Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3)
The brackets are (mostly) set.
Barring any late changes Sunday night into Monday morning, the District 1 boys' and girls' playoff fields are set up and ready to go starting Friday night when the first round of 6A and 5A competition begin across the board. It's also a return to a more normal feeling postseason after last year's truncated playoff format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cole Hargrove (above) and the No. 1 seed Methacton boys team are vying for their second district title in three years. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
For the programs across Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties that have made the fields, the "second season" is finally here.
On top of the brackets returning to their pre-pandemic sizes (24 teams in 6A, 12 in 5A), there's no 'district title or bust' format in terms of reaching the state playoffs. Unlike last year's true one-and-done format, District 1 will again be able to populate a good number of PIAA playoff participants.
In 6A, the district will sending a staggering 12 teams to the state field from both the boys' and girls' sides. In 5A, the boys get six qualifiers while the girls get five, so the seemingly endless maze of playback brackets and seeding games will all be back on the schedule over the next two weeks.
Interestingly, the top overall seeds in 6A this year are the same as 2019-20, with Methacton occupying No. 1 on the boys' side and undefeated Plymouth Whitemarsh atop the girls' bracket.
The Warriors - who will compete for the PAC title Monday night - are led by seniors Cole Hargrove and Brett Byrne and seemingly have regained their groove after a bit of a slump to end the regular season. They'll need to be their best to make it two titles in three years with a deep field including defending champion Lower Merion in the No. 2 spot, unbeaten Cheltenham at No. 3 and another SOL heavy-hitter in Bensalem at No. 4, plus plenty of other contenders down the list.
Haverford, Downingtown West, West Chester East and Spring-Ford round out the first round byes for the boys' bracket.
PW - preparing to face rival Abington for a third time in Monday's SOL semifinals - has rolled through the season thanks to a solid starting five that has a lot of size and even more smarts. Seniors Kaitlyn Flanagan, Lainey Allen and Jordyn Thomas, plus juniors Erin Daley and Abby Sharpe are all solid two-way players focused on bringing an elusive championship home.
Abby Sharpe (above) has turned into a key weapon for No. 1 seed Plymouth Whitemarsh girls squad since moving into the starting lineup. (Photo: Andrew Robinson/CoBL)
It's an SOL-heavy top eight on the girls' side with Souderton at No. 2, PAC regular season champ Methacton at No. 3 and Pennsbury at No. 4 (Souderton and Pennsbury clash in Monday's other SOL semifinal). Behind them, it's Abington in the fifth spot, and West Chester Rustin, Perk Valley and Downingtown East to round out the first round byes. Defending champion Spring-Ford, which meets PV in the PAC final Tuesday, is No. 11.
Springfield (Delco), which is not playing for a Central League title thanks to Marple-Newtown, is back in a familiar spot at No. 1 in Class 5A on the girls' side trying to defend last year's district title. The Tigers have earned the No. 2 spot, so if all goes to chalk, the league rivals could get another high-stakes meeting in the title game. Upper Moreland and Bishop Shanahan will also have byes in the first round.
The boys' 5A bracket sees Radnor's terrific season rewarded with a No. 1 seed and first-round bye. The Raptors will first try to handle business against Lower Merion in Monday's Central League title match. Chester and Phoenixville slot in at No. 2 and 3, respectively, with Upper Moreland the final team to earn a night off to open the postseason.
There will not be a pure Class 3A bracket on either side from District 1 again this year; instead, the district will combine with District 11 to form a regional qualifying bracket. On the boys' side, Dock Mennonite figures to be a contender, but the Pioneers will first look to win the BAL tournament after an unbeaten regular season run through the league.
Gwynedd Mercy Academy, looking for a fifth straight Class 4A title, tops the four-team bracket for the girls. The Monarchs will face No. 2 seed Villa Joseph Marie on Monday in the AACA title game first. Collegium Charter, one of the top contenders in the BAL tournament starting this week, is the No. 1 seed in the boys' 4A bracket.
Church Farm is the top seed in the four-team boys' 2A bracket while Coventry Christian tops the four-team Class A bracket. In girls' 2A, Delco Christian has the No. 1 seed while Faith Christian is the top seed in the Class A bracket, where five-time defending champion Jenkintown is the No. 3 seed.
Tag(s): Home Christopher Dock Church Farm Collegium Charter Delco Christian Faith Christian Jenkintown Haverford High Lower Merion Marple Newtown Radnor Springfield (Delco.) West Chester Rustin Bishop Shanahan Downingtown East Downingtown West West Chester East Chester Phoenixville Methacton Perkiomen Valley Spring-Ford Souderton Cheltenham Upper Moreland Abington Plymouth Whitemarsh Bensalem Pennsbury High School Women's Andrew Robinson