North Penn Vs LaSalle Preview
Opponents: North Penn Knights: 13-1 from the Suburban league Continental Conference (D1)
LaSalle Explorers: 12-1 from the Philadelphia Catholic League (D12)
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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