Predictions for football playoffs

North Penn's Ronnie Atkins can catch passes on either side of the football. Here he intercepts a pass on defense in a nonleague win over St. Joseph's Prep on Sept. 12.
North Penn's Ronnie Atkins can catch passes on either side of the football. Here he intercepts a pass on defense in a nonleague win over St. Joseph's Prep on Sept. 12.
Posted: November 06, 2008

There are 21 football playoff contests on tap this weekend. We'll provide game-by-game scoring predictions tomorrow.

Today, we peer into the crystal ball and tell you how the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA and AAA tournaments will shake out. At the AA and A levels, we break down the District 1-12 sub-regional playoffs.

Also, we pick a winner in the four-team Catholic League Division AAAA tournament.

Here goes:

In the District 1 AAAA first round, top seed North Penn, second seed Garnet Valley, third seed Downingtown West, fourth seed Neshaminy, seventh seed Pennsbury, ninth seed Abington, 11th seed Ridley and 12th seed Conestoga advance.

So we expect three upsets in opening-round action: Conestoga, which has won five straight since getting blitzed by Garnet Valley, knocks off fifth seed Upper Dublin; Ridley, mixing the run and pass well, upends sixth seed Quakertown; and Abington, slowing down star tailback Bernard Pierce, ekes out a win at eighth seed Glen Mills.

In the quarterfinals, Ronnie Akins and the top-seeded Knights prove too much for the Ghosts, Downingtown West puts a halt to Conestoga's late-season surge, Neshaminy avenges last year's 27-7 semifinal defeat against Ridley, and Garnet Valley beats Pennsbury in a physical tussle.

In the semifinals, North Penn dispatches Downingtown West, and Garnet Valley, which last year won the District 1 Class AAA title, fights past the Redskins and their imposing group of front-line players.

The AAAA champion? In a clash of unbeatens, the Knights' rugged defense and opportunistic offense stymies Tim Keyser and the Jaguars.

In the District 1 Class AAA opening round, top seed Upper Moreland, second seed Pottsgrove, third seed Bayard Rustin and fifth seed Owen J. Roberts move on.

In the semis, the top-seeded Golden Bears tame the Wildcats, and Rustin, with explosive halfback and kick returner Rondell White, surprises Pioneer Athletic Conference power Pottsgrove.

The Upper Moreland-Rustin final will be a defensive-oriented clash, with the Golden Bears bagging the Class AAA crown.

In the District 1-12 Class AA sub-regional tournament, second seed West Catholic overwhelms undefeated and top seed Bok, and third seed Lower Moreland, with an effective ground attack, defeats fourth seed Ben Franklin.

The AA champ? The high-octane Burrs emphatically put an end to a Lions' season that dramatically turned around following a 35-0 season-opening rout by Bishop McDevitt.

Moving on to the District 1-12 Class A sub-regional playoffs, we anticipate wins by second seed Jenkintown (over third seed Delaware Valley Charter) and fourth seed Bristol (over top seed Communications Tech).

In the A title game, the Drakes, powered by quarterback Conor Beltz and two-way lineman Chris DiValentino, handily defeat Bicentennial Athletic League rival Bristol for the second time this season.

Finally, in the Catholic League Division AAAA tourney, we predict semifinal wins by regular-season champion Father Judge, over fourth-place and banged-up Cardinal O'Hara, and third-place St. Joseph's Prep, over second-place La Salle.

In the championship pitting the Hawks against the Crusaders, the Prep, a 22-18 winner during the regular season, triumphs in a nail-biter.

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019


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