The Big Picture 03 – Let the Playoffs Begin

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The BIG Picture

By Paula G.
Ace Sports Reporter

Let the Playoffs begin!
November 04, 2007

LANGHORNE: It’s here – the 2007 PIAA high school football 4A playoffs! And not a moment too soon as I have to say that although I love the regular season, I really love the playoffs (so I couldn’t be happier). Plus I also couldn’t be happier than to have the opportunity to provide you folks with a snapshot of those clubs that may be shining over the next 6 weeks. The final 6 weeks that will take us right on into Hershey for the championship game on Saturday, December 15.

First, though, I do want to congratulate all the teams that have made it into the brackets as well as each and every squad that suited up and left it out on the field all season long. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And a special “Tip o’ the Hat” to my personal favorite – the Blue and Red. Nice work so far – just keep it up, if you please. Second, I also have to mention what a great time I had over at Falcon Field the other night. No matter how many times I’ve watched Neshaminy and Pennsbury line up for their annual schlobber-knocker, it’s always a thrill. Plus game number 75 (or number 77 depending on who’s counting) didn’t lack for anything in my book. And that’s not because of the final score, the offensive display by the ‘Skins or the gutsy, determined play by the Falcons. No, it’s because of what that game really is – a Lower Bucks County treasure. Let′s all of us never forget that either.

By the way, to clear something up (as to a couple of questions posed to me by a Pennsbury fellow who claims to have a connection to their juggernaut 1974 edition): Just how did I come up with the total number of games these two gridiron giants have played against each other and what′s the overall win-loss-tie record? You know what, I think I’m going to hold the full explanation for now but I will say this, if you use the “77 games played” scenario it’s 35-35-7 (in other words, it’s all knotted up). If you hold with the “75 game scheme” that is also popular with historians, then it′s 35-33-7 in Pennsbury’s favor (and folks, you can trust Paula on this one – I know what I’m writing about). But so you′ll have something to mull over, I’ll leave you with two hints as follows: The teams first played in 1930 as Langhorne-Middletown High versus Fallsington High while in 1949 Fallsington and Yardley merged to become Pennsbury High.

As always, I’ll start Out West in the WPIAL world that is D7. This one’s pretty easy. Think of The Four Horsemen. Only their names are Pittsburgh Central Catholic, North Allegheny, Gateway and McKeesport. Some inside dope, you ask: Pittsburgh Central Catholic – one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Tino Sunseri while the team has “been there, done that”; North Allegheny – a balanced team that platoons talented quarterbacks while they score over 33 and give up just 9 a game; Gateway ” think talent and speed and then add in more speed”; and McKeesport – just like Gateway, they are fast while they employ a flexbone offense that gives the defenses fits. Yup – those 4 are certainly the “cream” of that crop and anyone who is paying attention would probably tell you that one of those teams will come out of their playoff set-up (which started this past Friday night) as the champion (they have a 16 team bracket like D1 but start a week earlier after just a nine game season). And that winner will play the winner of the Pittsburgh City League and what I call the “Erie Contingent” champion. Although nothing against those two groups but it’s probably just an extra game for the D7 flag bearer on the way to Hershey.

Back on “our” side of the state it’s Up North that’s Up next. Once again, it’s pretty easy as the folks in the know would probably tell you that the favorite is Parkland with Bethlehem Liberty the challenger. A thought here as to Parkland would be as follows: Traditional Wing-T offense with 6 running backs that average over 6 yards a carry. They also have a quarterback that can throw (with a 6 foot – 4inches, 200 pound wide out that runs a 4.4 forty as his favorite target) while that same signal-caller also runs well too. Their offensive line is all seniors that are big and strong. They score a lot and have shut out 6 teams in a row. As to Liberty, they’ve been to the dance twice in as many years so they know how to tango. Their offense isn’t quite as lustrous without Dan Persa but they’re adequate while defensively just think Brendan Beal, their All-Everything, 6 foot – 4 inches, 235 pound linebacker. And with all due respect to our D12 friends, I think their champ will not have much luck against the Parkland or Bethlehem team that comes their way.

Finally, D1. What a year this has turned out to be with plenty of old names and some brand new ones too. Still, though, for all the hoopla and screaming that’s been going on, your rank and file “expert” would probably tell you there are some favorites in that mix but let’s get the list out there first (alphabetically): Central Bucks South, Conestoga, Downingtown East, Downingtown West, Glen Mills, Hatboro-Horsham, Haverford, Interboro, Neshaminy, North Penn, Perkiomen Valley, Souderton, Ridley, Upper Dublin, West Chester Henderson and Wissahickon. And just who are those favorites? Well now, I’ll bet if we drive around the District and stop at those 16 schools we’ll find out that’s who they are! (Guess it all depends on the point of view, get it?) And a bit of advice to the teams that made it this far: Don’t be looking past anybody in this pile of contenders otherwise you might just find yourself watching the rest of the games on television.

There it is people. All packaged up and ready for delivery. So grab your stadium seat, thermos and get out to the field early. And to all you players, let’s get cracking and bring a trophy home to your school.

See you at the game.

Week of November 5, 2007