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.
40 Teams in 40 Days – Day 24 – Spring-Ford (1) – Big School Team # 9
40 Teams in 40 Days – Day 24 – Spring-Ford (1) – Big School Team # 9
Written by: David Mika on Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
Conference: Pioneer Athletic Conference
Coach: Chad Brubaker
2012 Record: 12-3
Returning Players – Offense: Jr. OT Zach Dorsey; Sr. OG Josh Boyer; Sr. OG Andy Cutler; Sr. ATH Tate Carter; Sr. RB Jarred Jones; Jr. RB Michael Furmeister; Sr. WR Gary Hopkins; Sr. WR Joe Sink; Sr. WR Cody Davis
Returning Players – Defense: Sr. DL Robby Varner; Sr. DT Mason Romano; Sr. DE Alec Vagnozzi; Sr. LB Andy Lovre-Smith; Sr. LB Jake Leahy; Sr. CB Joe Bush; Sr. CB Jared Shoemaker
Special Teams: “Tate Carter is back at punt returning. Tate, Jarred Jones and Michael Furmeister return kicks. Kicking off is Dave Gulati. We have a battle at the punting position.”
Top Newcomers: Sr. WR Mason Lucas; Sr. TE Tyliek Freeman
How’s your offensive line?
“Zach Dorsey is moving from left guard to left tackle, he is a returning starter. The other returning lineman is Josh Boyer. He will play right guard. He platoons sometimes with Andy Cutler. Cutler will be at left guard. Chase Stine, Tyler German, Zach Smiley and Joe Goul will add depth on the line.”
Your quarterback is gone. Who will be your quarterback this year?
“We are having a battle at quarterback position this summer to determine our starter. We have Senior Zac DeMedio and two Juniors. They are Matt Daywalt and Brandon Leacraft. All three kids have one thing in common, little experience at the varsity level. We may not make a decision until week one.”
How about your running game?
“We have two great backs back. They are Jarred Jones and Tate Carter. Carter plays everywhere on the field. Michael Furmeister is another back that could see some time. Our fullback will be by committee.”
How’s your receivers look?
“We have the most depth at receiver spot. Gary Hopkins was our leading receiver, he’s back. Tate Carter is back. The other seniors that are back include, Joe Sink and Cody Davis. Mason Lucas, Danny Matthews, Brandon Barone, Connor Murphy, Alec Welsh and Will Meredith add depth. We also have a transfer from Pope John Paul II, he is Jon Traywick.”
“At tight end we are moving Tyliek Freeman from wide receiver to tight end. He has worked real hard this off-season. Alec Vagnozzi is back at H-Back and he started a couple of games at fullback for us last year. The other tight end is Bryce Rhodenbaugh.”
How’s your defensive line?
“Mason Romano and Robby Varner were all-league defensive tackles. Mason probably will move to defensive end or play some tackle. Where he was all-league as a sophomore. The defensive tackle position is wide-open. Zach Smiley is in the mix. We did move Alec Vagnozzi from linebacker to end. We think it’s a better fit for him.”
How are your linebackers?
“Andy Lovre-Smith saw some time as a sophomore and started as a junior, he’s back. We moved Jake Leahy from defensive end to linebacker this summer to see how he can adapt. If Matt Daywalt isn’t our quarterback he has a chance to start at linebacker or defensive end. Jarred Jones and Connor Murphy will see sometime at linebacker. Tim Vu adds depth.”
How’s your secondary look?
“Joe Bush and Jared Shoemaker are returning corners. Michael Furmeister, Joe Sink, Tate Carter and Cody Davis will battle at the safety spot.”
What are your keys this year?
“We are moving some kids around and it will depend on how quickly they pick up their new positions. We need to find leadership from the senior class. We have the ability to be good. It’s going to be a matter of coaching the little things. It’s important to get off to a good start.”
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Carter Featured on www.easternpafootball.com
ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT – Tate Carter – Spring-Ford
Written by: David Mika on Sunday, July 28th, 2013
Tate Carter, Spring-Fordt.carter
Class of: 2014
Jersey: # 1
Years with Varsity: 2-years
Starting experience: His sophomore year he returned some punts and kicks. He played more receiver for us last year. But he was all over the field. This year he will play both sides of the ball.
2012 Stats: At quarterback he was 3 of 4 passing for 38 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 714 yards on 101 carries and 10 touchdowns. He was the leading receiver with 43 catches for 586 yards and five touchdowns. He had 1,540 all-purpose yards.
2012 Highlights: His top rushing game was against Pottstown. He rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Honors: Honorable mention All-PAC-10 team as a athlete.
Coaches Q&A with Chad Brubaker:
What are his strengths on the field?
“Tate had the strongest arm on our team last year. He’s as quick as anyone on the team. He may be our punter this year. He can do pretty much anything he put’s his mind to. He has worked real hard on his speed this summer. He looks really quick in spring practice. I think he opened a lot of eyes in his game against Coatesville. Even though we got blown out, everyone was talking to me about the game he had.”
He played many positions for you last year. How many different ways did he score?
“Last year he played quarterback. He ran for a touchdown and threw a touchdown. At tailback he ran for touchdowns. He played fullback which I believe he ran for a touchdown. At receiver he caught touchdowns.”
Do you put packages in for him each week?
“We have a package every week as far as what we are going to do with Tate. We can match him up on somebody, so we have the advantage. We except huge things from him this year. On defense we may move him around at times. He is very versatile and he can do so many things.”
Video Highlights: Click here
Spring-Ford Football Releases 2013 Slogan and Graphic
Yenchick, Team Liberty win second PAC-10 Senior Bowl
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD — Ryan Yenchick made the most out of his final scholastic football game, and Phoenixville teammate Brian Madden made it a fond memory as well.
The two Phantoms played instrumental roles Sunday afternoon as Team Liberty defeated Team Freedom, 28-12, in the second annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl at Spring-Ford High School’s Coach McNelly Stadium.
Yenchick snagged seven receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns as Liberty broke out to a 28-0 halftime lead in posting the victory, its second straight in the all-star classic. Yenchick caught a 17-yard scoring pass from Methacton quarterback Brandon Bossard and then a 26-yarder from Pottsgrove signal caller Tory Hudgins.
Madden, who played linebacker on defense for Liberty, returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown, the first one of the game, that set the tone for Liberty’s victory. It came with 6:36 remaining in the opening period, and Perkiomen Valley’s Brett Davis tacked on the first of four placements.
“I dropped three balls, but then the other guys helped pick me up,” said Yenchick, who will continue his football career at Salisbury University. “I got back in a zone and was able to catch some passes.”
Hudgins completed 5 of 13 passes for 104 yards and one TD, and Bossard finished 7-for-15 for 87 yards and one score.
Liberty outgained Freedom in total yardage, 290-229, on the day, and Liberty also was active on defense with three interceptions. Besides Madden’s pick, Spring-Ford’s Ben Schein and Perkiomen Valley’s Martise Ray also pilfered passes.
Liberty also unleashed abundant pressure up front, pressuring Freedom quarterbacks Sage Reinhart of Pottstown and Hank Coyne of Spring-Ford all afternoon. Paced by Spring-Ford defensive end Zameer McDowell’s three sacks, Liberty totaled six sacks in all. Pope John Paul II’s Josh Bildstein made 1.5 sacks from his defensive tackle spot, while linebackers Zach Birch of Pottsgrove had one and Mike Reiner of Perkiomen Valley a half sack.
“Our whole defense was outstanding,” said Liberty head coach Scott Reed of Perkiomen Valley. “Our whole defense played well.”
McDowell, who registered all three of his sacks in the opening quarter, also deflected a pass and blocked an extra point. Liberty also got pursuit from the other end by Spring-Ford teammate RJ Sheldon, who batted down a pass.
“We did great on defense and our D-line really helped,” said Yenchick. “They were getting the edge and breaking up the play of the quarterbacks.”
Reinhart finished 12-for-18 for 133 yards with one INT and one TD, a 30-yarder to PJP’s Jamel Stinson that put Freedom on the board in the third period. Coyne closed at 5-for-15 for 78 yards with two INTs and one TD, a 17-yarder to PJP’s Chris Veisbergs.
“We started getting it together in the second half,” Reinhart said. “We came out on fire – didn’t want to get kicked around anymore. We played a lot better, but it wasn’t enough.”
Teams being chosen by a draft instead of being selected by region – meaning high school teammates lined up against one another all throughout the contest – made for quite a reality shift, especially for the quarterbacks.
“We came out here to have a good time. It was funny playing against some of the boys I’ve been playing against. I grew up with a lot of these guys. (Pottstown teammate Andrew) Gazzillo got after me a couple times.”
Veisbergs made six receptions for 88 yards, and Stinson had six catches for 87 yards.
“Ryan Yenchick made several huge plays for us offensively,” said Reed. “It was really fun for the kids. They had a couple weeks to play together. Our quarterbacks did a good job of throwing it out there.”
Reed praised all the senior players on both sides for concentrating on the game with all that seniors have going on at this time of year with graduation approaching as well as other events.
An interception was quite a way for Madden to punctuate his high school career.
“It was my first ever interception in a game,” said Madden. “I am kind of glad it was in my last game and I even got a touchdown. It was kind of nice for three of the four touchdowns coming from our team. He (Yenchick) really comes up big.”
The rules for the game put the accent on passing. But Spring-Ford’s Yousef Lundi of the Liberty scored on a 5-yard run and gained 68 yards on 19 tries, including one 23-yard burst up the middle.
Spring-Ford’s Kyle Hoffner of Freedom picked up 25 yards rushing on four tries.
Liberty’s Josh Bildstein of PJP and Freedom offensive lineman Brian Hyland of Phoenixville were each awarded $500 scholarships from the PAC-10 Football Coaches Association. ... Jon Klinger, a junior from Pottsgrove, won the halftime kicker challenge. ... A PAC-10 Underclass Challenge was also held Saturday at Phoenixville with competition among juniors, sophomores and freshmen in running and other skills.
From football to Fallujah, Spring-Ford grad still helping out after all these years
By Don Seeley
Jim Haldeman played three years of football and baseball at Spring-Ford High School. In between, there was that senior year of wrestling.
“One of my friends from football was on the (wrestling) team and asked me to come out,” Haldeman recalled last week. “I never really wrestled before, but I wanted to help the team any way I could. Hey, we went on to win the Ches-Mont League championship that year, so I was just happy to be able to help out in a small way.”
Haldeman has been helping others, especially his fellow Americans, ever since.
After his outstanding athletic career at Spring-Ford (Class of 1973) and injury plagued football career at Holy Cross University, Haldeman has spent nearly his entire adult life in the air — where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marines and is an American Airlines captain. And never, not once, has he neglected to lend a hand to whomever … whenever or wherever needed.
Ironically, performing on the playing fields and in the classrooms, overcoming his own misfortunes as well as supporting and guiding others through their share of adversity, and stepping up when all of America was nearly brought to its knees by terrorists on 9/11 — just being able to grasp what’s significant and insignificant, knowing right from wrong — unknowingly became Haldeman’s conviction as a youngster.
“I grew up in a family-oriented community, when we didn’t have (a highway) exit dedicated to Royersford,” he said. “Everyone kind of knew everyone.
“The support from every member of the families who had kids involved in athletics was just incredible. All the parents were our mentors, our friends. You always tried to do what was right, always tried to stay out of trouble, because you knew if you didn’t someone would find out, someone would know.”
And then, as Haldeman noted, you had to go home and face your own parents.
“You didn’t want to embarrass yourself or your family,” he explained. “All the families, all your friends, looked after one another. Everyone was there for you. It just seemed as though everyone in the community was intimately engaged.
“There was this unity, this fraternity … a collective energy.”
Haldeman, the son of Mary Jane Haldeman and the late James Haldeman, wasn’t faultless, of course. But before he graduated from Spring-Ford, he was known throughout the community for his drive and competitiveness on the football field.
As a junior, he broke the tip of his right hipbone in the first game — a 21-14 loss to Wilson (West Lawn). In the next-to-last game, he fractured the tip of his left hipbone — in a 22-21 win over Pottstown. But he played through all that pain, came back his senior year to start every game and finished, at that time, as Spring-Ford’s career leader in scoring and among the top three in rushing, receiving and total offense.
He was selected to the All Ches-Mont and Associated Press’ All-State teams, and played in the Montgomery County All-Star Game. He was recruited by a number of schools before opting to go to Holy Cross.
Despite starting his entire freshman year for the Crusaders, Haldeman couldn’t run away from the injuries.
“I was always in the infirmary,” he said, breaking into a laugh. “I had a broken foot, broke my elbow, separated my shoulder, blew out both of my hamstrings. And I had a few concussions.
“It was frustrating. Years later I was still limping, and then I eventually had two back surgeries as a result (of playing) football.”
But, to this day, Haldeman has no regrets.
“It’s kind of funny when I look back at it. Great running backs find ways not to get hit. I wasn’t able to do that, I guess. At times it was very depressing because I felt I had more to contribute to the team.
“For me it was like my own little Red Badge of Courage. If I didn’t (play football) I wouldn’t have had all those injuries. But if I didn’t (play football) I wouldn’t be blessed to have all the great memories I have.”
One thing Haldeman did have, in the end, was a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
* * *
After graduating from Holy Cross and returning home, Haldeman admitted he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.
“Honestly, I always had an interest in the service, what I didn’t know was how to offer myself to the military,” he explained. “But when I was back home I ran into (former Spring-Ford athlete) Alan Lewis, who was in the Marine Corps. He told me I could basically do anything I wanted because the Marine Corps offered so much.
“That put so much excitement back into my life. It really motivated me.”
The chat actually inspired Haldeman to join the Marines. Over the next four years, he became an artillery officer and successfully completed paratrooper school at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Dropping out of the sky was one thing. Flying high above, though, was another.
“I actually never thought about (flying),” Haldeman said. “I thought being a ground officer was part of the (foundation) of the entire Marine Corps.”
That is until he was sitting in the middle of the desert as a forward artillery officer at Twentynine Palms in California — a Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center — and watching what unfolded high above him.
“I saw the aviators doing some amazing things,” he recalled. “It was some of the coolest things I had even seen. It was just magnificent, actually awe-inspiring.”
Haldeman, stationed at nearby Camp Pendleton, was so impressed he devoted what free time he had to learning how to fly at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro. He was taught to fly a Cessna and had 20 hours of experience, learning all the basic skills, when he took off for the flight school in Pensacola, Fla., in 1982. Two years later, he earned his flight wings.
“I was lucky enough to get myself into jets like the A-4 Skyhawk, the F-4 Phantom and the F-18 Hornet,” Haldeman said. “They are the jets the Blue Angels used in a lot of their flight shows. It was just a great time for me.”
Haldeman would fly the F-4 Phantom throughout his four-year assignment in Hawaii. But there was peace around the world, so Haldeman left active duty and teamed up with the Marine Air Corps Reserve after American Airlines hired him as a pilot in 1988.
“I flew out of Washington, D.C., and believe me when I say I think I saw every little city there was from east to west in this country,” said Haldeman, who would also team up with the Marines’ reserve squadron in the nation’s capitol at Andrews Air Force Base.
Now married, Haldeman and his wife, longtime flight attendant Toni, saw their lives take a couple of dramatic changes after arriving in Washington, D.C.
In January of 1991, just over a year after the beginning of the Gulf War, Haldeman was back on active duty. But throughout the 13 months of Operation Desert Storm — the aerial bombardment intended to help expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait — he never left the ground.
“It turned out the air war was such an immediate success no one needed us,” Haldeman explained. “Iraq had a very formidable air-to-air defense, but great strategy and great tactics, and great work by our aviators, was so successful in the first few days.”
In 1997, due to family reasons, the Haldemans moved up to Rhode Island.
“It was a change for us,” Haldeman said, noting his wife stepped down as a flight attendant that year. “But I was still flying.”
Now flying out of Boston, most of Haldeman’s flights took him to Los Angeles, Miami and Mexico City, to name a few of his destinations.
And no sooner did the world enter the new millennium, that Haldeman retired from the Marines.
Or so he thought.
* * *
The Haldeman family, like every family in all of America, changed forever on September 11, 2001.
Four passenger airliners — two each from American and United — were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Their intentions were to fly the planes into buildings in suicide attacks.
“I was off that day,” Haldeman remembered. “Almost immediately after the first plane hit I got a telephone call from a (pilot) friend, who told me to turn my television on because something really bad had happened in N.Y.”
Bad was an understatement, of course.
American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, both out of Boston’s Logan Airport, crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m. Thirty-four minutes later, American Airlines Flight 77 left Washington Dulles International Airport and crashed into the western side of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. Then 26 minutes later, a fourth plane — United Airlines Flight 93, which had left Newark International Airport en route to San Franciso — crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., after its passengers fought their hijackers and prevented an attack on the original target: the U.S. Capitol.
By the end of the morning, almost 3,000 people — including 227 civilians and the 19 hijackers about the four planes — died in the attacks.
All of America shook in disbelief.
“I turned my television on and saw the second plane go into the South Tower,” Haldeman said. “I immediately ran from my home to pick up my children at school. And then I turned on the Weather Channel, to check on the winds, because I felt the planes were just a ploy to penetrate the streets of New York with a suitcase nuke.
“It didn’t happen, but that was my thought at the time. We were packing up to get out of Rhode Island because I was fearful of a nuclear package going off. But when I saw (on the Weather Channel) that the winds were pushing directly east and would have no effect on us here if indeed there was a nuclear blast, we hunkered down.”
As quickly as Haldeman heard of the attacks, he heard of who exactly was in the cockpit of two of those four planes.
“Within a couple of hours I heard that I had lost two good friends, and my wife realized she either knew or was friends with every one of the flight attendants on the plane that hit the Pentagon,” Haldeman mumbled. “Like everyone else, we just couldn’t believe what was happening.”
Haldeman struggled emotionally after hearing about the loss of his two friends — Capt. John Ogonowski, behind the controls of American Flight 11, and Capt. Charles “Chick” Burlingame, aboard American Flight 77.
“John and ‘Chick’ were both military guys, big guys,” Haldeman said. “I was shocked to hear someone actually took them out. Sadly, (the terrorists) were able to activate the cockpit doors and open them. That was scary.
“Neither one of them had a chance. You’re in there with five separate (seat) belts connected. You’re really strapped in there. You just can’t get out of them that quickly. John and ‘Chick’ never saw (the terrorists) coming. They didn’t have a chance.”
Haldeman, as he had done so often in the past, wanted to help. He called a squadron in Washington, D.C., hoping to get on their personnel chart … “But they didn’t need anyone,” he explained. Never one to accept defeat, Haldeman went to the nearby reserve unit and he was greeted with open arms.
“I just made the decision to go back into the Marine Corps,” he said. “That was such a profound day, such a tough day. It just blew me away how soundly we were defeated. It stunned me.
“I wanted to do something. I wasn’t concerned about the actual event at that point because it was over and I couldn’t do a thing about it. But I felt we were going to get involved, and I wanted to help. I was just trying to find a place I could somehow be utilized in some way.
“All I know is that I needed a path to take my emotions, my pent-up anger. I knew where I needed to go.”
Haldeman remained part of the nearby reserve unit as he continued to fly for American Airlines out of Boston. Then in 2005, he found himself in Fallujah, right smack in the middle of the Iraq War.
“Being able to go back into the Marine Corps and over to Iraq to help the cause really helped me,” he admitted. “It was important for me to do that. I had to do something to rip the anger out of me. A lot of good things happened over there, and I was happy to be part of it.”
Soon after returning from a year in Iraq, Haldeman retired from the U.S. Marines.
* * *
Haldeman’s alma mater was more than happy to bring him back home twice since.
In 2006, he was inducted into Spring-Ford High School’s Distinguished Wall of Fame, taking part in the graduation ceremonies that year. Earlier this year, he was inducted into the Spring-Ford High School Football Wall of Fame, being recognized as one of the special guests of honor during the team’s annual banquet.
Just before arriving at both events, before leaving Rhode Island for the long drive back to Royersford, Haldeman asked Spring-Ford athletic director Mickey McDaniel and head football coach Chad Brubaker the same question.
“He asked us both if there was anything he could do to help us with the events,” said McDaniel, who has known Haldeman since playing youth baseball in the former Royersford Area Youth Athletic League.
“He’s never changed.”
McDowell, Sheldon excited for crack at fellow Ram Coyne in PAC-10 Senior Bowl
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD – For six long years, Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon practiced with and played alongside Hank Coyne. Together, the Spring-Ford teammates and even closer friends sure won their share of football games, too.
McDowell and Sheldon, who lined up as tight ends and blocked for Coyne, caught their fair share of passes from him. They also doubled on the other side of the ball as defensive ends, which meant they also got an up-close look at Coyne during all those summer camp and weekday intra-squad scrimmages.
But never, except for an occasional high-five, pat on the back or smack on the rump, were McDowell or Sheldon – or anyone else on Spring-Ford’s defense – ever permitted to lay a hand on Coyne.
Defenses can get as fired up as they want during practices, but the quarterbacks are strictly off-limits … as in untouchable.
So guess who will indeed be a little amped for the second Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl on Sunday (3 p.m.) at none other than Spring-Ford High School…
“I’ve been waiting since seventh grade to hit Hank,” said McDowell, who along with Sheldon will be part of the Team Liberty defense hoping to contain Coyne and Pottstown’s elusive Sage Reinhart, as well as the rest of the Team Freedom offense.
“Everyone knows that during practices you can’t hit the quarterback. I told (Coyne) I’m coming after him, that I want to get at least five or six hits on him.”
“We’ve been blocking for him all these years, but now we’re getting a chance to go after him,” added Sheldon. “We’re kind of excited to be able to possibly put some shots on him.”
Don’t misinterpret what the imposing 6-foot-5, 220-pound McDowell and 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sheldon are saying.
Hit Coyne? Absolutely. Hurt him? Absolutely not.
“We definitely want to get after (Coyne), but our intent is not to hurt him,” Sheldon said. “Hank’s been hit pretty hard the last few years, but he’s never been hit by us.”
“No way do I want to hurt Hank,” McDowell said. “But I do want him to know how it feels to be hit by me.”
Both McDowell and Sheldon plan to play Sunday much like they did throughout their careers at Spring-Ford.
Last fall, McDowell – who accepted a scholarship to play football at California University (Pennsylvania) – was credited with five sacks among his 71 tackles, had 13 quarterback-hurries, broke up eight passes and intercepted one. He was a first-team All-PAC-10 and All-Area selection, and named The Mercury’s Defensive Player of the Year. Sheldon – who accepted a scholarship to play football at Bucknell University – led the area with seven sacks among his 51 tackles, had 11 quarterback-hurries, and forced three fumbles while recovering three. He was a first-team All PAC-10 and All-Area selection as well.
In other words, both have proven to be quite proficient at getting to, and sometimes dumping, opposing quarterbacks.
Coyne, who escaped opposing defenses’ enough to throw for 2,023 yards and 25 touchdowns and help the Rams qualify for two straight postseason appearances – including last year’s run to the District 1-AAAA final – is well aware of just how good McDowell and Sheldon are.
“I’m not too concerned,” said the personable Coyne, who nearly rewrote the entire passing section of the Spring-Ford single-season and career record book. “They’re great friends of mine, and I know how they’ll play. But it doesn’t change (my approach) to the game much.”
Coyne sure has had a lot of time to dwell on exactly who will be attempting to run him down.
“As soon as the rosters for the game came out (in late-March), Zameer came up to me and told me I’d better be ready,” Coyne said. “I hadn’t even seen (the rosters) yet when he told me that. But he’s been telling me that in school everyday since.”
Both McDowell and Sheldon know Coyne will be ready … and all three will be looking to finish their scholastic careers on a winning note.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Coyne, who’ll continue his football career at Juniata this fall. “I just think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to play our last football game at Spring-Ford.”
Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed, who will guide Team Liberty, thinks it’s even more.
“It’s a unique game because it’s the only all-star game I know of where kids from the same school can actually play against each other,” he explained. “It’s not truly all-stars because we have some players who weren’t starters at their high schools, but want to be a part of this last game.
“It’s been great to see the camaraderie between the kids who they play against in the fall. I loved seeing the practice days go by as the kids move out of their comfort zone with teammates from their own schools and start to build a rapport with players from other schools.”
Reinhart, who threw for 2,301 yards and 20 touchdowns and led the area with a 156.7 passing efficiency rating, will give the Liberty defense a different look with his ability to scramble. He and Coyne hope to reverse last year’s inaugural outcome, a 41-17 Liberty romp. … Coyne and Reinhart won’t be handing off at all to Pottsgrove standout Mark Dukes, who ran for an area-high 1,347 yards and 22 touchdowns last season for the PAC-10 champion Falcons. Dukes will not be able to participate after falling recently and suffering a shoulder injury. … Liberty’s two quarterbacks are Methacton’s Brandon Bossard and Pottsgrove’s Tory Hudgins. Bossard, who is headed to Eastern Michigan, threw for 1,235 yards and ran for another 607 yards. Hudgins, who will team up with Sheldon at Bucknell, ran for 1,267 yards. … Reed has been very impressed with Pope John Paul II’s Josh Bildstein and Jake Kopchuk, Boyertown’s Corey Long, and Pottstown’s Nate Flickinger during practices. “Those four guys have been completely selfless in practice,” Reed said. “They have practiced at positions they didn’t always play during the year just so we would have the numbers to practice or scrimmage. I can’t say enough about them.” … Pottstown head coach Brett Myers will lead Team Freedom’s staff.
Perkiomen Valley graduate Zach Zulli, who as a junior quarterback last season at Shippensburg University won the prestigious Harlon Hill Trophy – Division II’s version of the Heisman Trophy – was throwing the football around during Thursday night’s practice session at Spring-Ford.
ROYERSFORD – The draft is over and done with. Now it’s time to play some more football.
For a good number of participants in the 2nd annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Senior Bowl, it’ll be the last football game they play in … and for each and every one of them, it’ll be the last game they ever play in representing their alma mater.
This year’s event kicks off 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at Spring-Ford High School’s Coach McNelly Stadium.
Because it’s a seniors-only affair, no one lined up for the inaugural game. But Team Freedom, which was thumped 41-17, may get a bit of a “let’s get even” pre-game sermon from Pottstown head coach Brett Myers, who will guide the Freedom squad against Liberty, which is being led by Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed.
And if this summer’s game is anything like the first one, expect to see a lot of passing.
“Some of the offensive rules for the game are designed to encourage passing,” said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker, who was in charge of the Liberty crew last year. “The teams have to play man coverage and five yards off the ball, which makes it a little tough to cover.”
Myers will certainly have two quarterbacks to handle the Freedom offense with Sage Reinhart, who was his starter at Pottstown the past two seasons, and Spring-Ford’s Hank Coyne.
The elusive Reinhart threw for 2,301 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, while Coyne threw for 2,023 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading the Rams to the District 1-Class AAAA final. Both will have a few good receivers to throw to as well, among them being Pope John Paul II’s Jamel Stinson and Pottstown’s Antonio Moore. Stinson caught 35 tosses – the third straight season he had at least 25 receptions – and the lanky Moore averaged over 26 yards a catch on his 22 receptions. Owen J. Roberts’ Colin Horrocks and Upper Perkiomen’s Robert Brett are also listed as receivers.
Balancing out the Freedom offense will be running backs Mark Dukes of PAC-10 champion Pottsgrove and Monroe Hampton of Pottstown. After missing half of his junior year because of injury, Dukes came back to pile up 1,347 yards and 21 touchdowns for the Falcons. Hampton was one of the most versatile backs in the league last fall, running for 1,033 yards and 20 touchdowns and catching 31 passes for another 369 yards and three scores.
Reed will counter with a more-balanced – if not more run-oriented – tandem of quarterbacks in Pottsgrove’s Tory Hudgins and Methacton’s Brandon Bossard. Hudgins, who will play at Bucknell this fall, ran for 1,267 yards and 23 touchdowns while taking snaps in the Falcons’ vaunted ground game. Though rarely called on to pass, Hudgins completed 50 percent of his passes for 700 yards and five touchdowns. Bossard, who will play at Eastern Michigan in the fall, capped his outstanding career with the Warriors by throwing for 1,235 yards and 15 touchdowns and running for an additional 607 yards and six scores.
Bossard will have a familiar target to throw to in Methacton teammate Cooper Given, while the receiving corps also features Owen J. Roberts’ Will Bradford, Perkiomen Valley’s Davon Mitchell and Phoenixville’s Sean Hesser.
The Liberty run game will be led by Phoenixville’s Ryan Yenchick (1,113 yards), Spring-Ford’s Yousef Lundi (1,057 yards) and Boyertown’s Matt Moccia (802), a threesome that combined for 43 touchdowns. Methacton’s Josh Meck could also get some touches.
Both teams have excellent kickers on their respective rosters, too. Freedom features Phoenixville’s Ian Harrigan and Upper Perkiomen’s Dylan Wesley, while Liberty has Methacton’s Jose Holland and Perkiomen Valley’s Brett Davis.
Passing was the dominant statistic in Liberty’s romp last year, as Pope John Paul’s David Cotellese hit all seven of his attempts for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Spring-Ford’s Andrew Scanlan, a redshirt freshman who is expected to vie for a starting position at Northwestern University this fall, caught four of Cotellese’s tosses for 74 yards and a touchdown and also returned an interception for another score.
* * *
The team rosters are as follows:
Head Coach – Brett Myers, Pottstown
Boyertown: Gray Garber, DE; Nick McMenamin, OL.
Methacton: Ernest Buono, DL; Tom Collis, LB; Chris He, DE; Dustin Keim, OL; Sean O’Neill, LB; Jeremy Reid, OL; Andrew Steven, OL; Dillen White, RB.
Owen J. Roberts: Colin Horrocks, WR; Brandan Murray, DE; Kyle Shronk, DB.
Upper Perkiomen: Robert Brett, WR; Dylan Wesley, K.
Head Coach – Scott Reed, Perkiomen Valley
Boyertown: Zack Kenna, OL; Corey Long, DE; Matt Moccia, RB.
Methacton: Brandon Bossard, QB; Cooper Given, WR; Jose Holland, K; Josh Meck, RB.
Owen J. Roberts: Will Bradford, WR; Kevin Kerwin, OL; John Raser, DB.
Perkiomen Valley: Brett Davis, K; Damar Fletcher, LB; Bobby Gallus, OL; Kean McKnight, DB; Davon Mitchell, WR; Jeff Morrow, OL; Martise Ray, DB; Mike Reiner, LB.
Phoenixville: Chris Demey, DB; Sean Hesser, WR; Brian Madden, LB; Ryan Yenchick, RB.
Pope John Paul II: Josh Bildstein, DL; Ryan Brennan, OL; Jake Kopchuk, OL.
Pottsgrove: Zach Birch, OL; Nick Brennan, LB; Tory Hudgins, QB.
Pottstown: Nick Flickinger, DB; Andrew Gazzilo, LB; Jaloni Hutchinson, DE.
Spring-Ford: Mike Gilmore, OF; Yousef Lundi, RB; John Manning, DL; Zameer McDowell, DE; Justin Meals, OL; Montana O’Daniell, OL; Ben Schein, DB; R.J. Sheldon, DE.
Upper Perkiomen: Dan Heinrichs, LB.
Ty Yazujian (#44) Makes Spring Roster at PSU!
Spring-Ford triple-threat Sheldon joining Bucknell football program
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD – R.J. Sheldon has been very flexible and quite agreeable throughout his athletic career at Spring-Ford.
Give him a position to play in baseball and football, or an event to compete in swimming, and Sheldon was there … without any opposition, without the least bit of hesitation.
And while Sheldon has enjoyed his share of success in all three sports, as well as in the classroom – where he’s a member of the National Honor Society – he’ll soon be narrowing his grueling year-round schedule to include just one sport and, of course, academics.
Sheldon made that choice recently, albeit a surprising one to many who have played with or followed him the past three-plus years, after signing a national letter of intent to line up in Bucknell University’s football program.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sheldon has been one of the centerpieces of the Spring-Ford and Spring City American Legion baseball programs as an infielder and pitcher the past three years. He helped the Rams to a district title and second-place finish in the state tournament, then spent his summers helping the Red Sox to league and state regional titles as well as national regional appearances. And when it got cold outside, Sheldon was inside, in the pool setting school swimming records in several events and becoming a multi-event district qualifier.
But when push came to shove, and there sure was a lot of it in his three-year football career, he opted for the helmet and pads over the ball and bat (and the swimming shorts and cap).
“I really liked both (baseball and football),” Sheldon explained. “But football was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t block it out.
“I applied to a lot of schools, but I only applied to one school because of football. That was Bucknell. (Their coaches) came in here during my junior year and talked to me. They kept in contact.”
The communication and interest was enough for Sheldon to give a verbal commitment last month, and he was tagged as a “preferred walk-on.” A few weeks later, Bucknell – which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Patriot League – announced it would be offering scholarships for the first time, and new head coach Joe Susan notified Sheldon he would be receiving a substantial scholarship.
“I want to go there for academics, and I want to go there to play football, too,” explained Sheldon, who carries a reported 3.8 grade-point average and plans to study engineering at Bucknell. “I think that’s pretty cool. And the (scholarship money), well, that’s kind of a bonus.”
“I think all of this says a lot about what Bucknell’s people think of him,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said of Sheldon, who drew additional interest from many Division III schools. “R.J. gave them a verbal, then they come back with a scholarship.
“I think (Bucknell) sees a huge upside to R.J. He’s a three-sport athlete, and he has a lot of room on that frame of his to fill out. Now his focus will be on football, on the weight room … and he won’t be burning off all those swimming calories.”
Sheldon, the son of Rich and Sue Sheldon, was recruited as a defensive end, a position he manned rather well the past two seasons in helping the Rams to a Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and unprecedented back-to-back District 1-Class AAAA playoff appearances – including last year’s run that didn’t end until the district final against Coatesville. He was credited with 41 tackles – including a team and Pioneer Athletic Conference high seven sacks. He also had 11 quarterback-hurries, and forced three fumbles and recovered three. All that in addition to catching 23 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns, and punting well enough to earn all-league and Mercury All-Area honors for the third consecutive year.
By the time he stepped into the pool this winter, Sheldon was a PAC-10 first-team selection, two-way Mercury All-Area selection, and recipient of third-team all-state honors.
“Bucknell recruited him as a defensive end, but I think he can play on either side of the ball,” Brubaker said. “He has good hands, but he also has that fire. His biggest challenge (of playing at Bucknell) will be maintaining that intensity, that every-play intensity.”
Sheldon doesn’t anticipate a problem with that.
“But I know I have to get a lot bigger,” he explained. “I was around 190-195 (pounds) during swimming, and I’m up to around 200 now. I’d like to get to 220 or 225. It’ll take a little while, but I’ll get there.”
Sheldon is the second area player to sign with Bucknell, joining Pottsgrove standout Tory Hudgins. … Former Daniel Boone standout and 2011 Mercury Player of the Year Tommy Bodolus, who committed to Bucknell following his senior season but instead spent the past year as a post-grad at Cheshire Academy in Conn., will be joining Sheldon and Hudgins in the Bison program this fall. The 6-foot, 195-pound Bodolus – son of former St. Pius X and Daniel Boone head coach Dave Bodolus – is projected as a safety. … The Bison will also feature returning starter Lee Marvel, a junior linebacker from The Hill School who was third on the team in tackles last season.
Spring-Ford’s Gilmore catches on at Kutztown
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD – Michael Gilmore really enjoys the challenges of academics and football, as well as eating.
Not a bad combination at all for someone who has always wanted to play college football … and just happens to be an offensive lineman.
The Spring-Ford senior has certainly handled nearly everything thrown at him in the classroom, earning a spot on the honor roll with his 3.4 grade-point average. And he has certainly handled nearly everyone attempting to get around or through him on the football field, where he’s anchored a Rams’ front line that’s led the way to a Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and unprecedented back-to-back District 1-Class AAAA playoff appearances – including this past season’s run to the district final against eventual state runner-up Coatesville.
And eating … well, linemen do have to carry their weight.
Fortunately for Gilmore, he can enjoy all three – or the same routine – for the next four years after signing a national letter of intent recently to team up with Kutztown University.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Gilmore plans on studying biology or psychology, playing offensive tackle and, yes, eating a little more than he’s accustomed to for a while.
“Michael is a smart kid, a very smart kid, a very good student,” said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker. “He’s also very athletic. He has good feet and good hands, and he can run a little bit, too. He always understood what needed to get done, and what we wanted to get done.
“He also likes to eat. He was 265 (pounds) at one time, but played at right around 235. He had weight, but it was bad weight. He was in our weight room every day, and conditioned himself very well. Now he’s going to have to put some weight back on, good weight, and build himself back up.”
And that shouldn’t be a problem, especially when considering Gilmore has welcomed as well as whipped up on some tall orders throughout high school … obviously in the classroom, but on the football field and in the cafeteria, too.
That was certainly enough to generate a lot of interest from colleges.
“Two years ago, playing college football was mostly a dream,” Gilmore said. “I knew how hard it was to get a shot, and it didn’t matter what division you were thinking of, either.
“But at the end of my junior year, schools started contacting me. Playing college football become more of a reality. And then at the end of last season Kutztown came back to me and showed a lot of interest.”
Or enough interest to offer a scholarship.
Gilmore – the son of Robert and Celeste Gilmore – could prove to be worthy of it all, too. He was a two-year starter and three-year letterman for Spring-Ford, doing the bulk of the grunt work up front that enabled the Rams to rewrite nearly the entire offensive section of the record book.
That’s exactly what Kutztown has been doing in recent years. Last fall, the Golden Bears were only 7-4 but set a single-season school record for points scored. They also finished among the Top 10 in the national in points per game (fourth), passing yards per game (sixth), and total offense (ninth).
Head coach Raymond Monica may have left for Arkansas Tech, but new head coach Drew Folmar served as Kutztown’s offensive coordinator the previous four seasons – and it was the offense that underlined the team’s school-record 10 wins in 2010 and then new-record 11 wins in 2011, both of those teams advancing into the NCAA Division II playoffs.
“I think it’ll be exciting for him to join coach Folmar’s program,” Brubaker said of Gilmore, who was an All-Pioneer Athletic Conference and Mercury All-Area selection as an offensive lineman.
Gilmore himself felt the same after visiting the campus and meeting, among others, offensive lineman Nick Maloney from Pottstown, wideout Casey Perlstein from Upper Perkiomen, and the coaches.
“(The coaches) told me I’m coming in as an offensive tackle,” Gilmore explained. “I could possibly move to guard. I’m not sure I’ll red-shirt or not, but the opportunity to do that is there.
“I know they’d like to see me up around 265 to 270 (pounds) by my sophomore year. I know I have to get stronger, too, so I’ll work hard in the weight room.”
Spring-Ford multi-sport standout McDowell opts for football at Cal U
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD – Zameer McDowell thought junior high school football was a lot of fun.
But high school football was entirely different story … at first.
“My sophomore year was the closest I came to quitting,” McDowell recalled earlier this week. “I didn’t like coach (Chad) Brubaker, who was in his first year here (at Spring-Ford). I just wasn’t happy.”
Good thing McDowell got buddy-buddy with Brubaker and didn’t turn in his uniform and walk. The tight end-defensive end played a major role in Spring-Ford winning a Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and making unprecedented back-to-back District 1-Class AAAA playoff appearances – including this past season’s run to the district final against eventual state runner-up Coatesville.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound McDowell’s contributions didn’t go unnoticed, either, because he recently signed a national letter of intent with Division II power California University of Pa.
Not bad for someone who thought about giving up on football and concentrating on basketball, the sport many expected him to continue playing in college after starting for four years, breaking a couple of school records along the way, and scoring more than 1,000 points for Spring-Ford.
“I was thinking a lot more about basketball, but before (my junior season) coach Brubaker told me to keep trying in football, that if I had a real good season more opportunities would open up,” McDowell explained.
McDowell didn’t exactly mend his ways with Brubaker when his junior season kicked off. He missed his share of preseason workouts, yet still managed to work his way into a three-man rotation at defensive end with teammates R.J. Sheldon and Mason Romano.
“Coach Brubaker told me I had a chance to play,” McDowell explained. “But he also told me I had to get dedicated. He told me I had to get into the weight room, that I had to do stuff I didn’t really want to do.
“Coach just wanted me to keep my head on straight. He wanted me to stay focused this season. He told me if I had a real good season more opportunities would open up. So he just didn’t want me to limit myself. He wanted me to see everything, what opportunity would be best for me.”
McDowell was named to PAC-10’s first team in basketball a year ago. But he was also selected to the PAC-10’s first team as a defensive end and second team as a tight end in football this past fall, too. And soon after making The Mercury’s All-Area first team – and being named the publication’s Defensive Player of the Year – he received honorable mention all-state honors as a defensive end.
“I think I had a pretty good season this year,” McDowell said, breaking into a noticeable grin.
“All (of the honors and scholarship to California) are a testament to Zameer not putting all his eggs in one basket,” Brubaker said. “It shows you don’t have to specialize, nor should you specialize in one sport. We encourage kids to play other sports here at Spring-Ford.
“I think in the middle of last season is when everything started to click for him (in football). Maybe basketball was his No. 1 choice, but guys his size are guards at most of the good schools. We just felt if he had a good year (in football) that he was going to get looks and offers.”
The interest in McDowell spanned throughout the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. But it was California, which owns one of the most successful and storied programs in the PSAC, that snared McDowell’s signature.
“Zameer is projected as a tight end for (California),” Brubaker said. “He has great hands. But he’s also aggressive enough to play defensive end, too.”
“I know I have to get bigger,” added McDowell, who plans to study business management at California. “The tight ends coach would like me to get stronger, too, and shoot to bench 225 pounds in three sets of 10. The team’s tight end last year was around 245 pounds.
“I have a chance to start, a chance to get playing time. But I know I have to get stronger and have to get in better shape. I think that’ll be easier focusing on one sport. My body will get a little rest and the natural ability will show up more.”
McDowell will be the first player from the PAC-10 to play at California, better known as Cal U and located along the Monongahela River in Washington County just outside Pittsburgh. … Under rookie head coach Mike Kellar, the Vulcans were 8-3 last fall, ending a string of five straight double-digit win seasons and five straight appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs – including three straight runs to the national semifinals (2007-09). … The program, which began in 1916 and owns over 400 wins, hasn’t had a losing season since 2003 (4-7).
Six S-F gridders to play in college
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD - Spring-Ford enjoyed a fantastic football season last fall under head coach Chad Brubaker.
The Rams advanced all the way to the District 1 Class AAAA finals before succumbing to former Ches-Mont League rival Coatesville, which wound up as the state runner-up to North Allegheny.
Now, six of those Rams who received numerous accolades and helped make all the achievements possible have announced they will be playing at the next level in college.
Tight end Zameer McDowell, defensive end RJ Sheldon, offensive lineman Mike Gilmore, quarterback Hank Coyne, running back Yousef Lundi and offensive lineman Justin Meals will be playing in the collegiate ranks.
McDowell will be lining up for California (Pa.), Sheldon at Bucknell, Gilmore at Kutztown, Coyne at Juniata, Lundi at Millersville and Meals at Wesley (Del.).
The Ram gridders announced their choices during a press briefing last Wednesday evening at the senior high school. Parents and other family members were on hand for the selections.
McDowell, a 6-5, 220-pounder, starred at tight end and defensive end for the Rams. He will be playing offense in college. McDowell also starred for the Spring-Ford boys basketball team during his career and finished his years as a 1,000-point scorer on the court. McDowell established a Spring-Ford school record in basketball by scoring 44 points in a contest against Phoenixville.
“It was how the season went really well,” McDowell said of which sport to pursue. “I thought I would probably do better with football.”
McDowell made honorable mention All-State as well as first team All-Pioneer Athletic Conference as a defensive end and second team All-PAC-10 as a tight end.
“I liked most about the football program was that over time we were pretty good,” said McDowell. “We won a lot of games.”
McDowell plans to study business management.
He feels catching the ball in traffic with his good hands is his biggest asset as a football player.
“I liked how whenever we went out to play, we were expected to win,” said McDowell. “It was a fun experience to make it to the (district) championship game, even though we didn’t win.”
McDowell also considered Bloomsburg and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) as possible colleges.
McDowell said the skills he developed in basketball as a rebounder going for the ball also assisted him in making difficult receptions during football season. However, the transition from football season to basketball season, he said, was difficult because he was out of conditioning shape to run up and down the floor for hoops.
Sheldon, a 6-3, 205-pounder, has been an exceptional football player, swimmer and baseball player at Spring-Ford, which is a unique combination for any student-athlete. Also outstanding in the classroom, Sheldon felt Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa., was the right fit for him. He plans to major in engineering.
RJ is the son of Sue and Rich Sheldon.
“Obviously, academics were my main priority,” said Sheldon. “Bucknell definitely has that. I also felt at home there. I liked it when I went up there and felt it was the right fit for me.”
Sheldon was a tight end, defensive end and punter for the Rams, and he will be playing defense for the Bison. Sheldon earned third team All-State honors as well as first team all-league honors at defensive end as well as the PAC-10’s Joseph Edwards Scholarship Award.
Defensively this past fall, Sheldon made 41 tackles with 11 hurries, three fumbles cause and three fumbles recoverede as well as a league-high seven sacks. On offense, Sheldon had 23 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
He said he will not be joining the swim team at Bucknell, but offered that the team does utilize swimming in some of its workouts.
“It’s really been a good accomplishment,” Sheldon said. “The work definitely paid off for four years. We did what no team has ever done and showed that we could compete out of the league. We beat outside teams. We showed we could this year.”
Sheldon also looked at smaller schools in making his decision, but he made the decision to attend a bigger site like Bucknell about a month ago.
Sheldon is a Spring-Ford school record-holder in two events in swimming. He has played infield and pitched for the baseball team. He had bigger numbers during summer Senior American Legion baseball for the Chester County League’s Spring City Red Sox, where he posted a 4-0 mound record in 21 innings pitched with a 1.71 earned run average, 27 strikeouts and limited batters to a .162 on-base average.
Gilmore, a 6-3, 245-pound lineman, has been a letterwinner in football and track & field for the Rams. He was a first team all-league offensive lineman.
“I love the campus,” said Gilmore about Kutztown. “It was the kind of school where I left I felt it was the place where I like it here. That was a big factor.
“The previous year we won, and I had a great time in the program. I lked the way we turned things around.”
Gilmore plans to focus on biology or psychology in college.
He thinks he may have to bulk up in order to play offensive tackle in college so he may have to start out at guard until he adds some more weight to his frame with weightlifting.
“It (success) really reflects the hard work we put in and I did more to help us win,” said Gilmore. “It was a great way to end it. We got close to something.”
Gilmore has participated for two years at Spring-Ford after the family moved here from the southern Wisconsin area.
Mike is the son of Robert and Celeste Gilmore.
Coyne, a 6-2, 180-pounder, was the PAC-10’s first team quarterback as a senior and was voted Offensive MVP for his record-setting passing statistics while directing the Rams to the district finals. Coyne set records for touchdown passes and passing yards for the Rams and was named Opposing Player of the Year.
He received all-state recognition, was a Mini-Maxwell Award winner and Touchdown Club winner as well as a varsity team captain.
Hank is the son of Hank and Linda Coyne. The younger Coyne is also a baseball player at Spring-Ford and also played basketball as a freshman. Coyne guided the Rams to the PAC-10 football title as a junior while garnering more honors.
He feels his passing abilities will continue for Juniata’s offense, where Will Lawing is the offensive coordinator. Juniata runs a similar offense to SF, which should enhance Coyne’s skills.
“I fell in love with the campus,” said Coyne. “It is a tight-knit community so there is a comfort level. I liked what the coaches had to offer. They didn’t beat around the bushes. I want to play all four years. I have that opportunity to compete.”
Juniata has not had much success on the gridiron in recent years, but Coyne hopes to be part of a turnabout, the way he was under Brubaker at Spring-Ford.
Coyne plans to study biness and Spanish in college.
Hank’s father, the offensive line coach at Owen J. Roberts, also attended Juniata. There are relatives some 90 minutes away, too, so he figures he will feel right at home.
Lundi, a 6-0, 20-pounder, picked Millersville for academics with his plans to study nursing. He also looked at IUP and Albright.
“It is a very nice campus, a nice place to be, not too close and not too far,” said Lundi.
Millersville is in a building process and Lundi wants to be part of that growth.
Running track has enabled Lundi to stay in shape year-round and accelerate his speed and quickness.
“I keep my feet up and that helps my foot speed,” he said.
Meals, a 6-2, 270-pounder, will continue his blocking in the offensive line at Wesley.
“It is a small-school environment and the football team has definitely had success in the last 10 years,” said Meals. “I like the environment around there a lot.”
Meals plans to study business and figures he will be playing an offensive guard position.
He also looked at Albright and Delaware Valley.
Wesley utilizes the run and pass so Meals figures he will be in much of the same blocking schemes he was at Spring-Ford.
“They run a lot of shotgun,” said Meals.
“We did a lot. We set standards for years to come for other teams. We let people know who we are outside the PAC-10. We proved them wrong and beat those teams.”
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.