It’s time for the second season in Pennsylvania high school football with three local teams still alive and kicking.
It would have been five if Pennsbury hadn’t lost by a touchdown to Abington two weeks ago and Bensalem hadn’t lost to Truman, 44-43, last Friday night, but such is life in PIAA District 1 Class 6-A football.
The biggest story from a local perspective heading into the playoffs is how far can undefeated Neshaminy go. Most people seem to expect a district final showdown between Neshaminy and North Penn. Should they each win their next three games, they would enter the colossal collision with identical records of 13-0.
There’s still lots of football to be played, however, and there is certainly no shortage of dangerous teams in the 16-team 6-A field.
Looking down the road, there is one bit of potentially bad news for Neshaminy. For the first time, District 1 officials have failed to come up with a neutral field for the championship game.
This means all games will be played at the highest seed, including No. 2 Neshaminy traveling to No. 1 North Penn if they both advance that far.
To understand what this could mean, North Penn’s home record in the playoffs is 20-0.
Pennridge (5-5) at Neshaminy (10-0), Friday night, 7 p.m.
Although Pennridge just got ripped by C.B. East, 35-0, and has five losses, the Skins need to be ready against the No. 15 seed. Getting the players’ attention should not be much a problem because when these teams met on week two of the season, they were tied after three quarters before Neshaminy went on to post a 31-24 win. The key to beating Pennridge is stopping quarterback Jagger Hartshorn (6-1, 190), who has run for over 1,000 yards and 14 TDS after transferring back from Georgia. In the first game against Neshaminy, Hartshorn carried the ball 23 times for 196 yards. Since Neshaminy has already seen him, they should be able to at least slow him down. Neshaminy’s offense should also once again do a lot of damage behind the passing of Mason Jones (2,260 passing yards, 20 TDs), the running of Will Dogba (1,215 yards, 15 TDs) and a cast of receivers headed up by Zach Treadway. Neshaminy is simply the more complete team.
Valley Forge (5-4) at Bristol (5-3), Saturday, 7 p.m.
This is a District 1 Class 2A semifinal and also a rematch from earlier in the season. In fact, these two met just two weeks ago at Valley Forge, which posted a 14-13 victory over the Warriors in what was regarded as a bit of an upset. Valley Forge does have a pretty strong defense and has won three in a row. Bristol has not exactly torn it up down the stretch, but goes into this game knowing it did not play up to its capabilities in the first meeting between the two teams. This time Bristol will also be on its home field. With Parker Kelley running the show and Eric Bell leading the ground game, Bristol should find a way and advance into the district final against the winner of the West Catholic-Strawberry Mansion game.
Delaware Valley Charter (6-3) vs. Conwell-Egan (6-3), Saturday, 6 p.m.
This is the District 12 Class 3A championship game and it will be played at the Northwest Super Site. No matter what happens in this game, Conwell-Egan will return to action in the D1/D12 region playoffs the following week against top seeded Kipp Dubois. The Eagles had a week off after receiving a forfeit win and will be anxious to return to their winning ways after losing their previous two games on the field. Although Delaware Valley Charter has the same record, it is Conwell-Egan that plays a much more difficult schedule. Look for that to pay off for a Conwell-Egan team that has a very realistic shot at winning its region.
Contact Rick Fortenbaugh at email@example.com or @RickFort7 on Twitter