to the Big Game
The Road to Hershey
2001 finals photos
Game by Game Stats
Coach Schmidt Story
Toward the end of the 2001 season and during the
playoffs, I began searching the Internet for
various articles on the Redskins and emailing
them to myself. I wasn't sure why I needed them
but I kept them all. Now, these 6 years later
they are like a treasure of great memories from
that awesome 2001 season. This is probably the
biggest collection of articles from the 2001
playoffs that you will find anywhere. Enjoy
reliving the moments.
The following is a list of the predictions
listed in the articles:
Downingtown - 21
Neshaminy - 17
Neshaminy - 31
Conestoga - 21
Cumberland Valley - 24
Neshaminy - 21
Woodland Hills - 28
Neshaminy - 14
Neshaminy - 28
Woodland Hills - 27
(2) winning predictions were by the Courier's
There are too many articles for one page so the
articles section is broken down into 4 separate
NeshaminyFootball.com would like to thank the following
Newspapers for the use of these articles:
Bucks County Courier Times
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Woodland Hills Progress Star
Bucks County Intelligencer
Sentinel (Carlisle, PA)
|Neshaminy quarterback Jason Waiter calls the signals during the Class AAAA state title football game Saturday in Hershey.
(Photo: Bill Johnson/Courier Times)
worked - and
into the mud
men - the
High - had
Schmidt in a
"All I have
for you is
again, in a
and worked -
into a world
of a 7-6
who ran for
the tears of
bunch of fun
win. "I'm so
my dad who's
one with a
and held it
It was a
paws of the
who was 9
for 11 for
15 weeks and
we won every
There is no
been a long
for an area
in one hand,
and held his
Erica in the
other arm -
coach in a
It is his
team - the
1-10 in his
team he has
led to the
for one a
me a 'Hell,
are, too. We
hark back 50
glory of the
the words of
you played a
youth, of 15
of hope and
which led to
cheer you to
praise you -
to love you.
and yet, so
none of them
The game was
he paced the
for a smile
and a few
rest of the
to run and
ball off to
one of the
our guy," he
one who got
was the most
he was the
he was the
one who got
And so he
in the 21-7
was as much
last duty as
a Redskin as
it was a
best back in
rain and the
that in the
you want it.
best back in
by masses of
at 14-0, but
victory - an
none of them
30 times for
"I just knew
and I had to
danced as he
often does -
he flexed as
down in a
after a huge
the left end
and let fly
the pass for
32 yards and
down. It was
play for the
to you how
"There are a
One final tribute to the Redskins
The Neshaminy Redskins won
the AAAA football state title a month ago. Last
night, several hundred people celebrated the
triumph once again.
BRISTOL TOWNSHIP - The glow has yet to fade.
glory is still growing.
the Neshaminy Redskins and their magical
football season, and it's still their time - a
time to remember.
night, the Redskins became a team once again,
everyone together one last moment for
Neshaminy's 61st annual football banquet at
King's Caterers, an event sponsored by the
Langhorne Lions Club.
last night's gathering had a deeper meaning than
the previous ones. This was one final tribute to
the ultimate - the PIAA state AAAA title, which
the Redskins won last month.
crowd of 300 people, friends and family mostly,
celebrated the season last night. There were
hugs and kisses, video tributes and awards.
gold rings, too.
Superintendent Gary Bowman said local businesses
have donated $12,500 to buy each player a
personalized championship ring.
Meanwhile, Bowman couldn't stop praising the
team and coaches.
"Thank you, young men," Bowman said.
PIAA trophy - the giant gold football - sat in
the middle of the room as a reminder to the
Coach Mark Schmidt, a loquacious man whose words
motivate, took to the microphone.
"Nobody this side of Pittsburgh is having a
banquet," Schmidt said. "That's pretty stinking
has passed and thoughts have settled since the
Redskins won the state title on Dec. 8, beating
Woodland Hills, 21-7. Neshaminy became the first
team in area history to win the AAAA title,
going undefeated (15-0) this season.
"Finally, everything has sunk in," said senior
quarterback Jay Wiater. "It already seems like
it happened a long time ago, but it will live
with us forever."
Senior fullback Jay Collins can relate, saying
the accomplishment seems bigger now than it did
when it happened. He's been approached by
children in stores, asking for his autograph.
"It's pretty cool going places or going into
stores and people know who you are, and they
know your name. They want to congratulate you,"
Collins said. "It just make me feel proud."
matter how much time passes, senior lineman
Steve Brett said the magnitude of the team's
achievement is still beyond comprehension.
he also said celebrations, such as last night's,
are always welcome.
"It's never going to get old," Brett said. "I
don't think we've realized what we've done. I
never thought I'd be put in that situation."
night was full of awards.
Here is the list of winners:
Achievement Award: Jamar Brittingham and Kevin
Most Improved Player (offense): Ryan Contento
Most Improved Player (defense): Miguel Lebron
Unsung Hero (offense): Scott Mullin
Unsung Hero (defense): Ryan van der Brand
Mr. Defensive Line: Chuck Koch
Mr. Offensive Line: Steve Brett.
Iron Man: Geoff Donahue
Mr. Back: Keith Ennis
Dick Bedesem Award: Austin Jones
Coaches Award: Neck Feszko
MVP Defense: Pat Carroll
MVP Offense: Jay Wiater
3-D Award: Jay Collins
N-Club Award: Kevin Kelly.
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
set for big football 'rumble'
Students, teachers, players
pack gymnasium for pep rally. 'This game is
personal,' shouts the football coach on eve of
state championship game.
Neshaminy High School football players are ready
for a rumble.
pep-rally yesterday in Gym 3 on the school's
south campus, more than 2,500 excited students
and teachers packed bleachers and then roared
when Neshaminy Football Coach Mark Schmidt
issued the rallying cry.
hear everybody saying Woodland Hills is going to
kick our butts," Schmidt said, his hoarse voice
barely making it over the screaming students,
cheerleaders and the school's drumming band.
"That's what they said about six other teams we
played this year," he shouted, boasting his
football team's 14-0 record.
"This team has got what it takes, which is
heart. This game is personal and we're going to
Schmidt and the rest of Neshaminy High School
are getting ready for Saturday's PIAA state
championship football game between the Neshaminy
Redskins and the Woodland Hills Woolverines, who
are also 14-0 for the season. The two teams will
meet in Hershey with a kick off set for 5 p.m.
Cheerleaders in blue and white skirt-dresses
stood in the middle of the gym, kicking and
jump-starting the school's fighting spirit while
the high school band play "Go Skins" fight songs
to set the mood.
Erik Pederson, Jamar Brittingham, and
Keith Ennis joke around during a pep
rally at Neshaminy High School before
their state championship game.
Neshaminy Jim, an alumnus and the school's
booster, ran around the gymnasium, flapping his
arms to roar of the crowd before doing a belly
flop and spin on the gym floor.
are - Neshaminy! We are - Neshaminy!" students
and teachers yelled as Neshaminy Jim led the
cheer. Football players took turns speaking.
"We're going to take Pittsburgh and turn it
upside down," said linebacker Jay Collins, who
stood in the middle of the gym wearing the
team's Red and white football jersey. Collins is
the son of Neshaminy Principal Mark Collins. The
Woolverines are from Pittsburgh.
"Without these guys on this football team and
you the students, we wouldn't be here," Jay said
as the crowd roared.
Heayn cheers for the Redskins
Neshaminy is the first Lower Bucks football team
to go to the state PIAA championship. Principal
Collins said Neshaminy alumni from as far back
as the class of 1971 sent faxes and letters
saying they're going to the game.
Everywhere around the school, the fight theme
was the same.
Prior to the rally, the school's band practiced
songs, playing hits such as "Maria," "Tonight,
Tonight, and "Somewhere" from the musical "West
Side Story." The music sparked memories of the
famous battle scene in the musical between rival
street-gangs the "Sharks" and the "Jets."
Everyone said they're going to the game.
"It's going to be a battle, a rumble," said 10th
grader Adam Volcskai, 17.
friend, Duane Contendo, agreed.
"It's going to be a tough game, but I think we
transform players into champions
The state title wasn't won
on sheer talent alone, and it wasn't won solely
at the behest of head coach Mark Schmidt,
LANGHORNE - They went undefeated, and people
took notice. A lot of them, the players, were
regulars in the newspaper, radio or television.
They were, and are, minor celebrities.
yet the Neshaminy Redskins, to a man, would tell
you they didn't do it on their own. The state
title wasn't won on sheer talent alone, and it
wasn't won solely at the behest of head coach
Mark Schmidt, either.
all had help. No question about that.
"You're the Coach of the Year when two things
happen," said Schmidt, the Courier Times' choice
for that honor. "First, your players have to be
outstanding. Second, you have to have a good
staff. This was the best staff I've ever had.
They did a lot with these kids, and it was more
than just football. I'm talking quality stuff.
They're a really good group."
There was John Chaump, who worked with the
defense, and Reed Nichols who molded the
linebackers. There was Steve Wilmot and Ray
Jones forging the offensive line and Don Wiater
countering them on the defensive line.
position coaches did a great job," said senior
running back Jamar Brittingham.
"They're really smart guys who showed us a lot.
And they're lots of fun, too."
There was John Tezik pushing the wideouts and
Ryan O'Neal guiding the running backs and Jay
Weidenbaugh kicking the defensive backs. Joe
Foster pitched in as an administrative
assistant, and helped as the
game day coordinator.
all had a role, each as important as the next,
and none overlooked by the Redskins.
"They taught us the fundamentals, and then coach
Schmidt polished them," said senior linebacker
owe them a lot."
Thursday, December 13, 2001
true for Redskins
The Neshaminy seniors said
they knew two years ago that the team would be
good this season. Little did they know how good.
LANGHORNE - It was a long road, somewhere in the
neighborhood of 20 weeks. From summer
conditioning to the preseason to league games to
state champions. You can't forget that - PIAA
Class AAAA state champions.
has a pleasant ring to it, and the Neshaminy
Redskins don't mind hearing it. A lot went into
securing that title, and so they are entitled to
enjoy the fruits of their labor.
was a long season," said wideout Keith Ennis,
"but it went quick. It's crazy that it's over."
Crazy, but not unexpected.
don't go thinking that the Redskins (15-0)
bragged pre-fact about winning it all. They
would never be so crass, and they surely
wouldn't tempt fate with that kind of abandon.
they did entertain the idea. And they did
may have heard that quarterback Jay Wiater and
running back Jamar Brittingham and some of the
other seniors got together and talked about what
they wanted from this season before it began.
That was true. You may also have heard that they
set their goals high, that they wanted to win
all 10 regular-season games and that they
believed mightily in their chances to go
undefeated. Also true.
you probably don't know, though, is that the
planning, or at least the dreaming, to this
state championship business goes back farther
than a few weeks. Or even a few months.
truth, for the seniors, it dates back two years,
to when they were sophomores.
Mostly, they were a raggedy group back then.
Talented, naturally, but also unpolished and
that any of that stopped them from looking to
yeah, we talked about it a lot," said senior
defensive and offensive lineman Steve Brett, a
hulk of a teen who was instrumental this year's
success. "We knew back then that we were going
to be good when our senior year came around."
Perhaps he was blowing it out of proportion and
they simply touched on the topic. Or perhaps he
spoke the truth and he and his mates were a
horde of visionaries given to prescient
knows? The records on that forecast are spotty
Either way, and more importantly, they achieved
their goal and now all that's left is for them
to delight in its grandeur.
many of them, there were supreme sacrifices made
- weekends, summers, holidays, all spent on the
field or in the gym without question or grumble.
They'll tell you it was all worth it, the blood
and the sweat, because it got them where they
wanted to go.
"They did everything we asked," head coach Mark
Schmidt said time and again this season. "I know
there are a lot of teams that work hard, and
some of them probably work just as hard as we
do, but no one works harder."
has been said that the victors pen the history
books, so that could be true. For now, and for
the foreseeable future, they are content in
knowing that they gave an incredible
performance. Unbeaten. Untouched.
where lesser athletes must fabricate their fish
stories, the Redskins will never have to be so
dishonest. They actually caught the big one, and
gutted it, and they will be sustained on it for
a long time.
never going to forget this," said Brittingham.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
Brittingham lives up to coach's billing
Sunday, December 9, 2001
HERSHEY - Neshaminy coach Mark Schmidt wanted to
make it perfectly clear what he thinks of star
running back Jamar Brittingham.
"Jamar is the best running back in the state,"
Schmidt said. "Write it down. Put it in the
headlines. Do whatever you want with it."
Woodland Hills might have a hard time
disagreeing with that endorsement after
Brittingham rushed for 157 yards and two
touchdowns in undefeated Neshaminy's 21-7
victory over the Wolverines (14-1) in the PIAA
Class AAAA championship game Saturday night at
"He's a great running back," Woodland Hills
coach George Novak said. "I thought we did a
good job containing him, to be honest. He broke
a couple, but I thought we did a nice job on
Those couple of plays made the difference in a
game that wasn't decided until Brittingham
(6-foot-1, 194 pounds) busted a 55-yard
touchdown run off of right tackle with 5:54 to
play to give the Redskins a two-touchdown lead.
play was called lead, and it was wide open,"
Brittingham said. "I knew after that, all we
needed was a stop on defense and the game was
Brittingham's career is far from over. The
senior said he is being recruited by West
Virginia, Boston College, James Madison,
Maryland and Connecticut. Saturday's performance
only should bolster his demand with college
should help," said Brittingham, who helped turn
a 6-4 team that didn't make the playoffs in 2000
into a state champion. "Maybe I'll get some more
hype entering this game surrounded the
Wolverines with their top ranking in the state
and No. 7 spot in the USA Today.
"There was all the talk about Woodland Hills,
and we came to the state championship and showed
who was better (Saturday)," Brittingham said.
Wolverines also had senior quarterback Steve
Breaston, the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of
motivated us," Brittingham said. "We played
against great quarterbacks in our league, but
not like him."
Neshaminy's defense limited Breaston, who
twisted his ankle in the first half and did not
play most of the fourth quarter, to 76 yards
rushing and 50 yards passing.
Meanwhile, Brittingham accounted for 214 total
yards. He also caught four passes for 96 yards
and completed a halfback pass for 31 yards.
"He's been a gamer all year long," Schmidt said.
"He's the whole package."
Brittingham ends this season with 2,565 yards
rushing and 30 touchdowns. And most of those
yards came after eluding at least one tackler.
always makes the first kid miss and maybe the
next two or three," senior fullback Jay Collins
said. "He's phenomenal."
Brittingham nearly scored a touchdown on
Neshaminy's second play from scrimmage. He took
a handoff off of left tackle and broke through
the Woodland Hills defense. Mark Nesby saved a
touchdown when he clipped Brittingham's feet for
a 31-yard gain.
drive ended in missed field goal, but
Brittingham would make sure the Redskins would
score in the third quarter. The lefty completed
a 32-yard pass to Keith Ennis with 7:29 in third
quarter to make him 5 for 6 passing in his
threw the ball and let him go up and get it,"
said Brittingham, who started at receiver as a
Later in the drive, Brittingham caught a
swing-pass, side-stepped a defender and gained
13 yards on a third-and-7 from the 17.
Brittingham finished the drive with a 4-yard
touchdown run to push the Redskins' lead to
"He's a player," Collins said. "I'll enjoy
watching him in college and in the pros."
Matt Townsend can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (412) 320-7937.
Center of attention
What's it like to be one of
the greatest running backs in area history
before the biggest football game of your life?
Hang out with Jamar Brittingham as he walks the
hallways of Neshaminy High School.
Jamar Brittingham walks hallways with
teammates Jay Collins and Keith Ennis.
(Photo: Art Gentile/Courier
LANGHORNE - Jamar Brittingham is
alone. Not common happenstance in the hallways
of Neshaminy High School, something that'll
usually last for 2.4 seconds. If that.
"Where'd you get those shoes?" a passing
assistant football coach asks, pointing to
Brittingham's shiny, nearly glowing, red
"Down in Philly last night," Brittingham says.
"They look nice and crazy."
Brittingham moves down the narrow hallway, past
the principal's office, with the easy gait of a
cattle wrangler. He stops; leans against a
locker, just the precise spot, a busy enough
thoroughfare for Brittingham. "I'll be chilling
right here. This is A-hall," he says. "This is
where everything's at, all the ruckus."
Soon, the throng will arrive - Brittingham's
throng. The once-tranquil hallway has quickly
turned boisterous and packed with baggy jeans
and hip-huggers, hair gel and retro-afros and
J.B.!" a voice booms. Jamar waves, smiles, then
accepts a spate of handshakes. "Some people call
me J.B. But most people just call me Jamar," he
by one, a crowd of baggy jeans forms around
Brittingham, more like builds around him, like
side dishes augmenting an entre. This is his
epoch before the finale of the Jamar Brittingham
Era. One game remains in a magical career
(including an area-record 2,418 rushing yards
this season), in the most magical season (14-0),
and a lone win from the glory - the PIAA Class
AAAA championship Saturday at Hershey.
these are Brittingham's people.
"Who's the deadliest rapper in Neshaminy?" says
one baggy-jean newcomer.
Brittingham giggles. He's encircled by a
half-dozen or so baggy pants and, yes, a couple
"What's the dilly-yo?" one asks Brittingham.
was gym without me?" a girl asks.
Jamar," another baggy jeans asks, slipping a
"Hey, Jamar," another intervenes, "I heard
you're 21. Make sure you tell the Courier Times
outta here," Brittingham says, laughing.
#2 Jamar Brittingham tries to get away
from Conestoga's #26 Terrance Smith.
(Photo: Joe Dixon/Courier
Brittingham remains still, as
the action moves around him. He keeps propped
against the lockers, in his black untucked shirt
and baggy blue jeans (of course) setting the
mood for his crazy sneakers.
comes wide receiver Keith Ennis, Brittingham's
best friend. The only thing faster than Ennis'
feet is his mouth. Ennis loves to talk.
Brittingham loves to listen to Ennis talk.
Ennis works the hallways with a politician's
verve. He could run for office. No, just give
him an office. He smiles at everyone. Gabs with
everyone. Hugs girls. One even plants a smooch
on his cheek.
Jamar refrains from staring, but you know he's
observing the whirlwind which is Ennis. But then
the impossible happens: Something freezes the
ubiquitous Ennis. A girl hugs Brittingham and
struts right past Ennis.
can get a hug, but I can't," Ennis says.
girl sidles up to Brittingham, hugging him.
Brittingham, you see, is the quiet one, amid
this beloved ruckus, the commotion of baggy
pants jostling and joking. You could even say
he's shy, preferring Ennis to entertain.
"He's not like me, not outgoing," Ennis says.
"I'm only here because I gotta keep people off
Brittingham is the crowd, the centerpiece, just
as he is on the field, as when Brittingham
moves, everything moves (or chases) around him.
been here long enough. Time to hit the
cafeteria. He eases off the lockers, adjust the
bagginess in his baggy jeans.
roll out," Brittingham says.
they all roll out, with Brittingham in the
middle, in his crazy red sneakers as they drift
into the lunchroom.
Thursday, December 6, 2001
defense a well-kept secret
Much of the Redskins'
success this season has been credited to the
offense. Don't forget about the defense, which
has held seven of its opponents to two
touchdowns or less.
LANGHORNE - Think
Neshaminy. Think offense. Think the
explosiveness of running back Jamar Brittingham,
the power of fullback Jay Collins, the arm of
quarterback Jay Wiater and the speed of wide
receiver Keith Ennis.
Lovely stuff. Weaponry at its finest. The core
of the undefeated team, right?
There, in the shadows of a wondrous offense,
belies a heart and pulse so strong, an
the defense, much of it under wraps, as
opponents and media and fans have fixated upon
the flash of the offense.
defense is surely hoping for the same on
Saturday: to surprise Cumberland Valley (13-0),
the team separating Neshaminy (13-0) from the
PIAA Class AAAA title game.
the season, the defense has adored the
has exploited it, too.
opposing teams think our offense is the better
part of us," said defensive tackle Miguel Lebron.
"When they do that, we take advantage of them.
They're not ready for our tough D."
Lebron. He nailed it.
words, like a mission statement from a defensive
guru, tells the sentiments of all those in
Neshaminy's defensive trenches.
linebacker Jeff Donahue (left) is tied
for the team lead with five sacks.
(Photo: Joe Dixon/Courier
Linebacker Austin Jones sure
would say so.
get overlooked," Jones said. "But that's our
strength. Our opponents underestimate us and we
bite them in a sense."
marks abound - as sacks and hurries and
turnovers have been key, and often timely, a big
reason why the Redskins are undefeated, coach
Mark Schmidt will tell you.
offense has had two or three stellar games,"
Schmidt said, "but every game there's been
somebody who has made a huge defensive play,
maybe an interception or sack or fumble
in point: Friday's playoff game when the
Redskins beat Conestoga, 28-12 - an archetype
performance from Neshaminy's defense as it
snagged three turnovers, with safety Devon
Swope's interception putting "the game on ice,"
as Schmidt called it.
far this season, a bevy of defensive players
have contributed, Schmidt said. Swope has five
interceptions. Defensive End Chuck Koch has
recovered two fumbles and forced another and is
tied with linebacker Geoff Donahue for the team
lead in sacks with five.
all know each other's assignments," Donohue
also been an assignment of simplicity each week:
Keep the opponent to 21 points or less - and let
the offense do its thing.
have a very conservative game plan - hold the
opponent to 21 points," said defensive coach
John Chaump. "It's been a little bit of a joke,
but that's the way it's been."
Simple as it might seem, it's worked. In
Neshaminy's 13 games, only two teams, Father
Judge and Pennridge, have scored more than 21
defense has kept seven of its opponents to two
touchdowns or less, and has not allowed a team
exceed the three-touchdown limit since Week 3.
It has surrendered an average of just 15.8
points per game.
the beginning of the season, we were doing a lot
of jabbering," said Swope. "But we've come
together really nicely."
Schmidt would agree: Cohesiveness, he preaches.
Another key would be health.
season the Redskins lost linebacker Pat Carroll
and defensive end Ryan van den Brand for most of
season, both are healthy, with Carroll leading
the team in tackles with 97 and van den Brand
chipping in four sacks.
get twice as excited when I see a turnover than
when I see a touchdown," van den Brand said. "A
turnover is like gold."
all of the Redskins will be hoping to see lots
of gold on Saturday against Cumberland Valley,
an offensive juggernaut that is averaging 34
points a game.
don't want to give up an easy TD," said Chaump.
"We have to let the offense score their four
touchdowns and let Jamar do his thing, and we'll
do our thing."
Wednesday, November 28, 2001
rally for team, just a rally cry
One win away from a state
title match-up, Neshaminy High is keeping a lid
on the hoopla - for now.
CIAVAGLIA and ANTHONY STITT
Although Neshaminy school officials want their
undefeated football team to beat the stuffing
out of its next opponent, they've decided to
keep the hoopla in the hopper - and wait until
next week, if there is a next week.
Neshaminy High School officials have yet to
regale their undefeated football team - no pep
rally, no bonfire, no wild sendoff.
Redskins - who've won more games than any other
Lower Bucks football team ever, going 13-0 - are
one win away from a state title match-up.
They'll leave for Hershey today for the state
semifinals without any school-sponsored fanfare.
Players say no.
doesn't bother us," quarterback Jay Wiater said.
"I wouldn't even notice it if we didn't have [a
pep rally]. We're just trying to keep our heads
in the game and prepare. That's all we're
School officials said they'd rather not disrupt
classes to throw a rah-rah party, even if it's
for one of the biggest high school football
games in Lower Bucks history.
prime reason students are here is to learn, and
you can't take away from that," athletics
director Sheila Murphy said.
school will plan for a party next week - if the
Redskins beat undefeated Cumberland Valley
tomorrow at Hersheypark Stadium.
want to keep to the program at this point and
look forward to a win this week," Neshaminy
spokeswoman Sandra Costanzo said.
have to understand the important game is the
state final," Murphy said. "Before, when this
has happened [in other sports], we've always
planned something before or after the state
been a magical season.
During the PIAA Class AAAA regular season, the
Redskins knocked off titans such as CB West,
North Penn and Pennridge and have marched
through the first three rounds of the state
playoffs. No local team has gone this far into
the AAAA postseason.
Anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 fans have packed
Harry E. Franks Stadium, their home turf, for
the Redskins' previous three playoff games. For
last week's District One title game against
Conestoga, 1,600 tickets were sold in advance.
grand sendoff is planned for next week if the
Redskins win tomorrow. The state title game is
slated for Dec. 8.
the team's N Club - a boosters group that
orchestrates fund-raisers to team dinners -
doesn't object to the school keeping this week's
hoopla low key.
don't think the players are worrying about who's
throwing a party," said Erik Pedersen, vice
president of the club and father of team players
Erik and Anthony. "They're more concerned about
becoming No. 1 in the state."
Friday, November 30, 2001
prize catch for Neshaminy
Senior wide receiver Keith
Ennis has emerged as a not-so-secret weapon for
the Redskins with an area-high 45 receptions for
632 yards and five touchdowns.
LANGHORNE - Keith
Ennis is not exactly a big guy. Kind of small,
actually, in football terms, only 5-8, 170
he's fast, quite slippery, with darting feet. He
enjoys the slashing routes. But he really loves
to burn the secondary for the deep ball.
know I can beat most of the people out there,"
Ennis said, curling a grin.
Ennis is stealth, with just the right amount of
speed and size (or lack thereof).
senior wide receiver has become the centerpiece
of the Neshaminy passing game, ranking first in
the area in catches (45) and second in receiving
yards (682). He also has scored five touchdowns.
usually worked this way:
receiver Keith Ennis (right) has become
a great offensive weapon in Neshaminy's
(Photo: Joe Dixon/Courier
When defenses start ganging up
on star running back Jamar Brittingham, it's
time for the stealth attack. The Redskins hit
Ennis with a pass, letting opponents know they
have another weapon.
an approach that surely will be part of
Neshaminy's game plan on Saturday when it plays
Cumberland Valley (13-0) in the PIAA Class AAAA
semifinals at Hershey.
Ennis is hopeful Cumberland Valley neglects the
passing game maybe a little too much.
he can strike.
think other teams underestimate our passing
game," Ennis said. "We know we can't run Jamar
every play. So, when I get a chance, I know I
have to get open."
Ennis also is a good listener. Quarterback Jay
Wiater, who has a knack of foretelling a gang-up
on Brittingham, will call the occasional audible
and pass to Ennis.
"Jay's probably the smartest guy in the way of
football on our team," Ennis said. "We look to
outsmart [our opponents] a little bit, and show
them something they haven't seen."
all part of coach Mark Schmidt's plan.
"When Jamar is doing his thing, it's good to
have a plan B," Schmidt said. "When they start
packing them in against Jamar, we hit them with
Ennis is a big part of the other stuff, Wiater
the second round of the playoffs, Ennis nabbed
three passes for 108 yards and a touchdown to
help beat Downingtown, 37-20. In Neshaminy's
latest playoff battle Friday, Ennis grabbed a
39-yard scoring pass in a 28-12 win over
"He's my go-to guy," Wiater said. "He's got
great speed and can beat the corners. He has
great hands, too. If I see a mismatch, we can
call an audible and I can look for him."
"[Wiater and Ennis] are good together - in sync
together, and very comfortable," Schmidt said.
"People are becoming more and more aware of
them. They're both good football players."
not Ennis as the lone ball-catcher.
a diverse attack.
a variety of threats include wideouts Mike
Loveland, Mark Beck and Justin Edwards.
Running back Geoff Donahue, who has six
touchdowns, also will rumble out of the
backfield for a pass, and tight ends Chuck Koch
and Scott Mullin have been frequent options.
receivers were overlooked by a lot of teams,"
Added Schmidt: "We certainly have the weapons."
Thursday, November 29, 2001
Word to the
wise: Never count out Neshaminy
If you forget everything
you know about Neshaminy football from this
point forward, be sure to retain this: Nothing
is ever easy. Nothing.
HERSHEY - If you forget
everything you know about Neshaminy football
from this point forward, be sure to retain this:
Nothing is ever easy. Nothing.
so it followed that yesterday's Class AAAA state
playoff semifinal in Hershey had to be another
in a long line of arduous litmus tests for the
Redskins. The kind where the results don't come
in until the last possible moment - and even
when they do, no one is quite sure whom they'll
clock ticked under two minutes in the fourth
quarter in a game that, for two-plus hours, had
swayed like a sickly tree in a violent wind.
Neshaminy clung to a shaky six-point lead as
Cumberland Valley began to cross midfield.
Facing a third-and-3, the Eagles did something
they tried to avoid all season. They passed.
an obstreperous Redskins crowd filling the
afternoon air with a confident din, Eagles
quarterback Corey Biscof dropped back and threw
across the middle. Everything seemed to stand
still as the ball floated into the hands of
tight end Adam Cook for what should have been a
Then, just when it looked as if all was lost for
Neshaminy for the umpteenth time that day, the
Redskins were redeemed. Saved by their safety,
stripped the ball, you see. Forced it from the
hands of Cook and onto the mint-green grass,
where it was fortuitously secured by cornerback
that was it. End of game.
Neshaminy 25, Cumberland Valley 19.
and Keith Ennis hug Jamar Brittingham
after he scored a touchdown in
yesterday's state semifinal game.
(Photo: Art Gentile/Courier
was thinking about going for the interception,"
said Swope, who has made so many big plays for
Neshaminy in these playoffs that there's not
enough space in this column to revisit them all.
"I didn't go for it because I didn't want a pass
interference call. But my hand was on the ball
side, so I tried for the strip."
has been that type of year for Neshaminy. The
'Skins have been in some tight games against
quality opponents - backed into situations where
wins were all but an impossibility and the only
recourse appeared to be tears and Kleenex.
Yesterday was no different.
the half, the Redskins trailed by two scores.
Neshaminy was a disheveled lot, disturbed by
Cumberland Valley's running game and the ease
with which the Eagles moved down the field.
brunt of the damage in the opening half was
caused by fullback Regis Perry - a large lad
who, at 5-10, 250 pounds, had little trouble
bowling over the 'Skins defenders. Perry
finished the game with 48 yards rushing, and, at
least initially, that figured to be enough.
the Redskins retreated to their locker room at
the midway point with nearly everyone thinking
they were about to witness the death knell. No
undefeated season. No state finals berth.
didn't think that," countered head coach Mark
Schmidt. "I wasn't worried at all."
Either he was lying or he's as composed and
insightful as they come. Whichever, and more
importantly, he and the staff and the players
snapped to it. They woke up, as they had
countless times before, to drag themselves back
into a game that Cumberland Valley clearly
lot of that, of course, had to do with
Brittingham, who was once again the best player
on the field. In addition to recovering that
final, fateful fumble, the senior also carried
the ball 27 times for 155 yards and two
touchdowns. Oh, and that includes the winning
total it was an improbable, crazy,
heart-stopping victory. Though, in retrospect -
considering all they've accomplished this season
against long odds - the final score and the
means to that end really shouldn't come as a
Regardless, they are now where they wanted to be
all along. Not that they discussed the
possibility. Well, that is they didn't talk
about it aloud or in the presence of company.
But make no mistake, this is what they were
driving toward from the onset - this chance for
a state championship.
future," Schmidt said throatily while addressing
his players in the postgame gathering, "is just
seven days away."
right. The future, their future, is nearly at
hand. That is the emboldening part.
this is the disquieting, ironic part: Despite
all their travails, the most taxing stretch is
yet to come.
Gonzalez covers high school sports for the
Sunday, December 2, 2001
Brittingham 2001 Player of the Year
Neshaminy's talented senior
Jamar Brittingham, the football player of the
year in 2000 and 2001, became the first area
running back to rush for more than 2,000 yards
in a single season.
It was a run
off tackle to the short side of the field. An
average gain for him - about 13 yards - and nice
enough, but not overly spectacular. Not for
Jamar Brittingham, anyway.
wasn't a typical rush for Neshaminy's star back.
Wasn't one of those carries where he stops, then
starts, then takes off through a haze of
defenders for a length-of-the-field jaunt and a
touchdown. Wasn't one of those plays where he
jukes a few defenders, then simply crashes over
a few more unsuspecting, and unfortunate, souls
for that extra yard.
it was more or less a solid gain against
Downingtown in the playoffs that didn't really
garner a shrug or an extra thought one way or
the other. In fact, most of the people in the
stands that evening didn't know what had
happened. For another quarter or so, they
remained blissfully ignorant.
then, as the game wound down, Neshaminy's PA
announcer demanded focus. Something significant
had occurred earlier, and he hoped they would
all pay attention in reverence.
"Jamar Brittingham," the announcer said through
crackling loudspeakers while fighting for aural
dominance with an obstreperous crowd, "has just
gone over 2,000 yards this season."
That's when it registered. That's when it sunk
in - 2,000 yards in a single season. Amazing.
Neshaminy's Jamar Brittingham runs the
ball for a touchdown. The senior running
back has been named the Bucks County
Courier Times football player of the
(Photo: Joe Dixon/Courier
Brittingham, who has run roughshod over the SOL
for the past two years, became the first area
player to ever eclipse that barrier. It was as
meaningful an achievement as it was remarkable.
It's no surprise, then, that the senior running
back has been named the Bucks County Courier
Times football player of the year. It's the
second consecutive season that he's been so
means a lot," said Brittingham of the 2,000-yard
milestone. "But I didn't come into the season
thinking about it."
We'll let you in on a little secret here,
something Neshaminy head coach Mark Schmidt
didn't know: Brittingham didn't dwell on
individual statistics before the season. But he
did fantasize about going undefeated. And he
talked about it aloud, which, at Neshaminy, is
close to blasphemy because the Redskins are
about as superstitious a bunch as you'll find.
"Yeah, me and a few of the guys talked about
it," said Brittingham. "That's what I really
wanted. To go 10-0."
Redskins did that, and made the playoffs, too -
the first time they'd reached the postseason
since 1988. Obviously, Brittingham, who also
played defensive back, was an integral part to
the team's success. And yet, he wasn't consumed
by his own accomplishments. Rather, and to his
lasting credit, he reveled in the feats of
was the first guy to get to Scotty Mullin when
he caught [the winning touchdown pass] against
CB West," said Schmidt of his running back, who
is being recruited by Virginia, West Virginia,
Boston College, North Carolina, James Madison,
and Pitt. "Jamar was on the other side of the
field when we won that game, but he was one of
the first to get to Scotty and hug him. When
[quarterback Jason] Wiater got 1,000 yards this
season, which is something he really wanted to
do, I think Jamar was happier than Wiater was.
You know, it's not about Jamar. He completely
buys into the team system. He's just a great
Sunday, December 2, 2001
Neshaminy started roll early
November 30, 2001
Of The Patriot-News
football team has it: That coalescent moment
when teammates come together, achieve and can
properly say, "You know, we are good."
Neshaminy's moment came soon enough in the 2001
Redskins had won their season-opening game
against a solid Father Judge team by just a
point, 28-27, then saw their second game against
Bensalem wiped out by the latter's teachers'
after the layoff and still feeling their way,
the Redskins fell behind a quality Pennridge
team 15-0 in the first quarter in Week 3.
magic kicked in.
fought back and worked hard to tie the game,"
Neshaminy head coach Mark Schmidt said. "But we
still had to drive the length of the field in
the final six minutes to win the game.
did that, I said, 'Hey, if we can stick together
and pull this off, we might have something
special on our hands,'" Schmidt said.
And they are.
followed its last-minute victory over Pennridge
with a last-play victory over Central Bucks West
the following week, and the jets have been on
full burn ever since.
Neshaminy finds itself in the state playoffs for
the first time since its ill-fated appearance in
1988, the inaugural year for state
championships, and one victory away from playing
for a state title.
Redskins have to do is beat 13-0 Cumberland
Valley in tomorrow's PIAA Class AAAA East
Championship game at Hersheypark Stadium. First
kick is 1 p.m.
Cumberland Valley, clearly peaking after last
week's impressive 41-31 come-from-behind triumph
over Bethlehem Catholic, is playing quality
ball, Neshaminy has stared down some similarly
scary barrels this year.
saw that opening schedule, we knew we had to
take it slow," Schmidt said. "We had to
concentrate completely on each game as it came
before we could be concerned about the next
second half of the season was substantially
easier for the Redskins, who used the lessened
resistance to build momentum for the CB
West-less playoffs, resulting in strong triumphs
over CB East (24-14), a good Downingtown team
(37-20) and Conestoga (28-12).
it all, the Redskins leaned heavily on senior
tailback Jamar Brittingham (6-1, 194), who has
gained 2,263 yards on 316 carries for 26
touchdowns. The lefty has also thrown for
Brittingham, like most I-backs, dominates
Neshaminy's offensive landscape. But quarterback
Jason Wiater (92-161-3, 1,273 yards, seven TDs)
has been effective, often out of play action.
receiver Keith Ennis (5-8, 174) catches nearly
one-half of Wiater's passes with 45 receptions
for 682 yards and five scores. He's a serious
reverse, counter and return threat as well (hmm,
Brandon Stanford, anyone?).
runs our offense very well; he's very smart as
far as understanding our game goes," Schmidt
said. "Keith Ennis has just had a super year.
a lot of kids who pay attention to what we're
teaching and who have worked well together,"
Defensively, the Redskins started a little
slower against that outstanding schedule but
recently found a groove. Against Conestoga, a
team that featured a 1,700-yard rusher and a
2,000-yard passer, the Redskins completely
pinched the Pioneers until junk time.
linebacker Jay Collins (5-11, 225) is generally
recognized as Neshaminy's top defensive player,
but ends Chuck Koch (6-3, 220) and Geoff Donahue
(6-2, 225), and linebacker Pat Carroll (6-1,
225) are quality performers, too.
be very interesting on that line of scrimmage,"
said Cumberland Valley head coach Tim Rimpfel,
who has plenty of reason to be pleased with both
of his. "We won't have to use a lot of defensive
backs like we did last week, but that will put
extra pressure on our linebackers. Brittingham
has great vision and loves to cut back."
Frisco may be reached at
It's still thumbs up for
Neshaminy in football playoffs
Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Of The Patriot-News
For a brief,
chilling moment, Neshaminy thought that its
brilliant 2001 season just might be over.
halfway through the first quarter of Neshaminy's
District 1-2-4 semifinal game with Downingtown,
the undefeated Redskins (someone still uses that
nickname?) seized up when they saw star running
back Jamar Brittingham emerge from a pile
holding his left thumb.
the thumb that the 2,000-yard rusher had broken
two years earlier. And if it was broken now ...
to worry. The Neshaminy trainers did the ol'
tape-it-up-and-go routine, and Brittingham went
to the tune of 216 yards to help Neshaminy into
this week's sub-regional final against Conestoga
(11-1), one of the most surprising teams of the
the Brittingham story is representative of the
thin line between success and failure in the
playoffs. Lose the wrong player for a game, and
all of those metal plates lifted back in April
might as well have been paper plates.
case, the story had a happy ending for
Neshaminy, less so for Downingtown, which was
small slice of what happened around the state
AAAA: Altoona officially claimed the Mid-Penn
Conference West Division championship by
defeating State College 20-19. State College
just missed (or just made, depending on who has
your ear) a two-point conversion with 7:11 to
play following its final touchdown.
heads into the quarterfinals against Erie
Cathedral Prep, the defending state champion
which is no doubt mindful of the fact that
Altoona was a kneel-down away from blowing up
Prep's season in last year's quarterfinals. Prep
bombed Brashear as expected 41-9, but both teams
had the same yardage, 333.
of quite possibly the best game of the 2001
regular season occurs Saturday when Woodland
Hills and Pittsburgh Central catholic meet in
the WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field in
Hills defeated Central Catholic 31-28 in three
overtimes in midseason, and both teams brushed
aside semifinal opponents
High got slightly less than 200 yards rushing,
which is nothing new, from star quarterback
Steve Breaston to pound McKeesport 40-7.
Catholic surround North Allegheny with balanced
offense for a surprisingly easy 38-14 triumph
over North Allegheny.
AAA: What's up with Bradford? The Owls simply
mauled District 6 champion Huntingdon, scoring
early and often and earning a quarterfinal game
against Perry, which cracked Wilmington 35-7.
until the Owls get a load of Cupples Stadium,
located in on the south side of Pittsburgh. It's
not just because it's a lonnng way from McKean
County and its cozy mountains, it's because
Cupples (formerly South Stadium) is Perry's home
Karns City, trailing Sharon by 14 with 4:27 to
play, very nearly Chicago Beared-it.
Gremlins pounded out a quick TD drive to make it
20-13, missed the onside kick recovery and got
the ball back with 24 seconds left on its own
Gremlins hit a 34-yard pass, spiked the ball and
had a final shot at the Tigers.
sack by Danny Tomko ended Karns City chance to
Wilkes-Barre Meyers, a 66-0 victim to Lakeland
in week 8 of the regular followed up its
turnaround victory over Lakeland in the 2-AA
semis with a 10-3 overtime upset of Valley View
in the finals.
field goal with 13 seconds left enabled Meyers
to force overtime.
Falls star Daine Williams said he felt sick the
entire game with North Catholic in the WPIAL
semifinals. We should all feel so terrible:
Williams rushed for 257 yards and scored four
touchdowns in the Falls' 46-30 triumph.
X running back Zack Pierce did what he usually
does -- gain a lot of yards and score a lot of
touchdowns -- to lead the Winged Lions past
Wyalusing Valley 34-15.
245 yards and five touchdowns on 39 carries
boosted his season totals to 2,366 yards rushing
and 39 touchdowns this season.
Monaca, which usually saves its postseason
frustration for the WPIAL title game, was a week
early this year, turning over the ball seven
times, a sure way to lose a game.
exactly what happened in a 27-6 decision to Fort
Cherry in the WPIAL semifinals.
comes Rochester again. The defending state
champion had lost twice this season, but the
Rams are playoff mavens, proving it again with a
19-8 triumph over a Farrell team that had been
playing strong football late in the year and had
beaten Rochester 12-9 during the regular season.
Frisco may be reached at or
Neshaminy's youth movement paying off
Neshaminy football coach Mark Schmidt knew Jamar
Brittingham was going to be a good player when
he was a freshman. He didn't know Brittingham
was going to be this good.
6-foot-1, 195-pound senior, Brittingham has
emerged as one of the top running backs in the
state. He has rushed for 2,058 yards and scored
25 touchdowns in leading the Redskins to a 12-0
record and a spot in the PIAA Class AAAA
quarterfinals Friday against Conestoga (11-1).
Brittingham carried 19 times for 215 yards and
scored on a 57-yard run as Neshaminy defeated
Downingtown 37-20 last week.
was a wide receiver for us as a sophomore and we
moved him to tailback part way through that
year," Schmidt said. "He's been doing it for us
don't think people realize how strong he is. He
carried four or five guys about eight yards on a
play the other night. He can run people over if
he has to."
Brittingham is a Division I college prospect and
will wait until after the season to make a
decision on a school. Maryland, North Carolina
and West Virginia have shown the most interest.
year, Neshaminy was racked by injuries and lost
four regulars, and Schmidt was forced to play a
lot of underclassmen.
"Because of the injuries, a lot of the younger
guys got time. Now this season, we had the guys
who were hurt coming back along with those other
guys and we've got a lot of depth," Schmidt
Neshaminy competes in the same league at Central
Bucks West, which has played in the PIAA final
the past four seasons. Schmidt said a
come-from-behind 21-19 victory against Central
Bucks West fed his players' confidence.
went 75 yards in the final 1:40 to win that
one," he said. "CB West has set the bar high
around here. We all had to work harder and get
better to compete with them."
Neshaminy's current powerhouse team is not its
It is hard to imagine that a high school
football program with an unbeaten streak of 51
games in its past and a penchant for producing
pro-caliber athletes would actually still have
Yes, the current football juggernaut at
Neshaminy is a school-record 12-0 and the latest
hopeful to succeed Central Bucks West as the
dominant power in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Win this Friday against Conestoga (11-1) and
Neshaminy will have an even greater claim to the
Bucks throne so long held by its Doylestown
Succeeding C.B. West and psyching the student
population and alumni alike on sold-out Friday
nights at Harry Franks Stadium in Langhorne
might satisfy many a program. But the Redskins
of Neshaminy definitely want more, much more.
Because no one will ever convince the Bucks
County school that there are not significant
kingdoms left to conquer. Not when Coach Mark
Schmidt's team has in sight a state championship
that was not there to be won for the best of the
rest in the Redskins' storied history.
Thirty years ago, a similarly talent-rich
Neshaminy team, coached by the late Jack Swartz
and led by celebrated players such as Pete
Cordelli, Dale Forchetti, Bruce McHale, Chuck
Lodge and Matt Bahr, younger brother of another
Neshaminy great, Chris Bahr, went 11-0.
That 1971 team, peppered with so much talent
that the backups included future NFL punter Bob
Grupp, future Virginia running great Joe Sroba
and Yale back Barton Smith (yes, a relation,
right little brother?). Yet even though the '71
squad plowed through a tough schedule filled
with the likes of Easton, Bethlehem's Freedom
and Liberty High Schools and Pennsbury, the year
ended with 11 wins.
That Skins team could go no further because
there simply was no place to go - no playoffs,
no tests against Pennsylvania schools near and
far that held such talents as the running Joe
brothers, Tony Dorsett and the like.
Nor could the earlier Neshaminy teams that went
undefeated from 1962 through 1965 - the bulk of
the unbeaten streak put together by the late
John Peter Cuskie's Redskins teams. Neshaminy
started its 47-0-4 run during the 1961 season.
Today's class of blue-chippers in Langhorne,
such as 2,000-yard rusher Jamar Brittingham,
know that the landscape is as inviting as the
tests are different. Neshaminy's penchant for
flirting with perfection on the field has not
changed, but the possibilities have, thanks to
the statewide playoff system in which the Skins
Neshaminy, well-tested by end-of-season wins
against arch-rival Pennsbury and then Council
Rock, proved something to itself. Those two
schools beat Neshaminy last year, both
heartbreakers, especially the Rock's
double-overtime win. But the heartbreak brought
seasoning. That seasoning showed this weekend
when Neshaminy gave the latest, most concrete
evidence of all the possibilities with a 37-20
drubbing of Downingtown - winner of two district
titles and one state title since 1994.
Neshaminy is headed for the state quarterfinals.
All the Skins must do to advance past that
plateau is a lot - defeat visiting Conestoga in
the subregional (District 1-2-4) Class AAAA
championship on Friday night in Langhorne.
Conestoga advanced to the game thanks to a 34-31
double-OT win over Cheltenham. "That's a very
talented team with a lot of people that can do
some damage," Schmidt said. "They have some real
nice schemes, play very sound, and gutted it out
to get to where they are."
What is said of Conestoga certainly can be said
of Neshaminy, which was hit hard by injuries a
year ago, but benefited in a way when
upperclassmen stepped in, gained an upper hand
on the game and reaped the rewards this season.
"We've weathered a lot of storms to get to this
position - injuries, the need for comebacks,
last-minute heroics," Schmidt said. "It's all
added to the drama and put us in position to do
a lot of fun things."
Schmidt and his players know that while all of
the current Bucks County-area football fans are
watching, so are a significant number of players
and coaches from dynasties past. Yes, the
possibilities of succeeding C. B. West are
heady, even for a school that, when fed by four
middle school programs, has more than enough of
a foundation for its own rich football
tradition. Still, Schmidt knows the real prize
will be found in Neshaminy's living up to its
"We're just hoping to find out how it was back
in the day," said Schmidt who, on any given game
day, can look into the stands and see his
predecessors as well as many of the past playing
greats. "It's really a great thing, to see these
guys, talk about how it was," he said. "As I got
to know them over the years, I always wished how
it would be that way again."
couple more wins, and both Schmidt and Neshaminy
will write their own, unique chapter in the
continuing legend. Not only can it be that way
for Neshaminy, again, we now know it can
actually be that much better - an amazing
thought in itself for an exceedingly successful
e-mail address is
champs the talk of the school
Neshaminy High students and
faculty couldn't get enough of their undefeated
football heroes yesterday.
Ennis (right) can't resist another feel
of the state championship trophy held by
teammate Jay Collins after a trophy
presentation yesterday at Neshaminy.
(Photo: Kim Weimer/Courier
LANGHORNE - He looked tired.
His eyes drooped some and his shoulders slumped
and his feet dragged. He was sorely in need of a
Then, considering all Jay Collins and his pals
have been through in the last few days, the
obvious fatigue isn't overly surprising.
Since Saturday, since Neshaminy won the PIAA
Class AAAA championship with a 21-7 win over
Woodland Hills in Hershey, it has been an
absolutely nonstop state of affairs for the
Redskins. It has been fun, of course, as
enjoyable and exciting and completely wonderful
as they could have imagined.
But it's also been hectic.
"Man," Collins, a senior linebacker, said slowly
while rubbing his head, "it was a long weekend."
It continued yesterday, the commotion and the
demands on their time. Some of them - Jamar
Brittingham, Keith Ennis, Geoff Donahue, Jay
Wiater, Steve Brett, Nick Feszko and Collins -
were assembled in the school lobby, along with
head coach Mark Schmidt, for an official trophy
presentation and yet more photos. Channel 6
showed up to shoot some video, and Neshaminy
superintendent Gary Bowman was on hand, too.
Everyone smiled, laughed, joked and talked about
the game. About how the players, their kids, had
accomplished something so grand when few
believed they could.
They were all proud of the players - the
teachers, students and faculty perhaps even more
than the team itself.
"There's a genuine happiness for these guys,"
said Neshaminy principal Mark Collins, grinning
a crescent grin and nearly hopping with pride.
"These kids, they're just so well thought of by
their classmates and their teachers. They're
just really good kids, and it's more than just
sports. They do a lot with the community. The
best part, though, is that they're humble. It's
just made for a really great year. Everyone is
thrilled for them."
That much was plain.
The players walked the halls at the end of the
day but didn't get very far before having to
stop and nod and say thank you to all the
well-wishers. And there were lots of them. They
came out of the woodwork, almost, shooting out
of classrooms and bathrooms and offices just to
tell the players what a good job they had done
and how much it meant.
It didn't end with simple verbal
congratulations. There was more. Much more.
Saturday night, with the victory fresh and the
reality of it all still seeping into their
collective consciousness, the Redskins loaded on
the team bus and headed east, toward home. When
they neared Lower Bucks, a police escort was
waiting to lead their caravan the rest of the
"That was really cool," said Wiater, the senior
quarterback who is rarely so moved. "At first, I
thought there was an accident or something."
Naturally, that wasn't all.
The coaches office - which lies just behind the
gym and only yards away from the practice field
- was awash in pomp and copious gifts. There
were balloons, colorful and pleasant, and cards.
There were phone messages from as far away as
Florida, and gift baskets from as near as the
home economics department. There were candy bars
and cookies and chips and, well, you get the
They were very nearly swimming in the offerings.
Pleased as they were by the generosity, they
kept a certain perspective. They remained
thankful when no one would have faulted them for
"There are a lot of kids out there who don't
play sports who deserve this kind of
recognition," Schmidt said. "I mean, our society
is so quick to judge, you know? And if they
judged some of our kids, just at a glance, maybe
they wouldn't have done the things they've done.
I really think that, in 90 percent of the kids
out there, there's something good. They should
get something, too."
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR
takes top honor for the third time
Schmidt and his coaching staff demanded
a great deal from the players. And, to
the Redskins merit, they delivered.
driven, bordering on consumed. He is
excitable, bordering on cantankerous.
Mark Schmidt's character traits. That
is, when he's coaching. On the field, in
the film room, wherever there is
football business needing
administration, Neshaminy's head coach
is a whirling dervish - a fiery paragon
of work ethics and preparation.
the mold of its coach, this year's team
was eerily similar. The 'Skins were a
tough bunch, a good group who fought
with vigor during the week and even
harder on the weekend. Which is why they
went undefeated during the regular
season, a perfect 10-0, becoming the
first area team to do so since 1988. It
was an effort that spurred them deep
into the postseason.
the season was fantastic, and perhaps a
little surprising coming off a 6-4 2000
campaign. Still, whatever the
expectations, the results spoke for
themselves, which is why Schmidt is the
Courier Times football coach of the
year. It is the third time in his seven
seasons at Neshaminy that he has been so
and his coaching staff demanded a great
deal from the players. And, to the
Redskins merit, they delivered.
is what you know about Mark Schmidt - he
is an aggressive coach, who works every
amount of potential from those entrusted
to his care. But there is another side
to Schmidt. A side hidden behind the
extraneous melodrama, away from the
field and the public eye. There is a
side to Schmidt that you don't know, and
one he'd probably rather you not find
He is, in
truth, a soft touch. A man who is as
predisposed to hug as he is to holler.
can make guys who you never thought
could play football, play it and play it
well," said senior linebacker Jay
Collins. "But beyond that, he's just a
good man. He helps us with so much stuff
outside of football. I can't even tell
you how much he means to a lot of us.
He's like a father to me."
Sunday, December 2, 2001
Pennsylvania Football TOP 20
By: Ed Thomas
1. Malvern Prep
(3A) 9-0: Season over. Here are the final
standings for the Inter-Academic League. 1st
Malvern Prep 4-0, 2nd Penn Charter School 3-1,
3rd Haverford School 2-2, 4th Episcopal Academy
1-3, 5th Germantown Academy 0-4.
2. Neshaminy 12-0: The Redskins whipped
previously 5th ranked Downingtown 37-20 in the
sub region semi final to move on to the Eastern
semifinals against Conestoga. Neshaminy was in
control from the beginning by jumping out to a
10-0 lead that ballooned to 24-7. Thereon they
each scored 13. The Downingtown defense had no
answer for super division one prospect running
back Jamar Brittingham who made it look easy
with 19 carries for 216 rushing yards. That�s
11.4 yards per carry and over 2000 rushing yards
for the year. We knew the Redskin attack was
balanced. Talk about versatile. Kevin Kelly
started things off with a 40 yard field goal,
which was followed by a 69 yard TD strike from
QB Jason Wiater to SE Keith Ennis. And finally,
Jamar Brittingham had a 57 yard gallop for the
score. Very few teams score 37 points on
Downingtown or beat them by 17. Central Bucks
West did it last year in the final 39-14 and
Malvern Prep did it in �99, beating the Whippets
47-7. Playing in district one means you�re
going to get it handed to you every now and
then. The point being, Downingtown is a
constant and legitimate measuring stick. Only
the finest beat D-town like that. It will take
a fine team to beat this group. Their next
opponent is Conestoga (11-1) who won at
Cheltenham 34-31 in double overtime.
3a. St. Joseph�s Prep (3A) 8-3: St. Joseph�s
routed Cardinal O�Hara 35-6 in the Catholic
League Red Division semi final for their 8th
consecutive win since the 0-3 start. They
advance to the final to face Monsignor Bonner
December 1st. Just a few weeks back the Hawks
beat O�Hara in the regular season 35-14. That�s
pretty fair pay back (70-20 cum) for O�Hara�s
win in the Red Division championship game last
year which denied them a perfect season. Last
Friday St. Joe�s was just too much for the Lions
who to add injury to insult were further
hampered by injuries. QB Colin Smith�s 7 for 12
passing for 88 yards in the 1st half was crucial
to Lion hopes for success. He went down late in
the 2nd quarter with a concussion. Defender
Brett Altman also had a concussion and division
one recruit OL�er Mike Bucella went out with an
injury. The Hawks were all over O�Hara with 249
rush yards in 37 attempts and a superior
performance by ever improving QB Vince Gallagher
who went 11 for 12 for 186 yards and two TDs.
Their terrific running back Kyle Ambrogi was a
pile driver with 144 yards on 18 carries.
O�Hara was held to 58 rushing yards, 13 first
downs and 181 total yards. This was a complete
victory. Next up is a Thanksgiving Day game
with LaSalle (3-6-1; Moscow Patriots win was a
scrimmage). LaSalle�s had the week to prepare
after getting knocked from the playoffs in the
first round. They live and die with their D and
are so well coached they always pose a threat.
Hard hitting first team all Catholic League LB
Ed Sabia, 6-2, 230, leads the D. But the Hawks
have matured since the start of the year
especially at QB and reassigning RB Ambrogi to
his rightful role as the featured back in the
offense. Excepting a major state or national
power, no one is going to beat this team right
Strath Haven (3A) 12-0: Most of us would admit
we did not expect this years edition to be where
they are now. We always expect quality and
class from Strath Haven but another run at the
title ? Well, here they are and they�re looking
as capable as ever. The Panthers won their 6th
straight 3A district one title last Friday by
beating Pottsgrove 35-19. It was their 42nd
consecutive win and breaks the Delaware county
record held by Del-Val neighbor Interboro. They
did it against previously undefeated Pioneer
Athletic Conference leader Pottsgrove (10-1).
And they did it well. The plan was to play keep
away from Pottsgrove�s explosive option offense,
especially TB Brent Steinmetz, so they came out
with a short passing scheme and a lot of
attitude to pound it home on the ground.
Panther lineman opened nice holes for the
running backs to get 296 yards on 42 carries.
QB Dan Miller�s 5 of 12 night for 43 yards and
one TD toss kept them honest. FB Dan Connor
blasted away for 126 yards on 22 carries, while
HBs Brian Moore and Keith Davis took it outside
going 8 for 98 and 8 for 75 rush yards
respectively. Haven�s 28-7 half time lead made
it next to impossible for the Falcons to come
back. Still, Steinmetz was a force with 174
yards on 28 carries. Pottsgrove got 302 total
offense but it only resulted in 19 points. Nice
team but Strath Haven is a load at home. The
next opponent is an old foe from up state,
Berwick (10-2), who defeated Blue Mountain 34-17
last week. They meet Friday night in
Coatesville. It doesn�t get much better than
this with two of the three staples (Manheim
Central is other) of eastern football playoffs
meeting on the field. Berwick is reaching an
average score per game of 28-10. That�s nice
but the D has only had one shutout and allowed
five to reach double digits. And the O has
disappeared with production falling to 13, 14
and 15 the last three games. The opposition was
tough but so was Strath Haven�s. Meanwhile the
Panthers seem to have found new legs with
outputs of 45 and 35 the last two games. For
the year they�re at 35-6 average scoring margin
but have shutout 5 opponents and allowed only
two to score in double digits. That�s the
fundamental difference between these two,
defense, quickness and speed. Berwick�s a brute
and they�re well coached but so is Haven and
they have more weapons to throw. Tough game but
the Panthers are in another zone right now.
4. Archbishop Carroll (3A) 10-1: What a
program they have in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Two
years ago Carroll went 10-3 and lost to McDevitt
in the CL Blue Division final. Last year they
won it with a 13-0 record and almost went
unscored on allowing 42 points the entire year
with 8 shutouts ! That�s a 33-4 W/L for the
last 3 years. Their 4 losses were by an average
score of 12-8. This year they�re at 10-1 and
again zeroing in on the C.L.Blue title with a
defense that�s allowed 56 points and an offense
that�s at 355 points for the year and counting.
Some kind of football ! Last week Carroll
finally go it going against St. John Neumann in
the Catholic League Blue Division semi to win
handily 34-13. It took them a while with
Neumann�s size and scheme holding things to a
7-7 half. But a 3 TD outburst during a 5
minutes span of the 3rd and 4th quarters blew
the Pirates out of the water. Neumann�s QB Lego
was hampered by a dislocated shoulder. It
helped having 6-1, 260 lb FB James Roderick to
soften up Neumann�s D. And division one recruit
and Catholic League MVP Maurice Stovall returned
a interception 52 yards for a score. The win
places them in the final December 1st against
Archbishop Wood (8-2) who beat Bishop McDevitt
(8-3) 10-7. Wedged in between is a game at home
this week against Bishop Shanahan (4-5) of
Downingtown. Carroll can name the score and
rest a lot of players.
5. Monsignor Bonner 10-1: What a year ! Let�s
not forget Bonner went 4-8 last year following a
2-8 season the year before. So we�re talking
about a real nice turn around here for the
Drexel Hill gang. Real nice. They�ve beaten
Upper Darby (8-3), Interboro (8-3), Archbishop
Carroll (10-1�3 nothing), Cardinal O�Hara (8-4)
and Father Judge (8-4) twice. To think St.
Joe�s handled Bonner 42-21 may put the Hawks in
better perspective. But the playoffs are a new
season and Bonner started things off on the
positive with a hard fought win against Father
Judge 28-7 in the Red Division semi. The score
was 7-7 through the 3rd despite QB Hennigar of
Father Judge missing the game with a broken
collarbone. But a 21 point 4th quarter Bonner
eruption did in the Crusaders. Bonner just kept
pounding away with 48 carries for 300 rush yards
and only 10 pass attempts. Running backs Jason
Smith (24 carries, 130 yards) and Paul Kollhoff
(18 for 105 rush yards) led the ground assault
for Bonner. Judge was forced to the air more
than planned with QB Eaton going 5/15/1 for 55
PY. Their workhorse running back Justin O�Brien
got 144 yards on 20 carries. The loss
eliminates Judge from playoff contention while
Bonner advances to the final for a chance to
avenge their only loss of the season against St.
Joseph�s Prep. The game is scheduled for
December 1st at Northeast High and Bonner with
no Thanksgiving Day game has two week to
6. Northeast 9-0: Northeast�s Vikings kept the
streak going with a solid 24-7 win against
Mastbaum (7-2) in the Public League semifinal.
The Division C champ hung tough throughout the
game but Northeast slowly pulled away.
Franchise backs were featured by both teams with
Chris DeShields of Mastbaum getting 152 yards on
15 carries, 10.1 yards per carry, and
Northeast�s Chris Poindexter netting 184 on 29
carries or 6.3 ypc. But in the end it was NE�s
quickness when it counted that made the
difference. Mastbaum was held to 3 first downs
and 122 total offense. The Vikings got 306.
They�ll play Washington December 1st for the
title. Meanwhile they have a Thanksgiving Day
homer against tough Philly Central (6-3) who�s a
few plays away from being undefeated.
7. George Washington (3A) 9-1: Washington High
collected their 5th shutout of the year by
defeating Bartram (8-2) 22-0 in the city
semifinal. Washington�s outstanding defense
shut down the Division D champ but GW didn�t
exactly run wild with 110 rush yards on 37
attempts and 178 total yards of offense.
Bartram�s got some people who can play to. As
they�ve done all year GW�s D stepped up big for
this one by holding the Braves to minus 14 yards
rushing and 85 total yards for the game. Wow !
They bring that game to the final against
Northeast and the Vikings are in trouble. They
get that chance December 1st in the Pub�s final
against Northwest. Before that they have a tune
up against struggling Archbishop Ryan (3-7)
Thanksgiving for win # 10.
8. Central Bucks West 7-3: Season over. Here
are the final standings for the SOL, National
Conference, Colonial Division. Central Bucks
East 3-1, Central Bucks West 3-1, Pennridge
3-1, Truman 1-3, Bensalem 0-4.
9. Conestoga 11-1: The Pioneers won a sub
regional semi final game on the road the same
way they�ve been winning games all year, with
defense. The game ebbed and flowed with
Cheltenham taking a 14-7 lead to the locker
room. But in the 3rd, Conestoga came out hot
with RB Steve Shea (29 carries, 167 yards)
getting two scores on runs of 1 and 14 yards.
The lead grew to 28-14 early in the 4th but
Cheltenham showed their character by coming back
with 2 scores off 70 and 87 yard drives, the
last with 55 seconds remaining to tie it up at
28 each. Cheltenham�s fine running back Jesse
Patterson led the way with 2 TDs on 24 carries
for 150 yards. Knotted at 28 all at the end of
regulation, it was time for special teams to
play their role. The teams traded field goals
in the first overtime period with Matt Littman
of Cheltenham making a 27 yarder and Conestoga�s
Tyler McGraw nailing his from 23 yards. In the
2nd OT period the Pioneers had first
possession. Cheltenham held and McGraw hit
another field goal, this one from 32 yards for a
34-31 lead. Subsequent possession went to
Cheltenham who was inside the 10. A pass was
called over the middle to TE Paul Sandher, but
its low trajectory allowed Pioneer defensive end
Cal Corvaia to get a hand on it enough for team
mate DL Ron Shepherd to come up with the
interception. What a class performance by both
teams. And how about Conestoga on an 8 game
winning streak, coming off two impressive wins
against SOL teams. Any time you win on the road
it�s a good day but in the playoffs it�s
special. That�s what Conestoga has to do again
Friday at Neshaminy to keep this thing going.
The Redskins present many of the problems Strath
Haven did to the Pioneers and they played them
close. Neshaminy has played more �name�
opponents, such as North Penn, CB West,
Downingtown, CB East (twice), Pennridge and
Father Judge Against them the Skins averaged
25 and gave up 19. Against all opposition
they�re at 28-16 ppg. But Stoga�s played hard
nose opponents to, such as Haven, Upper Darby,
Quakertown and Cheltenham and other underated
Central League teams. But against those 4
they�re at 28-18 scoring margin and 26-11 for
all games played. That�s nice stuff.
Neshaminy�s big and bad and suppose to just walk
all over other teams but this Conestoga group
has also been doing it right all year and the
game will go to the team that makes the least
10. Downingtown 9-3: Neshaminy brought an end
to Downingtown�s 7 game winning streak with a
convincing 37-20 win at Langhorne in the sub
region�s semifinal. See Neshaminy above. But
hey, D-town had a fine year and only lost to
excellent teams. Nothing new about that. They
went 10-2 in �99 losing to Malvern Prep and
Coatesville. Last year they were 11-1 with a
district final loss to CB West. Their next game
is a Thanksgiving Day affair at home with
Ches-Mont League rival Coatesville. A win here
will take the 3 year W/L to a sparkling 31-5.
D-town beat The Ville 42-7 back on October
26th. While they�ll probably be less emotion on
the Whippet side, there�s always a lot of
hitting when these two get together so it�ll be
a tighter game. D-town gets # 10.
11. North Penn 8-3: The Knights were off last
week and finish up the season in a Thanksgiving
Day game against cross town rival Lansdale
Catholic (7-4). LC is a 3A perennial power out
of the Pioneer Athletic Conference. NP won last
12. West Chester Henderson 7-4: The Warriors
had an open week and now play the day before
Thanksgiving against their cross town rival
East. Henderson beat East earlier in the year
27-7 and have won 4 of the last 5 encounters.
13. Frankford 7-2: Frankford�s young team just
missed the playoffs this year and showed some
stuff with a win against Germantown 15-12 last
week. Their only losses are a 3 pointer to
Northeast and a 6 pointer to GW. Looks like
next year�s city champ right here. They should
have no trouble with North Catholic Thanksgiving
14. Pennridge 7-3: The Rams were off last
week. This week they�re home on Bird Day for a
game with Quakertown. Q-town�s had an
interesting year of extreme highs and very low
lows. They jumped out the gate with a 7-0 start,
scoring 230 points and allowing 80. Heck of a
start. Over the course of the next 4 games they
went 1-3 while scoring 100 and allowing 112. So
the bottom really dropped out. Although they
made the playoffs, they were unceremoniously
ejected in the first round by Conestoga 42-6.
Pennridge has had a similar year of extremes
that were the opposite of Quakertown�s. They
began with a difficult schedule up front that
eased as the year progressed. Their W/L showed
as much with a 1-3 start (Carlsbad, CA; North
Penn, Neshaminy and CB East), followed by the
current 6 game winning streak. That suggests
it�s a bad time for Q-town to visit Pennridge.
Compounding things is the nature of Pennridge�s
loss last year. The game was one of the more
memorable in the rivaly�s history with
Quakertown coming out on top 52-45 after 6
overtime periods ! This should be another wild
15. Cheltenham 10-2: Cheltenham lost at home to
Central League runner up Conestoga 34-31 in 2
overtimes. See Conestoga for more details.
Next is a trip to Abington (3-7) for a
Thanksgiving Day game. The Ghosts run the
option and are led by QB Jeff Chick with over
900 rushing yards. Last year Cheltenham ekked
out a 20-17 win. To avoid being the turkey it�s
probably a good idea to take Abington seriously
since they�ve won their last two games.
16. Dobbins 7-2: The Mustangs beat a good King
team last week 13-12. They�ll end the season
this Thursday at Franklin (3-7) where they can
ride as hard as they want. Dobbins has had a
fine year. Last year they went 9-2 and they�re
almost as good this year with a win at Franklin.
Their only losses are to two of the best teams
in the city, Germantown (7-2) 6-0 and Northeast
(9-0) 21-7 in the Public League�s first round.
Along the way they�ve beat Mastbaum, Central and
17. Central Bucks East 7-4: Season over.
18. Germantown (3A) 7-2: Lost to Frankford
15-12 last week after being thumped in the
city�s first round by George Washington High
38-14. G-town�s been getting a heavy dose of
reality lately with two straight losses
following back to back encounters with Division
A powers Washington and Frankford. It�s not
much easier this week with dangerous King (6-4)
the Division C runner up in town. King has lost
their 4 games by a average of 6 points so it�ll
be competitive. The Bears should take it but
MLK will make it hard.
19. Father Judge 8-4: Father Judge lost to
Monsignor Bonner 28-7 in the Catholic League Red
Division semi final last week. See Monsignor
Bonner above for more details. What a solid
year the Crusaders are having. Two years ago
they were 5-5. Then last year they slumped to a
3-8 season so this is quite a turnaround to win
8 games and advance to the CL semifinals.
Remember, they lost their # 1 quarterback
October 21st against LaSalle. Can�t see
anything preventing them from getting another
win Thursday against Lincoln of the Public
Cardinal O�Hara 8-4: The Lions put up a good
first half struggle but didn�t have enough for
St. Joe�s and lost in the Red Division semi 35-6
to conclude their season. 8-4 is a pretty fine
year by most standards, but on the heels of a
10-2 year capped by a Catholic League Red
Division championship, it must come with mixed
emotions. A bitter defeat at Father Judge 21-14
and home loss to Bonner 16-14, prevented their
reaching last year�s win plateau.
20. Sun Valley (3A) 10-1: It�s probably been an
oversight not having the Vanguards from the
Del-Val National ranked earlier. They have
truly snuck up on us with their recent history
of a 4-8 W/L in �99 and a 5-7 mark last year.
But, here they are at 10-1. Unfortunately the
upset by Penn Wood denied them district one
playoffs and us the opportunity of a Delaware
county match up with Strath Haven. Upper Merion
nudged them out. To bad, because SV has grown
to a sizeable attack averaging 34 ppg while
giving up 9. During the year they beat Academy
Park (8-3), the Del-Val, American Division champ
28-21, and Interboro (8-3), 24-14, the Del-Val
National Division co-champ. The Bucs are tied
with SV and Penn Wood. They bring the curtain
down on their fine season following an open week
in a neighborhood brawl with arch rival
Chichester (7-3), the 2nd place finisher from
the Del-Val American. This is always a war but
more so this year with CHI beating SV 7-3 last
year and SV missing the playoffs this year.
Chi�s got a nice team and it�ll be a good game
but I wouldn�t want to be Chi.