The first round of the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Football Team of the Decade tournament is in the books and fans are still reeling from a handful of major upsets.
The No. 14, 15 and 16 seeds advanced with surprising wins over the top three seeds in the bracket – all dominant Archbishop Wood teams. The Vikings other three PIAA state championship teams were also eliminated in the opening round, taking the Philadelphia Catholic League and Pennsylvania powerhouse out of the tournament.
The quarterfinals feature five Suburban One League teams – three from North Penn and one from Pennridge and Upper Dublin – two La Salle College High school squads and last year’s Pope John Paul II district championship team.
No. 8 North Penn 2011 vs. No. 16 Pennridge 2012 >> The SOL Continental Conference rivals both enter this matchup after first round wins over Archbishop Wood. The Knights beat No. 9 Archbishop Wood 2016 and the Ram shocked No. 1 Archbishop Wood 2011.
These teams were separated by one year and faced off both seasons. North Penn won, 27-0, in 2011 while Pennridge won 28-21 in 2012. Both team won SOL Continental titles in their respective seasons. The 13-3 2011 Knights won the District 1-4A title while the 12-2 2012 Rams reached the District 1-4A semifinals.
North Penn’s offense featured a balanced attack, led by quarterback Corey Ernst through the air and Kyle Mayfield on the ground. Mike Class was a workhorse for Pennridge, rushing for 2408 yards and 32 touchdowns despite sitting out their Thanksgiving game.
No. 4 La Salle 2010 vs. No. 5 Upper Dublin 2015 >> La Salle reached the second round after beating No. 13 Upper Dublin 2018 while Upper Dublin advanced past No. 12 Cheltenham 2019.
The Explorers went 13-2 in 2010, featuring a pair of wins over a North Penn team that also went 13-2. They won the PCL 4A championship and reached the state title game, where they lost to North Allegheny. Jamal Abdur-Rahman led the offense with nearly 1800 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns.
The Cardinals went 14-1 in their SOL American and District 1-4A championship season in 2015. They flexed their muscles in the district championship game, scoring on four straight possessions to open the second half against North Penn en route to a 46-21 win. Quarterback Ryan Stover was the offensive catalyst, earning first team All-League QB honors and showing his versatility with more than 1000 rushing yards.
No. 14 La Salle 2012 vs. No. 6 North Penn 2016 >> La Salle reached the second round thanks to a win over No. 3 Archbishop Wood 2017. North Penn moved on by beating No. 11 Archbishop Wood 2019.
The Explorers went 12-2 in 2012, winning the PCL 4A championship and reaching the PIAA-4A state semifinals. Chris Kane headlined the La Salle offense with more than 2500 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. Receiver Sean Coleman tallied 64 receptions for more than 900 yards and 13 scores.
The Knights finished 14-1 in 2016, winning the SOL Continental and District 1-6A championships before losing in the PIAA-6A state semifinals to St. Joseph’s Prep. Reece Udinski, Nick Dillon and Ricky Johns led the offense. Udinski threw for 4119 yards and 39 touchdowns, Dillon ran for 1046 yards and 23 touchdowns and Johnson tallied 1296 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
No. 10 North Penn 2010 vs. No. 15 Pope John Paul II 2019 >> North Penn bested No. 7 Archbishop Wood 2013 in the first round while PJP stunned No. 2 Archbishop Wood 2014.
The Knights won the SOL Continental and District 1-4A championship in 2010. They went 13-2, winning 13 straight games between season-opening and season-ending losses to La Salle, the second coming in the PIAA-4A state semifinals. Craig Needhammer and Dom Taggart combined for 2455 rushing yards and 35 rushing touchdowns while Ernst threw for 1979 yards and 22 touchdowns.
The Golden Panthers went 10-3, finishing atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division and winning the District 1/12-3A subregional championship before losing in the PIAA 3-A state playoffs. A senior-heavy team, led by versatile quarterback Kamal Gray, produced the best season in program history in 2019.
Voting to decide who will advance to the semifinals will take place this week on Twitter @ReporterSports.