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Breaking down the Pa. District 1 Class 6A football playoffs

Our pick to win the PIAA District 1 Class 6A football tournament is No. 4 seed Coatesville.

Aaron Young (No. 4, left) and No. 4 seed Coatesville open the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs Friday night against No. 13 Harry S Truman.
Aaron Young (No. 4, left) and No. 4 seed Coatesville open the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs Friday night against No. 13 Harry S Truman.Read moreBRADLEY C BOWER

With District 1 and the Catholic League joining the mix, there are 32 area football playoff games scheduled for this weekend.

North Penn (Class 6A), Academy Park (5A), and Pottsgrove (4A) are defending District 1 champions.

In opening-round action in those three classes last season, when the PIAA expanded from four to six classifications in the sport, 16 of the 18 higher seeded teams prevailed.

Looking at this year's playoff brackets, it looks like most if not all of the higher seeds in the 16-team District 1 Class 6A and 5A tournaments will advance. For competitive purposes, let's hope that blowouts aren't the norm.

We'll make individual game predictions Friday. For now, here's our take on how the District 1 6A playoffs will shake out:

There's no clear-cut favorite to claim top 6A honors. The best bets, in no particular order, would probably be No. 3 Garnet Valley, No. 4 Coatesville, No. 5 Downingtown East and No. 6 North Penn.

North Penn, which has won eight straight games, is seeking to defend its title and claim its eighth crown in the last 17 years. Number 8 Pennsbury and No. 1 Neshaminy last won in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

We expect all the higher seeds to win in Friday night's first round. Because of the neighborhood and Thanksgiving Day rivalry between the teams, No. 10 Quakertown has a slight shot at upending No. 7 Pennridge.

Real suspense, thankfully, will surface in the quarterfinals.

In the top half of the bracket, we have Pennsbury facing Suburban One League National Conference rival Neshaminy and Downingtown East clashing with Ches-Mont League National Division foe Coatesville.

Neshaminy nipped Pennsbury, 21-20, Friday on a trick play with 36 seconds remaining. Coatesville escaped Downingtown East, 38-27, in Week 9 on a touchdown pass in the last three seconds.

Our bottom-half quarterfinal matchups: Pennridge at No. 2 Perkiomen Valley and North Penn at Garnet Valley. North Penn topped Garnet Valley, 48-38, in last year's district final.

We expect Pennsbury to reverse the tables on Neshaminy, Coatesville to hold off Downingtown East in a shootout, Pennridge to oust Perkiomen Valley and North Penn to edge run-oriented Garnet Valley.

The semifinal pairings: Coatesville vs. Pennsbury (the Falcons topped the Red Raiders in the 2014 District 1 Class 4A final) and Pennridge vs. North Penn.

Led by dynamic halfback Aaron Young, quarterback Ricky Ortega and wideout Dapee Bryant, Coatesville takes down Pennsbury. And North Penn, which is sparked by quarterback Steve DePaul, halfback K.J. Cartwright and Delaware-bound handyman Justis Henley, beats Suburban One Continental rival Pennridge for the second time.

In the championship tilt on Coatesville's turf field, the Red Raiders' quick-strike ability and overall speed prove too much for North Penn. Matt Ortega's squad gains its first district title since 2012 and second overall with a 42-31 triumph.

Extra points

Oxford's Chandler England has completed 128 of 216 passes for 2,089 yards and 18 TDs. He has rushed 113 times for 473 yards and 14 scores. … In 10 games this season, Council Rock North's Michael Welde carried 214 times for 1,247 yards and 11 touchdowns. … In Saturday afternoon's 18-0 loss to Episcopal Academy, Germantown Academy free safety Mike Reilly was involved in 10 tackles, including nine solo stops. He also completed a 28-yard pass on a fake punt in the third quarter. … Imhotep Charter junior wide receiver Yusuf Terry picked up a scholarship offer Monday from Pittsburgh. … Lincoln's Sammy Karr has rushed 204 times for 1,588 yards and 20 touchdowns. … For Harry S Truman, which earned its first district playoff berth, David Akinwande has carried 117 times for 783 yards and nine scores. … Academy of the New Church's Devin Bryant made 31 catches for 456 yards and five touchdowns in nine games. Teammate Jeb Brenfleck hit on 75 of 148 throws for 1,026 yards and 12 scores.