North Penn, Upper Dublin, Neshaminy still kings of SOL
The 2018 season was a good one for the Suburban One League.
Upper Dublin, the American Conference champion, went on to win the District 1-5A crown. North Penn, the Continental Conference winner, reached the District 1-6A title game. In the National Conference, Harry S. Truman and Neshaminy tied for the league lead at 5-1 while Council Rock South and Pennsbury finished just one game behind.
The 2019 season should be another good one.
Upper Dublin is the defending league and district champion and is returning First Team All Area quarterback Mike Slivka. Aside from Slivka, head coach Bret Stover will be working with a new group of skill players and most of his linemen on both sides of the ball. Despite the turnover, expectations don’t change for the Cardinals.
“It’s still status quo,” Stover said. “Goal one — win Suburban One American, two — get into the playoffs, three — win the districts, four — qualify for the state championship game, five — win. They’re our five steps. They don’t change.”
Quakertown, Hatboro-Horsham and Cheltenham finished tied for second last year, all posting 4-2 records compared to Upper Dublin’s perfect 6-0.
Quakertown will have a younger squad this year, but the team should be in the mix, as they’ve finished over .500 every year since 2012.
Cheltenham returns most of its skill players on both sides of the ball and will be a threat for the league crown if they can figure out their line situation on both sides of the ball.
“I’ll be honest, I was expecting what happened last year to happen this year,” Cheltenham coach Ryan Nase said of his squad that earned a playoff berth and reached the second round in 2018. “To be able to do that last year and be a little ahead of schedule was great but that also pushes expectations for Year Three.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh also thinks it will be in the mix coming off a tough 1-5 showing last year.
North Penn is the defending league champion. The Knights haven’t lost a league game since 2014, when they were in the National Conference. NP, which returns First Team All Area defensive lineman RJ Macnamara, lost a lot of starters from last year’s District 1-6A runner-up, but turnover doesn’t change expectations for head coach Dick Beck’s team.
“We want to do better,” Knights senior cornerback Kevon White said. “Hopefully get to a state ’chip.”
Central Bucks East posed the biggest threat to North Penn last year, finishing second with a 4-2 record. The Patriots lost to the Knights, 31-21, in a game that, if it went the other direction, could have tied the teams atop the standings. This year, East gets to host North Penn.
“(North Penn has) won the league every year except one so they’re clearly the class of the league,” Souderton head coach Ed Gallagher said. “I know they graduate some good players but they also replace them with some good ones every year. You have to make them favorite, whatever the case is. After that, I think there’s a bunch of us that are all really close. Pennridge is big and has some good kids coming back, (Central Bucks) East has some good kids coming back, (Central Bucks) West has some good kids coming back, (Central Bucks) South’s going to be good. I mean, it’s just, every year, you got that, it’s a grind.
“We hate to say it, but we go 3-3 in our league and it seems like we do that almost every year because it’s just we play really well in a couple of games and we barely win one or two of them then we barely lose one of two of them. That just speaks to the level of competition in our league. I think it’s a great football league and I’m hoping we can get at least to 4-2 this year.”
Neshaminy has been at the top of the National Conference since North Penn left for the Continental in 2016. The Redskins shared the league title with Truman, one game ahead of Council Rock South and Pennsbury, in 2018.
Abington finished near the bottom of the standings with a 2-4 record, but the Ghosts hope they can make some noise if they can stay healthy and cut out mistakes.
– By Ed Morlock, MediaNews Group, firstname.lastname@example.org;
reporters Mike Cabrey and Andrew Robinson contributed to this story