Back for its 10th season, the popular Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier Times ‘Let’s Talk Football’ features football beat writers Drew Markol and Todd Thorpe. 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.
SuburbanOneSports.com: North Penn and Neshaminy squared off in a wild one in Friday’s opener. Your thoughts.
Drew Markol: “That was a pretty good game between two pretty good teams. We knew North Penn had some very good seniors coming back in Evan Spann and RJ Macnamara and there was plenty of talent. What we didn’t know was that sophomore Khalani Eaton, a running back, would just burst on the scene. He had 283 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored a couple of touchdowns. He either ran over or he ran through or he ran past the Neshaminy defense. They did not have an answer for him. He combined power with speed. I know in the summertime when you do previews, coaches will always try and hide their upcoming players, and I understand that. They don’t want to tip their hand. Now, obviously, the cat is out of the bag. Dick Beck was like, ‘He’s pretty good,’ and yes, he is, especially as a sophomore. He didn’t play varsity as a freshman last year, and he’s just terrific. Now they have another weapon. I thought North Penn was going to be really good with what they had, and then you fill in some holes for depth with sophomores, but to have this kid emerge – my god, now they’re that much better. They looked good.
“Neshaminy was able to score some points. Senior quarterback Brody McAndrew and senior Ian Sheehan – they were both terrific. Sheehan caught six passes for over 200 yards. They couldn’t cover him. Neshaminy had to replace all 11 starters on defense from last year, and that’s going to take them some time. North Penn was able to score at will. There was one point early in the fourth quarter and it was still a one-score game, and North Penn went for it on fourth-and-10 from midfield. They didn’t even call timeout, they just went for it on fourth-and-10. It was hard to believe. Neshaminy was waiting for the punting unit to come out, and instead, senior quarterback Kolby Barrow throws a slant for about 15 yards, a first down and the clock keeps moving. North Penn goes down and scores, and the game’s over. That’s how much confidence Dick Beck and his coaching staff had in the offense and the fact that Neshaminy just got worn down.
“That was a good win for North Penn. Their secondary was a little bit leaky, but not many teams have a quarterback like McAndrew that can chop up a secondary, so North Penn will be fine. They will tighten things up.”
Todd Thorpe: “Obviously, Neshaminy-North Penn was a very good game between two teams that are probably going to be very good this year. North Penn scoring 55 points and having a sophomore – Khalani Eaton – step up with 283 yards on the ground. That game was pretty spectacular, and both teams showed off their offense in that game. It’s rare in week one that you have two teams combine for almost 90 points.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Central Bucks South travelled to Spring-Ford and came away with a big win. Your comments.
Drew Markol: “Central Bucks South was another impressive win. They’re down 24-20 entering the fourth quarter at Spring-Ford, and they go and score two touchdowns to beat a Spring-Ford team that beat them last year, a Spring-Ford team that went to the district playoffs – CB South didn’t do that. CB South is another team that had to replace all 11 starters on defense, and to hold Spring-Ford, which is a good program, to 20 points in its home opener, that makes you think that CB South is a team to keep an eye on.
“Senior quarterback Josh Consoletti threw for 269 yards and five touchdowns, and four of them were to senior wide receiver Sean Smith, who had over 200 yards receiving. Those two were hooking up all night. The confidence that has to give to CB South to do that to a team that had beaten them last year – we’ll see. You don’t want to get too excited after the first week of the season. A lot of things can happen, but they couldn’t have asked for a better start.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Other games that caught you eye last week.
Drew Markol: “Central Bucks over Quakertown – Quakertown is rebuilding, but they had beaten East last year. Both of those teams went to the district playoffs. Quakertown won a district playoff game over Perk Valley. East had to play Coatesville in the first round, and Coatesville went on to win the district title. For East to go and get that win – good for them. It was coach John Donnelly’s 100th win, and a lot of them came when he was at Quakertown, so good for him too.
“It was a nice start for Plymouth Whitemarsh and coach Dan Chang, the former North Penn standout. They have struggled and only had two wins total the last two years. They got a win over William Tennent on Friday and scored 42 points and got their offense going. Week one is so much about confidence building, especially for teams that are coming off a bad season. That’s one way to make all the practices in the summer and all the weight lifting in the winter seem more bearable. To get that win is proof that good things can happen. Good for Plymouth Whitemarsh. That’s the start they wanted. For the teams that are 1-0, practice is a whole lot easier this week, and for the teams that are 0-1, there’s a sense of urgency.
“It was nice win by Cheltenham over Council Rock south. They had a 26-0 lead on Council Rock South. It ended up being 36-13. Cheltenham was a playoff team in 5A last year. Senior TJ Harris returns an interception for a touchdown, returns a punt for a touchdown and he catches a touchdown pass. He’s one of the better returning players in the SOL. When you have a kid like that against a team – CR South – that was in the hunt in the SOL National last year, for Cheltenham, that was a great start to the season.
“One other game we want to touch on – if you’re Frankford, you may want to stop scheduling Bensalem for the opener. Bensalem beat them basically right at the end for the third straight year, which is hard to believe. Bensalem sophomore Cotrell Gilyard scored with 30 seconds left. Frankford got the ball back and – with the help of a pass interference call - was on Bensalem’s 15-yard line with six seconds left, and on a quarterback sneak, the Pioneers went all the way down to the Bensalem one. Frankford started celebrating, and the referee tells them they were stopped before the goal line, the game is over, and Bensalem wins. If you’re Frankford, three years in a row you lost to the Owls in the last seconds. Credit to Bensalem. A lot of times it’s easier to lose that kind of game than to win it, and they won it three years in a row. Again, it’s a great start for them. We’ll see what will happen in week two or three.”
Todd Thorpe: “In the Continental Conference, you’ve got to like what you saw from CB East going to Quakertown and winning by a couple of touchdowns. It was a really big passing game by them. With a first-year starting quarterback, you’re never quite sure. They get quite a bit out of their quarterback, Anthony Giordano, who threw for 350 yards, and Will Silverman had six catches for a school record 217 yards and three touchdowns.
“There must be something in the water in Central Bucks because CB South was on the road at Spring-Ford, and their quarterback, Josh Consoletti, has a big game and throws five touchdown passes for 269 yards. Sean Smith the senior receiver had 209 yards receiving. Two of the three Central Bucks schools get wins that way.
“Central Bucks West had Hatboro-Horsham, and they also had a big win, 31-17, so they put up points. It was a good weekend for the three Central Bucks schools. I think CB West could have a pretty good year. Their quarterback, Jack Neri, is pretty good, and Jack Fallon had over a hundred yards rushing in the opener. Maybe it’s not a huge surprise that the three Central Bucks schools won, but it was a pretty nice outcome. They all put up points, and that’s important for them.
“Souderton played Pottsgrove, and a lot of people thought that was a pick ‘em type game, and Souderton controlled that from the beginning. They did it without DeAndre Wakefield putting up big numbers. That’s really a good sign for Souderton. I’ve talked to people who think Souderton could be poised for a big year in the SOL Continental.
“I saw Cheltenham against Council Rock South (a 36-13 Cheltenham win). The Panthers were not crisp at all – they were a little sloppy, but they have a lot of talent. TJ Harris scored touchdowns three different ways, including a 99-yard return for a touchdown on an interception in the first quarter. It was Council Rock South’s first drive of the game after Cheltenham went three-and-out and got their punt blocked. Council Rock South took over the ball on Cheltenham’s 21. They got one first down, and it was second-and-goal from the eight-yard line. It’s hard to say that something that happens in the first quarter is a back breaker, but Council Rock South was in a position to score first, and they got an interception on the goal line and Harris takes it all the way back. When it was 13-0 late in the first half, Council Rock South got the ball and drove into Cheltenham territory with three first downs, and Cheltenham stopped another drive with an interception in the end zone. Harris returned a punt for a touchdown – that kid’s dynamic. Their quarterback, Adonis Hunter, is very good. They’ve got some weapons in a lot of different spots. They could be scary good once they get a little sharper. You’re playing August 23 – you take the sharpness you can get. There was certainly a lot of sloppy football played all around.
“We expect Upper Dublin be strong. I don’t think it was a surprise what they did, winning 28-13 over Norristown. I guess a lot of people thought that would be a bigger win, but it’s tough to say. It’s August 23. I’ll worry about how teams are playing at the end of September. It’s very difficult to get a gauge before Labor Day. We’ll just have to see as things go along.
“Upper Moreland beat New Hope-Solebury. It was good to see them get a win. New Hope-Solebury is a pretty good program at the lower classifications. New Hope did lose their good quarterback early in the game with a season-ending injury. It’s still a nice win for Upper Moreland. Could they end up in the top half of the division? We’ll see. This week we’ll definitely get a better glimpse of where some of these teams stand.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Were there any surprises the first week?
Todd Thorpe: “I think Pennsbury getting shut out by Academy Park is a surprise because Pennsbury is a very veteran team on both sides of the ball. I don’t think they intended for something like that to happen. Academy Park’s a good 5A team, but Pennsbury really needs to rebound this week against Penn Wood.
“I thought Harry S Truman beating Olney Charter was a nice win for their program with Ben Johnson III getting his first win as a head coach. I thought they would win, but they won pretty convincingly. They have some good players, and TJ Rogers is going to have a good year for them at tailback. Their transfer, Dajuan Harris, had a big game at fullback, and he’s exceptional on defense too. He’s a guy that is a real impact player for them.
“Bensalem beat Frankford for the third year in a row. In the last minute of the game, Bensalem found a way to win. Hopefully, for Ed Cubbage and his team, this is a start that will wipe the memory of last year away a little bit.”
SuburbanOneSports.com: Looking at this week’s slate of games – any games that stand out?
Drew Markol: “Souderton will be going to Quakertown on Friday night. Souderton was 4-6 last year and didn’t make the playoffs. They opened up last week with a nice win where they dominated a Pottsgrove team that was the 4A District champion last year. Souderton comes out and had a 16-0 halftime lead and just took it to them and got the win. Now they go to Quakertown, which is coming off a loss to CB East. Souderton has always been a team where they’ve had their hiccoughs over the course of the season that has kept them out of the district playoffs. You can’t afford to have that. This is another game where they need to play well, and if they play the way they can, they could be looking at a 2-0 start, and that’s exactly what Ed Gallagher and his team could use. On the flip side, you have Quakertown trying to come back from their loss to East and get back to 1-1 because you don’t want to start 0-2 because then you’ve put yourself in a bit of a hole.
“Another good one should be Pennridge at Neshaminy. Pennridge last Friday went up to Delaware Valley and shut them out 13-0. Delaware Valley is a pretty good team out of District 2. It’s one of the few bigger schools in that district, so they have to look outside their district to find games. Well, they found Pennridge on a two-year contract, and Pennridge put 55 on them last year at Pennridge. This year Pennridge drives up there and shuts them out. They may want to stop scheduling Pennridge. But you wonder – what is the quality? Last year Pennridge beat them and didn’t make the playoffs while Delaware Valley went on to have a pretty good season. It gets more difficult for Pennridge this week. They have to go to Neshaminy. Neshaminy beat them last year. Neshaminy showed it could score points – it put up 34 against North Penn. Those weren’t cheapo end-of-the-fourth-quarter points. That was a good game for a long way, so that’s also a very good game. Two teams that always have district playoff aspirations. Can Neshaminy shore up its defense, and can Pennridge put some points up? They only put up 13 against Delaware Valley after putting up 55 last year. Those are two good games to look for this week.”
Todd Thorpe: “Quakertown-Souderton is an interesting game. It will be interesting to see if Quakertown bounces back. If Souderton puts up a big number in that game, they could be for real.
“CB West plays Council Rock South. Council Rock South is looking to bounce back. There will be a lot of running in that game.
“I think CB South is going to have a tough game with Downingtown West. It was a great win over Spring-Ford. Spring-Ford sometimes has pretty good teams, and CB South going and putting up big numbers on them is a pretty good sign for CB South. I heard they struggled in their scrimmage, so it was a great win by them. You only go by what you hear, but Downingtown West and East – along with Coatesville – are district contenders. That’s a tough game for South. I’m curious to see where they stack up.
“Neshaminy-Pennridge – Neshaminy needs a win. They need to bounce back. Pennridge didn’t do a lot offensively in its opener, but they shut out Delaware Valley. It will be interesting to see what happens in that game because it’s kind of been a contrast of week one results. Neshaminy had a great offensive game but was not great defensively, and Pennridge had a great defensive game but weren’t great offensively, so that’s interesting. I think it’s a big game for Neshaminy to win.
“Pennsbury has a big game against Penn Wood. They really need a win because you don’t want to run into a situation like last year where you’re 0-3. Pennsbury needs to win that.
“Spring-Ford at Truman should be a good test for Truman. If you’re back to where you were last year, these are games Truman is supposed to win. If you don’t play well and you don’t show up, you might not. You can’t just show up and expect to win. These are games that they’re supposed to win. They need to take care of business. We’ll definitely find out more about that as we go along.”