Check out the recaps for all of Friday’s SOL season openers. Neshaminy/North Penn photos provided courtesy of Darryl Rule of JD Photography. CR North/WC East photos provided courtesy of John Gleeson. William Tennent/Upper Moreland photos courtesy of Kathy Leister Photography.
Stats used in the wraps are provided courtesy of the Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier Times. For complete high school football coverage, visit the web sites: http://www.theintell.com/sports and http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/sports.
WILLIAM TENNENT 21, UPPER MORELAND 14
The drought is over.
A 27-game losing streak that began three years ago came to a glorious end on Friday night when the Panthers traveled to Upper Moreland for their season opener, upsetting the defending American Conference champions for their first win since Sept 18, 2015 when they crushed Oxford 54-14.
“The kids played great,” coach Rich Clemens said. “They were super excited obviously. The band played a song, and they did a dance – I can’t even move like that anymore.
“We received a lot of support from the administration, the teachers, the student body and everybody involved in the school. It was a team win.”
If there was pressure entering the season, Clemens took it off his players.
“We simply told them – we’re going to coach you hard because we know you can be good, and we told them that we love them and we believe in them,” the Panthers’ coach said. “That’s what we told them the whole game. That’s the bottom line.
“This is the third time most of the guys on this coaching staff broke a losing streak over 10 games, and the big thing is – the kids, because they lost before, always are thinking the worst. You just believe in them, and at the same time, you let them know even if they mess up – the coaches are going to take the blame. That’s what we tell our guys, and we just love them and believe in them.”
The Panthers survived some adversity to notch Friday's win, opening up a 14-7 lead but then watching it disappear in a hurry in the third quarter when Upper Moreland’s Rylan Bradley took a fumble recovery 75 yards for a TD that knotted the score.
If the Panthers needed a big play, Eddie North gave it to them, stripping the UM ball carrier and giving the Panthers possession.
“Eddie was cramping, and he came off the bench minutes away from a full body cramp and pretty much took the church’s money and just took the ball right from the kid,” Clemens said. “The kid, number 24 (Mead), was having a great game all night, but Eddie came in, and I think that’s the last play he played.”
The Panthers capitalized on the turnover when – with 8:06 remaining in regulation – Kip Mooney hooked up with Ryan Savage for a 30-yard touchdown pass. Tennent had a lead it would not lose.
“Ryan Savage, our tight end, came up big with a touchdown late and then a big pass interference call, making them throw a flag because he tried to work his way back through,” Clemens said. “Omar (Elbanna), our middle linebacker, Drew (Forr) and Dawson Pierson came up big. Dawson probably had the biggest defensive play, other than Eddie, with a sack fumble
“Our whole defense took it as a personal challenge to shut down 24 (Mead), and that’s a credit to him because this game was all about shutting him down, and the kid still went for a buck 50.”
Mead, who finished with 172 yards, put the Golden Bears on the scoreboard with a 75-yard TD run in the first quarter.
“He caught us in zero, and we had a miscommunication with one member of our defense who went the wrong way, and that’s all it takes with a guy that’s talented like that,” Clemens said.
Mooney - the Panthers’ leading ground gainer with 122 yards - scored on a quarterback sneak to knot the score 7-7 in the second quarter. Keenan Lambright took it in from two yards out after the Panthers recovered a UM fumble at the 15-yard line, sending the Panthers into halftime with a 14-7 lead.
Keenan and Lambright combined for 155 yards rushing as the Panthers accumulated 274 yards on the ground.
William Tennent (1-0) will host Bensalem next Friday, and Upper Moreland (0-1) will be on the road at Sun Valley for a non-league contest.
William Tennent 0-14-0-7 21
Upper Moreland 0-7-0-7 14
CHELTENHAM 14, COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH 0
What a difference a year makes.
In last year’s season opener, the Golden Hawks put a 28-0 beating on the visiting Panthers. On Friday, the Panthers exacted a degree of revenge.
“This is huge and not just because we won the first game and we’re 1-0 - obviously, they’re a Suburban One 6A team - but just because of the way we lost there last year,” coach Ryan Nase said. “They shut us out 28-0, and I think (coach) Vince (Bedesem) was being nice because he knows me. That game could have been 40-0 or 50-0.
“We weren’t on the same level as them last year, and I think they’re better this year than last year. They’re a really good team, so it’s a huge win. We think we have some kids that can play. We just have to put it together consistently, stay focused, not make mistakes and not commit penalties, and to be honest, we did not do a good job of that. We had a couple of fumbled snaps, and we turned the ball over. Obviously, we’re excited about a win, but we have to clean some things up.”
The Panthers broke a scoreless tie in the third quarter. Quarterback Adonis Hunter had a hand in both scores with Jamir Barnes turning a Hunter screen pass into a long TD run, and then it was Hunter finding TJ Harris with a long touchdown strike.
That was more than enough for the Panthers’ stingy defense that game planned for quarterback Andrew Vera, who went down in the first series and did not return.
“One of the things we noticed from watching film from last year – we didn’t think our defensive ends were aggressive enough,” Nase said. “So all preseason camp we kind of practiced on them crashing and letting our outside linebackers be our contain guys.
“(Vera) crushed us last year as a receiver, so we made a change, and we basically said we’re going to make their running backs beat us, and we completely changed everything we practiced during camp. But he got hurt – you hate to win like that. He’s a great kid and a heck of a player. We saw him in a scrimmage, and he absolutely terrified us.
“The kid they brought in after him (Noah Caldani) is a really good athlete too, so we made a decision we weren’t going to let the quarterback beat us. We cheated to Nick Gallo’s side as much as we could because that kid could play, and it worked.”
Leading the Panthers was TJ Harris
“He scored the long touchdown for us on offense, he helped out as a free safety on Gallo, and he actually returned a punt for a touchdown that was called back, so he really helped us,” Nase said. “Jamir Barnes locked up Gallo as much as possible as the corner, and he scored the other touchdown.”
Interestingly, Harris, Barnes and Gallo are teammates and friends on Philly’s Finest 7v7 team.
Kicker Justin Grady, according to Nase, was also a factor in the win – all three of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
“Our kicker is probably our biggest asset,” the Panthers’ coach said. “We have to make sure we protect him and get him good snaps so we can utilize his strengths because he is a game changer.
“He changed the field for us a couple of times as a punter. If he wasn’t a full scholarship soccer player, he’d probably be a scholarship kicker.”
Cheltenham (1-0) will host Bishop McDevitt next Friday in a non-league contest, and Council Rock South (0-1) will be on the road at Central Bucks West.
Council Rock South 0-0-0-0 0
Cheltenham 0-0-14-0 14
CENTRAL BUCKS WEST 21, HATBORO-HORSHAM 0
Rob Rowan shook a whole lot of hands after his Bucks gave the first-year coach a win in his debut.
“I’m proud of you” was the message Rowan told one player after another as he shook their hand, and he had plenty of reasons to be proud. On a night that began with the rededication of a revamped War Memorial Field, the Bucks delivered a shutout.
“There’s a lot of emotion,” Rowan said. “Obviously, we put a lot of work into this thing just like every other program out there.
“Every win is special, no matter what form it comes in. We talk about finding a way to win. Tonight wasn’t pretty necessarily, but our guys found a way to get it done, and I’m so proud of them for that, and I tell them that all the time. I tell them how much I care about them. Ultimately, where my joy comes from is seeing them being able to see the fruits of their labor.”
The Bucks – coming off a district playoff appearance – saw coach Chas Cathers step down when he was named athletic director at Central Bucks South.
“It was definitely a surprise because coach Cathers did a lot of great things here, did a lot of great things for us,” senior Luke Benson said. “Coach Rowan came in, and we really all bought in.
“The first day we all met him – we knew he was going to bring something special here, and we were really excited to be a part of it. Everybody bought in and was ready to work, and that’s what we did.”
The Bucks got on the scoreboard in the closing seconds of the first quarter when quarterback Gavin Grondahl found Jack Fallon with a four-yard touchdown pass. That lead grew to 14-0 when Benson hauled in a 31-yard TD pass from Jack Neri, who split duties behind center with Grondahl.
“I thought that was a big play,” Rowan said of Benson’s TD. “I thought our guys picked up some momentum there.
“We went up two scores, and I think they settled into the game at that point. We had a lot of first-time starters tonight, so obviously, some nerves are going to be high, and I think that touchdown settled our guys down a little bit.”
In the third quarter, Fallon displayed some nifty moves, turning a screen pass into a 42-yard gain to the Hatters’ two-yard line. Garrett Hitchens took it in from there, and the Bucks led 21-0 after the extra point by Conner Garrison.
“We have a lot of different ways we can attack you, and Hatboro took away one of those ways – they loaded the box tonight,” Rowan said. “At times, there were nine or 10 guys in the box. They were challenging us to throw the football, so we had to make adjustments.”
The defense did the rest, thwarting every Hatter threat.
“There were a couple of big defensive stops,” said Benson, a force on both sides of the football. “All three of the guys up front – Connor Levant, Jackson Spradlin and Ryan McKenna, Justin Ruiz came in a little bit, and Will Deschaine had an impact - those guys just really stepped up and filled the holes. They were running midline on us, but they started filling the holes. Our linebackers started flying up, so we really did a good job stopping that.”
The Hatters managed just 129 yards of total offense against a stalwart West defense.
“We pride ourselves on defense, and we were just really happy that we could stick it out to the end of the game,” Benson said. “All the hard work we’ve been doing for the last eight months – it definitely showed.
“We’re trying to be a tough team. That’s a label we try to put on ourselves, and we just really came together as a team. We allowed a couple of big plays, but we kept our composure and kept coming back.”
“The defense showed up to play,” Rowan said. “We talk about swarming the football every single day.
“Our guys flew around the field tonight, and I’m very proud of them.”
On a night that saw the Hatters’ defense limit the Bucks to just 29 rushing yards, Grondahl and Neri combined for 157 yards in the air.
Jordan Collazo led the Hatters’ offense with 71 yards on the ground.
Central Bucks West (1-0) will host Council Rock South next Friday in a non-league game, and Hatboro-Horsham (0-1) will travel to Central Bucks East next Saturday for an 11 a.m. contest.
Hatboro-Horsham 0-0-0-0 0
Central Bucks West 7-7-7-0 21
NORTH PENN 34, NESHAMINY 33 (2 OT)
On the schedule, it was only a week one non-league game. On the gridiron, it was an epic battle of wills between a pair of perennial powers that simply refused to lose.
"Both teams played with a lot of heart," NP coach Dick Beck said.
The Knights – after they appeared to have the game won - withstood a heroic late-game comeback by the Redskins and then survived a turnover in the first OT when they all but had a win in the books after keeping the ‘Skins off the board on their first possession.
They won it when Julian White – whose two carries accounted for a TD and the go-ahead score in the second OT – stonewalled Oleh Manzyk just shy of the goal line on the Redskins’ two-point conversion attempt after quarterback Brody McAndrew raced in from 10 yards out on first down.
There were heroes galore on both sides. White, who anchors defense, became the Knights’ go-to ball carrier in the second half after senior Shamar Edwards was sidelined with an injury after a first half that saw him rush for 97 yards and a touchdown. White picked up the slack with three touchdowns after the intermission.
"Not only is Shamar a great running back - he's a very, very good linebacker for us," Beck said. "We had already lost Nick Intrieri on the opening kickoff, so he was out.
"Julian - after he scored that touchdown in overtime, he's literally on the ground on the sidelines during the defensive overtime, and he has three people stretching him - one in the back and two on each foot because he's cramping up so bad. When they went for two after they scored, he jumps up and said, 'I'm going in,' and doesn't he make the tackle with our sophomore, DJ Fisher, who was playing because Intrieri was hurt. He makes an amazing play because he beats the block, DJ hits Manzyk, and Julian hits Manzyk at the same time. It was just phenomenal."
Both quarterbacks – Neshaminy’s McAndrew and North Penn’s Solomon Robinson – threw for 100 yards and a TD. Manzyk not only was a difference maker on defense, he ran the ball for 145 yards on 12 carries. He punched it in from one yard out in the closing moments of regulation after McAndrew found Logan Williamson on the one-yard line on a dazzling play. His two-point conversion knotted the score, a scenario that seemed unlikely after the Knights went on top 27-19 with 2:07 remaining when White took it in from five yards out to cap a touchdown drive that was set up by an Andy Cole interception.
It was that kind of night from the outset. Manzyk’s 56-yard touchdown run gave the Redskins a 7-0 lead after one quarter, but it was all tied up after Edwards raced home from 42 yards out early in the second quarter.
Then it was Solomon – in his debut at North Penn - connecting for a 43-yard TD with Jon Haynes, who shed every would-be defender in his path after hauling in the pass around the 15.
"It was a great job by Solomon, avoiding the rush, and then getting the ball out to Jon and seeing it," Beck said. "Haynes caught the ball and made a guy miss and then got into the end zone.
"It was a very good play by both guys. I thought for a first start Solomon did a great job. He ran the ball well, he threw the ball well. He had a third and fourth down conversion, and both times Jon (Haynes) toe taps, gets his feet in catches the ball. They were just great plays at crucial points in the game. I can't say enough about the poise Solomon showed."
The Redskins – thanks to a McAndrew to Bobby Buchys TD pass -made it a 14-13 game at the intermission.
A 49-yard touchdown run by Manzyk put the Redskins back on top 19-14, but the Knights came roaring back, going on top 20-19 after White scored, setting the stage for the wild finish.
Unsung heroes in a win that saw the Knights accumulate 327 yards total offense - 227 on the gound - were members of a brand new offensive line: Jake Long (left tackle), Eddie Harkins (left guard), Noah Boast (center), Noah Fox (right guard), Don Stites (right tackle).
Beck also credited the officials in Friday night's opener.
"I thought the referees did an outstanding job," the Knights' coach said. "They did not affect the game."
North Penn (1-0) will host La Salle on Friday, and Neshaminy (0-1) will travel to Pennridge on Friday for a non-league game.
North Penn 0-14-0-13-0-7 34
Neshaminy 7-6-6-8-0-6 33
BENSALEM 28, FRANKFORD 27
If it’s wild endings you like, Bensalem was the place to be on Friday night. The Owls found themselves on the short end of a 27-18 score with 5:20 remaining and needed two scores to win it.
That’s exactly what they got, eking out the win when – with eight seconds remaining – Dawson Fontaine split the uprights with a 22-yard field goal. Earlier this summer, Fontaine committed to take his talents to Morgan State.
“He’s diminutive – he’s like 5-7, 135 pounds, but he has a pretty big leg, and that was his second field goal of the game,” Cubbage said. “That put us up by one, and we recovered the (ensuing) kickoff.”
Prior to Fontaine’s late-game heroics, Jalen Smith was the catalyst in a huge drive that made it a 27-25 game when the junior running back scored from 30 yards out. Smith led the Owls on the ground with 80 yards.
“He ripped off a couple of big runs,” Cubbage said.
The Owls’ defense delivered a big stop, giving the ball back to the offense with 1:20 remaining.
“We were on our own 40, and Tyler Barry – our sophomore quarterback making his first varsity start – hit Jarred O’Connell over the middle, and then we had another big pass to Christian Bond,” Cubbage said. “Christian took the ball to the five with eight seconds left, and we trotted out our kicker.”
The rest is history, and the come-from-behind win was in the books.
“This was huge because while we had very good senior leadership – we were playing a lot of kids tonight who are sophomores and juniors who made their first varsity start,” Cubbage said. “We turned the ball over tonight four times. We didn’t put ourselves in a good spot, but we played tough enough, we hung around and everything went right for us in the final five minutes and 20 seconds. We needed every bit of it because Frankford is a very good team. They’re going to make some noise in District 12.”
Junior Alex Davis and senior Dan Garcia, according to Cubbage, anchored both the offensive and defensive lines for the Owls.
“They played most of the game on both sides on a hot and humid night and gave their heart and soul and fought every single play,” Cubbage said. “I’m super proud of them.
“Jarred O’Connell – the same thing. He played all over the field tonight on both offense and defense (at running back and safety), but that’s nothing new for him. He didn’t come off the field last year.”
O’Connell, who had 92 yards of total offense, scored the first touchdown for the Owls on a 38-yard run. Barry, who accounted for 137 yards of offense, had a 15-yard touchdown run.
Bensalem (1-0) will host William Tennent in a non-league game on Friday.
Frankford 7-7-7-6 27
Bensalem 11-0-7-10 28
UPPER DUBLIN 28, NORRISTOWN 7
Mike Slivka threw for 100 yards and two touchdowns in his debut behind center, and running back Lucas Roselli got it done on the ground, also scoring a pair of touchdowns and rushing for 120 yards.
A fumble by the Eagles on the opening kickoff set up an eight-yard touchdown pass from Slivka to Brody Balasa, and another Slivka strike – this one for 65 yards to Selvin Haynes – gave the Flying Cardinals a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
Roselli raced home from 60 yards out in the second quarter to send the Cardinals into halftime with a 21-0 lead. The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the fourth quarter with Roselli scoring his second to give the Cardinals their final margin of victory.
UD’s stellar defense forced a pair of turnovers and, according to coach Bret Stover, played “lights out.” The Cardinals’ coach credited Mason Novak for leading a stout defensive front. Balasa came up with an interception.
Upper Dublin (1-0) will host Central in a non-league game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Upper Dublin 14-7-0-7 28
Norristown 0-0-0-7 7
HARRY S TRUMAN 47, METHACTON 0
The Warriors were no match for an inspired Tiger squad that scored early and often. Enzo Poulson scored on a 25-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter, and the Tigers were off and running. Then it was Dylan Snelling finding Zayyan Saunders with a 34-yard touchdown strike and a 12-0 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter was all Truman. James Koliyah scored on a six-yard run, and then it was Javeer Peterson racing in from 42 yards out to put the Tigers on top 24-0. Saunders hauled in a 23-yard TD pass from Snelling, and then it was Deondre Winton taking it home from 27 yards out. Poulson scored his second touchdown of the night on a nine-yard run to send the Tigers into halftime with a 47-0 lead. That score stood until the final horn.
The Tigers accumulated more than 400 yards of total offense – 306 yards on the ground. Snelling threw for 100 yards and two touchdowns and Peterson ran for 103 yards.
Harry S Truman (1-0) will host Avon Grove in a non-league game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Methacton 0-0-0-0 0
Harry S Truman 12-35-0-0 47
PENNRIDGE 54, DELAWARE VALLEY 21
Zak Kantor had himself a night to remember, torching Delaware Valley for 311 yards and five touchdowns. Connor Pleibel, who led the Rams with 122 receiving yards, and Jon Post, who hauled in three TD passes, were his favorite targets.
Early on, the Rams found themselves on the short end of a 14-8 score after one quarter, but a 24-point second quarter effectively killed any momentum their visitors may have had and sent Pennridge into halftime with a 32-21 lead.
Delaware Valley was never heard from again as the Rams closed it out with a 22-0 tear, giving Cody Muller an impressive win in his debut at the helm.
The Rams limited Delaware Valley to just 100 yards of total offense while amassing 383 yards of their own.
Pennridge had just 72 yards on the ground, but that was more than enough, thanks to Kantor’s remarkable showing.
Pennridge (1-0) will host Neshaminy next Friday in a non-league battle.
Delaware Valley 14-7-0-0 21
Pennridge 8-24-6-16 54
WEST CHESTER EAST 27, COUNCIL ROCK NORTH 14
The Indians trailed by just a touchdown at halftime (14-7). Quarterback John Kane accounted for the Indians’ lone score of the opening half, racing in from 37 yards out to knot the score 7-7 early in the second quarter.
West Chester East put the game out of reach with 13 third-quarter points to go on top 27-7. Tim Gibson scored a late touchdown for the Indians.
Kane led the Indians with 145 total yards of offense.
Council Rock North (0-1) will host Wissahickon in a non-league contest next Friday.
West Chester East 7-7-13-0 27
Council Rock North 0-7-0-7 14
PENN WOOD 42, SOUDERTON 10
The Indians led 3-0 when William Leyland connected on a 27-yard field goal on the team’s opening possession. Penn Wood – which led 12-3 at halftime – reeled off 20 unanswered points to seize control of the game.
Souderton made it a 20-10 game late in the third quarter when Andrew Vince found Deandre Wakefield – who also had an interception on defense - with a 26-yard touchdown pass. It turned out to be their last hurrah as the Patriots closed out the game with a 22-0 tear.
Souderton (0-1) will host Quakertown next Friday in a non-league contest.
Souderton 3-0-7-0 10
Penn Wood 6-6-16-14 42
ACADEMY PARK 28, PENNSBURY 21
A Falcon squad with a whole lot of new faces in its lineup appeared to be in command when Ed Dualu scored from 11 yards out to give the home team a 14-0 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first half.
But that lead disappeared very quickly. A five-play scoring drive by Academy Park cut that lead in half, and after a defensive stop, Academy Park returned a punt 62 yards for a TD in the closing seconds to make it a 14-13 game at halftime.
A 41-yard touchdown run by Devon Covert put the Knights on top 20-14, but the Falcons came back with Josh Boyda scoring from two yards out. His second touchdown of the game put the Falcons on top 21-20 late in the third quarter.
Academy Park scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and then sealed the Falcons’ fate with an interception.
Dualu led the Falcons with 70 yards on the ground and one TD. Boyda had a pair of touchdowns. Sheenan Miles had four receptions for 36 yards and Jason Cook had a pair of receptions for 41 yards. Defensively, the Falcons were led by Sam Burke (13 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sack) and Zach Zauzig (10 tackles).
Pennsbury (0-1) will travel to Penn Wood for a non-league game next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Academy Park 0-13-7-8 28
Pennsbury 0-14-7-0 21
DOWNINGTOWN EAST 41, PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 7
A powerful Downingtown East squad led by just a 7-0 score after one quarter but blew the game wide open with a 21-0 second quarter tear. The Cougars led 41-0 after three quarters, and the Colonials lone score of the game came in the final quarter on a 10-yard Larry McLaughlin run.
Plymouth Whitemarsh (0-1) will host Abington in a non-league game on Friday.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 0-0-0-7 7
Downingtown East 7-21-7-6 41
MARTIN LUTHER KING 26, WISSAHICKON 0
MLK took a 6-0 lead into halftime and then seized control with 12 unanswered points in the third quarter to go on top 18-0 on their way to the shutout win. The Trojans' defense provided big hits and stops to give the team a chance to pull out the victory. The defense was paced by Raejon Benjamin and Jalen Smalls. Benjamin came up with a big interception and Smalls provided some big hits. The offense was paced by Marice Johnson Jr.
Wissahickon (0-1) will travel to Council Rock North next Friday for a non-league contest.
Martin Luther King 6-0-12-8 26
Wissahickon 0-0-0-0 0
NORTHEAST 20, ABINGTON 0
The Ghosts managed just 54 yards of total offense and no points in the first half but trailed just 6-0 at the intermission. Things didn’t improve in a second half that saw Northeast close out the game with 14 unanswered points.
Abington (0-1) will travel to Plymouth Whitemarsh for a non-league game on Friday.
Northeast 0-6-0-8-6 20
Abiington 0-0-0-0 0
SPRING-FORD 21, CENTRAL BUCKS SOUTH 0
The Titans fell behind 14-0 after one quarter and never could find their offense in Friday’s season opener. While the Titans managed just 156 yards of total offense, they limited the Rams to only 122 yards. Quarterback Josh Consoletti threw for 127 yards on a night that saw the Titans gain just 29 yards on the ground. Spring-Ford had just 38 rushing yards.
Central Bucks South (0-1) will travel to Downingtown West for a non-league game next Friday.
Spring-Ford 14-0-7-0 21
Central Bucks South 0-0-0-0 0