RED HILL >> When it came time for Owen J. Roberts football coach Rich Kolka to draft his team for the Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl, he definitely had a plan in mind. He selected OJR all-time career touchdown pass leader Dawson Stuart and Jerry Kapp, who set a record for career receiving yards at Boyertown, to spearhead a prominent passing attack.
That selection strategy worked like a charm as the talented duo teamed up for two touchdowns in the first half Sunday afternoon that sparked their Freedom Team to a 36-20 win over the Independence Team in the seventh annual all-star contest at Upper Perkiomen’s Indian Stadium.
Freedom’s Dawson Stuart (Owen J. Roberts) tries to avoid the sack attempt of Independence’s Simeon Little (Spring-Ford) during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
Stuart went 12-for-18 for 135 yards and also threw a TD pass to Spring-Ford’s Mitchell Vagnozzi as the Freedom squad built a 29-0 halftime advantage. Pope John Paul II’s Jake Bildstein ran 32 yards for a score and Pottsgrove’s Dez Austin caught two passes for a total of 81 yards from Spring-Ford’s T.J. Pergine for the Independence Team.
“That was a priority of mine to get those two together,” Kolka said concerning Kapp and Stuart.
“All I had to do was put it anywhere close and I knew he’d go and get it,” Stuart said concerning Kapp. “It was a nice feeling.”
Independence’s Kobey Baldwin (Pottsgrove), left, deflects a pass intended for Freedom’s Hunter Hinrichs (Owen J. Roberts) during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
The Independence squad had a tough time holding onto the ball in the first half, fumbling it away five times due to a combination of errant snaps and pitches and some hard defensive hits.
Upper Merion’s Preston Hampton returned one of those fumbles 41 yards for the game’s opening score. Then Stuart hit Kapp from 13 yards out soon after another fumble in the opening quarter and lofted a pass into the right corner of the end zone to Kapp early in the second quarter for a 20-0 lead.
Independence got on the board in the second half on a 10-yard touchdown toss from Pergine to Pottstown’s Jamal Adams and closed to within 29-12 on Bildstein’s burst. But Spring-Ford’s Justin DeFrancesco countered with a 20-yard touchdown run and front flip into the end zone to wrap up the win with under seven minutes to go.
Freedom’s Anthony Wiggins (Pottstown) sacks Independence quarterback TJ Pergine on a two-point conversion attempt during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
“It was amazing,” said Class 6A All-State First Team defensive back Kapp, who led the state with 11 interceptions last fall and added another with an acrobatic move at the right sideline on Sunday. “I thought it was cool to play one more game against high schoolers you’ve been playing against for three years.”
“It was fun, being it’s kind of a laid back game,” said Stuart, who completed four passes to Wildcat teammate Hunter Hinrichs. “There was a lot of trash talking.”
Independence’s Jamal Adams (Pottstown) catches a touchdown pass in the third quarter during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
Head coaches Kolka and Tom Hontz from Upper Perk drafted the teams in February. Any PAC senior was able to declare himself eligible. Kolka also selected Pottsgrove record-setting running back Rahsul Faison, who did not play since he is on the Pennsylvania roster for the Big 33 Football Classic on June 16.
The Freedom Team practiced three times, on a Sunday and two weekdays.
“It’s hard to get everyone on the same page,” said Kolka. “They did a nice job of picking it up. Defensively, we played really well. We were tough up front. I think both teams had a lot of fun.”
Freedom’s Eleazar Hill (Norristown) deflects a pass intended for Independence’s Dez Austin (Pottsgrove) during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
Both Stuart and Kapp had good things to say about Norristown defensive end Tyler Tate, who was a key factor in shutting down the Independence side in the first half.
“He was impressive against us, so I picked him,” added Kolka.
Independence’s TJ Pergine (Spring-Ford), left, runs away from the pressure of Freedom’s Tyler Tate (Norristown) during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
The Independence team wound up with a 199-165 advantage in total yards.
“Hats off to the other team,” said Kapp. “They played really hard. I want to thank the Owen J. Roberts coaching staff for getting us ready for the game.”
Kapp had the chance to play against some of his high school teammates, as did many others on both sides.
“You scrimmage against them in practice,” he said. “It’s a lot different playing against them. There was a lot of trash talking, but the referees knew it was between teammates.”
Kapp (Seton Hill) and Stuart (East Stroudsburg) could face each other in September when their college teams meet in Week 2 of the season.
Freedom’s Mitchell Vagnozzi (Spring-Ford) is congratulated by teammates after his receiving touchdown in the second quarter during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
Freedom’s Preston Hampton (Upper Merion), left is congratulated by Anthony Wiggins (Pottstown) after his fumble recovery returned for a touchdown during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
Freedom’s Malik Gardner (Pottsgrove), left, looks for running room after a catch as Perkiomen Valley’s Brendan Schimpf (24) closes in for the tackle during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
Independence’s Colby Goldsmith (Spring-Ford) tackles Freedom’s Hunter Hinrichs (Owen J. Roberts) after a reception during the PAC Senior Bowl Sunday at Upper Perkiomen. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)
PAC Senior Bowl - June 4th @ 3p
Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association all-star game set for Sunday
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Lincoln’s Sammy Karr trying to escape the grasp of an Olney defender in a Public League game last season.
by Rick O'Brien, Staff Writer @ozoneinq | firstname.lastname@example.org
The 17th annual Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association all-star game will be played at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.
Spring-Ford’s Chad Brubaker will guide the East squad vs. the West team. One of his assistants will be Chas Cathers, who stepped down as Central Bucks West’s head coach after last season.
Here are the rosters:
Local players in bold.
No. Position Player School Ht. Wt. College
1 DB Rahiem Bowens Penn Wood 5’10 163 Undecided
2 QB Michael Ruisch Parkland 6’4″ 185 Susquehanna
3 WR Jake Novak Manheim Central 5’11 175 Kutztown
4 DB Devon Dickerson St. Joseph’s Prep 5’10 165 Undecided
5 WR Xavier Roman Manheim Township 6’1 198 Shippensburg
1 DB Robert Kennedy Jeannette 5’10 175 Lackawanna C.C.
2 QB Drew Saxton South Fayette 6’2 195 Case Western
3 RB Tanner Volpatti Bethel Park 5’10 195 Slippery Rock
4 WR Tim Sturgis Central York 6’1 170 Kutztown
5 DB Kavon Morman Montour 6’2 180 California of PA
6 LB Ken Cooper Danville Area 6’2 238 Penn State
7 ATH John Varadzel North Allegheny 6’1″ 175 Pittsburgh
8 DB John Harper McKeesport 6’0 175 Undecided
9 DB Rodney Dennard Woodland Hills 6’1 182 Howard
10 DB Jayquan Smith Woodland Hills 6’1 177 Lackawanna C.C.
11 LB Tyler Petucci Altoona Area 6’1 210 Shippensburg
12 WR Garret Fairman Thomas Jefferson 6’2 200 Robert Morris
14 LB Christian Arrington Cumberland Valley 6’2 210 Rhode Island
15 ATH Cam Suman Penn Trafford 6’2″ 205 Indiana Univ. of PA
17 LB Bryce Lauer Franklin Regional 6’3 250 Towson
18 QB Logan Leiby Selinsgrove 6’0 195 Bloomsburg
20 TE/HB Ryan Langdon North Allegheny 6’1 235 Indiana Univ. of PA
21 WR Ronnie Stevenson Montour 6’5 205 Temple
22 P/K Carter Raupach Berlin 5’10 185 Undecided
28 WR Cam Laconi PCC 5’11 185 Mercyhurst
33 RB Tim Smith Penn Hills 5’9 175 Fairmont State
50 OL Bryce Ramer Beaver Area 6’5 300 Ohio University
53 DL Chase Heath Dover 6’3 265 Bloomsburg
54 DE Jackson Heasley State College 6’1 240 Indiana Univ. of PA
55 DE Gerald Brown West Mifflin 6’0 250 California of PA
56 OL Devega Byrd Woodland Hills 6’1 320 Bethany
58 OL Collin DeBoef State College 6’6 275 Penn State
71 OL Ben Johnson South Williamsport 6’3 265 Marist
72 OL Jayvion Queen Altoona Area 6’5 280 Colegate
74 OL Jake Smetak Norwin 6’4 290 California of PA
75 DL Jacob Neiderhiser Ligonier Valley 6’1 320 Geneva College
78 OL/DL Jacob Fetterolf Cumberland Valley 6’3 280 Johns Hopkins
84 WR Jarrett Inch Selinsgrove 6’2 185 Undecided
99 DE Gavin Vargesko Bethel Park 6’1 250 Slippery Rock
West head coach: Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland
2018 Slogan Release Video
2018 Youth Camp Hype Film
SCARCELLE FINDS PERFECT FIT, HOME IN HUNTINGTON
April 11, 2018
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – As a walk-on wide receiver, and the Marshall football program’s only player from the state of Pennsylvania, Stone Scarcelle has made it a mission to stand out.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound freshman from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, first did this last August during preseason camp. As a true freshman, Scarcelle flashed the potential of a player who could immediately be involved in the mix as a pass catcher. Then, during a Saturday practice on a sunny day, he landed awkwardly out of bounds attempting to make a catch and fractured his left elbow. He missed the 2017 season, used a redshirt and began working his way back.
“He reminds me of me,” said Marshall receivers coach Dallas Baker. “He’s going to have a little chip on his shoulder and he’s going to work hard.”
Scarcelle has shown he is a consistent, steady receiver this spring, Baker said. Scarcelle had football scholarship offers to Patriot and Ivy League schools after a standout career at Spring-Ford High School in Royersford, Pennsylvania, but wanted to pursue opportunities at the Division I level.
“I wanted to see if I could make it,” Scarcelle said.
He caught the eye of assistant coach Todd Goebbel and impressed head coach Doc Holliday, and received an invitation to join the program as a walk-on during a visit to campus.
“From the moment we walked on campus we fell in love with the place,” said Mike Scarcelle, Stone’s father. “On our seven-hour drive back to Pennsylvania he had made up his mind that he didn’t want to look at anything else.”
Stone was born at Phoenixville Hospital, which is about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Stone has a distinctly Philadelphia accent, and grew up idolizing Eagles great Randall Cunningham because Cunningham, like Stone, was a quarterback who moonlighted as a punter. Stone played QB, running back, safety and cornerback, too, but found his home at receiver. The Marshall coaching staff is happy about that development.
“He has nice size,” Baker said. “He’s willing to block. That’s the thing with blocking; everybody can block, it’s if you want to. He’s willing to block; he’s willing to go across the middle. When you piece everything together he’s a really good receiver.”
That caught the coaching staff’s eye last August, too, before injury struck. Stone put in the extra effort to leap and reach for a ball that initially looked uncatchable, and he ultimately fell harshly to the ground on his left side. His first collegiate season ended before it began.
“It was hard mentally, but you have to push through it every day,” Stone said. “It’s been a long road, but you have to have the mindset to go your hardest and it’s not going to bother you. It was just a freak accident.”
The redshirt season did not go to waste. Stone watched a talented trio of starters – Tyre Brady, Willie Johnson and Marcel Williams – break out in their first full seasons with the Herd. That gives him hope that he, too, can find a role right away.
“I really sat back and observed everybody’s actions,” Stone said. “I took in the speed on the field, learned the plays and got my body right. I’ve gotten a lot stronger, and I feel like mentally the strength coaches do a great job of getting you mentally tough so you are prepared to fight through the pain.”
If you’re wondering, there is no back story to Stone’s name.
“We have about 10 Anthonys in our family,” Mike said. “My wife wasn’t going for that.”
The Scarcelles essentially picked the name out of a hat, and then gave Stone the middle name of Patrick. He also has a younger brother named Blaize. Stone currently majors in Geology, which seems apropos given his name, but after enduring the injury and recovery, Stone has his eyes on an education that would steer him toward athletic training or the medical field.
Stone studies football, too. His father calls him a gym rat, and Stone immerses himself in watching film. He believes he was meant to flourish in the offense of first-year coordinator Tim Cramsey, a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles from Stone's hometown.
“He's a local guy to me," Stone said. “I love the offense. It’s a perfect fit.”
Play Multiple Sports; Be Uncommon
Noah Silva's PSFCA East / West Game Ad, courtesy of Coach Strickler and the S-F TD Club
SFYAL - Football and Cheering Registration
Registration for the Spring-Ford Youth Football & Cheerleading program is now open! The program provides Flag and Tackle football programs for boys ages K – 6 and Cheerleading programs for girls K – 8.
The Spring-Ford Youth Football & Cheerleading program is a nonprofit organization with a current enrollment of over 500 boys & girls and their families. During the season, players, cheerleaders and parents participate in many activities such as a Pep Rally, Ram Bowl, and Youth Night at the local High School. Our primary goal is to inspire youth to practice the ideals of health, citizenship, and character.
For more information on registering for the upcoming 2018 season, please click on the registration link at http://sfyouthfootball.siplay.com/site. For additional information about the program, please visit our website at http://sfyouthfootballandcheer.com. We are celebrating our 11th Anniversary! We hope that you would join us in the fun this upcoming season!
Wayne Valley football to open season in Pennsylvania - NorthJersey.com
Doug Scancarella, Correspondent
After finishing 1-9 last year, Wayne Valley football coach Roger Kotlarz was presented with a golden opportunity to attempt a quick fix. There were several vacancies on the schedule for 2018. Kotlarz could have attempted to fill those slots with opponents that were viewed as easily beatable.
The thought never crossed his mind. In four years at Wayne Valley, Kotlarz has always made sure his team faced a challenging schedule. The upcoming season will be no different. In fact, Kotlarz has just announced that Wayne Valley will open up out of state again. This time the foe will be Pennsylvania powerhouse Spring-Ford.
“You don’t improve by playing an easy schedule,” Kotlarz said. “We need to challenge ourselves.”
Kotlarz should know. In 2014, he took over a Wayne Valley team that went 4-6 the previous year and hadn’t had a winning season since 2009. His first three Wayne Valley teams went 5-5, 9-2 and 9-3. The latter made it to the state sectional finals.
After last year’s fall to 1-9, he is now facing a steeper uphill climb than in 2014. The challenge of playing mighty Spring-Ford may be just what the doctor ordered.
Spring-Ford is located in Montgomery County, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It’s about 110 miles from Wayne. It is a regional school that serves the communities of Spring City, Royersford, Limerick and Upper Providence. It’s a Group 6 school (the largest enrollment grouping in Pennsylvania). From 2010-16 they averaged nearly 10 wins a year, before slipping to 6 last year.
“I think they’re very similar to us,” Kotlarz said. “Their enrollment is about the same as ours. They are also a team that has a very strong, winning tradition. They slipped a little last year, but not as much as we did. They still finished with a winning record.
“I think they look at us the same way. They know what we did last year, but they know we were very successful before that.”
This will be a similar trip to 2016 when Wayne Valley traveled to Downingtown West (30 miles southwest of Spring-Ford). Wayne Valley won that game, 34-31.
“I loved that trip,” Kotlarz said. “We visited a couple colleges (Villanova and Temple) and did some sightseeing (World War II Battleship the USS New Jersey in Camden and Philadelphia Museum of Art). It was a great bonding experience. We will do something similar this year.”
Wayne Valley hosted Downingtown West in 2017, meaning Wayne Valley didn’t travel out of state.
“We committed to a home-and-home with Downingtown West,” Kotlarz said. “I have no regrets as they were a great opponent. But in retrospect I think we missed out by not going on a trip last year. I think it’s important to have that bonding experience at the beginning of the year.”
The game with Spring-Ford is just a one-year deal. Interestedly, the two Downingtown West games gives Kotlarz a little bit of a gauge on Spring-Ford.
“Downingtown West and Spring-Ford didn’t play against each other, but they did have several common opponents those two years,” Kotlarz said. “So unlike when we played Downingtown West, we have a basis for comparison.”
Spring-Ford will hardly be Wayne Valley’s only challenge. The Indians start off the season with three road games. After the Spring-Ford game, Wayne Valley will be at Wayne Hills and then Nutley. They finally open at home in Week 4 against rival Passaic Valley. Wayne Hills, Nutley and Passaic Valley all managed to have winning records last year.
Later in the season, Wayne Valley will play NV/Old Tappan, a team that cruised easily into the North 1, Group 4 final before narrowly defeating Mount Olive in the championship game.
“It’s a difficult schedule and it is front-loaded with those first four games,” Kotlarz said. “Then you add on Old Tappan later in the year and we’re looking at a several big challenges.”
With numerous returning starters on offense and defense, Kotlarz believe his team will be up for those challenges.
The returnees include Nick Trani, David Trinidad, Greg Fox, Ryan Michels, Sam Bumbaco, Danny Murphy, Ricky Ruggiero, Justin Botero, Ian Lancelotti, Nick Duncan, Liam Dring, Jake DeLuccia, Joe Esposito and Elijah Lugo. The Wayne Valley JV went 8-1 last year.
Wayne Valley’s trip to Spring-Ford will be the fourth time they have traveled out of state for football. The previous trips include Spring Valley (N.Y.) in 1951, North Rockland (N.Y.) in 1981 and Downingtown West (Pa) in 2016.
Silva to Play in 2018 PSFCA East / West Game
Noah Silva has been invited to play in the 2018 PSFCA East / West game! Noah becomes the 8th Spring-Ford player to be named to a state-wide all-star game and continues a seven-year streak!
Offensive MVP: TJ Pergine
Defensive MVP: Pete Agler
Brian Clarke Special Teams Award: Taylor Smith
Coaches Award: Hunter McClain & Gio Guarna
Lineman of the Year: Noah Silva
David Freed Award: Colby Goldsmith
Burlsworth Character Award: Ben D'Arcangelo
TD Club Award: Justin DeFrancesco
PSFCA Releases 2018 Big 33 and East / West Coaching Staffs
2017 Class 6A All-EasternPAFootball.com Team
Written by: David Mika on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018
District 1 Players:
OL Sr. Noah Silva, Spring-Ford
K Jr. Taylor Smith, Spring-Ford
All-Southeastern Pennsylvania Offense - Philadelphia Inquirer
L Noah Silva Spring-Ford Sr. 6-2 270
PK Taylor Smith Spring-Ford Jr. 6-1 185
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.”
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.
Lafayette's Selwyn Simpson finally getting a look
By Lafayette freshman running back Selwyn Simpson had 45 yards on 12 carries against Bucknell. (LAFAYETTE COLLEGE/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)
By Paul Reinhard
Special to The Morning Call
When Selwyn Simpson heard about John Garrett’s no-incumbents approach to his first season as head football coach at Lafayette, he was immediately enthused.
As a senior running back at Spring-Ford High School, Simpson was being actively recruited by the likes of Lehigh, Maine, Villanova, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart.
“After the coaching switch [at Lafayette], it was a new coaching era and I felt it could be something special and brand new,” Simpson said. “I didn’t want to go to a program where it was already distinguished and you’re just another player. I wanted to be part of Lafayette, where we could build something nice.”
There was a good chance he would have to wait his turn because the Leopards were bringing back four tailbacks and he would not be the only RB in the 2017 recruiting class.
Senior DeSean Brown was the most experienced of the lot, but it became evident that running back would become perhaps the most wide-open position on the team when four different players carried the ball in each of the first three games.
No back has been able to dominate, with 48 yards being the highest single-game total by any back during a season in which the Leopards have averaged only 20 yards a game.
Simpson got six carries in the first three games, then had none for three games in a row and one in Game 7.
But during the weeks of practices, things were happening.
“I feel like I came a decent way,” Simpson said during Tuesday’s weekly media luncheon previewing Saturday’s Patriot League game at Georgetown. “Coach Garrett pushes me to get better week to week and to learn more so when I get my chance to go on the field I can succeed. As the season went on I have gotten more practice reps and game-time reps. Coach Garrett always tells me to be prepared and that you’re only one play away from playing virtually the whole game.”
Brown injured his shoulder against Harvard and was held out of the Leopards’ last game on Oct. 21 against Bucknell because he was not 100 percent healthy.
Simpson got his chance and gained a net 45 yards on 12 carries while sharing the tailback duty with C.J. Amill. He also scored what to date has been Lafayette’s only rushing touchdown of 2017.
Garrett would not commit to who would be the starter at tailback on Saturday but did say, “It looks like DeSean is healthy.” He added, however, that shoulder injuries in running backs are “something better to take extra time with because of the contact aspect at his position.”
Simpson is growing into what could be a big and fast back. He reported for summer practice at 205 pounds, but he said Tuesday that his weight is already up to 216 or 217 to go with his 6-2 frame.
“I feel great,” Simpson said. “The way [strength and conditioning] Coach [Brad] Potts has us lifting and working out, I feel I’m in the best shape of my life. Even though I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, I’m still fast and can make all the moves.”
Lafayette (2-6, 2-1 Patriot League) is coming off its bye week to take on a Georgetown team that has lost seven in a row since winning its opener.
This will mark the return of Leopards’ defensive coordinator Luke Thompson to the Hoyas’ Cooper Field, where he spent the last three seasons in the same position.
Georgetown coach Rob Sgarlata was asked on a conference call which team would benefit most from Thompson’s job change.
“Everybody knows I’m probably not the smartest guy in the room, so I give the advantage to Luke,” Sgarlata said. “It’s a point of pride for me to watch Lafayette’s defense right now.”
Garrett said, “I know he’s our defensive coordinator, is doing a great job, knows about their roster. We are in the business of gathering information, so Luke has been a great source this week to tells us about the strengths and weaknesses of their players.”
Despite its overall record, Lafayette trails Colgate by half a game in the league standings and is still in the running for the league automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. A loss on Saturday would pretty much douse those chances.
Retired sports columnist Paul Reinhard is a freelance writer.
The Storti Insurance Week 10 Gridiron Brought to you by RCTV
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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