Owen J. Roberts shuts down Spring-Ford

By Tom Nash

BUCKTOWN >> No one needed to remind the Owen J. Roberts sideline all that was at stake under the lights of Henry J. Bernat Stadium Friday night. A win, and the Wildcats would have a great shot at making the District One Class 6A playoffs. A loss, well … “We weren’t even thinking about what a loss could mean,” said Owen J. Roberts quarterback Dawson Stuart. “We were just focused on winning.” The Wildcats were determined and focused throughout, dominating from start to finish on the way to a stunning 33-0 win over Spring-Ford. Owen J. Roberts quarterback Dawson Stuart (14) and receiver Hunter Hinrichs celebrate after connecting for a long TD reception against Spring-Ford Friday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media) With the win, the Wildcats (3-2 Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division; 7-2 overall) move that much closer to earning their first district playoff berth since the 2010 season. With the loss, Spring-Ford (3-2; 5-4 overall) may very well find itself on the outside looking in for the first time since 2014 when districts get started in a couple weeks. “It’s only been done two, maybe three times in school history,” said Owen J. Roberts head coach Rich Kolka of making districts. “So that says a lot about our guys. That was one of our goals — three years ago, no one talked about us. Now, we could be in a district playoff game.” Friday’s game felt much like a November playoff atmosphere with Stuart at the forefront of it. The senior threw for 213 yards along with a pair of touchdowns to wideout Hunter Hinrichs. Hinrichs racked up a game-high 143 yards on six receptions — including a 78-yard strike down the left sideline during the first quarter that set the tone. “We knew we needed to make big plays early on to win against a good team like that,” said Hinrichs, the program’s career leader in receiving yards. “Dawson and I have that connection, that spark together.” Stuart had nothing but praise for his favorite target as the pair has undoubtably been on the same wavelength since their youth football days at Norchester. “Hunter is one of our best athletes,” said Stuart, who owns OJR’s all-time career records in passing touchdowns and yards. “We saw a mismatch on that play — he had (the defensive back beat) in height, quickness and speed. So I was looking at him the whole time, hoping he would make a play and he did. He beat his guy and took it all the way. “He’s doing all the work. I know I just have to get it near him and he’ll go get it.” Stuart kept the Spring-Ford defense honest with his feet, too. Utilizing the option with running back Hunter Scherfel in tow, Stuart racked up 50 yards rushing on 11 carries. Meanwhile Scherfel wore away the clock during the second half on the way to a 105-yard rushing game that featured a 3-yard score during the fourth quarter. OJR’s defense was solid all game. The Wildcats held Spring-Ford to its lowest total yardage output all season — 175 yards — and hardly let quarterback TJ Pergine set his feet in the pocket. Sean Praweckyj put the stamp on the team’s memorable night with an 80-yard interception returned for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter for the final 33-0 score. “That was as dominating of a performance on both sides of the ball as I have seen coaching high school football,” said Kolka. “There is no question. And that was against a good team. Spring-Ford is always a good team.” Meanwhile, Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker deemed it a ‘humiliating’ night to be a part of. The Rams were shutout for the first time since the 2012 season — a 49-0 loss against Phoenixville. They only made one trip into the red zone all night, which resulted in a missed field goal attempt from 27 yards out during the first quarter. “They didn’t do anything special, just played tough football,” said Brubaker. “Hats off to them. They beat us in every facet of the game tonight.” Just when it looked like the Rams were getting going, they had the carpet pulled out from under them. On their first drive of the second half, running back Justin DeFrancesco had a 44-yard touchdown erased by a costly holding penalty. Two plays later, the Rams would punt it away for the first of three times in the half. Defrancesco, usually a focal point to the Spring-Ford offense, was held to just 47 total yards by OJR’s bigs up front. Pergine rarely looked comfortable in the pocket where he completed just 12 of 27 passing attempts for 95 yards and scrambled for 46 yards on the ground. Next week, the PAC holds its regular-season ending divisional crossover games. With Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford and Boyertown all boasting the same inner-divisional record and no team emerging based on head-to-head criteria, the standings will turn to the district power rankings. Based on that, Owen J. Roberts will claim the No. 2 seed and face Frontier foe Upper Perkiomen, while No. 3-seeded Spring-Ford will take on Pope John Paul II.

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Spring-Ford gets back on track, downs Boyertown 16-0

By Jeff Stover

ROYERSFORD >> It seemed almost inconsistent with the nature of the day.
Spring-Ford staged its annual Homecoming festivities in conjunction with Saturday’s game against Boyertown. And while the Rams put a happy cap on the raucous day with a 16-0 victory over the Bears, head coach Chad Brubaker was left wanting by the way his players came out.
“I’m disappointed by my perception that we were uninspired,” he said as the party atmosphere at Coach McNelly Stadium and vicinity wound down. “We have to execute better. We’ll check the film.”
It was a very close Pioneer Athletic Conference (Division 1) game through the entire first half, the Rams going to the locker room with a 3-0 lead courtesy of a Taylor Smith field goal. Three other series saw SF (3-1 PAC, 5-3 overall) end with a missed field goal, on downs and with an interception.
To its credit, Boyertown’s defense played a prominent part in keeping pace with Spring-Ford. Blaise Caroselli intercepted a pass three plays after the Rams’ Cole Trauger recovered a fumble at his 37 to stop a Bear march that featured big runs by fullback Marcus Thomas (17 yards) and quarterback Ayden Mathias (14).
“Our kids played their hearts out,” Boyertown head coach T.J. Miller said. “It doesn’t matter if the opponent is a Spring-Ford or a winless team … it’s a testament to what our seniors have built on.”
It was a first half where the kicking game was in the spotlight. Smith had a 39-yard field-goal attempt blocked when the Rams’ first possession stalled at the Boyertown 22, and Declan Coyle’s attempt to pull the Bears even at the half saw his 25-yard try blocked.
Smith’s 37-yard field goal attempt — his second of two in the first half — was good with 2:39 left. It remained the game’s lone scoring until the first two minutes of the second half, when Spring-Ford created more separation on the scoreboard.
Justin Defrancesco (20 carries, game-high 135 yards) sprinted through a left-tackle hole at the Ram 45 and roared down the Boyertown sideline for a touchdown with 10:44 on the clock.
“We got a huge block from (Noah) Silva,” SF quarterback T.J. Pergine said. “It opened a huge hole for Justin, who has speed. It brought life to the team.”
Spring-Ford added a final touchdown with less than two minutes to go, Pergine hooking up with Colby Goldsmith (two catches, 10 yards) on a two-yard toss.
Turnovers ended up a big issue for the Bears. Goldsmith’s interception of Mathis at the Ram 39 set the home team up for an 11-play, 30-yard drive culminating with Smith’s field goal, and Cole Trauger recovered a fumble to halt the Bears at the Ram 37 with less than 1-1/2 minutes until the half.
A lost fumble quashed one drive at the Spring-Ford 16 near the end of the third quarter, and Clarence Thomas intercepted a Jerry Kapp pass to close out the game.
“Turnovers killed us,” Miller noted.
The Rams’ passing game sustained drives all day long. Pergine completed 15 of 27 tries for 158 yards, five to Defrancesco for 53 yards and three more to Dante Bonnani for another 53.
“They (Boyertown) like to play a lot of man defense,” Pergine said. “We took advantage of that, executing pretty well.”
Credit for that went to the Ram line of Silva, Gionvanni Guarna, Matt Lepore, James Begg and Gunnar Romano, who kept their Bear counterparts at bay.
“Our offensive line was pushing off the ball,” Pergine said.
On the defensive side, Spring-Ford limited Boyertown to just 66 yards passing on combined 8-for-21 accuracy. Mathias had the bulk of the passing work, going 7-for-18 for 60 yards while Jerry Kapp accounted for the rest late in the second half.
“Our defense did a good job,” Brubaker said. “I was concerned with their offense — we’re not real big. We hung in there when we game them short fields.”
The Bears’ offense covered 197 yards on the ground, led by Mathias (19 carries, 75 yards). Thomas added another 68 largely hard-fought stripes on 17 tries, and Nick Moccia had 51 on five carries.
“Our backs did the best they could,” Miller said.
The win got the Rams back on track following last weekend’s 28-7 loss to Perkiomen Valley. All alone in the division’s second-place slot after dropping the Bears (2-2, 2-6), they will visit neighboring rival Owen J. Roberts next week in a continuing bid to extend their season well into November.
“We’re in position to win out and make the playoffs,” Brubaker said. “The players have to decide if they have the passion to do that.”
“With the loss to PV, we’re not stopping there,” Silva added. “We’re going to work hard this whole week. Our tank is still full.”
NOTES >> Kylie Lynch was named Spring-Ford’s Homecoming queen during halftime ceremonies. Dylan Rumsey was crowned Homecoming king. … The school added two new members to its Hall of Fame class pregame: Andrew Scanlan (Class of 2012) and Ross Pennypacker (Class of 2000). Ross’ father, Pottsgrove football head coach Rick Pennypacker — himself a 2008 Hall inductee — accepted the award for his son.

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Schimpf does a little of everything as Vikings defense dominates Spring-Ford

By Sam Stewart

GRATERFORD >> L.V. Miles’ epic description of his nephew Boobie in the opening scenes of the 2004 movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ has become fodder for football memes and gifs throughout social media.
If there were any games to transpose his quote over game film ­it’d be Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford’s annual rivalry tilt. The player’s film to accompany it: Brendan Schimpf.
Schimpf did it all for the Vikings in a resounding victory over their neighboring rivals, coming up with a back-breaking pick-six, a rushing touchdown, a devastating sack and a momentous 52-yard reception to help lead Perkiomen Valley to a 28-7 victory Friday night in a key Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division contest.
The win puts Perkiomen Valley in control of its own destiny in the Liberty Division race, the Vikings only needing to win one of their next two remaining conference games to clinch the division after Owen J. Roberts fell to Boyertown on a last-second field goal.
“It feels good,” Schimpf said. “This is always the circled game for the season. You’re always ready to play when this game comes.”
Schimpf didn’t need to fill the Gatorade cooler, walk the dog or paint the back porch, but boy he showed that he could flat out play football. Same too, the rest of the Perkiomen Valley (3-0, 6-1) defense, which limited the Rams to a season low 219 yards of total offense — 68 of those coming on the team’s last possession as a TJ Pergine to Tyler Edwards score eliminated the chances of the series’ 13th shutout since 1976. Head coach Rob Heist wasn’t singling anyone out for their effort — they all deserved credit after registering their second-best defensive effort of the season (team allowed 135 yards in shutout against OJR in Week 5).
“This was the best week of practice that we’ve had in my career here and the best week of practice I think the coaches have ever seen,” said defensive back Remy Sell. “We were firing on all cylinders and we were able to come out here and translate what we did on the practice field and get after it. Our coaches stressed to all of us that they were going to put us in a lot of situations and one-on-ones. We stepped up. Me, Austin (Rowley), Randy (Washington) and (Ryan) Cerula, we all came up and decided that it was time to hunker down and make some plays.”
The same could not be said for a Spring-Ford (2-1, 4-3) squad that saw its three-game winning streak snapped. Seemingly out of sync the majority of the game, the Rams never got over a goalline stop by the Viking defense midway through the first quarter. They committed 12 penalties for 105 yards, punted a season-high nine times (eight of those stemming from three-and-outs) and didn’t find the end zone until the aforementioned Edwards’ touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.
“We struggled a lot with the team speed,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Obviously we didn’t put ourselves in good situations at times. We were for whatever reason out of sync. TJ had a lot of pressure real quickly. Their defensive front and their linebackers caused us a lot of problems where we had to have receivers open right away. We didn’t and we were in trouble.”
Schimpf, the WILL linebacker and tailback, was a big part of that. After scoring on a 2-yard plunge stemming from his 52-yard reception on a short crossing route, Schimpf came up with the backbreaking play on the Rams’ next drive, stepping in front of a Pergine screen pass and racing 49 yards untouched for the score and a 21-0 lead. His blind-sided sack on Pergine late in the fourth capped his day.
“I saw him drop back so I automatically dropped back into my passing lane and it was right there,” Schimpf said of his interception. “As soon as I caught it there was just green grass in front of me. It’s something you always look out for. They do very well, have a lot of different pass concepts so you just have to get to your zone and see what happens.”
Cole Peterlin was solid in his first game on the big stage, the junior quarterback throwing for 123 yards on a 10-of-20 effort. He struggled to find his accuracy early but helped lead the Vikings to back-to-back scoring drives in a tide-turning third quarter that helped pad a 7-0 halftime lead.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Peterlin said. “This is only the first time I’ve played in front of so many people that were so hype for a game. I just had to stay calm and do what I do. We just came out and had a couple of first downs and get stops and we eventually started hitting it.”
Peterlin finished with 95 yards on the ground and two scores — his 39-yard touchdown up the gut on an outside zone capping a scintillating Viking second half. He’s still trying to find the lineman who came up with the key block.
“Not really sure, trying to figure it out,” he said of the block that sprung the run. “As soon as I saw that I just ran straight to the end zone. I had no one in front of me, I just had the corner on the side and I had to beat him to the end zone.”
NOTES >> A packed house has become commonplace for the annual rivalry and that was no different Friday night at a sold out Thomas J. Keenan Stadium. “It doesn’t get any better than PV-Spring-Ford right now in this whole area, maybe in the state,” Heist said. “It doesn’t get as good as this rivalry. It’s an awesome environment and it’s fun to be a part of.” … L.V. Miles’ full quote in the movie as scouts watched Boobie play: “That’s my nephew out there. That boy can play some football. He can play left, he can play right, don’t make no difference. He can block, tackle, score the TD, snap the ball, and kick the extra point. Hell, the boy will fill up the Gatorade cooler, walk the dog and paint your back porch. I’m telling ya, the boy can flat out play football. … Oh, and he can pass!”

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