Pennridge vs. Coatesville in the first round of the abbreviated District 1, Class 6A football tournament is more than just the No. 1 seed vs. the No. 4 seed.
It’s more than just the No. 2 team in the Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10 vs. the No. 6 team.
It’s also a clash of programs with decidedly different playoff pedigrees.
Pennridge has never won a District 1 title in football. The Rams made the semifinals in 2017 and the final in 2012.
Coatesville has a deep tradition and an especially rich recent history. The Red Raiders won the District 1 title in 2017 and 2018 and made the final again last season.
“They have such a great history,” Pennridge coach Cody Muller said of Coatesville.
Coatesville coach Matt Ortega said his program never has played against Pennridge. The teams got together for some seven-on-seven, non-contact work in the summer of 2019.
“It wasn’t a scrimmage or anything,” Muller said.
Pennridge (5-0) might not have much playoff experience, but the Rams are a veteran team led by seniors such as Villanova recruit Shane Hartzell and standout two-way lineman Jake Tarburton.
Coatesville (4-0) has seasoned veterans such as all-purpose standout Abdul-Sabur Stewart, but the Red Raiders also rely heavily on younger players such as sophomore quarterback Harrison Susi.
The winner of Friday night’s game at Pennridge will advance to the District 1 final against the survivor of the other semifinal between No. 2 seed Spring-Ford (6-0) and No. 3 seed Souderton (5-0).
“Our kids are through the roof,” Muller said. "To go from a situation where we didn’t know if we were even going to be able to play to be in this position, they are ecstatic.
“But at the same time, we know it’s a whole new season and we know what a challenge we have against Coatesville.”
Here’s the new Southeastern Pennsylvania Top 10, with last week’s ranking in parentheses:
1. St. Joseph’s Prep (1) 3-0: The Hawks' first-team defense picked off two passes and recovered a fumble in pitching a shutout for the second game in a row in a 52-6 victory over Archbishop Wood. The host Vikings scored on the game’s last play against St. Joseph’s reserves. The Hawks, who have won 32 games in a row against Philadelphia Catholic League foes, meet Roman Catholic on Saturday and then will have a bye before facing the District 1 champion in the PIAA Class 6A state semifinals the weekend of Nov. 19.
2. Pennridge (2) 5-0: Down 15-14 midway in the third quarter, the Rams rallied for a 21-15 win over Abington to clinch the Suburban One National Division title and the No. 1 seed in the District 1 tournament. “We got punched in the nose and we needed it,” Muller said. Dillon Powles scored the go-ahead touchdown and Tarburton sealed the deal with a pair of late sacks. Hartzell, who scored the first touchdown on a kickoff return, left the game with injured ribs but should be cleared to play this week, Muller said.
3. La Salle (3) 4-1: Gavin Daly threw a pair of touchdown passes to Justin Machita as the Explorers celebrated Senior Day with a 32-6 win over Roman Catholic. La Salle honored the late Isaiah Turner, a senior lineman who died after practice Sept. 4, during a pregame ceremony, with a framed photo of Turner’s No. 74 jersey presented to his family. La Salle meets No. 4 Archbishop Wood on Saturday.
4. Archbishop Wood (4) 2-1: Senior Kaelin Costello gained 16 yards on a pitch on the Vikings' first play against St. Joseph’s Prep. But the game got away from Wood as a nullified touchdown pass, the loss of Costello and senior quarterback Max Keller to injuries and the Hawks' relentless offensive pressure led to a lopsided score. “It’s easy to high five when things are going good,” Vikings coach Matt Walp said. “But you really find out who you are when you deal with adversity. I have no doubt these guys will bounce back.”
5. Malvern Prep (5) 2-0: Junior kicker Jake Reid’s 37-yard field goal as time expired in the first half was the difference in a 10-8 win over the Hun School of Princeton. Isaiah Wright ran for a touchdown and Coltin Deery played a strong two-way game along the front line as the Friars rallied from an 8-0 deficit. Malvern Prep is scheduled to play at Valley View (2-1) in Archbald, Pa., on Friday.
6. Coatesville (6) 4-0: Senior Demetrius McClain-Jackson ran for 177 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Red Raiders surged in the second half for a 34-6 win over Kennett. Sophomore quarterback Harrison Susi ran for one score and passed to McClain-Jackson for another.
7. Bonner-Prendergast (8) 3-0: Ayden Garnes caught a pair of touchdown passes from Kyle Lazer and the Friars' defense was dominant in a 34-0 win over Lansdale Catholic. Ibrahima Diallo scored on an interception return and Mason Peterson scored on a blocked punt return as Bonner-Prendergast allowed just seven first downs. The Friars will host District 1 representative Upper Moreland (4-1) in the first round of the PIAA Class 4A tournament on Friday night.
8. Garnet Valley (NR) 2-0: Eleven players carried the football as the Jaguars rolled to a 68-6 victory over Conestoga. Shane Reynolds generated three touchdowns and Sean Gallagher scored on a kickoff return and reception for Garnet Valley, which along with the rest of the Central League will not compete in the district or state playoffs.
9. Souderton (9) 5-0: Senior running back Jalen White gained 233 yards on just 12 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 55-12 victory over Bensalem. Senior quarterback Evan Kutzler passed for 62 yards and ran for 52 as the Indians locked up the No. 3 seed in the District 1, Class 6A playoffs and earned a visit to No. 2 seed Spring Ford for an opening-round game.
10. Downingtown West (10) 2-1: Junior John Barry scored two touchdowns and the Whippets' defense controlled play in a 35-7 win over West Chester East. Julian Williams added a touchdown reception for the Whippets, who won their second in a row. Downingtown West is scheduled to meet Downingtown East (1-3) in a rescheduled Battle of the Brandywine on Friday night at Kottmeyer Stadium.