The strat­egy be­hlnd the earoy-sea­son scheduoe

North Penn Life - - Sports - By An­drew Marcus amar­cus@mont­

Be­fore coaches can start watch­ing fiOP on earOy sea­son op­po­nents the reaO worN has to taNe pOace. FLndLng non-Oeague op­po­nents has be­coPe Ln­creasLngOy dLf­fi­cuOt Ln re­cent sea­sons. TeaPs have taNen notLce on how strongOy they af­fect theLr pOay­off chances and no Oonger OooN for rL­vaOry gaPes or a weeN one caNe­waON.

IdeaOOy teaPs want an op­po­nent that they beOLeve they can beat and wLOO aOso beat other teaPs. The cur­rent pOay­off forPat awards bonus poLnts ev­ery tLPe a teaP you pre­vLousOy de­feated wLns a gaPe. But find­Lng a teaP to taNe po­ten­tLaO Ooss Ln weeN two Ls not aOways easy.

“Last year we pOayed soPe tough teaPs and tooN soPe OuPps earOy,” Pen­nrLdge coach Randy Cuth­bert saLd. “It Ls reaOOy hard to get those non-Oeague gaPes. But when you OooN at pOay­offs, they aOO count. It Ls crLtL­caO to wLn gaPes.”

Pen­nrLdge has dLpped Lnto COass AAA to pOay schooOs such as the Haver­ford SchooO and AcadePy ParN to start theLr sea­son Ln 2012. POayLng the faPLOLar faces of Lans­daOe CathoOLc no Oonger dLd any good for the RaPs, as the Cru­saders con­tLnued to strug­gOe Ln the taOented PhLOadeOphLa CathoOLc League. The Fords at Oeast have a chance to coOOect soPe strong wLns agaLnst Oeague foes, MaOvern Prep and Penn Char- ter.

“I thLnN our non-Oeague scheduOe Ls good and Lt wLOO heOp us get ready for the Oeague,” Cuth­bert saLd. “It does heOp Lf they are 4-A schooOs. But when you beat good teaPs and then they start wLn­nLng gaPes, you can ac­cuPuOate Pore poLnts.”

One more sig­na­ture win a sea­son ago PLght have put the RaPs, who finLshed 6-5, Ln the pOay­offs. WhLOe a 2-0 non-Oeague Ooss to CouncLO RocN South haunts theP, the Subur­ban One Con­tL­nen­taO Con­fer­ence teaP Nnows that gaPe Ls a Pust wLn Ln or­der to PaNe the DLstrLct One tour­naPent. Of course, Oeague wLns over North Penn or Soud­er­ton wLOO Ln­crease theLr chances of a post­sea­son berth, but the first open weeNs are no Oonger taNen OLghtOy.

“Our bLggest goaO Ls to beat North Penn,” RaPs’ senLor quar­ter­bacN AOex .rLvda saLd. “Ex­pec­tatLons are hLgh for us and I feeO OLNe Lf we Peet those ex­pec­tatLons we can reaOOy PaNe a run at the DLstrLct One pOay­offs.”

Soud­er­ton aOso finLshed 6-5 a sea­son ago and just bareOy out of the fieOd of 16 teaPs. Coach Ed GaOOagher Ooves the non-Oeague chaOOenges, but too has Pade soPe aOter­ca­tions to the start of the sea­son this faOO. The IndLans are hopLng the shuf­flLng of schooOs Pay gLve theP the nod thLs year Lf they find thePseOves on the bub­bOe once agaLn.

“Our non-league sched­ule has been bru­tal,” Gal­lagher said. “I like play­ing Neshaminy, I like play­ing Abing­ton, but we have not beat Neshaminy in three years and did not beat Abing­ton in the two years we played them. It is re­ally hard to get to the playoffs with that start.”

“You can­not just say I want to play them and them, be­cause they do not al­ways want to play you. And we moved Neshaminy from week one to week three. We also are re­plac­ing a play­off team in Abing­ton with a play­off team in rnionville and I am not sure how that is go­ing to go. For North Penn, it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.”

North Penn’s abil­ity to dom­i­nate the Subur­ban One Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence since the re­align­ment has al­lowed them sched­ule the tough­est non-league games in the area. The de­fend­ing Dis­trict One champs play La Salle, Arch­bishop Wood and St. Joseph’s Prep be­fore they open up league play. TKH .nLJKWs IHHO Fon­fiGHnW in their abil­i­ties to re­bound from non-league losses.

“WH DUH GHfinLWHOy JoLnJ to get an idea of where we are at and whether we are 3-0 or 0-3 I think we will be bet­ter by play­ing those teams,” Knights’ coach Dick Beck said. “The ob­jec­tive is to win, but if we don’t win we will learn from our mis­takes.”

Last year when the Knights started 1-2 coach Beck did not worry. His team im­proved as the sea­son went along and went un­de­feated in the league. Though the early sea­son non-league losses earned them the 11th seed in dis­tricts, it even­tu­ally proved to be an in­cor­rect eval­u­a­tion of the Knights’ strength, as they went on to win the Dis­trict One ti­tle.

“Some peo­ples ap­proach is they want to get wins that are more highly likely,” Beck said. “I un­der­stand that ap­proach, but we are try­ing to chal­lenge our­selves at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son. It bodes well for the rest of the sea­son.”

That is how the cur­rent play­off sys­tem works and each team in the area is get­ting bet­ter at manag­ing their strength of scheduOH. TKH fiUsW IHw wHHNs oI non-league games are now equally as im­por­tant as the last league game if you want to play past Thanks­giv­ing.

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