With nearly all the regular season now in the books, it’s time for the PIAA District football playoffs to get underway. And as always, much of the attention in Southeastern Pennsylvania will center on the always rugged 16-team Class 6A bracket.
For the first time, three local teams have made the Class 6A (formerly Class 4A) field. In addition to perennial qualifiers Pennsbury and Neshaminy, Truman is in the playoffs for the first time in school history.
The big news following Neshaminy’s come-from-behind 21-20 victory over Pennsbury in front of a full house last week was the fact Pennsbury ended up as the No. 8 seed and Neshaminy as the No. 1.
This means if they both win on Friday, they will collide for the second time this year next week on Heartbreak Ridge.
Two other local teams have qualified as well. Bristol will swing into Class 2A action tonight when it hosts West Catholic. Conwell-Egan will open in the Class 3A bracket next week when it travels to New Hope.
Central Bucks South (7-3) at Pennsbury (8-2), tonight, 7 p.m. >> This is an 8/9 game, but you have to like Pennsbury’s chances on its home field. Although C.B. South does play some pretty good defense, Pennsbury has the more explosive offense. Quarterback Zach Demarchis has passed for 1,397 yards and 15 touchdowns, and run for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Ryan Watson is the leading rusher for South with 763 yards and 10 touchdowns. What Pennsbury must avoid is looking ahead to the possible rematch with Neshaminy. It also needs to forget about last week when it beat itself in many ways and lost a game it dominated for the better part of three quarters. Despite last week’s disappointment, all of that will be largely forgotten with a strong playoff run.
Spring-Ford (6-4) at Neshaminy (9-1), tonight, 7:00 >> Spring-Ford comes to Heartbreak Ridge with a balanced offense. Justin DeFrancesco is the top running back with 983 yards on 127 carries and 10 touchdowns. Quarterback T.J Pergine has completed 136 of 247 passes for 1,767 yards and 16 touchdowns. His favorite target has been Dante Bonnani (32 receptions). As for Neshaminy, sophomore quarterback Brody McAndrew has completed 107 of 182 passes for 15 touchdowns. There has been at least one instance of a No. 16 team picking off a No. 1, but Neshaminy would really have to be off its game for that to happen here. There are no common opponents and Neshaminy has played the tougher schedule.
Truman (7-3) at Coatesville (9-1), tonight, 7 p.m. >> Following its recent win over Downingtown East, some consider Coatesville as the team to beat in the entire district. The Red Raiders certainly have a dynamite offense. Standout dual-threat sophomore quarterback Ricky Ortega has passed for 1,738 yards and 20 touchdowns. Aaron Young leads Coatesville in rushing with over 1,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. In addition to making the playoffs for the first time, this is the first time Truman has won seven games in a 10-game regular season since Bristol Township combined its two high schools and named it Truman. There is some familiarity here. Four years ago Pennsbury beat Coatesville in the district final. At the time, Pennsbury was led by many of the coaches who took over at Truman this year.
West Catholic (7-3) at Bristol (8-1), tonight, 7:00 >> The Warriors have done a marvelous job compiling a record of 8-1, but they are a huge underdog in this playoff game. A traditional state power, West Catholic plays a much tougher schedule and is loaded with athletic talent. A chain of scores indicates how tough a challenge this will be. West Catholic buried Conwell-Egan, 38-0. Conwell-Egan crushed New Hope, 55-14. New Hope beat Bristol, 45-19. Jacir Savoy heads up the potent Burrs’ rushing attack. You can be sure John Greiner will have his team ready to play, but Bristol’s lack of depth will really show against an opponent of this quality.
Contact Rick Fortenbaugh at email@example.com OR on Twitter @RickFort7