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
PCTV PAC-10 Preview
S-F KO Classic
2014 Raffle Winners
2014 Raffle Winners:
$1,000 - Bernie Wallen
$500 - T. Honaman
$500 - Jenn Allerton
$500 - Janice Keough
$500 - Dave Blessing
$500 - Heininger Family
$250 - C. Caracciolo
$250 - Cassidy Family
$250 - Kelsie Eardley
$250 - Steve Moyer
$250 - MB Wilson
Winners will be contacted and prize money will be distributed within 2 weeks. Thanks to all who purchased tickets.
Defense drives Freedom over Liberty in PAC-10 Senior Bowl
By Barry Sankey
Posted: 06/01/2014 10:45:27 PM EDT
ROYERSFORD — Team Freedom capitalized on six sacks and four pass interceptions by its defense to produce a 35-2 victory over Team Liberty in the third annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl football game at Spring-Ford High School's Coach McNelly Stadium Sunday night.
Pottsgrove's Marquis Barefield intercepted two passes, returning one for a 77-yard touchdown, while Pottstown's Denzel Harvey and Pottsgrove's Riley Michaels also had picks for Team Freedom.
Team Freedom bolted to a 19-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and then made it 25-2 by halftime and 32-2 after three quarters."It was mostly defense today,' said Barefield, who was also a star running back for the Falcons last fall. "It was fun to play with guys from so many different teams. It was a different experience. It's a blast to play for the last time in high school before college. And for most guys, they are putting the pads on for the last time before they go off in life.'
Barefield will be playing his college football at Kutztown University.
He was also one of the Falcons who got to play their final game for Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker, who served as head coach of Team Freedom.
Pottsgrove defensive lineman Nico Demetro had 1 1/2 sacks for Team Freedom while Pottsgrove's Anthony Pond, Pottsgrove's Sene Polamalu, Spring-Ford's Mason Romano and Perkiomen Valley's Danny Light each had one sack. Boyertown's Tyler Zilen chipped in with half a sack.
Perkiomen Valley's Tony Pachella recovered two fumbles and also batted down a pass attempt.
Polamalu also rushed for two touchdowns and PV's Mark Bonomo ran for another score. Perkiomen Valley quarterback Rasaan Stewart connected with Spring-Ford's Gary Hopkins on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Phoenixville's Paul Hossler and Pope John Paul II's Nick Howarth shared a sack on Stewart that resulted in a Team Liberty safety with 4:36 left in the second period.
Pottsgrove's John Klinger booted a 23-yard field goal for Team Freedom with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter.
Demetrio played his final football game ever since he will be focusing on wrestling at Millersville University next year."It was all fun,' said Demetrio. "That was the main thing to go out and have fun. I was a little louder than I usually was during the season. It was all fun, win or lose, but it is still always nice to win.'
Stewart completed six of 14 passes for 127 yards and one TD. His backup was Phoenixville's Kyle Karkoska.
Boyertown's Griffin Pasik, who also had an interception, and Spring-Ford's Zach Demedio handled the quarterbacking chores for Team Liberty.
Testimony for the defense in Freedom's Senior Bowl win
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD - It was like Olivier taking his bows after one last stage appearance.
The curtain calls were that compelling for Pottsgrove’s Nico Demetrio and Perkiomen Valley’s Tony Pachella, who most likely put on the pads and helmet for the last time in the 3rd Annual PAC-10 Senior Bowl at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium Sunday evening.
Talk about going in style, Demetrio and Pachella finished their football careers with a flourish, anchoring a Team Freedom defensive line that set the tone in a 35-2 pasting of Team Liberty.
Demetrio had 1.5 of the six sacks posted by Freedom while Pachella came up with two fumble recoveries in the midst of six forced turnovers. Pottsgrove’s Marquis Barefield also provided a strong testimony for the defense, snatching a pair of interceptions, including one that he returned 77 yards to the house.
“Our defense was just tremendous,” said Freedom head coach Rick Pennypacker of Pottsgrove. “Our front four – Nico Demetrio (Pottsgrove), Tony Pachella (Perkiomen Valley), Mason Romano (Spring-Ford) and Alec Vagnozzi (Spring-Ford) – dominated the line of scrimmage.”
Demetrio, who will wrestle at Millersville University, came up with four tackles and Pachella added three stops and a pass breakup to his bulging stat line. The other Freedom sacks came from Romano (Spring-Ford, Kutztown recruit), Sene Polamalu (Pottsgrove), Anthony Pond (Pottsgrove) and Tyler Zilen (Boyertown, Millersville commit), who shared one sack with Demetrio.
“We were just going out there, having fun,” said Demetrio. “Things weren’t too complicated – it was all about having fun. Getting the early lead gave us confidence.”
Villanova recruit Rasaan Stewart (Perkiomen Valley), the two-time PAC-10 Player of the Year, fueled the early burst of confidence, converting Freedom’s first three possessions into touchdowns.
It all started with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a one-yard scoring plunge by Mark Bonomo (Perkiomen Valley) and continued with a 5-play, 50-yard march to the end zone that was set up by the recovery of an unintentional onside (flubbed) kick and culminated with Polamalu’s one-yard TD run.
Team Liberty had yet to take an offensive snap, and was already down 12-0, a hole that grew even deeper when Stewart connected with Gary Hopkins (Spring-Ford) on an 11-yard TD pass with 1:10 still left in the first quarter.
Stewart, recruited to play defensive back at ‘Nova, hit 6-for-7 passes for 139 yards on those first three sets - many of them deep, on-the-money throws. His familiar targets at Perk Valley, Dakota Clanagan and Clay Domine, combined to haul in four passes for 116 yards in the early run of success.
“I came out excited - it was one last time to play with my friends,” said Stewart. “Having Clay and Dakota to throw to made it easier. We have good chemistry.”
The rest of the night belonged to the Freedom defense, which limited Team Liberty to 173 total yards – including just 26 on the ground.
“The biggest turnaround was when we didn’t score after getting the ball down to the five-yard line (early in the second quarter),” said Liberty head coach Paul Lepre (Methacton). “We could have taken the momentum right there, but we didn’t do it. I think our defense set us up to have a chance to win the game, but we just made too many mistakes.”
Liberty’s defense was solid after the early undressing, getting 1.5 sacks from Paul Hossler (Phoenixville), who combined with Pope John Paul II’s Nick Howarth to force Stewart to fumble out of the end zone, accounting for Liberty’s only points of the night – a safety with 4:36 left in the half to cut the gap to 19-2.
But the pendulum of momentum quickly swung back Freedom’s way when Pachella gathered in his second consecutive fumble recovery to set up Polamalu’s five-yard TD run with 20 seconds left in the first half.
Barefield, a Kutztown University running back recruit, registered the only touchdown in the second half with his lengthy Pick Six, while Pottsgrove’s John Klinger closed out the scoring with a 23-yard field goal with 1:24 left.
“This was one last chance to put on the pads with the kids I’ve been playing with and against for years,” said Barefield. “We were out there having a blast.”
The end result wasn’t what he’d wanted, but Boyertown's Griffin Pasik had a blast working on both sides of the football. The East Stroudsburg quarterback recruit was sacked four times, picked off twice and managed just 62 yards on 5-for-12 passing, but his best moment was an acrobatic interception that produced the only turnover of the night for Liberty in the mixed-team format.
“We knew coming in that the other guys had a lot of talent, but we weren’t intimidated by that,” said Pasik. “The score didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but I had some fun in my last high school game.”
Pottstown’s Denzel Harvey, undecided about college and torn between the possibility of playing football or basketball at the next level, also made his final high school outing a pleasurable one. Harvey had an interception in the end zone and 70-yard run on a reverse that showcased his breathtaking skills in the open field.
“My job was to shut down my receiver,” said Harvey, who finished as the game’s leading rusher with 75 yards on three carries. “On offense, I just wanted to show what I can do. It was nice to get the ball in the open field.”
EXTRA POINTS: Pennypacker: “The best thing about this game is that nobody got hurt and everybody seemed to have fun.” … All proceeds from the contest benefit the Pioneer Athletic Conference Football Coaches Association’s scholarship fund … Liberty was led offensively by a pair of Upper Perkiomen products, running back Aidan Schaffer (8 carries, 36 yards) and Travis Kline (3 receptions, 47 yards). Kline was the PAC-10’s leading receiver (46-856, 5 TDs) in 2013 … Pottsgrove’s Riley Michaels, who’ll play lacrosse at Cabrini, also had a pick for Freedom … In the Underclassmen Challenge – a new skills competition that included a Quarterback Challenge, Kicking Contest, Linemen Relay, Speed Relay and Bench Press competition - the top three team finishers were Pottsgrove (31 points), Spring-Ford (23) and Owen J. Roberts (18).
3rd Annual PAC-10 Senior Bowl
At Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium
FREEDOM 35, LIBERTY 2
Freedom 19 6 7 3 – 35
Liberty 0 2 0 0 – 2
F-Bonamo 1 run (kick failed)
F-Polamalu 1 run (run failed)
F-Hopkins 11 pass from Stewart (Klinger kick)
L-Safety, Stewart fumbled ball out of end zone
F-Polamaul 5 run (kick failed)
F-Barefield 77 interception return (Klinger kick)
F-Klinger 23 FG
Freedom: Harvey 3-75, Bonomo 7-29, TD; Polamalu 6-18, 2 TDs; Barefield 4-15; Stewart 7-13; Karkoska 4-(-3).
Liberty: Schaffer 8-36; Richmond 6-14; Cassidy 2-3; Toomer 1-(-5); DeMedio 8-(-6); Pasik 8-(-16).
Freedom: Stewart 6-14-0, 139, TD; Karkoska 2-8-1, 11.
Liberty: DeMedio 5-12-2, 86; Pasik 5-12-2, 62; Richmond 0-1-0.
Freedom: Clanagan 2-66; Domine 3-65; Hopkins 2-23, TD; Polamalu 1-(-4).
Liberty: Kline 3-47; Toomer 1-29; Richmond 1-26; Adams 1-14; Bildstein 1-14; Cherneskie 1-10; Cassidy 1-3.
Interceptions: Freedom – Barefield 2, Harvey, Michaels. Liberty – Pasik.
Sacks: Freedom – Demetrio 1.5, Polamalu, Romano, Pond, Light, Zilen 0.5. Liberty-Hossler 1.5, Jaworski, Varner, Howarth 0.5.
- See more at: http://www.pac-10sports.com/article/content/football-testimony-defense-freedoms-senior-bowl-win-0016932#sthash.bOBaakpx.dpuf
Third annual PAC-10 Senior Bowl set for Sunday
By Darryl Grumling
Posted: 05/29/2014 08:43:44 PM EDT
Mason Romano and Robby Varner spent much of last fall as brothers in mayhem, spearheading a Spring-Ford defensive line that caused plenty of disruption in opposing backfields.
Sunday night, though, the Rams teammates — and respective All-Area first team selections — will find themselves on opposite sides of the ball in the third annual PAC-10 Senior Bowl, which gets underway with a 6 p.m. kickoff at Spring-Ford's Coach McNelly Stadium.
Romano will suit up for the Freedom squad, which will be coached by Pottsgrove's Rick Pennypacker.
Varner, meanwhile, will play for the Liberty team, coached by Methacton's Paul Lepre.
The unique draft format of the event makes it possible for teammates to be lining up against each other as they take to the gridiron one last time as high school players.
"One of the greatest things about this game is to see the players interact with each other,' Pennypacker said. "All year long they have been rivals, and now they are teammates. Also, to see players from the same school playing against each other is really fun to watch.'
Romano, a 6-foot, 210-pound defensive end bound for Kutztown, collected an area-best eight sacks and is part of an impressive Freedom outfit that a lot of folks consider the favorite.
The Freedom features no fewer than 12 All-Area first-team picks, including Perkiomen Valley quarterback Rasaan Stewart, the two-time All-Area Player of the Year who is headed to Villanova.
The 6-1, 182-pound Stewart racked up 2,068 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns to go along with 1,204 rushing yards and 17 TDs on the ground in helping Perkiomen Valley reach the District 1-AAAA semifinals.
Stewart will have a couple of other 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield in Pottsgrove's Marquis Barefield and Perkiomen Valley's Mark Bonomo, as well as prime-time receiving targets in the PV duo of Dakota Clanagan and Clay Domine and Spring-Ford's Gary Hopkins.
"After defending Stewart for all these years, it is nice to have him on our side of the ball,' Pennypacker said. "He is a special player. The talent around him — Barefield, (Pottstown's Denzel) Harvey. Clanagan, Hopkins, Domine — should be fun to watch.'
Phoenixville's Kyle Karkoska will also see time at quarterback for Freedom, with Pottsgrove fullback Sene Polamalu and Boyertown tight end Tyler Zilen showcasing both their blocking and offensive skills and Spring-Ford's Cody Davis rounding out the receiving corps. The O-Line is composed of Pottsgrove's Anthony Pond, Tom Sephakis, Max Wickward and Matt Faulkner; Spring-Ford's Josh Boyer, Chase Stine, Tyler German and Andy Cutler; and Boyertown's Austin Jacobs and David Pettine.
Defensively, Romano will be joined by Spring-Ford teammate Alec Vagnozzi, Perkiomen Valley's Tony Pachella and Pottsgrove's Nico Demetrio on the line; Perkiomen Valley's Danny Light, Spring-Ford's Andy Lovre-Smith, Pottsgrove's Tyrone Parker and Riley Michaels, Methacton's Nick Torcini and Pope John Paul II's Mike Mead at the linebacker spots; and Perkiomen Valley's Kurran Holland, Harvey, Pottsgrove's Jalen Mayes, Owen J. Roberts' Matt Lenge and Spring-Ford's Connor Murphy in the secondary.
Spring-Ford's Dave Gulati and Pottsgrove's Jon Klinger will handle the kicking duties.
The Liberty team offers a high-profile backfield that includes Boyertown workhorse Cody Richmond, Methacton battering ram Mike Cassidy and Upper Perkiomen's Aidan Schaffer, who erupted for a 392-yard, six-touchdown rushing performance in a win over Pope John Paul II.
Boyertown's Griffin Pasik, who directed a record-setting Bears offense, and Spring-Ford's Zac Demedio will share time at quarterback.
Upper Perkiomen's Travis Kline (league-best 46 receptions and 855 receiving yards) and Boyertown's Nick Brough are the Liberty receivers along with tight ends Jeff Adams of Pottsgrove and Jon Traywick of Spring-Ford.
The offensive line consists of Pottstown's Jalontae Lighty, Phoenixville's Paul Hossler, Methacton's Brett DeGemmis, Pope John Paul II's Liam Steiert, Boyertown's Brock Johnson and Pottsgrove's Jeremy Cuadrado.
Varner, a 6-1, 220-pounder who notched 68 tackles (15 for losses) and returned two interceptions for TDs, heads the Liberty defense. He'll be joined by Upper Perkiomen's David Weller, Perkiomen Valley's Tom Jaworski, Pope John Paul II's Steve Kushernick and Charles Lake, Phoenixville's Colin Mea and Methacton's Lucas Hepp on the line.
Perkiomen Valley's Anthony Rotonda, Pope John Paul II's Kirk Cherneskie and Nick Howarth, Methacton's Devin Bradley, Phoenixville's Justin McDougal and Pottstown's Niko Teller man the linebacker spots; and Spring-Ford's Jared Shoemaker, Methacton's Kyle Lowery, Pope John Paul II's Johnnie Bildstein, Pottsgrove's Orrin Toomer and Owen J. Roberts' Christian Marks make up the secondary. Methacton's Dave Bezley is the Liberty kicker.
"I know that when the rosters came out in March, the players from both teams decided we were the underdogs,' Lepre said. "I hope Freedom comes in, being the favorite, and takes us lightly, but I don't think Coach Pennypacker will let that happen.
"I had a great group of seniors last year that made it enjoyable to go out and coach everyday, and I am glad for the opportunity to get to coach some of them for one last time.'
The final of three practices for the Senior Bowl was held Thursday at Spring-Ford.
"It is a challenge for players/coaches to work on a game plan in a short period of time so that on game day it looks like we've been together for several weeks,' Lepre said. "I feel like our players have been focused and working hard so that we will not disappoint on Sunday.'
The Liberty has won both previous editions — 41-17 in 2012 and 28-12 last year.
"This game is not about coaching but more about putting players in a position to showcase their abilities,' Pennypacker said. "I am not worried about who wins this game as much as I want the kids to have fun playing their last high school game.'
Honorary coaches for the game will be former Methacton coach George Marinkov and former longtime Spring-Ford assistant Bob Stipa. ... Also part of the Senior Bowl will be a series of contests between the underclassmen of the PAC-10: including a quarterback challenge, a kicking contest, a lineman relay with tire flips, a speed relay and a bench press competition. These events will occur prior to the game, between quarters and at halftime. The top three teams with the most overall points will receive plaques. ... Proceeds from the game will go towards providing scholarships for PAC-10 football players.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
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Spring-Ford's Varner, Romano selected for prestigious East-West All-Star game
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD – Two of the anchors from Spring-Ford’s stellar defensive line, Robby Varner and Mason Romano, have been selected to play in the prestigious Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association East-West All-Star game in May.
The annual contest, which pits outstanding seniors from the Eastern and Western regions of the state, is slated for Sunday, May 4, with a 2 p.m. kickoff at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.
This past fall, Varner and Romano were instrumental in a shutdown defense that held opponents to an average of 12.8 points and 220 total yards (131 rushing, 89 passing) per game.
The Rams went 10-3 this past season, finishing one game behind two-time defending league champion Pottsgrove (9-0). Coming off a 2012 season that produced an appearance in the District 1-AAAA title game, Spring-Ford reached the second round of districts with a 43-21 conquest of Downingtown West before falling to Neshaminy 56-27.
“This is the third straight year we’ve had guys playing in these all-star games (including the Big 33 contest), and that’s a tribute to our program, our coaching staff and to the guys for all the hard work they’ve put it,’ said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “The guys will find out how great an experience it will be, playing against that kind of competition. They will find our real quickly what they can expect from college football, and that it’s not high school football anymore.”
Varner, a defensive tackle who averaged 5.7 tackles, posted three sacks and had 15 tackles for a loss (TL) with two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a pair of defensive TDs in 2013, recently accepted an offer to join the program at Division I Temple as a preferred walk-on, where he is expected to play middle linebacker.
“I’m excited to play against some of the better kids in the state,” said Varner. “I will find out what I need to work on strength-wise and with my agility and speed. Playing on the defensive line taught me how to use my hands and get off blocks. I learned how to be mean and get to the quarterback.”
Romano, who recently signed a national letter of intent to play Division II football at Kutztown University as a defensive end, got to the quarterback frequently this past fall. In 2013, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Romano racked up 8 sacks, 17 TFL and averaged 5.3 tackles per game, forcing three fumbles and picking up an interception along the way.
“I’m really excited to play in the East-West game,” said Romano. “It will give me a chance to play with Rob one last time before the (PAC-10) Senior Bowl.”
Varner will be lining up for Team Liberty, coached by Methacton’s Paul Lepre, while Romano will be on the opposite side of the field for Team Freedom, headed up by Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker, in the 3rd Annual PAC-10 Senior Bowl Sunday, June 1 (6 p.m. kickoff) at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium.
- See more at: http://www.pac-10sports.com/article/content/football-spring-fords-varner-romano-selected-prestigious-east-west-all-star-game-001#sthash.HiTtpmaA.dpuf