The Storti Insurance Week 11 Gridiron presented by RCTV

Neshaminy ends Spring-Ford’s season with 42-21 win

By Rob Senior

LANGHORNE >> Neshaminy wasted no time proving their worthiness of the No. 1 seed in Disrtict 1’s Class 6A.
 
Joel Stills ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns, while Cory Joyce added two interceptions in the Redskins’ 42-21 win over No. 16 Spring-Ford Friday night.
 
“Joel’s come on strong for us as a running back this year, after moving over from wide receiver,” said Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot.
 
Neshaminy scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions, and the contest was shaping up as a pure shootout until Joyce got involved.
 
Joyce’s first INT set up Neshaminy with a short field in the second quarter, ending a seesaw battle of touchdowns by the respective offenses.
 
“They ran a crossing route, and the coaches allow me to be more aggressive in those situations,” said Joyce. “I was able to jump on it.”
 
Neshaminy went into halftime with a 21-13 lead, and came out on fire, taking only six plays to go 66 yards and extend their lead to 28-13 behind the second of Stills’ three TD runs. Spring-Ford would use most of the quarter to embark on an 80-yard drive of its own, with Justin DeFrancesco tallying his third TD of the night to go with 155 rushing yards. But on the ‘Skims next play, Joyce took a swing pass from quarterback Brody McAndrew 33 yards to the house, giving Neshaminy back its two-score lead.
 
Spring-Ford was unable to respond, and Neshaminy moved into next week’s quarterfinals with arch-rival Pennsbury.
 
“That’s always a great atmosphere, it’s a great rivalry, and in the playoffs… what an experience for our kids,” said Wilmot.
 
“They’re gonna be upset after the last game (last week’s 21-20 Neshaminy win) but we’ll be prepared,” said Joyce. “Both of us are going to get the other’s best shot.”
 
The first half was a battle of the offenses, led by respective running backs DeFrancesco and Stills. SF got the game started with a 13-play, 60-yard drive capped off by DeFrancesco’s 4-yard TD plunge. Stills and the ‘Skins responded with a six-play drive capped off by the senior’s 21-yard scamper off a bobbled snap.
 
The Rams regained the ball and marched 50 yards into Neshaminy territory near the end of the first quarter, but stalled in the red zone and were forced to attempt a 32-yard field goal, which fell just short into a stiff breeze. Neshaminy took over, embarking upon a methodical 15-play, 80-yard drive culminating in bruising fullback Oleh Manzyk’s 1-yard TD run for a 14-7 lead.
 
Neshaminy’s Joyce intercepted Pergine at midfield on the ensuing drive, taking the ball back to the SF 24, with Mike Crescenzo taking the ball in for a 11-yard score and a 21-7 Neshaminy lead. DeFrancesco responded with his second TD, a 36-yard run on a zone read carry on 4th and 2, bringing the Rams within 8 at the break after a blocked PAT.
 
But the night belonged to Neshaminy and Stills, who was quick to credit his line and coaches for the career-high performance.
 
“All I really had to do was make my reads off what they gave me,” he said.
 
For the Rams, an up-and-down season ends at 6-5, but also with the knowledge that they gave the district’s top team their best shot, creating a contest that was up for grabs through three quarters.
 
“Neshaminy played mistake-free, they kept moving the chains … if we get some of those stops earlier, we had a shot,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “We told the players all week, no one gives you a shot in this game. We just needed to compete, and they did everything we asked them to do.”
 
It was the last game for Spring-Ford’s senior class, including the prolific backfield tandem of DeFrancesco and quarterback TJ Pergine.
 
“Four years went by so fast, and I couldn’t ask for a better team or a better experience,” said Pergine. “I’m looking forward to taking the things I learned here to college with me.”

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Joyce, Stills help Neshaminy football get past Spring-Ford in districts

By Steve Sherman

LANGHORNE, Pa. – Soon after top-seeded Neshaminy advanced in the District 1 Class 6A Tournament with a 42-21 triumph over visiting Spring-Ford, Levittown radio station WBCB (1490 AM) selected as its stars of the game junior Cory Joyce and senior Joel Stills.
 
The media outlet couldn’t have chosen better.
 
On offense, the pair combined on four touchdowns and defensively, the duo teamed up on three interceptions.
 
Proving that it’s not how you start but rather how you finish, Stills ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second half to go with 91 yards and a score he recorded before the break.
 
His counterpart for the 16th-seeded Rams – senior Justin DiFrancesco – after notching 125 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 13 touches in the first half, was limited to just 30 yards and a TD on 10 carries after the intermission.
 
“That was a big difference,” admitted Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot.
 
“For the most part, the offense moved the ball the entire game and our defense buckled down in the second half.”
 
“We made some adjustments at halftime. Really, it was more of an attitude change,” added Joyce. “We weren’t really happy with how we played in the first half so in the second half, we came out trying to change that.
 
Two key plays on defense were registered by Joyce. The first came late in the first half and gave the offense a short field. The second came early in the fourth quarter as Spring-Ford attempted to draw within a touchdown of the Skins.
 
“Turnovers are key,” said Joyce. “If you can take the ball away, you take their momentum away and give yourself a chance on offense.
 
“It definitely helps winning football games.”
 
Given a short field after a sack and a partially deflected punt, the Rams needed to drive the ball just 22 yards to close within seven points midway through the fourth quarter. Soon after an apparent TD pass from quarterback T.J. Pergine to senior Mitchell Vagnozzi was called back on a Rams penalty, Joyce latched onto an ill-advised aerial from the Spring-Ford QB, ending the Rams’ possession at the Skins’ 10 yard line
 
“Fourth quarter, we wanted to seal the game,” said Joyce. “I made a good read on him and just put the game away.”
 
From there, Stills capped a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive with a 28-yard scoring sprint to help seal the win. Joel’s last two touches in the game netted 52 yards for Neshaminy and he recorded earlier TD scampers of 21 and 32 yards.
 
Stills gives all the credit to the offensive line, which is anchored by senior 265-pound tackle Gio Figueroa and senior 255-pound guard Nick Napadano.
 
“Breaking into the secondary part of the defense has to do with the offensive line,” he explained.
 
“They are really a big factor. If I can’t get past the front line, I can’t manage to get into the secondary and do my magic.”
 
With the win, the Skins advance to the D1 quarterfinals next Friday night versus eighth-seeded Pennsbury, a 17-0 winner over No. 9 CB South.
 
A week ago, Neshaminy needed a last-minute flea-flicker from Joyce to McAndrew to get past the Falcons 21-20.

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Spring-Ford sinks Pope John Paul II, holds out district hopes

By Rob Senior

ROYERSFORD >>
 Despite their recent struggles, Spring-Ford fans knew the explosive, senior-laden Rams offense was the team’s best chance to stop their recent skid on Senior Night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
In the process, they just may have saved the season.
TJ Pergine threw for three first-half touchdown passes (four total) and the defense forced five turnovers as the Rams cruised to a 51-13 victory over Pope John Paul II.
The Rams (6-4 overall) compiled 414 yards of total offense, led by Pergine’s 241 passing yards and 194 total yards by Justin DeFrancesco (143 rushing, 51 receiving).
With the convincing win, Spring-Ford stays alive in the race for one of District 1’s 16 6A playoff berths. Numerous results from Friday night and Saturday will determine the Rams’ ultimate fate, hopefully decided by Saturday afternoon. The first domino fell Friday night, as Upper Darby, who came into Friday one spot ahead of the Rams, fell to Ridley.
Pope John Paul II (7-3) had already secured its place in the 4A playoffs and entered the week No. 2 in the rankings. That position is likely to remain with No. 3 Upper Perkiomen losing to Owen J. Roberts.
The game’s opening possession saw PJP stymie the Rams’ offense, forcing a 3rd-and-long from the Panthers’ 31. That’s when Pergine found running back DeFrancesco on a beautifully designed screen pass for the game’s opening points.
After that, the Rams navigated some short fields thanks to interceptions by Tyler Edwards and Leo Van Hulst, with two more Pergine TD strikes (to Edwards and Dante Bonanni, respectively) sandwiched around a unique play where senior tackle Noah Silva took a direct snap in an empty backfield, rolled right and threw back across the field to a wide-open James Albert.
“We’ve practiced that play for a few weeks,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “At this point in the season, you need kids to stay excited about what you’re doing. We have some more plays in our back pocket. They look great when they work.”
On the final play of the half, PJP quarterback Matt DeLaurentis found Dan Cirino from 14 yards out to get the Panthers on the board. AJ Natale added a 42-yard score early in the fourth quarter for the Panthers, but the Rams dominated time of possession late to secure their sixth victory of the year – and keep postseason hopes alive.
Edwards added another late interception and another TD catch on consecutive 4th quarter plays for Spring-Ford. The senior all-purpose player did a little bit of everything for the home team, finishing the night with two INTs and two TD catches – a standout performance on a roster littered with impressive statistics after a few frustrating weeks.
“We have no idea whether we’re going to make the playoffs,” Edwards admitted, “so as seniors, we wanted to come out tonight with a bang.”
The offensive outburst ended a month’s worth of frustrating performance for the Rams. Brubaker alluded to the introduction of a new set or two, but Edwards’ explanation was simpler.
“When our line can give TJ a pocket and not force him to scramble he’s gonna do damage,” he said. “Most games, we like to focus on the run – and we did – but we were also able to pick on the corners and safeties.”
For PJP, the loss extended their losing streak to three games, after a blazing 7-0 start. Next week’s District 1-4A playoff will likely see the Panthers in a rematch with Upper Perkiomen, the team that handed PJP its first loss of 2017. That may be all the motivation they need to turn things around.
“I think it’s clear I need to do a better job, preparing our kids, getting us ready to play,” said PJP coach Rory Graver. “We’re very excited for the opportunity to play Upper Perk. They really beat us up the last time we played, but we anticipate a excellent matchup.”
Spring-Ford’s fate isn’t certain yet, but if the Rams do make the playoffs they will likely do so as the 15th or 16th seed, meaning a showdown at the home of a district heavyweight next Friday.
“Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen,” said Brubaker. “It comes down to whether your kids are energized, ready to play – it’s an opportunity for us to build on tonight.
“We’ll be a low seed. No one will expect us to win – and we’re fine with that.”

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