(credit: North Penn Football)
Top 10-Week of Nov. 21, 2011
1. Archbishop Wood (Record: 11-1. Previous Week: 1. Weeks Rated: 14.)
2. La Salle (Record: 11-1. Previous Week: 2. Weeks Rated: 14.)
3. Council Rock South (Record: 12-1. Previous Week: 3. Weeks Rated: 14.)
4. North Penn (Record: 11-2. Previous Week: 4. Weeks Rated: 3.)
5. Garnet Valley (Record: 11-2. Season over.)
6. Pennsbury (Record: 9-4. Season over.)
7. Malvern Prep (Record: 9-2. Season over.)
8. Neshaminy (Record: 8-4. Season over.)
9. Central Bucks South (Record: 8-4. Season over.)
10. Coatesville (Record: 9-3. Season over.)
Philadelphia (CBS)—There is a standard at North Penn. It’s set high by Knights’ coach Dick Beck each season and it’s a reason why North Penn has made District 1 its playground. But there appeared to be some cracks in the Knights’ steely veneer in the beginning of the season. North Penn began its 2011 campaign 1-2 and suffered a rare blowout loss to St. Joseph’s Prep.
While some began questioning North Penn’s traditional iron-clad grip of the area, Beck and his players knew the mistakes they were making were correctable. They liked their new identity as underdogs, a different spin from previous dominant years.
Since losing to Prep, North Penn has reeled off 10-straight victories heading into its fourth-straight PIAA District 1 Class AAAA championship game, playing No. 1 seed Council Rock South at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
The Knights, the No. 11 seed and the last District 1 Class AAAA team to win the state championship (in 2003), will be playing for their third district title in the last four years (titles in 2008 and 2010).
It took some adjusting to what wasn’t the way a North Penn team typically starts.
“There were a lot of mixed emotions in the first month of the season, but we stayed positive and stay focused,” said Knights’ senior 6-foot-1, 230-pound star tight end/linebacker Ralph Reeves, who’s receiving interest from Villanova, Richmond, Delaware and James Madison. “It was depressing those two losses. We had to start playing more physical, and everyone was counting us out. We had to start playing football like we knew we could. We had to start cutting out the mental mistakes and working that much harder.”
Beck didn’t flinch. He never lost patience or faith his team would rebound. After the 51-33 setback to St. Joseph’s Prep on September 17, Beck saw the immediate results of the challenges he placed on his team the following week, holding explosive Central Bucks South to two scores in a 28-14 victory. That started the Knights’ road to recovery.
“Mike Pettine used to say, sometimes you need to lose a game before you appreciate what it’s like to win,” Beck said. “After the second loss, I told the guys it’s not where you start, it’s where you end. Central Bucks South turned it around. They were the best team I’ve seen on film all year. I remember thinking we were going to get killed.
“I told the assistant coaches they had to keep their cool and not go crazy on the sideline after the guys. But we beat CB South pretty handily and the thing that’s been great about this team is they have corrected their mistakes. We’ve scored a lot of points, but we’ve also left a lot of points on the field. We’re making big plays now, and we can’t be selective when we make those big plays. I don’t want these guys to get satisfied.”
Game of the Week: Council Rock South (12-1) vs. North Penn (11-2), in the District 1 Class AAAA championship on Friday 7:30 p.m. at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
Council Rock South doesn’t hide what it does. The Golden Hawks know their opponents know they’re going to run the ball at them. And they still do it. It’s produced a winning offense and a team that cannot be taken for granted, regardless of how one-dimensional they may appear.
“Everyone knows what they’re going to do and they don’t hide anything,” North Penn linebacker Ralph Reeves said. “They do what they do well and we’ll have to do what we do better. Our defense is playing at a high level the last couple of weeks. Stopping CR South is going to be about everyone doing their job, everyone has to be in their position at the right times. That’s how the option hurts you, biting on fakes and leaving lanes open. Everyone has to do their job. CR South is the No. 1 seed and we’re No. 11. They had a better regular season than us.”
The Golden Hawks offense is about slight-of-hand and perhaps there’s no better magician this side of the Eagles’ Jon Dorenbos than Golden Hawks’ quarterback Brian Donnelly.
“Donnelly puts a lot of pressure on a defense, so it will about a lot of responsibility on defense and positioning, because with them, there are a lot of times you don’t know where the ball is,” North Penn coach Dick Beck said.
Reported by Joseph Santoliquito