ROYERSFORD – All the buzz surrounding Perkiomen Valley’s prolific, high-powered offense was silenced Friday night.
Spring-Ford hit the mute button on the Vikings with a defensive clinic that forced three turnovers, held the Vikings to 251 total yards and kept dynamic PV quarterback Rasaan Stewart largely in check during a 14-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
From the defensive front to the linebackers to the secondary, the Rams worked together with incredible efficiency and grit.
“When you stand here and go down the list, it’s hard to single out just one guy,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “To hold that team to 7 points shows you what kind of job they did. It was a great team effort.”
Spring-Ford had just one major breakdown on defense when Stewart broke free for a 47-yard touchdown run with 9:23 left in the second quarter to produce a 7-0 lead. But that would be all the Vikings would get.
The Rams, meanwhile, forged a 7-7 tie with 4:40 left in the first half on freshman quarterback Stone Scarcelle’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Gary Hopkins. The play was a testament to the athleticism of Hopkins, who simply outleaped the defender and turned it upfield, easily winning the footrace to the end zone.
Jarrred Jones, who needed 29 carries to amass 124 yards, gave Spring-Ford the lead for good with a 6-yard TD run at the 6:20 mark of the third quarter. The decisive 11-play, 44-yard scoring drive was set up when Joe Bush picked off Stewart on the first play of the second half.
“It came down to our conditioning,” said Bush. “We practiced all week against their up-tempo. Their offense is all Stewart. We felt if we could contain him, we’d be good. If I had to rate our defense, it was 120 percent.”
Perk Valley, which turned the ball over on downs at the Spring-Ford 8-yard line on its first possession of the game, would have some chances to get the equalizer after falling behind. The best opportunity came with 7:05 left when a bad snap on a punt attempt gave the Vikings the short field at the S-F 29. But Perk Valley went backwards on the possession with an incomplete pass, a two-yard loss on a Stewart run and a delay of game penalty wiping out the opportunity.
“This game was all about defense, field position and turnovers,” said Perk Valley coach Scott Reed, whose club had five of six second-half possessions end in Spring-Ford territory. “We had so many chances but we couldn’t punch it in. Up front, their defensive line was outstanding and I thought our defensive line was outstanding, too. We just couldn’t find our rhythm.”
Spring-Ford’s front four of Mason Romano, Robby Varner, Matt Daywalt and Alec Vagnozzi, linebackers Andy Lovre-Smith, Jake Leahy and Connor Murphy, and the defensive secondary of Bush, Jarred Shoemaker, Cody Davis and Mike Fuhrmeister made it impossible for Perk Valley to get into its normal flow.
“A lot of people doubted us,” said Vagnozzi, who had one of two sacks. “But that gave us motivation. We executed pretty well and were reading their line. We wanted to slow them down, and have the secondary make some big plays. We looked at a lot of film, and had good reads on their line.”
Despite his excessive workload on offense, Jones got some time on the other side of the ball as a roving free safety in the fourth quarter. The senior made the most of his shot, collecting a sack of Stewart to stop a PV drive that had gotten to the 30 before running out of steam.
“The difference tonight was we played as a unit,” said Jones. “We ‘re hungry, and we like being the underdogs. I thought the difference was our offensive line in the second half and the way our defense played. I played a lot of defense before I got to high school, and I was out there as a spy (on Stewart). It was nice to get Rasaan that one time.”
NOTES: Spring-Ford lost standout senior Tate Carter to a knee injury on the final play of the first quarter. Carter, one of the premier skill players in the league, didn’t return after getting assisted off the field. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Carter was on crutches and wearing a heavy brace during the second half … Stewart rushed for 118 yards on 23 carries but struggled to find any real consistency throwing the ball. His tally sheet was 12-for-27 for 97 yards with a pair of interceptions (Bush, Davis) … In addition to starter Scarcelle, Matt Daywalt and Zac DeMedio also took some snaps at QB for the Rams
Rams turn back Stewart, Vikings
By Rick O'Brien
While Spring-Ford sorts out its offensive woes, including the continuing search for a full-time quarterback, it looks as if it can hang its hat on a rock-solid defensive unit. In Friday night's Pioneer Athletic Conference game against Perkiomen Valley, which came in averaging 38 points, the host Rams limited the previously potent Vikings to a second-quarter tally and triumphed, 14-7, at packed Coach McNelly Stadium. "We know the pressure is on the defense," senior nose guard Alec Vagnozzi said. "We have to come up big a lot of times. Tonight, we were pretty much in the zone. Things mostly worked out the way we wanted." Perkiomen Valley's lone score was Rasaan Stewart's 47-yard keeper early in the second stanza. From there, with two interceptions and a late fumble recovery, the Rams continually frustrated the visitors. "We're still struggling, obviously, on defense," Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "We have to win ugly right now." The difference, following a pick by cornerback Joe Bush at the Perkiomen Valley 44, was Jarred Jones' 9-yard run around the right corner midway through the third quarter. The score capped an 11-play drive. The winning series included a 10-yard jump-pass by Jones. Also, on 4th and 2 from the 14, the senior tailback, who carried 29 times for 126 yards, sliced up the middle for a 5-yard gain. He found paydirt two plays later. "He's hurting right now," Brubaker said of Jones. "They put some pretty good hits on him." The Rams (2-1 overall, 1-0 PAC-10) clinched the win over the Vikings (2-1, 1-1) when Matt Daywalt recovered a fumble at the Spring-Ford 37 with just under three minutes to play. Stewart, a dual-threat quarterback, netted 114 yards on 23 carries. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound senior completed 13 of 26 throws for 108 yards. Said Brubaker: "We would have liked to have done a better job of keeping him off the field, but we did enough." Spring-Ford's other defensive standouts were linemen Mason Romano and Robby Varner, linebacker Andy Lovre-Smith, and backs Cody Davis (second-quarter pick) and Jared Shoemaker. Jones, seeing spot duty at linebacker, dumped Stewart for a 6-yard loss in the fourth quarter. "He was spying [Stewart] on third-down situations," Brubaker said. The Rams, who used three players at QB, forged a 7-7 tie in the second quarter on Stone Scarcelle's 44-yard touchdown pass to wideout Gary Hopkins. Spring's Ford's Tate Carter, a multipurpose standout, was lost to a left-knee injury late in the first quarter.
Taste of Spring-Ford moves outdoors for 2013
On Sunday, Sept. 22, the grounds of the Spring-Ford 9th Grade Center will serve as host to ‘Ram Country Fair’, the 4th annual installment of Taste of Spring-Ford - a fundraising event for Spring-Ford High School Football featuring dozens of area food vendors and hours of fun activities.
This year will be the first time that Taste of Spring-Ford is being held outdoors, and the outdoor ‘twist’ is why, according to event coordinator Denise Wiggins, the event has been dubbed with the Ram Country Fair moniker.
“This is wildly exciting (because) it is a win-win scenario,” she said. “More space means more activities and more opportunities to enjoy the day. We are offering the community the opportunity to come and taste the flavor of local businesses that have come together as an alliance to support the event.”
Dozens of vendors from the Spring-Ford, Phoenixville and Perkiomen Valley areas will be serving up food for the event, which will take place from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Unlike previous years, this event will have no admission cost. Attendees need only pay for the food and drinks they want and for tickets to those activities they, or their children, want to take part of – and there are plenty of free things to do as well. The parking is also free.
The events will be spread out across the different athletic fields of the 9th Grade Center, with the chief attraction being the peculiarly delightful Cow Plop Bingo, which starts at 3 p.m.
For the bingo, a series of indexed squares are marked off on one of the schools practice fields (squares can be bought now for $10 at by visiting www.Spring-FordFootball.mobi). At 3 p.m., a well-fed cow moseys out onto the field, picks a spot and, well… ‘plops’. The lucky owners of the square or squares which are marked by the ‘plop’ will be the winners. If all of the squares are sold, a single square winner will take home $1000. If enough tickets are purchased, a second bingo is expected at about 5 p.m.
“You do not have to be present to win, but there will be more joy if you’re present to watch and hear your assigned number called,” noted Wiggins.
There are two other highlight activities for the day. The first is a football activity called ‘Pros versus Joes’ where youngsters get to go out onto McNelly Stadium with Spring-Ford High School varsity football players and participate in a series throwing, punting and kicking exercises. There also is the Spring-Ford ‘celebrity’ ice cream eating contest, where coaches, school club leaders and other well-known personalities from the high school will face off to see who has the heartiest appetite.
Jen Welsh is the activities coordinator for the event, and also a parent of two Spring-Ford students who play football.
“The (fundraising) will help in many different areas,” she explained. “We have things like our pre and post-game meals for the players and coaches. Those really build a strong feeling of team unity. The (money raised) also helps with equipment costs.”
Welsh estimates that there will be about 20-25 ticketed activities, some geared for younger kids, others for older kids. Among those she named were carnival games with prizes, activities with inflatables – including a moon bounce, a rock climbing wall and dunk tank.
Free activities include ‘parachute and bubbles’ activities for young kids (groups get to sing songs and play with a large parachute), a look inside of fire trucks from the Limerick, Linfield and Royersford fire departments and a classic car show (expectations are that 10-12 cars will participate).
Welsh said that the Spring-Ford football players will be in attendance from start to finish - setting up, running activities and cleaning up at the end of the day.
“The players really enjoy the opportunity to help out – especially when they get to interact with the younger kids,” she stated.
A van from the country music station WXTU 92.5 FM will be on site playing music for most of the day. A balloon artist will also be on the premises entertaining guests.
“This event is great because it brings everyone together,” Welsh said. “Not just the kids, but also adults with and without kids. Everyone gets the opportunity to patronize all of the great vendors that come out and introduce themselves and their businesses to the community.”
Both she and Wiggins offered thanks to the many people and businesses who played a role in bringing the event together.
“I cannot express enough how important the help from the parents has been. They give countless hours of their time to make this happen and it truly would not be possible without them,” Welsh stated.
“Thanks to everyone involved, because it truly takes a village. The teamwork has been great and that is why people like living in this community… …everyone comes together and everyone appreciates one another,” said Wiggins.
For more information on Taste of Spring-Ford visit https://www.facebook.com/tasteofspringford
The rain date for the Ram Country Fair is October 6.
The 2013 Taste of Spring-Ford sponsors (to date) are:
Bruster’s Ice Cream, Corropolese Bakery and Deli, Dallas Fries, Elevation Burger, Giovanni’s Restaurant, Iced by Betsy, Kona Ice, Railroad Street Bar & Grill, Rossi’s, Rita’s Water Ice, Uncle Bob’s BBQ Shack, Beanie Bounce , Bounce U , Bruster’s Rockwall, C&C Landscaping, Colonial Gardens, Gymboree of Collegeville, Linfield, Limerick & Royersford Fire Truck Companies, Montco. Tent Company, Party Magic Plus, Pizzico Signs, Port-a-Bowl Rentals, Rental World/Limerick - Moon Bounce & Games, SFYAL Baseball/Softball Association, Spring-Ford Sports Boosters , Spring-Ford Touchdown Club , Western Montgomery Career Technology Center (WMCTC) Cosmetology Class, Wojton’s Nursery and WXTU Radio Station 92.5.
A closer look at Spring-Ford vs. Perk Valley
Rick O'Brien, Inquirer Staff Writer
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 1:09 AM
It has been a terrific start to the football season for Perkiomen Valley, with its two victories gained by a combined 70 points. Spring-Ford struggled out of the gate, falling to District 11's Whitehall by 16 points and then rebounding with a romp over Southern. In what is a key early Pioneer Athletic Conference matchup, the Vikings (2-0 overall, 1-0 league) and Rams (1-1, 0-0) will meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Royersford. It must be noted that three Spring-Ford seniors - speedy tailback Jarred Jones, wide receiver Gary Hopkins, and linebacker Jake Leahy - did not suit up for the 37-21 loss to Whitehall. Rams coach Chad Brubaker said only that they were "unavailable" for the opener. The three returned in last week's 34-0 blanking of Southern, with Jones, who has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns. "He's an extremely talented running back, has good vision, good hips, and is a great closer," Perkiomen Valley coach Scott Reed said. In the Vikings' first two games, Rasaan Stewart, a 6-foot-1, 188-pound senior and dual-threat quarterback, has rushed for 150 yards and thrown for 294. Here is a closer look at Friday's game. Last year. In Week 10, with Jones rushing for 208 yards and scoring on a 90-yard kickoff return, Spring-Ford triumphed, 42-28, over Perk Valley. Stewart ran for 130 yards and threw for 155 in the losing cause. "He was all over the field," Brubaker said of Stewart, a Division I-A recruit as a defensive back. "He carried the ball a ton, threw the ball a ton. He was exhausted, but kept going." Unsettled. Spring-Ford still is trying to find a permanent replacement at QB for Hank Coyne, who passed for 1,908 yards and 26 TDs last season and is now at Juniata. Freshman Stone Scarcelle is expected to make his second start Friday. Brubaker said he also planned to use one or more of three other QBs: senior Zac DeMedio and juniors Matt Daywalt and Brandon Leacraft. Said Brubaker: "I'd prefer for there to be a clear-cut winner at that position, but it hasn't happened yet." Threats. The Vikings have dangerous targets in wideouts Clay Domine and Dakota Clanagan. Fellow senior Mark Bonomo, a fullback, has carried 25 times for 178 yards. Do-everything type. For Spring-Ford, senior Tate Carter can be used on offense as a receiver, halfback, fullback, or Wildcat-formation QB. Stout bunch. Perkiomen Valley's defense, which has yet to allow a score, is led by tackle Anthony Pachella, linebackers Danny Light and Anthony Rotonda, and backs Kurran Holland and Liam Grande. Analysis. While Jones and Carter are quite a combo, the Rams' muddled situation at QB gives the experienced Stewart and the Vikings a slight edge. Pick. Perkiomen Valley, 34-28.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/high_school/20130912_A_closer_look_at_Spring-Ford_vs__Perk_Valley.html#teY4mtjbeGdhHsqG.99
Spring-Ford bounces back, routs Southern Philadelphia
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — Ignominious, inauspicious and inadequate are a few adjectives to describe the Spring-Ford football team's season-opening loss at Whitehall last week.
Thursday night, though, invigorating would best characterize the Rams' 34-0 non-league victory over Southern (Philadelphia) High at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Feature back Jarred Jones returned from a one-game absence to run for 179 yards and three touchdowns, wideout Gary Hopkins scored two touchdowns, Mason Romano and Robby Varner led a dominant defensive charge and freshman quarterback Stone Scarcelle enjoyed a successful debut as Spring-Ford bounced back strongly from the 37-21 Week 1 loss.
"It was really important (to rebound),' said Romano, who had 12 tackles, including three sacks, despite playing with a broken right hand he suffered last week. "We had to set the tone for the rest of the year.'
"We needed to get that hiccup out of the way and pick it up,' echoed Jones. "We made progress tonight.'
That progress was a little slow in the early going until Hopkins made his presence felt in a big way.
After Jones broke a big run on a second-and-10 play from the Southern 48, he fumbled in a swarm of defenders inside the 30. Hopkins swooped in, gathered up the loose ball and raced into the end zone.
Then, with just 1:26 left in the first half, Hopkins hauled in a deep ball from Scarcelle over two defenders at the Southern 20 and turned it into a 47-yard catch-and-run
score that helped the Rams take a 14-0 lead into the locker room.
The 5-foot-11, 145-pound Scarcelle wound up 7-for-16 for 112 yards but was also intercepted twice.
"He played with some tenacity,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "He does some things real well. Obviously, experience is an issue and making the right decision is an issue, but he has a big upside.'
Jones, who Brubaker termed "unavailable' for Week 1, then took over the second half, when he rushed for 109 of his yards and displayed some Barry Sanders-like cutback ability.
Three plays into the third quarter, Jones broke off a 31-yard scoring scamper that made it 20-0. Later in the quarter, he scored on a 25-yard run in which he broke down the left sideline before totally reversing the field. Jones then closed out the scoring with a 5-yard run with 1:14 left in the game.
"Our offensive line played with a lot of heart,' Jones said. "Once we got the ball moving, everything else started flowing.'
On the other side of the ball, Romano, Varner and Co. ensured Southern never got into its flow.
Spring-Ford's defense allowed just 66 rushing yards (on 46 carries) and 122 total yards.
"We were all flying around tonight,' Romano
Spring-Ford's Gary Hopkins jumps over Southern's Nicholas Coffie to score a second quarter receiving touchdown Thursday. (Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)
said. "We all played together.'
"A great defensive effort,' Brubaker said. "That's what we were looking for. If we would have played with that urgency and intensity last week, it would have been interesting. Defensively, we worked towards finding our identity and playing the way we expected to play.'
Tate Carter had four receptions for 44 yards and Hopkins had two catches for 60 yards as part of a balanced offensive attack that registered 295 total yards.
"I think as the weeks go on, we'll keep progressing and keep getting that chemistry down,' Jones said.
Brubaker was still smarting afterwards a bit about some shoddy special teams play, which also haunted the Rams last week.
"That cost us in the first quarter and was a big reason we were down 14-0,' Brubaker said. "We had some of that tonight again, and we have to straighten it out. You can't run into the kicker on fourth-and-50 and drop punts. But all in all, this game was something to build off of.'
Bryant Hudgins, a 5-10, 183-pound junior, ran for a team-high 46 yards for Southern (0-2), which got a 6-for-9, 56-yard passing effort from senior QB Michael Riley and two interceptions from senior Ryan Stewart. ... Tim Rudderow recovered a fumble for Spring-Ford. ... The Rams play host to Perkiomen Valley in a league-opening showdown next Friday night.
Whitehall swarms Spring-Ford in 1st half on way to 37-21 win
By Barry Sankey
WHITEHALL — Spring-Ford fell behind Whitehall early and never could fully recover in its non-league football season opener Friday night at Zephyr Stadium.
Whitehall built a 31-7 halftime advantage and went on to beat the Rams, 37-21.
"Obviously, they are well-coached,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. "We made some mistakes early. We had some costly mistakes on special teams that set them up for some big scores.
"We don't really have an identity yet. We have to take a look at the films. We had some good moments, but we didn't force a lot of punts.'
Defensive lineman Rob Varner got the Rams on the scoreboard with a 31-yard interception return in the third quarter. Then Tate Carter scored a pair of fourth-period TDs on runs of 9 and 25 yards. Owen Gulati kicked all three extra points.
Carter ended the night with 20 carries for 107 yards. He also played some quarterback along with Brandon Leacraft and Zac DeMedio.
Spring-Ford defensive lineman Mason Romano had a big night with several tackles for losses.
Ryan Bonshak scored the first two Whitehall TDs on a 21-yard pass from Jeff Charles and a 6-yard run for a 14-0 lead after one stanza.
Saquon Barkley then caught a 30-yard scoring toss from Charles and scampered 55 yards for another score. He rushed for 121 yards on 14 tries.
Connor Ilgenfritz booted a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. The Rams just missed blocking the kick and should have, according to Brubaker.
It was a rude awakening to open the season for the reigning District 1-AAAA finalists, which finished 12-3 a year ago. Whitehall went 8-3 in 2012 and captured a share of the Lehigh Valley conference title and reached the District 11-AAAA quarterfinals.
Spring-Ford won last year's season-opening encounter with Whitehall, 31-20.
Spring-Ford aiming high
By DENNIS C. WAY 21st-centurymedia.com
ROYERSFORD — If the Spring-Ford High football team's first three seasons under head coach Chad Brubaker were a ladder, then the Rams are moving in the proper direction.
In 2010, Spring-Ford went 9-3 and just missed qualifying for the District One playoffs.
In 2011, the Rams were 10-2 and reached the playoffs, although it was a short stay.
Last year Spring-Ford skipped a couple of rungs, climbing all the way to the District One Class AAAA final before falling to eventual state finalist Coatesville.
Or, as senior linebacker/fullback Andy Lovre-Smith accurately recapped, "Two years ago our goal was to make districts, which we did. Last year our goal was to make a splash at districts, and we did.
"This year, our goal is to repeat last year, only top what we did.'
And with an excellent mix of returnees and impressive varsity first-timers, the Rams' goal is reachable.
Now, if they can only find a quarterback.
The biggest question entering Spring-Ford's summer camp was still the team's biggest question better than two weeks in - who will replace three-year starter Hank Coyne?
"It's still a mystery,' said Brubaker. "We have to go through our scrimmages and evaluate.
"I wish I could say someone has stepped forward, and I hope that speaks to our ability.'
"We're all anxious to see who's going to lead us,' offered two-way skill standout Tate Carter, "and we all have our opinions. But we'll leave that up to the coaches. "No matter who they pick, we'll be OK. All of them are pretty good.'
For the moment it's a three-man race between juniors Brandon Leacraft and Matt Daywalt and senior Zac DeMedio.
But whoever winds up calling signals, he won't lack for a quality supporting cast.
That quality begins with dynamic running back Jarred Jones, who gained 975 yards in virtually a half a season last year after suffering a broken wrist early in the season, and Carter, who rushed for better than 700 yards and led the team with 41 receptions.
"I'd bet every team in the state would want Jones and Carter,' Lovre-Smith said. "Those are two guys who can make a play any time they touch the ball.
"Last year we looked very good rotating Jarred and Tate, so I don't see us changing much.'
Add to that duo the talents of wideout Gary Hopkins, who at 6-foot-2 is a matchup nightmare for opposition corners, and the conversion of the 6-5 Tyliek Freeman to tight end, and the Rams should not want for playmakers.
"We just need someone who can get the ball to these guys,' Brubaker said.
Up front, Brubaker said this year's trenchmen represent, "the strongest line we've had in terms of strength. We have two guys back from last year, and the others knew they were going to have to step up, and that's what they've done so far.'
Defensively, the Rams will lean heavily on returning All-Pioneer Athletic Conference linemen Mason Romano and Robby Varner, talented cornerbacks Joe Bush and Jared Shoemaker and Lovre-Smith at middle linebacker.
Elsewhere, Brubaker has liked what he's seen of those players fighting for starting defensive jobs.
"We have a lot of guys with chips on their shoulders,' the coach said, "and that's good to see.'
The pieces seem to be in place for a season that could last into late November and maybe even early December.
But Brubaker was quick to define his club's priorities.
"There were eight teams left in the state last year (in Class AAAA) and we were one of them,' the coach said. "But we didn't win our league last year, and that's always our goal.
"But these guys also got a taste of being in the playoffs. And once you get that taste, you don't get rid of it too quickly.'
Now if the Rams can only find a quarterback.
Pottstown Mercury Week 1 Capsule
By Darryl Grumbling
SPRING-FORD AT WHITEHALL
Last year’s records: Spring-Ford 12-3; Whitehall 8-3.
About the Rams: Under coach Chad Brubaker, the Rams have notched double-digit victories in each of the past three seasons. ... Defensive line has a couple of quality veterans in All-Area first-team picks Robby Varner and Mason Romano. ... Senior tailback Jarred Jones and senior WR/RB Tate Carter are main weapons on offense. ... Biggest question mark is at QB, where junior Brandon Leacraft will get the start tonight. ... Corners Joe Bush and Jarred Shoemaker have looked good in camp, according to Brubaker, and Josh Boyer has emerged as a force at RG.
About the Zephyrs: Went 8-1 last year to land a share of the Lehigh Valley conference title and reached the District 11-AAAA quarterfinals. ... Coach Brian Gilbert is trying to rebuild an offensive line that lost four starters and a defensive line that lost three. ... Key players are DB/RB/QB Ryan Bonshak, TE-DE Nick Nejad, LB-OL Jacob Kerchner, OL-DL Fouad Haddad, LB-WR Darius Young and QB Jeff Charles.
Notes: Spring-Ford took the initial encounter in the series by a score of 31-20 last year. ... “The biggest thing for us will be to find our comfort zone as quickly as possible, and, of course, limit mistakes,” Brubaker said. “We have a lot of kids either with little experience at the varsity level or limited varsity experience at a new position. Early-in-the-game success will go a long way in dissipating some of the first-game jitters that we know are going to occur.”
Spring-Ford becoming dominant program
Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley, Spring-Ford expected to lead the way in PAC-10
By Darryl Grumling
Over the past decade, only one Pioneer Athletic Conference football squad (Pottsgrove in 2008-09) has been able to win back-to-back league titles.
This season, the Falcons appear to have a good shot at successfully defending their league title — literally.
Thanks to a stingy defense that returns all but two starters, Pottsgrove (9-0 PAC-10, 11-1 overall last year) earns an ever-so-slight nod as the PAC-10’s morning-line favorite.
The Falcons’ defense allowed less than seven points a game over the first seven games of last season. The watershed moment came in Week 5, when Pottstown absolutely shut down a high-powered Spring-Ford attack in a 26-0 victory over the defending league champs.
“We worked as a team,” said linebacker Jeff Adams. “The defensive line stayed strong and held their holes. The linebackers filled their holes. And the defensive backs did a good job of guarding the wide receivers.”
Up front, Patrick Finn, Anthony Pond and Max Wickward highlighted a D-Line that got things started by consistently winning the battle of the trenches.
Linebackers Adams and Sene Polamalu pursued the ball with the tenacity of a junkyard dog.
And the secondary of corners Marquis Barefield and Michael Fowler and safeties Riley Michaels and Jalen Mayes blanketed opposing receivers virtually all season, allowing an average of 87.1 passing yards per game.
“I think every one of those kids played their position,” Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker said. “A lot of them were young, inexperienced and new, and all they did was play their assignments with tremendous technique.
“Our coaches do a great job teaching, and when they (the defense) just worry about their assignments and take care of their own business, it all fits together. We have some skill kids in the secondary who are very quick, so we’re able to play some man-to-man (coverage). If you can do that, it frees things up a little more up front and you can do some blitzing and put more pressure on the quarterback.”
Adams, Fowler and Michaels are returning All-Area first team selections. The 6-2, 190-pound Adams collected 98 tackles and 2.5 sacks in making big contributions to a unit that ranked No. 1 in the area against the run. Fowler, a playmaking 5-10, 165-pounder, intercepted five passes to go along with 46 tackles and one sack. And the scrappy 5-8, 155-pound Michaels had 84 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.
“We have good chemistry, and we just work good together,” Adams said.
“If that (defense) isn’t one of our main strengths, then there’s something wrong,” Pennypacker said. “We have nine of them back. We did lose two very good players in (tackle) Zach Birch and (linebacker) Nick Brennan, but we’re still solid there. That’s the nice thing about this year; we’re able to put a little more (scheme) in with the kids. One thing about our defense that a lot of people don’t realize is that the kids are all very smart kids, so we’re able to do a lot of things. Repetition over and over equals success, and the more reps you get the better you are. That’s what we’re trying to get right now.”
While Pottsgrove’s defense will likely set the tone, the Falcons’ offense should still be plenty potent, despite graduating the explosive tandem of quarterback Tory Hudgins and tailback Mark Dukes.
Michaels has emerged as the starter at QB, with Barefield and Polamalu heading up the backfield and Folwer and Mayes composing the prime receiving targets.
That skill corps will operate behind another strong offensive line anchored by returners Finn, Anthony Pond and Tom Sephakis.
“We’re just going to have to keep working hard,” Pond said. “We never change our philosophy here. We’re never satisfied. We get after it and bust our humps. If we take one day off, somebody is going to gain a hand up on us.”
The Falcons certainly can’t afford to take off with the tandem of Perkiomen Valley (7-2, 8-3) and Spring-Ford (7-2, 12-3) expected to be breathing down their necks.
The Vikings feature the league’s most dangerous offense, a no-huddle attack piloted by Division I recruit Rasaan Stewart, the reigning Mercury All-Area Player of the Year.
The 6-1, 176-pound Stewart ran for a team-high 1,210 yards and 21 touchdowns last year while also completing an area-best 61 percent of his passes for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also “quarterbacked” PV’s defense from his safety position, where he broke up eight passes and collected one interception and forced fumble.
But Vikings coach Scott Reed has plenty of other weapons in his offensive arsenal as well, including the returning All-Area first team tandem of running back Mark Bonomo (1,040 yards, eight TDs) and wideout Clay Domine (55 receptions, 865 yards, five TDs).
In the three years since Chad Brubaker has taken over as coach at Spring-Ford, the Rams have racked up an impressive 31 wins, highlighted by last season’s 12-win campaign in which they reached the District 1-AAAA final for the first time.
Though they were hit hard by graduation, the Rams still have a couple of big-name threats in tailback Jarred Jones (975 yards, 10 TDs last year; 2,435 career rushing yards) and versatile fellow senior Tate Carter (1,302 combined rushing/receiving yards, 15 TDs), who can line up virtually anywhere in the backfield.
Though Brubaker is upbeat about the potential of his offensive line and stable of receivers, there is still a question as to who will be throwing them the ball between the trio of Zac DeMedio, Brandon Leacraft and Matt Daywalt.
Tackles Mason Romano (67 tackles, six sacks) and Robby Varner (60 tackles, two sacks) spearhead the defense.
“There are a lot of question marks, and camp is going to serve to answer them,” Brubaker said. “We’re deeper at wide receiver than any team I’ve been around. There’s guys that need to touch the ball, and hopefully we can start out the season protecting our quarterbacks in terms of what we ask them to do. At some point, they’re going to have to be able to throw the ball and we’re going to have to get the ball in the hands of those kids.”
Just three years ago, Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts shared the PAC-10 title. Though the Bears and Wildcats have gone a collective 9-27 in league play and 13-34 overall, each team seems primed to bounce back this fall.
The Bears (3-6, 3-8) will feature huge offensive and defensive fronts led by tackles Austin Jacobs and Kyle Schutt, a couple of 6-4, 290-pound bookends. Coach Mark Scisly returns all but one starter on defense and has a three-year starter at quarterback in Griffin Pasik as well as a returning 1,000-yard rusher in Cody Richmond.
Speaking of rushing, the Wildcats (3-6, 3-9) have a workhorse in senior Wyatt Scott (225 carries, 1,226 yards), who will run behind a line led by 290-pounder Steve Myers. Scott, a safety, and lineman Kolten Hainsey will be big keys on defense for coach Tom Barr.
Methacton (5-4, 6-5) and Pottstown (4-5, 6-6) can both be labeled darkhorse contenders.
The Warriors, who reeled off four straight victories to end last season, will likely lean on a running game led by fullback Mike Cassidy, the slotback tandem of Devin Bradley and Akeem Walcott and quarterback Kyle Lowery.
Coach Paul Lepre looks to have a solid defense led by linebackers Cassidy, Bradley and Nick Torcini and nose guard Tracey Green.
The Trojans feature two-way standout Dayon Mohler, and All-Area first team selection last year who notched a league-high six interceptions. Denzel Harvey is a threat both running and catching the ball, and quarterback Gary Wise will be directing a triple-option attack for first-year coach Don Grinstead.
Phoenixville (6-3, 7-5) lost four All-Area first-team picks to graduation — most notably Mercury Two-Way Player of the Year Ryan Pannella and 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Yenchick.
Coach Bill Furlong is hoping the Phantoms can grind it out this year with a blue-collar offense quarterbacked by Kyle Karkoska with Justin McDougal as the likely feature back.
Pope John Paul II (1-8, 1-9) saw its season sabotaged by a cruel and seemingly season-long rash of injuries a year ago.
This season, Golden Panthers coach Mike Santillo is hoping a more healthy roster and balanced offensive philosophy can translate into more success.
The trio of Nick Howarth, Kirk Cherneskie and Johnnie Bildstein will contribute to what should be an improved ground game, though quarterback Matt Mesaros can still air it out to targets like Tim Tadros.
At Upper Perkiomen, coach Steve Moyer is optimistic the Indians (0-9, 0-10) can be more competitive.
The Tribe will feature one of the area’s top backs in senior Aidan Schaffer (1,163 yards, nine TDs); a 6-4 receiver in Travis Kline (23 catches, 341 yards, three TDs); and a new quarterback in junior Wyatt Brumm.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
Spring-Ford’s Carter is a man of many hats
By Dennis Way
ROYERSFORD — Just for a giggle, the reporter suggested to Spring-Ford High head football coach Chad Brubaker that Tate Carter’s playbook must be huge.
After all, the Rams senior has played linebacker, free safety, strong safety, running back, wide receiver, quarterback and run back both punts and kickoffs during his varsity career.
Not missing a beat, Brubaker had a ready response.
“You know,” Brubaker deadpanned, “I think it is.”
All chuckles aside, Carter’s versatility has been a primary reason for the Rams’ success over the past three seasons.
And even he has a hard time when it comes to winding up in the right huddle at Spring-Ford practice.
“I start off with the wide receivers,” he said, “then I go with the running backs, then the quarterbacks and then to defense and special teams,” Carter said with the smile of a young man who has been through that gauntlet more than once. “I started off playing just running back and middle linebacker when I was young, but I keep adding on.”
As for keeping them all straight and knowing his assignments for each, Carter said it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
“It’s not really a matter of studying all of those positions,” he said. “You just have to know the concepts for each position.”
If that’s the case, Carter has gotten the hang of a heck of a lot of concepts.
At his two most noticeable positions, Carter rushed for 732 yards and 10 touchdowns at running back last year, then grabbed 41 passes for five more scores while playing wideout.
The senior not only wears a lot of hats, he’s real good under all of them.
“(Carter) can do a lot of things,” Brubaker said. “I really don’t like to compare players that I’ve coached, but in terms of what he can do, he’s a notch above most guys I’ve coached in my career.
“Last year he scored touchdowns as a tailback, a fullback, a wide receiver and a quarterback. And he probably would have scored one as a tight end if we had put him there.”
With all of the roles he fills so effortlessly, Carter said his primary purpose is to not demonstrate his versatility.
“Knowing I can do all of those things, I just stay humble,” he said, “and think in terms of the team and what I can do to help the team.
“I definitely prefer playing wideout or in the slot. Offense is where I think I can do the most for my team. I think my abilities are better suited to offense.”
You’d never know that to watch Carter adapt so readily to all three facets of the game. But those schools at the next level seem to agree.
“Most of the letters I’m getting are coming from (collegiate) offensive coordinators,” he said.
Like most of his teammates, Carter is focused on this season, hoping the returning district finalists can take one more step toward what they hope can be a state-title run.
“I definitely see potential, but we really have to take it one game at a time,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re playing at our best and practicing at 110 percent every day. That’s the only way we’ll get to where we were last year.”
RUNNING BACK SPOTLIGHT – Jarred Jones – Spring-Ford
Written by: David Mika on Friday, August 16th, 2013
Jarred Jones, Spring-Ford
40 Yard Dash: 4.5
Class of: 2014
Jersey: # 6
Years with Varsity: 2-years
2012 Stats: Despite missing six games with a broken wrist, Jones rushed for 980 yards on 122 carries and 10 touchdowns. His sophomore year he rushed for 1,455 yards and 16 touchdowns. In two-years he has had almost 3,000 all-purpose yards.
2012 Highlights: He rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns against Pope John Paul II.
Coaches Q&A with Chad Brubaker:
Describe his strengths?
“He can do a little bit of everything. He has a great skill set. He is a strong kid, pound-for-pound he is one of our strongest kids on our team. He has breakaway speed and runs with a lot of power. He likes to deliver a blow to a defensive player and make them miss. We would like to get him the ball more out of the back field this year. He has good hands We have some things in the works to try and get him the ball different ways this year. Also, he is a good pass blocker.”
How much will he play defense for you this year?
“We will pick and choose when he plays defense this season.”
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Spring-Ford hopes to continue recent run
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — In the three seasons that Chad Brubaker has coached the Spring-Ford football team, the Rams have impressively increased their victory total from the previous year.
While that trend will be virtually impossible to continue after last season’s watershed 12-win campaign, no one should expect the Rams to fall back into the Pioneer Athletic Conference pack anytime soon.
Spring-Ford (7-2 PAC-10, 12-3 overall last year) returns a couple of prime-time offensive threats in senior tailback Jarred Jones (982 yards, 8.1 ypc, 10 TDs) and do-it-all weapon Tate Carter (combined 1,305 rushing/receiving yards, 15 TDs) — a duo expected to spearhead Brubaker’s multi-faceted attack.
According to Brubaker, the Rams’ biggest strengths appear to be a deep receiving corps and an offensive line he considers the strongest in his tenure at Spring-Ford.
With the graduation of three-year starting quarterback Hank Coyne, that position is still up for grabs between the trio of senior Zac DeMedio, junior Brandon Leacraft and junior Matt Daywalt. Carter will also figure into the mix in Wildcat sets for a squad that hopes to gradually gain its identity over the early part of the season.
“We have to get through our first three games,” Brubaker said. “That’s going to set the tone. It won’t define the year, but it will certainly set the tone. We start off with a good Whitehall team up there, then we have South Philadelphia and Perkiomen Valley at home. If we can come out of there 2-1 or 3-0, it sets us up for the rest of the season”
On defense, end Mason Romano (67 tackles, six sacks) and tackle Robby Varner (60 tackles, two sacks) — both All-Area first-team picks last year — lead the way for the Rams.
“It’s going to come down to what the guy next to you is doing and what the guy next to him is doing,” Varner said. “We just have to pull together.
“The biggest challenge with a lot of new guys on the team is that we all have to know our assignments. That’s the way we’re going to win games: work together and know what we’re doing. We need to study our opponents well, so we can learn their weaknesses and make them our strengths.”
Coming tomorrow: Boyertown.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
CBS High School Football Top Ten
CBS High School Football Top Ten
By Joseph Santoliquito
The Rams were the surprise of the area last season, vaulting all the way to the District 1 Class AAAA championship game, where they lost to Coatesville, 59-28. The Rams went 12-3, the most victories in a season for the program. Coach Chad Brubaker returns one of the most exciting players in Southeastern Pennsylvania in Tate Carter. Senior Jarred Jones is also dangerous in the open field. Quarterback will come down to senior Zac DeMedio or juniors Matt Daywalt and Brandon Leacraft.
40 Teams in 40 Days – Day 24 – Spring-Ford (1) – Big School Team # 9
40 Teams in 40 Days – Day 24 – Spring-Ford (1) – Big School Team # 9
Written by: David Mika on Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
Conference: Pioneer Athletic Conference
Coach: Chad Brubaker
2012 Record: 12-3
Returning Players – Offense: Jr. OT Zach Dorsey; Sr. OG Josh Boyer; Sr. OG Andy Cutler; Sr. ATH Tate Carter; Sr. RB Jarred Jones; Jr. RB Michael Furmeister; Sr. WR Gary Hopkins; Sr. WR Joe Sink; Sr. WR Cody Davis
Returning Players – Defense: Sr. DL Robby Varner; Sr. DT Mason Romano; Sr. DE Alec Vagnozzi; Sr. LB Andy Lovre-Smith; Sr. LB Jake Leahy; Sr. CB Joe Bush; Sr. CB Jared Shoemaker
Special Teams: “Tate Carter is back at punt returning. Tate, Jarred Jones and Michael Furmeister return kicks. Kicking off is Dave Gulati. We have a battle at the punting position.”
Top Newcomers: Sr. WR Mason Lucas; Sr. TE Tyliek Freeman
How’s your offensive line?
“Zach Dorsey is moving from left guard to left tackle, he is a returning starter. The other returning lineman is Josh Boyer. He will play right guard. He platoons sometimes with Andy Cutler. Cutler will be at left guard. Chase Stine, Tyler German, Zach Smiley and Joe Goul will add depth on the line.”
Your quarterback is gone. Who will be your quarterback this year?
“We are having a battle at quarterback position this summer to determine our starter. We have Senior Zac DeMedio and two Juniors. They are Matt Daywalt and Brandon Leacraft. All three kids have one thing in common, little experience at the varsity level. We may not make a decision until week one.”
How about your running game?
“We have two great backs back. They are Jarred Jones and Tate Carter. Carter plays everywhere on the field. Michael Furmeister is another back that could see some time. Our fullback will be by committee.”
How’s your receivers look?
“We have the most depth at receiver spot. Gary Hopkins was our leading receiver, he’s back. Tate Carter is back. The other seniors that are back include, Joe Sink and Cody Davis. Mason Lucas, Danny Matthews, Brandon Barone, Connor Murphy, Alec Welsh and Will Meredith add depth. We also have a transfer from Pope John Paul II, he is Jon Traywick.”
“At tight end we are moving Tyliek Freeman from wide receiver to tight end. He has worked real hard this off-season. Alec Vagnozzi is back at H-Back and he started a couple of games at fullback for us last year. The other tight end is Bryce Rhodenbaugh.”
How’s your defensive line?
“Mason Romano and Robby Varner were all-league defensive tackles. Mason probably will move to defensive end or play some tackle. Where he was all-league as a sophomore. The defensive tackle position is wide-open. Zach Smiley is in the mix. We did move Alec Vagnozzi from linebacker to end. We think it’s a better fit for him.”
How are your linebackers?
“Andy Lovre-Smith saw some time as a sophomore and started as a junior, he’s back. We moved Jake Leahy from defensive end to linebacker this summer to see how he can adapt. If Matt Daywalt isn’t our quarterback he has a chance to start at linebacker or defensive end. Jarred Jones and Connor Murphy will see sometime at linebacker. Tim Vu adds depth.”
How’s your secondary look?
“Joe Bush and Jared Shoemaker are returning corners. Michael Furmeister, Joe Sink, Tate Carter and Cody Davis will battle at the safety spot.”
What are your keys this year?
“We are moving some kids around and it will depend on how quickly they pick up their new positions. We need to find leadership from the senior class. We have the ability to be good. It’s going to be a matter of coaching the little things. It’s important to get off to a good start.”
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Carter Featured on www.easternpafootball.com
ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT – Tate Carter – Spring-Ford
Written by: David Mika on Sunday, July 28th, 2013
Tate Carter, Spring-Fordt.carter
Class of: 2014
Jersey: # 1
Years with Varsity: 2-years
Starting experience: His sophomore year he returned some punts and kicks. He played more receiver for us last year. But he was all over the field. This year he will play both sides of the ball.
2012 Stats: At quarterback he was 3 of 4 passing for 38 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 714 yards on 101 carries and 10 touchdowns. He was the leading receiver with 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns. He had 1,540 all-purpose yards.
2012 Highlights: His top rushing game was against Pottstown. He rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Honors: Honorable mention All-PAC-10 team as a athlete.
Coaches Q&A with Chad Brubaker:
What are his strengths on the field?
“Tate had the strongest arm on our team last year. He’s as quick as anyone on the team. He may be our punter this year. He can do pretty much anything he put’s his mind to. He has worked real hard on his speed this summer. He looks really quick in spring practice. I think he opened a lot of eyes in his game against Coatesville. Even though we got blown out, everyone was talking to me about the game he had.”
He played many positions for you last year. How many different ways did he score?
“Last year he played quarterback. He ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown. At tailback he ran for touchdowns. He played fullback which I believe he ran for a touchdown. At receiver he caught touchdowns.”
Do you put packages in for him each week?
“We have a package every week as far as what we are going to do with Tate. We can match him up on somebody, so we have the advantage. We except huge things from him this year. On defense we may move him around at times. He is very versatile and he can do so many things.”
Video Highlights: Click here
Spring-Ford Football Releases 2013 Slogan and Graphic
Yenchick, Team Liberty win second PAC-10 Senior Bowl
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD — Ryan Yenchick made the most out of his final scholastic football game, and Phoenixville teammate Brian Madden made it a fond memory as well.
The two Phantoms played instrumental roles Sunday afternoon as Team Liberty defeated Team Freedom, 28-12, in the second annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl at Spring-Ford High School’s Coach McNelly Stadium.
Yenchick snagged seven receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns as Liberty broke out to a 28-0 halftime lead in posting the victory, its second straight in the all-star classic. Yenchick caught a 17-yard scoring pass from Methacton quarterback Brandon Bossard and then a 26-yarder from Pottsgrove signal caller Tory Hudgins.
Madden, who played linebacker on defense for Liberty, returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown, the first one of the game, that set the tone for Liberty’s victory. It came with 6:36 remaining in the opening period, and Perkiomen Valley’s Brett Davis tacked on the first of four placements.
“I dropped three balls, but then the other guys helped pick me up,” said Yenchick, who will continue his football career at Salisbury University. “I got back in a zone and was able to catch some passes.”
Hudgins completed 5 of 13 passes for 104 yards and one TD, and Bossard finished 7-for-15 for 87 yards and one score.
Liberty outgained Freedom in total yardage, 290-229, on the day, and Liberty also was active on defense with three interceptions. Besides Madden’s pick, Spring-Ford’s Ben Schein and Perkiomen Valley’s Martise Ray also pilfered passes.
Liberty also unleashed abundant pressure up front, pressuring Freedom quarterbacks Sage Reinhart of Pottstown and Hank Coyne of Spring-Ford all afternoon. Paced by Spring-Ford defensive end Zameer McDowell’s three sacks, Liberty totaled six sacks in all. Pope John Paul II’s Josh Bildstein made 1.5 sacks from his defensive tackle spot, while linebackers Zach Birch of Pottsgrove had one and Mike Reiner of Perkiomen Valley a half sack.
“Our whole defense was outstanding,” said Liberty head coach Scott Reed of Perkiomen Valley. “Our whole defense played well.”
McDowell, who registered all three of his sacks in the opening quarter, also deflected a pass and blocked an extra point. Liberty also got pursuit from the other end by Spring-Ford teammate RJ Sheldon, who batted down a pass.
“We did great on defense and our D-line really helped,” said Yenchick. “They were getting the edge and breaking up the play of the quarterbacks.”
Reinhart finished 12-for-18 for 133 yards with one INT and one TD, a 30-yarder to PJP’s Jamel Stinson that put Freedom on the board in the third period. Coyne closed at 5-for-15 for 78 yards with two INTs and one TD, a 17-yarder to PJP’s Chris Veisbergs.
“We started getting it together in the second half,” Reinhart said. “We came out on fire – didn’t want to get kicked around anymore. We played a lot better, but it wasn’t enough.”
Teams being chosen by a draft instead of being selected by region – meaning high school teammates lined up against one another all throughout the contest – made for quite a reality shift, especially for the quarterbacks.
“We came out here to have a good time. It was funny playing against some of the boys I’ve been playing against. I grew up with a lot of these guys. (Pottstown teammate Andrew) Gazzillo got after me a couple times.”
Veisbergs made six receptions for 88 yards, and Stinson had six catches for 87 yards.
“Ryan Yenchick made several huge plays for us offensively,” said Reed. “It was really fun for the kids. They had a couple weeks to play together. Our quarterbacks did a good job of throwing it out there.”
Reed praised all the senior players on both sides for concentrating on the game with all that seniors have going on at this time of year with graduation approaching as well as other events.
An interception was quite a way for Madden to punctuate his high school career.
“It was my first ever interception in a game,” said Madden. “I am kind of glad it was in my last game and I even got a touchdown. It was kind of nice for three of the four touchdowns coming from our team. He (Yenchick) really comes up big.”
The rules for the game put the accent on passing. But Spring-Ford’s Yousef Lundi of the Liberty scored on a 5-yard run and gained 68 yards on 19 tries, including one 23-yard burst up the middle.
Spring-Ford’s Kyle Hoffner of Freedom picked up 25 yards rushing on four tries.
Liberty’s Josh Bildstein of PJP and Freedom offensive lineman Brian Hyland of Phoenixville were each awarded $500 scholarships from the PAC-10 Football Coaches Association. ... Jon Klinger, a junior from Pottsgrove, won the halftime kicker challenge. ... A PAC-10 Underclass Challenge was also held Saturday at Phoenixville with competition among juniors, sophomores and freshmen in running and other skills.
From football to Fallujah, Spring-Ford grad still helping out after all these years
By Don Seeley
Jim Haldeman played three years of football and baseball at Spring-Ford High School. In between, there was that senior year of wrestling.
“One of my friends from football was on the (wrestling) team and asked me to come out,” Haldeman recalled last week. “I never really wrestled before, but I wanted to help the team any way I could. Hey, we went on to win the Ches-Mont League championship that year, so I was just happy to be able to help out in a small way.”
Haldeman has been helping others, especially his fellow Americans, ever since.
After his outstanding athletic career at Spring-Ford (Class of 1973) and injury plagued football career at Holy Cross University, Haldeman has spent nearly his entire adult life in the air — where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marines and is an American Airlines captain. And never, not once, has he neglected to lend a hand to whomever … whenever or wherever needed.
Ironically, performing on the playing fields and in the classrooms, overcoming his own misfortunes as well as supporting and guiding others through their share of adversity, and stepping up when all of America was nearly brought to its knees by terrorists on 9/11 — just being able to grasp what’s significant and insignificant, knowing right from wrong — unknowingly became Haldeman’s conviction as a youngster.
“I grew up in a family-oriented community, when we didn’t have (a highway) exit dedicated to Royersford,” he said. “Everyone kind of knew everyone.
“The support from every member of the families who had kids involved in athletics was just incredible. All the parents were our mentors, our friends. You always tried to do what was right, always tried to stay out of trouble, because you knew if you didn’t someone would find out, someone would know.”
And then, as Haldeman noted, you had to go home and face your own parents.
“You didn’t want to embarrass yourself or your family,” he explained. “All the families, all your friends, looked after one another. Everyone was there for you. It just seemed as though everyone in the community was intimately engaged.
“There was this unity, this fraternity … a collective energy.”
Haldeman, the son of Mary Jane Haldeman and the late James Haldeman, wasn’t faultless, of course. But before he graduated from Spring-Ford, he was known throughout the community for his drive and competitiveness on the football field.
As a junior, he broke the tip of his right hipbone in the first game — a 21-14 loss to Wilson (West Lawn). In the next-to-last game, he fractured the tip of his left hipbone — in a 22-21 win over Pottstown. But he played through all that pain, came back his senior year to start every game and finished, at that time, as Spring-Ford’s career leader in scoring and among the top three in rushing, receiving and total offense.
He was selected to the All Ches-Mont and Associated Press’ All-State teams, and played in the Montgomery County All-Star Game. He was recruited by a number of schools before opting to go to Holy Cross.
Despite starting his entire freshman year for the Crusaders, Haldeman couldn’t run away from the injuries.
“I was always in the infirmary,” he said, breaking into a laugh. “I had a broken foot, broke my elbow, separated my shoulder, blew out both of my hamstrings. And I had a few concussions.
“It was frustrating. Years later I was still limping, and then I eventually had two back surgeries as a result (of playing) football.”
But, to this day, Haldeman has no regrets.
“It’s kind of funny when I look back at it. Great running backs find ways not to get hit. I wasn’t able to do that, I guess. At times it was very depressing because I felt I had more to contribute to the team.
“For me it was like my own little Red Badge of Courage. If I didn’t (play football) I wouldn’t have had all those injuries. But if I didn’t (play football) I wouldn’t be blessed to have all the great memories I have.”
One thing Haldeman did have, in the end, was a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
* * *
After graduating from Holy Cross and returning home, Haldeman admitted he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.
“Honestly, I always had an interest in the service, what I didn’t know was how to offer myself to the military,” he explained. “But when I was back home I ran into (former Spring-Ford athlete) Alan Lewis, who was in the Marine Corps. He told me I could basically do anything I wanted because the Marine Corps offered so much.
“That put so much excitement back into my life. It really motivated me.”
The chat actually inspired Haldeman to join the Marines. Over the next four years, he became an artillery officer and successfully completed paratrooper school at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Dropping out of the sky was one thing. Flying high above, though, was another.
“I actually never thought about (flying),” Haldeman said. “I thought being a ground officer was part of the (foundation) of the entire Marine Corps.”
That is until he was sitting in the middle of the desert as a forward artillery officer at Twentynine Palms in California — a Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center — and watching what unfolded high above him.
“I saw the aviators doing some amazing things,” he recalled. “It was some of the coolest things I had even seen. It was just magnificent, actually awe-inspiring.”
Haldeman, stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton, was so impressed he devoted what free time he had to learning how to fly at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro. He was taught to fly a Cessna and had 20 hours of experience, learning all the basic skills, when he took off for the flight school in Pensacola, Fla., in 1982. Two years later, he earned his flight wings.
“I was lucky enough to get myself into jets like the A-4 Skyhawk, the F-4 Phantom and the F-18 Hornet,” Haldeman said. “They are the jets the Blue Angels used in a lot of their flight shows. It was just a great time for me.”
Haldeman would fly the F-4 Phantom throughout his four-year assignment in Hawaii. But there was peace around the world, so Haldeman left active duty and teamed up with the Marine Air Corps Reserve after American Airlines hired him as a pilot in 1988.
“I flew out of Washington, D.C., and believe me when I say I think I saw every little city there was from east to west in this country,” said Haldeman, who would also team up with the Marines’ reserve squadron in the nation’s capitol at Andrews Air Force Base.
Now married, Haldeman and his wife, longtime flight attendant Toni, saw their lives take a couple of dramatic changes after arriving in Washington, D.C.
In January of 1991, just over a year after the beginning of the Gulf War, Haldeman was back on active duty. But throughout the 13 months of Operation Desert Storm — the aerial bombardment intended to help expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait — he never left the ground.
“It turned out the air war was such an immediate success no one needed us,” Haldeman explained. “Iraq had a very formidable air-to-air defense, but great strategy and great tactics, and great work by our aviators, was so successful in the first few days.”
In 1997, due to family reasons, the Haldemans moved up to Rhode Island.
“It was a change for us,” Haldeman said, noting his wife stepped down as a flight attendant that year. “But I was still flying.”
Now flying out of Boston, most of Haldeman’s flights took him to Los Angeles, Miami and Mexico City, to name a few of his destinations.
And no sooner did the world enter the new millennium, that Haldeman retired from the Marines.
Or so he thought.
* * *
The Haldeman family, like every family in all of America, changed forever on September 11, 2001.
Four passenger airliners — two each from American and United — were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Their intentions were to fly the planes into buildings in suicide attacks.
“I was off that day,” Haldeman remembered. “Almost immediately after the first plane hit I got a telephone call from a (pilot) friend, who told me to turn my television on because something really bad had happened in N.Y.”
Bad was an understatement, of course.
American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, both out of Boston’s Logan Airport, crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m. Thirty-four minutes later, American Airlines Flight 77 left Washington Dulles International Airport and crashed into the western side of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. Then 26 minutes later, a fourth plane — United Airlines Flight 93, which had left Newark International Airport en route to San Franciso — crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., after its passengers fought their hijackers and prevented an attack on the original target: the U.S. Capitol.
By the end of the morning, almost 3,000 people — including 227 civilians and the 19 hijackers about the four planes — died in the attacks.
All of America shook in disbelief.
“I turned my television on and saw the second plane go into the South Tower,” Haldeman said. “I immediately ran from my home to pick up my children at school. And then I turned on the Weather Channel, to check on the winds, because I felt the planes were just a ploy to penetrate the streets of New York with a suitcase nuke.
“It didn’t happen, but that was my thought at the time. We were packing up to get out of Rhode Island because I was fearful of a nuclear package going off. But when I saw (on the Weather Channel) that the winds were pushing directly east and would have no effect on us here if indeed there was a nuclear blast, we hunkered down.”
As quickly as Haldeman heard of the attacks, he heard of who exactly was in the cockpit of two of those four planes.
“Within a couple of hours I heard that I had lost two good friends, and my wife realized she either knew or was friends with every one of the flight attendants on the plane that hit the Pentagon,” Haldeman mumbled. “Like everyone else, we just couldn’t believe what was happening.”
Haldeman struggled emotionally after hearing about the loss of his two friends — Capt. John Ogonowski, behind the controls of American Flight 11, and Capt. Charles “Chick” Burlingame, aboard American Flight 77.
“John and ‘Chick’ were both military guys, big guys,” Haldeman said. “I was shocked to hear someone actually took them out. Sadly, (the terrorists) were able to activate the cockpit doors and open them. That was scary.
“Neither one of them had a chance. You’re in there with five separate (seat) belts connected. You’re really strapped in there. You just can’t get out of them that quickly. John and ‘Chick’ never saw (the terrorists) coming. They didn’t have a chance.”
Haldeman, as he had done so often in the past, wanted to help. He called a squadron in Washington, D.C., hoping to get on their personnel chart … “But they didn’t need anyone,” he explained. Never one to accept defeat, Haldeman went to the nearby reserve unit and he was greeted with open arms.
“I just made the decision to go back into the Marine Corps,” he said. “That was such a profound day, such a tough day. It just blew me away how soundly we were defeated. It stunned me.
“I wanted to do something. I wasn’t concerned about the actual event at that point because it was over and I couldn’t do a thing about it. But I felt we were going to get involved, and I wanted to help. I was just trying to find a place I could somehow be utilized in some way.
“All I know is that I needed a path to take my emotions, my pent-up anger. I knew where I needed to go.”
Haldeman remained part of the nearby reserve unit as he continued to fly for American Airlines out of Boston. Then in 2005, he found himself in Fallujah, right smack in the middle of the Iraq War.
“Being able to go back into the Marine Corps and over to Iraq to help the cause really helped me,” he admitted. “It was important for me to do that. I had to do something to rip the anger out of me. A lot of good things happened over there, and I was happy to be part of it.”
Soon after returning from a year in Iraq, Haldeman retired from the U.S. Marines.
* * *
Haldeman’s alma mater was more than happy to bring him back home twice since.
In 2006, he was inducted into Spring-Ford High School’s Distinguished Wall of Fame, taking part in the graduation ceremonies that year. Earlier this year, he was inducted into the Spring-Ford High School Football Wall of Fame, being recognized as one of the special guests of honor during the team’s annual banquet.
Just before arriving at both events, before leaving Rhode Island for the long drive back to Royersford, Haldeman asked Spring-Ford athletic director Mickey McDaniel and head football coach Chad Brubaker the same question.
“He asked us both if there was anything he could do to help us with the events,” said McDaniel, who has known Haldeman since playing youth baseball in the former Royersford Area Youth Athletic League.
“He’s never changed.”
McDowell, Sheldon excited for crack at fellow Ram Coyne in PAC-10 Senior Bowl
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD – For six long years, Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon practiced with and played alongside Hank Coyne. Together, the Spring-Ford teammates and even closer friends sure won their share of football games, too.
McDowell and Sheldon, who lined up as tight ends and blocked for Coyne, caught their fair share of passes from him. They also doubled on the other side of the ball as defensive ends, which meant they also got an up-close look at Coyne during all those summer camp and weekday intra-squad scrimmages.
But never, except for an occasional high-five, pat on the back or smack on the rump, were McDowell or Sheldon – or anyone else on Spring-Ford’s defense – ever permitted to lay a hand on Coyne.
Defenses can get as fired up as they want during practices, but the quarterbacks are strictly off-limits … as in untouchable.
So guess who will indeed be a little amped for the second Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl on Sunday (3 p.m.) at none other than Spring-Ford High School…
“I’ve been waiting since seventh grade to hit Hank,” said McDowell, who along with Sheldon will be part of the Team Liberty defense hoping to contain Coyne and Pottstown’s elusive Sage Reinhart, as well as the rest of the Team Freedom offense.
“Everyone knows that during practices you can’t hit the quarterback. I told (Coyne) I’m coming after him, that I want to get at least five or six hits on him.”
“We’ve been blocking for him all these years, but now we’re getting a chance to go after him,” added Sheldon. “We’re kind of excited to be able to possibly put some shots on him.”
Don’t misinterpret what the imposing 6-foot-5, 220-pound McDowell and 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sheldon are saying.
Hit Coyne? Absolutely. Hurt him? Absolutely not.
“We definitely want to get after (Coyne), but our intent is not to hurt him,” Sheldon said. “Hank’s been hit pretty hard the last few years, but he’s never been hit by us.”
“No way do I want to hurt Hank,” McDowell said. “But I do want him to know how it feels to be hit by me.”
Both McDowell and Sheldon plan to play Sunday much like they did throughout their careers at Spring-Ford.
Last fall, McDowell – who accepted a scholarship to play football at California University (Pennsylvania) – was credited with five sacks among his 71 tackles, had 13 quarterback-hurries, broke up eight passes and intercepted one. He was a first-team All-PAC-10 and All-Area selection, and named The Mercury’s Defensive Player of the Year. Sheldon – who accepted a scholarship to play football at Bucknell University – led the area with seven sacks among his 51 tackles, had 11 quarterback-hurries, and forced three fumbles while recovering three. He was a first-team All PAC-10 and All-Area selection as well.
In other words, both have proven to be quite proficient at getting to, and sometimes dumping, opposing quarterbacks.
Coyne, who escaped opposing defenses’ enough to throw for 2,023 yards and 25 touchdowns and help the Rams qualify for two straight postseason appearances – including last year’s run to the District 1-AAAA final – is well aware of just how good McDowell and Sheldon are.
“I’m not too concerned,” said the personable Coyne, who nearly rewrote the entire passing section of the Spring-Ford single-season and career record book. “They’re great friends of mine, and I know how they’ll play. But it doesn’t change (my approach) to the game much.”
Coyne sure has had a lot of time to dwell on exactly who will be attempting to run him down.
“As soon as the rosters for the game came out (in late-March), Zameer came up to me and told me I’d better be ready,” Coyne said. “I hadn’t even seen (the rosters) yet when he told me that. But he’s been telling me that in school everyday since.”
Both McDowell and Sheldon know Coyne will be ready … and all three will be looking to finish their scholastic careers on a winning note.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Coyne, who’ll continue his football career at Juniata this fall. “I just think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to play our last football game at Spring-Ford.”
Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed, who will guide Team Liberty, thinks it’s even more.
“It’s a unique game because it’s the only all-star game I know of where kids from the same school can actually play against each other,” he explained. “It’s not truly all-stars because we have some players who weren’t starters at their high schools, but want to be a part of this last game.
“It’s been great to see the camaraderie between the kids who they play against in the fall. I loved seeing the practice days go by as the kids move out of their comfort zone with teammates from their own schools and start to build a rapport with players from other schools.”
Reinhart, who threw for 2,301 yards and 20 touchdowns and led the area with a 156.7 passing efficiency rating, will give the Liberty defense a different look with his ability to scramble. He and Coyne hope to reverse last year’s inaugural outcome, a 41-17 Liberty romp. … Coyne and Reinhart won’t be handing off at all to Pottsgrove standout Mark Dukes, who ran for an area-high 1,347 yards and 22 touchdowns last season for the PAC-10 champion Falcons. Dukes will not be able to participate after falling recently and suffering a shoulder injury. … Liberty’s two quarterbacks are Methacton’s Brandon Bossard and Pottsgrove’s Tory Hudgins. Bossard, who is headed to Eastern Michigan, threw for 1,235 yards and ran for another 607 yards. Hudgins, who will team up with Sheldon at Bucknell, ran for 1,267 yards. … Reed has been very impressed with Pope John Paul II’s Josh Bildstein and Jake Kopchuk, Boyertown’s Corey Long, and Pottstown’s Nate Flickinger during practices. “Those four guys have been completely selfless in practice,” Reed said. “They have practiced at positions they didn’t always play during the year just so we would have the numbers to practice or scrimmage. I can’t say enough about them.” … Pottstown head coach Brett Myers will lead Team Freedom’s staff.
Perkiomen Valley graduate Zach Zulli, who as a junior quarterback last season at Shippensburg University won the prestigious Harlon Hill Trophy – Division II’s version of the Heisman Trophy – was throwing the football around during Thursday night’s practice session at Spring-Ford.
ROYERSFORD – The draft is over and done with. Now it’s time to play some more football.
For a good number of participants in the 2nd annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl, it’ll be the last football game they play in … and for each and every one of them, it’ll be the last game they ever play in representing their alma mater.
This year’s event kicks off 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at Spring-Ford High School’s Coach McNelly Stadium.
Because it’s a seniors-only affair, no one lined up for the inaugural game. But Team Freedom, which was thumped 41-17, may get a bit of a “let’s get even” pre-game sermon from Pottstown head coach Brett Myers, who will guide the Freedom squad against Liberty, which is being led by Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed.
And if this summer’s game is anything like the first one, expect to see a lot of passing.
“Some of the offensive rules for the game are designed to encourage passing,” said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker, who was in charge of the Liberty crew last year. “The teams have to play man coverage and five yards off the ball, which makes it a little tough to cover.”
Myers will certainly have two quarterbacks to handle the Freedom offense with Sage Reinhart, who was his starter at Pottstown the past two seasons, and Spring-Ford’s Hank Coyne.
The elusive Reinhart threw for 2,301 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, while Coyne threw for 2,023 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading the Rams to the District 1-Class AAAA final. Both will have a few good receivers to throw to as well, among them being Pope John Paul II’s Jamel Stinson and Pottstown’s Antonio Moore. Stinson caught 35 tosses – the third straight season he had at least 25 receptions – and the lanky Moore averaged over 26 yards a catch on his 22 receptions. Owen J. Roberts’ Colin Horrocks and Upper Perkiomen’s Robert Brett are also listed as receivers.
Balancing out the Freedom offense will be running backs Mark Dukes of PAC-10 champion Pottsgrove and Monroe Hampton of Pottstown. After missing half of his junior year because of injury, Dukes came back to pile up 1,347 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Falcons. Hampton was one of the most versatile backs in the league last fall, running for 1,033 yards and 20 touchdowns and catching 31 passes for another 369 yards and three scores.
Reed will counter with a more-balanced – if not more run-oriented – tandem of quarterbacks in Pottsgrove’s Tory Hudgins and Methacton’s Brandon Bossard. Hudgins, who will play at Bucknell this fall, ran for 1,267 yards and 23 touchdowns while taking snaps in the Falcons’ vaunted ground game. Though rarely called on to pass, Hudgins completed 50 percent of his passes for 700 yards and five touchdowns. Bossard, who will play at Eastern Michigan in the fall, capped his outstanding career with the Warriors by throwing for 1,235 yards and 15 touchdowns and running for an additional 607 yards and six scores.
Bossard will have a familiar target to throw to in Methacton teammate Cooper Given, while the receiving corps also features Owen J. Roberts’ Will Bradford, Perkiomen Valley’s Davon Mitchell and Phoenixville’s Sean Hesser.
The Liberty run game will be led by Phoenixville’s Ryan Yenchick (1,113 yards), Spring-Ford’s Yousef Lundi (1,057 yards) and Boyertown’s Matt Moccia (802), a threesome that combined for 43 touchdowns. Methacton’s Josh Meck could also get some touches.
Both teams have excellent kickers on their respective rosters, too. Freedom features Phoenixville’s Ian Harrigan and Upper Perkiomen’s Dylan Wesley, while Liberty has Methacton’s Jose Holland and Perkiomen Valley’s Brett Davis.
Passing was the dominant statistic in Liberty’s romp last year, as Pope John Paul’s David Cotellese hit all seven of his attempts for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Spring-Ford’s Andrew Scanlan, a redshirt freshman who is expected to vie for a starting position at Northwestern University this fall, caught four of Cotellese’s tosses for 74 yards and a touchdown and also returned an interception for another score.
* * *
The team rosters are as follows:
Head Coach – Brett Myers, Pottstown
Boyertown: Gray Garber, DE; Nick McMenamin, OL.
Methacton: Ernest Buono, DL; Tom Collis, LB; Chris He, DE; Dustin Keim, OL; Sean O’Neill, LB; Jeremy Reid, OL; Andrew Steven, OL; Dillen White, RB.
Owen J. Roberts: Colin Horrocks, WR; Brandan Murray, DE; Kyle Shronk, DB.
Upper Perkiomen: Robert Brett, WR; Dylan Wesley, K.
Head Coach – Scott Reed, Perkiomen Valley
Boyertown: Zack Kenna, OL; Corey Long, DE; Matt Moccia, RB.
Methacton: Brandon Bossard, QB; Cooper Given, WR; Jose Holland, K; Josh Meck, RB.
Owen J. Roberts: Will Bradford, WR; Kevin Kerwin, OL; John Raser, DB.
Perkiomen Valley: Brett Davis, K; Damar Fletcher, LB; Bobby Gallus, OL; Kean McKnight, DB; Davon Mitchell, WR; Jeff Morrow, OL; Martise Ray, DB; Mike Reiner, LB.
Phoenixville: Chris Demey, DB; Sean Hesser, WR; Brian Madden, LB; Ryan Yenchick, RB.
Pope John Paul II: Josh Bildstein, DL; Ryan Brennan, OL; Jake Kopchuk, OL.
Pottsgrove: Zach Birch, OL; Nick Brennan, LB; Tory Hudgins, QB.
Pottstown: Nick Flickinger, DB; Andrew Gazzilo, LB; Jaloni Hutchinson, DE.
Spring-Ford: Mike Gilmore, OF; Yousef Lundi, RB; John Manning, DL; Zameer McDowell, DE; Justin Meals, OL; Montana O’Daniell, OL; Ben Schein, DB; R.J. Sheldon, DE.
Upper Perkiomen: Dan Heinrichs, LB.
Ty Yazujian (#44) Makes Spring Roster at PSU!
Spring-Ford triple-threat Sheldon joining Bucknell football program
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD – R.J. Sheldon has been very flexible and quite agreeable throughout his athletic career at Spring-Ford.
Give him a position to play in baseball and football, or an event to compete in swimming, and Sheldon was there … without any opposition, without the least bit of hesitation.
And while Sheldon has enjoyed his share of success in all three sports, as well as in the classroom – where he’s a member of the National Honor Society – he’ll soon be narrowing his grueling year-round schedule to include just one sport and, of course, academics.
Sheldon made that choice recently, albeit a surprising one to many who have played with or followed him the past three-plus years, after signing a national letter of intent to line up in Bucknell University’s football program.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sheldon has been one of the centerpieces of the Spring-Ford and Spring City American Legion baseball programs as an infielder and pitcher the past three years. He helped the Rams to a district title and second-place finish in the state tournament, then spent his summers helping the Red Sox to league and state regional titles as well as national regional appearances. And when it got cold outside, Sheldon was inside, in the pool setting school swimming records in several events and becoming a multi-event district qualifier.
But when push came to shove, and there sure was a lot of it in his three-year football career, he opted for the helmet and pads over the ball and bat (and the swimming shorts and cap).
“I really liked both (baseball and football),” Sheldon explained. “But football was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t block it out.
“I applied to a lot of schools, but I only applied to one school because of football. That was Bucknell. (Their coaches) came in here during my junior year and talked to me. They kept in contact.”
The communication and interest was enough for Sheldon to give a verbal commitment last month, and he was tagged as a “preferred walk-on.” A few weeks later, Bucknell – which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Patriot League – announced it would be offering scholarships for the first time, and new head coach Joe Susan notified Sheldon he would be receiving a substantial scholarship.
“I want to go there for academics, and I want to go there to play football, too,” explained Sheldon, who carries a reported 3.8 grade-point average and plans to study engineering at Bucknell. “I think that’s pretty cool. And the (scholarship money), well, that’s kind of a bonus.”
“I think all of this says a lot about what Bucknell’s people think of him,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said of Sheldon, who drew additional interest from many Division III schools. “R.J. gave them a verbal, then they come back with a scholarship.
“I think (Bucknell) sees a huge upside to R.J. He’s a three-sport athlete, and he has a lot of room on that frame of his to fill out. Now his focus will be on football, on the weight room … and he won’t be burning off all those swimming calories.”
Sheldon, the son of Rich and Sue Sheldon, was recruited as a defensive end, a position he manned rather well the past two seasons in helping the Rams to a Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and unprecedented back-to-back District 1-Class AAAA playoff appearances – including last year’s run that didn’t end until the district final against Coatesville. He was credited with 41 tackles – including a team and Pioneer Athletic Conference high seven sacks. He also had 11 quarterback-hurries, and forced three fumbles and recovered three. All that in addition to catching 23 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns, and punting well enough to earn all-league and Mercury All-Area honors for the third consecutive year.
By the time he stepped into the pool this winter, Sheldon was a PAC-10 first-team selection, two-way Mercury All-Area selection, and recipient of third-team all-state honors.
“Bucknell recruited him as a defensive end, but I think he can play on either side of the ball,” Brubaker said. “He has good hands, but he also has that fire. His biggest challenge (of playing at Bucknell) will be maintaining that intensity, that every-play intensity.”
Sheldon doesn’t anticipate a problem with that.
“But I know I have to get a lot bigger,” he explained. “I was around 190-195 (pounds) during swimming, and I’m up to around 200 now. I’d like to get to 220 or 225. It’ll take a little while, but I’ll get there.”
Sheldon is the second area player to sign with Bucknell, joining Pottsgrove standout Tory Hudgins. … Former Daniel Boone standout and 2011 Mercury Player of the Year Tommy Bodolus, who committed to Bucknell following his senior season but instead spent the past year as a post-grad at Cheshire Academy in Conn., will be joining Sheldon and Hudgins in the Bison program this fall. The 6-foot, 195-pound Bodolus – son of former St. Pius X and Daniel Boone head coach Dave Bodolus – is projected as a safety. … The Bison will also feature returning starter Lee Marvel, a junior linebacker from The Hill School who was third on the team in tackles last season.