The Gridiron - October 21, 2013
' Big Three' separating themselves from PAC-10 pack
By Darryl Grumbling
The Miami Heat has LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
Pioneer Athletic Conference football has Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford.
For the past two seasons, the PAC-10's version of the "Big Three' has broken away from the rest of the league pack on the gridiron — and the disparity seems more apparent than ever this fall.
When the Falcons (7-0 PAC-10, 8-0 overall), Vikings (6-1, 7-1) and Rams (5-1, 6-2) have locked horns with each other, the games have been veritable Instant Classics.
That was the case in Week 3, when Spring-Ford held off Perkiomen Valley 14-7, and in Week 5, when Pottsgrove gutted out a 14-7 win over Spring-Ford.
It will likely be more of the same Friday night, when the defending league champ Falcons visit the Vikings in a showdown that is brimming with title implications.
When the threesome has faced the rest of its PAC-10 foes, however, the meetings have been one-sided affairs in which about the only drama has been when the mercy-rule running clock will be invoked.
Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford have outscored their opponents 746-90 in those contests this season. The average score has been 46.6-5.6, with the closest game being the Falcons' 28-7 win over Methacton in Week 4.
Pottsgrove, under veteran coach Rick Pennypacker, has been the standard bearer for the terrific trio, posting a 65-10 overall mark since the start of the 2008 campaign. The Falcons are 49-3 in league play during that time frame, and have won 21 straight PAC-10 regular season contests since a 49-35 loss to Spring-Ford in 2011.
The Rams, meanwhile, have compiled a 37-10 mark since Chad Brubaker took over as coach in 2010. They won the league title in 2011 and reached the District 1-AAAA final (and PIAA quarterfinal) last season. Spring-Ford is 24-3 in its last 27 PAC-10 games.
Perkiomen Valley has come on strong over the past two years, putting together a 15-4 overall mark. Coach Scott Reed's crew is 13-3 in its last 16 PAC-10 games, with those losses coming at the hands Spring-Ford (twice) and Pottsgrove (once).
THE ROCK SHOW
One big reason for Perkiomen Valley's ascension has been the presence of star quarterback/safety Rasaan Stewart — a.k.a "Rock' to his teammates.
The 6-foot-1, 176-pound Stewart earned All-Area Player of the Year honors last year as a junior, when he threw for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 1,210 yards and 21 scores.
Those are hard numbers to top, but through eight weeks Stewart has continued to generate eye-popping stats despite rarely playing all four quarters. He has thrown for 1,059 yards and an area-high 16 touchdowns (with just four interceptions) and also run for 742 yards and 11 more TDs.
Stewart's performance in Friday's 48-6 victory over Boyertown, when he passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 133 yards and two more scores, may have been his best of the year.
Lost in those gaudy figures is the dynamic effort Stewart brings at the defensive end, where he's been a huge part of a unit that's posted four shutouts and is allowing an average of 4.3 points per game.
Spring-Ford defense stifles Pope John Paul II in 47-0 win
UPPER PROVIDENCE — Most likely, the Spring-Ford defense did not really know every play that Pope John Paul II was going to run before it happened in Saturday afternoon's first half. But it sure did seem like it at times.
The well-prepared Ram defense executed its plans well and was quick to the ball while holding the Golden Panthers to a net total of one yard before the halftime break. The Spring-Ford offense wasn't bad either as it rolled up 40 points by the break en route to a 47-0 Pioneer Athletic Conference win.
The shutout was the second in the last three games and the third of the year for the Rams (5-1, 6-2), who have allowed an average of just seven points per league outing. Jarred Jones led the winning offense, that accumulated exactly 600 yards (361 rushing, 239 passing), with 199 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries and quarterback Brandon Leacraft went 8-for-12 through the air for 160 yards and two scores.
"They were well-prepared,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said concerning his defense that yielded just 74 yards for the day. "Our coaching staff prepared them well and picked up on a couple tendencies. They executed and recognized some things and got in the right formations. You take away one play from Methacton (which had scored on the first play from scrimmage the week before against Spring-Ford) and we've had 12 straight shutout quarters.'
"That's what our goal is every week,' Ram senior middle linebacker Andy Lovre-Smith said concerning the zeros on the scoreboard for the opposition. "And we take a lot of pride in that. You want to keep the zeros.'
Spring-Ford forced six straight punts in the first half and Pope John Paul II (1-6, 1-7) did not gain its initial first down of the day until a 15-yard penalty on the Rams with less than three minutes remaining in the half.
Then the Panthers moved the sticks again on a 16-yard run by John Bildstein to the Spring-Ford 40 yard line. PJP advanced to the 28 on that drive and nearly scored on a pass try down the middle from Matt Mesaros to Bildstein, but Joe Bush knocked it away at the last second to preserve the shutout.
Meanwhile, the Rams were forced to punt after three plays on the first possession of the game, but scored six times in a row after that — Jones on a 51-yard run, Gary Hopkins on a 27-yard pass from Leacraft, Jake Leahy on a 57-yard carry, Jones on a 10-yard run, Joe Sink on a 43-yard bomb from Leacraft, and Jones on a 40-yard rush.
"We were just working as a team together today,' said Leacraft. "Nobody's getting on anybody. If they made a bad play, we kept them up.'
The junior quarterback also appreciated the efforts of the defense.
"It helps out a lot,' he added. "The defense helps the offense even though we're not playing. It takes a lot of the pressure off the offense if it's a close game.'
Leacraft began the day with two incomplete passes. In fact, the first successful pass for the Rams came on a 37-yard toss from Matt Daywalt to Hopkins on a flea-flicker play. But Leacraft was nearly perfect the rest of the way.
"He started out a little hesitant,' said Brubaker. "We tried to get him comfortable. Once he completes a couple balls, he's fine.'
But the Ram defense seemed comfortable from the start and dropped PJP for losses nine times on the day.
"They had everything timed and they bring the house and we couldn't block it,' said Golden Panther coach Mike Santillo.
"We play as a team,' said Lovre-Smith. "We trust each other to do each other's jobs. You've got to play as hard as you can. You know someone will make the plays. It's a team effort.
"We prepare well every week. The big thing is stopping them, and we've done that.'
Brubaker made a point of mentioning all of his defensive coaches — Steve Schein, Jim Mich, Jr., D.J. Fox, Bob Swire, and Mike Holland — for the way they get the team ready to play.
"They just prepare our kids well,' Brubaker said. "We watch a lot of film during the week. They've been doing a great job all year.'
The Rams averaged better than 11 yards on their 32 rushing attempts. ... Danny Matthews had three receptions for Spring-Ford, good for 58 yards, and also intercepted a pass. ... Kirk Cherneskie caught two passes for PJP, including one for 16 yards that equaled the hosts' longest gain of the day. ... The Rams' punt on their first series was their only one of the game.
For one Spring-Ford family, a number's roots run deep
POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2013, 10:11 AM
Dean Vagnozzi never said anything to his kids. It was just something they did on their own. And that, he said, is what has made it so special.
Vagnozzi, the patriarch of an athletic clan in the Spring-Ford school district, was surprised when his son, Alec, came home a few years ago with a football jersey bearing 42, the same number he wore as a college football player. When his daughter, Gabrielle, a promising soccer player, struck a deal with a teammate to claim the number, he knew a full-blown family tradition was born.
And it’s one that won’t be dying soon. The two younger Vagnozzi children, 13-year-old Mitchell and 10-year-old Felicia, also wear the number for their travel baseball and soccer teams, respectively. Gabrielle is one of the area’s top sophomores and is likely to play in college.
“All their teammates know: hands off, that’s the number they’re wearing,” Vagnozzi said.
The No. 42 didn’t have any initial significance to the family. Vagnozzi selected the number randomly when his high school number was already taken at Albright. But now, the number has claimed a life of its own.
“To see them running around with the same number I had, it’s flattering,” Vagnozzi said. “It’s kind of neat, like a piece of me out there with them.”
With Alec, a two-way lineman and all-purpose player for Spring-Ford’s football team, set to graduate this year and unlikely to continue playing, the family wanted to capture the moment. Vagnozzi’s wife, Christa, recently commissioned a family portrait of everyone wearing their 42 jerseys. Vagnozzi’s still fit, albeit a little snugger than it did in the late 1980s when he was a three-year starter at fullback and punted for Albright.
The family posted the picture on their respective Facebook pages, and it generated hundreds of likes and comments.
“Normally, the kids fight us on everything,” Vagnozzi said. “But when we got that picture done, they were proud of it.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/rally/springfordvagnozzi.html#YOOYsVwHtuwBRVF2.99
Keller Williams of Limerick Gridiron
Spring-Ford forces 8 turnovers in win over Methacton
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD – Spring-Ford’s defense forced eight turnovers and Jarred Jones rushed for 230 yards and two scores to power the Rams to a 30-7 PAC-10 victory over Methacton Saturday afternoon at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The opportunistic Rams celebrated Homecoming by recovering four fumbles and picking off four passes – two by Cody Davis – to raise their record to 4-1 in the league and 5-2 overall.
“It’s always a goal to get as many turnovers as we can,” said Davis, a senior CB/WR who also caught one pass for 28 yards. “The goal is usually three. Today, it had a huge impact on the game. Every time they would have an opportunity and get some momentum, we seemed to be able to turn it over.”
Methacton (3-3, 3-4) had plenty of early momentum when Akeem Walcott caught a bubble screen from Conner Derrickson and raced up the right sideline 80 yards to the house on the opening play from scrimmage. But the 7-0 lead would be short-lived, lost in the fog created by the 8 giveaways.
“If we could have finished the game after the first play the last two years, we’d have gotten two wins,” said Methacton coach Paul Lepre, remembering QB Brandon Bossard’s 66-yard scramble on the first snap last season that led to Dillen White’s 3-yard scoring run in a remarkably similar 31-7 setback. “It came down to turnovers. You’re not going to win many games turning the ball over that many times.”
The most crucial giveaway was a lost fumble recovered by Alec Vagnozzi at the Spring-Ford 30 with 6:02 left in the third quarter and the Warriors down by only 16-7. Michael Cassidy had ripped off a 36-yard run prior to the mishap, but that momentum swung quickly in Spring-Ford’s direction when Jones took a handoff on the very next play and darted 70 yards through traffic to the house.
“Cassidy had that nice run and then we put the ball on the carpet,” said Lepre. “We were right there, down 16-7. We had to play close to perfect and we didn’t do that.”
Ball security and execution were anything but perfect for the Warriors. Methacton had five second-half possessions – and all five ended with turnovers – three picks and two lost fumbles. Jared Shoemaker’s interception and 52-yard return led to a 29-yard touchdown pass from Zac DeMedio to Gary Hopkins with 11:53 remaining in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the deal.
“If you’re a defensive coach, you’ree happy with the 8 turnovers,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “But if you’re an offensive coach and you only score 30 points off them, it’s a different story.”
The Rams struggled offensively at the start, getting only 9 points on field goals of 25, 24 and 36 yards from David Gulati out of four Red Zone possessions in the early going. Jones went 34 yards for his first touchdown with 3:07 left in the second quarter to put Spring-Ford in control at the break, 16-7.
“I had no idea I had 230 yards,” said Jones, who eclipsed the 3,000-yard rushing barrier for his career last week. “I’m really not into stats – that’s something my mom keeps track of.”
Jones’ numbers improved when the Rams went to a double tight-end set in the second half, getting 132 of his yards after the intermission.
“Methacton came out with a different defense than we expected,” Brubaker said. “We were expecting a 4-3 but they came out in a 3-3. We adjusted to the double tight-end set in the second half. Instead of running zone, we started running right at them.”
DeMedio did a commendable job running the Spring-Ford offense after starting quarterback Brandon Leacraft went out with a large gash on his chin after taking a nasty hit late in the second quarter. While the Rams picked up 382 total yards, it was the defense – keyed by DE Mason Romano (sack, 7 tackles, 3 TFL) and DT Robby Varner (2 TFL, 8 tackles, fumble recovery) that made the biggest impact.
“I have no complaints about our defense,” said Jones. “They helped the offense out a lot. Our offensive line started out a little shaky with a little bit of confusion, but they started doing their thing. They gave me some daylight and I just went for it.”
NOTES: Joe Bush had the other INT for the Rams, who got fumble recoveries came from Varner, Vagnozzi, Matt Daywalt and Michael Fuhrmeister … Cassidy was a beast on both sides of the ball for the Warriors. The gritty LB/FB had 8 carries in the second half and picked up 89 yards to lead an offense that posted 251 total yards … Helena Mullen was named the 2013 Spring-Ford Homecoming Queen … Lepre: “I can’t say enough about our defense. They stood tall and kept battling the entire game. They’ve been solid all year.”
- See more at: http://www.pac-10sports.com/article/content/football-spring-ford-forces-8-turnovers-win-over-methacton-0013596#sthash.yIy8jsma.dpuf
Spring-Ford tops turnover-plagued Methacton
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — Like bees to honey and sharks to blood in the water, the Spring-Ford defense had an abnormal attraction to the football Saturday afternoon.
The Rams forced no less than eight turnovers en route to a 30-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over Methacton at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Homecoming contest didn't exactly get off to a positive start for the hosts, as Warriors slotback Akeem Walcott took a short pass in the right flat from quarterback Conner Derrickson and raced 80 yards on the first play from scrimmage.
From there, however, it was virtually all Rams.
Jarred Jones ran for 230 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Zac DeMedio was solid in a relief role and Cody Davis had two interceptions as Spring-Ford improved to 4-1 in the PAC-10 and 5-2 overall.
"We were ballhawks up and down the field,' said Davis, a senior strong safety. "We just work really well together. We have good communication. Our linebackers make big plays, our front four makes quarterbacks make bad throws and our D-backs take advantage of it.'
Though Spring-Ford had great field position early, the Rams couldn't cash in with touchdowns and had to settle for three David Gulati field goals — the final one a 36-yarder into a stiff wind that put the Rams up to stay at 9-7 less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Jones, who missed several plays after landing awkwardly on his neck in the first quarter, returned with a vengeance and
eventually ripped off a 34-yard TD run 3:07 before the half.
Methacton (3-3, 3-4), which had shown a penchant for coming on strong in the second half in several previous games, was still very much in the game after Mike Cassidy rumbled 41 yards to the Rams 30 midway through the third quarter.
On the next play, however, the Warriors fumbled and Spring-Fords' Alec Vagnozzi recovered it.
Jones immediately bolted through a gaping hole for a back-breaking 70-yard TD run that made it 23-7 with 5:52 left in the third.
DeMedio — who entered the game late in the second quarter after starter Brandon Leacraft took a helmet to the chin and didn't return — hit Gary Hopkins for a 28-yard scoring connection on the first play of the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
"I knew I have to always be ready in case something happens like that,' said DeMedio, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior, who finished 6-for-11 for 103 yards. "When you're the next man up, you have to be ready for a situation like that.
"Offensively,the game plan was just to just run the ball more once we came out in the second half. Once we got that established, we saw some areas to throw the ball and took advantage of that.'
Joe Bush and Jared Shoemaker also collected interceptions, while Matt Daywalt, Robby Varner and Mike Fuhrmeister had the other fumble recoveries for the Rams.
"We had eight turnovers, but only scored 30 points,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "If you're a defensive coach, I'm sure you're happy with that, but as a head coach, I'm disappointed we didn't put them away earlier when we had opportunities.'
Cassidy ran for a team-high 88 yards for the Warriors — all of that coming in the second half — and also had a strong game on defense, where Methacton also got a sack from Bido Gouda.
"I can't say enough about our defense today,' Methacton coach Paul Lepre said. "When you come away in that situation (four trips to the end zone) by giving up only nine points, there's not much more you can ask for. Our defense stood tall and kept us right there with an opportunity. But when you have eight turnovers it makes it tough.'
Hopkins had a game-high four catches for 49 yards for Spring-Ford. ... Gulati, who had been 0-for-1 on field goal attempts heading into the game, finished 3-for-5. His other makes were 24 and 25 yards and his misses were from 34 and 36 yards. ... Helena Mullen were named Homecoming Queen, with Eric Kramer crowned Homecoming King.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
Spring-Ford hosts Methacton in Homecoming clash
By Darryl Grumbling
Over the first few weeks of the season, offensive inconsistency plagued both the Spring-Ford and Methacton football teams.
Lately, however, the Rams and Warriors have both seemed to hit their strides as far as moving the chains, conjuring up big plays and putting points on the scoreboard.
Each Pioneer Athletic Conference squad hopes to continue that trend Saturday, when Spring-Ford plays host to Methacton in a Homecoming contest at Coach McNelly Stadium (2 p.m. start).
The Rams (3-1 PAC-10, 4-2 overall) are coming off a, what coach Chad Brubaker called their most balanced offensive effort, 47-0 rout over Upper Perkiomen.
The Warriors (3-2, 3-3), meanwhile, have racked up 104 points over the past two weeks in victories
Spring-Ford quarterback #9 Brandon Leacraft throw for a reception in second quarter. Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury
over Upper Perkiomen (56-20) and Pope John Paul II (48-14).
Methacton has also gained a reputation as a strong second-half squad — having outscored its opposition 109-34 over the final two quarters.
"They've been a strange team in that they've haven't had great first halves, but have had excellent second halves,' Brubaker said. "They play for 48 minutes, and that's something we're going to have to be prepared for. When they're on defensively, they are really tough, and I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to come in here on Homecoming and beat us.'
Spring-Ford got a season-high 204 passing yards and three TD passes from junior quarterback Brandon Leacraft last week, while four players — Jake Leahy, Zac Demedio, Brandon Barone and Jon Traywick — scored their first varsity touchdowns.
That's a theme Brubaker would like to see over the second half of the season, as the Rams try to grow other options besides feature running back Jarred Jones.
"We were trying to give Brandon (Leacraft) some confidence,' Brubaker said. "With the first five weeks of the season, we didn't have any easy games, so it was hard to do that.'
"Our goal and philosophy is to try and get different kids the ball, put themselves in situations they can be the most successful and let them go. We'd been struggling to be able to do that, so it was nice to see a lot of guys involved.'
The most involved continues to be Jones (614 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and the Rams defense — led by the front of Mason Romano, Robbie Varner, Alec Vagnozzi and Matt Daywalt. That unit has allowed just 253 combined yards over the past two weeks.
"Their defense is very fast and physical,' Methacton coach Paul Lepre said. "They play their first two levels very close to the line of scrimmage. They come up and shed blockers real well and run to the ball. My concern is what things we can do to breach the line of scrimmage, move the sticks and maintain control of the football.'
Lepre and Co. also need to reverse their recent motif of starting slow. In Week 2, they fell behind Perkiomen Valley 37-0 at the half. And in Week 4, they trailed defending league champ Pottsgrove 21-0 at the break.
Last week, the Warriors were tied with the Golden Panthers, 14-14, at intermission before reeling off 34 unanswered points.
"I compare them (the Rams) a lot to Pottsgrove,' Lepre said. "We're not going to be able to spot a team like that points early and expect to play catch-up. We need to come out and go toe to toe with them right from the kickoff, and we can't spend too much time on the field defensively.'
Since an 0-2 start, Methacton has won 3-of-4 games thanks to a much-improved offense led by the skill quintet of quarterback Conner Derrickson, fullback Mike Cassidy, wide receiver Dillon Alderfer and slotbacks Kyle Lowery and Akeem Walcott.
Derrickson, who took over as a starter in Week 3, has thrown for six TDs and run for six more; Cassidy has gained the hard yards inside; Alderfer has 20 receptions (four for TDs); Lowery has two long scoring catches over the past two weeks and Walcott is coming off a career-best 120-yard, two-TD rushing effort.
"I think you have to stop 36 (Cassidy),' Brubaker said. "What's really helped them is the quarterback's more of a dual threat, and it puts some added pressure on you defensively to handle those kids.'
Walcott (four interceptions), Cassidy and Alderfer (two defensive scores) are also key elements of the Warriors' defense, which will face one of its stiffest tests in trying to contain Jones and the evolving Rams attack.
"First off, we can't allow them to get a push up front,' Lepre said. "We need to fill gaps and make (Jones) run laterally instead of downhill. We have to make him make moves in the backfield instead of him getting through the line of scrimmage and then being able to run.'
How well the Warriors can carry out that plan — as well as how effective they can be on offense — will go a long way in determining whether they can take down the Rams for the first time since 2010, when Brubaker and Lepre were both rookie head coaches.
"We like being in the role of underdog,' Lepre said. "I think our kids are working hard at executing what it is we want to do, and hopefully that continues and gives us a chance.'
The area scene is chock full with Homecoming games Friday and Saturday, with Perkiomen Valley (vs. Pope John Paul II), Pottstown (vs. Pottsgrove) and Owen J. Roberts (vs. Upper Perkiomen) celebrating Homecoming tonight and Spring-Ford (vs. Methacton), Phoenixville (vs. Boyertown) and Perkiomen School (vs. Academy of the New Church) following suit Saturday.
Former Pottstown great Aaron Beasley will be honored before the Trojans' game and also be donating a jersey to the school.
Spring-Ford will induct Jim Haldeman, Merrill Bainbridge and Greg Faulkner into its Wall of Fame Saturday. There will also be a reception, sponsored by the Spring-Ford Touchdown Club, for alumni and parents of alumni to unveil the Almuni Hall at 11 a.m. at the school's 1012 Wrestling Room.
Phoenixville will induct 18 former athletes, coaches and contributors into its third Sports Hall of Fame class, including Charles "Art' Faddis, Chris Minor, John W. "Willie' Stevens, Kuhrt Wieneke, Amara (Thornton) Brown, Barb DiArcangelo, Lori (Way) Gulati, Laurie (McAvoy) Hissey, Barbara A. Isanski, Ashley MacLelland, Tim McAvoy, Jason Meister, Tara (Kramer) Rosenbaum, Carlos Garcia Samuels, Nick Sutyak, William Louis "Bill' Thornton, Greg Tull and Robert Vance. A morning luncheon and program will be held at the Phoenixville Middle School.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
Bayard Rustin (6-0) tops the latest District 1-AAAA power rankings with 790 points, with fellow unbeatens Garnet Valley (760), Neshaminy (750), Coatesville (740) and Upper Dublin (730) rounding out the top five. Spring-Ford ranks 10th with 630 points and Perkiomen Valley is 13th with 600. Pottsgrove is first in 1-AAA with 780 points, while Phoenixville is tied for eighth with 470 points. ... Since the start of the 2004 season, Garnet Valley has gone 90-21. ... Upper Darby's 21-14 win over Ridley last week was the Royals' first over the Green Raiders in 11 seasons.
AROUND THE STATE
Episcopal Academy (which defeated the Hill School 29-9 in Week 2) saw its 15-game winning streak halted in a 48-47 loss to Lawrenceville (N.J.) Academy Saturday. ... In a big-time Class AAAA clash Friday, St. Joseph's Prep (4-1), ranked first in the state by Pennylvania Football News, takes on sixth-ranked La Salle College High (5-1). ... Steel-High and Susquenita each received forfeit losses after Friday's game was marred by a brawl — forcing the officials to eject nine players and eventually suspend the game with the Rollers up 25-0 late in the first half.
Keller-Williams of Limerick Week 6 Gridiron
Halftime honors from a memorable first half of season
By Darryl Grumbling
Last week's action marked the unofficial midway point to the area scholastic football season, which has already provided more than its share of memorable moments and prime-time performances. Here's a quick recap of what's gone down on the gridiron thus far, with a few midseason awards thrown in:
Player of the Year: Perkiomen Valley quarterback/safety Rasaan Stewart is the reigning All-Area POY, and the 6-foot-1, 176-pounder hasn't done anything to make anyone think he won't repeat. He has thrown for Pioneer Athletic Conference-highs of 778 yards and 12 touchdowns and also run for a team-high 568 yards and eight more scores.
Top back: Spring-Ford senior Jarred Jones has had some off-field issues causing him to miss two of the
Upper Perkiomen running back Aidan Schaffer ran for 392 yards and six touchdowns in a win over Pope John Paul II, the second-highest single game rushing total in PAC-10 history. (Photo by Tom Kelly III)
Rams' six games (not coincidentally both of their losses). But when he's been on the field, Jones has been virtually unstoppable — racking up 614 yards, 10 TDs and 9.3 yards per carry in just four games.
Performance of the Year: Upper Perkiomen's Aidan Schaffer ran for a school-record 396 yards and six TDs — the second-best single-game yardage total in PAC-10 history — in a 37-14 win over Pope John Paul II in Week 4.
Game(s) of the Year: Spring-Ford kicked off what looks to be a three-part trilogy that will decide the PAC-10 title with a 14-7 Week 3 win over Perkiomen Valley.
Then in Week 5, defending league champ Pottsgrove came away with a 14-7 win at Spring-Ford, setting the stage for a highly-anticipated Week 9 showdown between the Falcons and Perkiomen Valley.
Mr. Touchdown: Pottsgrove's Marquis Barefield has an area-best 12 touchdowns and has taken it to the house in almost every way imaginable, including an interception return, fumble return and punt return.
Jerry Rice award: To Hill School's Grant Smith, who switched from quarterback to wideout with eye-popping results. In just three games, Smith has area-bests in receptions (24) and receiving yardage (471), highlighted by a 13-catch, 197-yard outburst in a Week 2 loss to Episcopal Academy.
Cris Carter award: When Buddy Ryan uttered the memorable quote "all he does is catch touchdown passes' about Carter, he may as well have been talking about Pottsgrove's Mike Fowler, who has seven receptions this year — five for TDs.
Deion Sanders award: Pottsgrove's Barefield and Methacton's Akeem Walcott share the area lead with four interceptions, while Pottsgrove's Fowler has provided shut-down coverage as the Falcons have allowed an average of just 48.3 passing yards per game.
Highly offensive: Boyertown leads the PAC-10 in rushing (294.8 yards per game), passing (130.1) and total yardage (424.7) thanks to an attack lead by the quartet of feature back Cody Richmond (league-high 828 rushing yards, nine TDs), quarterback Griffin Pasik (772 passing yards, 427 rushing yards, 14 combined TDs), wideout Nick Brough (18 catches, 363 yards) and slotback Eric Heller (322 rushing yards). If you like points, take in a Bears game. They are averaging 33.5 points per game and allowing 32.3.
Devout defenses: Perkiomen Valley is allowing an area-low 4.7 points per game and has pitched three shutouts. The Vikings have allowed zero passing yards in each of the past two weeks. Pottsgrove, meanwhile, has allowed an area-low 132.2 yards per game.
Sack-happy: Spring-Ford's defensive line of Mason Romano, Robby Varner, Alec Vagnozzi and Matt Daywalt has accumulated a combined 13 sacks. Pottsgrove leads the area with 20 total sacks, including 4.5 by Tyrone Parker and four by Nico Demetrio.
Strength-of-schedule award: To Methacton, whose three losses are to teams (Bayard Rustin, Pottsgrove and Perkiomen Valley) who are a combined 17-1.
Carrying the mail award: Boyertown's Richmond has toted the pigskin a staggering 162 times thus far (and average of 27 times per game), with Owen J. Roberts workhorse Wyatt Scott checking in at 150.
While we're on the subject of guys with big workloads, Daniel Boone's Kyle Myers has amassed a team-high 619 rushing yards while also notching 12 receptions to go along with a combined nine TDs.
Depth award: To Spring-Ford, which has had six different players complete passes, 14 different players run the ball and 14 different players with at least one reception.
Airing it out award: Hill School quarterback Matt Foltz has thrown for an area-high 795 yards in just three games, including a 351-yard performance in a 35-25 loss to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
Golden toe award: Perkiomen Valley's Matt Genuardi has booted 20 extra points (including eight in Friday's 62-0 win over Phoenixville) to go along with a 38-yard field goal in a Week 2 win over Methacton. Pottsgrove's Jon Klinger, meanwhile, leads the area with 21 PATs.
Tough luck award: To Pottstown and first-year coach Don Grinstead. The winless Trojans saw a 13-point lead disappear in a 29-13 Week 2 loss to Hatboro-Horsham, then came up empty on what would have been a game-sealing fourth-and-short play deep in Phoenixville territory before seeing the Phantoms rally for an 18-13 win.
Move-the-pile award: To Methacton senior running back Mike Cassidy, whose effective running between the tackles over the past two weeks has helped set up big plays for the Warriors.
Unsung hero award: Perkiomen Valley's Mark Bonomo and Pottsgrove's Sene Polamalu have solid rushing stats, but their blocking has been a key factor in the Vikings' and Falcons' strong ground games.
Line dancing: Speaking of blocking, Pottsgrove's offensive line of Pat Finn, Anthony Pond, Tommy Sephakis, Max Wickward, Jeremy Cuadrada, Jeff Adams and Matt Faulkner has been integral for the unbeaten Falcons, who have won 19 straight PAC-10 regular season games.
Best coaching move: Since Methacton coach Paul Lepre moved Kyle Lowery from quarterback to slotback and inserted Conner Derrickson at QB, both have thrived and helped the Warriors win 3 of 4 games. Derrickson has thrown for six touchdowns and run for six more, while Lowery has two long TD receptions over the past two weeks.
Mr. Big Play: Phoenixville's Mackensie Thomas might only have two catches, but he's made them count — a go-ahead 62-yard TD grab late in a 19-15 win over Owen J. Roberts and a 75-yard TD catch with less than two minutes left in an 18-13 win over Pottstown.
Mr. Versatility: Pope John Paul II's Kirk Cherneskie is a rusher, receiver, blocker, punter, kicker and key linebacker for the Golden Panthers. In a 24-0 Week 3 win over Pottstown, he ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns, kicked a field goal and three extra points and contributed to a defensive effort that notched PJP's first shutout in school history.
Mr. Efficiency: Pottsgrove quarterback Riley Michaels has completed 10 passes, with seven of them going for touchdowns.Mr. Consistency: Perkiomen School's Grant Briddell has rushed for between 50 and 73 yards in all five games despite getting double-digit carries just once.
Wildest ending: After Phoenixville QB Kyle Karkoska was whistled for grounding while running out the clock on a fourth-down play in Week 3 against Owen J. Roberts, the Wildcats received an untimed play from the Phantoms 23. Mitch Bradford hooked up with Kyle Hinrichs in the back edge of the end zone, but Hinrichs' foot came down inches out of bounds and Phoenixville escaped with an 19-15 victory.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kyle Myers, Daniel Boone
The 5-foot-7, 185-pound senior ran for a season-high 231 yards and three touchdowns Friday to lead the Blazers to a 40-14 win over neighboring rival Twin Valley.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Paul Lepre, Methacton
Guided the Warriors to a 48-14 victory over Pope John Paul II Saturday, the squad's second straight win and third in four games since an 0-2 start. Methacton has scored 104 points over the past two weeks.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
A.J. Currotto hit Manny Nieves for a 65-yard scoring strike in the final minute as winless Souderton shocked Pennridge 32-29 Friday. ... After opening the season with three straight losses, North Penn has reeled off three wins in a row after piling up 405 rushing yards in Friday's 35-28 victory over Central Bucks South. ... D'Andre Pollard ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns as undefeated Neshaminy remained on a roll with a 42-20 win over Council Rock North. The Redskins have outscored their opposition 218-34 thus far. ... Tyler Burke intercepted a tipped pass from Downingtown East QB Ryan Rumer in at the five-yard line with four seconds left as Coatesville (6-0), ranked third in the state in Class AAAA by Pennsylvania Football News, escaped with a 14-7 victory over the Cougars. ... West Chester East's Jon Jon Roberts threw for 444 yards in Saturday's 62-34 win over Avon Grove.
Former Boyertown and Pottstown assistant James Martinez has guided Fleetwood to a 4-2 start. The Tigers had gone 2-28 in the three seasons prior to last year, when Martinez (who is 7-9 at Fleetwood) took over. They've won three in a row, including Friday's 17-7 win over Northern Lebanon that established a program record for wins in a season. ... Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams threw three touchdown passes in Friday's 56-14 win over Union to give him a WPIAL-record 89 for his career. ... South Williamsport's Domonick Bragalone broke his own school record for the third time this season by running for 421 yards in Friday's 38-20 win over Hughesville.
Lincoln Park (Michigan) halted a 66-game losing streak — the longest in the state — with a 34-20 victory over Kennedy. It was the Railsplitters' first win since topping Dearborn Edsel Ford 24-19 in 2006. ... Canton McKinley (Ohio) picked up its 800th win in program history Friday, defeating Jackson 53-45. ... Justin Sawmiller of Kenton (Ohio) set a state career receptions mark Friday, when he caught 14 balls for 185 yards in a 34-10 win over Ottawa-Glandorf. Sawmiller (who has 64 receptions for 1,057 yards this year) has 351 career catches for 4,994 yards.
Spring-Ford shuts out Upper Perkiomen, 47-0
PENNSBURG — Although Spring-Ford's Jarred Jones didn't turn 17 until Saturday morning, he started celebrating early by scoring two touchdowns and passing 3,000 rushing yards on his career in a 47-0 romp over Upper Perkiomen Friday night.
"It felt really good to get back to our flow and put the foot down and get down to what we had to do,' Jones said.
Spring-Ford jumped out to a 40-0 lead by halftime through a mixed attack that featured Jones' bruising running and quarterback Brandon Leacraft's arm.
"We go out there, we set our tempo, we're trying to do our Spring-Ford thing, get back to our brand, move the ball on offense,' Jones said.
The senior running back needed just 20 yards on the ground to make it an even 3,000 for his career but picked up 69 on just eight touches Friday night.
He scored on 4-yard and 2-yard runs, the second of which an untouched scamper into the end zone.
"That Jones kid, he runs hard,' said Upper Perkiomen coach Steve Moyer. "And he makes cuts ... sometimes our kids, you would just see them whiff.'
Leacraft connected on 13 of his 19 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball around, hitting seven different receivers.
"I just like everybody to touch the ball so we feel like a team, not just one person,' said Leacraft. "I'm not picky. Everybody just needs to touch the ball.'
"Brandon has all the tools,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. "What he's been lacking is experience and confidence and we've been trying to work on that with him. He did a nice job of picking out, getting a pre-snap read, and then did a good job getting a post-snap read.'
Brandon Barone and Jon Traywick both caught touchdown passes and Gary Hopkins, the leading receiver with 73 yards, also had a scoring snag.
Leacraft took a few downfield shots Hopkins' way.
"It puts a smile on my face,' Leacraft said of seeing Hopkins open on a fly route.
The variety also extended to Spring-Ford's rushing attack, with seven different players rushing the ball.
"We always believe in being balanced and we know that if we feed the ball to Jarred (Jones), he's eventually going to break one,' said Brubaker. "What's nice is to see our kids tonight, they were happy for each other. A lot of different kids were able to score tonight and come up with big plays and our kids were happy for each other.'
"The fact that we have depth, if one of us needs a breather, we can get another tailback and do the same exact thing and get 10 yards, that's great,' Jones said. "We have so many threats, you don't know who's getting the ball, and anyone can take off just as someone else would.'
Jones was back in the lineup after being unavailable for last week's tough loss again Pottsgrove. He was also unavailable in the season opener against Whitpain, another Spring-Ford loss.
"It was just about making sure my team knows I'm there for them,' he said. "I told them I wasn't going to let it happen again.'
Upper Perkiomen started the game on offense attempting to use the Wildcat formation, captained by Aidan Schaffer. Things were moving until Randy Godshall fumbled around the Spring-Ford 37-yard line and the Rams recovered it.
"Then we played catch-up and catch-up is tough to do in the Wildcat,' Moyer said.
Spring-Ford's defense shut down Upper Perkiomen and forced them into a more traditional quarterback set with sophomore Jacob Breyer under center.
Breyer made some decent throws but finished 3-for-8 for 55 yards.
Travis Kline made a great catch near the sideline on a Breyer pass in the second half and almost made another, nearly identical, while double-teamed to bring the Indians to the red zone.
"He's like so many of our kids,' Moyer said of Kline. "He goes both ways and that makes it tough on a night like this.'
Other than that, the Spring-Ford defense essentially had the game on lockdown.
"We've been playing well defensively and we kept that up tonight with the shutout,' Brubaker said.
"We had a tough time matching up,' Moyer said, citing Spring-Ford's size and speed, especially.
Leacraft said it made him feel a bit more relaxed throwing the ball knowing there was a zero on the other team's portion of the scoreboard.
"It's great,' he said. "It doesn't put pressure on me or anything. I feel comfortable in the pocket.'
"We try to generate what we can,' Moyer said. "Early on, we tried to run the football just to see if we could keep the ball away from them. That was not to be well-lived.'
Jones will head into the next game with 3,049 career rushing yards.
He didn't know that until he was told after the game.
"Oh man, that's great. I had no idea,' Jones said, laughing and shaking his head. "The stats, I just let that go, try to play the game.'
Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.
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The Big Ticket: Pottsgrove vs. Spring-Ford
Pottsgrove outslugs Spring-Ford
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD – The pads were popping, the helmets were rattling and the bodies were flying Friday night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
It was high school football at its brutal best – a physical war of attrition that should have been staged in a Steel Cage instead of on artificial turf.
Pottsgrove emerged from the head-on collision with a 14-7 victory over PAC-10 rival Spring-Ford, rebounding from an early 7-0 deficit behind a defense that overcame four turnovers and limited the Rams to 211 yards of offense.
Leading the charge for the Falcons was senior linebacker Tyrone Parker, a first-year starter on a unit that returned 9 first-teamers from its 2012 PAC-10 championship team. Parker was a human wrecking machine Friday, racking up 13 tackles and 2 sacks. Parker’s jarring hit led to Jeff Adams’ fumble recovery at the Pottsgrove 26 late in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons ran out the clock from there to seize the key showdown.
“We’re a family, we stick together, do everything together,” said Parker. “Adversity jumped on us right at the start, but we bounced back.”
Spring-Ford was facing some adversity of its own without the services of star senior running back Jarred Jones, who missed the showdown for unspecified reasons. “Jarred wasn’t available,” said coach Chad Brubaker, whose squad was already depleted in the skill department by the loss of electric playmaker Tate Carter to a season-ending knee injury two games ago.
Despite all their problems, the Rams drew first blood when Brandon Leacraft hit Danny Matthews with a 38-yard touchdown pass with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter. But that would be the only end zone celebration for Spring-Ford, which self-imploded by committing 18 penalties that resulted in 150 lost yards.
“Our guys played hard and the defense played great,” said Brubaker, whose club slipped to 2-1 in the league and 3-2 overall. “We had some calls that didn’t go our way and we just didn’t make any plays. You’ve got to make plays when you have the opportunity.”
Pottsgrove made just enough plays to raise their league slate to 4-0 and overall record to 5-0.
Trailing 7-6 early in the second half, the Falcons put together a penalty-aided 12-play, 71-yard march that culminated when Riley Michaels hit Michael Fowler with a 6-yard TD pass at the 2:54 mark of the third quarter. Jalen Mayes’ two-point conversion run gave Pottsgrove the 14-7 lead.
“We were running 46-power a lot,” said Michaels, “and then we ran 46 boot pass. The end came down hard, and it was part of our game plan. We stuck to it. Our wide receivers are great and run routes really well.”
The TD pass was the only completion of the night for Michaels, but it was a big one at the end of a drive that featured a gutty fourth-and-1 call that paid off when Sene Polamalu rumbed inside for three yards to move the chains. Three Spring-Ford penalties for 32 yards were also instrumental in the Grove getting to the end zone.
“We knew we had to run the ball well in the second half,” said Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker. “We saw some things that we felt we could take advantage of. On that fourth and short, we had to go for it. If you can’t get a yard, you don’t deserve to win the game.”
Pottsgrove got 89 yards rushing from Marquis Barefield and 74 more from Polamalu, who put the Falcons on the board when he capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a two-yard scoring burst with 7:55 remaining in the first half.
The rest of the melee belonged to the Pottsgrove defense.
There was DB Fowler, giving away several inches to Gary Hopkins but refusing to back down – showing his athleticism by breaking up a pair of potential TD passes in the end zone.
“For the most part it was press coverage,” Fowler said. “I’ve been preparing for Hopkins. He’s a great receiver. But even though he had a few inches on me, I still executed my job.”
Execution was the buzz word for the Grove, which got a break when David Gulati misfired on a 32-yard field goal try that would have cut the gap to 14-10 late in the third quarter.
Spring-Ford got within striking distance on its final two possessions, but a Parker sack helped end the first drives at the Pottsgrove 38. The last Rams’ thrust flat-lined 24 yards from paydirt on the lost fumble.
“To start off, we were getting confused on our defensive calls,” said Adams, who chipped in with 5 tackles. “But once we got that down, we started working together and we were able to dominate. They rocked us a couple plays, but we rocked right back.”
The rock that couldn’t be moved was the Pottsgrove defense, which also got 2 sacks from Nico Demetrio and 6 stops apiece from Jalen Mayes and Michaels.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said Pennypacker. “Our defense played great. This was an emotional, hard-fought game from two great football teams. All teams are ready to challenge Pottsgrove but my kids fight back.”
EXTRA POINTS: Mason Romano picked up a sack and Jared Shoemaker notched an interception for the Rams, who limited Pottsgrove to 190 total yards. Jake Leahy led the ground attack with 94 yards on 18 carries while Leacraft added 127 yards through the air to 5 different receivers – with Matthews topping the receiving chart with 4 catches for 71 yards … Barefield came up with a pick for Pottsgrove.
- See more at: http://www.pac-10sports.com/article/content/football-pottsgrove-outslugs-spring-ford-0013314#sthash.Vs1z9mVE.dpuf
Pottsgrove survives Spring-Ford,14-7
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — Jeff Adams stood alone near the far 30-yard line at a virtually empty Coach McNelly Stadium Friday night.
Dried blood decorated the white uniform pants of the Pottsgrove senior linebacker, and a look of exhaustion adorned his face.
It was about as appropriate of an image to sum up what had just transpired on the football field between the Falcons and Spring-Ford.
"They rocked us a couple plays,' said Adams. "But we rocked right back.'
In the end, Pottsgrove came away from the highly anticipated showdown of Pioneer Athletic Conference powers with a hard-fought 14-7 victory over the Rams.
In a game defined by trench warfare, flying yellow flags (Spring-Ford was whistled for 18 penalties
Pottsgrove's Sene Polamalu (4) powers his way for a first down in the third quarter against Spring-Ford Friday. (Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)
for 159 yards) and the absence of Rams star tailback Jarred Jones (who Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker termed "unavailable'), the Falcons got a go-ahead 6-yard TD pass from Riley Michaels to Michael Fowler with 2:54 left in the third quarter.
From there, a typically rugged defensive effort — led by a 13-tackle, three-sack performance from Tyrone Parker and a game-sealing fumble recovery by Adams just outside the red zone with 1:25 left in the game — closed out the 18th straight PAC-10 regular season victory by Pottsgrove (4-0, 5-0).
"The kids played well; I'm very proud of them,' Falcons coach Rick Pennypacker said. "It was a very tough game. An emotional game. A hard-fought game between two good football teams.
What else am I going to say?'
After both teams felt each other out with a combined four three-and-outs to begin the contest, Spring-Ford junior quarterback Brandon Leacraft hooked up with wideout Danny Matthews for a 38-yard scoring
Pottsgrove'sMichael Fowler (7) breaks up a pass intended for Spring-Ford's Gary Hopkins in the end zone in the third quarter of Friday's PAC-10 football game at Coach McNelly Stadium.( Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)
strike that put the Rams up 7-0 with 4:02 left in the first quarter. It was only the second touchdown allowed by Pottsgrove's first team defense all year.
"We knew we had to bounce back,' Parker said. "When adversity faces you, you have to bounce back.'
The Falcons began to do that late in the first quarter, beginning a 12-play, 80-yard march that culminated in Sene Polamalu's 2-yard TD run 7:55 before the half. And though the extra point was no good, the momentum gradually began to shift to the visitors.
The game-turning drive took place midway through the third quarter when, after Polamalu was stopped for a 3-yard gain on a second-and-10 play from the Pottsgrove 46, the Rams were whistled for a personal foul on the
Pottsgrove's Marquis Barefield (25) breaks away for a long gain in the first quarter against Spring-Ford. (Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)
tackle. Four plays later, when Michaels was stopped for a short gain on second-and-7 from the Spring-Ford 23, the Rams were hit with consecutive personal foul penalties — putting the ball on the 6.
Two plays later, Michaels — on his only completion of the night — found Fowler in the right flat to put Pottsgrove up to stay and Jalen Mayes ran in the two-point conversion.
"We have to control the game,' Brubaker said. "We let the game get out of our hands, and that's all I'll say about that.'
There was plenty to say about the defense of both teams.
Spring-Ford forced four turnovers (getting two fumble recoveries by Andy Lovre-Smith, one fumble recovery by Cody Davis and an interception from Jared
Pottsgrove quarterback Riley Michaels rolls out and throws a touchdown pass in the third quarter against Spring-Ford Friday. (Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)
Shoemaker) and held the Falcons to a season-low 178 total yards.
Pottsgrove, which got an interception from Marquis Barefield and blanket coverage by Fowler on Rams deep threat Gary Hopkins, held the Rams to 213 total yards. That was no doubt made much easier by the absence of Jones, who entered the contest as the area's leading rusher with 545 yards and eight TDs.
"We found out in warmups he wasn't here, but we didn't believe it until the first snap,' Adams said. "We were able to get our calls down defensively, able to spot their inside zone and hold them on their passes. Sometimes it was hard to hear calls on the field because of how loud it was. It was extremely tough tonight, you've got to give (the Rams) credit.'
Pottsgrove's Marquis Barefield (25) runs for a first down in the third quarter against Spring-Ford as the Rams' Jared Shoemaker. (Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)
so proud of my team,' said Parker. "The defense stayed strong, the coaches had a great game plan and it worked out really well for us. We're a family. We stick together. Our bond is strong.'
That showed in the late going, after Lovre-Smith gave the Rams one last shot by recovering a Pottsgrove fumble at the Spring-Ford 37 with 5:38 left in the game.
Behind the bullish running of Jake Leahy (17 carries, 96 yards) — who delivered a 5-yard run on a fourth-and-1 play from the Falcons' 29 with less than two minutes left — the Rams appeared to be setting the stage for a fantastic finish.
Three plays later, though, Leahy slipped on a draw play attempt, fumbled and Adams fell on it.
"We shot ourselves in the foot all night,' Brubaker said. "Our guys played hard, we just told them that in the locker room, but we just had too many dropped balls. There were plays to be made, but we didn't make them.'
Barefield ran for a team-high 88 yards for the Falcons. His interception was his league-best third of the season. Polamalu rushed for a hard-earned 64 yards on 18 carries. ... Fowler has five catches this year, four of them for touchdowns. Michaels has completed eight passes on the season, five of them going for scores. ... Matthews had four catches for 71 yards for the Rams, including a highlight-reel grab on the near sideline in the second quarter.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford set for PAC-10 showdown
Over the past couple of years, it has quickly developed into the marquee regular season football matchup in the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Pottsgrove vs. Spring-Ford.
The Falcons and their basic, old-school, hard-nosed brand predicated on strong line play, repetition and assignment-based schemes.
The Rams and their creative offensive philosophy coupled with a collectively stout defensive effort and a roster laden with depth.
In each of the last two seasons, the winner of the Week 5 showdown between Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford went on to claim the PAC-10 title.
And tonight at Coach McNelly Stadium, the Falcons (3-0 PAC-10, 4-0 overall) and Rams (2-0, 3-1) will get it on again in a highly-anticipated contest
Pottsgrove's Marquis Barefield steps in front of PJP's John Bildstein for an interception that went for a touchdown. (Photo by Tom Kelly III)
that should be oozing with dominant defense, though there are several offensive playmakers on each squad with the potential to deliver game-changing moments.
"Pottsgrove has had a lot of success through the years, and we've been fortunate enough to have some success recently,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "That essentially makes the game. They're undefeated, and we have one loss. Any time that's the case people have expectations for a good game.'
"First, you've got two good teams playing each other every year,' echoed Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker. "And that's a compliment to both programs. We have a lot of respect for Spring-Ford and what they do over there.'
Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Pottsgrove
has compiled a gaudy 20-1 mark in league play — with the lone blemish a 49-35 loss two years ago to the Rams, who went on to win their first PAC-10 title in 13 years.
Over the same span, Spring-Ford has gone 18-2 in PAC-10 games, suffering only a 26-0 defeat to eventual league champ Pottsgrove last year and a 49-0 Thanksgiving Eve loss to Phoenixville in last season's league finale when the JVs suited up due to the Rams having a District 1 playoff game three days later.
Both squads enter tonight's clash with a number of similarities — each has a stingy defense, an offense that has been a bit inconsistent and a kicker (Jon Klinger for Pottsgrove and Dave Gulati for Spring-Ford) that has been a quiet weapon.
The Falcons are allowing an area-best average of just 111.8 total yards per game thanks to a front led by Jeff Adams, Anthony Pond, Patrick Finn, Sene Polamalu and Nico Demetrio. They collected seven sacks in last week's 28-7 victory over Methacton, two by nose guard Demetrio.
Their secondary, spearheaded by Michael Fowler, Marquis Barefield, Riley Michaels and Jalen Mayes, has given up a total of 139 passing yards all year.
"They're a typical Pottsgrove team,' Brubaker said. "Their offensive and defensive lines come off the ball hard, they have man coverage in the secondary, and they try to bring one more guy than you can block.'
Offensively, halfback Barefield has rushed for 458 yards and five touchdowns, with quarterback Michaels (184 yards, four TDs) and fullback Polamalu (168 yards, five TDs) also playing major roles in a ground-oriented attack that has put the ball up just 12 times this season.
"We want to see more consistency,' Pennypacker said. "We know what our limitations are, and we don't want to try and do more than we what we know we can do. I think our offensive coaches have a tremendous game plan; we just to execute it and see what happens.'
What happens with the Spring-Ford offense usually starts with standout senior tailback Jarred Jones, who ran wild for a career-high 243 yards and four touchdowns in last week's 41-14 victory over Boyertown — the Rams' third straight win since a season-opening 37-21 defeat at Whitehall (which is 4-0, by the way).
The 5-11, 190-pound Jones leads the area with 545 rushing yards and has amassed eight TDs in just three games. He enters the game 20 yards shy of 3,000 for his career.
"He's a special type of player that only comes around once in a long time,' Pennypacker said. "You see a kid like him, you just give him the ball and good things usually happen.'
Spring-Ford has also gotten some good things from wide receiver Gary Hopkins, who has a TD grab in each of the past three games. Though the Rams have had somewhat of a revolving door at the quarterback position, Brubaker appears to have settled on junior Brandon Leacraft (9-for-24, 131 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT last week) as the starter.
On the other side of the ball, the defensive line of Robby Varner, Mason Romano, Alec Vagnozzi and Matt Daywalt has been wreaking havoc in the trenches with a combined 10 sacks over the past four games.
"They're big and physical; that's what jumps out at me the most,' Pennypacker said. "The other thing that scares me is they go two-platoon. They don't have too many kids that go both ways.'
Linebackers Jake Leahy and Connor Murphy had 13 and nine tackles, respectively, for the Rams in last week's win, while corners Joe Bush and Jared Shoemaker have been integral in a pass defense that's allowed an average of 85.7 yards over the last three games.
"We took some steps against Boyertown, but we have some more steps to go,' Brubaker said. "We made some critical mistakes on offense that our defense was able to clean up, but against the better teams you play, those become more magnified and you can't have them. We need to maintain our concentration level throughout the entire game, and offensively we have to do a better job of executing.
"A big game like this with two good defenses, a lot of times it comes down to field position and who can avoid the critical mistakes. Whoever makes the fewer mistakes is probably going to come out on top.'
And have the inside track to the PAC-10 title.
"We're excited about playing this game, believe me,' said Pennypacker, a 1972 Spring-Ford grad. "I'm sure the atmosphere is going to be electrifying.
"It's a great challenge for us, but our kids are looking forward to that challenge.'
AROUND THE AREA
Tonight's Pottsgrove at Spring-Ford game will be NBC-10's High School Football Blitz "Game of the Week.' The NBC-10 crew was at Spring-Ford Thursday filming a feature that will air on the show Saturday at 7 p.m. ... Pottsgrove is ranked No. 9 in the state in Class AAA in the latest Pennsylvania Football News state poll, while Spring-Ford is among the honorable mention squads PFN's Class AAAA poll. ... Methacton might be 1-3, but consider that the Warriors' losses came to Bayard Rustin (4-0), Perkiomen Valley (3-1) and Pottsgrove (4-0).
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
It will be a showdown of unbeatens tonight in West Chester, when Great Valley (4-0) visits Bayard Rustin (4-0) in a Ches-Mont tilt. ... On Saturday, Coatesville (4-0) travels to Bishop Shanahan (3-0). ... Upper Merion, which had been 6-37 in its previous 43 games heading into this season, is off to a 3-1 start.
After beating Keystone Oaks 52-0 last Friday, Quaker Valley is 4-0 for the first time since 1983. ... James Wheeler of West Mifflin leads the state in rushing yardage with 946, while Anthony Isabella of Brockway has a state-best 34 receptions, according to easternpafootball.com. ... With Clairton's 66-game winning streak being snapped by Monessen last week, the longest current streak is 19 by Erie Cathedral Prep.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
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Jones runs wild as Spring-Ford tops Boyertown
By Sam Stewart
BOYERTOWN — Defensive coordinators scout Spring-Ford's No. 6 and they see a slew of traits that make them cringe.
Speed, footwork, agility, and the ability to elude tacklers have made Jarred Jones a Player of the year candidate while also becoming the bulls-eye that opposing coordinators zero in on.
What's not to fear from the senior running back?
So imagine the chagrin of Jones as he was "bottled' up for only 73 yards in the first half as the Rams took a 14-7 advantage into the locker room against Boyertown on a "Black Out' night from Memorial Stadium.
Was this night going to be a repeat of the Perkiomen Valley game the week before ' a win by the books but moreso because of a dominating defense effort, rather than an offensive showing?
"Coach (Jamie) Cutaneo told me to get in there and start running hard,' Jones said. "I told him "All right coach I got you, don't you worry about it.''
Jones wasn't kidding.
An 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second half along with 75-yard scamper on the next drive made Jones' words ring true as Spring-Ford rode a second-half surge to a 41-14 victory over the Bears, silencing any indication that this team is
solely built around defense.
"We just decided to run the ball a little more in the second half,' Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. "We want to be more balanced offensively. We were trying things out in the first half and we were moving the ball, but we would have a missed snap or something (that would stall the drive).'
Offense hasn't been a word coming out of many of the folks from Spring-Ford in the last week.
After a 14-7 victory in a defensive slugfest over Perkiomen Valley last Friday, the status quo remained in tact. The Rams' defense forced early pressure on Bears' quarterback Griffin Pasik, and limited the no-huddle offense to only seven points even though the Bears had outgained the Rams 165-147 in the half.
Their offense, meanwhile, had some hiccups in the early going. Despite having a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter, the Rams were hampered by penalties and missed assignments that stalled drives and, in one case, resulted in having to punt from their own one-yard line.
A 28-yard punt left the Bears in great field position as they only needed five plays to march down the 29 yards, culminating in a four-yard strike from Pasik to tight end Tyler Zilen.
Unfortunately for the Bears, their highlight was quickly dampened after halftime.
"(Heading into halftime) I feel like it's always been the offense that has to step up,' Jones said. "At halftime we were like ' I'm so sick of this,' everybody (on offense) was sick of being the one that always had to improve (during the game). Let's go out in the second half and do it. We know what we have to do but it's all about getting to the places, doing the right things and then everything starts to open up.'
"We can do better,' he added. "This is Spring-Ford football. This is not our game. Let's step it up and get on our grind. Our defense always puts in work and the offense was slacking.'
Whatever speech occurred in the locker room lit a fire underneath the Rams coming out of the break.
Despite fumbling on its second possession of the half, Spring-Ford rode a 80-yard sprint from Jones on the first play from scrimmage, followed by a 75-yard touchdown in which Jones took a handoff off-tackle, spun around the defensive end and then sprinted down the sideline for the score, to build a commanding 28-7 lead in the waning moments of the third quarter.
"They have a pretty good running back in (Jones),' Boyertown head coach Mark Scisly said. "He broke a couple on us, we got caught out of position and it kind of snowballed from there.'
The Rams defense made sure the blizzard continued as they forced the Bears to punt or turn it over on downs in six of the team's seven possessions of the second half. The defensive line buckled down and got to Pasik three times in the second half as the Bears' only score came in the last juncture of the game — a three-yard run by Richmond with 1:24 left in the contest.
"Spring-Ford is a good team, their defense was good,' Scisly said. "Unfortunately we didn't take advantage of some opportunities we had in the first half.'
The Bears, despite being gashed for 402 yards in the contest, registered five sacks while forcing Spring-Ford quarterback Brandon Leacraft to throw one interception.
Pasik finished the game with 107 yards on 12 of 28 passing and one touchdown. Richmond finished the game with 94 yards rushing on 29 attempts. He also accounted for 19 yards through the air after a quarterback-throwback brought the Bears' within striking distance of a score — only to be stymied by the Rams defense in the early going.
"We didn't move the ball at times. You got to convert. We didn't' take advantage of our opportunities.'
"We've got to regroup next week. We've got to get ready for Owen J. We have to keep our heads on straight, things will be fine.'
Jones finished the game with 243 yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns for the Rams. Connor Murphy, Matt Daywalt and Alec Vagnozzi all registered one sack.
The Rams' 41-point onslaught was seen in good eyes by Brubaker, but the coach is looking for more consistency heading into next week's game against Pottsgrove.
"Coming out of PV we didn't play well offensively or on special teams,' Brubaker said. "We made a special teams mistake tonight. We were better on offense tonight; we just need to be more consistent.'
"Pottsgrove. That loss last year left a sour taste in our mouth,' Jones said. "(We've) got to comeback with some vengeance, some fire and do what we do — win the Spring-Ford way.'
Spring-Ford on WFMZ's Big Ticket
Suddenly surging Spring-Ford set for Boyertown
By Darryl Grumbling
During training camp back in August, Spring-Ford football coach Chad Brubaker felt pretty strongly that his team's performance over the first three weeks would provide a good barometer what kind of season it would be for the Rams.
"I thought we needed to come out of it at least 2-1,' he said.
That goal appeared to be in jeopardy after Spring-Ford stumbled out of the gate in a 38-21 loss at Whitehall, but back-to-back victories — highlighted by last week's breakout 14-7 win over highly touted Perkiomen Valley — look to have the Rams back on track.
Boyertown coach Mark Scisly, meanwhile, almost assuredly would have taken a 2-1 start as well, given the fact the Bears won just three games all of last year.
Tonight, the Rams and Bears clash at BASH Memorial Stadium in an intriguing Pioneer Athletic Conference matchup.
Spring-Ford (1-0, 2-1) will try and continue to build on its momentum, while Boyertown (1-1, 2-1) hopes to bounce back from a 48-10 thrashing at the hands of Methacton last week.
The Rams — who face defending league champ Pottsgrove next week — can't afford to be looking past the Bears, according to Brubaker.
"Boyertown has some imposing linemen, and we're not very big up front,' Brubaker said. "It's going to be a challenge for us. We have to go there, and that's a tough place to play. We have to be focused.'
Adding to Brubaker's concerns is the fact the Rams will have to make
due without one of his top offensive weapons, versatile senior Tate Carter, likely out for the rest of the season after Carter suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of last week's game.
"First and foremost you feel bad for the kids when that happens,' said Brubaker, who lost two-way line stalwart Zach Dorsey to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. "I'm most disappointed for Tate, and it's the same with Zach. They both put a lot of time in during the offseason, and were really looking forward to this season. We have to have guys that can step up (to fill those voids) and we're going to try to figure it out.'
Despite some lineup shuffling, the Rams have been able to figure out things pretty well defensively. Alec Vagnozzi moved from linebacker to defensive end to tackle, and picked up two sacks in last week's victory. Matt Daywalt, who shifted from linebacker to defensive end, recovered a game-sealing fumble late in the fourth quarter. And Jake Leahy (defensive end to linebacker) and Connor Murphy (safety to linebacker) have also made quick position transitions.
"Defensively, we've learned a lot about our kids,' Brubaker said.
On the other side of the ball, Brubaker is still seeking a few answers. Though feature back Jarred Jones has been the real deal (rushing for 302 yards and four TDs in two games) and wide receiver Gary Hopkins is developing as a big-play target, the quarterback situation is still in flux. Brubaker said he will start junior Brandon Leacraft at QB against the Bears.
"I had hoped we'd be settled on the quarterback situation by now,' Brubaker said. "Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy because no one that's played there has done well enough for me to say, ' This is his job.'
"We need to start jelling offensively and get the ball to the right people offensively. And we have to improve on the offensive line, which was a big problem last week.'
The Bears had some big problems of their own last week, most notably in the defense, turnover and penalty departments. They allowed a Methacton squad that had averaged just 6.5 points over its first two games to erupt for its highest scoring output in five years while committing four turnovers.
"We didn't come to play and it showed,' Scisly said. "Methacton had a lot to do with that, but we've got to play better and more physical and come ready to play.'
Boyertown features the area's top rusher in 6-foot, 190-pound senior Cody Richmond, who has amassed 427 yards and five TDs. Last week, Richmond toted the ball 35 times for 158 yards, though Scisly said he would like to see a more balanced effort offensively.
"We need some guys to step up and take the pressure off Cody,' Scisly said. "We need other people to step up and make plays.'
Quarterback Griffin Pasik has thrown for 383 yards and three TDs while running for 165 yards and three more scores; running back Eric Heller has 243 rushing yards and five TDs; and wideout Nick Brough has nine receptions for 180 yards and one TD for the Bears, who racked up a combined 107 points in victories over C.B. East and Upper Perkiomen over the first two weeks.
"They did a lot of good things over the first two weeks,' Brubaker said of the Bears. "And that Methacton game was a little closer than the score indicated.'
For his part, Scisly hopes last week was more of an aberration.
"We need to limit big plays,' said Scisly. "They killed us in the first half last week.
"Offensively, we're going to have to move the ball and be physical up front.'
Whatever the case, someone will improve to 3-1 as either the Rams maintain their surge or the Bears rebound.
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S-F on WFMZ's The Big Ticket
Dominant defenses define Week 3 action
Outstanding offensive efforts were a big part of the area football scene over the first two weeks of the season.
In Week 3, however, defenses definitely dictated the action.
That theme was epitomized by Spring-Ford's 14-7 victory over Perkiomen Valley Friday, when the Rams and Vikings slugged it out in a knock-down, drag-out brawl.
But there were plenty of other impressive defensive doings that opened some eyes around the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
Pope John Paul II pitched its first shutout in the four-year history of its program Friday, taking down Pottstown 24-0.
Methacton, meanwhile, shut down a Boyertown team that had been averaging 53.5 points per game in a 48-10 victory over the Bears Saturday.
And the area's top-ranked defense as far as yardage allowed, Pottsgrove, continued its stingy play on that side of the ball in a 63-7 victory over Upper Perkiomen Friday.
The most impressive display of dominating '˜D' came from Spring-Ford, which put the clamps on the Vikings' high-powered no-huddle attack — which averaged 36.3 points per game last year and had racked up 77 points in two one-sided wins this season.
"We did an excellent job of executing the game plan and disguising our looks,' Rams coach Chad Brubaker said. "We tackled very well and only had one major defensive breakdown. Or kids trusted the plan and executed it.'
Nose guard Alec Vagnozzi had two sacks, Robby Varner and Jarred
Jones each had one sack and defensive backs Joe Bush and Cody Davis each had one interception.
Brubaker also lauded the efforts of linebacker Connor Murphy and corner Jared Shoemaker.
Somewhat lost in defeat was the game performance from the PV defense, which allowed just 169 total yards. The Vikings are allowing 7.0 points per game through three weeks, tops in the area.
Pope John Paul II, on the other hand, had been torched for 88 points and an average of 423.5 yards over its first two games — albeit to a couple of very strong squads in Berks Catholic and Pottsgrove.
The Golden Panthers (who hadn't held an opponent under 14 points in their four years) turned it around in a big way in limiting the Trojans to just 114 total yards (16 through the air).
"What really helped was that the turnover ratio was in our favor,' said PJP coach Mike Santillo, who got an interception from Liam Steiert and two other takeaways.
The Golden Panthers linebacking corps of Kirk Cherneskie, Nick Howarth, John Bacchi, John Bildstein and Mike Mead played a prominent role in the shutout, according to Santillo.
"That was the biggest thing,' Santillo said. "Those five guys attacked the football and got after it.'
You could say the same for Methacton, which got typically strong efforts from linebackers Mike Cassidy and Nick Torcini and what coach Paul Lepre called "the best game of the season,' by fellow backer Devin Bradley.
"We didn't give up any long plays,' Lepre said. 'We made their offense grind it out and earn all they got, and our front four did a great job not getting pushed back by a much larger offensive line. They played hard, unselfish defense.'
That's been the case thus far at Pottsgrove, whose first team defense hasn't allowed any points through three games.
The Falcons, getting big efforts from Tyrone Parker, Jalen Mayes and Michael Fowler, held Upper Perkiomen to just two first downs and 74 total yards. Pottsgrove, by the way, has allowed an average of just 105 total yards per game — and given up a total of only 38 passing yards all season.
JUST FOR KICKS
Alex Wertman, a starting defender on Phoenixville's Frontier Division-leading girls soccer team, made her gridiron debut in Friday in the Phantoms' 19-15 victory over Owen J. Roberts, booting home an extra point after Kyle Karkoska's go-ahead 62-yard TD pass to Mackensie Thomas late in the fourth quarter. Wertman had banged her initial PAT attempt off the upright.
Speaking of kicking, Methacton punter Mike Cassidy is averaging 44.9 yards on his 11 attempts thus far.
AROUND THE AREA
Pottsgrove wideout Mike Fowler has caught three passes so far: all for touchdowns. Falcons quarterback Riley Michaels, has put it up just eight times this year, completing five passes, four going for TDs. ... Pottsgrove remains No. 9 in this week's Pennsylvania Football News Class AAA state poll, while Spring-Ford holds steady at honorable mention in the PFN Class AAAA poll. ... The 48 points scored by Methacton in its win over Boyertown matched the Warriors' best point output since a 48-12 victory over Pottstown in Week 6 of the 2008 season.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
Neshaminy's 28-0 victory over Souderton was the Redskins' third straight shutout. ... Penn State recruit Daquan Worley ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns on no less than 38 carries to help Coatesville improve to 3-0 with a 27-14 victory over Central Dauphin East. ... Plymouth-Whitemarsh got a game-tying 12-yard TD pass from Connor Hanlon to James Rogers and conversion pass to Jose Vega with eight seconds left, then a 1-yard run from Vega and conversion run from Hanlon in overtime to stun Downingtown West 36-34.
Wilson quarterback Matt Timochenko fired seven touchdowns passes in a 46-6 victory over Reading. ... University Prep QB Ronald Brown continues to put up mind-boggling numbers, throwing for 525 yards in a 52-21 win over Carrick. ... Central Mountain's Tyler Palalko had kickoff return TDs of 90 and 87 yards in a 57-35 loss to Mifflin County.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kirk Cherneskie, Pope John Paul II
Versatile senior was all over the field in Friday's 24-0 victory over Pottstown. The 5-foot-7, 200-pounder ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns, kicked a 20-yard field goal, hit three extra points, punted twice for a 28-yard average and also keyed a defensive effort that notched the first shutout in team history.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford
Fourth-year coach directed the Rams to a 14-7 victory over previously unbeaten Perkiomen Valley. Brubaker, who has a 33-9 mark at Spring-Ford, is just one of only two active coaches in Pennsylvania with more than 30 wins and less than 10 losses.