ROYERSFORD – Ben Schein first felt the hypnotic glare of the Friday Night Lights 10 years ago.
The young Ben was working the sideline as a Spring-Ford High ball boy when he first experienced the pageantry and excitement borne out of high school football.
Schein liked everything about it – the noise, the fans, the action- and was immediately hooked.
The pulsating ambience hit the Spring-Ford senior with all the force of a Ray Lewis blindside shot to the ribs, triggering a dream that Schein would one day become a more active participant in the proceedings.
“I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9, and I was just starting to learn about football,” said Ben Schein, whose father Steve Schein – a longtime head coach at Upper Merion – had joined the Rams coaching staff as an assistant. “I thought everything about the atmosphere was great, the Friday Night Lights, and that’s where it all started. I always dreamed about playing football for Spring-Ford.”
The dream became reality soon enough.
Despite being undersized at 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, Ben put on the pads and became a little giant, sharing in a major piece of Spring-Ford football history.
“I know that I’m not the most gifted athlete,” said Schein. “I wasn’t given the frame or the skill set of a college football player. Most of my success came from hard work and knowing the mental aspect of the game. We spent a lot of time off the practice field, studying film and preparing for our opponents. We usually knew what the other team was going to do.”
Schein parlayed that knowledge into on-field success. The cornerback/wide receiver helped the Rams score the first three postseason victories in school history and advance all the way to the District One Class AAAA championship.
It was a thrilling ride for Schein, who said he’s getting a better handle on what was accomplished as each day passes.
“When we upset Ridley (28-26 in second round of the playoffs), the feeling was unbelievable,” said Schein, a 2012 second team all PAC-10 conference selection at defensive back. “The atmosphere was like nothing I’d ever experienced. We were all standing there in front of the band while they played our alma mater, and I was with Hank Coyne, R.J. Sheldon and Kyle Hoffner – guys I’d been playing together with since we were little kids.”
Those are the shining moments that make all the blood, sweat and tears seem worthwhile.
Spring-Ford would go on to handle Pennridge 35-24 and earn a trip to the district final – where the Rams ran out of road in a 59-28 loss to powerful Coatesville.
On the defensive side of the ball, Schein finished the season with a team-high three interceptions, 11 passes defended, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and 3.3 tackles per game. He also caught 14 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns, adding 11 conversion kicks for 29 total points.
Numbers aside, Schein truly excelled in the cerebral aspects of the game. That should come as no surprise, considering the National Honor Society member ranks second in his class of 578 and holds down a mind-boggling 101.7 GPA.
"Ben treated football much like we ask all of our players, like another class,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “He studies our opponents and knows what to expect and when to expect it. That knowledge, coupled with game situations, enabled him to anticipate upcoming plays and react accordingly.”
Schein took that same heady approach to the wrestling mats this season. Although he lost his spot in the Rams postseason lineup after going 7-7, Ben exits the program with something far greater than any district title – a sense of purpose and perspective.
“Wrestling is the most physically and mentally challenging sport I’ve ever participated in,” said Schein, the son of Stephanie and Steve Schein. “It’s really special and instills so many great qualities. The benefits of wrestling extend far beyond athletics.
“Coming into the season, I had only one varsity match to my credit. I got tossed around a little bit and I didn’t have all the glory, but I did have some success on a couple of occasions.”
The unquestionable high point for Ben came in a 28-24 win over Boyertown when he upset heavily-favored Reuben Maldonado 8-3 at 138 to put the Rams in front to stay with one match remaining.
“Ben will not leave our program with the most wins,” said Spring-Ford wrestling coach Tim Seislove. “But he does have one of the most memorable victories (tide-turning win over Maldonado).
“Ben started wrestling in seventh grade and unfortunately, he’s been stuck behind people like Chase Brown, Sean Hennessey, Jason Quave, Jason and Adam Dombrosky. But it never derailed his work ethic or attitude. He always brings a positive attitude and hard work to the practice room every day. Through his work effort, he makes his teammates better.”
It’s the ultimate compliment for any athlete – making those around you better. Schein, who plans to wrestle at the club level in college, does just that.
“Ben is an excellent role model of a true student-athlete,” Brubaker said. “He is a well-rounded community member who works hard and fills his schedule with uplifting, positive tasks for himself and others.”
In addition to his all-league selection at DB Schein, who plans to major in biomedical or environmental engineering but has yet to make a college choice (Vanderbilt and Miami are his top choices), also made the PAC-10 All-Academic football team this past fall.
Earning that distinction was pretty much a no-brainer.
“I really think athletics helps with academics,” said Schein. “There’s a minimal time to focus, and I’m used to my regular schedule of school and sports. It’s how I was raised – come home from school and do your homework.”
Somehow, Ben finds time for other community- and school-related pursuits. A long-time volunteer at the Royersford Public Library, Schein helps out at the Spring-Ford Youth Football Camp and is a volunteer with the High School Heroes program – which recently went to Schein’s alma mater Upper Providence Elementary to help with the kindergarten class.
In school, Schein is Secretary of the Senior Class, participates in the Spanish Club and the foreign exchange program, which has earned him an upcoming two-week trip to Ireland.
“We hosted two kids from Ireland during the football season,” said Schein. “Now I’m going over there to stay with their families. I’m really looking forward to it.”
For now, Schein took some time to look in the rearview mirror – to the football field, the wrestling mat and the hallways at Spring-Ford, where he has already achieved so much.
All the while, the Friday Night Lights still blink in his memory bank.
“We were a very tight-knit group in football, a cohesive team that played together,” said Schein. “It really means more to me now. We’ll leave the school as the winningest class in Spring-Ford history, and I couldn’t be any prouder of that.”
Spring-Ford’s McDowell, Pottsgrove’s O’Connor invited to East-West game
By Don Seeley
Zameer McDowell will get an opportunity to erase a bad memory – the lasting memories from he and his Spring-Ford teammates’ final game last season.
That loss was to Coatesville in the District 1-Class AAAA football championship ... at Downingtown West High School.
And that’s exactly where McDowell, along with Pottsgrove’s Madison O’Connor, will be lining up on Sunday, May 5 to play in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star Game.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound McDowell, who was a tight end and defensive end for the Rams, and the 6-foot-7, 332-pound O’Connor, an offensive tackle for the Falcons, will be the area’s only two participants in the game, which benefits a variety of charities.
The East-West game, first held in 2001 at Mansion Park in Altoona, features some of the top players in the state.
McDowell was selected as one of three defensive ends — the other two being Council Rock North’s Curtis Cothran and Wilson-West Lawn’s Matt Rothrock. Last season, he was credited with 71 tackles, including seven sacks, and had 13 quarterback-hurries. He also broke up eight passes, intercepted one, recovered a fumble and blocked three kicks. On offense, he caught 17 passes for 280 yards and five touchdowns, including two that proved to be game-winners. He was selected to the All-Pioneer Athletic Conference team and The Mercury’s All-Area team, and named The Mercury’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Three players from the Coatesville team that denied McDowell and Spring-Ford that district title — quarterback Emmett Hunt, wideout Chris Jones and offensive lineman Andrew Baker — will be part of the East lineup, too.
O’Connor, a four-year starter for Pottsgrove, anchored the offensive line that led the Falcons to the Pioneer Athletic Conference title. O’Connor’s work up front enabled the Falcons to average an area-best 315 yards rushing. He was named All-Pioneer Athletic Conference — earning the league’s inaugural Bill Rogers Memorial Award as the league’s outstanding lineman. He was also selected to The Mercury’s All-Area team.
One of seven offensive linemen, O’Connor will be joined up front by Baker, La Salle’s Pat Hoffman, Lower Dauphin’s Jimmy Marks, Manheim Central’s Jordan Bowman. Muhlenberg’s Zach Duffy and Valley View’s Anthony Mengoni.
Cothran (6-5, 245) signed with Penn State, while Rothrock (6-2, 237) signed with Lafayette. Hoffman (6-4, 255), the only offensive lineman thus far to commit to a Division I program, will play for Navy. ... Other District 1 players selected to the game were Downingtown East quarterback Kyle Lauletta, Downingtown West tight end Justin Schmitt, Conestoga linebacker Riley Pritchett, and Henderson defensive back Spenser Rymiszewski. ... The East will practice at Downingtown West, while the West team will practice at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh. ... The game kicks off at 2 p.m.
Zameer McDowell has been named to the East squad for the PSFCA East / West All-Star game to be held in May. McDowell will become the first ever Spring-Ford football player in the game. Look for more information soon!
Congratulations to the 2012 Spring-Ford Seniors and Award Winners
Hank Coyne - TD Club Award Winner and Offensive MVP
Travis Daywalt - Coaches Award
Ben Schein - Inaugural Winner of the Brian Clarke Special Teams Award
Zameer McDowell - Defensive MVP
Michael Gilmore - Outstanding Lineman
Sheldon, Schein, and Coyne Honored at PAC-10 Banquet
By Don Seeley
UPPER PROVIDENCE — Pottsgrove’s football team had a number of special honorees after recording an undefeated record in the Pioneer Athletic Conference this past fall.
The Falcons featured a number of all-league players on offense and defense as part of the 27th Annual All-Pioneer Athletic Conference Banquet by the Football Coaches Association Sunday afternoon at the RiverCrest Golf Club.
As it turns out, the Falcons also received another of the special awards that were presented.
Dan Harp received the prestigious David L. Freed Award for team sportsmanship.
“It is really an honor,” said Harp. “I was really shocked when I got it. Coach (Rick) Pennypacker pulled me aside a couple weeks ago and told me to be at this banquet because I was going to be getting this. I am really honored to get it.”
Harp played on the special teams for Pottsgrove. But he was honored for qualities such as dedication, continuous self-improvement, team success over individual statistics, self-discipline, coachability, loyalty to coaches and teammates and unquestioning faith.
The Freed Award is presented in memory of a former Spring-Ford lineman who died from injuries suffered in a practice machine incident back in 1975. Spring-Ford athletic director Mickey McDaniel talked about Freed before Pottsgrove athletic director Gary DeRenzo spoke about Harp’s resume.
“He put team goals ahead of individual goals in everything he did for us,” said Pennypacker. “He is a hard worker and has all the qualities of David Freed.”
“Mostly I was a team player and we played as a team,” said Harp. “I was shocked. I just go out and practice when I need to and try to get better every day.”
Harp is also a top student in the classroom and remains active at his church, New Hanover United Methodist in Gilbertsville. He also takes part on missions to assist underprivileged people in areas such as West Virginia, Long Beach Island in New Jersey and this summer he is headed for Rhode Island. He attended the Harvey Cedars Bible College Conference this past weekend.
Harp plans to attend Millersville University to study meteorology and mathematics and will continue to do youth work on the side. At Pottsgrove, Harp takes several Advanced Placement courses such as chemistry, calculus and physics.
“I like the challenge,” he said. “I don’t like to take the easy way out.”
Harp lined up as a wide receiver and linebacker at times during his career with the Falcons. But mostly he spent time on all four kick return teams to start the 2012 season and by the end he was a member of the punt return and kick return teams only.
“He never complained, never sulked and never once did he question his coaches for their decisions,” read DeRenzo on behalf of Pennypacker. “In fact, he did just the opposite. He was always positive, jumped on to every scout team, either offense or defense. He was the last senior on the field every night after practice putting away the bags and shiels into the field shed.”
Pottsgrove had its cast of stars this year with quarterback Tory Hudgins, running back Mark Dukes and lineman Madison O’Connor.
“But if you would ask any one of our assistant coaches, Dan Harp is as valuable to our team as any starter,” DeRenzo continued.
Other special award recipients were: Joseph Edwards Scholarship, Spring-Ford’s R.J. Sheldon; Bill Rogers Lineman of the Year, Pottsgrove’s Madison O’Connor; Offensive Player of the Year, Spring-Ford quarterback Hank Coyne; Defensive Player of the Year, Phoenixville linebacker Ryan Pannella; Two-Way Player of the Year, Perkiomen Valley quarterback/defensive back Rasaan Stewart; and Most Valuable Player, Pottsgrove quarterback Tory Hudgins.
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker talked about Sheldon, who doubled as a defensive end and tight end for the Rams, who advanced to the District 1-AAAA finals before falling to eventual state runner-up Coatesville. Sheldon is also a three-sport student athlete in football, swimming and baseball. He has been a District 1 swimming qualifier for three years. He ranks 67th in a senior class of 572 students at Spring-Ford this year and also scored 1,240 on his SAT.
Sheldon plans to study engineering in college. He also serves as a volunteer in swimming, football and baseball, was a Limerick mentor and was also voted Homecoming King by his classmates.
Rogers, who is fighting cancer, has been coaching football for 55 years at various schools in the area. Before that, he was a standout lineman for the old Royersford High School under the legendary Robert “Coach” McNelly before advancing to play at Ursinus College.
Rogers served as a head coach for 16 years and an assistant for 39 at Pottstown and the former St. Pius X and was an assistant at Daniel Boone, Valley Forge and Exeter.
“For the last four years, he has coached our quarterbacks,” said Pottstown coach Brett Myers. “He loved the game and kids.”
Rogers was represented by his wife, Norma Jean, and four children, Drew, Doug, Dean and Allison.
Boyertown, Matthew Moccia; Methacton, Chris He; Owen J. Roberts, Paul Perreault; Perkiomen Valley, Robert Thacker; Phoenixville, Brian Hyland; Pope John Paul II, Chris DiLeva; Pottsgrove, Zach Birch; Pottstown, Andrew Gazzillo; Spring-Ford, Benjamin Schein; and Upper Perkiomen, Quinn Perlstein.
Wagner’s Ciocci recognized for Good Works
By Don Seeley
NEW ORLEANS — Steve Ciocci sure made an impact paving the way for Wagner College’s run game the past three seasons.
Though the Seahawks’ mainstay at right tackle, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Spring-Ford graduate filled in at center and guard this past season, and at all three positions throughout his career at Wagner. He helped open holes for teammate Dominique Williams to become just the third back in the program’s history to amass consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and helped give quarterback Nick Doscher enough time to become the program’s all-time leading passer.
Ciocci, who started every one of his final 25 games and 35 of the 43 he appeared in at Wagner, was a big part of this past season’s drive to the school’s first Northeast Conference title. The Seahawks also appeared in the Football Championship Series playoffs and opened with a win over Colgate before falling to Eastern Washington and finishing 9-4 overall.
And even though Ciocci was named to the All-NEC first team as an offensive lineman and played in last month’s third annual FCS Senior Scout Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C., his greatest honor — on or off the football field — was being selected to the Allstate American Football Coaches Association’s Good Works Team and working with youngsters over the past week as part of the 79th annual Sugar Bowl festivities.
Ciocci was one of only 22 players from school’s across the country to be named to the Good Works Team. One of college football’s premier service honors, the Good Works Team endeavors to shine a spotlight on the positive, off-the-field impact a select group of student-athletes have on their communities.
“As fans of college football, Allstate takes great pride in partnering with the AFCA to recognize these dedicated student-athletes for their accomplishments off the field,” said Kathy Mabe, president of Allstate’s West regions and a member of the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team voting panel. “These players have demonstrated the unique ability to balance academics with athletics while donating their limited free time and energy to serve others. And we at Allstate commend them for their commitment to volunteerism.”
The Allstate AFCA Good Works Teams were established in 1992 by the College Football Association, recognizing the extra efforts made by college football players and student support staff off the field. AFCA became the governing body of the award in 1997 and continues to honor college football players who go the extra mile for those in need. Allstate partnered to present the award starting with the 2008 season.
Ciocci and the other 21 players brought their passion for volunteerism to the Crescent City to teach children from the YMCA of Greater New Orleans the fundamentals of football.
Three other Pennsylvania natives — including Ursinus senior wideout Tony Rosa (Philadelphia) – were part of the Good Works Team. Also working with Ciocci and Rosa were Temple punter Brandon McManus (Hatfield), and Franklin & Marshall offensive lineman Chad Tothero (Ephrata).
Each year, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team raises the bar for the impact that student-athletes can have on their local communities. And, as AFCA Executive Director Grant Teaff explained, this year’s roster is no exception. From creating mentorship programs for at-risk youth to building homes and health clinics overseas, the 22 young men have dedicated themselves to bettering the lives of others through countless acts of service.
“The AFCA, its Board of Trustees and members are honored to partner with Allstate in announcing another great class of student-athletes for the 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team,” Teaff said “These 22 student-athletes stand out from hundreds of other college football players who volunteer their time each week to make an impact on their teams and in their community.”
Ciocci, who celebrated his 23rd birthday just over a week ago, has actually been as busy off the football field as he has been on it since transferring from Temple to Wagner following a red-shirt freshman season.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Wagner in May of 2011, finishing with a 3.5 grade-point average in business administration. He was named to the All-NEC Academic Honor Roll twice, and is currently pursing his master’s degree.
But neither Ciocci’s admirable work in the classroom or on the football field managed to overshadow his efforts on the Wagner campus and in the Staten Island community, where he led and participated in a number of charitable initiatives. In April of 2011, he was one of an elite group of six people to receive an award at Wagner’s Civic Engagement Recognition Day Ceremony, which recognizes and honors exceptional individuals, departments and community partners who exemplify a sense of caring and responsibility for others that connects citizens and works to address community problems.
Throughout his career at Wagner, Ciocci has devoted himself to raising the profile of numerous local and national organizations within the campus and local community. He mobilized a host of students to participate in such events as Relay for Life and Operation Christmas Child, and he often visited children in the Pediatrics Ward at Staten Island University Hospital and helped find donors for the National Marrow Donor Program.
Ciocci and the entire Allstate AFCA Good Works Team sat in on Wednesday night’s Sugar Bowl, which featured Florida from the Southeast Conference and Louisville from the Big East Conference in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt senior defensive tackle Rob Lohr (Phoenixville) and the Commodores closed out their most successful season in over 90 years with a 38-24 win over North Carolina State in last weekend’s Music City Bowl. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Lohr had two tackles for Vandy, which limited the Wolfpack to just 47 yards rushing. Lohr — the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 — started the final 38 games of his career. He closed his final season with 30 tackles, including 11 for losses and two sacks, with two quarterback-hurries and three pass break-ups in helping Vanderbilt to its best season since going 9-1 in 1915.
Pinstripe Bowl: West Virginia featured Terrell Chestnut (Pottsgrove) as its starting free safety during a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in last weekend’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Chestnut and the Mountaineers’ secondary limited Syracuse to just 142 yards passing, but the Orange ran for 369 yards in the win. West Virginia was ranked in the Top 25 when the season kicked off, but finished a disappointing 7-6.
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Widener placekicker Ryan O’Hara (Spring-Ford) and defensive end Zach Chatman (Upper Perkiomen) are both expected to contend for starting positions with the Pride next season. Both were on the sidelines last month when Widener was whipped by No. 1 ranked and eventual Division III national champion Mt. Union, 72-17, during their quarterfinal game in Alliance, Ohio. The Pride, who finished 11-1, are in search of a new head coach since Isaac Collins’s recent departure to take over the program at Division II Seton Hill in western Pennsylvania
Seven Spring-Ford players named to PFN all-state teams
By Don Seeley
Spring-Ford’s run to last month’s District 1 final certainly caught the attention of the football community throughout the Philadelphia region and around the state.
Or so it seems after reviewing Pennsylvania Football News’ All-State selections, released late Tuesday.
Led by R.J. Sheldon – named to the third team defense — Spring-Ford accounted for all seven of the area’s selections on the website’s Class AAAA teams. The only other area players recognized were Phoenixville’s Ryan Pannella and Pottstown’s Richy Masciarelli, who received honorable mention in Class AAA.
Sheldon, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior, was named as a defensive lineman. Teammates Tate Carter, Hank Coyne, Jarred Jones, Zameer McDowell, Mason Romano and Robby Varner all received honorable mention honors.
More than 1,000 nominations for the all-state teams were received from coaches and selected media. PFN staff’s own observations of game, as well as MaxPreps and PFN statistics and college recruiter evaluations were used in selecting the first and second teams as well as honorable mentions for each of the four enrollment classifications.
According to Spring-Ford statistics, Sheldon was credited with 41 tackles, including a team-high seven sacks, as one of the Rams’ defensive ends. He had 11 quarterback hurries, caused three fumbles and recovered three.
Sheldon also started at tight end. He was an integral part of the blocking schemes for the Rams’ running game, and caught 23 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
McDowell, who started at the other defensive end spot for Spring-Ford, along with tackles Romano and Varner, received honorable mention defense. Carter was selected as an athlete, while both Coyne and Jones received honorable mention offense as a quarterback and running back, respectively.
Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker, who guided the Rams to their first postseason win — three overall before the loss to Coatesville in the district final – and a school-record 12-3 mark, loses Sheldon, McDowell and Coyne to graduation. Romano, Varner, Carter and Jones will be seniors next season.
PFN All-State Team
RJ Sheldon - 3rd Team DE
Tate Carter - Athlete
Zameer McDowell - DE
Mason Romano - DT
Robby Varner - DT
Hank Coyne - QB
Jarred Jones - RB
Pottstown Mercury's All-Area Football First-Team Capsules
Jeff Adams, Pottsgrove
Linebacker … 6-2, 190 … Junior … Credited with 98 tackles and 2.5 sacks … Unsung contributor to the area’s No. 1 ranked overall defense against the run – his team finished first against the run and third against the pass … Also played tight end in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … All PAC-10 selection.
Zach Birch, Pottsgrove
Center/Defensive Tackle … 5-10, 210 … Senior … One of anchors of offensive line that helped team average an area-best 315 yards rushing en route to the PAC-10 championship … Credited with 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks … Recovered two fumbles … All PAC-10 selection.
Mark Bonomo, Perkiomen Valley
Running Back … 5-7, 166 … Junior … Carried 133 times for 1,040 yards and eight touchdowns … Caught 24 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns … Big part of area’s No. 1 offense that averaged 420 yards a game … Also helped on defense with six tackles and one fumble recovery … All PAC-10 selection.
Mark Dukes, Pottsgrove
Running Back … 5-11, 190 … Senior … Carried 167 times for an area-high 1,347 yards – an area-high 8.1 yards per attempt – and 22 touchdowns … Also caught four passes for 48 yards in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … Area’s second-leading scorer with 142 points overall … All PAC-10 selection.
Clay Domine, Perkiomen Valley
Wide Receiver … 6-3, 191 … Junior … Caught 55 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns … Led area in receptions and yardage … One of only two players to catch at least two passes in every game this season … All PAC-10 selection.
Michael Fowler, Pottsgrove
Defensive Back … 5-10, 165 … Junior …Credited with 46 tackles and one sack … Defended two passes … Five interceptions … Also caught a team-high 14 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … All PAC-10 selection.
Bobby Gallus, Perkiomen Valley
Offensive Guard … 5-9, 185 … Senior … One of offensive line leaders in helping the area’s No. 1 ranked offense produce 420 yards a game … Also helped part-time on defense and contributed six tackles and two fumble recoveries … All PAC-10 selection.
Ian Harrigan, Phoenixville
Punter … 5-11, 170 … Senior … Averaged an area-high 35.5 yards on 33 punts … Had a long of 60 yards … Also handled the placekicking chores, converting 39 point-afters and three field goals for an area-high 41 kick-scoring points … All PAC-10 selection. … The Mercury’s 2012 Special Teams Player of the Year.
Jose Holland, Methacton
Placekicker … 5-7, 175 … Senior … Converted 32 of 35 point-afters and an area-high five field goals … Finished second in the area in kick-scoring with 40 points … Very strong and accurate leg with potential to convert up to 45 yards … Also averaged just over 32 yards as team’s punter … All PAC-10 selection.
Tory Hudgins, Pottsgrove
Athlete … 6-0, 175 … Senior … As his team’s quarterback, ran 160 times for 1,267 yards and 23 touchdowns, and completed 32 of 64 passes for 700 yards and five more touchdowns … Finished second in the area in rushing and third in scoring (141 points overall) in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … All PAC-10 selection … The Mercury’s 2012 Offensive Player of the Year.
Brian Hyland, Phoenixville
Guard … 6-2, 235 … Senior … Anchor on offensive line that helped his team average over 240 yards running the football and 338 yards overall … Helped his team to the District 1-Class AA playoffs for the second straight season … All PAC-10 selection.
Yousef Lundi, Spring-Ford
Fullback … 6-0, 200 … Senior … Carried 149 times for 1,057 yards and 17 touchdowns as his team’s fullback as well as feature back due to a teammate’s injury … Also caught nine passes for 61 yards and a touchdown … Scored at least one touchdown in all but two of 14 games played … All PAC-10 selection.
Riley Michaels, Pottsgrove
Linebacker … 5-8, 155 … Junior … Credited with 84 tackles and two sacks … Intercepted one pass, recovered one fumble in helping his team to the PAC-10 championship … Also ran 15 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns … All PAC-10 selection.
Zameer McDowell, Spring-Ford
Defensive End …6-5, 220 … Senior … Credited with 71 tackles and seven sacks … Also had 13 quarterback-hurries … Broke up eight passes … Intercepted one pass, recovered one fumble … Blocked three kicks … Also caught 17 passes for 280 yards and five touchdowns … All PAC-10 selection. … The Mercury’s 2012 Defensive Player of the Year.
Dayon Mohler, Pottstown
Defensive Back … 5-11, 160 … Junior … Credited with 46 tackles and 15 assists … Led area in interceptions with six, returning one for a touchdown … Forced one fumble, recovered one … Also ran for 344 yards and three touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns … All PAC-10 selection.
Jeff Morrow, Perkiomen Valley
Offensive Tackle … 6-5, 239 … Senior … One of offensive line leaders in helping the area’s No. 1 ranked offense produce 420 yards a game, and was key in pass protection for team that just missed a berth in the district playoffs … All PAC-10 selection.
Madison O’Connor, Pottsgrove
Offensive Tackle … 6-7, 332 … Senior … One of anchors of offensive line that helped team average an area-best 315 yards rushing en route to the PAC-10 championship … All PAC-10 selection.
Ryan Pannella, Phoenixville
Tight End/Linebacker … 6-0, 180 … Senior … Caught 23 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns … Also ran for one touchdown … Credited with 115 tackles (181 overall) and two quarterback sacks … Recipient of the Norristown Chapter of the PIAA Officials Association’s Sportsmanship Award … All PAC-10 selection … The Mercury’s Two-Way Player of the Year.
Martise Ray, Perkiomen Valley
Defensive Back … 5-8, 177 … Senior … Credited with 88 tackles … Broke up five passes … Intercepted two passes, forced two fumbles and recovered two … Ran for two touchdowns and caught six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown … All PAC-10 selection.
Seth Regensburg, Hill School
Wide Receiver … 6-1, 255 … Senior … Caught 27 passes for 427 yards and seven touchdowns despite double-coverage nearly every play … Also handled punting and placekicking duties for his team, averaging just under 32 yards a punt and converting eight point-afters and two field goals … All Mid-Atlantic Prep League selection.
Mason Romano, Spring-Ford
Defensive Tackle … 6-0, 210 … Junior … Credited with 67 tackles and six sacks … Broke up three passes … Intercepted one pass, forced five fumbles and recovered three … Blocked one kick … Defensive key in team’s run to the District 1-Class AAAA final and school-record 13 wins … All PAC-10 selection.
R.J. Sheldon, Spring-Ford
Defensive End … 6-3, 200 … Senior … Credited with 51 tackles and one sack … Also had 11 quarterback-hurries … Broke up one pass … Forced three fumbles and recovered three … Also caught 23 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and was his team’s punter … All PAC-10 selection.
Rasaan Stewart, Perkiomen Valley
Quarterback/Defensive Back … 6-1, 176 … Junior … Led team with 163 carries for 1,210 yards and 21 touchdowns … Completed 134 of 220 passes – an area-best 61 percent – for 1,636 yards and 12 touchdowns … Credited with 97 tackles … Broke up eight passes … Intercepted one pass, forced one fumble … All PAC-10 selection … The Mercury’s 2012 Player of the Year.
Robby Varner, Spring-Ford
Defensive Tackle … 6-1, 220 … Junior … Credited with 60 tackles and two sacks … Two fumble recoveries … Blocked three kicks … Defensive key in team’s run to the District 1-Class AAAA final and school-record 13 wins … All PAC-10 selection.
Chris Veisbergs, Pope John Paul II
Wide Receiver … 6-0, 180 … Senior … Caught 36 passes for 633 yards and seven touchdowns … Finished third in the area for both receptions and yards … Also ran 49 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns … Led team in scoring … All PAC-10 selection.
Ryan Yenchick, Phoenixville
Linebacker … 5-9, 175 … Senior … Credited with 79 tackles and one sack … Two interceptions and one fumble recovery … Also led his team in rushing with 179 carries for 1,113 yards and 19 touchdowns, and caught 22 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns … All PAC-10 selection.
CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford
Guided Rams to their second straight District 1-Class AAAA appearance and the program’s first postseason win. The Rams won three in a row to reach the district final, where they fell to eventual state runner-up Coatesville … Finished 12-3 overall – a single-season school record for wins.
Rick Pennypacker, Pottsgrove
Guided Falcons to 10 straight regular-season wins – including nine in a row over PAC-10 opponents for the program’s record eighth league title – before falling in the District 1-Class AAA semifinals … Qualified for postseason for seventh straight year … Finished 11-1, the sixth consecutive season with 10 or more wins.
Pottstown Mercury's All-Area Football Teams
Wide receivers:: Clay Domine, Perkiomen Valley; Seth Regensburg, Hill School; Chris Veisbergs, Pope John Paul II
Tight end: Ryan Pannella, Px
Tackles: Jeff Morrow, Perkiomen Valley; Madison O’Connor, Pottsgrove
Guards: Brian Hyland, Phoenixville; Bobby Gallus, Perkiomen Valley
Center: Zach Birch, Pottsgrove
Quarterback: Rasaan Stewart, Perkiomen Valley
Fullback: Yousef Lundi, Spring-Ford
Running backs: Mark Dukes, Pottsgrove; Mark Bonomo, Perkiomen Valley
Running backs: Aiden Schaffer, Upper Perkiomen, Wyatt Scott, Owen J. Roberts; Ryan Yenchick, Phoenixville.
Placekicker: Ian Harrigan, Phoenixville
Athlete: Brandon Bossard, Methacton
Ends: Patrick Finn, Pottsgrove; Gray Garber, Boyertown; Ja’Ren Hampton, Perkiomen School
Tackles: Rhett Glaser, Daniel Boone; Tony Pachella, Perkiomen Valley; Anthony Pond, Pottsgrove
Linebackers: Nick Brennan, Pottsgrove; Damar Fletcher, Perkiomen Valley; Kyle Hoffner, Spring-Ford; Sene Polamalu, Pottsgrove
Backs: Jalen Mayes, Pottsgrove; Ben Schein, Spring-Ford; Justin Siejk, Boyertown; John Williams, Perkiomen School
Punter: Jose Holland, Methacton
Wide Receivers: Cooper Given, Methacton; Gary Hopkins, Spring-Ford; Austin Monteiro, Daniel Boone; Jamel Stinson, Pope John Paul II.
Tight ends: Ja’Ren Hampton, Perkiomen School; Ryan Harris, Upper Perkiomen; James Thomas, Owen J. Roberts
Tackles: Chris He, Methacton; Patrick Finn, Pottsgrove; Chase Watters, Pottstown
Guards: Olivier Joseph, Perkiomen School; David Pettine, Boyertown
Center: Nick McMenamin, Boyertown; Jeremy Reid, Methacton; Brad Trego, Owen J. Roberts
Quarterback: Chris Demey, Phoenixville; Jarred Pinelli, Owen J. Roberts; J.D. Okuniewski, Daniel Boone
Fullbacks: Monroe Hampton, Pottstown; Cody Richmond, Boyertown
Running backs: John Garrett, Perkiomen School; Denzel Harvey, Pottstown; Xaview Smith, Daniel Boone
Placekickers: David Gulati, Spring-Ford; Jonathan Klinger, Pottsgrove
Athletes: Tate Carter, Spring-Ford; Dakota Clanagan, Perkiomen Valley
Ends: Zack Gallow, Phoenixville; Chris He, Methacton
Tackles: Brian Hyland, Phoenixville; Austin Jacobs, Boyertown; Chase Watters, Pottstown
Linebackers: Derek Fosbenner, Perkiomen School; Dan Heinrichs, Upper Perkiomen; Danny Light, Perkiomen Valley; Kyle Myers, Daniel Boone; Jeremy Reid, Methacton; Mike Reiner, Perkiomen Valley; Justin Smith, Pope John Paul II; James Thomas, Owen J. Roberts; Nico Williams, Methacton
Backs: Johnnie Bildstein, Pope John Paul II; Kyle Lowery, Methacton; Cole Luzins, Phoenixville; Austin Monteiro, Daniel Boone; Kyle Shronk, Owen J. Roberts; Isiah Smith, Perkiomen School; Xavier Smith, Daniel Boone
Punters: Andy Ricci, Daniel Boone; Cody Richmond, Boyertown
All PAC-10 football teams
Wide Receiver: Clay Domine, Perkiomen Valley; Chris Veisbergs, Pope John Paul II.
Tight End: Ryan Pannella, Phoenixville
Line: Zach Birch, Pottsgrove; Michael Gilmore, Spring-Ford; Jeff Morrow, Perkiomen Valley; Madison O’Connor, Pottsgrove; Montana O’Daniell, Spring-Ford.
Rick O'Brien: Never too early to pick a top 10 for 2013 football
9. Spring-Ford (12-3). The Rams made waves this season, winning their first playoff game and advancing to the Class AAAA district final.
Expected returnees are quick tailback Jarred Jones, handyman Tate Carter, wideout Gary Hopkins, tackle Mason Romano, tackle-linebacker Robby Varner, and linebacker Andy Lovre-Smith.
The Gridiron Sponsored by Maxout
Eight PAC-10 players honored by Tall Cedars
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD — Eight Pioneer Athletic Conference football players and their coaches were honored during the 72nd annual Football Night held by the Spring City Forest of Tall Cedars of Lebanon No. 34 Wednesday evening at the Masonic Lodge here.
Muhlenberg College head football coach Mike Donnelly served as guest speaker. Bob Mull once again chaired the event for the Tall Cedars.
Spring-Ford was recognized for advancing to the District 1-AAAA playoff finals before falling to a Coatesville squad that will be facing North Allegheny for the state championship at Hersheypark Stadium this Saturday night at 6 p.m. Pottsgrove and Phoenixville were cited for reaching the District 1-AAA playoffs.
Honored senior players included Nick McMenamin, Boyertown; Matt Raymond, Owen J. Roberts; Robbie Thacker, Perkiomen Valley; Sean Hesser, Phoenixville; Justice Smith, Pope John Paul II; Tory Hudgins, Pottsgrove; Chase Waters, Pottstown; and Zameer McDowell, Spring-Ford.
Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker spoke about McDowell, a star 6-5, 220-pound defensive end/tight end who has quickly adjusted to early season success in basketball as well.
“Zameer had an amazingly successful senior season and he was a big reason we had the success we did,” said Brubaker.
Brubaker feels McDowell has a bright future ahead in either basketball or football. McDowell has already met the Wall of Fame criteria at Spring-Ford after only starting half the games last season. He has been nominated for the Spring-Ford Wall of Fame but will have to wait until five years after graduation in order to be officially inducted.
Owen J. Roberts head coach Tom Barr brought with him Raymond, a star wide receiver/defensive back who also saw time on special teams.
Traditionally, the Wildcats have been a powerhouse running team. However, this season the Wildcats passed for more than 1,600 yards, according to Barr, and much of that success was due to Raymond’s ability to run patters and catch the football.
“It was mostly due to Matt and his dedication during the offseason to prepare the team to get ready,” said Barr. “He was the force that allowed us to be competitive in our passing game this year.”
Raymond made 31 receptions for 722 yards for an average of 23.3 yards per catch. He finished second in the league in receiving yardage, first in touchdowns and second in yards per catch. He achieved all this despite missing the final four games with a fractured leg and came to the banquet with crutches.
“He really came along from his sophomore and junior years,” said Barr. “He is an outstanding player and an outstanding student.”
Raymond has attained all “A’s” in Advanced Placement (AP) statistics, calculus and business as well as Honors English courses at Owen J. Roberts.
Raymond’s best performance for the Wildcats featured a contest in which he made four receptions for 179 yards and four touchdowns.
Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker, a 25-year veteran with the Falcons, talked about Hudgins.
Pennypacker said Hudgins originally wanted to focus on boys lacrosse as a sophomore because he felt he was too thin to play football, where he would be susceptible to injuries. He backed up Terrell Chestnut that year, and in one outing against Owen J. Roberts, Chestnut was injured so Hudgins got the nod. On the second play, Hudgins also went down with a shoulder injury.
“Two years later as a senior he set records and became one of the most prolificj players we have ever had at Pottsgrove,” said Pennypacker. “He is also a great kid and a great student. He is a tremendous young man and is respected throughout the school.”
He also did community service work that included feeding the homeless and cleaning up as well as coaching a Little League football team.
Hudgins has earned a football scholarship to attend Bucknell University, where he plans to study for a career as a physician’s assistant. Pennypacker’s son, Ross, is an assistant coach at Bucknell.
Perkiomen Valley assistant coach Tim Connolly spoke about Thacker, a starting right guard on offense who doubled along the defensive line.
“I can’t say enough about Robbie,” said Connolly. “He was undersized and went against some of the biggest kids in the league and gave it everything he had. He gave consistent effort and had a motor that kept going. He worked in the weight room and was a leader by example. He came to camp in shape and was able to outrun defensive backs, running backs and quarterbacks because he put in the time. He played with heart and wanted to play even when he was hurt. That was his character. He did not want to disappoint his teammates and coaches.”
Despite the shoulder injury, Thacker was consistently around the ball making plays. On offense, his pulling ability at guard helped the Vikings feature a potent rushing attack this fall.
Phoenixville head coach Bill Furlong was accompanied by Hesser, an undersized Phantom who played all over the gridiron. His positions included nose guard last year and cornerback, halfback and tailback this year.
“The reason I brought Sean is that he epitomizes everything we wish to be at Phoenixville,” said Furlong. “He is undersized, but he does everything.”
As a ninth grader, Hesser did not play much for a team that finished unbeaten.
“But Sean stuck it out and he is definitely one of the most coachable kids we have ever had,” said Furlong.”He just loves the game and he understands the game. He hardly came off the field.”
Hesser became the Phantoms’ leader in yards per carry. Hesser also excels in the classroom, where he carries a 3.6 grade point average.
Pope John Paul II head coach Mike Santillo was joined by Smith, a star linebacker on defense.
“He didn’t play offense, but he gave our offense fits as a two-year Scout Team Player of the Year,” said Santillo. “He wiped out our running backs and wide receivers. He served as a team captain and led the team in tackles.”
Smith, the son of Upper Merion head coach Hal Smith, is also a straight “A” student who takes Honors and AP classes. The three-year starter has his eye on Ivy League, Centennial Conference or possibly Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) colleges for playing at the next level.
Pottstown head coach Brett Myers spoke on Waters, who became a starting lineman on both sides of the football.
Waters came out for defensive tackle as a junior, but the Pottstown coaches were unsure as to whether he could handle the position. Waters was part of the rotation and then showed he could definitely shine as a starter during a week of practice in the gym due to rain. He punished teammates on the wooden floor to draw notice. The work paid off that weekend as Pottstown won its game with the interior line stopping a pivotal fourth-and-one play with Waters keying the defensive stand.
“As a senior he started both ways,” said Myers. “We didn’t know if he could do it, but by the end of the year he made all-league on both sides of the ball. He overcame every obstacle and is a special kid.”
A “B” student, Waters plans to study at a trade school and play football.
Boyertown head coach Mark Scisly brought McMenamin.
“His dad is in charge of our whole youth program,” said Scisly.
McMenamin has a perfect 4.0 GPA and is also an outstanding football player as a center.
“He was our most consistent lineman the last two years,” said Scisly. “He knew where everybody was on offense. He blocked for three different running backs who had 1,000 yards in two years. What sets him apart is he is a great leader. This year was not our best in terms of wins and losses, but he was positive and I could depend on Nick.”
McMenamin plans on playing football in college at the Division III level.