Spring-Ford's Ben Schein cheers a fumble recovery.
Spring-Ford's Ben Schein cheers a fumble recovery. ED HILLE / Staff
Turnovers help Spring-Ford past Methacton
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD — Don’t dare try to underestimate the value of turnovers to Mason Romano.
A defensive end a year ago when he enjoyed the freedom of a run-at-’em and wreck-’em approach, the Spring-Ford junior has moved inside to tackle and adapted well to his new responsibilities ... jamming it up and creating big plays, among them.
So with the Rams clinging to a narrow 10-7 lead halfway through the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s Pioneer Athletic Conference game with stubborn Methacton, Romano didn’t just come up with one big play, but two of them.
When teammate Zameer McDowell deflected a Methacton pass at the line, Romano was there to pull it in. Two snaps later, touchdown. Then, one play after the ensuing kickoff Methacton fumbleed, and Romano was there to pounce on it. Seven plays later, touchdown.
And, for all intents and purposes, game.
The Rams would add another score in the fourth quarter and roll up what would seem to be a rather one-sided 31-7 Homecoming win. But it was anything but until Romano’s momentum-changing — and game-changing — plays on the defensive side of the ball.
“When we make a big play, like that interception (and fumble recovery), the whole team gets pumped up,” said Romano, an undersized but tenacious 6-foot, 210-pound junior. “Some days it’s the offense that picks us up, some days it’s the defense.”
This time, despite quarterback Hank Coyne’s three touchdown passes and the running tandem of Yousef Lundi (109 yards) and Tate Carter (54 yards, 1 TD), it was indeed defense for Spring-Ford, which improved to 4-1 (6-1 overall).
The Warriors would use quarterback Brandon Bossard’s 66-yard run on the third play of the game to set up Dillen White’s three-yard touchdown on the following play. Combined with Jose Holland’s placement, it gave them a 7-0 lead just 1:41 in. But their three other first-half possessions produced just 38 net yards as the Warriors advanced the chains just once.
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, got back to even when Coyne (17 of 22 for 166 yards) found McDowell in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown toss. The hosts then went in front when David Gulati converted a 31-yard field goal.
But a three-point lead wasn’t anything to shout about.
“We came out in the second half and go three-and-out,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “But then our defense set us up to give us a little cushion.”
The defense, or Romano to be specific, set them up with those two turnovers.
“We seem to struggle if there is a lot of green (field) in front of us,” Brubaker said. “We don’t have that breakaway speed (with standout tailback Jarred Jones sidelined with a broken wrist).
“But getting two short fields like we did can make all the difference in the world. That’s a momentum shift for sure. It puts (the opponent’s) backs against the wall.”
It did on Saturday.
“I give a lot of credit to our own defense for keeping it 10-7 at the half,” said Methacton head coach Paul Lepre. “Our defense was on the field for a long time, but did a good job keeping us in (the game). Then in the second half we didn’t generate much offense, and the two turnovers gave (Spring-Ford) the short fields. You just can’t do that.”
The Rams actually went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the second half. But McDowell deflected Bossard’s pass into Romano’s hands and he returned it 11 yards to the Warriors’ 27. Lundi took a handoff nine yards, then Coyne found Gary Hopkins in the right corner of the end zone from 18 yards out with 5:28 left in the third quarter. Methacton took over following the kickoff on its own 36, but fumbled on first down and Romano recovered back at the 21. Coyne sneaked for three to convert a fourth-and-inches dilemma, then Carter took three straight handoffs — the last one covering a yard for six points and a 24-7 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
“We were worried about Bossard,” Romano said. “We were worried about his speed, about him getting outside.”
Bossard, who was pressured and hurried (and sacked four times) that translated into a 5-for-19 afternoon, was certainly on the run a good part of the day. He took 15 snaps himself for 105 of the Warriors’ 139 yards on the ground. But his team simply couldn’t execute what it set out to do against the Spring-Ford defense.
“(Spring-Ford’s defense did a great job taking away what we game-planned for,” Lepre said. “We tried to make something happen.
“We went in with three double-tight (end) packages, but we weren’t getting any push, weren’t getting any blocks. It just didn’t work out. We had to stay the course, but (Spring-Ford) took it away from us. And you have to give them credit because their strength is usually their offense.”
The offense — which capped the scoring on Coyne’s 22-yard pass to Hopkins at the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter. — did just fine.
So did that defense.
“We just have to makes plays happen at times,” Romano said. “We have to do our jobs.”
R.J. Sheldon had two of the Rams’ four sacks, with Kyle Hoffner adding one. The fourth was credited as a team sack after Bossard tripped attempting to get outside on a late pass play. ... Methacton’s Tom Collis and Chris He also had a sack apiece, with Nico Williams coming up with a pick of Coyne in the first half. ... Hopkins (50 yards) and Carter (40 yards) each caught five passes. ... Holland punted four times — with all four going exactly 32 yards.
Mercury's Methacton Preview
By Don Seeley
Records: Methacton is 2-3 (2-4) after a 27-14 loss to Pottsgrove. Spring-Ford is 3-1 (5-1) following a 42-7 win over Boyertown.
Inside the Lines: Methacton is coming off a solid showing against unbeaten Pottsgrove. The Warriors are getting productive play from quarterback Brandon Bossard (100 or more yards passing in four straight games) and running back Mike Cassidy. Defense is coming up with an average of three turnovers a game the last three weeks. Cooper Given, Kyle Lowery and Akeem Walcott have seven interceptions between them. … Spring-Ford quarterback Hank Coyne threw for four touchdowns last week and became the school’s career leader in that category. He has a slew of receivers to throw to, led by Gary Hopkins, Tate Carter, R.J. Sheldon, Ben Schein and Zameer McDowell. Defensive front of McDowell and Sheldon (ends), Mason Romano and Robby Varner (tackles) has played extremely well at times, with support from linebackers Ian Hare, Kyle Hoffner and Andy Lovre-Smith.
Notes: The PAC-10 series is tied, 2-2; Spring-Ford leads the overall series, 11-4-1. … Methacton (2008 and 2010) and Spring-Ford (2009 and 2011) have won every other years since the Warriors joined the PAC-10. … Methacton’s Jose Holland is evolving into one of the league’s better kickers and punters. … Methacton head coach Paul Lepre: “There are always things we can improve on execution-wise, and we need to eliminate putting ourselves in first-and-long and second-and-long situations. Spring-Ford can hurt you on the ground and through the air, so it’s hard to game-plan for both. We think a key is putting pressure on Coyne and making their backs run to other than the intended hole.” … Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker: “We’re still working hard on our communications up front on offense. They’re not deciphering fronts and communicating effectively enough. Methacton is well-coached and always well-prepared. Bossard is extremely dangerous and can take over a game, and (Cassidy) is big and runs hard. We’re also concerned about playing on a Saturday. When we’ve gotten out of our routine we haven’t played to our capabilities.”
Pac-10sports.com Methacton Preview
Methacton failed to maintain a halftime lead and was overtaken by Pottsgrove 27-14 last Saturday to slip to 2-3 in the league, 2-4 overall … Spring-Ford rebounded from a shutout loss to Pottsgrove by hanging a 42-7 thumping on Boyertown to raise its record to 2-1 (4-1 overall)
Spring-Ford 26, Methacton 14
►Methacton scouting report
The Warriors have turned the corner since a dismal 0-3 start, winning 2 of their last 3 and taking the heavy-handed Falcons to the limit last Saturday. D1 recruit (Eastern Michigan) and 4-year starting senior QB Brandon Bossard is coming off a week in which he threw for 121 yards and 2 scores and ran for another 65 yards. Bossard has 2 big-play receivers in Given Cooper (12-272, 3 TDs) and Dillon Alderfer (16-194, 4) and a capable running back in Michael Cassidy. Methacton averages 16.7 ppg and 200.5 ypg while allowing 25.5 ppg and 310.7 ypg. The Warriors’ defense has forced 10 turnovers for a tell-tale plus-6 margin in that category over the last 3 games. “Jeremy Reid is our most consistent player,” coach Paul Lepre said. “Last week he moved from tackle to center and did a good job. Defensively, he plays well at strong side linebacker week in and week out.”
►Spring-Ford scouting report
The defending PAC-10 champion Rams put together a complete game in dismantling Boyertown. Spring-Ford outgained the Bears 343-178 and didn't commit a turnover. A balanced attack – led by QB Hank Coyne (862 yards, 11 TDs passing against just 2 picks), RB Yousef Lundi (70-455, 7) RB Tate Carter (510 combined rushing/receiving yards and 6 TDs) and WR Gary Hopkins (17-255, 2) – has averaged 35.0 ppg and 357 ypg while allowing 20.0 ppg and 219.5 ypg. Spring-Ford’s top defenders are Ian Hare (3 sacks), Mason Romano (2 sacks, 4.8 tpg) and Zameer McDowell (4.8 tpg). DT Robby Varner and Romano kept the Bears’ lethal ground attack in check and LB Andy Lovre-Smith "played his best game of the year” last week, S-F coach Chad Brubaker said.
Paul Lepre, Methacton:“We played well on Saturday, but we still need to play better fundamental football and limit the mental mistakes in order to compete with Spring-Ford. Spring-Ford has an accomplished run and pass game, so if you take away one aspect of the game you have to worry about the other. Simply, they are tough to defend.”
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “We played better in all 3 phases of the game versus Boyertown, so we just need to continue to polish our execution. Certainly, the key to stopping Methacton is keeping Bossard in check. Everything goes through him. We need to get pressure on him and get the ball out of his hands in the running game. (Cassidy) is also a nice back. He’s big and he runs hard. Methacton always plays us tough.”
Romano Named www.pac-10sports.com Defensive Player of the Week
Rams’ Romano honored
ROYERSFORD - He doesn’t fit the stereotypical mold of a defensive tackle.
But despite his lack of girth, Mason Romano is proving his worth to the Spring-Ford defense this season.
“Mason moved from defensive end to defensive tackle this year,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker of Romano, an accomplished wrestler who was a second-team All-PAC-10 selection at DE in 2011 for the league champions. “He's undersized for the position but he makes up for that with his strength and his quickness.”
Size hasn’t mattered for Romano – pac-10sports.com’s Defensive Player of the Week. Despite having to adapt to a new position on the inside, Romano leads the Rams in total tackles with 29 and tackles for a loss with 10. The sturdy 6-foot, 210-pounder has also posted two sacks and six quarterback hurries this season, showing his agility and instinctive skills by defending two passes and forcing one fumble and recovering another.
Those numbers are becoming commonplace for Romano. In last Friday’s 42-7 romp over Boyertown – Romano collected 8 tackles (3 for a loss) and one QB hurry. The junior was part of a shutdown effort that held the Bears to 178 total yards of offense and pitched a shutout until late in the fourth quarter.
“Mason is a weight room rat,” Brubaker said. “Mason is an engaging personality – looked up to by the other kids. He is an extremely hard worker and is a very coachable kid.”
The willingness to learn, coupled with an unparalleled work ethic, has enabled Romano to flourish regardless of where he’s lining up. Spring-Ford has put together remarkable defensive numbers this season – holding the opposition to averages of 219.5 yards and 15.0 points – and Romano has been the anchor in the middle of that productive ‘D.’
“Mason has been on the varsity roster for 3 years now, having been brought up as a 9thgrader and earning a starting spot last year,” said Brubaker. “The experience of playing with older, more experienced players has paid off. His understanding of what we are trying to accomplish is paying dividends.”
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Spring-Ford breaks out of funk, batters Boyertown
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD — When Spring-Ford found itself in a scoreless tie through the first 12 minutes of Friday night’s game with Boyertown, there was noticeable concern on the Rams’ sideline.
“That made it five straight quarters without scoring a touchdown,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said, painfully recalling last week’s shutout setback to undefeated Pottsgrove. “We weren’t in panic mode, but it was very frustrating.”
It only took 28 seconds of the second quarter for the Rams to find the end zone — and that frustration — and they’d find it three more times before the break en route to a 42-7 win over the visiting Bears.
Quarterback Hank Coyne, unquestionably as flustered and frustrated as anyone with last week’s loss, ignited and then fueled the Rams’ offense by completing 9 of 15 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns — shattering the school record for career touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior spread it around to six different receivers. Tight end R.J. Sheldon took both of his receptions (35 and 24 yards) in for scores, while Yousef Lundi — who ran for one — and Ben Schein caught the other six-point tosses.
Coyne was sacked once, but wasn’t hurried or even touched for most of the evening thanks to a solid effort up front by the offensive line. And it was that line that helped unsung Tate Carter run up 109 yards and account for the Rams’ remaining score.
“It’s hard to stay up when you’re not playing well,” Brubaker said. “We just have to get our playmakers involved early, and (Coyne) is obviously part of that. After the first quarter, I thought we did a good job with that.”
Coyne flipped nine yards to Lundi to get the Rams (3-1, 5-1 overall) on the board at the 11:32 mark of the second quarter. Just over four minutes later, Lundi — who didn’t take a single handoff in the second half — went up the middle from four yards out to make it 13-0.
Then, when it appeared Boyertown (1-4, 1-5) may get back in it after Gray Garber’s 52-yard kickoff return, the Spring-Ford defense turned it right back to its offense. A first-down run resulted in a three-yard loss, Robby Varner came up with the first of his two sacks of Boyertown quarterback Griffin Pasik, and a swing pass went for a minus-two yards.
After the ensuing punt, Coyne was back at it and found Sheldon all alone for the 35-yard strike that made it 21-0 — his 46th career touchdown pass, or one more than the Ram record set back in 1973 by Lance Viola.
The Bears stumbled once again, and Coyne took the Rams in more time, connecting with Schein on a seven-yarder just 33 seconds prior to halftime.
“I was definitely hanging on to the loss to Pottsgrove, but I knew I had to keep my focus, keep it together,” Coyne explained. “And that’s what we had to do as a team, too. We had to move on.
“I wasn’t too worried (by the slow start). We just had to keep with it, keep doing what we knew we could do offensively. We just had to execute.”
They did ... after that first quarter, and after an abbreviated possession to kick off the third quarter.
But they were right back at it afterward. When Varner sacked Pasik on fourth down at the Spring-Ford 39-yard line, it took the hosts six snaps to make it 35-0 — on Coyne’s 24-yard strike to Sheldon — and get the running clock going. Carter then took care of the next possession, running 26 yards and one yard — the latter good for the Rams’ final points of the night.
“We didn’t click last week, didn’t have that right mentality last week,” Coyne said. “But we had a great week of practice this week. We were very focused, and we played a lot better.”
Boyertown head coach Mark Scisly saw some improvement, too ... just not enough in dropping their fourth straight.
“We’ve definitely showed improvement the last two weeks,” Scisly said. “That’s two first quarters (holding Perkiomen Valley scoreless for the first 12 minutes last week) that we’ve done a good job.
“But offensively we have to find that magic we had our first three games when we scored 120 points. We are playing five sophomores, a lot of juniors and just a handful of seniors, but we’re getting better. We just have to be more consistent.”
The Bears avoided the shutout when they put together 72-yard, 13-play drive that Eric Heller capped on a three-yard touchdown run with 1:07 remaining.
“We’ve been through a tough stretch, playing Pottsgrove, Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford,” Scisly said. “We moved the ball better. We had some chances, but we didn’t convert those opportunities.”
Boyertown was held to just 50 yards in the first half. ... Cody Richmond, who returned to the lineup after missing last week with an injury, carried 14 times for 80 yards to lead the Bears’ offense, which finished with 178 overall. ... There were no turnovers in the game. ... Boyertown’s sack was by Mike Murphy, while Andy Lovre-Smith had the Rams’ other sack.
Reading Eagle's Boyertown Preview
Kickoff: Tonight, 7, at Coach McNelly Stadium (turf), Royersford.
Series: Bears lead 26-17-1 after losing 45-14 last season.
PAC-10 records: Bears 1-3, Rams 2-1.
Notable: Bears are ranked No. 2 in Berks in total offense but next-to-last in total defense after 42-7 loss last week to Perkiomen Valley. Bears have allowed 212 points, an average of 42.4 per game; the school record is 44.9. Rams have been playing without standout RB Jarred Jones, who suffered a broken elbow in Week 3. He has scored six TDs and is averaging 10.1 yards per carry. Yousef Lundi has stepped in with a pair of 100-yard games. QB Hank Coyne has thrown for 670 yards and seven TDs. Rams lost to Pottsgrove 26-0 last week in a battle between the league's top teams.
Did you know?: Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker is former offensive coordinator at Wilson.
Pottsmerc's Boyertown Preview
By Don Seeley
BOYERTOWN AT SPRING-FORD
Records: Boyertown is 1-3 (1-4) after a 42-7 setback to Perkiomen Valley. Spring-Ford is 2-1 (4-1) following a 26-0 loss to Pottsgrove.
Inside the lines: Boyertown hasn’t had a problem on offense, thanks to the running of Matt Moccia and Eric Heller and the passing of Griffin Pasik (six TD passes). But turnovers (13) and penalties (31) have proven to be very costly. Justin Siejk, Tyler Zilen and Jarrod Coleman are coming off strong games on the defensive side, which has surrendered an average of 430 yards and 42.4 points a game. … Spring-Ford is looking to get back on track after manufacturing a season-low 250 points and committing a season-high three turnovers. Yousef Lundi has come on to run up 448 yards and six touchdowns, and quarterback Hank Coyne – who threw his first two picks of the season last week – is still among the top threats throwing the ball with 662 yards and seven touchdowns. Defense is getting solid play from Ian Hare and Kyle Hoffner, among others.
Notes: Boyertown leads the PAC-10 series, 6-4, and the overall series, 26-18-1. … Bears hope to have a number of players back from injuries, most notably running back Cody Richmond (304 yards, 3 TDs). … Boyertown head coach Mark Scisly: “Our guys aren’t giving up … they understand we’re in a tough stretch and we’re a young team. We are excited about our opportunity to play Spring-Ford. Right now we are struggling with injuries and inexperience, but I saw some improvement last week against PV despite the final score.” … Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker: “How we played on special teams and offensively (against Pottsgrove) was very disappointing. We needed someone to step up and make plays and it didn’t happen. We were very disappointed with our skill players all around. There were plays to be made and we didn’t make them. We were called for penalties at key times and turned the ball over. We didn’t break any tackles or make someone miss, so it was very frustrating.”
PAC-10sports.com Boyertown Preview
Boyertown dropped its third straight, falling to Perkiomen Valley 42-7, and is now 1-3 in the league, 1-4 overall … After four straight wins (2 nonleague, 2 PAC-10) Spring-Ford came up short in its showdown for league supremacy with Pottsgrove, 26-0.
Spring-Ford handled Boyertown 45-14 on its way to a perfect PAC-10 season
Boyertown scouting report
The Bears, who are expected to have RB/SS Cody Richmond back this week from injury, have been outscored by an aggregate total of 98-13 in their last 2 outings, and need to improve a defense that is getting gashed for 42.4 ppg and a PAC-10 worst 432.2 ypg despite the efforts of DE Tyler Zilen (6 tackles per game), LB Gray Garber (3 sacks, 5.4 tpg) and DT David Pettine (3 sacks). Coach Mark Scisly was also pleased with the defensive work of sophomores Mike Murphy and Justin Seijk in the loss to PV. Offensively, the run-heavy Bears average 26.6 ppg and 343 ypg. Matt Moccia (55-406, 5 TDs), Eric Heller (57-352, 4 TDs) and Richmond (47-301, 3 TDs) are all productive runners behind an offensive line keyed by Austin Jacobs and Nick McMenamin. WR Nick Brough (15-252, 2 TDs) gives QB Griffin Pasik (419 passing yards, 6 TDs) a go-to receiver.
Spring-Ford scouting report
The Rams moved the ball effectively in the first half during their shutout loss to Pottsgrove, but self-destructed with three turnovers for the game. Offensively, Spring-Ford averages 33.6 ppg and 359.8 ypg, led by RB Yousef Lundi (63-443, 6 TDs), talented QB Hank Coyne (56-108, 661 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs) and a strong group of receivers that include Gary Hopkins (14-183, 2 TDs) and Tate Carter (15-182, 2 TDs). Once again S-F will be without injured game-breaker and RB Jarred Jones (sidelined indefinitely with broken wrist). Zameer McDowell, who had 9 tackles in last week’s loss to Pottsgrove and is averaging 5.2 tpg, and LB Ian Hare (3 sacks) set the tone for a shutdown defense that limits the opposition to 16.6 ppg and 227.8 ypg.
Mark Scisly, Boyertown: “We are suffering some growing pains as we get guys experience on the field. Last week we started 5 sophomores. Spring-Ford is a big, athletic, physical team. Lundi is a hard runner and Coyne has been their QB for three years and has had great success.”
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “How the game progressed last week made us play tight and revert to bad habits and forgetting our aim-points, technique, etc. We felt going in that we were beyond that and felt during the game that, if one player made a play, we would get over that hump. It never happened. We need our seniors to lead. Boyertown has scored a lot of points. Our defense played really well for 3 ½ quarters last Friday, but we can’t afford a letdown this week.”
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Pottsgrove shuts down Spring-Ford, 26-0
By Darryl Grumling
LOWER POTTSGROVE — With a pregame tribute to U.S. service members known as “Operation American Pride” providing the backdrop, Pottsgrove hit the field for Friday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference showdown against Spring-Ford clad in camouflage pants.
It proved to be an appropriate choice of attire for a much-anticipated battle of the top two teams in the PAC-10. While things remained pretty much up for grabs after a first half filled with trench warfare, the Falcons’ infantry took over in the final 24 minutes on the way to a 26-0 victory over the defending league champion Rams. Tailback Mark Dukes ran for all but 14 of his game-high 138 yards in the second half and also scored two TDs and quarterback Tory Hudgins (74 yards) and fullback Nick Brennan (30) each ran for scores as the Falcons (4-0 PAC-10, 5-0 overall) avenged last year’s 49-35 loss to Spring-Ford.
“We wanted this one bad,” said Brennan, whose first quarter interception of Rams’ QB Hank Coyne and long return set the tone for a defensive effort that forced three turnovers. “Everybody was pumped up, and we just played our hearts out.” Starting with the Falcons’ secondary, which was nothing short of first-rate. With Michael Fowler, Riley Michaels, Marquis Barefield, Jalen Mayes and Qwhadir Miller spearheading the effort, Pottsgrove harassed Coyne — who hadn’t been picked off all season — into a 10-for-31, two-interception night. “We had a great scheme for them,” Falcons coach Rick Pennypacker said. “We didn’t rush as many as we wanted, but our guys played tremendous man-to-man. A lot of people don’t like to go man-to-man with them, but we did.” Spring-Ford (2-1, 4-1) came out with an impressive first drive featuring the power running of 6-foot, 200-pound Yousef Lundi. But after the Rams picked up three first downs, Brennan corralled a tipped ball on a third-and-11 play and returned it 40 yards to the Spring-Ford 15. Three plays later, Brennan scored on an 11-yard TD run that made it 6-0. The Rams answered with another formidable drive, marching 62 yards on nine plays to get into the red zone. On the final play of the first quarter, however, Mayes intercepted a pass at the 11. “Turnovers and penalties,” lamented Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker, whose team collected 65 penalty yards, including three personal fouls. “We had a lot of penalties in situations we couldn’t afford to. Holds, 15-yard penalties on offense and defense. I think our kids started worrying about other things rather than their play on the field. “We needed to break that bubble and get the first score, but we turned the ball over inside the red zone. And we were driving a little at the beginning before that tipped ball (and interception).” Still, it was just a one-score game for the rest of the half. And the Falcons had to dodge a final-play bullet — when Coyne’s heave to Gary Hopkins fell incomplete after Pottsgrove failed to convert a fourth-and-1 from its own 24 with eight seconds left in the second quarter. From that point on, though, the Falcons simply seized command. They took the second-half kickoff and went on a 13-play drive to the Spring-Ford 10 that ended in a missed field goal. Then, one play after Patrick Finn recovered a fumble after Coyne’s short completion to Tate Carter around midfield, Dukes raced 51 yards for a TD that made it 12-0 with 3:23 left in the third quarter. “We know they were tough,” Dukes said. “But we’re tough too. And tonight we were motivated.” That motivation continued into the fourth quarter, when Hudgins ran for a 17-yard TD on a third-and-10 play with 3:10 to increase the lead to 19-0 with 3:10 remaining. After stopping the Rams on downs on the ensuing series, the Falcons got a 30-yard run from Dukes for the icing on the cake with 2:00 left. “We knew their front seven was good,” Pennypacker said of Spring-Ford. “But our kids just kept hanging, hanging and hanging (in there). We didn’t get away from our game plan.” Michaels, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound junior safety, was credited with a team-high 12 tackles for Pottsgrove, which also got 11 stops from Jeff Adams, 10 from Mayes and nine from Zach Birch. “We’ve been waiting a whole year for this,” said Birch, one of just two senior starters on defense. “We just played with a lot of heart tonight. It was an all-around great effort. Amazing. Our best effort of the year. “We knew we could trust each other, and everyone played their best. Our defensive backs covered their receivers really good and were ballhawking and everything. We definitely shut them down.” Lundi wound up rushing for 69 yards on 22 carries, Coyne ran for 51 yards and Ben Schein caught three passes for 20 yards and also intercepted a pass for Spring-Ford, which entered the game averaging 42 points per game. “They were bringing an extra guy down in the box, and we couldn’t run the ball as consistently as we would have liked to,” Brubaker said. “And hats off to their secondary. They were really good. We were struggling to get separation.” Which ultimately wound up separating the Falcons from the Rams in a battle for PAC-10 supremacy.
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PAC-10sports.com Pottsgrove Capsule
Spring-Ford stayed perfect with a 42-6 pasting of Upper Perkiomen, upping its slate to 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall … Pottsgrove continued its tour de force through the early season, raising its mark to 3-0 in the circuit and 4-0 overall by hammering Boyertown, 56-6
Spring-Ford used a 49-35 victory as a catapult to the league title, handing runnerup Pottsgrove its only league loss of the season
Spring-Ford scouting report
The Rams, who remain without game-breaker Jarred Jones (broken wrist), have been getting stellar play from a slew of players, including Zameer McDowell, Yousef Lundi, Travis Daywalt and QB Hank Coyne. Lundi rushed for 124 yards and 2 TDs while Coyne hit 8-13 passing attempts for 137 yards and 3 TDs to 3 different receivers in the rout of Upper Perk. Offensively, S-F averages 42.0 ppg and 388.5 ypg with Lundi (40-379, 6 TDs rushing), Coyne (46-77, 571, 7 TDs, 0 interceptions) and receivers Tate Carter (12-171, 2 TDs) and Gary Hopkins (13-156, 2 TDs) leading the way. The Rams, who are yielding 14.3 ppg and just 221.3 ypg, are a plus-3 in turnover margin this year.
Pottsgrove scouting report
The numbers are an accurate reflection of how thoroughly the Falcons have dominated the opposition this season. Pottsgrove, the defending District 1-AAA champion, averages 50.0 ppg and 396.8 ypg while allowing 6.8 ppg and a league-best 185.5 ypg. Big offensive guns include quarterback Tory Hudgins (626 combined yards, 8 TDs), running back Mark Dukes (37-343, 9 TDs) and multi-threat wideout Michael Fowler, who has found the end zone five times in a variety of ways, including twice on TD receptions, twice on punt returns and another time on a fumble return. The Falcons, who have no major injury concerns, have been bolstered by the consistent play of Jeff Adams and Sene Polamalu.
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “We have to stay the course. Pottsgrove has so much talent that they are going to make plays. We have to remain focused and make good game adjustments and carry them out. The biggest concern with Pottsgrove is their speed.”
Rick Pennypacker, Pottsgrove: “Our team still needs improvement in all areas. We still are not ready to play a team as good as Spring Ford. Maybe by the end of the year we will get better but right now they are much further along than us. We need to be able to pass and run the ball with consistency. We need to keep their high-powered offense off the field and we have to be flawless on special teams.
“Spring-Ford’s size and depth is a concern. They have very few kids who play both sides of the ball and we have 6 that go both ways. Their quarterback (Coyne) may be the best in Spring-Ford school history and their wideouts are big, physical and fast. The running back (Lundi) is as good as we will see.”
Mercury's Pottsgrove Capsule
SPRING-FORD AT POTTSGROVE
Records: Spring-Ford is 2-0 (4-0) after defeating Upper Perkiomen 42-6; Pottsgrove is 3-0 (4-0) following a 56-6 win over Boyertown. Inside the lines: RB Yousef Lundi (team-high 379 yards, 9.7 ypc, six TDs) has stepped up to fill the void left by the injury of feature back Jarred Jones. .. Gary Hopkins (13 catches, 156 yards) and Tate Carter (12-171) lead balanced receiving corps. ... QB Hank Coyne was 8-for-13 for 137 yards and three TDs last week, but will face stern challenge from Falcons secondary led by ballhawking junior Michael Fowler. ... Tackles Robby Varner and Mason Romano and linebacker Ian Hare lead the Spring-Ford defensive front. ... Falcons QB Tory Hudgins had three TD runs and 114 rushing yards on just six carries last week, with FB Nick Brennan running four times for 114 yards, including a 76-yard TD. ... Pottsgrove is averaging an area-best 50.3 point per game while allowing an area-best 6.5 points. ... Pottsgrove has gotten a boost of late from two-way starter Jeff Adams (TE/LB), OLB Sene Polamalu (2.5 sacks last week) and new kicker Jon Klinger on PATs and kickoffs. Notes: Pottsgrove leads the PAC-10 series 16-9-1, and the overall series 24-22-1. ... Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker: “We need to be sure tacklers and run to the ball defensively and play good, disciplined assignment football. Offensively, we need to protect the football and finish our drives with points.” ... Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker: “I am pleased with the progress of our team. We have so many new kids this year and they are improving every week. It will be a great test to see where we stand against a very good team as Spring-Ford. Our starters have not played into the fourth quarter very often this year and that is a concern for us. We have to play a perfect game in order to be competitive with Spring-Ford.”
Pottsgrove’s Hudgins and Spring-Ford’s Coyne are two of a kind
By Darryl Grumling
At first glance, Pottsgrove’s Tory Hudgins and Spring-Ford’s Hank Coyne appear to be at opposite ends of the quarterback spectrum.
Hudgins does most of his damage on the ground, racing around the gridiron like Dale Earnhardt Jr. at a NASCAR track. Coyne, meanwhile, is quite comfortable getting it done through the air: picking apart opposing secondaries with a plethora of precise passes. Upon closer inspection, however, Hudgins and Coyne have a lot more in common than you might think. They are both highly accomplished three-year starters who endured a trial-by-fire as sophomores. They are each understated off the field, while commanding plenty of respect on it. They are unselfish, team-oriented and intense competitors who strive for excellence and aren’t afraid to go the extra yard in practice. And, finally, they are the focal points of two of the most dangerous offenses in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Hudgins and Coyne will go head to head tonight at Pottgrove, where the Falcons (3-0, 4-0) play host to the Rams (2-0, 4-0) in a game that will go a long way in deciding this year’s PAC-10 champion. * * *
Two years ago, Hudgins found himself thrust into a starting role when standout Terrell Chestnut (now at the University of West Virginia) was injured in a game against Boyertown. Hudgins wound up starting several more games, and though his play wasn’t pretty, he absorbed plenty of knowledge. “It was tough, no doubt about it,” he said. “But it was also nice to gain that kind of experience. A lot of players don’t get that kind of time as a sophomore and get that kind of chance to learn from your mistakes.” Suffice it to say Hudgins learned his lessons well. While many wondered how the Falcons would replace a talent of the caliber of Chestnut, the 6-foot, 175-pound Hudgins put on a dazzling display as a junior last season that helped Pottsgrove win the District 1-AAA title and reach the PIAA quarterfinals. Hudgins rushed for 1,530 yards and 28 touchdowns and also threw for 571 yards and 10 TDs. “As the year progressed, I got more and more aware of what I was doing,” Hudgins said. “I had a good year under my belt, and was blessed to have a great offensive line and great backs.” Though Hudgins has thrown just 97 career passes, he has completed nearly 60 percent of them for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns while being picked off just three times. “It would be nice to throw it a little more,” Hudgins admitted. “But if we’re running the way we are, there’s no point in changing it. Why fix it if it’s not broken?” With Hudgins leading the way, the Falcons’ rushing attack doesn’t appear to need much fixing. Hudgins has rushed for a team-high 377 yards and a 13.5 average per carry this year, with 264 of those yards coming over the past two weeks. During that span, he has five TD runs, four of which went for 50 or more yards. “Tory is a hard worker and a student of the game,” Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker said. “He works very hard with his reads and studies defenses all week so he can make the right reads. I think Tory could be a very good running back, receiver or defensive back. No matter where we would put him on the field, I think he would do well.” Though Hudgins has been eager to carve out his own identity, he was quick to credit Chestnut in helping his development. “I learned most of my stuff from him,” Hudgins said. “As far as my reads, being aware of what was going on, carrying out fakes and identifying defenses, I learned a lot from him. I knew I’d have big shoes to fill (following Chestnut), but it was a great experience playing with him.” Pennypacker was reluctant to compare Hudgins with Chestnut, but did feel the two had some similar traits. “Tory is a different QB than Chestnut,” Pennypacker said. “He only plays offense, so he has more time to develop as a quarterback. Tory is very explosive on his first step and has the ability to make people miss, as Chestnut did. Tory has a little more size than Terrell did. Both are very good QBs in our system.” Hudgins’ main goals for his final year are to remain consistent and play an increased role as a leader, something he prefers to do by example. “I try to do it with my play,” he said. “There are times I’ll talk to the guys and try and get them hyped, but mostly I try to lead with my play on the field.” * * *
Like Hudgins, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Coyne likes to let his performance do the talking. When he was coming up through the ranks at Spring-Ford, he watched guys like Trevor Sasek, Drew Thomas, Matt Glowacki and Andrew Scanlan do exactly that, and it made an impression that’s stayed with him. “I think of myself as a hard worker,” he said. “I don’t like to brag about myself. I want to focus on the team more than anything. If I had to describe myself in just one word it would probably be: efficient.” Coyne’s ascension to the Rams’ starting QB role dovetailed with the arrival of head coach Chad Brubaker back in the spring of 2010. “Hank started coming to our evening offensive implementation meetings and workouts. They had struggled at the QB position the year before and it was a question mark. His arm strength was apparent right away, as was his delivery.” Though barely 150 pounds dripping wet, according to Brubaker, Coyne won the starting job that year, and threw for 1,750 yards and 21 touchdowns as Spring-Ford went 6-3 in the PAC-10 and 9-3 overall. “I was very nervous, and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Coyne said. “I tried as best as I could, and I had some really good teammates that helped me along the way.” Last season Coyne took the proverbial next step, throwing for 1,840 yards and 16 touchdowns while more importantly cutting down on his interceptions from 15 to five. So far this year, Coyne has completed 59.7 percent of his passes (46-for-77) for 571 yards and seven TDs without throwing a pick. “I think I’ve progressed a tremendous amount since starting out as a sophomore,” Coyne said. “The biggest thing about from then to now is that I definitely understand our offense more than I did. All last year and this year, I was able to pick it up more and trust myself to make the right decisions.” Coyne’s improved play was a big reason the Rams were able to knock off Pottsgrove 49-35 for their first victory over the Falcons in 12 years en route to the PAC-10 crown. “He is such a likable kid that our players rally around,” Brubaker said. “He takes responsibility for his mistakes, and I’ve never heard him blame someone else on the team.” Coyne, whose father Hank Sr. is an assistant coach at Owen J. Roberts, has done a nice job adjusting to a new-look receiving corps this year. With last year’s top target Scanlan, a Big 33 selection, now at Northwestern, Coyne has been comfortable spreading the ball to wideout Gary Hopkins, back Tate Carter and tight ends Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon. “Over the summer we worked out on our own,” Coyne said. “We ran our routes and tried to be as crisp as possible. I definitely have a strong bond with them. Last year we were focused on getting Andrew the ball and him making plays, but this year with all the weapons we have we can spread it around.” Tonight, though, the two biggest weapons will be lining up behind center for each team as the Falcons and Rams renew what has become a suddenly hot rivalry. “We remember that game,” Hudgins said of last year’s loss. “It will be a good game.” “It’s definitely a big test for us,” echoed Coyne. “They’re a great team. They run a great offense and their defense is strong. It’s just going to be a battle to the end, and hopefully we can come out on top.”
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Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford set stage for showdown
Pottsgrove has maneuvered through its first four opponents like a plow through corn.Spring-Ford, likewise, has pretty much taken care of business in impressive fashion. And now that the tune-up formalities are over with, the Falcons and Rams can finally prepare for this week’s showdown for Pioneer Athletic Conference supremacy. Heading into Friday night’s much-anticipated clash at Pottsgrove, the Falcons (3-0 PAC-10, 4-0 overall) have outscored their opposition 200-27, including three straight 50-plus-point efforts. That said, Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker still sees plenty of room for improvement. “Our kids are getting better, but they are not there yet,” Pennypacker said. “Our young kids are still learning and working to get better. This will be a test for them.” As it likewise will be for the Rams (2-0, 4-0), who had to rally for a 31-20 Week One victory over Whitehall before following that up with three relatively easy wins by a combined margin of 127-37. “We’ve been a little up and down and on and off through the first four weeks,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “But if we look at where we were at in Game 1 and where we are after Game 4, we’ve improved. I wish we were little ahead of where we are, but this is where we are and we have to have a good week to keep getting better.” Last year, Spring-Ford prevailed in a 49-35 shootout, a victory that propelled the Rams to the PAC-10 title. Pottsgrove, by the way, reeled off eight straight victories after that defeat on the way to the District 1-AAA championship and PIAA quarters. “We have a lot of respect for their program,” Brubaker said. “They have good kids who are well-coached and play hard. Over the past two years, we’ve both been in the mix, in terms of winning the league, so that automatically creates more hype around the game.” That kind of hype, though is something Pennypacker said he could do without. “This is just another game for us,” he said. “We know that we are both undefeated so far but it is not our season. There are too many good teams in this league and you better be ready every week. We respect every team and feel that the season is long, and it matters more where you are at the end of the season.” The Falcons are where they are right now thanks to a strong effort in all three phases of the game. Senior quarterback Tory Hudgins has displayed why he is one of the area’s top performers over the past two weeks, rushing for an eye-popping 264 yards and five TDs on just nine total carries – an average of 29.3 yards per carry. Four of the touchdowns have been on runs of 50 or more yards. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons’ first team unit has allowed just one TD thus far. “I am pleased with our defense,” Pennypacker said. “We have only two seniors on the defense (Zach Birch and Qwhadir Miller) and our kids have worked hard to get better. Are they good enough to play against Spring-Ford? I’m not sure.” The Rams have their own stalwart signal caller in three-year starter Hank Coyne, who threw for three TDs in last week’s 42-6 victory over Upper Perkiomen. “We expect so much of him, and he’s done a nice job over the past couple of weeks,” Brubaker said. Brubaker is also happy with the emergence of tight end/defensive lineman Zameer McDowell, who has turned into a weapon on both sides of the ball. “He’s starting to become the dominant player we always felt he could be,” Brubaker said. Pottsgrove has several players who have shown big-play capability on both sides of the ball, most notably tailback Mark Dukes and corner/return man Mike Fowler. Throw in typically strong line play and you have a total package that is tough for opponents to overcome. “Pottsgrove simply reloads,” Brubaker said. “Rick has been there a long time and has established expectations that his kids are well aware of and strive to live up to. They are tough kids that play hard. That is a reflection of their overall program. I hope that we can get to the point where we are able to represent our league in (Class) AAAA the way they have in AAA.” The Rams, who are 23-5 during Brubaker’s three-year tenure, appear to be on their way of doing just that. “Chad an his staff have done a great job down there,” Pennypacker said. “He has things rolling and has some great athletes.” As do the Falcons, which will no doubt set the stage for an entertaining matchup come Friday. “Our kids have focused on one game at a time,” Pennypacker said. “We have not looked ahead at all.” Now, however, the Falcons and Rams can finally focus on each other: and help the PAC-10 title focus come into clearer view.