When asked to name the most competitive conference in Southeastern Pennsylvania, one league springs to mind every year.
The Inter-Ac has some of the best football talent you’ll see in the area.
Entering the start of league play this weekend, Penn Charter (5-0) is the lone undefeated team. The Quakers, who have lopsided victories over Interboro and Bonner & Prendergast, are considered the favorite in the league. They are vying for their first conference championship since 2006. Running back Edward Saydee (636 yards, seven TDs) is second among Inter-Ac rushers in yardage, behind Episcopal Academy junior DeeWil Barlee (673 yards, 11 TDs). The Quakers are averaging 32.4 points per game.
Episcopal (3-2) is one of three two-loss teams in the league, alongside Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (4-2) and Germantown Academy (3-2), which shared the Inter-Ac crown with Malvern Prep a season ago.
It comes as a major surprise that both Malvern and Haverford School struggled mightily with their nonleague opponents. The Friars and Fords are both 1-4 on the season.
Make no mistake, both teams have played difficult schedules.
Malvern began the season with an impressive 27-7 win over New Jersey power St. Augustine. The Friars’ losses have come at the hands of La Salle, Pope John Paul (N.J.), McDonogh (Md.) and Peddie School (N.J.). Those four teams are a combined 18-4.
Meanwhile, Haverford School hasn’t had a much easier terrain to navigate. They have losses to Woodson (D.C.), Blair Academy (N.J.), Penn Wood and Imhotep Charter. Those teams are a combined 18-5. Haverford’s lone win was a 21-18 decision over West Catholic (4-3)
Despite their ugly records, you have to believe that the Friars and Fords are better off in the long run.
Episcopal, ranked fourth in this week’s Super 7, is riding a two-game losing streak. Both EA defeats have been nailbiters. The Churchmen fell at home to Blair (N.J.), 13-10, before last Saturday’s 28-20 setback to perennial Delaware juggernaut, Salesianum.
Saturday afternoon, Haverford School hosts Germantown Academy, while Episcopal hits the road to play Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
Upper Darby senior Josh Gouch is approaching a school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season. All-Delco Chris Rossiter rushed for 787 yards in his senior campaign of 2013. Gouch, according to Daily Times game records, has 686 yards through seven games.
Gouch isn’t a one-trick pony, either. He has completed nearly 50 percent of his pass attempts for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Due in large part to Gouch’s dual efforts, the Royals enter their Week 8 matchup against Strath Haven (4-3) on a four-game winning streak.
Credit to @UDFootball on Twitter for the tip regarding the rushing record.
If Garnet Valley needed a wake-up call of sorts, they got one last Friday night. Facing a Marple Newtown team which was desperate to get its season on track, the Jags found themselves in a shootout against one of the best passing offenses in Delco.
Garnet Valley wavered, but in the end, won its seventh in a row to keep pace with Springfield for first place in the Central League.
“We know every game is going to be a challenge,” lineman Cade Brennan said. “We know nothing is easy. But we always stick together no matter.”
And so the Jags, who have been the No. 1-ranked team in the Daily Times Super 7 since August, prepare for Friday’s date against Harriton before their highly anticipated showdown with Springfield (7-0, 6-0). Of course, there’s no guarantee the Cougars will get by Marple Newtown, which showed a lot of character in the Garnet Valley loss.
“We don’t look ahead,” Brennan said. “It’s one game at a time.”
DISTRICT PLAYOFF RANKINGS >> If the season ended today, Garnet Valley would be the top seed in the District 1 Class 6A playoffs. Penn Wood (5-2), which has won five straight games, would be the 16th and final seed. Needless to say, that would be a fun first-round matchup.
Haverford (6-1) is in 10th place, while Upper Darby is 14th. The top 16 teams qualify for the postseason. Ridley (3-4) essentially would need to win its three remaining games to have any shot at making the playoffs.
In Class 5A, where 16 teams earn postseason berths, Springfield is No. 2 with an average of 172.857 points. Unionville is first with 177.143 points. Both teams are 7-0.
Academy Park (4-2) and Marple Newtown (4-3) are fourth and fifth, respectively, while Strath Haven (4-3) sits in ninth place. Sun Valley (4-3), Radnor (4-3), Chichester (3-3) and Glen Mills (2-4) occupy spots 12 through 15. Chester (2-5) and Penncrest (1-6) are 18th and 19th, respectively.
In Class 4A, Interboro (3-4) is hanging on to the fourth and final playoff spot. It’s likely the Bucs will qualify for the playoffs even with a losing record. Fifth place Octorara is roughly 50 points behind the Bucs for that final spot.
To contact Matt Smith, email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith