The previous four seasons have ended without a District 1 championships for the North Penn football team. The first step to putting an end to that title drought for the Knights starts Friday night at Crawford Stadium.
After a perfect regular season earned it the top seed in the District 1-6A tournament, North Penn begins the postseason hosts No. 16 Haverford of the Central League.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the district quarters to face either No. 8 Spring-Ford or No. 9 Central Bucks East.
North Penn and Haverford have met just twice in their history, the schools playing in 1921 and 1922 when North Penn was Lansdale High. Lansdale won both games.
Lead by a dynamic passing attack, North Penn heads into the playoffs 10-0 for the fourth time under head coach Dick, the three previous times being 2003 — the season NP won the 4A state title — 2008 and 2009. Since beating La Salle 33-24 in the season opener, the Knights have won all over their last nine games by more than two touchdowns.
The Knights offense is posting 40.7 points per contest — its defense is holding opponents to 12.5 — behind an air attack lead by senior quarterback Reece Udinski that is averaging 266.3 yards a game. Udinski has thrown for 2,646 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2016 and comes into the game against the Fords (6-4) after collecting 337 yards and four scores on 14-of-22 passes in last Friday’s 45-7 victory over Abington.
Udinski has spread that wealth among his receiving corps as three Knights have at least 30 catches. Senior West Virginia commit Ricky Johns has 35 receptions for 679 yards and seven TDs, senior Jake Hubler has 700 yards and five scores on 31 catches while junior Justis Henley has made 31 receptions for 582 yards and five touchdowns. Six of junior tight end Owen Thomas’ 10 catches have gone for touchdowns.
North Penn’s ground game is producing 175.4 yards per game led by senior Nick Dillon, who has 697 and 13 touchdowns on 108 carries.
Since winning the District 1-AAAA title and reaching the PIAA final, North Penn has made two deep runs to the district final, but came up with a trophy. In 2013, the Knights fell to Neshaminy 42-7 while last season NP lost to Upper Dublin 46-21.
Haverford is making its third straight District 1 postseason appearance. As the 16 seed in 204, the Fords fell to No. 1 Coatesville 35-12. Last season as the seventh seed Haverford was upset by No. 10 Perkiomen Valley 35-28.
Haverford began this season 0-2 — with losses to Chester and Ridley — but bounced back with a five game win streak. The Ford have lost two of their last three — their win coming 38-7 against Lansdale Catholic in Week 9 — and come into the playoffs after falling to Springfield-Delco 24-17.
Jordan Mosley should be a test for the NP secondary, the junior receiver having made 45 receptions for 821 yards and eight touchdowns for the Fords. Mike Romanofksy had 571 yards and five touchdowns on 100 rushing attempts.
Top Photo: North Penn quarterback Reece Udinski looks for a receiver as he scrambles away from Downingtown East’s Dan Zahniser and Will Kiely during their game on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)