**Note: This article originally published in The Reporter and on PaPrepLive.com**
TOWAMENCIN >> As a team that will roll into Saturday’s District 1-AAAA final on a 10-game winning streak, North Penn has molded themselves into a quality football team.
As is the case for any state title contender, a big part of the Knights’ success has to do with guys stepping up when a teammate can’t go. That’s what happened Friday night against Neshaminy when Nick Isabella had to sit out.
“I thought Danny Drop had a great game. He really was all over the field,” North Penn head coach Dick Beck said after his team’s 28-7 win. “He had that big sack there at the end, which I’m almost positive was a fumble. I thought he played really well and I knew he would step up. He’s been there the whole time.”
“Sometimes you gotta give Nick a blow, who goes both ways, so he’s gotta get out there on defense,” Beck said. “We don’t usually lose too much when Danny gets out there.”
Isabella, who plays fullback on offense and linebacker on defense for North Penn, saw his teammates pick up where he left off in the rushing attack as well.
“We just had to fill (Isabella’s) void and the guys stepped up,” Knights’ running back Nyfease West said, who had 233 yards of his own. “Dontae Stewart stepped up and Justin Ostopowicz stepped up big tonight.”
Ostopowicz ended up with 64 yards on six carries and a touchdown Friday night. Stewart had 40 yards on four carries and scored a touchdown of his own to put the game out of reach.
Another big factor in North Penn’s success, which has seen them outscore their opponents 386-147 in the last 10 games (103-28 in the playoffs), has been the threat of the pass with quarterback Reece Udinski.
“When the line is playing as well as they are I think it makes play calling a little bit easier,” Beck said. “Look, the key is we got other guys we can throw the ball to. We’re not just a one-man team. We’re not Nyfease and we’re not Reece and we’re not Ricky (Johns). We’re a total team. This team is really starting to realize that I think.”
Udinski was an efficient 8-of-14 for 125 yards Friday night. In the district quarters he went 11-17 for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
In short, the quarterback is a nice option for Beck that he hadn’t had in previous years.
“We always try to preach balance,” the head coach said. “I’ve always wanted to be balanced. We try to adjust to the talent that we have. We’re going to try and do what is successful — we want to try and make teams stay off balance. We don’t want teams to tee off on us.”
A third, vital piece the Knights will be counting on come Saturday is of course the defense. They set the tone against Neshaminy with an early goal line stand.
“After we stopped them the second time it became third down I think we started to get more fired up, more fired up,” Beck said. “I kept thinking they’re going to bounce it, they’re going to toss it, they’re going to do something outside. Look, let’s give the kids credit. They got low…Dan Liberio, Tobias McCullough, Keith Earle, and Korey Thompson. They would be the four down linemen that were in the middle there…for us that was like a shot of energy”
The North Penn defense will hope to stand tall again against a high-powered Upper Dublin team that averages 43 points per game.