown's got a chance to do something this week against Upper Dublin. Upper Dublin looks like a team playing out of its mind in its three games, not giving up a single point, but at the same time, they haven't played anybody really. Quakertown has a chance to make a statement in this league, which is wide open, because this is not the Upper Dublin team that won a district title.

“It's a shame that Upper Dublin is only playing eight games because they've got a team that maybe people didn't expect to be that good that's pretty good, and they have to be disappointed that they're only playing eight games.

"I'm going to be at the Quakertown-Upper Dublin game, and I feel lucky. Quakertown showed guts against Souderton, and most people expected them to beat Wissahickon, but Wissahickon is well coached. They weren't going to lay down. Bret Stover and George Banas are two of the better coaches around the area, so that will be a good game.

"Hatboro-Horsham and Upper Moreland are not going to necessarily win the league title, but that's an interesting matchup, and PW is in the mix too. This is a league we don't cover a lot of those teams, but that's an interesting race. Upper Moreland and Hatboro-Horsham have that Thanksgiving Day rivalry. This is a big game for both of those teams because it's a rivalry and because both teams are looking to make a statement.

"People want to make something of the Pennridge-North Penn game. North Penn is so good. Pennridge can play well, but I don't see anybody beating North Penn because they have too many weapons. Pennridge just doesn't have as many weapons. Jagger Hartshorn is a great athlete, but North Penn is the best team around.

"I looked at the result of the Pennridge game - I wanted to give Souderton a lot of credit, but the loss to Pennridge, in my mind, kind of knocked Souderton down into that lower echelon of the league. Souderton is playing CB South, and this is a big game for Souderton because South is - in most people's opinion – the second best team in the league. Souderton has redemption possibilities here."

SuburbanOneSports:  Your thoughts about the Hatboro-Horsham/Upper Moreland game.

Drew Markol:  "These two teams will play again on Thanksgiving. I think it means more on Thanksgiving because that's when the people show up to watch, but Thanksgiving games are dropping away so it's nice that they still play. These games are usually close. Upper Moreland doesn't seem to be quite as good as in years past, but this game means a lot to both of those schools. I give an edge to Hatboro, but again, this game could be a 13-12 or an 18-17 kind of thing. It looks pretty even on paper. It's good emotion, it's a good neighborhood rivalry. Hatboro hasn't won yet, and If they're going to get their first win, they'd love for it to be against Upper Moreland. Hatboro has had trouble scoring points. They need a kickstart. If they have any hopes of getting a district playoff spot, they need to start winning games.”

Kevin Cooney:  "The Hatboro-Horsham/Upper Moreland game is maybe the true 50-50 game in the whole bunch. Quite honestly, for Upper Moreland, I think it's a pretty important game going into the 5A playoffs. I know a number of teams make it, but you'd like to see them have momentum going forward. They haven't really gotten it through the first four weeks of the season. I'd like to see them get that going. For Hatboro, which obviously started the season poorly, they're going to get two cracks at Upper Moreland with the Thanksgiving Day game. It's a rivalry game, so it should be interesting, and again, it's one of the rare 50-50 kind of game this week.”  Your thoughts about the Abington-Council Rock South game?

Drew Markol:  "You look at Abington. They're 2-2 with a first-year coach in Kevin Conlin. They've only allowed 31 points, but the problem is they've only scored 54. That sounds like a team that's about 2-2. Council Rock South, on the flip side, has given up 113 points. That's nearly four times as many as Abington, and when you do that, your defense is lacking confidence.

“I just think this is the kind of game - if Abington were to jump on them early, they would be able to put some points on them. Council Rock South needs some good news. They're averaging eight points a game, and it's hard to beat anybody if you're scoring eight points a game. Council Rock South got off to a slow start, but the silver lining is sophomore Chase Patterson, younger brother of former Golden Hawk Brendan Patterson. He was given significant carries last week and produced over 200 yards. He only had a handful of carries in the first couple of games, and they probably said, 'Let's give this kid a shot.' He delivered with 200 yards. Maybe there's a threat. You don't get 200 yards by mistake. I'm sure Abington is well aware they now have somebody they've got to keep an eye on. In that one, I give an edge to Abington.”

Kevin Cooney:  "I don't think Council Rock South can give Abington a game. The style could create an issue, but at this point, Rock South has its own issues. I would say right now it would look to be very difficult, but you never know.”

*The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of