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North Penn Vs LaSalle Preview

Written by: on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010. Follow Armand Vanore on Twitter.


Opponents: North Penn Knights: 13-1 from the Suburban league Continental Conference (D1)

LaSalle Explorers: 12-1 from the Philadelphia Catholic League (D12)

Classification: AAAA

Location: Colonial Stadium, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Date: Saturday, December 11 at 1:00 PM

At Stake: the Pa AAAA Eastern championship and a spot in Hershey for the state title game

Notes: Both teams played each other at North Penn the first week of the season won by LaSalle 27-14

Venue: the game is being played at a District 1 venue. Colonial Stadium is located almost in between both schools. LaSalle can almost consider this a home game because they play their home schedule there and practice at the facility as well.

Coaches: Dick Beck for North Penn and Drew Gordon from LaSalle. Both coaches have AAAA state championships on their resume. Beck won it in 2003 and Gordon in 2009. Beck is a prodigy from the CB West dynasty during the Mike Petine era.

Strength of Schedule: North Penn defeated St. Joe’s Prep, Neshaminy, CR South. LaSalle defeated North Penn, St. Joe’s Prep, West Catholic, Roman Catholic, and Easton.

Games with Adversity: For LaSalle:

Vs. North Penn: came from behind in second half to win 27-14

Vs. Roman Catholic: came from behind in second half to win 35-16

Vs. Easton: came from behind in second half to win 19-7

Vs. Bergan Catholic: lost 22-21 but lost a fumble in the red zone with a minute remaining.

For North Penn

Vs. Souderton: came back from 16-0 deficit to win 41-22

Vs. LaSalle: lost 27-14 after controlling the first half

Offense: Both teams have multiple weapons at their disposal. North Penn has averaged 36 points per game as opposed to 33 for LaSalle.

Quarterbacks: North Penn’s Quarterback is Junior Corey Ernst who excels at play action and can run the ball. Ernst throws accurate medium to short range passes. The opener against LaSalle was Ernst’s first start and he threw two picks which hurt the Knights. LaSalle counters with Junior Matt Magarity, a first year starter as well. Plays quarterback a lot like Ernst. Magarity was out for three games due to concussion. Backup quarterback Kevin Forster is more than adequate when called upon. Forster is a sensational multipurpose player who runs a very effective wildcat. Forster will most likely get a few offensive packages for this game.

Running Backs: North Penn has Craig Needhammer doing the bulk of the work. Needhammer has run for over 1,300 yards and is difficult to bring down. Dom Taggart is a nice compliment to Needhammer and is a dangerous receiver as well. Brandon Mercer is a nice change of pace to both Taggart and Needhammer. Mercer is the fastest of the trio and has scored on some long runs. LaSalle primarily uses Jamal Abdur-Rahman and Tim Wade. Rahman (a Villanova Recruit) has over 1,500 yards and Wade is a powerful north south runner. Wade picked up 75 yards in the two teams first meeting while Rahman barely played due to injury.

Receivers: LaSalle has Sophomore Sean Coleman and Forster. Gordon has used Coleman on reverses that were productive.  He gets off the line of scrimmage with a burst. Rahman also is used on screens out of the backfield and can gain valuable yardage as well as Needhammer for North Penn. The Knights have bigger receivers in Taggart and Gerard Wendowski. Ralph Reeves returns as a valuable TE after being out of the offense the last six weeks with a broken wrist. The Knights may pass more in this game with Reeves back on offense

Offensive Line: Both have experienced and excellent drive and pass blocking technique lines. Ryan Geiger (260) heads up LaSalle’s group and T.J. Smink (250) anchors North Penn’s front. The game could be decided right here on the line of scrimmage.

Defense: North Penn has given up an average of 13 points per game and has had five games where they have given up more than 20. A few of those games can be excused because of the large leads the Knights had in those games.  LaSalle boosts one of the best defenses in the state giving up an average of eight points per game. Both teams are very effective vs. the run and the pass. Reeves is a force as a LB  and stand up pass rusher on the DL. Needhammer, Taggart, Wendowski, Trevell Moxey and Dan Gervitz are ball hawks in the defensive backfield.  LaSalle on their end has one of the best linebacking corps in the state headed by Senior Connor Daly who registered 13 tackles against Easton. Daly also is very effective in disguising blitzes. Joe Nagi also is a dominant run defender and pass rusher. Geiger and Ted Marino patrol the interior line. Marino normally gets double teamed to open up lanes for the other lineman. North Penn has a solid run defense.


1) Will North Penn be able to contain Rahman once he gets past the defensive line?

2) Will Ernst play better the second time around? The last time they played was Ernst’s first start.

3) Will LaSalle have any passing game with the effectiveness of the Knights defensive backfield?

4) Who will win the special teams battle?

5) Will Gordon be able to make adjustments again if he is behind in the first half?

6) Will Mercer make an impact?

7) How many plays will Forster get at QB?

8) Who will have control in the trenches, Geiger or Smink?

9) Will LaSalle key on Needhammer?

10) Who goes to Hershey?

Find out the answers to these questions on Saturday.

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16 Responses to “North Penn Vs LaSalle Preview”

  1. wlodarczyk czakijew transmisja says:

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  2. Ryan says:

    Will this game be on tv?

  3. Buddy says:

    You guys omit NP most prolific running back: Niedenhammer. So that’s 3 backs you got to look out for. If NP can stop the pass ( big if), they should win. Oh well, ‘nough said. In 28 hours we’ll know.

  4. Armand says:

    PCL Fan,

    Dude, great stuff. Your point regarding the defensive points given up in the second half of LaSalle’e games is a solid point. Didn’t know it till you brought it up. I’ve been on LaSalle’s sidelines for their last 5 games and I could actually feel that they knew they were not going to be outplayed in second halves especially defensively.You could actually feel their momentum on the field. Also right on with the rest of the Explorers line not being mentioned. After I wrote the story I felt that it should have been pointed out that they are more than just Geiger. Actually North Penn’s line is much more than Smink too.

    Good point on the running back comparisons with Wade and Forster vs Taggart and Mercer. I do think that Mercer is a weapon that can hurt LaSalle if he gets in space. I’ve seen Taggart in multiple formations lined up as receiver and back and even wildcat.

    I still think that NP’s receivers are taller. Wendowski and Taggart are 6’2. Coleman isn’t that tall but this kid gets off the line of scrimmage faster than anyone I’ve seen.

    Unfortunately, I’ve gone to too many games and have taken some information for granted.

    I will damm well make sure I will bring this info up on the show, and I’ll give you props. Great points.

    However……I’m still not sold on a clear cut Lasalle win.

    Feel free to email me at any time. Listen tomorrow.

  5. Kmac says:

    @Buddy. I don’t know how the program works with Doylestown’s War memorial Field, I was just passing on the fact it was so owned. As you question, it would be interesting to know. The field seems to be open for runners all the time. Not from there, but I spent a lot of time there in the C B West “glory days”.

  6. JB says:

    @Buddy, not sure what your issue is but PCL fan simply pointed out many facts that the “Godfather” managed to overlook! Nothing wrong there …

    Sounds like you’re upset that not EVERYBODY is a NP Knights fan. I’m sure both teams are improved since week 1 and it should be a good game; at least, I hope so.

  7. Buddy says:

    @ #9: Sounds like the best thing for NP is not to show up. Really, all those stats of previous games you noted above are rather meaningless at this point. Objectively speaking ( ruling out I’m a NP fan), I do think if NP has no turn-overs ( which will kill you against a good team), they will win the game. They are more improved from their first game then LaSalle, I do believe. One of us will be congrats to the other after Sat.

  8. PCL Fan says:

    Godfather pretty good writeup. Maybe take in a LaSalle game next year before you try to be the expert. If you had seen a game you would know that LaSalle can run with Forster, Wade or Rahman. If you check out Ted Silary’s site you would see that Between Wade and Forster they have almost 800 yard’s rushing which is way more than Taggart and Mercer. Together LaSalle has just under 3,000 yards rushing.

    At WR not sure what you mean by bigger receivers. Forster is 6’2″ and Buckley, caught a TD pass in game 1, is 6’4″. Do you mean height or weight?

    On the line LaSalle has 6 All PCL players. They are much more than just Geiger. Their OTs are both over 6’4″. They have 6 OL/DL spots are covered by retruning players.

    Defense: You mentioned NP had 5 games where they gave up 20+ points. LaSalle has 1. The best fun fact is the LaSalle first team defense has given up only 2 Touchdowns in the second half since week 2. One of them was to the Prep after LaSalle had a 21-0 lead. WC is the only team to score a meaningful point against LaSalle in the second half and that week 3. Fun Fact 2, In the second half of the NP game, Np only had the ball inside LaSalle’s 45 1 time in the second half. LaSalle shut them down without 2 starters who were both all PCL.

    Before Friday’s show do a little more research and you be able to pain the entire story.

  9. Buddy says:

    @#7: so the borough closed it? Doesn’t the school, or in this case the borough, keep the $ from the concessions & ticket sales if they lend their field out for a game? Considering this would be a day game, electricity for the lights would be a non-factor. I’m sure PW is making some $ for their field, I certainly doubt they are losing. I always wondered how that works.

  10. Kmac says:

    @Buddy: Although C B West’s field is right outside their school it is controlled by the Borough of Doylestown. It is Doylestown War Memorial Field and not school controlled.

  11. Buddy says:

    @#5: I had heard that they asked CB West, and was told the ” field is closed for the year”. Don’t know how true that is, but if it is, sounds like sour grapes by CB West. CB & Wiss. have the same parking problem as PW. Actually, Wiss. is probably worse. Seating capacity is about the same ( West might be a little more). At least at PW, if it’s a sell-out, they will probably let people stand by the fence at the end zones. Some places, like CR South, you can’t do that.

  12. paul from philly says:

    It should be one heckava game. Only problem is, why are they playing at PW. The field is a good one but there is no seating compared to other sites like Wissahickon, CB West, etc.. And with two programs that have pretty good followings, good luck finding a seat.

    It won’t be a blowout so I think it’s going to come down to how well the coaches adjust to the situations.

  13. Buddy says:

    If NP has no turnovers ( which they haven’t in the last 3 games, right there is the jinx), they win. That’s how close this will be. It’s a game of run ( NP) vs pass ( LaSalle). LaSalle can run, but NP is good at stopping one running back. NP can pass, but not that well downfield ( mostly screens), but LaSalle is good at the middle to long pass. NP has a 3-headed running attack. Can’t wait, I’ll be there.

  14. LS 1979 says:

    These are two hard-working, highly skilled teams, and at this point in the season both are significantly better than they were in their first tilt in September. Saturday’s game has the potential to be a classic. (It’s fair to say that knowledgeable fans could reasonably envision a tight game or a knockout punch from either team.)

    Thanks for an evenhanded preview. The only comment I’d add is that the Sept. 3 game was Matt Magarity’s first start, as well, and he played well overall. Magarity was the trigger man leading the Explorers’ second-half passing game, which proved decisive. He deserves credit for coming out of the gate strongly.

    At this point both Corey Ernst and Magarity are improved, and it’s all about producing on Saturday. Doesn’t get much better than this match-up.

  15. JB says:

    LaSalle High will be streaming the game on the net at:

  16. Matt says:

    Never thought Id ever say this, but I’m rooting for North Penn in this one (Ridley fan).