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Ridley Upsets North Penn 19-10, Wins Second District Title in 3 Years

Written by: on Saturday, December 5th, 2009. Follow Paul Dale Plattenburg on Twitter.


For most of the 2009 High School Football Season North Penn and Ridley were ranked Numbers One and Two in the District One AAAA High School Football Ratings.

After a Week 9 loss to Garnet Valley dropped the Green Raiders down to number 7, not to many people gave Ridley much of a chance to even get to the finals.

But with the way the 16 team tournament played out, here were the two teams ranked 1-2 for most of the season–North Penn and Ridley playing for the District One AAAA Championship, the fourth time in the last eight years they have met in the playoffs.

Ridley’s defense forced three North Penn turnovers and held the Knights in check in a stunning 19-10 victory Friday night before 6,000 fans at Coatesville’s Multi-Purpose Stadium.

“I’ve said all along Ralph Batty is the best defensive co-ordinator in District One and maybe even the state,” said a very drenched Dennis Decker.”I told the kids that they were going to have to smack them in the mouth before they smack you.”

And smack they did!!

Linebacker  Sam Dixon-Dugan put on a smack down clinic all game that included probably the biggest and best hit of the season for Ridley.

Trailing for the first time all year at halftime 13-10, North Penn took the second half kickoff and drove down to the Green Raider 6 yard line. On fourth and one from the six,  North Penn runningback Craig Needhammer was completely stopped behind the line of scrimmage by Dixon-Dugan as he shot the gap and stopped the North Penn drive. Needhammer was held to 36 yards on eight carries by the Green Raider defense.

“We just keep doing what Coach Batty tells us to do,” said Dixon-Dugan. “We all kept pushing and we all believed in each other. ”

“Holding a team like North Penn to 10 points is a tribute to Ralph Batty,’ Decker added.

North Penn, who finishes the season at 13-1, opened the scoring with 6:11 left in the first quarter on a 32 yard field goal by Dylan Harris. The play was set up by a 65 yard run by Brandon Mercer that put the ball on the Green Raider 15 yard line.

It seemed that was going to be the halftime score until a flurry of activity in the last 2:59 set the tone for the second half.

Ridley, also now 13-1, took a 6-3 lead when Colin Masterson hit Norm Donkin on a 26 yard pass that capped a 42 yard 4 play drive. Masterson finished the night 8-15 for 101 yards.

North Penn then went to the last page in the playbook and pulled out a play left in there by the previous coach. Faced with a fourth and two on the Green Raider 31,  Needhammer took the direct snap, bent over, Quarterback Todd Smolinsky faked the quarterback draw and Needhammer found Dom Taggert in the endzone for the 31 yard touchdown with just 39 seconds before halftime for a 10-6 lead.

That lead was short lived as Alex Nicolino, who also put on a hit clinic on when he was on defense took the ensuing  kickoff and went 93 yards for a touchdown as Ridley regained a 13-10 lead.

“I told the kids if we played a good first half, good things will happen in the second half,” said Decker. “I felt we played ok in the first half. There were some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on. ”

Ridley then put the game away in the fourth quarter as Shahaid Smith went over form the three with 8:13 to play in the game that ended a 29 yard seven play drive all on the ground. Smith ended the night with 80 yards on 22 carries.

With the win Ridley now plays the winner of LaSalle–Easton next week in state semi-final round at a site to be determined.

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38 Responses to “Ridley Upsets North Penn 19-10, Wins Second District Title in 3 Years”

  1. Len says:

    Looks like the Philadephia Catholic League is good. Two in championship last and 1st season in PIAA (3A & 2A) and in semis in all classes this season. Go Catholic League…

  2. Former Ridley Player says:


    Ridley 26
    LaSalle 13

    LaSalle has a few key players at wideout and there quarterback is solid and there best runner, unfortunately the only runner and Ridley will spy the QB and do DE containments. Worst thing about Ridley is there kicking game. At least 1-2 missed extra points and don’t hold your breath on a field goal. All in all, it should be a solid game and the weather is playing out to be a non factor other then being cold, but hey, it’s December. Go GREEN!

  3. Buddy says:

    Ridley should win, even if they have half the intensity they had with NP. Us NP fans are used to going that far & farther. We had Hershey on the mind this year. Maybe too soon. Not bragging, but we are probably the most successful District one program in the last 10 years. We’re a little spoiled. Neshaminy used to be our nemisis, now it’s Ridley. To NPKNIGHTFOOTBALL: I assume you are part of the coaching staff. 10 years ago you took a district 1 doormat & made them a state powerhouse. Kudos. Us NP fans are lovin’ it!!!!

  4. John Wilson says:


    Well put and you need to give ur guys alot of credit for going that far. Both teams played a great game. Defense wins games and fundalmental play also is a big part, as for the injury’s yes that part of any game around. Both Teams showed alot, NP nice fake wonderful play faked all in the stands Ridley never seen it, but on the other side Ridley Ran ok against you. But still a very nice game by both sides, one advantage Ridley has is their quickness on Defense..and how they move left and right to the ball. They will give Lasalle a good game as well as if NP was there both would have.

  5. Buddy says:

    My predicting a LaSalle victory is just wishful thinking. I doubt it will happen. Injuries are usually the result of hard hitting from the opposition. And I beg to differ. Injuries not only changed the flow of the game, but very probably the outcome. But like you said, it’s part of the game. You’re showing good sportsmanship and giving credit where credit is due Beck. That’s admirable. Us NP fans are taking it harder then the staff.

  6. scott deck says:

    Like NPKnight and Blue Boy’s comments- Ridley’s Dixon-Dougan has been playing with bad knee- Following 14 games- Lots of people are banged-up! If LaSalle is one dimensional- Cud be in trouble- Ridly is good at taking away what team does best………

  7. columbia blueboy says:

    Agree with NPKnightFootball- After 13 games everyone is nicked- Ridley’s Nicolino, Donkin and Shaw were all limping- Np was also flagged for Chop blocking (unfortunately nature of game) Ridley won game by “Physically Beating” NP and dominating line of scrimmage, particularly late-with a 155lb running back- Have never seen LaSalle- Any objective viewpoints?

  8. NPKnightFootball says:

    For all of you folks out there that are predicting a big win by Lasalle on Saturday you better rethink your analysis. A week ago I was counting down the days to Hershey until the upset I saw my squad receive on Friday night. Ridley is no doubt quick and tough as nails especially on D. Yes, the injuries may have changed the flow of the game but there’s no question that the outcome would not have been different. Injuries are just nature of the game and quite frankly, most were the result of Ridley’s hard hitting. Ridley is more than capable of blanketing Lasalle’s receivers in pass coverage as they did on Friday to NP and seem to be loaded at the skilled positions. I would think Lasalle’s bread and butter passing game plays into the hands of Ridley’s personnel and defensive scheme anyhow. From what I’ve seen of Lasalle this year they’re big, slow and soft. Lasalle fans stop being so subjective and discontinue the underestimation(as I did)of Ridley’s toughness and skill because that’s exactly what they want.

  9. Buddy says:

    “footballfan”: He meant North Penn was #1 in the District ( actually, in the entire East). He was right. Also, half the State wide polls had Bishop Mcdevitt Harrisburg #1, the other half had North Penn #1 ( including the Pittsburg media). So Ridley did indeed beat the #1 team.

  10. footballfan says:

    north penn was the #2 team in the state clark bishop mcdevitt was the # 1 team. all you ridley fans yea they have a good defense and speed but guess what lasalle is quicker and they have a better defense. its going to be a long day ridley

  11. Buddy says:

    LaSalle:35 Ridley:9 . Only kidding. I have no idea. How’s Ridley’s pass defense? That’s what they’ll need against LaSalle. One of the best QB’s in the state. NP would have blitzed him. Probably what Ridley needs to do. Their receivers are good. QB is very mobile.

  12. duffers says:

    Garnet Valley 20 Ridley 14

  13. CLARK says:


  14. Football Frenzy says:

    Ridley 20 – LaSalle 7

  15. ridleyyyfannn says:

    Norm donkin = d1 prospect

  16. JOhn Wilson says:

    I know Ridley will do their Homework on this TEAM

    Ridley 24….
    Lasalle 14

    Ridleys Def will carry them into the sate championship,

    Noth Pen players also be pround of the wonderful season they had. Nothing to be ashamed about.

  17. mike says:

    I was at the NP/Ridley game. Ridley did look quick. However, there were a lot of questionable chop blocks that caused some injuries to some key players. Ralphie Reeves, starting LB and TE/key blocker was one of the keys to the loss, taken out by a chop block early in the game. If NP played at the same level of play with all of their stars, no way Ridley wins this game.

  18. LCHS says:

    GO LASALLE!!!!!

  19. Buddy says:

    If Ridley plays with the same intensity they had with NP, they’ll win, if not, could be a long day. Injuries are part of the game. But when they happen to key players on one team, you’re not playing the same team. Hard to tell who’s the best then.

  20. footballfan says:

    lasalle will win by 10

  21. scott deck says:

    Any Ridley-Lasalle predictions?

  22. Former Ridley Player says:

    Looking at the average scores between the 2 teams, NP scored 37 and gave up 9, Ridley scored 33 and gave up 8. Defense wins games and NP looked confused as they could not get there running game going and the receivers were blanketed all night. Much better scheme by Ridley. Injuries are a part of the game, it is unfortunate but it happens. NP was beaten plain and simple, so let’s be done with the past and let’s look at our next opponent which is a tough LaSalle team. GO GREEN!!

  23. scott berk says:

    North Penn is the best- Team of Decade in District 1- Largest school with 1800 boys- Monumental effort by Ridley and specifically their defense- Lots of scoring does not normally occur deep in play-offs- Defenses win! Best sporting event I have ever witnessed!

  24. Armand says:

    Norm Donkin played a instumental role in this game. He made a beautiful diving catch (which was called out of bounds)and started to give Ridley momentum. He then outleaped a NP defender to make a sensational touchdown catch and the initial lead. He then made a great well timed interception which basically sealed the game. Never saw this kid before. He looks like a Division 1 talent.

  25. big ridley says:

    the teams left are ridley lasalle cumberland valley and state college

  26. ridleyfan says:

    i played on the 2007 ridley district 1 championship team and this years ridley team did a great job on friday. these kids are doing a great job at living up to the tradition of the program. lasalle looks pretty good and i think that it’ll be a great game to watch. good luck to both teams this saturday



  28. Buddy says:

    I would compare NP schedule with anyone’s. Liberty, St. Joe’s Prep, Neshaminy ( in playoffs). If not for the injuries, different result. The 2 best teams in the state were upset (key word upset) this weekend ( Bishop Mcdevitt & NP). I say kudos to the teams that did that, but it was an anomaly. Let’s e-mail in 2 weeks and see what happens. If Ridley is state champ, then I must eat crow.

  29. Big Al says:

    Big Al in response to Buddy for being a district 1 fan you should be happy for them remember in the past 3A and 4A Strath Haven won the title and how can you forget CB West from District 1 not only played the so called big teams from the “west” but smoked them.Go Raiders once again no respect.

  30. John Wilsom says:


    Please do not be upset because NP did not win, They have not seen a TEAM as like Ridley with a stellar Defense and they way they hit. NP got beat fair and square and the better team did win. Maybe they need to play better team during their season. NP was a good team until they hit a brick wall,,,,I give them all the credit for getting where they did, They were out coached and out played …live up to it and deal with it.

    Who is left in the West to really give this Ridley Team the issues, and yes they still must get by Lasalle…the better team will win and meet forthe state title …….

  31. Buddy says:

    On occasion, there are football games played where the best team does not win. Such was the case with North Penn/ Ridley. NP had the best chance of any team from the East to win the state title. Even if Ridley gets by LaSalle, they will be crushed by the weastern champ. Ridley can prove us all wrong by winning it all, but anything less than that will just validate this past weekend was a fluke. District 1 fan.

  32. Ridley says:

    Fan you took the words right out of my mouth. I am a former Ridley football player and I must say, that was one of the best games I have ever seen in my life; for both teams. Andy you need to realize that these two teams, in my opinion, were the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. The reason why it wasn’t such an offensive game is because of the quality in the two defenses. On the offensive side, both teams are explosive and can rack up huge numbers. Last night showed that when two great, evenly matched teams play each other you can’t expect much more and that was a great game. Congradulations Ridley you deserve it!

  33. Ed S says:

    Andy…were you at this game??? Did you happen to see probably 2 of the top 5 defenses in the whole state??? Ridley’s Defense was Fast, quick and hit HARD…NP Def. played very well too but were out matched in this one. Ridley wanted it more and it was obvious on the field!!

  34. Fan says:

    Andy, I find it hard to believe that you saw “much” better teams throughout the year. If so, I would like to know who there were. These are 2 very good football teams. You say the offenses were below average but that has a lot to do with both of these teams having above average defenses.

  35. Joe Mchala says:

    I would like to put Norm Donkin’s name on one of my rocks.

  36. Andy says:

    Disappointed in the level of play. Thought that it would be much higher. QBs and offense in general were below average and very generic. Saw much better teams during the year.

  37. Dan Faust says:

    I was at the game, and what I saw was a team willing to hit harder than the other team. Ridley was vastly outnumbered and outsized but yet hit harder than NP did. NP lost a player in the 4th quarter to what appeared to be a concussion and blackout event. Number 5 for NP fell face down in the middle of the field and was escorted off after attention from the medical crew. He was their best player last night and when he came out, you could see the NP team had lost their will.

  38. John Wilson says:

    I’ve coached alot of football and this Ridley Teams defense is quick and hit very hard, they move well left and right, they do their homework on the def side of the ball. NP has not seen a defense that this Ridley Team put outh there against them. North Penn had not one answer to the stingy Ridley Offense.

Paul Dale