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.
Spring-Ford's A-plus ‘D' takes down Perkiomen Valley
By Darryl Grumling, email@example.com
ROYERSFORD — The Spring-Ford student section made its presence felt at a jam-packed Coach McNelly Stadium Friday night with chants of This-Is-Our-House!
Thanks to a lights-out effort from the Rams defense, it ended up being a house of horrors for Perkiomen Valley.
Getting an outstanding effort from virtually everyone who saw action on that side of the ball — including standout running back Jarred Jones, of all people — the Spring-Ford ‘D’ bottled up high-powered Perkiomen Valley throughout a 14-7 victory in an early season showdown of Pioneer Athletic Conference title contenders.
“Everybody played well,” said Rams coach Chad Brubaker, whose squad improved to 1-0 in the league and 2-1 overall. “They wanted this game.”
That was apparent throughout a contest that saw more than its share of gang-tackling, blitzing and bone-crunching hits.
“We gave 120 percent, maybe more,” said Spring-Ford cornerback Joe Bush, whose interception on the first play of the second half set up the go-ahead score. “We played our hearts out.”
It started up front, where nose guard Alec Vagnozzi (two sacks) and ends Robby Varner and Mason Romano penetrated like drills in Texas dirt.
Linebackers Andy Lovre-Smith, Jake Leahy and Connor Murphy did an excellent job of ensuring the Vikings’ bevy of skill people never broke containment — save for Vikings quarterback Rasaan Stewart’s 47-yard TD run in the second quarter.
And the secondary of Bush, Jared Shoemaker, Michael Fuhrmeister and Cody Davis (one interception) was nothing short of first-rate.
“It was such a battle to even get a first down,” Perkiomen Valley coach Scott Reed said. “Tonight was all about defense, field position, and ultimately turnovers.”
In a game that saw no less than 13 combined punts, that tone was set early as the Vikings defense opened the game with a three-and-out, while the Rams countered by forcing Stewart into a fourth-down incompletion from the Rams 8 on PV’s initial drive.
Stewart, who ran for 124 yards on 24 carries, finally broke the ice with 9:23 let in the first half, when he raced down the right side to put the Vikings (1-1, 2-1) up 7-0.
The Vikings then got the ball right back, but Davis picked off Stewart on a third-and-14 play and the Rams offense finally came to life.
Two plays later, Jones (28 carries, 123 yards) ripped of a 30-yard gain to put the ball on the PV 44. Then freshman quarterback Stone Scarcelle heaved a pass down the left side that appeared to be underthrown, but 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout Gary Hopkins outleapt Liam Grande at the 20 for it, broke a tackle and raced to the end zone to tie it at 7-7 with 4:40 left in the half.
“We lost the turnover battle,” said Reed, whose squad had three of them to zero for the Rams. “And they took advantage when we turned it over.”
That was the case after Bush’s interception gave the Rams the ball at the PV 44 right off the bat in the third quarter.
With versatile playmaker Tate Carter out after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter, Brubaker decided to pound away with Jones — who toted the pigskin for the first five plays (and eight overall) during an 11-play drive capped by Jones’ decisive 9-yard scoring run with 6:20 left in the third quarter.
That would prove to be enough for the Spring-Ford defense, which came up with the big play time and time again the rest of the way.
Romano made a big stop to hold Stewart to a 1-yard gain on a third-and-7 from the Rams 44 to force a punt with a little more than two minutes left in the third period.
Then Jones, who was inserted at linebacker, shot the gap to sack Stewart on a third-and-16 play from the Rams 30 to blunt the Vikings early in the fourth quarter.
After an errant punt snap gave Perkiomen Valley a golden opportunity at the Spring-Ford 29, the Rams stiffened again — with Vagnozzi’s second-down sack of Stewart forcing a three-and-out and another punt.
The Rams then delivered the coup de grace when Romano forced a Stewart fumble at the Rams 34 that teammate Matt Daywalt recovered with 2:54 left. Zac DeMedio, one of three QBs the Rams used, turned in a nifty 10-yard run on a third-and-8 play that wound up sealing the deal.
“The whole key was how we read their offense,” Vagnozzi said. “We were prepared, and it was a team effort.”
Stewart wound up completing 12 of 28 passes for 95 yards, six of those completions to Dakota Clanagan (64 receiving yards).
“There were times when we got into a rhythm,” Reed said, “but then there were other times we’d get stopped.”
You can chalk that up to a Spring-Ford ‘D’ that delivered an A-plus effort.
Spring-Ford got a couple of big punt returns (19 and 28 yards) from Brandon Barone. ... Jones also completed a pass, a 10-yarder to Tyliek Freeman, during the Rams’ go-ahead drive. ... The PV defense held Spring-Ford to a 3-for-12 passing effort for just 56 yards. ... The Vikings outgained the Rams 257-169.
Rams defense rises up to halt Vikings
ROYERSFORD – All the buzz surrounding Perkiomen Valley’s prolific, high-powered offense was silenced Friday night.
Spring-Ford hit the mute button on the Vikings with a defensive clinic that forced three turnovers, held the Vikings to 251 total yards and kept dynamic PV quarterback Rasaan Stewart largely in check during a 14-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
From the defensive front to the linebackers to the secondary, the Rams worked together with incredible efficiency and grit.
“When you stand here and go down the list, it’s hard to single out just one guy,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “To hold that team to 7 points shows you what kind of job they did. It was a great team effort.”
Spring-Ford had just one major breakdown on defense when Stewart broke free for a 47-yard touchdown run with 9:23 left in the second quarter to produce a 7-0 lead. But that would be all the Vikings would get.
The Rams, meanwhile, forged a 7-7 tie with 4:40 left in the first half on freshman quarterback Stone Scarcelle’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Gary Hopkins. The play was a testament to the athleticism of Hopkins, who simply outleaped the defender and turned it upfield, easily winning the footrace to the end zone.
Jarrred Jones, who needed 29 carries to amass 124 yards, gave Spring-Ford the lead for good with a 6-yard TD run at the 6:20 mark of the third quarter. The decisive 11-play, 44-yard scoring drive was set up when Joe Bush picked off Stewart on the first play of the second half.
“It came down to our conditioning,” said Bush. “We practiced all week against their up-tempo. Their offense is all Stewart. We felt if we could contain him, we’d be good. If I had to rate our defense, it was 120 percent.”
Perk Valley, which turned the ball over on downs at the Spring-Ford 8-yard line on its first possession of the game, would have some chances to get the equalizer after falling behind. The best opportunity came with 7:05 left when a bad snap on a punt attempt gave the Vikings the short field at the S-F 29. But Perk Valley went backwards on the possession with an incomplete pass, a two-yard loss on a Stewart run and a delay of game penalty wiping out the opportunity.
“This game was all about defense, field position and turnovers,” said Perk Valley coach Scott Reed, whose club had five of six second-half possessions end in Spring-Ford territory. “We had so many chances but we couldn’t punch it in. Up front, their defensive line was outstanding and I thought our defensive line was outstanding, too. We just couldn’t find our rhythm.”
Spring-Ford’s front four of Mason Romano, Robby Varner, Matt Daywalt and Alec Vagnozzi, linebackers Andy Lovre-Smith, Jake Leahy and Connor Murphy, and the defensive secondary of Bush, Jarred Shoemaker, Cody Davis and Mike Fuhrmeister made it impossible for Perk Valley to get into its normal flow.
“A lot of people doubted us,” said Vagnozzi, who had one of two sacks. “But that gave us motivation. We executed pretty well and were reading their line. We wanted to slow them down, and have the secondary make some big plays. We looked at a lot of film, and had good reads on their line.”
Despite his excessive workload on offense, Jones got some time on the other side of the ball as a roving free safety in the fourth quarter. The senior made the most of his shot, collecting a sack of Stewart to stop a PV drive that had gotten to the 30 before running out of steam.
“The difference tonight was we played as a unit,” said Jones. “We ‘re hungry, and we like being the underdogs. I thought the difference was our offensive line in the second half and the way our defense played. I played a lot of defense before I got to high school, and I was out there as a spy (on Stewart). It was nice to get Rasaan that one time.”
NOTES: Spring-Ford lost standout senior Tate Carter to a knee injury on the final play of the first quarter. Carter, one of the premier skill players in the league, didn’t return after getting assisted off the field. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Carter was on crutches and wearing a heavy brace during the second half … Stewart rushed for 118 yards on 23 carries but struggled to find any real consistency throwing the ball. His tally sheet was 12-for-27 for 97 yards with a pair of interceptions (Bush, Davis) … In addition to starter Scarcelle, Matt Daywalt and Zac DeMedio also took some snaps at QB for the Rams
Rams turn back Stewart, Vikings
By Rick O'Brien
While Spring-Ford sorts out its offensive woes, including the continuing search for a full-time quarterback, it looks as if it can hang its hat on a rock-solid defensive unit. In Friday night's Pioneer Athletic Conference game against Perkiomen Valley, which came in averaging 38 points, the host Rams limited the previously potent Vikings to a second-quarter tally and triumphed, 14-7, at packed Coach McNelly Stadium. "We know the pressure is on the defense," senior nose guard Alec Vagnozzi said. "We have to come up big a lot of times. Tonight, we were pretty much in the zone. Things mostly worked out the way we wanted." Perkiomen Valley's lone score was Rasaan Stewart's 47-yard keeper early in the second stanza. From there, with two interceptions and a late fumble recovery, the Rams continually frustrated the visitors. "We're still struggling, obviously, on defense," Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "We have to win ugly right now." The difference, following a pick by cornerback Joe Bush at the Perkiomen Valley 44, was Jarred Jones' 9-yard run around the right corner midway through the third quarter. The score capped an 11-play drive. The winning series included a 10-yard jump-pass by Jones. Also, on 4th and 2 from the 14, the senior tailback, who carried 29 times for 126 yards, sliced up the middle for a 5-yard gain. He found paydirt two plays later. "He's hurting right now," Brubaker said of Jones. "They put some pretty good hits on him." The Rams (2-1 overall, 1-0 PAC-10) clinched the win over the Vikings (2-1, 1-1) when Matt Daywalt recovered a fumble at the Spring-Ford 37 with just under three minutes to play. Stewart, a dual-threat quarterback, netted 114 yards on 23 carries. The 6-foot-1, 188-pound senior completed 13 of 26 throws for 108 yards. Said Brubaker: "We would have liked to have done a better job of keeping him off the field, but we did enough." Spring-Ford's other defensive standouts were linemen Mason Romano and Robby Varner, linebacker Andy Lovre-Smith, and backs Cody Davis (second-quarter pick) and Jared Shoemaker. Jones, seeing spot duty at linebacker, dumped Stewart for a 6-yard loss in the fourth quarter. "He was spying [Stewart] on third-down situations," Brubaker said. The Rams, who used three players at QB, forged a 7-7 tie in the second quarter on Stone Scarcelle's 44-yard touchdown pass to wideout Gary Hopkins. Spring's Ford's Tate Carter, a multipurpose standout, was lost to a left-knee injury late in the first quarter.
Taste of Spring-Ford moves outdoors for 2013
On Sunday, Sept. 22, the grounds of the Spring-Ford 9th Grade Center will serve as host to ‘Ram Country Fair’, the 4th annual installment of Taste of Spring-Ford - a fundraising event for Spring-Ford High School Football featuring dozens of area food vendors and hours of fun activities.
This year will be the first time that Taste of Spring-Ford is being held outdoors, and the outdoor ‘twist’ is why, according to event coordinator Denise Wiggins, the event has been dubbed with the Ram Country Fair moniker.
“This is wildly exciting (because) it is a win-win scenario,” she said. “More space means more activities and more opportunities to enjoy the day. We are offering the community the opportunity to come and taste the flavor of local businesses that have come together as an alliance to support the event.”
Dozens of vendors from the Spring-Ford, Phoenixville and Perkiomen Valley areas will be serving up food for the event, which will take place from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Unlike previous years, this event will have no admission cost. Attendees need only pay for the food and drinks they want and for tickets to those activities they, or their children, want to take part of – and there are plenty of free things to do as well. The parking is also free.
The events will be spread out across the different athletic fields of the 9th Grade Center, with the chief attraction being the peculiarly delightful Cow Plop Bingo, which starts at 3 p.m.
For the bingo, a series of indexed squares are marked off on one of the schools practice fields (squares can be bought now for $10 at by visiting www.Spring-FordFootball.mobi). At 3 p.m., a well-fed cow moseys out onto the field, picks a spot and, well… ‘plops’. The lucky owners of the square or squares which are marked by the ‘plop’ will be the winners. If all of the squares are sold, a single square winner will take home $1000. If enough tickets are purchased, a second bingo is expected at about 5 p.m.
“You do not have to be present to win, but there will be more joy if you’re present to watch and hear your assigned number called,” noted Wiggins.
There are two other highlight activities for the day. The first is a football activity called ‘Pros versus Joes’ where youngsters get to go out onto McNelly Stadium with Spring-Ford High School varsity football players and participate in a series throwing, punting and kicking exercises. There also is the Spring-Ford ‘celebrity’ ice cream eating contest, where coaches, school club leaders and other well-known personalities from the high school will face off to see who has the heartiest appetite.
Jen Welsh is the activities coordinator for the event, and also a parent of two Spring-Ford students who play football.
“The (fundraising) will help in many different areas,” she explained. “We have things like our pre and post-game meals for the players and coaches. Those really build a strong feeling of team unity. The (money raised) also helps with equipment costs.”
Welsh estimates that there will be about 20-25 ticketed activities, some geared for younger kids, others for older kids. Among those she named were carnival games with prizes, activities with inflatables – including a moon bounce, a rock climbing wall and dunk tank.
Free activities include ‘parachute and bubbles’ activities for young kids (groups get to sing songs and play with a large parachute), a look inside of fire trucks from the Limerick, Linfield and Royersford fire departments and a classic car show (expectations are that 10-12 cars will participate).
Welsh said that the Spring-Ford football players will be in attendance from start to finish - setting up, running activities and cleaning up at the end of the day.
“The players really enjoy the opportunity to help out – especially when they get to interact with the younger kids,” she stated.
A van from the country music station WXTU 92.5 FM will be on site playing music for most of the day. A balloon artist will also be on the premises entertaining guests.
“This event is great because it brings everyone together,” Welsh said. “Not just the kids, but also adults with and without kids. Everyone gets the opportunity to patronize all of the great vendors that come out and introduce themselves and their businesses to the community.”
Both she and Wiggins offered thanks to the many people and businesses who played a role in bringing the event together.
“I cannot express enough how important the help from the parents has been. They give countless hours of their time to make this happen and it truly would not be possible without them,” Welsh stated.
“Thanks to everyone involved, because it truly takes a village. The teamwork has been great and that is why people like living in this community… …everyone comes together and everyone appreciates one another,” said Wiggins.
For more information on Taste of Spring-Ford visit https://www.facebook.com/tasteofspringford
The rain date for the Ram Country Fair is October 6.
The 2013 Taste of Spring-Ford sponsors (to date) are:
Bruster’s Ice Cream, Corropolese Bakery and Deli, Dallas Fries, Elevation Burger, Giovanni’s Restaurant, Iced by Betsy, Kona Ice, Railroad Street Bar & Grill, Rossi’s, Rita’s Water Ice, Uncle Bob’s BBQ Shack, Beanie Bounce , Bounce U , Bruster’s Rockwall, C&C Landscaping, Colonial Gardens, Gymboree of Collegeville, Linfield, Limerick & Royersford Fire Truck Companies, Montco. Tent Company, Party Magic Plus, Pizzico Signs, Port-a-Bowl Rentals, Rental World/Limerick - Moon Bounce & Games, SFYAL Baseball/Softball Association, Spring-Ford Sports Boosters , Spring-Ford Touchdown Club , Western Montgomery Career Technology Center (WMCTC) Cosmetology Class, Wojton’s Nursery and WXTU Radio Station 92.5.
A closer look at Spring-Ford vs. Perk Valley
Rick O'Brien, Inquirer Staff Writer
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 1:09 AM
It has been a terrific start to the football season for Perkiomen Valley, with its two victories gained by a combined 70 points. Spring-Ford struggled out of the gate, falling to District 11's Whitehall by 16 points and then rebounding with a romp over Southern. In what is a key early Pioneer Athletic Conference matchup, the Vikings (2-0 overall, 1-0 league) and Rams (1-1, 0-0) will meet at 7 p.m. Friday in Royersford. It must be noted that three Spring-Ford seniors - speedy tailback Jarred Jones, wide receiver Gary Hopkins, and linebacker Jake Leahy - did not suit up for the 37-21 loss to Whitehall. Rams coach Chad Brubaker said only that they were "unavailable" for the opener. The three returned in last week's 34-0 blanking of Southern, with Jones, who has been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns. "He's an extremely talented running back, has good vision, good hips, and is a great closer," Perkiomen Valley coach Scott Reed said. In the Vikings' first two games, Rasaan Stewart, a 6-foot-1, 188-pound senior and dual-threat quarterback, has rushed for 150 yards and thrown for 294. Here is a closer look at Friday's game. Last year. In Week 10, with Jones rushing for 208 yards and scoring on a 90-yard kickoff return, Spring-Ford triumphed, 42-28, over Perk Valley. Stewart ran for 130 yards and threw for 155 in the losing cause. "He was all over the field," Brubaker said of Stewart, a Division I-A recruit as a defensive back. "He carried the ball a ton, threw the ball a ton. He was exhausted, but kept going." Unsettled. Spring-Ford still is trying to find a permanent replacement at QB for Hank Coyne, who passed for 1,908 yards and 26 TDs last season and is now at Juniata. Freshman Stone Scarcelle is expected to make his second start Friday. Brubaker said he also planned to use one or more of three other QBs: senior Zac DeMedio and juniors Matt Daywalt and Brandon Leacraft. Said Brubaker: "I'd prefer for there to be a clear-cut winner at that position, but it hasn't happened yet." Threats. The Vikings have dangerous targets in wideouts Clay Domine and Dakota Clanagan. Fellow senior Mark Bonomo, a fullback, has carried 25 times for 178 yards. Do-everything type. For Spring-Ford, senior Tate Carter can be used on offense as a receiver, halfback, fullback, or Wildcat-formation QB. Stout bunch. Perkiomen Valley's defense, which has yet to allow a score, is led by tackle Anthony Pachella, linebackers Danny Light and Anthony Rotonda, and backs Kurran Holland and Liam Grande. Analysis. While Jones and Carter are quite a combo, the Rams' muddled situation at QB gives the experienced Stewart and the Vikings a slight edge. Pick. Perkiomen Valley, 34-28.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/high_school/20130912_A_closer_look_at_Spring-Ford_vs__Perk_Valley.html#teY4mtjbeGdhHsqG.99
Spring-Ford bounces back, routs Southern Philadelphia
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — Ignominious, inauspicious and inadequate are a few adjectives to describe the Spring-Ford football team's season-opening loss at Whitehall last week.
Thursday night, though, invigorating would best characterize the Rams' 34-0 non-league victory over Southern (Philadelphia) High at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Feature back Jarred Jones returned from a one-game absence to run for 179 yards and three touchdowns, wideout Gary Hopkins scored two touchdowns, Mason Romano and Robby Varner led a dominant defensive charge and freshman quarterback Stone Scarcelle enjoyed a successful debut as Spring-Ford bounced back strongly from the 37-21 Week 1 loss.
"It was really important (to rebound),' said Romano, who had 12 tackles, including three sacks, despite playing with a broken right hand he suffered last week. "We had to set the tone for the rest of the year.'
"We needed to get that hiccup out of the way and pick it up,' echoed Jones. "We made progress tonight.'
That progress was a little slow in the early going until Hopkins made his presence felt in a big way.
After Jones broke a big run on a second-and-10 play from the Southern 48, he fumbled in a swarm of defenders inside the 30. Hopkins swooped in, gathered up the loose ball and raced into the end zone.
Then, with just 1:26 left in the first half, Hopkins hauled in a deep ball from Scarcelle over two defenders at the Southern 20 and turned it into a 47-yard catch-and-run
score that helped the Rams take a 14-0 lead into the locker room.
The 5-foot-11, 145-pound Scarcelle wound up 7-for-16 for 112 yards but was also intercepted twice.
"He played with some tenacity,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "He does some things real well. Obviously, experience is an issue and making the right decision is an issue, but he has a big upside.'
Jones, who Brubaker termed "unavailable' for Week 1, then took over the second half, when he rushed for 109 of his yards and displayed some Barry Sanders-like cutback ability.
Three plays into the third quarter, Jones broke off a 31-yard scoring scamper that made it 20-0. Later in the quarter, he scored on a 25-yard run in which he broke down the left sideline before totally reversing the field. Jones then closed out the scoring with a 5-yard run with 1:14 left in the game.
"Our offensive line played with a lot of heart,' Jones said. "Once we got the ball moving, everything else started flowing.'
On the other side of the ball, Romano, Varner and Co. ensured Southern never got into its flow.
Spring-Ford's defense allowed just 66 rushing yards (on 46 carries) and 122 total yards.
"We were all flying around tonight,' Romano
Spring-Ford's Gary Hopkins jumps over Southern's Nicholas Coffie to score a second quarter receiving touchdown Thursday. (Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury)
said. "We all played together.'
"A great defensive effort,' Brubaker said. "That's what we were looking for. If we would have played with that urgency and intensity last week, it would have been interesting. Defensively, we worked towards finding our identity and playing the way we expected to play.'
Tate Carter had four receptions for 44 yards and Hopkins had two catches for 60 yards as part of a balanced offensive attack that registered 295 total yards.
"I think as the weeks go on, we'll keep progressing and keep getting that chemistry down,' Jones said.
Brubaker was still smarting afterwards a bit about some shoddy special teams play, which also haunted the Rams last week.
"That cost us in the first quarter and was a big reason we were down 14-0,' Brubaker said. "We had some of that tonight again, and we have to straighten it out. You can't run into the kicker on fourth-and-50 and drop punts. But all in all, this game was something to build off of.'
Bryant Hudgins, a 5-10, 183-pound junior, ran for a team-high 46 yards for Southern (0-2), which got a 6-for-9, 56-yard passing effort from senior QB Michael Riley and two interceptions from senior Ryan Stewart. ... Tim Rudderow recovered a fumble for Spring-Ford. ... The Rams play host to Perkiomen Valley in a league-opening showdown next Friday night.
Whitehall swarms Spring-Ford in 1st half on way to 37-21 win
By Barry Sankey
WHITEHALL — Spring-Ford fell behind Whitehall early and never could fully recover in its non-league football season opener Friday night at Zephyr Stadium.
Whitehall built a 31-7 halftime advantage and went on to beat the Rams, 37-21.
"Obviously, they are well-coached,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. "We made some mistakes early. We had some costly mistakes on special teams that set them up for some big scores.
"We don't really have an identity yet. We have to take a look at the films. We had some good moments, but we didn't force a lot of punts.'
Defensive lineman Rob Varner got the Rams on the scoreboard with a 31-yard interception return in the third quarter. Then Tate Carter scored a pair of fourth-period TDs on runs of 9 and 25 yards. Owen Gulati kicked all three extra points.
Carter ended the night with 20 carries for 107 yards. He also played some quarterback along with Brandon Leacraft and Zac DeMedio.
Spring-Ford defensive lineman Mason Romano had a big night with several tackles for losses.
Ryan Bonshak scored the first two Whitehall TDs on a 21-yard pass from Jeff Charles and a 6-yard run for a 14-0 lead after one stanza.
Saquon Barkley then caught a 30-yard scoring toss from Charles and scampered 55 yards for another score. He rushed for 121 yards on 14 tries.
Connor Ilgenfritz booted a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. The Rams just missed blocking the kick and should have, according to Brubaker.
It was a rude awakening to open the season for the reigning District 1-AAAA finalists, which finished 12-3 a year ago. Whitehall went 8-3 in 2012 and captured a share of the Lehigh Valley conference title and reached the District 11-AAAA quarterfinals.
Spring-Ford won last year's season-opening encounter with Whitehall, 31-20.
Spring-Ford aiming high
By DENNIS C. WAY 21st-centurymedia.com
ROYERSFORD — If the Spring-Ford High football team's first three seasons under head coach Chad Brubaker were a ladder, then the Rams are moving in the proper direction.
In 2010, Spring-Ford went 9-3 and just missed qualifying for the District One playoffs.
In 2011, the Rams were 10-2 and reached the playoffs, although it was a short stay.
Last year Spring-Ford skipped a couple of rungs, climbing all the way to the District One Class AAAA final before falling to eventual state finalist Coatesville.
Or, as senior linebacker/fullback Andy Lovre-Smith accurately recapped, "Two years ago our goal was to make districts, which we did. Last year our goal was to make a splash at districts, and we did.
"This year, our goal is to repeat last year, only top what we did.'
And with an excellent mix of returnees and impressive varsity first-timers, the Rams' goal is reachable.
Now, if they can only find a quarterback.
The biggest question entering Spring-Ford's summer camp was still the team's biggest question better than two weeks in - who will replace three-year starter Hank Coyne?
"It's still a mystery,' said Brubaker. "We have to go through our scrimmages and evaluate.
"I wish I could say someone has stepped forward, and I hope that speaks to our ability.'
"We're all anxious to see who's going to lead us,' offered two-way skill standout Tate Carter, "and we all have our opinions. But we'll leave that up to the coaches. "No matter who they pick, we'll be OK. All of them are pretty good.'
For the moment it's a three-man race between juniors Brandon Leacraft and Matt Daywalt and senior Zac DeMedio.
But whoever winds up calling signals, he won't lack for a quality supporting cast.
That quality begins with dynamic running back Jarred Jones, who gained 975 yards in virtually a half a season last year after suffering a broken wrist early in the season, and Carter, who rushed for better than 700 yards and led the team with 41 receptions.
"I'd bet every team in the state would want Jones and Carter,' Lovre-Smith said. "Those are two guys who can make a play any time they touch the ball.
"Last year we looked very good rotating Jarred and Tate, so I don't see us changing much.'
Add to that duo the talents of wideout Gary Hopkins, who at 6-foot-2 is a matchup nightmare for opposition corners, and the conversion of the 6-5 Tyliek Freeman to tight end, and the Rams should not want for playmakers.
"We just need someone who can get the ball to these guys,' Brubaker said.
Up front, Brubaker said this year's trenchmen represent, "the strongest line we've had in terms of strength. We have two guys back from last year, and the others knew they were going to have to step up, and that's what they've done so far.'
Defensively, the Rams will lean heavily on returning All-Pioneer Athletic Conference linemen Mason Romano and Robby Varner, talented cornerbacks Joe Bush and Jared Shoemaker and Lovre-Smith at middle linebacker.
Elsewhere, Brubaker has liked what he's seen of those players fighting for starting defensive jobs.
"We have a lot of guys with chips on their shoulders,' the coach said, "and that's good to see.'
The pieces seem to be in place for a season that could last into late November and maybe even early December.
But Brubaker was quick to define his club's priorities.
"There were eight teams left in the state last year (in Class AAAA) and we were one of them,' the coach said. "But we didn't win our league last year, and that's always our goal.
"But these guys also got a taste of being in the playoffs. And once you get that taste, you don't get rid of it too quickly.'
Now if the Rams can only find a quarterback.
Pottstown Mercury Week 1 Capsule
By Darryl Grumbling
SPRING-FORD AT WHITEHALL
Last year’s records: Spring-Ford 12-3; Whitehall 8-3.
About the Rams: Under coach Chad Brubaker, the Rams have notched double-digit victories in each of the past three seasons. ... Defensive line has a couple of quality veterans in All-Area first-team picks Robby Varner and Mason Romano. ... Senior tailback Jarred Jones and senior WR/RB Tate Carter are main weapons on offense. ... Biggest question mark is at QB, where junior Brandon Leacraft will get the start tonight. ... Corners Joe Bush and Jarred Shoemaker have looked good in camp, according to Brubaker, and Josh Boyer has emerged as a force at RG.
About the Zephyrs: Went 8-1 last year to land a share of the Lehigh Valley conference title and reached the District 11-AAAA quarterfinals. ... Coach Brian Gilbert is trying to rebuild an offensive line that lost four starters and a defensive line that lost three. ... Key players are DB/RB/QB Ryan Bonshak, TE-DE Nick Nejad, LB-OL Jacob Kerchner, OL-DL Fouad Haddad, LB-WR Darius Young and QB Jeff Charles.
Notes: Spring-Ford took the initial encounter in the series by a score of 31-20 last year. ... “The biggest thing for us will be to find our comfort zone as quickly as possible, and, of course, limit mistakes,” Brubaker said. “We have a lot of kids either with little experience at the varsity level or limited varsity experience at a new position. Early-in-the-game success will go a long way in dissipating some of the first-game jitters that we know are going to occur.”
Spring-Ford becoming dominant program
Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley, Spring-Ford expected to lead the way in PAC-10
Over the past decade, only one Pioneer Athletic Conference football squad (Pottsgrove in 2008-09) has been able to win back-to-back league titles.
This season, the Falcons appear to have a good shot at successfully defending their league title — literally.
Thanks to a stingy defense that returns all but two starters, Pottsgrove (9-0 PAC-10, 11-1 overall last year) earns an ever-so-slight nod as the PAC-10’s morning-line favorite.
The Falcons’ defense allowed less than seven points a game over the first seven games of last season. The watershed moment came in Week 5, when Pottstown absolutely shut down a high-powered Spring-Ford attack in a 26-0 victory over the defending league champs.
“We worked as a team,” said linebacker Jeff Adams. “The defensive line stayed strong and held their holes. The linebackers filled their holes. And the defensive backs did a good job of guarding the wide receivers.”
Up front, Patrick Finn, Anthony Pond and Max Wickward highlighted a D-Line that got things started by consistently winning the battle of the trenches.
Linebackers Adams and Sene Polamalu pursued the ball with the tenacity of a junkyard dog.
And the secondary of corners Marquis Barefield and Michael Fowler and safeties Riley Michaels and Jalen Mayes blanketed opposing receivers virtually all season, allowing an average of 87.1 passing yards per game.
“I think every one of those kids played their position,” Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker said. “A lot of them were young, inexperienced and new, and all they did was play their assignments with tremendous technique.
“Our coaches do a great job teaching, and when they (the defense) just worry about their assignments and take care of their own business, it all fits together. We have some skill kids in the secondary who are very quick, so we’re able to play some man-to-man (coverage). If you can do that, it frees things up a little more up front and you can do some blitzing and put more pressure on the quarterback.”
Adams, Fowler and Michaels are returning All-Area first team selections. The 6-2, 190-pound Adams collected 98 tackles and 2.5 sacks in making big contributions to a unit that ranked No. 1 in the area against the run. Fowler, a playmaking 5-10, 165-pounder, intercepted five passes to go along with 46 tackles and one sack. And the scrappy 5-8, 155-pound Michaels had 84 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.
“We have good chemistry, and we just work good together,” Adams said.
“If that (defense) isn’t one of our main strengths, then there’s something wrong,” Pennypacker said. “We have nine of them back. We did lose two very good players in (tackle) Zach Birch and (linebacker) Nick Brennan, but we’re still solid there. That’s the nice thing about this year; we’re able to put a little more (scheme) in with the kids. One thing about our defense that a lot of people don’t realize is that the kids are all very smart kids, so we’re able to do a lot of things. Repetition over and over equals success, and the more reps you get the better you are. That’s what we’re trying to get right now.”
While Pottsgrove’s defense will likely set the tone, the Falcons’ offense should still be plenty potent, despite graduating the explosive tandem of quarterback Tory Hudgins and tailback Mark Dukes.
Michaels has emerged as the starter at QB, with Barefield and Polamalu heading up the backfield and Folwer and Mayes composing the prime receiving targets.
That skill corps will operate behind another strong offensive line anchored by returners Finn, Anthony Pond and Tom Sephakis.
“We’re just going to have to keep working hard,” Pond said. “We never change our philosophy here. We’re never satisfied. We get after it and bust our humps. If we take one day off, somebody is going to gain a hand up on us.”
The Falcons certainly can’t afford to take off with the tandem of Perkiomen Valley (7-2, 8-3) and Spring-Ford (7-2, 12-3) expected to be breathing down their necks.
The Vikings feature the league’s most dangerous offense, a no-huddle attack piloted by Division I recruit Rasaan Stewart, the reigning Mercury All-Area Player of the Year.
The 6-1, 176-pound Stewart ran for a team-high 1,210 yards and 21 touchdowns last year while also completing an area-best 61 percent of his passes for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also “quarterbacked” PV’s defense from his safety position, where he broke up eight passes and collected one interception and forced fumble.
But Vikings coach Scott Reed has plenty of other weapons in his offensive arsenal as well, including the returning All-Area first team tandem of running back Mark Bonomo (1,040 yards, eight TDs) and wideout Clay Domine (55 receptions, 865 yards, five TDs).
In the three years since Chad Brubaker has taken over as coach at Spring-Ford, the Rams have racked up an impressive 31 wins, highlighted by last season’s 12-win campaign in which they reached the District 1-AAAA final for the first time.
Though they were hit hard by graduation, the Rams still have a couple of big-name threats in tailback Jarred Jones (975 yards, 10 TDs last year; 2,435 career rushing yards) and versatile fellow senior Tate Carter (1,302 combined rushing/receiving yards, 15 TDs), who can line up virtually anywhere in the backfield.
Though Brubaker is upbeat about the potential of his offensive line and stable of receivers, there is still a question as to who will be throwing them the ball between the trio of Zac DeMedio, Brandon Leacraft and Matt Daywalt.
Tackles Mason Romano (67 tackles, six sacks) and Robby Varner (60 tackles, two sacks) spearhead the defense.
“There are a lot of question marks, and camp is going to serve to answer them,” Brubaker said. “We’re deeper at wide receiver than any team I’ve been around. There’s guys that need to touch the ball, and hopefully we can start out the season protecting our quarterbacks in terms of what we ask them to do. At some point, they’re going to have to be able to throw the ball and we’re going to have to get the ball in the hands of those kids.”
Just three years ago, Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts shared the PAC-10 title. Though the Bears and Wildcats have gone a collective 9-27 in league play and 13-34 overall, each team seems primed to bounce back this fall.
The Bears (3-6, 3-8) will feature huge offensive and defensive fronts led by tackles Austin Jacobs and Kyle Schutt, a couple of 6-4, 290-pound bookends. Coach Mark Scisly returns all but one starter on defense and has a three-year starter at quarterback in Griffin Pasik as well as a returning 1,000-yard rusher in Cody Richmond.
Speaking of rushing, the Wildcats (3-6, 3-9) have a workhorse in senior Wyatt Scott (225 carries, 1,226 yards), who will run behind a line led by 290-pounder Steve Myers. Scott, a safety, and lineman Kolten Hainsey will be big keys on defense for coach Tom Barr.
Methacton (5-4, 6-5) and Pottstown (4-5, 6-6) can both be labeled darkhorse contenders.
The Warriors, who reeled off four straight victories to end last season, will likely lean on a running game led by fullback Mike Cassidy, the slotback tandem of Devin Bradley and Akeem Walcott and quarterback Kyle Lowery.
Coach Paul Lepre looks to have a solid defense led by linebackers Cassidy, Bradley and Nick Torcini and nose guard Tracey Green.
The Trojans feature two-way standout Dayon Mohler, and All-Area first team selection last year who notched a league-high six interceptions. Denzel Harvey is a threat both running and catching the ball, and quarterback Gary Wise will be directing a triple-option attack for first-year coach Don Grinstead.
Phoenixville (6-3, 7-5) lost four All-Area first-team picks to graduation — most notably Mercury Two-Way Player of the Year Ryan Pannella and 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Yenchick.
Coach Bill Furlong is hoping the Phantoms can grind it out this year with a blue-collar offense quarterbacked by Kyle Karkoska with Justin McDougal as the likely feature back.
Pope John Paul II (1-8, 1-9) saw its season sabotaged by a cruel and seemingly season-long rash of injuries a year ago.
This season, Golden Panthers coach Mike Santillo is hoping a more healthy roster and balanced offensive philosophy can translate into more success.
The trio of Nick Howarth, Kirk Cherneskie and Johnnie Bildstein will contribute to what should be an improved ground game, though quarterback Matt Mesaros can still air it out to targets like Tim Tadros.
At Upper Perkiomen, coach Steve Moyer is optimistic the Indians (0-9, 0-10) can be more competitive.
The Tribe will feature one of the area’s top backs in senior Aidan Schaffer (1,163 yards, nine TDs); a 6-4 receiver in Travis Kline (23 catches, 341 yards, three TDs); and a new quarterback in junior Wyatt Brumm.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
Spring-Ford’s Carter is a man of many hats
By Dennis Way
ROYERSFORD — Just for a giggle, the reporter suggested to Spring-Ford High head football coach Chad Brubaker that Tate Carter’s playbook must be huge.
After all, the Rams senior has played linebacker, free safety, strong safety, running back, wide receiver, quarterback and run back both punts and kickoffs during his varsity career.
Not missing a beat, Brubaker had a ready response.
“You know,” Brubaker deadpanned, “I think it is.”
All chuckles aside, Carter’s versatility has been a primary reason for the Rams’ success over the past three seasons.
And even he has a hard time when it comes to winding up in the right huddle at Spring-Ford practice.
“I start off with the wide receivers,” he said, “then I go with the running backs, then the quarterbacks and then to defense and special teams,” Carter said with the smile of a young man who has been through that gauntlet more than once. “I started off playing just running back and middle linebacker when I was young, but I keep adding on.”
As for keeping them all straight and knowing his assignments for each, Carter said it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
“It’s not really a matter of studying all of those positions,” he said. “You just have to know the concepts for each position.”
If that’s the case, Carter has gotten the hang of a heck of a lot of concepts.
At his two most noticeable positions, Carter rushed for 732 yards and 10 touchdowns at running back last year, then grabbed 41 passes for five more scores while playing wideout.
The senior not only wears a lot of hats, he’s real good under all of them.
“(Carter) can do a lot of things,” Brubaker said. “I really don’t like to compare players that I’ve coached, but in terms of what he can do, he’s a notch above most guys I’ve coached in my career.
“Last year he scored touchdowns as a tailback, a fullback, a wide receiver and a quarterback. And he probably would have scored one as a tight end if we had put him there.”
With all of the roles he fills so effortlessly, Carter said his primary purpose is to not demonstrate his versatility.
“Knowing I can do all of those things, I just stay humble,” he said, “and think in terms of the team and what I can do to help the team.
“I definitely prefer playing wideout or in the slot. Offense is where I think I can do the most for my team. I think my abilities are better suited to offense.”
You’d never know that to watch Carter adapt so readily to all three facets of the game. But those schools at the next level seem to agree.
“Most of the letters I’m getting are coming from (collegiate) offensive coordinators,” he said.
Like most of his teammates, Carter is focused on this season, hoping the returning district finalists can take one more step toward what they hope can be a state-title run.
“I definitely see potential, but we really have to take it one game at a time,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re playing at our best and practicing at 110 percent every day. That’s the only way we’ll get to where we were last year.”
RUNNING BACK SPOTLIGHT – Jarred Jones – Spring-Ford
Written by: David Mika on Friday, August 16th, 2013
Jarred Jones, Spring-Ford
40 Yard Dash: 4.5
Class of: 2014
Jersey: # 6
Years with Varsity: 2-years
2012 Stats: Despite missing six games with a broken wrist, Jones rushed for 980 yards on 122 carries and 10 touchdowns. His sophomore year he rushed for 1,455 yards and 16 touchdowns. In two-years he has had almost 3,000 all-purpose yards.
2012 Highlights: He rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns against Pope John Paul II.
Coaches Q&A with Chad Brubaker:
Describe his strengths?
“He can do a little bit of everything. He has a great skill set. He is a strong kid, pound-for-pound he is one of our strongest kids on our team. He has breakaway speed and runs with a lot of power. He likes to deliver a blow to a defensive player and make them miss. We would like to get him the ball more out of the back field this year. He has good hands We have some things in the works to try and get him the ball different ways this year. Also, he is a good pass blocker.”
How much will he play defense for you this year?
“We will pick and choose when he plays defense this season.”
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Spring-Ford hopes to continue recent run
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — In the three seasons that Chad Brubaker has coached the Spring-Ford football team, the Rams have impressively increased their victory total from the previous year.
While that trend will be virtually impossible to continue after last season’s watershed 12-win campaign, no one should expect the Rams to fall back into the Pioneer Athletic Conference pack anytime soon.
Spring-Ford (7-2 PAC-10, 12-3 overall last year) returns a couple of prime-time offensive threats in senior tailback Jarred Jones (982 yards, 8.1 ypc, 10 TDs) and do-it-all weapon Tate Carter (combined 1,305 rushing/receiving yards, 15 TDs) — a duo expected to spearhead Brubaker’s multi-faceted attack.
According to Brubaker, the Rams’ biggest strengths appear to be a deep receiving corps and an offensive line he considers the strongest in his tenure at Spring-Ford.
With the graduation of three-year starting quarterback Hank Coyne, that position is still up for grabs between the trio of senior Zac DeMedio, junior Brandon Leacraft and junior Matt Daywalt. Carter will also figure into the mix in Wildcat sets for a squad that hopes to gradually gain its identity over the early part of the season.
“We have to get through our first three games,” Brubaker said. “That’s going to set the tone. It won’t define the year, but it will certainly set the tone. We start off with a good Whitehall team up there, then we have South Philadelphia and Perkiomen Valley at home. If we can come out of there 2-1 or 3-0, it sets us up for the rest of the season”
On defense, end Mason Romano (67 tackles, six sacks) and tackle Robby Varner (60 tackles, two sacks) — both All-Area first-team picks last year — lead the way for the Rams.
“It’s going to come down to what the guy next to you is doing and what the guy next to him is doing,” Varner said. “We just have to pull together.
“The biggest challenge with a lot of new guys on the team is that we all have to know our assignments. That’s the way we’re going to win games: work together and know what we’re doing. We need to study our opponents well, so we can learn their weaknesses and make them our strengths.”
Coming tomorrow: Boyertown.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
CBS High School Football Top Ten
CBS High School Football Top Ten
By Joseph Santoliquito
The Rams were the surprise of the area last season, vaulting all the way to the District 1 Class AAAA championship game, where they lost to Coatesville, 59-28. The Rams went 12-3, the most victories in a season for the program. Coach Chad Brubaker returns one of the most exciting players in Southeastern Pennsylvania in Tate Carter. Senior Jarred Jones is also dangerous in the open field. Quarterback will come down to senior Zac DeMedio or juniors Matt Daywalt and Brandon Leacraft.