ROYERSFORD >> Eight Pioneer Athletic Conference football players were honored during the 75th annual Tall Cedars of Lebanon Forest No. 34 Football Night at the Masonic Lodge in Royersford on Wednesday night.
Guest speaker for the night was former Spring-Ford High School football star linebacker Ross Pennypacker, a member of Spring-Ford’s Class of 2000 who went on to play at Millersville University. Ross currently serves as defensive coordinator, linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator at Kutztown University. He is also the son of longtime Pottsgrove High School head football coach Rick Pennypacker, a star offensive tackle/inside linebacker at Spring-Ford with the Class of 1972 as well as a Tall Cedars honoree.
Honorees for this past fall season included: Lee Albert, Spring-Ford; Javontae Tinson, Pottstown; Kyle Kooker, Boyertown; Matt Garcia, Phoenixville; Ryan McCourt, Perkiomen Valley; Adam Spencer, Pottsgrove; Dan Hultz, Owen J. Roberts; and Nick Yerger, Pope John Paul II.
“Lee was a tremendous player as a linebacker for us this year,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker about his Ram standout who doubled as a tight end on offense. “He has been a big-play tight end specialist the last two years. We want to bring someone who is a good player, a good person and who comes from a good family. We felt he was the best representative for this banquet.”
Albert made 56 solo tackles this season and also made a critical pass interception during the District 1 6A playoff game against North Penn. Albert also caught nine passes, including two for touchdowns, in the Rams’ two-tight end formation.
Tinson played on the offensive line and at defensive end for Pottstown under coach Gary Rhodenbaugh. Tinson was chosen as the Trojans’ Most Valuable Player.
“Javontae was the glue that held our O-line together at center,” said Rhodenbaugh. “He showed selflessness. He moved from guard, his more natural position, to center. He did a tremendous job as our captain and was elected by his teammates.”
Kooker played running back and started at outside linebacker for Boyertown. He displayed all the traits coaches want in their players, that according to George Parkinson.
“He has an outstanding work ethic and is coachable,” said Parkinson. “He is a team player who leads by example. I present the Coach’s Award to the player who is most coachable. To me, this is the highest award a player can get.”
Kooker had won the Coach’s Award as a junior and now again as a senior.
“Kyle is very intelligent,” said Parkinson. “He is a student of the game and is eager to learn. He was at chalk talk and film review and wanted to get better. He even called signals on defense from the sidelines for one game as a sophomore. He paid attention.”
Phoenixville was represented by Garcia, who enjoyed a record-setting season as a running back for the Phantoms. Garcia totaled 1,820 yards on 255 carries during a phenomenal regular season that averaged out to a 7.1-yards per attempt. He broke Phoenixville’s single-season rushing record, which was held by the late Jimmy Johnson for 50 years.
“He will go down as one of the best players I ever coached and the best at Phoenixville,” said head coach Evan Breisblatt. “There is a strong history in Phoenixville football, so this is quite an accomplishment.”
Garcia, originally a Texas native, doubled as a linebacker on defense and also played on all special teams.
PAC Champion Perkiomen Valley was represented by McCourt, a senior outside linebacker on the strong side of the defense. His start to the season was pushed back due to an injury in the team’s opening scrimmage.
“He was a first team all-league player coming back and we were certainly counting on him, and then to see him go down hurt,” said PV head coach Rob Heist. “It was a freak accident.
“He came back on the practice field and was Coach McCourt. He helped with reads and had an outstanding season for us. It was a testament to his character that he was there and a testament because of the adversity he faced.”
McCourt is also an outstanding student whose curriculum includes Advanced Placement courses.
Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker brought along Spencer, who despite weighing around 100 pounds, played three years of quality football on the Falcons’ special teams.
“This little guy is one person who needs to be honored,” said Pennypacker. “I have been coaching a long time. Next year will be 40 years, and I have never seen a player like this.”
Spencer, who weighed just 85 pounds as a sophomore, compensates with a mighty heart.
“He is the most inspiring kid I have ever been around,” said Pennypacker. “Whenever I was having a bad day, I’d see him, and that always picks me up. He is the ultimate team man. He inspired us and was the reason for the success we had as any kid on the team. He was inspiring to me and to everybody in the school. He is one of my favorites.”
Owen J. Roberts was represented by assistant coach Brian Leister and Hultz, a defensive tackle who doubled as a guard and tackle along the offensive line. Halt was one of only five seniors on the Wildcat team this season, and only three of those seniors finished the year.
“There was a lot of pressure on our seniors,” said Leister. “But we went 7-5 last year and 6-6 this year with a new coaching staff.”
Despite knee and ankle injuries, Hultz became an emotional team leader who also demonstrated his work ethic in the weight room.
Pope John Paul II coach Rory Graver spoke about Yerger, a team captain for the Golden Panthers who played outside linebacker and fullback during a playoff campaign.
“Nick started as a sophomore but missed his junior year with a knee injury,” said Graver. “He came back to be our team MVP as a senior.”
Yerger also carries a 4.1 GPA in the classroom and has made the Honor Roll ever since his freshman year.
“He is a good student, a good football player and an even better person,” said Graver.