North Penn visits Pennridge in SOL National opener

North Penn and Pennridge will open their Suburban One League National Conference schedules against each other Friday night, as the Knights travel to Helman Field to meet the Rams in a pivotal game that has early-season playoff implications at stake.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

For both the Knights (1-2) and Rams (2-1), a loss here would make the climb back to the District One Class AAAA Playoffs that much more steep. It’s also a pretty good barometer for where each stands nearing the midpoint of the regular season.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Pennridge quarterback Devon Balmer rolls out behind Nick Hirsh during the Sept. 18, 2015 home game against Central Bucks West.
Pennridge quarterback Devon Balmer rolls out behind Nick Hirsh during the ir home game against Central Bucks West on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

“We’re focusing on North Penn now,” Pennridge fullback Nick Hirsch said after last week’s 34-0 win over Central Bucks West. “That’s a very big game that I’m looking forward to playing.”

Hirsch and the Rams ran wild in the second half last week against the Bucks, as Pennridge’s offensive line provided the way to five rushing touchdowns. The Rams’ men up front, including senior left guard Mark Funk (6-foot-1, 255), will be key on Friday if Pennridge is to find consistent running room on the Helman Field turf.

Quarterback Devon Balmer continues to find wide receiver Ryan Cuthbert in the passing attack, the two hooking up multiple times in the first half last week.

North Penn had multiple running threats in its non-league contest with Downingtown East, as backs Nyfease West and Nick Isabella, as well as quarterback Reece Udinski, all scored rushing touchdowns. But the Cougars rallied for a 28-24 victory.

More consistent play defensively will be a focus for the Knights while the Rams aim to minimize the penalties — last week they survived a frustrating second quarter in which they were flagged six times.

It’s a matchup of two squads that are almost always in the mix for a district playoff spot. North Penn won a wild one last year, defeating the Rams 47-22 at Crawford Stadium.

The Knights fell to Central Bucks South a week later, but then won out in order to reach the postseason. Following its loss to North Penn, Pennridge went 4-2 to finish 7-3 overall and reach the District One Class AAAA Playoffs.

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