The Way I See It - 11/19/2009

In this ninth edition of Coach Carey’s blog, ‘The Way I See It,’ the former coach takes a look at the disappointing showing of SOL teams in the opening week of the District One AAAA Tournament. He also shares his thoughts on the second round SOL showdown pitting Neshaminy against North Penn, the lone SOL survivors after week one. Comment about the SOL’s showing in the opening round of the District One Tournament that saw all except two teams go home for the season.
Coach Carey: It’s surprising, it’s somewhat shocking, especially when you look at Pennsbury going down, but I think it somewhat shows parity in District One. A lot of the programs from Chester and Delaware Counties are getting bigger and better. It is shocking though, to be quite honest.
I still feel the Suburban One League is one of the best and toughest leagues in Pennsylvania, but it sure didn’t have a good showing this past week.
It all started with a team that was ranked in the top 10 in the state most of the year – Pennsbury – getting upset by Unionville. How does an upset like Unionville’s win over Pennsbury happen when the stakes are so high?
Coach Carey: I think it’s indicative of a team – Unionville – that did not start out great at the beginning of the season but ended with a flourish. That team was getting better versus Pennsbury that really started out fairly strong and as the season went on really ran into some road blocks. You could say they were probably better earlier in the season than they were as the season went on, and that’s the exciting thing about high school football. Kids do not stay the same in high school. The teams that are still standing get better at this time of year, and the other teams don’t.
A team can change overnight. It can happen in one week. A team can be one of the top teams, they can have a bad week of practice, and then they don’t show up mentally and intensity-wise for the game, and they end up losing. You don’t have to ask where to look – just look back at the week of practice you had.
If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I said in my blog a couple of weeks ago that the teams that got better are the teams that have a shot to do great things. This is the time of year you’ve got to be getting better because the competition gets tougher and tougher each week. How do you reconcile such a disappointing ending if you’re Pennsbury – a number two seed losing to the 15th seed?
Coach Carey: I think this is a little different than (#16 seed) Abington beating Council Rock North when North was the number one seed a few years back. Pennsbury has one of the biggest high schools in Pennsylvania and was coming back with a lot of great players. They were picked #1 in Philly area pre-season polls. Everyone thought it would be North Penn vs. Pennsbury in district finals. Wrong…
Pennsbury has to be assessing where things went wrong.   I know the first year they had state playoffs in 1989, CB West was undefeated and we needed to beat CB East on Turkey Day to get into the States, and we ended up tying East 14-14. That kept us out of the playoffs and opened the door for Neshaminy. It took the whole offseason and summer to get that SICK FEELING out of your gut (just talking about it still makes me feel horrible). This is a tough loss to take for Pennsbury. The players and coaches are disappointed, but they will rebound. You broadcast the North Penn/Council Rock North game. Could you share your thoughts on that game?
Coach Carey: I thought generally speaking that the game was an indication of where North Penn is as a team right now. The Knights are really improved. They’ve peaked at the right time. They’re much, much better  than they were early in the season, and they came away with some big wins early in the season.
Council Rock just ran into a juggernaut. North Penn’s players believe in themselves and expect to WIN. That program has a lot of talented kids, they have a very good coaching staff, and it’s a great organization. They’re tough kids, they have a great game plan, and quite honestly, it was just two levels of teams on the field that day. Where do you go from here if you’re Council Rock North?
Coach Carey: Getting into the playoffs is a real boost to that program, and it should generate some enthusiasm in the school. They need to continue to get numbers out for their team. They have some great personnel coming back, and I’m sure Tom Coates and his staff are starting to think about – okay, we have to get our offseason program together.
They have to have a great offseason program this year, and they have to improve in the offseason. That’s critical. We always felt championships were won in the offseason. When you look at them coming back next year, I’ve got to believe that CR North may be – along with Neshaminy – the favorites in the National Conference. What were your thoughts about North Penn?
Coach Carey: I can’t tell you how impressed I am with North Penn. I’m saying that because of how they produce on the field, not my allegiance to the program. They are a team with so many weapons that continues to add to its arsenal. Brandon Mercer comes back from collarbone injury, and he makes three or four real, real nice plays. Coach Beck uses him the right way, and that’s to get him into open space. His speed is incredible!!!! FAST---REAL FAST!
Because of the injury situation at RUNNING BACK, they had to move Dom Taggart to running back a couple of weeks ago as a second position. He’s a kid that not only can start – he’s probably the second best running back in the Continental Conference behind Craig Needhammer. This kid is a very special athlete who can play a multitude of positions. He’s big (6’1, 195), strong and tough.
I thought North Penn’s offensive line played its best game of the season, and couple that with a defense that’s very tough to score on. You’ll get yardage against North Penn’s defense at times, but they have a lot of team speed. Rarely do you hit a home run on them. They force you to grind it out, and that’s a good recipe for defensive success - if you’re going to move the ball on me, you have to get first downs, and there are a lot of variables that come into play – you could make a mistake, you could jump off-sides, you could have a turnover. Can you say Punt???
North Penn is better than I thought it would be at this stage this season, and gosh, so many of its players are young. Comment on the job quarterback Todd Smolinsky is doing in his first year at the helm.
Coach Carey: Smolinsky has come as far as any quarterback I have seen in a long time in terms of development. He’s the kind of quarterback I would love to have on my team…. a guy that’s a dual threat – both running and passing. He’s very intelligent, makes the right reads, and he keeps getting the ball to the right people. He’s sneaky fast for a big guy, and it was evident on Friday night in some of the big runs he had. Your thoughts on the Neshaminy-Abington outcome.
Coach Carey: As I said in my blog last week, I thought it would be a close game – it was, and I did think Neshaminy would come out on top, and the Redskins did.  Neshaminy is doing a lot of things well. they are a good power football team. Their quarterbacks – Brian Titus and Charlie Marterella – are doing a nice job.
When you look at it, they have been scoring in that 20-30 point range almost every game. That keeps you in or wins a lot of games for you when you’re scoring that much. I thought they did a real nice job.
Neshaminy is obviously meeting the best team they have faced by far this year on Friday night. Talk about the Neshaminy vs. North Penn game. Can Neshaminy win? Would this be considered an upset?
Coach Carey: This will be two very good programs battling it out again. Both have very good head coaches that have won state titles. I believe North Penn is the more athletic team, but Neshaminy has a huge “O” line that could be the equalizer. The GAME PLAN by both coaches will be huge but equally important will be the play of each TEAM’S DEFENSE. The defensive coordinators from each team will have to be at their best in this game plan. How will each “DC” have their team adjust to the multitude of formations by the other team?
North Penn will try to out-flank and leverage Neshaminy’s “D” during the game. How will the Redskins adjust or will it be stealing??? Neshaminy also goes unbalanced and will it get an advantage? How will Neshaminy cover the zone floods, seams, verticals and screens (10 different) by North Penn? How will North Penn stop the power football by Neshaminy? All these moves and counter-moves have already been decided, and we will see tomorrow night.
As for Neshaminy winning and it being an upset….NO! This would be just what it is for each team…..A BIG WIN THAT MOVES THEM ON TO THE SEMI-FINALS. Any other observations about the other SOL district teams?
Coach Carey: I think it’s a credit to all those teams getting into the playoffs. You’re in a very tough area, and for them to get into the playoffs is a goal a lot of them reached. It showed how strong the football is in District One. When you look back at the last 10-15 years and how many state titles came out of District One – there’s been a bevy of them. This is a great district – it’s got a lot of good football coaches, the enthusiasm for high school football is really high, and we have some real good programs.
Ridley has a very, very good program. Both Downingtown teams are very strong, and Avon Grove is turning into a program that is emerging onto the scene. Have the opening round results changed your feelings that 16 teams are too many in the District One Class AAAA Tournament?
Coach Carey: I think you have to look at it in terms of the length of the season. I think the season is too long. People can argue with me all they want, but until you have been through that 15-game season with two preseason games which equates to a 17-game season – now it’s up to 18 games for the teams in each bracket that advance to the finals. It’s a long, long season, and I think 16 teams in the playoffs is too many. I would like to see them take it back to eight teams, but hey, it does make for some exciting games.
The unusual happened this weekend with the #15 teams beating the #2 team. One of the marquee games this weekend is the District 12 matchup between LaSalle and St. Joe’s Prep. What are your thoughts about that game?
Coach Carey: I know both teams well. I saw them play the first time – I sat in the rain and watched the whole game. That’s the premiere game in the area this weekend. It’s going to have a huge crowd and it’s a great rivalry.
I really like LaSalle, but the one thing I keep questioning is the same task Neshaminy has with North Penn and that is can LaSalle stop St. Joe’s offense.  Both defenses are really going to have to play their ultimate game to give their offenses a chance to win the game. St. Joe’s Prep is very good offensively and has a lot of weapons. LaSalle has an equal amount or more weapons offensively. I give a little bit of an edge to the Prep’s defense, but I give a little bit of an edge to LaSalle’s offense.
I like LaSalle in a very close game. This game will definitely go down into the fourth quarter before it’s decided.
That’s it for now. Thanks for joining me again…keep the e-mails coming to I’ll answer all your questions with an honest answer. Until later...keep the hits coming. There’s no game in America like High School Football.