The new and arguably not improved District 1 football seedings were announced Sunday.
In Class 6A, four Delaware County teams qualified for the field of 16: Ridley, Garnet Valley, Penn Wood and Haverford. The big surprise from that group is Haverford, which earned the 16th seed. It was believed the Fords were eliminated from postseason contention following Friday’s 24-17 setback to Springfield. Instead, the Fords (6-4) were able to sneak into the bracket and will play undefeated North Penn, the No. 1 seed. North Penn has gone undefeated four times in the 15-year tenure of coach Dick Beck.
Ridley, which grabbed the fifth seed, was the lone Delco team in 6A to earn a first-round home date. The Green Raiders (9-1) will host No. 12 Plymouth Whitemarsh (8-2), which captured a share of the Suburban One League American Division title. Ridley won a piece of the Central League crown with Springfield and Marple Newtown.
Ridley advances to the district playoffs for the first time since 2012.
“I think the kids are really excited. One goal was to win a Central League title because the kids hadn’t had that experience, and the second goal was to get somewhere in the district playoffs, to get them a good experience to finish out their careers in high school,” first-year coach Dave Wood said. “There’s a lot of excitement, but we have a big task in hand. Now we’re playing Plymouth Whitemarsh, which is a good-sized Suburban One team that played a pretty good schedule. We’re taking a look at a lot of film. The size of schools and the kids on their team are a lot bigger than a lot of teams in the Central, what you’re used to seeing, in that way.
“The thing right now is the excitement is there, no doubt about it, but there’s a lot of work and preparation that we’ve got to put in during a really quick work week because you don’t really know too much about them. Me being new to high school, I’ve never seen Plymouth Whitemarsh on tape at all. Everybody is just in preparation mode. It’s a home game, and I think that’s a bonus, too. We get to play in familiar territory so I think that will help the kids and the fans. Hopefully it’s a big crowd Friday night supporting us.”
In other 6A matchups. No. 10 Garnet Valley (8-2) travels to Central Bucks South (8-2), while 14th-seeded Penn Wood (7-3) hits the road to play third-seeded Perkiomen Valley (9-1). Perk Valley won its second Pioneer Athletic Conference title in three years. Penn Wood is in the district playoffs for the second time in program history.
The Class 5A playoffs feature eight Delco teams, including the top three seeds. No. 1 Springfield (9-1) plays No. 16 Penncrest (3-7), one of four teams in the bracket with a losing record. No. 2 Academy Park (9-1) hosts No. 15 Radnor (4-6), while third-seeded Marple Newtown (9-1) battles 14th-seeded Upper Moreland (5-5).
Radnor made history as the first football team in school history to qualify for the postseason.
“We didn’t have the best record, but we got in, we’re healthy right now and we’re excited to go in the first round that’s for sure,” coach Tom Ryan said.
Despite the losing record, the Raiders have overcome injuries to several starters. Thirty-one players on Ryan’s varsity roster have missed at least one week of action due to injury.
“We have some really fresh guys right now on both sides of the ball,” Ryan said. “We had a bunch of sophomores that played during that tough stretch of games who got some valuable experience. We’re in the playoffs and we have guys healthy and fresh. What more can you ask for at this point in the season?”
Elsewhere in 5A, No. 13 Strath Haven (4-6) makes its long-awaited return to district playoff action. The Panthers will play fourth-seeded Upper Dublin, which downed North Penn for the district’s Class AAAA championship last fall. Sun Valley (6-4) is back in the postseason for the first time in a decade as the 12th-seeded Vanguards (6-4) play Ches-Mont League foe and No. 5 seed W.C. Henderson. In another 5A matchup, No. 9 Glen Mills (5-5) travels to No. 8 Great Valley (6-4).
In Class 4A, Interboro (9-1), which claimed its first Del Val League title since 2009, earned the top seed and will play No. 4 Pope John Paul II in the semifinals. Four of the six 4A teams in District 1 qualified for the playoffs.
Finally, No. 2 Delco Christian plays No. 1 Jenkintown for the District 1 Class A crown Saturday afternoon.
All of the other aforementioned district playoff games are tentatively scheduled for Friday night at 7.