The speed training North Penn's Nick Vasger did in the offseason could prove especially useful against the squad's next playoff opponent.
Coatesville is loaded with swift playmakers, including running back Aaron Young and wideouts Avery Young, Jadan Hudson, and Mekai Alexander. Quarterback Ricky Ortega is also a running threat.
"All of their skill guys are really fast," said Vasger, a senior defensive end and outside linebacker. "We need to be on top of our game."
The top-seeded Knights (12-0) will host the fourth-seeded Red Raiders (11-1) in a PIAA District 1 6A semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at Crawford Stadium.
Vasger and company advanced Friday with a closer-than-anticipated 28-19 victory over eighth-seeded Spring-Ford.
North Penn sprinted to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Rams (9-3) responded with three second-quarter tallies (they missed an extra-point kick and failed on a two-point conversion run) to make it 21-19 at the break.
"They started moving the ball down the field on us with slant passes," Vasger said. "We did a better job of communicating and limiting mistakes in the second half."
The clincher came late in the third quarter on Reece Udinski's 27-yard strike to Ricky Johns.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Vasger, a captain and third-year starter, also contributes on offense as an H-back or tight end. Five of his nine catches this season have resulted in touchdowns.
Of his work over the summer, Vasger said, "I wanted to get my 40-yard dash time [4.69 seconds] down, improve my agility, and get quicker at switching directions."
Udinski has completed 171 of 281 passes for 3,110 yards and 31 scores. His top targets are Johns and fellow wideouts Justis Henley and Jake Hubler. Nick Dillon is a threat out of the backfield.
In addition to Vasger, the Knights' defense is led by Johns, an outside linebacker who sometimes switches to strong safety, middle linebacker Owen Thomas, tackles Zach Lavalla and Owen Verespy, and backs Henley and Huber.
Vasger registered three sacks and a forced a fumble in a 52-6 romp over Suburban One League National Conference rival William Tennent last month.
Vasger is considering a number of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools for football. Bloomsburg, Kutztown, and Shippensburg are at or near the top of his list.
The Hatfield resident, who plans to major in exercise science in college, is thinking of playing baseball, as an outfielder, in the spring after taking a two-year break from the sport.
Notes. Northeast topped Turkey Day rival Central, 31-8, Saturday night to capture the Public League 6A crown. Ormand Isom, Marcus Hales, and Nahzir Wilson notched fourth-quarter sacks for the Vikings. . . . Imhotep Charter offensive lineman Justin Johnson (6-7, 335) added an offer from Wisconsin Thursday. . . . Springside Chestnut Hill junior offensive lineman Anthony Marrone (6-4, 295) has been invited to the U.S. Army All-American Combine in San Antonio in January.
District 1 Class 6A Semifinals
No. 4 seed Coatesville at No. 7 North Penn, 7 p.m.
No. 10 Garnet Valley at No. 3 Perkiomen Valley, 7 p.m.
District 1 Class 5A Semifinals
No. 5 West Chester Henderson at No. 1 Springfield-Delco, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Marple Newtown at No. 2 Academy Park, 7 p.m.
PIAA Class 4A First Round
Pottsgrove vs. Bethlehem Catholic, at Northern Lehigh, 7 p.m.
District 12 Class 5A Final
Archbishop Wood vs. Simon Gratz, at Northeast, 1 p.m.
District 12 Class 6A Final
St. Joseph's Prep at Northeast, 5 p.m.
District 12 Class 4A Final
Cardinal O'Hara vs. Imhotep Charter, at Northwest Philly Super Site, 5 p.m.
District 1-12 Class 3A Subregional Final
Conwell-Egan vs. Del-Val Charter, at South Philly Super Site, 5 p.m.
PIAA Class 2A
West Catholic vs. Schuylkill Haven, at Northern Lehigh, 1 p.m.