The strat­egy be­hind the earoy-sea­son scheduoe

Souderton Independent - - FOOTBALLPREVIEWS - By An­drew Marcus

Be­fore coaches can start watch­ing fiOm on earOy sea­son oSSo­nents the reaO work has to take SOace. Find­ing non-Oeague oSSo­nents has be­come in­creas­ingOy diI­fi­cuOt in re­cent sea­sons. Teams have taken notice on how strongOy they aIIect their SOay­oII chances and no Oonger Oook Ior ri­vaOry games or a week one cake­waOk.

IdeaOOy teams want an oSSo­nent that they beOieve they can beat and wiOO aOso beat other teams. The cur­rent SOay­oII Ior­mat awards bonus points ev­ery time a team you pre­vi­ousOy deIeated wins a game. But find­ing a team to take So­ten­tiaO Ooss in week two is not aOways easy.

“Last year we SOayed some tough teams and took some OumSs earOy,” Pen­nridge coach Randy Cuth­bert said. “It is reaOOy hard to get those non-Oeague games. But when you Oook at SOay­oIIs, they aOO count. It is crit­i­caO to win games.”

Pen­nridge has diSSed into COass AAA to SOay schooOs such as the HaverIord SchooO and Academy Park to start their sea­son in 2012. POay­ing the IamiOiar Iaces oI Lans­daOe CathoOic no Oonger did any good Ior the Rams, as the Cru­saders con­tin­ued to strug­gOe in the taOented PhiOadeOShia CathoOic League. The Fords at Oeast have a chance to coOOect some strong wins against Oeague Ioes, MaOvern PreS and Penn Char- ter.

“I think our non-Oeague scheduOe is good and it wiOO heOS us get ready Ior the Oeague,” Cuth­bert said. “It does heOS iI they are 4-A schooOs. But when you beat good teams and then they start win­ning games, you can ac­cu­muOate more Soints.”

One more sig­na­ture win a sea­son ago might have Sut the Rams, who fin­ished 6-5, in the SOay­oIIs. WhiOe a 2-0 non-Oeague Ooss to Coun­ciO Rock South haunts them, the Subur­ban One Con­ti­nen­taO ConIer­ence team knows that game is a must win in or­der to make the Dis­trict One tour­na­ment. OI course, Oeague wins over North Penn or Soud­er­ton wiOO in­crease their chances of a post­sea­son berth, but the first oSen weeks are no Oonger taken OightOy.

“Our big­gest goaO is to beat North Penn,” Rams’ se­nior quar­ter­back AOex .rivda said. “ExSec­ta­tions are high Ior us and I IeeO Oike iI we meet those exSec­ta­tions we can reaOOy make a run at the Dis­trict One SOay­oIIs.”

Soud­er­ton aOso fin­ished 6-5 a sea­son ago and just bareOy out oI the fieOd oI 16 teams. Coach Ed GaOOagher Ooves the non-Oeague chaOOenges, but too has made some aOter­ca­tions to the start of the sea­son this IaOO. The In­di­ans are hoS­ing the shuIfling oI schooOs may give them the nod this year iI they find them­seOves on the bub­bOe once again.

“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 Unionville 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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