Proliferation of no-huddle offenses dot area landscape
By Darryl Grumling
Posted: 10/13/2014 07:13:41 PM EDT
Offensive numbers in the local scholastic football scene are beginning to pile up — in a hurry, if you will.
A big reason is the proliferation of no-huddle attacks that have sprouted up in recent years.
This season, virtually half of the area's 13 teams run some form of a no-huddle offense.
Perkiomen Valley is the proverbial pied piper of the helter-skelter set, having run the hurry-up for the past three seasons.
Spring-Ford went no-huddle this year, as did Hill School with the arrival of coach Dave Rackovan (a successful proponent of the offense during his tenure at Central Bucks South over the past four seasons).
The uptempo style has also helped Daniel Boone win four of its first seven games.
"I think it's just something that people have come around to that can give themselves a competitive advantage,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said.
You certainly can't argue with the results at Perkiomen Valley, which has put together a 24-7 mark since going to the no-huddle attack.
"Within our league, we felt we could use our numbers to our advantage with an uptempo offense,' Vikings coach Scott Reed said. "It creates a different rhythm in practice. There is less standing around.'
Pioneer Athletic Conference-leading Perkiomen Valley (6-0, 6-1) has utilized the hurry-up attack to amass an area-best 270 points. The Vikings — who haven't been held under 20 points this year — have racked up 201 over their past four games.
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, has used the rapid-fire set to average an area-best 423 yards per game.
In Saturday's 49-20 victory over Methacton, the Rams accumulated 482 total yards and ran a staggering 87 offensive plays in lighting up a strong Warriors defense.
"We've always had a two-minute package, but this is the first year that we are running it exclusively,' Brubaker said. "We knew to be successful this year, we were going to have to do some things differently.'
Though Hill School has yet to win in four games, the Rams offense is certainly not the problem. Quarterback Devon Kennedy is averaging 241.3 passing yards per game and wide receiver Bryce Allen hauled in 14 receptions for 145 yards and two scores in Friday's 24-16 loss to Peddie.
"It's like anything else in football; people like to stay with the trends,' Rackovan said. "The positives are that you get more practice reps, it forces defenses to prepare differently, and it's fun for the players.'
"It creates confusion for the defense,' said Phoenixville coach Evan Breisblatt, who has the Phantoms running a variation of the hurry-up. "It's very hard for defensive coordinators to get signals into the defense. It creates a tempo where players have less time to think and have to just react.'
Not all of the aspects of the no-huddle trend have been positives, however.
As Reed pointed out, it can be hard for teams to switch gears from full throttle to ball control as they attempt to close out games.
In addition, the nature of the no-huddle (more passing, more plays, more penalties) has translated into significantly longer games.
Whether the no-huddle endures for generations to come or flames out remains to be seen, though its shock value is beginning to diminish, according to Rackovan.
"Defenses are starting to catch up as they see more of it, and changing the way they practice, prepare and call the game,' he said. "The bottom line is that you still have to block and tackle, and you must be fundamentally sound and have good players. The good teams have all of those ingredients.'
Which is even more of a necessity if you want to succeed in the fast lane.
Spring-Ford aces Methacton test, 49-20
FAIRVIEW VILLAGE - Brandon Barone and several of his Spring-Ford football teammates spent the early part of Saturday taking their SATs.
A few hours later, the senior wide receiver played a key role in helping the Rams ace a key Pioneer Athletic Conference examination at Methacton.
Barone delivered two touchdown receptions — including a highlight-reel 35-yard grab early in the second quarter — as Spring-Ford used a bevy of big performances en route to a 49-20 victory.
Senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft threw for 199 yards and four touchdown passes, sophomore Selwyn Simpson came off the bench to rush for all of his game-high 135 yards and one TD in the second half and the Rams (4-2, 4-3) racked up 472 total yards against the Warriors (4-2, 4-3), who saw a four-game winning streak halted.
"We played well offensively and defensively, and our special teams gave us some good field position,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "It was a total team effort.'
Brendan Zimmie recovered a Methacton fumble at the Warriors 15 to set up a Leacraft-to-Trey Jarmon 7-yard touchdown connection that opened the scoring with 4:54 left in the first quarter.
But what was arguably the play of the game occurred a little less than two minutes into the second quarter, after Steve Rice partially blocked a Methacton punt that enabled the Rams to take over at the Warriors 35.
Leacraft immediately heaved one deep down the right side into double coverage, and the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Barone somehow outfought Akeem Walcott and Dontae Thomas to come away with the ball and give the Rams a 14-0 lead.
"I'm always calling for a jump ball,' Barone said. "They say I'm too small, but I like to show what I can do.'
Barone has done plenty this year, with a team-high 19 catches to go along with area-bests of 566 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. Still, he is only one of several potent playmakers in the Rams' dangerous offensive arsenal.
"Man, our weapons are incredible,' said Leacraft, who extended his area-best TD pass total to 17 (against just one interception). "It's great. I just throw it out there, and they'll make a play, like Brandon Barone did.'
Leacraft, who finished 19-for-37 and also ran for 50 yards, also leads the area in passing yardage (1,347).
"Brandon has done a really good job for us,' Brubaker said. "We felt he was really starting to settle into the role and understand what we were trying to do before he got injured last year. There have been times this year where he's struggled to get back into rhythm, but today and the past few weeks he's done a really good job of picking out the right guy and he's really improved in his film study, which has made him a better quarterback.'
Methacton also features a quality signal-caller in Conner Derrickson, who ripped off a 25-yard TD run to get the Warriors within 14-6 with 5:29 left in the first half.
Spring-Ford's Zach Hare, however, brought back the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to the 1 to set up a Matt Gibson TD run, and things kind of snowballed from there for Methacton.
John Strickler â The Mercury
John Strickler â The Mercury
"We had a hard time playing up to what we've been doing the last few weeks,' Warriors coach Paul Lepre said. "Give them (the Rams) credit. They made plays, and they got after us today. They manhandled us a little bit. I'm about to go in to count my walking wounded, and it's a little bit discouraging at this point.
"Our guys were focused this week; they had a good week of practice. But we just never really got clicking today.'
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, seemingly didn't miss a beat in the second half.
They scored on their first drive of the third quarter when Barone turned Leacraft's short pass in the right flat into a 15-yard catch-and-run TD on a third-and-6 play. Then Jarmon broke up a fourth-down pass to blunt a Warriors drive and scored on a 4-yard run to jack the lead to 35-6 with 2:07 left in the third.
Simpson, a promising 6-1, 190-pounder, carried it 19 times in the final two quarters (including an 8-yard TD run with 3:16 remaining that provided the final margin) as the Rams deftly shifted gears to their ground game. Versatile sophomore Stone Scarcelle (who earlier completed a 25-yard pass to Leacraft) also hauled in a 14-yard TD.
Barone (78 receiving yards), Scarcelle, Jarmon and Danny Matthews all notched four receptions for the Rams, with seven different players having at least one catch.
Matt Gibson ran for 60 yards as part of a 248-yard, Spring-Ford rushing effort.
Derrickson wound up rushing for a team-high 126 yards for Methacton, which also got an 86-yard kickoff return TD from Thomas and an 18-yard Derrickson-to-Thomas scoring hookup. Walcott finished the game with five receptions for 71 yards.
But for the most part, the Warriors found it tough sledding in seeing their hopes at a piece of the league title dashed by a revved-up Rams attack.
"This was the biggest game remaining on our schedule,' Brubaker said. "Normally at this point in the year, we're trying to look ahead to the playoffs and see how things are going to shape up. While that's probably not something that's going to happen for us, our kids are still going to keep scrapping and try to get better each week. All we can do is control what we can control.'
"With our team, we don't look at the past, we look towards the future,' Leacraft said. "Everybody on our team hates losing. We just want to win.
"Everybody dug deep. We hadn't been so good in our away games, so it was time to step up.'
Which the Rams did in passing a stern test with flying colors.
Spring-Ford puts it all together in derailing Methacton
By DAVE KURTZ
WORCESTER – Brandon Leacraft threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns and Spring-Ford rolled up 475 yards of total offense in a 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over Methacton Saturday afternoon.
Leacraft hit Brandon Barone with scoring tosses of 35 and 15 yards and added TD passes of 7 yards to Trey Jarmon and 14 yards to Stone Scarcelle as the Rams snapped a four-game Warriors’ winning streak and virtually ended Methacton’s title hopes.
“It’s a little setback in the scheme of things,” said Methacton coach Paul Lepre. “They took advantage of their size and executed really well. Against a team like that you can’t make mistakes.”
The most costly blunder came midway through the second quarter after the Warriors (4-2 league, 4-3 overall) closed within 14-6 on quarterback Conner Derrickson’s 25-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff, Spring-Ford’s Zach Hare found a seam on the left side and went 84 yards to the one-yard line, setting up Matt Gibson’s 1-yard TD run for a 20-6 halftime lead.
The huge special teams play ignited a run of 21 unanswered points for the Rams, who went up 35-6 and essentially put things away on Leacraft’s 15-yard TD pass to Barone and Jarmon’s 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“Our defense played really well,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “I’m really proud of the kids. We were out of our routine today with the SATS and the late start, but they overcame that and came ready to play.”
Zach Dorsey, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound two-way senior tackle for the Rams, was certainly ready to play. Combining forces on both sides of the football with the likes of Zach Smiley, Matt Rice, Joe Goul, Nate Schoeck and Brendan Zimmie, Dorsey was instrumental in Spring-Ford ruling the trenches.
“We played as a team,” said Dorsey. “We showed our talent and played as a unit. This was a big game for us and we worked together and played up to our full potential. We knew were a lot better team than our record (3-3 coming in), and we finished the game strong. We needed this win for ourselves.”
Spring-Ford improved to 4-2 in the league and 4-3 overall with the victory. Sophomore running back Selwyn Simpson came on for an injured Gibson in the second half and totaled 136 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.
“We had some guys dinged up and our other sophomore running back came in and did the job,” said Brubaker of Simpson. “Zach Dorsey was big today, and our seniors played well as a group. We were getting the push and were able to finish drives after squandering some opportunities in the first half. Our special teams have been good all year. And like I said before, our defense played really well.”
♦ Leacraft spread the ball around, hitting six different receivers. The senior QB also hauled in a 25-yard reception from Scarcelle on the back end of a perfectly-executed wideout option pass
♦ Zimmie’s fumble recovery at the Methacton 15 set up the game’s first score – Jarmon’s 7-yard TD reception with 4:54 remaining in the first half
♦ In addition to Barone (3 catches, 65 yards, 2 TDs), Danny Matthews (5-42), Scarcelle (4-39, TD) tight end Bryce Rhodenbaugh (2-23) and Jarmon (4-15, TD) also had multiple catches
♦ Spring-Ford hosts Pope John Paul II next Saturday (2 p.m.) in its annual Homecoming game at Coach McNelly stadium
♦ Two-way standout senior back Akeem Walcott went down with a potentially-serious lower leg injury in the second half after contributing 72 yards receiving and another 18 rushing
♦ Dontae Thomas ripped off an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter after scoring earlier in the period on an 18-yard TD pass from Derrickson
♦ Derrickson rushed for 125 yards and threw for another 151, with Walcott (5-72) and Thomas (5-66, TD) his main targets
♦ Methacton coach Paul Lepre: “We weren’t able to do what we’d done the past few weeks. We were focused and ready to play after a good week of practice. Spring-Ford made plays and manhandled us a little bit. We came out of this game with quite a few injuries, I’ll need to go in and count my walking wounded.”
♦ Methacton travels to Owen J. Roberts next Friday night
- See more at: http://www.pac-10sports.com/article/content/football-spring-ford-puts-it-all-together-derailing-methacton-boxscore-0018537#sthash.POuYy8eO.dpuf
Spring-Ford comes up big in win over Methacton
By Dennis Weller
Spring-Ford's Brandon Leacraft throws for 200 yards and four touchdowns Saturday in the Rams' 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference game at Methacton.
Spring-Ford wanted to prove that it was a better football team than its .500 record might indicate and did that convincingly Saturday with a 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference win at Methacton.
Brandon Leacraft threw for 200 yards and four touchdowns for the Rams (4-2, 4-3) and Selwyn Simpson came off the bench and ran for 136 yards in the second half.
Connor Derrickson rushed for 133 yards for the Warriors (4-2, 4-3).
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said he thought it was his team's best performance of the year.
"In a way, it's a shame, because in our other big games, we didn't play as well as we did today," he said. "They knew this was a big game on our schedule."
"We knew we were a lot better team than 3-3," said Ram senior lineman Zach Dorsey. "We're hoping to finish out 7-3. This would be a start to that."
Spring-Ford led all the way after opening the scoring on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Leacraft to Trey Jarmon with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter.
A 35-yard scoring toss to Brandon Barone two minutes into the second quarter made it 14-0 and the Rams advanced the ball to the Methacton 10-yard line on their next possession and appeared ready to break it open.
Then the Warriors briefly changed the momentum when they recovered a fumble and drove 87 yards for a touchdown, the last 25 on a run up the middle by Derrickson. But Zach Hare returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the 1 and Matt Gibson ran it into the end zone from there for a 20-6 Rams lead.
Another scoring pass to Barone and another TD run by Jarmon in the third quarter broke it open for good.
"We didn't stop what they were doing," Methacton coach Paul Lepre said concerning the Rams, who racked up 468 total yards in a game that included 69 pass attempts and lasted nearly three hours.
"They have a lot of athletes they can get the ball to and their quarterback has a good arm," Lepre said. "They're a good football team."
And that's just what the Rams wanted to prove, according to Dorsey.
"We played like a team and we played to our full potential, because we're a talented team," he said. "Defensively, we worked together and on offense, we worked together. This is a good way to show us we're a good team, playing a good game against a solid team. This is a game we needed for ourselves."
"Zach Dorsey was big today," said Brubaker. "He's a guy who's a vocal leader on our team. All our seniors there were a lot of guys who got dinged up."
The Warriors also moved the ball well with 339 total yards.
Methacton's Dontae Thomas provided some late excitement with an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But the Warriors were forced to punt six times in the first half and lost a fumble in each half.
"Our defense played really well," said Brubaker. "We always came up with the stop when we needed it. That has been an issue this year. That was good to see."
Lepre said he thought his team had trouble with the Rams' big linemen, such as Dorsey.
"I think we felt going in their defensive line was a little bigger than most defensive lines we've seen the last couple months, so we spread things out," he said. "That's been our issue with Spring-Ford the last couple years. Their size is an issue. Against a team like that, you have to make every play."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Spring-Ford slams Upper Perkiomen, 62-7
By Thomas Nash
ROYERSFORD -- They say the best way to be successful in football is with an offense that displays a balanced attack through the air and on the ground as well as a hard-nosed defense that can make crucial stops when needed.
Spring-Ford fit the image Friday night, boasting an array of talent both on offense and defense as well as special teams, as they handily defeated Upper Perkiomen 62-7 under the lights at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Rams (3-2 PAC-10) finished the game with 439 total yards of offense spearheaded by quarterback Brandon Leacraft's 219 combined yards while giving up just 194 total yards to the Indians (1-4). Spring-Ford also scored on two special teams plays including a punt return from Teddy Dylinski and an Upper Perkiomen fumble on the kickoff returned for the score by Brendan Zimmie.
"We executed really well tonight,' said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker. "It was definitely a good team win. We took a little time to settle in, but once we got it going, the team clicked really well.'
After the opening quarter, the game looked to be nowhere near what the scoreboard showed at the finish.
The Rams opened up the game with a scoring drive capped off by a 3-yard run from Matt Gibson to give Spring-Ford an early 7-0 lead.
But the Indians looked to answer back as they marched the ball down the field only to be stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the Spring-Ford one-yard line.
For Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz, being stopped on the doorstep was a letdown.
"We were knocking on the door, but we just couldn't get the ball into the end zone,' said Hontz. "Things kind of snowballed from there. We lost a lot of the fire we came out with, and their sideline really took the momentum from that point on.'
The Rams closed out the first quarter with a 43-yard pass from Leacraft to Dylinski. Just two plays later, Leacraft ran it for a 31-yard touchdown to make the lead 13-0.
After forcing an Upper Perk punt, the Rams took over at the Indian 45. In the drive, Gibson took two carries for 27 yards capped by a 14-yard touchdown run to extend the Rams' lead to 19-0.
"My blockers were creating a lot of good holes which allowed me to run the ball pretty well,' said Gibson who finished with 75 yards and two touchdowns on six carries. "Those guys are the reason I was able to run the ball so well tonight. They were really working out there which got our offense going.'
On the ensuing Indian drive, the Rams forced a three-and-out and another punt from Zeke Hallman. Back deep to receive, Dylinski returned the punt 65 yards for the score to go up 27-0 with just over five minutes left in the half.
But the quarter was far from over.
On the opening play of the Rams' next possession, Leacraft found Brandon Barone on a corner fade for a 40-yard score and extended the lead to 35-0.
On the first play of Upper Perkiomen's next drive, quarterback Jacob Breyer threw an interception to Connor Crawford who ran it back to the Indian 32-yard line.
Again, the Rams scored right away as Leacraft found Trey Jarmon on a shovel pass that went for a 32-yard score and a 42-0 halftime lead.
"We wanted to make a statement in the second quarter,' said Leacraft, who finished with 150 yards through the air and 69 more on the ground. "As a team we all had last week's loss (35-29 to Pottsgrove) still in the back of our heads. Tonight it was our motivation. We wanted to come out and show what our team could do.'
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Spring-Ford's Tanner Romano leveled return man Austin Tutolo, which jarred the ball loose and was recovered by Zimmie for a touchdown extending the lead to 49-0.
The Rams went up 62-0 after an 8-yard touchdown run by Ricky Venuto and 55-yard TD run from Selwyn Simpson.
But the Tribe refused to let the scoreboard phase them.
The Indians found the end zone as Tyler Keyser threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Kendra, who finished with a team-high 60 receiving yards, to bring the closing score to 62-7.
"We did a lot of things well out there,' said Brubaker. "We moved the ball well on offense, we made stops when we needed to defensively. We had a lot of things working. Moving forward, this win will be really good for our team.'
The Rams will look to stay hot next week as they travel to Methacton Saturday while the Indians will look to rebound next week as they host Owen J. Roberts at 7 p.m. on Friday.
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Big Ticket Report of Pottsgrove Game
Porter, Pottsgrove turn back Spring-Ford in epic 35-29 victory
By Darryl Grumling
LOWER POTTSGROVE - Much like his Pottsgrove football teammates, Wyatt Porter took a beating — literally and figuratively — last week, when the Falcons saw their record 25-game Pioneer Athletic Conference winning streak snapped in a loss at Methacton.
Friday night, however, Porter was the one doling out the most punishment as Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford went at it in a game for the ages.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior fullback/linebacker delivered more mayhem than an episode of "Sons of Anarchy' as the Falcons came away with a 35-29 victory at Pennypacker Field.
Porter caught a 22-yard touchdown pass, ran for a 1-yard TD, saved a potential Rams score by literally stealing the ball from Matt Gibson after a 45-yard run, intercepted a pass on a Spring-Ford fake punt and also gained a hard-earned two yards on a pivotal fourth-and-inches play in the fourth quarter.
More importantly, he epitomized a circle-the-wagons mentality that took Pottsgrove (3-1 PAC-10, 3-2 overall) from potential desperation mode to right back into the thick of the league's title chase.
Verdone also had the performance of his career, throwing for 246 yards and three TDs, while teammate Devon Fink ran for 112 yards — including a 69-yard scoring burst with 5:14 left in the third quarter that broke a 21-21 tie and put the Falcons up to stay.
"We showed a lot of effort and a lot of heart, and that's what we're all about,' said Porter.
"I give so much credit to my kids and coaches,' Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker said. "After last week (a 20-7 loss), those guys came out hard, played hard and we had a great game plan. I'm just so proud of them.'
Spring-Ford (2-2, 2-3) got three touchdowns and 108 yards receiving from senior wideout Danny Matthews and another mammoth effort from defensive end Brendan Zimmie. But a missed extra point after Matthews' 23-yard score (as a result of scooping up a fumble after a Brandon Leacraft-to-Bryce Rhodenbaugh pass completion) that cut it to 28-27 with 4:50 left in the third quarter came back to haunt the Rams.
After forcing a fourth-down incompletion from Leacraft from the Falcons 35 a little less than two minutes into the final period, Pottsgrove methodically marched 65 yards on 16 plays and made it 35-27 on Porter's 1-yard plunge up the gut with 2:21 left.
The Rams, thanks to a 38-yard hookup from Leacraft to Stone Scarcelle, found themselves 13 yards away from a potential game-tying TD and two-point try, but the Falcons defense (with linebacker Madison Kelsey providing six tackles and Porter, Patrick Finn and Daquan Dantzler collecting five apiece) forced four straight incompletions, the final one with 1:10 remaining.
Pottsgrove couldn't quite kill the clock, with punter Mike Fowler taking a safety with six seconds left for the final margin before a chinese-fire-drill-like return started by Trey Jarmon that included several laterals flamed out around midfield on the ensuing free kick as time expired.
"We had four shots at it,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said, shaking his head outside the team bus. "Their quarterback played a heck of a game, but we've got to do a better job. I don't know what to tell you; it's frustrating.'
Early on, the Falcons appeared to be headed for frustration as the Rams scored on their second offensive play on a 53-yard scoring run by Jarmon.
But Pottsgrove answered with a Verdone-to-Porter 22-yard TD two drives later and from there momentum kept shifting as each squad continued to hit the other with offensive haymakers.
Leacraft hit Matthews for a 64-yard scoring connection to put the Rams up 14-7 with 2:18 left in the first quarter. Two plays later, Fowler took a pass in the left flat, ran over a defender and raced down the sideline for a 70-yard catch-and-run TD that knotted it back up.
Verdone found Fink for a 30-yard TD to give Pottsgrove a 21-14 lead with 2:12 left in the second quarter, but a 65-yard run by Scarcelle after a dropped punt snap set up Leacraft's 15-yard TD pass to Matthews that tied it back up 25 seconds before intermission.
The Rams then appeared to be in prime position to take the upper hand, forcing a three-and-out to start the second half before Gibson broke off a huge run from the 50. But Porter never gave up on the play and wrestled the ball free from Gibson at the 5.
"I just tried to hustle and get to him,' Porter said, "and I figured I might as well try to go for the ball.'
"When I saw that,' recalled a smiling Fowler, "I was like, '˜Oh my God.' Wyatt just brings a lot of energy out there. He's the definition of a guy that plays with his hair on fire.'
Who extinguished Rams' threats throughout the epic affair.
"There was some crazy stuff tonight,' Brubaker said. "I'd like to think it (the outcome) would be different if that (strip) didn't happen.'
Instead, the Falcons went up to stay on Fink's TD through the left side and found themselves clinging to a 28-27 lead and faced with a fourth-and-inches from their own 44 midway through the fourth quarter.
Pennypacker didn't hesitate to go for it.
"If we can't get a yard there,' he reasoned, "we don't deserve to win.'
Porter got the call and rumbled between the tackles for two yards to move the chains in the a vintage Falcons march that took 7:41 off the clock.
"Wyatt played a great game,' Pennypacker said. "He was a man out there. He's just a headsy kid, who always seems to have his nose at the right place at the right time.'
Which helped the Falcons reverse their fortunes in a big way while dealing a death blow to the contention hopes of the Rams in an instant classic encounter.
"We worked hard all week in practice, watched a lot of film,' Porter said. "It wasn't a clean win, but we went out and got the job done.'
Spring-Ford, Pottsgrove clash in must-win matchup
By Darryl Grumling
For the past three seasons, it has been the big game as far as Pioneer Athletic Conference football is concerned.
Perennial power Pottsgrove. Suddenly resurgent Spring-Ford.
The winner of this high-profile showdown has gone on to claim the PAC-10 title each of the last three years.
But when the two-time defending league champion Falcons (2-1, 2-2) and Rams (2-1, 2-2) square off Friday night at Pennypacker Field, on Pottsgrove's military appreciation night, the contest will have more of an elimination-game feel than title-game setting.
With Pottsgrove having fallen to Methacton 20-7 last week, and Spring-Ford having been taken down by Perkiomen Valley 20-7 in Week 2 (while PV is off to a 3-0 league start), neither the Falcons nor Rams can afford another defeat should they want to keep their title aspirations alive.
"Pottsgrove has had the upper hand in our series for years,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, whose team's 49-35 victory in 2011 is the Rams' lone success in the past 14 installments of the series. "Despite having one loss in the league, our kids know that this is an important game.'
As do the Falcons, according to coach Rick Pennypacker.
"They are a very good team,' he said of the Rams, "and we have a great amount of respect for them.'
Spring-Ford is coming off a record-setting effort in last week's 44-22 victory over Boyertown, in which senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft (312 passing yards, 23 completions), senior defensive end Brendan Zimmie (15 tackles) and the passing offense (333 yards) set new school single-game marks.
Sophomore Matt Gibson has rushed for a team-high 313 yards, while Brandon Barone (13 catches, area-best 435 yards, three TDs) heads a list of 10 different receivers who have caught at least one pass.
On defense, Zimmie (28 tackles) and linebackers Steve Rice (23) and Connor Crawford (22) have played big roles in a unit which has forced nine turnovers over the past three weeks.
"We are pretty close to where we thought we'd be,' Brubaker said. "We knew that we had some big games early and had to play well to win. We played well enough to win our opener (a 34-20 loss at State College), but struggled on third down defensively and offensively made some costly mistakes in key moments that affected the outcome of the game. And we just didn't play well enough offensively to beat PV.'
Pottsgrove, which saw its record 25-game PAC-10 winning streak snapped last week, will try to regroup behind an attack led by star wideout/corner Mike Folwer (11 receptions, 238 yards, three TDs), senior running back Devon Fink (the area's leading rusher with 456 yards and six TDs) and senior two-way tackle Patrick Finn.
But Pennypacker's squad will also have to overcome a rash of injuries that saw, among others, freshman fullback Parris Janusek leave last week's game and fullback/linebacker Wyatt Porter also banged up.
Counting their 41-7 opening-week defeat to Ben Franklin, the Falcons have lost as many games this year as they did in all of 2012-13 (when they went a combined 22-2).
"We are very inexperienced and young, and have been hit hard with a few injuries, which has caused us to rely on our depth,' Pennypacker said. "We are making mistakes that we hadn't in past years, and that is expected. But our kids are still working hard and have been upbeat. I just have to do a better job getting them ready to play.'
Which means preparing the Falcons' defense for a Rams' no-huddle offense averaging 409.3 yards per game.
"They are big, fast, athletic and well-coached,' Pennypacker said. "They never skip a beat and have been on a roll on both sides of the ball. Their depth is a major concern for us and the fast-paced offense causes teams to wear down as the game goes on.'
Nonetheless, Pottsgrove — which has won four of the past six PAC-10 titles and is 55-4 over its past 59 league games — has been a formidable foe to take down.
"They are the type of team that can give us problems as they come right at teams, offensively,' Brubaker said. "We are going to have to do a better job of getting off of the field on third downs. Offensively, we still have to cut down on our penalties and route-running mistakes.'
And who can limit their mistakes will go a long way in determining who emerges from Friday's survival showdown.
Spring-Ford, Pottsgrove try to stay in PAC-10 running
By Dennis Weller
Spring-Ford has gotten off to a slow start in three of its four football games this year and recovered to win just one of them.
That's something the Rams do not want to do again in tonight's game against two-time defending champion Pottsgrove, which will try to get its offense in sync after having its Pioneer Athletic Conference 25-game winning streak broken last week.
"We have to find a way to stop that," said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, whose squad fell behind State College 10-0 in a 34-20 loss, trailed Perkiomen Valley 16-0 at the half before losing 22-19 and gave up two touchdowns in the first six minutes to Boyertown last week before storming back for a 44-22 win. "That's actually happened in three of our four games and two of them, we didn't get out of it. We have some theories. We need more focus early from the kids.
"That's a big thing for us. If that happens, they (the Falcons) will shorten the game because they'll continue to run the ball. They still come off the ball really hard and, obviously, (wide receiver Michael) Fowler is a concern."
But if any team is well-equipped to wipe out a deficit, it would be Spring-Ford (2-1, 2-2), which has gotten more than 800 yards and nine touchdowns through the air from senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft. Matt Gibson has rushed for more than 300 yards on the year for the Rams, who have averaged a league-high 31.5 points and right around 400 total yards per game.
On the other hand, Pottsgrove (2-1, 2-2) has scored just seven points in each of its two losses, including a 20-7 setback at Methacton last week.
"We haven't played well on offense very much at all," said Falcons coach Rick Pennypacker. "We have to correct that. We've been spoiled. We've always been able to do what we want. We made some changes."
Pottsgrove has averaged a league-high 195.5 rushing yards per outing - including a total of 464 from Devon Fink - while averaging 84.8 through the air, with Fowler catching 12 passes for a 20.2-yard average and three touchdowns.
"We played well defensively against Methacton," Pennypacker said. "They had three big plays. I'll give Methacton credit. We had opportunities to do things, and we didn't do it."
Much of the problem for Pottsgrove, which has put together 11 straight winning seasons and not lost more than two PAC-10 games in any year since 2006, is inexperience something that hurt last week against the Warriors.
"We're young," said Pennypacker, whose team had not been held to seven points in a PAC-10 contest since a 37-7 loss to Perk Valley in 2007. "You expect this when you have only two starters back on both sides of the ball. Methacton scored on a turnover and another touchdown when one of our kids wasn't lined up in the right spot. It's a process. The kids are doing the best they can.
"I'm more worried about us than them. You have freshmen and sophomores in there who are being asked to do things they haven't done before. Spring-Ford is big, fast and athletic. We've just got to be able to play inspired football and disciplined football because they're very good."
This will be the fourth of six key games to be played among the top four teams in the standings, with the Spring-Ford at Methacton and Perkiomen Valley at Pottsgrove games yet to come.
The Rams may not win the PAC-10 title even if they win all of their remaining games. But Brubaker thinks that his team will still have a say as to whether or not it can make the District 1-AAAA playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
"At this point, having lost to Perk Valley (the last unbeaten team in the PAC-10 at 3-0), all we can do is control our own destiny and the kids have to focus on each week," he said. "Our goal is to get into the playoffs. With so many Quad-A teams and with us having five AAA teams on our schedule, we really have to win out to make the playoffs."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or email@example.com.
The Gridiron - sponsored by the Peanut Bar & Grill - Week 4
Spring-Ford pulls away late for 44-22 win over Boyertown
By Darryl Grumling
ROYERSFORD — If Steve Rice and his Spring-Ford football teammates didn't already realize they would have a fight on their hands in Friday night's Pioneer Athletic Conference contest against Boyertown, the Bears wasted no time getting that message across.
Boyertown scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, and not even 30 unanswered points by the Rams could seem to shake off the Bears.
In fact, deep into the fourth quarter the Bears were only down one possession as they drove into Spring-Ford territory.
"We knew we had to step up there and make a big stop to help our offense out,' said Rice, a junior linebacker.
That's exactly what the Rams defense did, holding on downs with a little more than six minutes remaining and tacking on a couple of big-play touchdowns to close out a 44-22 victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
With Spring-Ford up 30-22, Rice and Connor Crawford combined for a fourth-down sack of Boyertown quarterback Lawrence Garnett, and two plays later Spring-Ford quarterback Brandon Leacraft hooked up with receiver Brandon Barone for a back-breaking 51-yard TD.
Ted Dylinski returned an interception for another score in the final minute as the Rams improved to 2-1 in league play and 2-2 overall.
"We'll take the win,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "But we just have to play better. We're still inconsistent at times.'
Spring-Ford's Leacraft rebounded from a nightmarish outing in last week's 20-7 loss at Perkiomen Valley to throw for a career-high 280 yards — completing passes to nine different receivers — and four touchdowns; Barone hauled in eight receptions for 135 yards and two scores; and Rice recovered two fumbles as part of a defensive effort that posted four takeaways.
Boyertown (1-2, 1-3) got two TD runs by Garnett, four catches for 48 yards by Justin Siejk and a solid power game that amassed 187 rushing yards — but two lost fumbles and two interceptions proved to be too much to overcome against the turnover-free Rams, which amassed 451 yards of total offense.
"I just think at times we blew the momentum with those turnovers,' first-year Boyertown coach George Parkinson said. "We had them on their heels a little bit, and that's the thing that irks me the most. We try to preach playing penalty-free, fumble-free, turnover-free football, and it just frustrates me that we continue to do that (turn the ball over). Give credit to Spring-Ford, that's a good football team and they played well, but we also beat ourselves tonight as well.
"Before we came out, I said to them in the locker room, ' I know you can stay with these guys physically. But we also needed to win the mental game, and we didn't get that done.'
Nonetheless, the Bears came out firing from the get-go — getting a 38-yard TD run by Dan Heller on their third play from scrimmage and a 1-yard scoring run from Garnett with 6:03 left in the first quarter to take an eye-opening 14-0 lead.
Spring-Ford got on the board on Owen Gulati's 20-yard field goal with 2:13 left in the opening period before the Rams' high-octane offense finally started to heat up.
First, Leacraft found Danny Matthews for a 14-yard scoring strike three plays into the second quarter.
Then, a Rice fumble recovery on the Boyertown 18 led to a 4-yard TD run by sophomore Matt Gibson (15 carries, 102 yards) that put the Rams up to stay at 17-14 with 8:51 left in the second quarter.
And, finally, the 5-10, 165-pound Matthews took a short pass over the middle from Leacraft on a fourth-and-5 play and turned it into a 32-yard catch-and-run TD 2:12 before the half that sent the Rams into the locker room up 23-14.
"We tried to spread the ball around and got to ball to different people tonight,' Brubaker said. "That's what we try to do.'
Spring-Ford appeared on its way to a rout with an impressive drive to open the second half that culminated in a 13-yard TD pass from Leacraft to Barone that extended the lead to 30-14.
The Bears, however, weren't quite finished.
"I feel that if we play disciplined football, we can play with anyone,' Parkinson said.
Boyertown showed that by answering with a 13-play march highlighted by Mike Murphy's 26-yard run and capped by Garnett's 7-yard TD run and subsequent conversion run that cut the deficit to 30-22 with 3:18 left in the third.
That's how it stayed until midway through the final period, when the Bears strung together three first downs and had a first-and-10 from the Rams 36 to set the stage for the key series of the game.
After procedure penalty set the Bears back five yards, Crawford and Tim Rudderow combined to corral Garnett for a 2-yard gain. Tim Vu then delivered a pop to Garnett on a 2-yard gain on second down. Brendan Zimmie brought Garnett down for no gain on the third-and-11 sequence, and Rice and Crawford tag-teamed for the sack and 4-yard loss on fourth down.
"The key for us was just sticking to our assignments; just doing what we know,' Rice said.
"Give our kids credit for hanging in there and coming back, but we obviously have to come out better than that,' said Brubaker.
Leacraft completed a whopping 24-for-38 passes. "We've been stressing progressions with him, and he did a better job with that tonight,' Brubaker said. "We've just got to continue to improve there.' ... Bryce Dorsey hit Zach Hare for a 29-yard completion on a successful Spring-Ford fake punt from its own 40 late in the third quarter. ... Alex Nagy had an interception for Spring-Ford, which got two and a half sacks from Zimmie and one from Rudderow. ... Garnett finished with 46 rushing yards, with Hunter Vogels (44) and Heller (40) also contributing to a balanced attack.
The Gridiron sponsored by the Peanut Bar & Grill
Dynamite defense leads Perkiomen Valley past Spring-Ford, 20-7
By Darryl Grumling
Posted: 09/13/2014 12:33:52 AM EDT
GRATERFORD — Tim Mallon saved the day for the Perkiomen Valley football team last weekend with a final-minute fourth-down batdown.
Friday, Mallon simply owned the night.
The senior outside linebacker had the game of his career with four sacks and an interception to spearhead a dynamic defensive effort that carried the Vikings to a watershed 20-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over neighboring rival Spring-Ford.
With T.J. Foley collecting three sacks and Ryan Light another, Perkiomen Valley (2-0 PAC-10, 2-1 overall) racked up eight total against a harried Rams QB duo of Brandon Leacraft and Stone Scarcelle in taking down the Rams (1-1, 1-2) for the first time since 2009.
"For our seniors, who have never beaten Spring-Ford, it was really emotional for us to come out here and do this,' the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Mallon said. "We were all jacked up in school ready to go for tonight.'
Were they ever.
After Spring-Ford got an initial first down on its first drive, the PV defense stiffened and forced a punt.
Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Stephen Sturm threaded a pass through two defenders in the seam to 6-foot-3, 225-pound Taiyir Wilson — who made a juggling catch before shedding a tackle and turning it into a 43-yard TD reception that put the Vikings up 7-0 with 7:54 left in the opening period.
"That set the tone for us,' PV coach Scott Reed said. "Our defense had a great (opening) series there and we were able to score right away. Our kids made plays tonight. It's hard to take credit as a coach when your kids are out there making big plays. We had some big sacks and big catches.'
The receiving quartet of Wilson (three receptions, 87 yards), Liam Grande (four catches, 84 yards), Justin Jaworski (four catches, 51 yards) and Ryan O'Donnell (five grabs, 45 yards) helped PV move the chains and set up a couple of critical field goals by left-footed sophomore Garrett Patla.
Patla nailed a 24-yarder with 2:40 left in the first quarter to put PV up 10-0, then drilled a 32-yarder 1:50 before the half to make it 13-0.
That's how it stayed until the fourth quarter. The Vikings drove to the red zone before Sturm was intercepted by Spring-Ford's Ted Dylinski at the 3. But on the ensuing play, PV safety David Williams picked up a fumble and returned it for a back-breaking TD that extended the lead to 20-0 with 8:09 left.
The Rams finally got on the board less than a minute later when Scarcelle — who came on when Leacraft was shaken up on a Foley sack — threw a perfect strike to Brandon Barone (three catches, 107 yards) for a 70-yard TD that cut the lead to 20-7.
But Foley had sacks to help blunt each of the last two Spring-Ford possessions and help the Vikings close it out in appropriate fashion.
"Our D-line played well, and our linebackers and D-backs played phenomenal,' Mallon said.
That was the case across the board, as Seth Jonassen, Wilson, Foley, Darrell Philpot and Dan Roe wreaked havoc up front, the linebacking corps of Mallon, Light, Brett Capobianco, Nick Marren and O'Donnell created plenty of chaos; and the secondary of Grande, Mike Holland, Williams and Jaworski for the most part contained the Rams' dangerous air attack.
"Not to take any credit away from them, because they obviously played really well, but we were making scrimmage mistakes in Week 3,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, whose team committed three turnovers. "That's something that we have to correct as an offensive staff.
"We never got any rhythm. We couldn't seem to sustain a drive, and because of that we weren't able to use some things we had in our game plan. We didn't really get on the plus-side of the field, so we weren't able to do some of the things we wanted to offensively.'
Sturm wound up completing 16 of 30 passes for 267 yards, with Williams rushing for 56 yards for PV.
"Give them credit, they played well,' Brubaker said. "I thought we played really well defensively, but we were just on the field for too long. On that (first) touchdown, 21 (Wilson) made a great catch. And their QB played a heck of a game, too. I was impressed. We hit him a couple times right as he threw the ball, but he stood in there.'
Matt Gibson ran for a team-high 90 yards for Spring-Ford, which had won 28 of its previous 31 league games.
"It doesn't matter how good the other team' offense is,' Mallon said. "If your defense works harder than them, you're going to pull through.'
"Coach (Matt) Young and Coach (Tim) Connolly had a great game plan, and our kids executed it,' said Reed. "They give you a lot of looks and a lot of things to get ready for. We knew going in this was going to be a major challenge.'
Suffice it to say the Vikings were up to the test, with their D posting a Grade-A effort.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
Spring-Ford Day @ The Providence Town Center
Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley set for early-season PAC-10 battle
By Darryl Grumling
Perkiomen Valley opened its football season with a stirring second-half comeback that came up just two points shy in a loss to Council Rock North.
Then last week, the Vikings put together an impressive first two quarters before holding on for their dear lives in a three-point win over Methacton.
Returning senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft leads the PAC-10 in passing yards in 2014. Leacraft and the Rams travel to Perkiomen Valley for an early
When Perkiomen Valley plays host to Spring-Ford Friday night in an early-season Pioneer Athletic Conference showdown at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium, Vikings coach Scott Reed hopes his squad can generate that kind of effort for all 48 minutes.
"If we don't do that, we're going to be in a lot of trouble,' Reed said. "We're going to have to play our best football to compete against those guys.'
Spring-Ford (1-0 PAC-10, 1-1 overall) bounced back from a 34-20 Week 1 loss at State College to trounce Phoenixville 55-7 in last week's league opener.
Senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft leads the area with 470 passing yards and five touchdown passes, with Brandon Barone, Stone Scarcelle and Danny Matthews fronting a deep receiving corps.
In the backfield, Matt Gibson — a 5-foot-8, 155-pound sophomore who has rushed for a team-best 141 yards — has been a pleasant surprise, according to Rams coach Chad Brubaker.
"I think we're pretty much where we thought we would be at this point,' Brubaker said. "We had every opportunity to win the first game, but we just didn't do it. Hopefully we learned from that loss to State College, and it carries over going forward.'
Perkiomen Valley (1-0, 1-1) has also shown plenty of promise on an offense that has three key sophomores — quarterback Stephen Sturm, tailback David Williams and wideout Justin Jaworski.
The left-handed Sturm has thrown for 362 yards and four scores; the 5-9, 155-pound Williams leads the area with 169 rushing yards; and the sure-handed Jaworski has 10 receptions for 129 yards and one TD.
"Right now our biggest thing is finding consistency in being efficient,' said Reed, whose team had leads of 16-0 and 22-6 against Methacton last week but had to hold off a late Warriors rally for a 22-19 win. "From a numbers standpoint and field position standpoint, we had Methacton's number in the first half. But we didn't close drives out. We fumbled the ball down in their end, and we stalled a couple times. We need to find that killer instinct and be able to put a drive away and put points on the board.'
That won't likely be easy against a Rams defense that's gotten strong contributions from defensive end Brendan Zimmie (three sacks) and corners Trey Jarmon and Barone.
"We've got to get pressure on their quarterback and put him in situations he doesn't want to be in down- and distance-wise,' Brubaker said. "A couple of big keys will be controlling the line of scrimmage and trying to get to their QB.'
Meanwhile, the Vikings defense — led by linebackers Brett Capobianco and T.J. Foley, tackle Seth Jonassen and corners Liam Grande and Mike Holland — faces a daunting test against a Rams attack with a plethora of creative play calls.
"They're extremely talented on both sides of the ball,' Reed said of the Rams. "On offense, they have playmakers, nice size on their line and the quarterback distributes it very well. They're more balanced than I've every seen under Coach Brubaker.'
Since Perkiomen Valley took a 21-0 victory in the 2009 meeting, Spring-Ford has won all four encounters during Brubaker's tenure, including a grind-it-out 14-7 win at Royersford last year.
"Whoever plays four quarters obviously has a better chance to win,' Brubaker said. "It's going to be interesting. Both teams are going to be primed and ready. We've played in front of two huge crowds so far, and we're hoping it's a big crowd. I think our kids are starting to become more comfortable and excited by that.'
"I think we've got to deal with the momentum shifts when they happen,' said Reed. "The key for us, more than anything, is to be in a position to win the game at the end.'
The Gridiron - sponsored by the Peanut Bar & Grill - Week 2
Spring-Ford slams Phoenixville, 55-7
ROYERSFORD — Zach Dorsey and the rest of Spring-Ford's big, physical linemen had their way on both sides of the football against Phoenixville in the two teams' Pioneer Athletic Conference season opener Friday night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Rams scored on seven of their first eight possessions to build a 48-0 halftime lead en route to a 55-7 victory over the Phantoms.
When Phoenixville did have the football, the Rams' defense did not let them do much with it either, except for a third-quarter touchdown pass.
"In past years, we would let up, but I think this year the first team played hard the first two quarters, and then the second team got in and played hard,' said Dorsey, a two-way senior tackle. "We did what we were supposed to do. We executed.'
Spring-Ford rebounded from its 34-20 season-opening loss at State College last weekend with eight touchdowns and 492 yards of total offense. The Rams also limited the Phantoms to 46 yards of offense and four first downs with four sacks while racking up 16 first downs themselves. Their only flaws came with penalties as Spring-Ford was flagged 11 times for 111 yards.
Quarterback Brandon Leacraft completed 12 of 16 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, two to Stone Scarcelle and one to Brandon Barone. The scoring pass plays covered 14, 74 and 58 yards.
In addition to that, Spring-Ford rushed for 270 yards and five scores with five different backs handling the chores behind solid blocking up front.
Sophomore Matt Gibson gained 91 yards rushing on 11 carries during the first half and scored on runs of four and 19 yards. Sophomore Selwyn Simpson took over in the second half with 11 rushes for 113 yards, including a 62-yard TD jaunt. Leacraft scored on an 18-yard keeper, and Trey Jarmon skirted 30 yards on a draw play for another TD.
Phoenixville avoided a shutout on Ian Brown's 26-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Davido in the third quarter. Soccer player Miguel Ramirez booted the extra point. Another soccer player, Michael Stokes, was forced to punt nine times for a 28.7-yard average.
Matt Palubinsky ran three times for 35 yards and caught two passes for nine yards while also coming up with some good plays defensively. Matt Branch had a sack for the Phantoms, and Zach Gallow filled holes from his middle linebacker spot.
"We have a pretty big offensive and defensive line,' said Dorsey. "We only gave up the one sack and that was a messup. We let it go by and did what we were supposed to do.'
"I just feel like we executed well offensively and played really well defensively,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker.
"After last week when we had some situations where we made plays and then had mental mistakes. Obviously, we did a better job tonight. We decided to try to run the ball the first series. The first half we mixed it up. There are still some things we have to work on and some thing we have to improve upon with the film, and go from there.
"When you play so fast, kids get gassed. Fortunately, we have some depth at wide receiver. We were running guys in and out.'
Phoenixville coach Evan Breisblatt realized his squad was beaten by a high-quality opponent in Spring-Ford.
"They are a quad-A powerhouse,' said Breisblatt. "They have been to the district finals and they have been to the district semifinals. They are a very good program. They are not down by any means. We just couldn't get anything going. And at times when we did get stops, we would make mistakes. The only thing I know how to do is go 100 miles per hour so we get better. I want us to be more physical.'
Brendan Zimmie had two sacks for the Rams while Tim Rudderow had 1.5 and Tyler Morris one-half sack. ... Jeremiah Ndjali made two tackles for losses. ...
Next Friday night, Spring-Ford travels to face Perkiomen Valley while Phoenixville is at home against Owen J. Roberts.
The Gridiron - Week 1
State College Surges Past Spring-Ford Late
STATE COLLEGE — Spring-Ford quarterback Brandon Leacraft was dynamic, passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns.
But one bad penalty at a key moment and a rough defensive effort led to a 34-20 loss against State College on Friday at Memorial Field.
State College's Jordan Misher rushed for 226 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carrries as the Little Lions racked up 454 yards of total offense against the Rams, who have 11 new starters this season. John Weakland passed for 141 yards and a score as State College won in new head coach Matt Lintal's debut.
"We have a lot of balance this year,' said Weakland, who was 17 of 26. "We have great athletes everywhere on the field. That was a great win.'
State College led 17-14 at the half, but Spring-Ford took the lead on Leacraft's 80-yard strike to Brandon Barone on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
The Little Lions marched 69 yards on their next possession with Misher covering the final 19 with a burst up the middle.
With State College leading 27-20 early in the fourth quarter, Spring-Ford had a chance to tie it. On fourth-and-goal from the 2, the Rams picked up a procedure penalty. With Leacraft on the sidelines and Stone Scarcelle lined up at quarterback, State College stopped Ted Dylinski on a jet sweep for a four-yard loss to end the threat.
"Our defense steeped up huge,' State College coach Matt Lintal said. "They were really bearing down with their backs against the wall. They did an excellent job. That really sealed the game off. That was a huge momentum booster.'
"It was a huge momentum shifter,' Misher added.
On the Little Lions' next possession, Kellin Valentine raced 50 yards to the Spring-Ford 44. Misher took over from there. He had consecutive six-yard carries before rolling 32 yards for the clinching score.
"Truthfully, I think we were able to wear them down up front,' Lintal said. "Once we got to that point, we were ready to pound Jordan up in there.'
"The offensive line did a great job,' Misher said. "They focused and we executed today and it all feel through.'
Leacraft finished 12 of 22 and did not throw and interception.
State College led 10-0 in the second quarter when Spring-Ford finally got in gear. Leacraft led a 75-yard march, going 3 for 4 for 39 yards and rushing twice for 26. He capped it with a swing pass that Danny Matthews took 20 yards, diving into left side of the end zone for a score.
On State College's next possession, Zach Hare then picked off Weakland returned it to the Little Lions 6. Lined up in the Wildcat, Scarcelle ran twice, with a 1-yard plunge giving the Rams a 14-10 lead with 3:31 left in the half.
The Little Lions responded with a seven-play, 84-yard drive. Misher started the march with a 20-yard run and Weakland capped it by hitting Drew Flanagan on a slant for a 12-yard score.
Thanking to a 40-yard strike from Leacraft to Barone, the Rams had a chance to tie it before the half, but Dalton Barger blocked Owen Gulati's 27-yard field goal attempt.
Spring-Ford kicks off 60th season with trip to Happy Valley
By Darryl Grumbling
The slogan for the Spring-Ford football team this fall is "When in Ram.'
When its 60th season in program history kicks off Friday night, however, Spring-Ford will be nowhere near "Ram' (a.k.a. the friendly confines of Royersford).
The Rams will be some three hours away in Happy Valley, taking on State College in their season opener.
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker is hoping the road trip can be a memorable one, and not just for football purposes.
"I think it's going to be a great experience for our kids,' Brubaker said.
The Rams are scheduled to depart at 8:30 a.m. (there is no school Friday), and have a walkthrough scheduled at Holuba Hall, the indoor practice facility for the Penn State football team (which is currently in Ireland preparing for its opener against Central Florida, set for Saturday in Dublin).
According to Brubaker, Spring-Ford is also sending a student bus to State College, with those students getting a tour of Penn State as well as admission session. The school's band, which Brubaker called "the biggest in the history of Spring-Ford,' will make the trip as well.
As far as on-the-field activities, Brubaker realizes the new-look Rams will be put to the test.
"We will be playing a good team in one of the best venues in the whole state,' Brubaker said, "and we hope that we will play our best on that stage.'
That Memorial Field stage is one Brubaker is a bit familiar with, having been there as a Wilson assistant when the Bulldogs faced Bethel Park in a memorable PIAA-AAAA overtime semifinal thriller back in 2008.
Spring-Ford football team lines up as the 2014 preseason practice begin for the PAC-10. Photo by John Strickler The Mercury
Brubaker took over as Spring-Ford coach in 2010, and has guided the Rams to a 41-11 mark in his four years — including double-digit victory totals in each of the past three seasons.
After graduating their entire defense as well as area leading rusher Jarred Jones and top receiver Gary Hopkins, the Rams still have some question marks to sort out.
"We have a lot of guys who will be starting their first varsity game, so getting rid of those jitters early will be a key,' Brubaker said. "Hopefully our walkthrough will cement our assignments for our kids.'
The Rams had scrimmages against Exeter, a team that has qualified for the District 3-AAAA playoffs for the past three years, and perennial District 3 and PIAA Quad-A power Wilson.
"We played much better in our second scrimmage, especially defensively,' Brubaker said. "We hustled to the ball and tackled pretty well. We also got to the QB a few times and had two interceptions. Offensively, we moved the ball but only finished two of our drives. We also had some missed assignments on offense.'
Speaking of offense, senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft, who started a good portion of last season, will pilot a newly-installed no-huddle attack. Trey Jarmon and Matt Gibson will be the featured running backs, with Danny Matthews, Brandon Barone, Stone Scarcelle and Will Meredith heading up the receiving corps.
On the other side of the ball, Brubaker said he was pleased with the defensive line rotation of Brendan Zimmie, Jeremiah Ndjali, Matt Rice, Bryce Rhodenbaugh, Joe Campbell, Zach Dorsey, Tim Rudderow, Dan Kelchner, Alex Nagy and Tyler Morris. Zach Hare has emerged at strong safety and will start for the injured Bobby Welsh.
The Little Lions, who compete in the Commonwealth Division of the Mid-Penn League, will have a new head coach this year in Matt Lintal. Lintal, a former Bucknell University assistant, takes over for Al Wolski. John Weakland will move from wideout to quarterback, while running back Jordan Misher (900 yards, nine TDs last year) is another key cog in State College's spread-option offense. End Lonnie Koudela is one of three returning defensive starters.
AROUND THE AREA
Pottsgrove will officially christen Rick Pennypacker Field in a ceremony prior to Friday's 6 p.m. (yes, 6 p.m.) opener against Ben Franklin. According to athletic director Gary DeRenzo, the festivities are slated to get underway at 5:30 p.m. Entering his 26th season, Pennypacker has a 203-85-3 career mark, and has guided the Falcons to eight Pioneer Athletic Conference titles and two District 1-AAA crowns. ... With Quakertown's new turf field not yet ready, Upper Perkiomen will face the Panthers at Souderton Friday night. ... Pope John Paul II's opener against Bishop McDevitt Saturday at 7 p.m. will be played at Cheltenham High.
North Penn is No. 6 in the Pennsylvania Football News preseason Class AAAA rankings. Other District 1 teams ranked are Pennsbury (seventh), Coatesville (10th), Abington (honorable mention), Neshaminy (honorable mention) and Spring-Ford (honorable mention). Defending state champion St. Joseph's Prep is ranked first in the state ... In the PFN Class AAA rankings, Penncrest (at No. 10) is the lone District 1 squad to make the top 10, with Pottsgrove and Glen Mills listed among honorable mention squads. Defending state champ Archbishop Wood is ranked first.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD
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2014 Raffle Winners
2014 Raffle Winners:
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