Neshaminy football’s turnaround season ends at North Penn (VIDEO)

LANSDALE – When Neshaminy senior Billy Ritchey gathered in a Mason Jones pass late in the third quarter and outraced a gang of North Penn tacklers to the pylon for a touchdown, for a moment, the Skins’ faithful held onto the hope that their team would return to the district title game set for next Saturday.

It took the Knights just two plays and 44 seconds however, to answer Neshaminy’s only touchdown with senior Nyfease West racing 45 yards for a touchdown that put his team on top, 21-7. West carried the ball all 65 yards on the drive, rushing for 226 yards on 26 carries for the game, helping his team to a 28-7 triumph Friday, Nov. 27 at Crawford Stadium.

“You’re going to make good plays, you’re going to make bad plays. You just have to fight through it and execute, no matter what,” said Skins senior defensive end Harmon Yalartai. “We didn’t do that tonight.”

Ninth-seeded North Penn (11-2) will face No. 3 Upper Dublin (13-0), a 24-14 victor over 15th-seeded Pennsbury, for the District One title at 12 noon Saturday, Dec. 5 at Souderton. The 13th-seeded Skins ended their season with a 9-4 record.

West gave North Penn its first lead when he plunged in from one yard out midway through the second quarter, capping a five-play drive that spanned just 20 yards. After keeping the Knights – who fumbled the ball twice earlier in the game including their first play from scrimmage – hemmed in their own end on their first three possessions, Neshaminy allowed sophomore Justis Henley to escape down the right sideline on a punt return and the 10th-grader took the ball 41 yards to the Skins’ 20 yard line.

“Special teams can hurt you; it’s something that we stress,” said Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot. “Our (punt) team was pretty darn good all year but they had a good return.”

After the first touchdown by West, the Skins went 3-and-out for the second straight time in the second quarter. That’s when North Penn assembled an 11-play, 84-yard drive that ate up 3:45 on the clock and was capped by a 17-yard TD run by senior RB Justin Ostopowicz.

With just 29 seconds remaining in the half, Neshaminy tried to answer, driving the ball all the way down to the Knights’ 20 yard line, thanks to a 20-yard kick return by sophomore Mike Garlick and a 24-yard pass reception by senior Jack Spingler. But a 37-yard Skins’ field goal attempt fell just short as time expired before intermission.

After the sides traded scores in the third quarter, Jones got off a 29-yard pass to Denzel Hughes that put the ball at North Penn’s 31 yard line, but the drive ended on an incompletion and ensuing sack by NP senior Keith Earle.

Starting their next possession at the 35, it took the Knights just four plays and 1:01 on the clock to put the ball in the end zone again. NP quarterback Reece Udinski began the drive with a 25-yard pass to junior Nick Vasger, West went for 11 yards and, after a 15-yard penalty on Neshaminy, NP senior Dontae Stewart capped off the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run.

“They played a helluva game; we just didn’t match their effort,” said Yalartai. “We weren’t able to execute. We had a game plan and we didn’t follow through with it.”

The Skins’ loss to North Penn ends the careers for Harmon and 18 of his classmates including captains Hunter Kelly, Hughes and Ritchey.

Two years earlier, the result of the district tournament told an entirely different story with Neshaminy pasting a 42-7 loss on the Knights in the 2013 District 1 title tilt. In that game, the Skins’ defense limited West to just 18 yards on seven carries in the first half and more importantly, kept the dangerous back out of the end zone the rest of the way while building a 28-7 halftime lead.

After a 4-6 season in 2014, a campaign that did not include a trip to the postseason, Neshaminy turned that around this year, going 5-2 in the Suburban One League including a late season 16-14 win over archrival Pennsbury that propelled the Skins into the postseason once more.

“I think our senior class has just been phenomenal,” said Wilmot. “They’re a talented group, their work ethic, their attitude day in and day out in practice.

“I take my hat off to them.

After taking  the District 1 crown in 2013, 19-year Neshaminy coach Mark Schmidt stepped down, replaced by 1990 alumnus Mike Frederick. But distance and employment obligations stood in the way of Frederick continuing to guide Neshaminy so Wilmot, a longtime Skins assistant, stepped up in place of the former coach.

It was a lot to ask, said Wilmot, who will be back in 2016.

“Three head coaches in three years – our next class won’t have to say that; I’ll still be here,” stated Wilmot.

“But this is a resilient bunch of kids; a couple of them played up as ninth-graders. That Pennsbury game was a statement game; they weren’t going to be denied. They had made up their minds.”

In districts, Neshaminy defeated No. 4 Spring-Ford, 31-16 and No. 12 Quakertown, 31-17.

Contact the author at, or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter

North Penn 28, Neshaminy 7

(Nov. 27 at North Penn)

NESHAMINY 0 0 7 0 – 7

NORTH PENN 0 14 7 7 – 28


NP — West 1 run (Bealer kick)

NP — Ostopowicz 17 run (Bealer kick)

N — Ritchey 8 pass from Jones (McDonald kick)

NP — West 45 run (Bealer kick)

NP — Stewart 12 run (Bealer kick)


North Penn0147728

North Penn

Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Reece Udinski814125012-150000000000
Nyfease West00000272332000000000
Justin Ostopowicz0000066412150000000
Dontae Stewart000004401000000000
Justis Henley000000003330000000
Jake Hubler000000001350000000
Owen Thomas000000001250000000
Ricky Johns000000001170000000
Nick Vasger000001100000100000
Tyler Gillett00000210000000000
Keith Earle00000000000200000
Dan Drop00000000000100000
Alex Richardson00000000000010000
Brett Bealer00000000000004400


Player Comp Att Pass Yds Pass TD Int. Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec. TD Sacks Def. Int XPM XPA FGM FGA
Mason Jones1017152116-110000000000
Billy Ritchey00000000181000000
Will Dogba0000015350120000000
Denzel Hughes000000001290010000
Jack Spingler000000001230100000
Joe Pirrone000002130000000000
Oleh Manzyk00000000000100000
Cory Joyce00000000000001101
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