Southeastern PA Top 10

Week of Oct. 25, 2013

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1. Coatesville (Record: 8-0. Weeks Rated: 9.)

2. St. Joseph’s Prep (Record: 6-1. Weeks Rated: 9.)

3. Imhotep Charter (Record: 6-1. Weeks Rated: 9.)

4. Neshaminy (Record: 8-0. Weeks Rated: 9.)

5. La Salle (Record: 6-2. Weeks Rated: 9.)

6. Archbishop Wood (Record: 6-2. Weeks Rated: 9.)

7. Garnet Valley (Record: 8-0. Weeks Rated: 4.)

8. Pennsbury (Record: 7-1. Weeks Rated: 4.)

9. West Chester Rustin (Record: 8-0. Weeks Rated: 3.)

10. Pottsgrove (Record: 8-0. Weeks Rated: 3.)

By Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Upper Dublin has gotten off to good starts in its history. But nothing like this. Nothing like opening a season by beating Central Bucks West for only the second time in school history. Nothing like getting off to an 8-0 start and having every district-playoff bound Class AAAA school begin looking over their shoulders at the Cardinals.

In fact, it’s the best start Upper Dublin has had in school history. What’s more is that Cardinals’ coach Bret Stover is doing this starting eight underclassmen on defense, including sophomore inside linebackers Henry Winebrake and Jack Rapine, and six underclassmen on offense, which has been led by heady senior quarterback John Derr, who’s completed 49 of 87 passes for 602 yards.

A real challenge is ahead tonight at 7, when Upper Dublin travels to defending Suburban One American Conference champion Plymouth Whitemarsh. It’s a game between two teams that have 5-0 conference records.

Stover had an idea his team would be successful, since the Cardinals have been to the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs two of the last three years.

But to be this young and this successful?

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The Cardinals have scored 308 points over eight games, averaging 38.5 points a game while surrendering a mere 12.5 points a game. Upper Dublin is doing it with a defense that’s cornerstones are sophomores Winebrake and Rapine, but also start sophomore defensive backs Mike Sowers and Ryan Stover, Bret’s son, junior outside linebackers John Lee and Tim Rasmussen, and junior nose tackle Tamir Bailey. The only starting seniors are cornerback Ray Sitarski and defensive ends Marc Conran and Ben Gause.

Bret Stover has had so much faith in his underclassmen that he gave Winebrake the responsibility of calling the defense.

“Henry is a smart kid, but give credit to all the kids for learning, and the coaching staff for putting them in the right places, and to the kids for making the right plays,” said Stover, who’s in his 11th year as head coach and 23rd overall at Upper Dublin. “I didn’t see this [success] coming, because we were really young. Of the 14 underclassmen that start for us, 13 are first-year starters.

“We brought back Derr, and he’s really progressed since last year, along with a couple of senior offensive linemen [Patrick Echevarria and Tyler Berish] and a senior receiver [Ryan Siwinski]. We didn’t think this season would be a total rebuild, we just weren’t sure how the young guys would progress.”

Stover found out fast in the Cardinals’ opener. Upper Dublin smoked a very good Central Bucks West team 45-21, a Bucks team that has gone on to win seven-straight games since losing to the Cardinals.

That told Stover he may have the makings of something special here. Further proof came in comeback victories over Wissahickon and Cheltenham. In each game the Cardinals were blindsided, down 14-0 within the first five minutes.

Against Wissahickon, Upper Dublin surged back to win, 45-28. Against Cheltenham, the Cardinals erupted for 49 unanswered points to win 49-14.

“Those games showed me these kids won’t panic,” Stover said. “Our seniors stepped up and righted the ship in both those games and that showed leadership. But we can’t afford to get down early 14-0 against Plymouth Whitemarsh.”

No, the Cardinals can’t against the two-time defending Suburban One American Conference champions. Though something larger looms, if the Cardinals can keep this up: Making more history. Upper Dublin has been to the district playoffs four times and has yet to win a playoff game. This year will make the fifth trip. This year things are looking bright.

“We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” Stover warned. “Our first goal every year is to win the conference and then we’ll look at the district playoffs.”

Don’t look now, but a number of teams are beginning to take notice and look at Upper Dublin.

Game of the Week

Upper Dublin (8-0) at Plymouth Whitemarsh (6-2), Friday, 7 PM

Both are 5-0 in the Suburban One American Conference. The winner clinches at least a share of first place. But for all intents and purposes, this game should determine the conference champ. Upper Dublin is on a serious roll, scoring 31 points or better in seven of its eight victories. That doesn’t bode well for a Colonials’ defense that is giving up 27 points a game.

Prediction: Upper Dublin 34, Plymouth Whitemarsh 20

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.

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