The second half of the regular season begins tonight (before the start of districts, that is), so let’s highlight some of the biggest stories from the first five weeks. Here is what (I think) I know:
1. Ridley, Springfield and Garnet Valley are the top dogs in the Central League.
Coming into the year, Garnet Valley received most of the attention in our area. Truth be told, they were considered the only serious District One Class AAAA contender, with Ridley being a “team to watch.”
So far, it appears most prognosticators — including yours truly — have either overrated Garnet or underestimated Ridley… or maybe a little bit a both. If Ridley can beat Garnet Valley, then we can start talking about Ridley’s chances to win districts. Right now the Raiders sit first in the district standings, meaning if they go 5-0 the rest of the way, they’ll probably earn the top seed. Remember what happened the last time Ridley was No. 1 in the district playoffs?
Springfield, meanwhile, has won four straight games. They have more holes than Ridley, for sure, but they’re still undefeated in the league. They struggle in pass coverage, whereas Ridley has excelled. Also, the Cougars have attempted the fewest passes (by far) of any team in the county, but speaking with Springfield coaches and players, I get the sense their passing game will help them in the weeks ahead.
If it came down to RIdley and Springfield playing for all the marbles a few weeks from now, it wouldn’t surprise me if Springfield comes out on top.
2. Episcopal and Sun Valley are the comeback kids
I’m not beating a dead horse. Everyone who reads this blog already knows what kind of team EA is, it’s now a matter of believing the hype. The only thing EA has left to prove is going out and winning the league. Of course, the big test is Malvern Prep. Frankly, they should beat everyone else with relative ease.
As for Sun Valley, its turnaround is more impressive than Episcopal’s. The Vanguards haven’t been relevant in years, but they are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Ches-Mont. Quietly, Sun Valley has had a tremendous year, led by a solid offensive line corps, quarterback T.J. Mancini and running back Dan Griffin, the No. 1 rusher in Delco.
I still like Unionville to win that division, but Sun Valley has positioned itself pretty well for a District One Class AAA playoff spot.
3. Interboro is the favorite to win the Del Val League
It has been since 2009, but the Bucs have shown they have the most complete team in the league. While Glen Mills is the defending champ, not one player from that team is on this year’s Bulls team. Glen Mills has looked better as of late, but Interboro is stronger from top to bottom.
The only other viable contender is Academy Park, which is 4-1 (its only loss vs. Pennridge). They defeated Archmere on the road last week and posted a 32-0 shutout of Sun Valley. The Knights should qualify for districts, but the big question every year is can they beat Interboro. I
Chichester had so much to look forward to this year, but injuries and inconsistency have led to a 1-4 mark. I don’t think they’ll compete with Interboro, AP or Glen Mills.
4. O’Hara, Bonner are still not up to snuff
Though a young team with only three seniors, O’Hara has under-performed despite its 3-2 record.
Junior quarterback DaShawn Darden is having a productive year, and the Lions’ defense has been pretty solid, but have struggled to score points. O’Hara has scored more than 14 point only once.
They don’t have the horses to compete Wood and Lansdale Cathiolic in the PCL Class AAA. If O’Hara was a Class AA squad (which, based on enrollment figures, I believe he should), they would have a far better chance at winning a Catholic League title.
Same can be said for Bonner, which is sitting at 1-3.
Archbishop Carroll gets a lot of credit. Last week the Patriots routed Conwell-Egan, but West Catholic should give the Patriots a tougher challenge. Nonetheless, dropping to Class AA should prove very beneficial for Carroll .The once-proud program is slowly rebuilding from the ground up.
5. What I didn’t quite expect…
— I knew Haverford High would likely finish above .500, but so far the Fords are in a great spot in the Class AAAA disitrict standings. At 4-1, they have games with Conestoga and Garnet Valley, but if they win three of their next five, you can wipe out that scheduled Nov. 9 date with Avon Grove… The Fords would be off to the playoffs.
— Funny how Delco Christian started 2-0 without playing one single second of football. Two forfeits in the Knights’ first two games? You don’t see that every year.
— Episcopal and Sun Valley combined for three wins last year. This season, they’re 9-1. Not bad.
— Two Penncrest kids, Kevin Trusty and Dan Young, leading the county in receiving. Last time the Lions had such a prolific passing game was 2009, when QB Matt Atkinson and WR Matt Bundy were setting county records.