There have been so many huge collisions between the arch-rival Pennsbury and Neshaminy football teams over the years, you need to avoid engaging in hyperbole when describing the latest one.
Still, when Neshaminy and Pennsbury stage their annual battle in front of a jam-packed crowd at Falcon Field Friday night, this will be about as good as it gets.
Both teams are 8-1. As the records would suggest, both have plenty of strengths and few weaknesses. And both will take to the field full of confidence they can get the job done.
Adding to the intensity is what’s at stake. In addition to claiming the Suburban One National League championship outright, the winner will almost certainly gain the No. 1 seed for the PIAA Class 6A District 1 playoffs.
Although Neshaminy enters the game second on the chart and Pennsbury is third, the winner will receive such huge points it almost certainly will move up to the top spot no matter what current No. 1 Garnet Valley does this week.
It’s also a battle for No. 1 in The Trentonian’s Area Ratings and a preview of a possible rematch down the road.
For those not familiar with the extremely rugged District 1 Class 6A bracket, 16 out of its 33 teams qualify for the postseason.
In the first three rounds, all of the games are at the higher seed, meaning the winner of the Neshaminy-Pennsbury game would get three home playoff games if it were to continue to advance.
Advancing, of course, will be the difficult part because the district sure looks as loaded up as ever. Although nobody is undefeated, there are six teams with only one loss. And that doesn’t even include defending champion and long-time power North Penn, which has won seven in a row after an 0-2 start.
The team to now beat according to many is Coatesville. Its only loss was by a touchdown to once-beaten Cumberland Valley early in the year and Coatesville just knocked off formerly undefeated Downingtown East last week.
As usual, there’s all kinds of depth in the field and a host of teams capable of making a run. This list, of course, includes Pennsbury and Neshaminy.
There have been years where one lost to the other, but then advanced further in the district. As such, the loser of the game is far from finished and will probably get at least one home playoff game itself.
Get ready for a special night of football. The joint will be jumping in what continues to be one of the great rivalries in Pennsylvania football.
And for what it’s worth, the competitive nature of the series is reflected in the fact it’s nearly dead even with Pennsbury holding a slight 40-37-7 edge over the Redskins.
Neshaminy (8-1) at Pennsbury (8-1), tonight, 7 p.m. >> People who tell you they know how this is going to play out are only kidding themselves. Plain and simple, it’s a total toss-up and it’s really not so much a matter of which is the better team, bur rather which one plays better on this evening.
One thing that’s a bit different from past games is the fact both now rely heavily on the pass. Neshaminy sophomore quarterback Brody McAndrew has completed 107 of 182 passes for 1,554 yards for 15 touchdowns. His favorite target has been Mike Garlick (36 receptions, six touchdowns).
Pennsbury senior QB Zach Demarchis has completed 104 of 175 passes for 1,397 yards and 15 touchdowns. Eight of those TDs have been caught by the sure-handed Dave Burke.
Demarchis has been a true double-threat in Pennsbury’s spread offense because he has also run for over 1,000 yards on 124 carries and rushed for 15 touchdowns.
For the most part, both teams have played superior defense and are tough to run against with physical lines and linebackers who really fly to the ball. Look for Pennsbury to try to bring the heat to put pressure on McAndrew in the pocket. Look for Neshaminy to put a spy on Demarchis as much as it can.
The thinking among many is Pennsbury might be a bit more explosive on offense and Neshaminy a bit more consistent on defense, but you could also argue just the opposite has been the case. Enough of the analysis. At this point all you can do is sit back and enjoy the show.
Truman (6-3) at Bensalem (5-4), tonight, 7 p.m. >> Because there are a lot of variables it’s difficult to know for sure, but we do know where some of this stands. Obviously, Truman will nail down its first playoff berth in school history with a win. Whether Truman can get in if the Tigers lose would depend on how many other teams on the bubble were to fall in their final matchups of the regular season.
After coming up one point short in its bid to make the playoffs for the first time last year when it lost a wild one-point shootout to Truman, Bensalem might get in with a win. Once again, it will depend on what some other teams do. Both teams have all kinds of speed and offensive firepower, but are suspect on defense. Look for a game much like last year with big plays and offensive fireworks.
Council Rock North (1-8) at Council Rock South (3-6), tonight, 7 p.m. >> This one is only for pride, but when you have sister schools going at it, you can be sure both teams will be ready to play. All signs point to a Rock South victory as it has played by far the better football this year. Still, this series has had more than its share of surprising developments and upsets. Rock South’s physicality should rule the day, but don’t bet on it.
Morrisville (4-4) at New Hope (1-8), tonight, 7 p.m. >> The Dawgies ended a three-game losing streak last week and by getting to four wins have assured themselves a better season than last year. With New Hope and Bristol remaining, getting to five will be a tall order. After getting crunched by Conwell-Egan in its opener, New Hope has ripped off eight in a row. It has scored at least 30 points in all eight of those wins and gone over 40 six times. One of those wins was by the score of 45-19 over once-beaten Bristol.
Neumann-Goretti (7-0) at Conwell-Egan (5-4), tonight, 7 p.m. >> The Eagles are going to have to play one of their best games of the year to have a chance. Neumann-Goretti has given up more than one touchdown in only two of its seven wins and it blasted Lansdale Catholic, 40-7. Lansdale Catholic beat Conwell-Egan by 10 points.
Bristol (7-1) at Lower Moreland, tomorrow, 2 p.m. >> No matter what happens in the playoffs, John Greiner’s team has enjoyed an outstanding season. The good times will continue to roll in this one. Lower Moreland is a Class AAA team, but it’s only win was in a close call over Morrisville by five points. Expect a running clock in the second half.
PIAA Power Points – District 1
(16 teams out of 33 qualify)
1. Garnet Valley (8-1) 165; 2. Neshaminy (8-1) 165; 3. Pennsbury (8-1) 164; 4. Perkiomen Valley (8-1) 161; 5. North Penn (7-2) 161; 6. Coatesville (7-1) 157; 7. Downingtown East (7-1) 157; 8. Pennridge (7-2) 155; 9. Central Bucks West (6-3) 140; 10. Central Bucks South (6-3) 140; 11. Quakertown (6-1) 140; 12. Haverford (8-1) 138; 13. Owen J. Roberts (6-3) 132; 14. Truman (6-3) 127; 15. Penn Wood (7-2) 126; 16. Upper Darby (6-3) 123; 20. Bensalem (5-4); 24. Council Rock South (3-6); 29. Council Rock North (1-8).
District 1/ 12 – Class AAA
1. School of the Future (5-2) 161; 2. New Hope (8-1) 132; 3. Kipp DuBois (3-5) 108; 4. Conwell-Egan (4-5) 103.
1. Neumann-Goretti (7-0) 214; 2. Strawberry Mansion (7-2) 174; 3. Bristol (7-1) 160; 4. West Catholic (6-3) 151.
1. Delco Christian (5-4) 140; Jenkintown (5-3) 136; 3. Morrisville (4-4) 117.