Among the most intriguing matchups in this weekend's slate of playoff contests is a rematch between Conwell-Egan and Del-Val Charter.
On Nov. 5, Round 1 went to the undermanned C-E Eagles in the Class 3A District 12 championship game. The 14-12 victory was Conwell-Egan's first title since 1969, when it was Bishop Egan.
Round 2 will come on Saturday. Here is a look at Public-Catholic weekend playoff games, focusing on the Public League teams. A look at the Catholic League teams is set for Thursday.
Conwell-Egan vs. Del-Val Charter, Saturday, 1 p.m., at the Benjamin Johnston Supersite in 3A state first-round playoff
Defensively, the Warriors (7-4) nabbed two interceptions and forced and recovered a fumble in the teams' first meeting. The Eagles, however, managed 196 rushing yards despite not having their top two rushers.
Sophomore Patrick Garwo missed the game because of an injury, while senior Kyree Bronson served a one-game suspension because he was ejected from C-E's previous game. Both were first-team honorees on the coaches' all-Catholic list.
Del-Val's defense is led by Asadiq Dejesus, a 6-foot-2, 222-pound senior linebacker, who is one of the emotional leaders of the team. Dejesus batted a third-quarter pass in the air at the line of scrimmage in the first game, intercepted it and nearly broke free for a much-needed touchdown.
On the ensuing drive, sophomore quarterback Charles Britt scored the team's only offensive touchdown. Its other score came on a 52-yard punt return by Brandon Pierce. A late, fourth-quarter fumble in the red zone derailed another scoring opportunity.
Last week, Del-Val's offense got back on track with a 36-13 win against New Hope-Solebury. Junior running back Azyear Sutton-Walker led all rushers with 157 yards and two touchdowns.
Keys for the Warriors: The Del-Val defense might need to make plays again to put its offense in position to score if points are again at a premium. The Warriors will likely also need to maintain team cohesion despite penalties, mistakes and turnovers. Arguments over miscues were readily apparent during the teams' first meeting.
Cardinal O'Hara vs. Imhotep, Saturday, 5 p.m., at the Benjamin Johnston Supersite for 4A District 12 title
Imhotep overwhelmed Bartram, 42-6, last week to clinch the Class 4A Public League championship, its fifth title in as many years (two in 2A, two in 3A).
The Panthers have flat-out mauled opponents on both sides of the ball this season, giving up just 27 total points and averaging 44.4 per game, which includes a recent 2-point forfeit and other games that were halted early because of the score's lopsided nature.
Offensively, the defending PIAA 3A champions can beat opponents in a plethora of ways.
Senior quarterback Nasir Boykin is dangerous with his arm and legs. The 6-foot-1, 184-pound lefthander has thrown for 18 touchdowns to just one interception and has added 934 passing yards and 258 rushing yards.
A deep and talented backfield features leading rusher Amir Lewis, a senior with 435 rushing yards on just 31 carries (14 per attempt), according to MaxPreps.
Junior wide receiver Justin Harris leads the team in both receiving yardage and receiving touchdowns with 343 and seven, respectively.
Defensively, senior linebacker Amin Black leads the penny-pinching Panthers, who haven't given up more than eight points in a game all season. In the secondary, junior Isheem Young and sophomore Tykee Smith lead the team with three interceptions apiece.
Keys for Imhotep: The Panthers won't take O'Hara lightly but would still like to put the Lions away early. O'Hara has offensive playmakers on the outside and Des Holmes, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman, up front. If Imhotep dominates the line of scrimmage, it will be a long day for O'Hara.
Simon Gratz vs. Archbishop Wood, Saturday, 1 p.m., at Northeast for 5A District 12 title
Simon Gratz held off Frankford for the 5A Public League title last weekend, but this week the Bulldogs face Catholic League powerhouse Archbishop Wood.
The Bulldogs entered the season with just two returning starters from last season's Public title team, Amir Gillis and Qashah Carter.
Gillis, a senior quarterback, is the main offensive catalyst. The 5-foot-10, 192-pounder led the Bulldogs in the air and on the ground last week.
He also added an interception as the team's starting safety.
In addition to Gillis, Gratz's defense is led by Steven Reynolds, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore defensive end, Troy Brown, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior linebacker and Amir Beyah, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior linebacker.
Keys for Gratz: The Bulldogs will want to slow down senior running back Raheem "Speedy" Blackshear, who has rushed for 223 yards on just 16 carries (13.9 per attempt) in the Vikings' last two victories. Gratz will also want to keep the score low and close early. In its last seven games, Wood has averaged 35.2 points per game.
Northeast vs St. Joseph's Prep, Saturday, 5 p.m., at Northeast for 6A District 12 title
The Vikings knocked off Central last week to win the 6A Public title, but their reward is one of the best teams in the state, undefeated St. Joseph's Prep.
Northeast's single-wing offense is led by seniors Amir Paulk and Keith Moore and junior Dan Scott. Scott leads all rushers with 859 yards. Paulk owns 775.
That triumvirate rushed for 301 yards and four touchdowns in a Nov. 4 playoff win against Abraham Lincoln.
Defensively, Nahzir Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defensive end, leads the team with 19 sacks. Josh Reoun, a 6-foot-1, 237-pound senior linebacker, has a team-best 84 tackles in 9 games.
On the outside, Jaquan Amos, a 6-foot, 178-pound senior safety, and Carlos Davila, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior corner back patrol the air.
Keys for Northeast: The Vikings must find a way to hold up against the Prep's mammoth offensive line, which clears the way for D'Andre Swift, one of the nation's most talented running backs. Swift, a 5-foot-11, 210-pounder, is headed to Georgia next season. Northeast must also generate its own offense against a stingy Hawks defense.