Never in the 21st century have both Ridley and Interboro been two games under .500 six weeks into the regular season.
That is, until this year.
Whether or not you believed the Green Raiders or Bucs could repeat as champions in their respective leagues, it comes as a weird surprise that two of Delco’s most storied high school football programs have floundered in 2017.
Can they turn things around before their Thanksgiving showdown at Phil Marion Field?
Ridley would have to win out, most likely, to have any chance at qualifying for the District 1 Class 6A playoffs. On the other hand, Interboro has more wiggle room as a Class 4A team (four of the six 4A teams make the postseason).
It just wouldn’t seem right if neither Ridley nor Interboro make the district playoffs.
Here is a look at five games to watch this weekend:
Marple Newtown (4-2) at Garnet Valley (6-0), 7
The Tigers got back on track following a home shutout loss to Haverford two weeks ago with a 44-13 rout of Lower Merion.
Anthony Paoletti was 20 of 39 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Alden Mathes had five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown, while running back Marlon Weathers gained 87 yards and scored twice.
Win or lose, this game will have special meaning to Paoletti, the All-Delco quarterback. He needs 44 yards to break Marple Newtown head coach Chris Gicking’s county passing record of 5,897 yards set in 1995.
One week after Haverford’s 35-0 win at Marple, Garnet Valley handed the Fords their first loss in dominating fashion. The Jags called 71 run and zero pass plays en route to a 28-13 victory. Danny Guy led the way with 220 yards and three TDs, while Matt Lassik added 125 yards and a score. The Jags recorded three interceptions, including two by defensive back Kevin Doherty. For a second straight week, GV’s defense will have its hands full up against a potent passing attack.
Radnor (4-2) at Ridley (2-4), 7
The Raiders won two in a row to begin the year, then dropped two decisions before claiming back-to-back victories over Conestoga and Harriton. They’ll look to do something they haven’t done in ages — beat Ridley — for a third straight win.
Radnor scored two defensive touchdowns in the 41-0 pouncing of Harriton last Friday. Quarterback Sean Mullarkey threw for a pair of TDs.
Ridley can only hope that its 42-7 drubbing by Springfield last week was an aberration. The Green Raiders’ 65 yards rushing was its lowest total since Week 3 of the 2015 season (28-10 loss to Garnet Valley). Ridley turned the ball over twice and its defense allowed a season-high 297 yards rushing. Quarterback Nick Layden ran for his fourth touchdown of the year
Penn Wood (4-2) at Glen Mills (2-3), 7
Last week at Interboro, the Patriots made a statement — loud and clear — that they are coming for the Del Val League title. They held on to defeat the Bucs, 16-14. Kennedy Poles had four catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Patriots showed plenty of moxie, led by standouts Rahiem Bowens and Alimamy Thollie in the secondary. Meanwhile, Eugene Sheppard III (15 tackles) and Mohammed Kamagate (nine) were excellent at linebacker. Penn Wood is aiming for its fifth straight victory.
Don’t look now, but the Bulls seem to be figuring things out following three consecutive losses to start the season. They’ve won two straight, including a 22-0 blanking of Chester last week. This is nothing new for coach Kevin Owens’ team, which is a difficult foe once the Del Val League schedule kicks into gear. Last week was no different.
The Bulls received a stellar defensive performance, highlighted by the play of Jamal Harden, Nahiem Davis, Raysonno Williams, Faheem Parker, all of whom recorded sacks. Even better, the Bulls dominated without their top player, running back/linebacker Quadir Gibson, who was sidelined due to injury.
Chichester (3-2) at Interboro (2-4), 7
The Eagles look to rebound after a flat performance at home last week against Academy Park. Chi, which had been averaging 26 points per game, was limited to 93 yards of total offense in a 28-7 defeat. Andrew Rodriguez was 8-for-12 through the air, but threw for 54 yards and an interception. Senior Rashaad Shaw, the Eagles’ top offensive weapon, was held in check (four catches, 20 yards).
Not to belabor the point, but the aforementioned Bucs need a win in the worst of ways. Joe Forte had his best game of the season, rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 16-14 loss to Penn Wood. Mike Moore racked up double-digit tackles at defensive end.
Cardinal O’Hara (4-1) at Lansdale Catholic (2-3), 5
Fresh off a bye week, the Lions continue their trek for a second straight Catholic League Blue Division title. They posted their first divisional victory Sept. 22 with a 21-0 decision over Bonner & Prendergast. Defense has been the name of O’Hara’s game this season. Led by seniors Tyric Gould, Justin Santilla and Josh McCalister-Afflick, the Lions have allowed only 13 points and are holding teams to a paltry 85.6 yards of total offense.
O’Hara’s offense has struggled to find an identity early on. Senior Bobby Siderio and junior Luke Sprague have split time at quarterback with varying results. Ta’seer Jones is the team’s leading rusher with 179 yards and five TDs.
Lansdale Catholic defeated Conwell-Egan last week, 31-21. After totaling 22 points in its first three games, LC has scored 59 points in its previous two contests. In the win over C-E, Matt Casee ran for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Danny Dutkiewicz also had a big day on the ground with 136 yards and a score.