Suburban One will look different

Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)
Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 30, 2014

The Suburban One League has realigned its three football conferences based on enrollment instead of geography.

The switch, reverting to the way things were from 2004-07, was made primarily to create more across-the-board competitiveness.

In the large-enrollment National Conference, North Penn, which had a male enrollment of 1,861 according to the most recent PIAA numbers, will be joined by Pennsbury (1,384), Neshaminy (1,225), Central Bucks South (972), Abington (930), Bensalem (922), Pennridge (909), and Souderton (882).

C.B. South, Pennridge, and Souderton have moved from the Continental Conference, which is now for medium enrollment.

"I think it's arguably the best league in the state," Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said of the newly formed National Conference. "We're going to beat each other up."

Pennridge will have a brutal four-week stretch in which it will face North Penn (10-4 last season), Neshaminy (13-2), Abington (10-4), and Pennsbury (10-2).

The system is by no means perfect. Bensalem, which went 1-6 in the National last year and 13-29 over the last six seasons, will continue to face an uphill climb.

Also, some neighborhood rivalries, such as North Penn-Souderton and Truman-Pennsbury, have gone by the wayside.

The realignment should significantly benefit new Continental Conference members Truman and William Tennent, which, like Bensalem, struggled to keep up with the National heavyweights.

Truman and Tennent will be joined in the Continental by Central Bucks East, Central Bucks West, Council Rock North, Council Rock South, Norristown, and Quakertown. C.R. North and C.R. South also came over from the National.

"I think it brings a lot more parity," C.R. North coach Adam Collachi said. "You're going to see a lot of competitive league games on Friday nights."

With usual top dog North Penn gone, the race for the Continental crown appears to be wide open. "It could be anybody's title," C.B. West coach Brian Hensel said.

Hatboro-Horsham has dropped into the small-enrollment American Conference.

"It's a good thing, but I'm not expecting any slouches," said Hatters coach Mike Kapusta, whose team went 1-6 in the Continental last year.

Goodbye to Poppy. Pennridge, which long played at historic Poppy Yoder Field, now calls Helman Field home. Helman has been used by the school's field hockey, lacrosse, and soccer teams.

While a favorite of many in Perkasie, Poppy Yoder Field fell into a dilapidated state, with unsafe bleachers and poor lighting, in recent years. The grass field also was prone to flooding. Helman has synthetic turf.

The Rams will start the season with four road games. Their opener at Helman, which will seat 5,000 when renovation is completed, is set for Sept. 26 vs. Neshaminy.

Hollenbach said one of the squad's four home contests this year could be played, for sentimental reasons, at Poppy Yoder, with portable lights and bleachers being installed.

Style change. Malvern Prep, which for a long time used a wing-T scheme on offense, is switching to a spread attack under new coach Aaron Brady.

"We're going to speed things up," said Brady, who replaced Kevin Pellegrini at the helm. "We definitely want to control the pace of the game."

Brady, who coached for four seasons at Gonzaga College High in Washington, D.C., has brought in ex-Villanova wide-receivers coach Drew Maginnis as offensive coordinator.

"He's been out of football for a couple of years," Brady said. "He's excited to get back in at a high level."

Quotable. St. Joseph's Prep coach Gabe Infante, on senior quarterback Jack Clements, who filled in late last season for Chris Martin, taking over as the Hawks' scrutinized starter:

"He had a real good summer. He's not Chris Martin. We just want him to be the best Jack Clements he can be."


Suburban One League Alignment

National Conference

Abington

Bensalem

Central Bucks South

Neshaminy

North Penn

Pennridge

Pennsbury

Souderton

Continental Conference

Central Bucks East

Central Bucks West

Council Rock North

Council Rock South

Harry S Truman

Norristown

Quakertown

William Tennent

American Conference

Cheltenham

Hatboro-Horsham

Plymouth Whitemarsh

Springfield

Upper Dublin

Upper Merion

Upper Moreland

Wissahickon


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

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