With five local teams in action this weekend in the opening round of the PIAA District One Class AAAA football playoffs, there will be no lack of interest among area fans, who would all like to see their favorites snake through to the bracket's final horizontal line.

Of the five schools in action, all are coached by gentlemen who have dipped their toes into the district pool before.

Some, like North Penn High's Dick Beck, are old hands at district play, while Perkiomen Valley's Scott Reed has coached in just one district playoff game, and that was way back in 2007.

But all have vivid memories from their times in the scholastic coaching spotlight.

Beck, who has guided the Knights since 2002, has a district coaching resume that would humble Knute Rockne.

In his 12th season as head coach, Beck has already watched his Knights claim six District One titles, while his record in district-playoff action is an eye-popping 29-4.

Still, when it comes to memories, Beck's most memorable came in his first district playoff game as a head coach.

It came in 2002, when the 8-2 Knights found themselves as the lowliest team in the eight-team bracket of what was then a sub-regional that District One shared with Districts Two and Four.

"We got in by a miracle,' Beck recalled. "Three teams lost in the final week that had no business losing, and that put us in against the undefeated, No. 1 team in the state, Downingtown.'

Downingtown was in its final season as a program before the district split into what are now Downingtowns East and West.


Their stadium was brand new and their fans were rabid, anticipating an easy blowout win.

But it wasn't to be.

"We were lucky to get in,' Beck said, "but we were pretty good. Most of the players on that team came back the following year and helped us win the state title.

"We had lost two of our first four games, to a real good team from Colorado in our opener and then later in the season to Neshaminy.'

And when they got to Downingtown, the Knights weren't concerned about stadiums, rankings or fans.

Beck said the turning point in the game came with North Penn up, 14-7.

"We had a fourth-and-goal from the 18,' Beck said, "and our quarterback, Justin Wutti, threw and out-and-up to Deanco Oliver for a touchdown. And that was it.'

North Penn would go on to win, 35-12, and two weeks later the Knights would bring home their first district title under Beck.

Some playoff memories are not about ends of games and seasons, but about beginnings.

Like Beck, Plymouth Whitemarsh head coach Dan Chang's vivid playoff memory came at the beginning of his first playoff coaching experience, and involved a quarterback from Central Bucks South High School named Matt Johns.

"His ability to control that offense, and his arm were just unbelievable,' Chang recalled. "That was just at another level for us.

"You can see his ability on film, but when you see it in person, it's different.'

The Colonials would drop that contest, 52-24, and Johns would do his part to aid in PW's demise, throwing for 218 yards and a pair of scores.

"Just watching him in warmups and how easy that ball came off his hand,' Chang said, "is something I won't forget.'

And there's a performance that Perkiomen Valley's Reed won't soon forget. It was in his first and only district playoff coaching experience, and it happened in the 2007 playoffs with Reed's seventh-seeded Vikings playing host to 10th-seeded Glen Mills.

"What I won't forget is watching Bernard Pierce running the ball against us,' Reed said of the Temple product and current member of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, who had 159 yards rushing and a touchdown in the Battlin' Bulls' 36-26 win. "He had a good night, (Glen Mills) made a couple of big plays and beat us.

"It was a close game, we were up 10, then they went up 10,' Reed recalled. "But I won't forget watching (Pierce) run.'

For Spring-Ford's Chad Brubaker, his vivid memory was the most recent, coming from last year's District One semifinal matchup with Pennridge, won by Spring-Ford, 35-24, to propel his team into the District One final against Coatesville.

"We had had a real tough game against Ridley the week before,' Brubaker said. "We got up big, let them back in the game and had to hold them off at the end.

"Going into the Pennridge game, we were confident. And what I remember is what a great atmosphere it was for a playoff football game. It was a Saturday, cold and it even snowed, and it was a great win.

"There were a number of great memories from last year, but that Pennridge game was a good one.'

A good one for Upper Dublin head coach Bret Stover came in the first of four playoff games in which he has guided the Cardinals, and it came in a first half that no one could have expected.

"The knock against Upper Dublin was that we were the team that had never been to the playoffs,' Stover said, recalling the Cards' 2007 meeting with Neshaminy. "We knew we were going up against a great team in Neshaminy, but that's what happens to small squads when they get into the playoffs.'

Surprisingly, however, Upper Dublin was anything but small in the first half against the Redskins, holding them scoreless until the final play of the second quarter.

"They scored on the final play of the half, and it really could have been scoreless at halftime,' Stover recalled proudly.

Neshaminy would go on to win easily, 42-7, but the Cardinals gave their coach a lasting memory.

"We're trying to get beyond that now,' Stover said. "We want to start winning playoff games and get the program to the next level.'