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Delco Football Notebook: Playoff spots are at stakes as regular season wraps up

Wild is an appropriate adjective to apply when describing what transpired last Friday night.

The penultimate weekend of the PIAA regular season saw a pair of unbeaten Delaware County teams, Academy Park and Springfield, knocked down for the first time in 2016. Brace yourself for more unpredictability this weekend. It could get crazy.

Playoff spots are on the line. League titles are at stake. Ridley, Springfield and Marple Newtown are in a situation where they could force a three-way

Springfield wide receiver Joe Kennedy, left, and the Cougars look to clinch at least a share of the Central League title and lock up the No. 1 seed in the District 1 Class 5A playoffs when they host Haverford Friday in what should be another wild weekend of Delco football action. (Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

Springfield wide receiver Joe Kennedy, left, and the Cougars look to clinch at least a share of the Central League title and lock up the No. 1 seed in the District 1 Class 5A playoffs when they host Haverford Friday in what should be another wild weekend of Delco football action.
(Digital First Media/Anne Neborak)

tie for the Central League title. While Ridley and Marple Newtown clash with a pair of losing teams in Upper Darby (4-5) and Strath Haven (4-5), respectively, Springfield plays host to Haverford (6-3), which won’t relinquish its 2015 title without a fight.

In the Del Val League, the big game is Interboro at Penn Wood Friday night at Kerr Field. The Patriots can force a share of the title with a win. Interboro, though, is in the driver’s seat after dispatching Academy Park last week.

And then you have the playoff scenarios. First, you have the teams that are safe, no matter what transpires this weekend. Let’s start in 6A, where Ridley and Garnet Valley are sitting pretty for playoff berths. The same cannot be said for Penn Wood, which could still get in even with a loss to Interboro, depending on the outcome of other games. Haverford is in total must-win mode when it comes to qualifying hopes. The Fords likely do not have a path to the postseason without a victory over the Cougars Friday night.

The Class 5A bracket is loaded with Delco contenders. Springfield, Academy Park and Marple Newtown are locked in to the top-three spots. The order in which they are placed will be contingent upon Friday night’s outcomes. Sun Valley and Glen Mills, who are tied for 10th place with Upper Moreland, can punch their playoff tickets by winning. The Vanguards take on Unionville and the Bulls face Chester.

Penncrest and Radnor face off Friday in what’s more or less a district play-in game. Chichester is a heavy underdog this week on the road against Academy Park, but despite a 3-5 record, still may find itself in the mix for the 16th and final playoff spot. For that to happen, according to bracketology expert Kyle Berger of WNPV-AM 1440 radio (follow on Twitter @bergerkg), winless Harriton would have to defeat one-win Lower Merion.

The official District One playoff brackets will be announced Sunday afternoon following the seeding meeting.

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Bonner & Prendergast entered last Saturday’s Catholic League Blue Division completely underestimated. Their opponent, Conwell-Egan, owned the better record while the Friars were two games under the .500 mark.

But the Friars dominated the Eagles, 20-7. The frustration by the host Eagles boiled over in the second half when star running back Kyree Bronson was kicked out of the game for throwing multiple punches at a Bonner & Prendie player. Bronson was automatically suspended for one week.

All that matters to the Friars (4-5) is an impressive victory against a quality opponent. They take on Archbishop Carroll (0-9) before the big rematch with Cardinal O’Hara for a chance to play for the District 12 championship, so needless to say, they needed something to build upon and to save their season.

“When Joe (Hartley-Vittoria) broke that huge 60-yard run, you could see everyone relax a little bit,” coach Jack Muldoon said. “With our team, usually we have to grind it out 10 yards a time on offense, so it was nice to finally get a big play like that. We haven’t had many of those. It’s a big confidence boost.”

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While Archbishop Carroll remains in search of its first win, first-year coach Dan Connor has been pleased with the development of his defensive secondary, notably Dahmir Ruffin, who has five interceptions, and Khadir Roberts, both of whom also play receiver.

Carroll’s defense has recorded 17 interceptions this season, which is best in Delco.

“Our two corners are good,” Connor said. “Our safeties are making plays in the pass game. They’re getting picks and strips. Overall the secondary is playing good, we’re just struggling up front.”

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Family and friends of the late Jack Shingle, the former Upper Darby coach, will participate in the the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Citizens Bank Park Saturday, Nov. 12. To donate or register to walk on the team, visit act.alz.org and search Jack Shingle.

Shingle coached the Royals from 1988-94. He also held assistant positions at West Catholic, The Haverford School and Cardinal O’Hara. In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Shingle began at St. Laurence School in Highland Park, coaching the JV football program. He also coached young players at Most Blessed Sacrament, St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Charles Borromeo parish schools as well as the Drexel Hill Raiders. He also coached the Upper Darby Sharks, a semi-pro team. He served as 4th District councilman in Upper Darby for 20 years.

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MOVING THE CHAINS >> Nate Murtha’s four TD passes last week was the most by an Interboro quarterback since Mike Soucek in 2003. Soucek was 7 of 13 for 112 yards and four TDs in the Bucs’ 43-28 defeat to North Penn in the District One Class AAAA final. … Marple Newtown’s Anthony Paoletti became the first Delco quarterback to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark this year. … Sun Valley’s Week 11 contingency game with Harriton was cancelled this week in anticipation of the Vanguards qualifying for the district playoffs. … For statistical leaders, visit PaPrepLive.com/football and click on the Daily Times tab.

To contact Matt Smith, email msmith@delcotimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith.

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