SEELEY ON FOOTBALL: History could be in the making for Falcons, Rams
Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford will both tackle a little football history tonight.
The Falcons entertain Henderson, one of its former Ches-Mont League rivals — a team they haven’t lined up against in 25 years, and a team they didn’t often fare too well against in those days. They’ll be looking to change that undistinguished trend from long ago with a win … and will surely be motivated by the opportunity knowing it would mean a spot in the District 1-Class AAA final for the fourth straight year.
“Our kids have been in the playoffs many times, so we know they’re aware of how important every game is at this point in the season,” Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker said earlier this week.
Spring-Ford visits Ridley, one of Pennsylvania’s all-time premier programs — one that is making its seventh straight postseason appearance in the postseason; one that has been schemed by such legendary coaches as Phil Marion and Joe McNicholas; one that hasn’t had a losing season in 57 years (or since 1955) and just four overall in its 78 years of playing the game; and one that has proudly produced 16 unbeaten seasons to rank among the most successful in all of Pennsylvania with 644 overall wins.
“We just hope our players welcome the experience to go play against one of the most successful football programs in the state,” Brubaker said.
Anymore, getting into the postseason is the norm for the Falcons — who have now made six straight appearances in the district playoffs and nine overall since 2000. And winning in the postseason seems to have become the norm of late for the Falcons, who have won nine of their last 10 postseason games against District 1 opponents — the lone loss a 42-28 setback to Strath Haven in the final two years ago at Coatesville High School.
Archbishop Wood (with its stable of Division I recruits from who-knows-where who get a bye week leading into the first round of states), has denied Pottsgrove moving beyond that first round of the state playoffs twice in the last three years. And if the Falcons get by Henderson tonight and either Academy Park or Interboro next week, there’s no doubt — and you can bet the house on it — they’ll once again get a well-rested Archbishop Wood (and all its Division I recruits from who-knows-where).
But for now, Pennypacker’s only concern is Henderson … beating Henderson, that is.
“You want to play well, but all you care about now is winning and moving on,” he said.
Spring-Ford, of course, would like nothing more than to mirror the postseason success of its Pioneer Athletic Conference rival.
The Rams qualified for the playoffs for the first time a year ago, and were humbled in the first round by Coatesville. They’re back again, and with last week’s milestone win under their belt heading down to Ridley.
Just getting into the playoffs — or finishing among the district’s Top 16 in the Class AAAA bracket — doesn’t come easy, though. Brubaker has attempted to load up, and for the most part has, the program’s non-league schedule with AAAA opponents. Remember, regardless of how successful the Rams are in the PAC-10, they are one of five teams committed to playing five other AAA opponents in the league — which cost them and the other four valuable points in the district’s scoring format.
And no matter who you beat, three losses – as a very good Perkiomen Valley team painfully discovered earlier this month — isn’t likely to get anyone a spot in the Top 16. Two losses may not even be good enough some years. This season, there were only two undefeated Class AAAA teams in the district. Spring-Ford, with just that one loss to Pottsgrove, was still only the No. 7 seed.
Needless to say, the Rams would like to make history and Pottsgrove would like to continue making history when they kick off their respective games this evening.
A win tonight would be the Falcons’ 16th in the postseason and move them past LC (15) for the most postseason wins by a Pioneer Athletic Conference team. … Overall, PAC-10 teams are a combined 42-43 in postseason play, a won-loss record somewhat distorted by the success both Lansdale Catholic and St. Pius X had in the Class AA bracket. … Pennypacker is 194-80-4 at Pottsgrove, while Brubaker is 29-6 at Spring-Ford. … Dennis Decker (43-7) — only the eighth head coach at Ridley since 1934 — is in his fourth season. No previous coach had a losing career record. McNicholas was 226-28-4 from 1973-96, and Marion was 222-58-4 from 1943-72.
Pottsgrove needs 32 points to break its school and Mercury area single-season record, and 34 points to become the first area team to score 500 points in a season. Ironically, Spring-Ford needs 34 points to equal its single-second school record of 448 set a year ago. … This season, the Falcons and Rams became the 16th and 17th area teams to go over the 400-point mark in a season. … Academy Park (10-1), which defeated Interboro (9-2) by a 49-26 spread just two weeks ago (and for the first time since 1994), will attempt to make it a season sweep in tonight’s other District 1-AAA semifinal. … On the area’s individual leaderboard, Pottsgrove’s Mark Dukes (142 points, 1,310 yards rushing) and Tory Hudgins (135-1,217) are first and third in scoring and first and second in rushing. … Spring-Ford’s Hank Coyne is second in passing efficiency (151.4) and first in touchdown passes (22).
Laughing matter: Columbia (4-6) may have a sub-.500 record going into its District 3-A semifinal with Delone Catholic (7-3), but it’s far from the comedy that unfolded in the District 5/8 Class AA Sub-Regional. District 5 will be represented by Chestnut Ridge (6-5), but as of Thursday morning there was no official word that District 8 would name a representative to the game because it only has one AA team among the 12 schools in the entire district. The lone team is Westinghouse, which hasn’t played since Oct. 18th and is 1-7 overall.
Real comedy: Schuylkill Haven was crowned the Eastern Conference Class A champion earlier this week thanks to a forfeit win over Muncy. Northwest Area actually defeated Muncy (42-21) last week, but used an ineligible player in the win and had to forfeit. Right after the loss, Muncy had its equipment shipped off for reconditioning after the loss, and thus could not play Schuylkill Haven.
Berks blast: Schuylkill Valley (8-3), under St. Pius X graduate Jeff Chillot, takes on unbeaten and No. 2 ranked Wyomissing (11-0) in a District 3-AA semifinal this weekend. Chillot and his Panthers will look to avenge a 37-33 loss to the Spartans back on Oct. 27.
Showdowns: There are none bigger this weekend than tonight’s District 7-AA semifinals. Jeannette (10-1), which won the state title in 2007, visits unbeaten and top-ranked Aliquippa (11-0), the state champion in 2003. The other game has unbeaten South Fayette (11-0), the state runner-up two years ago with record-shattering quarterback Brett Brumbaugh under center, travels to unbeaten Washington (11-0).
Streaking: Three-time defending Class A champion Clairton (11-0) needs a victory tonight against Neshannock (10-1) to tie Central Bucks West’s state record of 59 straight wins.
Ridley will be lining up for shot at Spring-Ford
By MATT CHANDIK
RIDLEY TWP. — Ridley running back Darren Washington ranks second in Delaware County with 1,378 rushing yards.
The Green Raiders lead the county with 26 forced turnovers, a number that includes 17 interceptions. Jabree Savoy has four interceptions and two of Ridley’s defensive touchdowns. The Green Raiders are plus-12 in turnover margin and are in the top five in Delco in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
And yet the foundation of all of those points being put on the board for Ridley and points being left off the board for its opponents happens to rest on a group that probably won’t score a single point all year. As the No. 2 Green Raiders (11-0) get ready to host No. 7 Spring-Ford (10-1) tonight at 7 at Phil Marion Field, a successful quest for the school’s first District One championship since 2009 doesn’t necessarily fall on Washington’s shoulders or on the arm of quarterback Collin Wright. Nor will most of the spotlight be on All-Delco linebacker Shane Dougherty or on a secondary that features the likes of Savoy, Mike Smoluk, Mike Crowley and Nick Eufrasio, all of whom have multiple interceptions.
Instead, Green Raiders coach Dennis Decker will have to rely on his offensive and defensive lines to set the tone against a physically imposing Rams team. That’s something that two-way linemen Steve Plousis and Matt Sinex are happy to oblige, especially after securing the senior class’ first playoff win with a 20-17 triumph over No. 15 Downingtown West last week.
“We got the first one out of the way, so we’re a little bit less nervous,” Sinex said. “But it’s still a playoff game, so we can’t take them lightly. (Spring-Ford) is a good team. Even though you’re still the top seed in the bracket (after No. 1 Downingtown East lost to Wissahickon, 38-35), that means people are still going to come at you, so we’ve got to get better each week.”
Offensively, the line of Sinex, Plousis, Tyler Shiber, Frank Cullen and Mark Pascetta has made life much easier for running backs Washington and Rich Coia, and it’s kept quarterbacks Ed Hild and Wright upright for most of the year so that the Green Raiders can put up 28.7 points per game, good for fifth in Delco. But Plousis and Sinex have been even bigger nightmares on the defensive side. The duo has held up well against double teams in the interior line, something the two will have to do against a Spring-Ford team that has rushed for 2,446 yards this year. The Rams tuned up Garnet Valley last week for 237 yards on the ground in a 43-27 win over the Jaguars. That’s the same GV team that Ridley needed a fourth-quarter comeback to beat, 27-17, earlier this year. Sinex, Plousis and Dougherty all immediately mentioned “big” as the first word to describe Spring-Ford, so the Ridley lines will be busy early and often. The senior class isn’t merely satisfied with one playoff win, though.
“We never got one (before Downingtown West),” Plousis said. “Being the senior class, we really needed one to feel like we could be recognized in the state (and) be taken seriously. I’m sure most teams were knocking us every year because we lost two years in a row. ...We’re just hungry for more wins. We were happy with one win, but it’s just not enough. ... There’s no bad teams in the playoffs. Not this year.”
There aren’t, but Ridley figures to be at or near the top of a short list of teams expected to win the district title. The Green Raiders know they need to put their first playoff win since 2009 in the rearview mirror to focus on Spring-Ford.
“I know last week, I was very nervous,” Dougherty said. “But as soon as we got that win, a lot of pressure comes off. I think we’ll all be a lot more relaxed. But it starts up front on both sides of the ball. If they’re not doing their job, everybody else can’t. A lot of credit goes to them on defense. ... I know none of us want to play on Thanksgiving again.”
That’s a safe bet. And while the likes of Plousis and Sinex won’t get the same type of recognition that guys like Dougherty, Washington and Crowley get, that’s perfectly fine for the two hulking linemen — as long as Ridley keeps winning.
“If everybody’s doing their job, somebody’s bound to make the tackle. It doesn’t matter who. It’s a team effort,” Plousis said.
It’s that team effort that has the Green Raiders with a goose egg in the loss column.
Spring-Ford set for Ridley in 1-AAAA semis
By Don Seeley
FOLSOM — With Milestone No. 1 now history, Spring-Ford is desperately seeking Milestone No. 2.
And that would be a win in tonight’s District 1-Class AAAA quarterfinals at Ridley.
“We still believe we have a lot of football in us,” Rams head coach Chad Brubaker said earlier this week.
For some, that may sound a bit brash, maybe even a little arrogant. For Brubaker and the Rams, well, it’s merely confidence.
The Rams picked up a good dose of it after last week’s opening-round 43-27 win over Garnet Valley… unquestionably the result of producing as balanced an offense as they produced all season — 239 yards running the ball and 202 throwing it — against a good defense; the result of scoring 21 unanswered, third-quarter points to get out of a 14-12 halftime hole and create a comfortable spread going into the final 12 minutes of play.
It’s also the result of winning the first postseason game in the Spring-Ford program’s history, and the first by any Pioneer Athletic Conference rival in the AAAA bracket since the playoffs kicked off back in 1992.
“Our (coaching) staff was so happy for our kids and their pride in achieving their initial goal last week,” Brubaker said. “Each step in the playoffs adds to that electricity.”
The No. 7 seeded Rams, now 10-1 overall, hope to charge it up even more tonight against unbeaten No. 2 Ridley — ranked eighth in the state with a program that is accustomed to playing in mid-November. The Raiders have appeared in the postseason seven straight years now — and in 10 of the last 11 overall — with a pair of district titles in their trophy case.
There’s no question the Rams will need to amp up their game against Ridley, which has rolled over everyone rather convincingly — with the exception Haverford (23-15) in Week Two, Springfield-Delco (7-3) in Week Eight, and Downingtown West (20-17) last Friday night — thanks to a punishing defense.
And it’s a defense anchored by linebacker Shane Dougherty, tagged a “beast” by some and a strong candidate for the Delaware County Player of the Year honor. He already has over 100 tackles this season, not bad for someone who has played through half the schedule with a broken wrist.
Dougherty gets a lot of help up front from Matt Sinex, Steve Plousis and Rich Coiz — all two-way starters — and behind him in the secondary from Mike Crowley and Mike Smoluk— each of whom have four interceptions.
That, of course, creates an imposing challenge for Spring-Ford’s offensive line of Josh Boyer, Zach Dorsey, Mike Gilmore, Justin Meals, and the tight-end tandem of R.J. Sheldon and Zameer McDowell. That group has more than held its own in helping generate an average of 364 yards a game.
Creating space for a now-healthy Jarred Jones (704 yards, 9.5 yards a pop) and fullback Yousef Lundi (925 yards) to run, and providing time for quarterback Hank Coyne (1,587 yards, 22 TDs) to throw, will be imperative … if only to give Ridley as balanced an offensive look as its seen all year.
And a glance at an offense that has shifted into high gear the past month.
“We put the ball on the turf five times (against Garnet Valley) and almost threw a bad interception on a miscommunication,” Brubaker said. “I would say we were very fortunate that the ball bounced our way throughout that game. Still, we are playing as well as we’ve played all season.”
Ridley’s offense is run-oriented. Darren Washington, who set a single-game school record a few weeks ago and is the second-leading ballcarrier in Delaware County, has 1,378 yards and 15 touchdowns. Coia, nicknamed “Bam Bam” as well as “Rudy” for his small stature and big plays, has added 538 yards and nine touchdowns.
Quarterback Colin Wright has only gone up top 97 times for 669 yards and four scores — and Crowley (25 receptions for 504 yards, 7 TDs) has been his most reliable target. But Wright is best known for his game management, leading the Raiders to an average of 321 yards a game.
“Ridley is well-coached,” Brubaker said. “They’re balanced on offense and give you a lot of different looks. They have tough kids who play hard from the snap to the whistle.
Spring-Ford did miss some tackles last week that would have otherwise enabled the defense to get off the field and turn it over to its offense. The Rams can ill-afford those mistakes against the Raiders.
And they in no way can they afford to turn the ball over. Even though the Rams are a plus-eight in takeaways over their last four games and an impressive plus-11 for the season, the Raiders have created 25 turnovers and are also a plus-11 going into tonight’s game.
“The coaching staff has worked hard to change up our practice routine a bit over the past few weeks,” Brubaker said. “We always try to focus on the little things, but during the playoffs we have to emphasize the little things even more. Playoffs are largely about kids truly believing they can accomplish their goals and a combination of maintaining their mental energy and physical motivation.
“We just hope our players welcome the experience to go play against one of the most successful football programs in the state. We’ve talked about ‘getting on the map’ of Pennsylvania football. The only way to do that is to go out and play great programs. We started that by opening with (a win over) Whitehall. (Beating) Garnet Valley is a feather in our cap. So playing Ridley is another opportunity for us to be on the radar.”
Tonight’s game is the first meeting between the two schools. … The Raiders won district titles in 2009 and 2007 before losing in the PIAA semifinals to eventual state champion La Salle and state runner-up Parkland, respectively, those years. They were also the district runner-up to Pennsbury in 2006. Going into tonight’s game, Ridley is 14-7 in postseason games since 2002. … With at least two games remaining (Spring-Ford hosts Phoenixville on Thanksgiving), Coyne needs 18 completions and 35 attempts to pass Perkiomen Valley graduate Zach Zulli and become The Mercury area’s all-time career leader in both categories.
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Even Brubaker pleased after Spring-Ford’s 1st postseason win
ROYERSFORD — Chad Brubaker can be difficult to please at times. Then again, he’s no different than most (if not all) high school football coaches.
He took over the Spring-Ford program two years ago and led the Rams to a turnaround 9-3 record, their most wins since 1999 — but was disappointed by not getting into the district playoffs. Last season, he led the Rams to a perfect 9-0 run through the Pioneer Athletic Conference for their first title and most wins since 1998 — but was disappointed by a very lopsided loss to Coatesville in the opening round of the district playoffs. This season, except for a Week Five setback to unbeaten PAC-10 champion Pottsgrove, he’s led the Rams to 10 more wins — and though obviously disappointed by not successfully defending the league title, he was elated last Friday evening after the Rams beat Garnet Valley for the milestone first postseason win in the opening round of the district playoffs.
But Brubaker still isn’t completely satisfied.
“We have been talking about dominating a team for four quarters, no matter the level of competition on the other side of the ball,” he said this past weekend as he began preparations for Friday night’s District 1-Class AAAA quarterfinal challenge at unbeaten Ridley.
“We have not played our best games against teams with inferior records to our own. Conversely, Garnet Valley was an excellent football team, and our level of play rose to the occasion.”
The Rams will have to up that level of play this week, of course.
“We don’t have to worry about a team being inferior any longer … everyone is good from here on out,” Brubaker added. “So we need to strive to get better each week.”
If there’s been one glaring difference in this team — especially when compared against last year’s team — it is that week-to-week improvement. This season, the Rams have played considerably better since the loss to Pottsgrove, and played at a very high level the past two weeks while generating 867 yards of offense and putting 85 points on the board in two impressive wins over Perkiomen Valley and Garnet Valley.
And while most would agree those noticeable strides could be attributed to the return of running back Jarred Jones, Brubaker thinks otherwise.
“Last year we only had two returning starters on defense, while this year we have six,” Brubaker explained. “When we get into tough situations we feel like our returning players feel more secure with their responsibilities. And that’s on both sides of the ball, too.”
That may have never been more evident than in the first minute of the second half last Friday night. The Rams had a 12-7 lead at the break, but saw it disappear quickly when Garnet Valley returning the second-half kickoff for a touchdown to go in front, 14-12.
Instead of breaking down, the Rams broke their guests with three unanswered scores.
“Coming out of the locker room (at halftime), we said there is going to be something that doesn’t go our way in the second half and that we need to stay focused and not panic,” Brubaker explained. “We didn’t think it would be the opening kickoff. But our kids followed through, in terms of their focus. We played four quarters, and that was nice to see.”
What pleased — yep, pleased — Brubaker and his staff the most was everyone contributing to the comeback.
Yousef Lundi, who got accustomed to being the workhorse back while Jones was sidelined with an injury — was solid at fullback. Quarterback Hank Coyne threw two of his three touchdowns, and even caught one on a creative call by Brubaker, in the third-quarter burst. Jack Haney came off the bench and, on his first touch of the entire season, pulled in a touchdown pass. And on defense, unsung Ben Schein was superb in the secondary; Alec Vagnozzi came off the bench to give Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon a breather on kickoffs and forced a fumble; Jake Leahy recovered a fumble; and Connor Murphy also came off the bench to spell Travis Daywalt at safety.
“Our offensive line was really getting into people, and played their best game to this point,” Brubaker said. “But the nice thing was we got contributions from a lot of different people throughout the game (against Garnet Valley). Our seniors were very focused, and much more communicative with the underclassmen, to each other, and to our coaching staff.”
Because of it, Spring-Ford got that elusive first postseason win.
Just don’t think the Rams — or Brubaker, of course — are content with that alone.
“We hope we’re not content,” he said. “When you get into the playoffs anything can happen, as evidenced by No. 1 seed Downingtown East getting ousted (last week).
“We feel like there’s a great opportunity in this (district playoff) field, and we have a lot of football left to play. We want to keep playing to our potential and see where it takes us.”
That would please Brubaker to no end.
Win or lose this week, the Rams still have to host Phoenixville to wrap up their Pioneer Athletic Conference schedule. The game is scheduled for Thanksgiving morning, but could be moved up if the Rams get past Ridley. … Brubaker and Spring-Ford’s current total of 29 wins over three seasons equals the program’s best previous mark, achieved by head coach Marty Moore’s teams of 1992-94 that were a combined 29-3 with a school-record .906 winning percentage. Before that, head coach Ted Nypaver’s three teams from 1985-87 were a combined 28-4 (second-best .875 winning percentage). … Schein is the son of Steve Schein, the Rams’ longtime co-defensive coordinator who was the head coach at Upper Merion before joining Spring-Ford’s staff.
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Don Seeley is the sports editor of The Mercury. His high school football column runs Tuesdays and Fridays through Thanksgiving. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Spring-Ford breaks new ground with district playoff win
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD - The landmark victory had just been achieved, and the Spring-Ford locker room was abuzz with celebration.
Loud, throbbing music was coming from the boom boxes – symbolic of all the noise the Rams made on the field during a 43-27 victory over Garnet Valley in the opening round of the District One Class AAAA football playoffs Friday night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
It was a complete team effort by No. 7 Spring-Ford, which forced three turnovers and piled up 438 yards of total offense in scoring the first postseason victory in school history.
The victory sends the Rams into a second-round showdown next Friday night (7 p.m.) at No. 2 Ridley, which barely survived 15th-seed Downingtown West 20-17.
For more images of this game, click here:
There were other milestones reached as the Rams became the first PAC-10 team to win a District One-Class AAAA playoff game while establishing a school standard for most victories (29) in any three-year span.
Spring-Ford senior quarterback Hank Coyne, the school’s all-time career passing leader, added to his gaudy totals by hitting 11 of 18 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
Coyne’s biggest connection came early in the third period when he found Tate Carter on a quick slant that Carter briskly took 48 yards to the house. The momentum-swinging play answered Wellington Zaza’s 92-yard TD return of the second half kickoff, and set off a run of 21 unanswered points that put the Rams in control.
“We have a lot of guys that can make plays, so utilizing all of them is something we always try to do,” said Coyne. “We were mixing it up, giving a lot of different kids some touches.”
Following the hookup with Carter, Spring-Ford got the ball right back when Jack Haney forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Jake Leahy secured it at the Jaguars 22. Two plays later, Carter hit Jarred Jones with a 21-yard TD pass out of the Wildcat formation and the lead had grown to 27-14.
“We had just put in that play right before the game,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker.
Brubaker’s ingenuity, coupled with Carter’s versatile skill set, made it all work.
“Whatever I can do to help this team win, I’ll do it,” said Carter, who piled up 169 yards catching, running and throwing the ball. “We played all four quarters. We knew Garnet Valley was a good team, but we played them tough.”
That mentality continued when Jared Shoemaker ended the Jaguars’ next possession with an interception, returning it 47 yards to the Garnet Valley 13 to set up Coyne’s 6-yard TD pass to Haney for a 33-14 lead.
“The turnovers were key,” said Brubaker, whose club came in with a plus-7 turnover margin. “We haven’t been committing a lot of turnovers but we haven’t been forcing many either. That was something we wanted to focus on.”
The Rams wound up getting three touchdowns on the three Garnet Valley miscues that included a fumble recovery by Shoemaker, setting up Coyne’s perfectly-thrown 23-yard TD pass to Gary Hopkins in the second quarter.
“We played four quarters, and I think we may be hitting our stride,” said Brubaker. “We got contributions from so many different players. Alec Vagnozzi forces a fumble, Haney catches a touchdown pass and Connor Murphy played well at safety filling in for Travis Daywalt. That just shows what kind of depth we have.”
Spring-Ford’s offensive line – featuring Zach Dorsey, Josh Boyer, Mike Gilmore, Justin Meals and Montana O’Daniell – was also making a big impact. In just his second week back from a broken wrist, Jones chalked up 153 yards and one TD rushing while Carter (7-54) and Yousef Lundi (6-40, TD) also found room to roam.
“I thought our O-line and D-line played great, and we took advantage of the opportunities we had after the turnovers,” said Coyne. “After the long kickoff return at the start of the second half, we knew we couldn’t put our tail between our legs.”
Instead, the Rams’ tails were wagging during a 31-point second half explosion that left the 10th-seeded Jaguars choking in their exhaust fumes.
After Garnet Valley (8-3) climbed back within 33-21 at the 1:34 mark of the third quarter on QB Ryan Corkery’s one-yard TD run, Spring-Ford responded with a five-play, penalty-aided TD drive that covered 63 yards and culminated with Jones racing untouched up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Jaguars continued to hang around, getting a 15-yard touchdown run from Jake Irving (24 carries, 184 yards, 2 TDs) with 8:43 remaining, but would get no closer. Rather than play conservative and milk the clock on its next series, Spring-Ford showed it was in it to win it when Coyne hit R.J. Sheldon for 31 yards on first down, leading to David Gulati’s 27-yard field goal for a 43-27 lead with 5:13 remaining.
“We tried to keep the pedal down,” said Brubaker. “We knew we had to keep going and that we couldn’t just run, run, run the ball and give it back to them. They’re a very good team, and we didn’t want to give them any chance to come back.”
The Spring-Ford defense, which allowed 186 rushing yards to Irving and 424 overall, made sure that didn’t happen. The ‘bend but don’t break’ mode proved effective for the Rams.
“We wanted to hit hard and keep hitting, and give our offense the ball,” said DE/TE Zameer McDowell, who posted a sack among his 5 tackles. “We’re constantly trying to make plays. Mason Romano, Robby Varner and the whole defense stepped up tonight. This feels real great, but we’re not satisfied.”
Brubaker was looking at it the same way.
“This is a great feeling, but it doesn’t stop here,” Brubaker said. “Whenever we take the field, we expect to play well. We expect to win.”
SPRING-FORD 43, GARNET VALLEY 27
Garnet Valley 7 0 14 6 – 27
Spring-Ford 6 6 21 10 - 43
GV-Irving 13 run (Kao kick)
SF-Lundi 3 run (kick failed)
SF-Hopkins 23 pass from Coyne (run failed)
GV-Zaza 92 kickoff return (Kao kick)
SF-Carter 48 pass from Coyne (Hopkins pass from Coyne)
Spring-Ford: Carter 4-97, TD; Sheldon 3-46; Hopkins 2-25, TD; Jones 2-18, TD; Schein 1-9; Haney 1-6, TD.
Garnet Valley: Grzybowski. Spring-Ford: McDowell.
Spring-Ford downs Garnet Valley in shootout
By Darryl Grumbling
ROYERSFORD — On a Spring-Ford football offensive arsenal rife with weapons, Tate Carter is the most versatile one.
And Friday night, the Rams junior showed it — and then some — during a District 1-Class AAAA first-round game that morphed into a veritable shootout at the O.K. Corral.
Carter ran the ball effectively, averaging more than seven yards on his seven carries.
He was even more dangerous catching it, with four receptions for 98 yards and one touchdown.
And to top it off, Carter even threw the pigskin a couple of times, capped by a 21-yard TD pass to Jarred Jones — part of a 31-point, second-half explosion that helped Spring-Ford hold off Garnet Valley, 43-27, for the program’s first postseason win in school history.
“Honestly, he can throw the ball farther than anybody in this room,” Brubaker said of Carter. “He’s as quick as anybody, and he catches the ball well. He just has a lot of different skills. He’s like a chess piece we can move around. He does so many things well. We’d be idiots if we didn’t try to use him as much as possible.”
Virtually all of the seventh-seeded Rams’ offensive firepower was on display as they advanced to next Friday’s quarterfinal at No. 2 seed Ridley, a 20-17 winner over Downingtown West.
Feature back Jones ran for 154 yards; senior quarterback Hank Coyne threw for 184 yards — going over the 5,000-yard career mark — and three touchdowns; and six different receivers caught passes as Spring-Ford (10-1) won its sixth straight game.
In the other two phases of the game, some of the Rams’ more unheralded players made quite a name for themselves with huge contributions.
Like corner Jared Shoemaker, who an interception and forced fumble — each of which were momentum-shifting plays.
Like Jack Haney, who had a third quarter to dream about by first forcing a fumble and then catching a touchdown pass (on his first offensive touch of the season).
And like Jake Leahy (who recovered a fumble), Alec Vagnozzi (who forced a fumble) and Connor Murphy, who saw action late due to injury and made a key pass breakup.
“We preach to our kids that you don’t know when your time is going to come,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “And when it does come, you have to be ready to make a play.”
The No. 10 seed Jaguars (8-3) certainly had several players who could make plays, most notable the trio of running back Jake Irving, wideout Wellington Zaza and quarterback Ryan Corkery.
Garnet Valley drew first blood thanks to a well-executed 12-play drive capped by Irving’s 13-yard TD run on a fourth-and-three play that featured a little game of poker between Jaguars coach Mike Ricci and Brubaker.
The Jaguars were originally set for a 31-yard field goal attempt, but after a timeout and quick personnel change, Irving took a pitch left, shed a couple of tackles behind the line, and scooted down the sideline to make it 7-0 with 4:31 left in the opening period.
Spring-Ford answered with an impressive drive of its own, with Coyne’s 24-yard hookup with Carter setting up a Yousef Lundi’s three-yard run that cut it to 7-6 with 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Shoemaker stripped Zaza after a completion and Mason Romano recovered the fumble at the Jags’ 25. Two plays later, Coyne connected on a 23-yard scoring strike to Gary Hopkins, who made a nifty catch in the back corner of the end zone to put the Rams up 12-7 with 3:54 left in the half.
Garnet Valley appeared to wrest the momentum back on the opening play of the third quarter when Zaza took the kickoff 92 yards, somehow keeping his knee of the ground when the Rams appeared to have him collared just shy of midfield.
But that 14-12 advantage would be the last one the Jaguars would enjoy, thanks to a ballhawking Rams defense and big-play offense.
First, Coyne found Carter out of the slot for what wound up a 48-yard catch-and-run TD that put Spring-Ford up to stay at 20-14 (after a Coyne to Hopkins conversion pass) with 7:58 left in the third.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Haney forced a fumble that Leahy recovered to put the Rams back in business. Two plays later, out of a Wildcat look, Carter faked a run, dropped back, and found a wide-open Jones to make it 27-14.
“That TD pass honestly was something we put in before the game,” Brubaker admitted. “We put it on the baord and said, ‘You might get an opportunity to run this.’ It was designed to go to one of the tight ends, but we said, ‘Hey, if they don’t walk out with Jarred, throw it.’”
“I just wanted to do my part,” Carter said. “It doesn’t matter if I run it, catch it or throw it. Whatever ‘Bru’ tells me to do, I just have to do it.”
Shoemaker joined the fun with an interception and 47-yard return to set up Coyne’s six-yard TD pass to Haney, and all of a sudden the Rams were up 33-14 with 3:29 left in the third.
“We need big plays to get us going,” said Shoemaker. “They get us hyped.”
Garnet Valley got a one-yard TD run from Corkery to stop the bleeding, but the Rams answered with a drive highlighted by a heavy dose of Jones — whose seven-yard TD run on the first play of the fourth quarter made it 40-21.
The Jaguars kept scratching and clawing, with Irving (23 carries, 186 yards) scoring on a 15-yard run to cut it to 40-27 with 8:43 left.
Spring-Ford, though, got a clutch 27-yard field goal by David Gulati with 5:13 left, and sealed it when the defense forced an fourth-down incompletion by Corkery with a little more than a minute left.
“That’s a really good football team, and a tough football team,” Brubaker said of the Jaguars. “They kept the pressure on.”
“We knew they were a good team,” Carter said. “But we know we’re a good team, too, and I think we wanted it more.”
Robby Varner had two sacks and Zameer McDowell had one for the Rams. ... R.J. Sheldon caught three passes for 46 yards, including a key 31-yarder in the fourth quarter. ... Lundi ran for 39 yards on six carries. ... Spring-Ford outgained Garnet Valley, 441-425.
Spring-Ford expects better showing in 2nd postseason trip
By Don Seeley
ROYERSFORD — Hardly a soul forgets birthdays and anniversaries. Hardly anyone involved in the Spring-Ford football program, from the players and coaches to their diehard fans, forgets last year’s very first venture into the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs.
Coatesville 60, Spring-Ford 28 … only the second time since Spring-Ford kicked off its very first season in 1955 that one of its teams had surrendered 60 points in a game.
While the lopsided loss didn’t erase that perfect run through the Pioneer Athletic Conference for the first time in 16 years or the double digits in the win column for the first time in 12 years, it sure did deposit disappointment in the Spring-Ford memory bank.
And it’s that disappointment — absolute dissatisfaction — the No. 7 seed Rams would like nothing more than to rid their selves of when they line up against No. 10 seed Garnet Valley (8-2) in tonight’s opening round of the AAAA playoffs at Coach McNelly Stadium.
“Last year, making the playoffs was a goal,” said head coach Chad Brubaker, who in three seasons has guided the Rams to 28 wins in 34 games. “This year, the expectations were to get there (again).
“I think it always helps to be familiar with something before going on. (Last year), our kids weren’t sure they could compete in the playoffs. This year, our kids feel like they belong in the playoffs. That’s the big difference, in terms of attitude.”
With only a loss to unbeaten PAC-10 champion Pottsgrove, the Rams (9-1) have certainly played with that mindset. They have punctuated their season with five games of 40-plus points, averaging over 37 points a game behind a balanced offense that has generated a norm of 365 yards every weekend. They’ve also limited five opponents to one touchdown or less, and are a respectable plus-seven in takeaways.
Spring-Ford’s offensive line – featuring Josh Boyer, Zach Dorsey, Mike Gilmore, Justin Meals and Montana O’Daniell – has played big, and aggressively, to provide the necessary space for both Yousef Lundi’s and Tate Carter’s increased running responsibilities. And last week, when junior standout Jarred Jones returned from six weeks on the shelf with an injury, there was a noticeable nudge in the entire offense’s attitude.
“I think any time your team is 100-percent healthy it’s a boost,” Brubaker said. “With (Jones) back, it allows us to utilize Carter more at wide receiver and (Lundi) more at fullback.”
Jones, who returned with 208 yards and a touchdown — not to mention a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and an 80-yard return to set up yet another — has helped opposing defenses cut back on any sack-happy schemes, too. That alone has taken a bit of heat off quarterback Hank Coyne, who has thrown for 1,403 yards and 19 touchdowns while rewriting most of the passing pages in the Spring-Ford record book.
But as productive as the Rams have been on offense, there’s no avoiding the demand to play fundamental football if they’re to move the ball against Garnet Valley or stop Garnet Valley from moving the ball.
The Jaguars on the average score a half-point more than the Rams and allow three less than the Rams, very similar statistics for sure. But except for their only two losses — a pair of 10-point setbacks to Class AAA qualifier Springfield-Delco (35-25) in Week Five and to unbeaten No. 2 seed Ridley (27-17) in Week Six — they’ve pretty much quieted the rest of the opposition.
That defense, which allows an average of 197 yards a game, is led by tackle Donte Burgess and linebacker Steve Elk.
Ryan Corkery also contributes on the defensive side, but is counted on to lead Garnet Valley’s no-huddle offense at quarterback. He has run for 895 yards and 12 touchdowns and passed for an additional 703 yards and nine scores. Jake Irving has added 829 yards and 13 touchdowns carrying the ball for Central League runner-up Garnet Valley, which a year ago reached the district semifinals.
“Garnet Valley’s offensive line is excellent, especially their guards,” Brubaker said. “They pound the ball and try to wear defenses down. (Corkery) is a big kid who runs well. We will have to play sound, assignment-based defense.”
That demand falls on Spring-Ford’s defensive front that features Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon at the ends, with Mason Romano and Robby Varner inside at the tackles. Linebackers Ian Hare, Kyle Hoffner and Andy Lovre-Smith have been superb, and the secondary of Jared Shoemaker, Travis Daywalt, Ben Schein and either Joe Sink or Joe Bush has been reliable defending the pass as well as coming up to stop the run.
“I can’t express enough how tough and hard McDowell played last week against Perkiomen Valley,” Brubaker said of his 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior, who knocked down four Viking passes. “He was exhausted and in pain, but kept getting up and going back in. Every time I asked him if he was ready to go back in he told me, ‘I’m ready.’ He had a great game.”
Every one of the Rams will have to be ready tonight.
“We need to execute in all three phases of the game, create turnovers and protect the ball on offense,” Brubaker said. “We must…
“Everyone is good in the playoffs. We’re going to have to continue to get better.”
Tonight’s game is the first between Garnet Valley and Spring-Ford. … The Jaguars are 2-0 against PAC-10 teams in the postseason — defeating Upper Perkiomen (35-7) in 2006 and Pottsgrove (41-22) in 2007 when they competed in the Class AAA bracket. … Lundi (886 yards, 12 TDs) and Carter (625 yards, 9 TDs) ran well in Jones’ absence and still contributed a combined 165 yards and three touchdowns last week when Jones returned. … Gary Hopkins and Carter, with 26 catches each, have been Coyne’s favorite receivers. McDowell and Sheldon, who double as tight ends, have caught 15 and 12 passes, respectively. … Romano, McDowell and Hoffner are first through third in tackles, while Sheldon (5.5), Hoffner (4) and McDowell (3.5) lead the defense in sacks. … Garnet Valley opened with four straight wins before the back-to-back losses, then recovered with four consecutive wins to enter the postseason on a high note.
Times Herald Garnet Valley Preview
RECORDS: Garnet Valley is 8-2 after defeating Haverford, 30-13. Spring-Ford is 9-1 after defeating Perkiomen Valley, 42-28.
LAST SEASON’S GAME: Did not play.
OUTLOOK: This shapes up as one of the more competitive first-round District One Class AAAA playoff matchups, with the seventh-seeded Rams seeking the program’s first postseason win and the 10th-seeded Jaguars looking to break through into the ranks of the D-1 football elite.
Spring-Ford, already an offensive juggernaut, got even better last week when stud junior running back Jarred Jones returned after a six-week stay on the shelf due to a broken wrist, then lit up Perkiomen Valley for 208 rushing yards and a pair of 80-plus-yard kickoff returns (one for a 91-yard TD).
The Rams, already boasting the likes of QB Hank Coyne (103-for-186, 1,299 yds., 19 TDs), Yousef Lundi (885 rushing yds.) and Tate Carter (642 rushing yds., 305 receiving), are averaging 355 yards per game and kind of needed more offense like the Kardashians need more plastic surgery. But the Rams aren’t complaining.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars have only been held under three touchdowns in a game once this year (in a 27-17 loss to Ridley) and have piled up 363 points in their 10 games. The offense is led by QB Ryan Corkery (51-for-113, 703 yds., 9 TDs, 126 rushes, 905 yds., 12 TDs) and RB Jake Irving (143 carries, 829 yds., 13 TDs). LBs Steve Elf (61 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries) and Tyler Shankle (61 tackles, three sacks) head up the defense.
Delco Times Garnet Valley Preview
The Jaguars earned a convincing victory over Haverford at home to finish the regular season and qualify for the postseason. Garnet Valley came within one win of playing for a district title a season ago.
All-Delco quarterback Ryan Corkery has been nothing short of spectacular in recent weeks. Corkery suffered a season-ending injury in the 2012 district semifinal and admits he has a chip on his shoulder.
“I have unfinished business in the playoffs,” said Corkery, who leads the team in rushing with 895 yards and 12 touchdowns. “I didn’t get to finish that last game, and I’m definitely excited for playing in (the playoffs).”
The Rams are averaging close to 305 yards per game and have three very good running backs, Yousef Lundi (886 yards, 12 TDs), Tate Carter (629 yards, nine TDs) and Jarred Jones (540 yards, seven TDs). Jones has done all of his damage in three games this season.
Spring-Ford is averaging 37.1 points per game, which is right in line with Garnet’s 37.7 scoring average. Rams quarterback Hank Coyne is closing in on 5,000 career passing yards.
PAC-10sports.com's Garnet Valley Preview
Garnet Valley won its fourth straight, taking out Haverford 30-13, to up its record to 7-2 in the Central League and 8-2 overall … Spring-Ford extended its winning streak to 5 with a 42-28 triumph over Perkiomen Valley. The Rams are 7-1 in the PAC-10, 9-1 overall
Garnet Valley scouting report
The Jaguars offense flows through QB Ryan Corkery (1,608 yards, 21 TDs rushing/passing), RB Jake Irving (143-829, 13 TDs) and WR Wellington Zaza (14-238, 2). Garnet Valley likes to get after the quarterback, and have gotten 12.5 sacks combined from Dalton Mayberry, Joey Granahian and Vincent Juliano. In last week’s win over Haverford, LB Steve Elf – the Jags’ leading tackler – got into the act with a pair of sacks. Garnet Valley has outscored the opposition 363-138 this season.
Spring-Ford scouting report
The Rams are on a similar roll, having won 5 straight and getting a big boost with the return of RB Jarred Jones to the lineup. All Jones did was rack up 208 yards and one TD rushing, return a kickoff 91 yards for another score and set up Yousef Lundi’s one-yard TD run with another long kickoff return (85 yards) in the win over Perk Valley. Jones’ return boosts an already prolific attack that averages 41.2 points and 355.3 yards per game. Other key performers include Lundi (885 yards, 12 TDs rushing), Tate Carter (947, 13 TDs rushing/receiving) and QB Hank Coyne. Coyne, a three-year starter, is Spring-Ford’s all-time career passing leader and has thrown for 1,299 yards and 19 TDs against just 3 picks in 2012. The Rams are getting it done on the other side, too, allowing just 16.8 points and 242.6 yards per outing. In last week’s win over Perk Valley, Coach Chad Brubaker was impressed by the strong play of DT Mason Romano (9 tackles), DE Zameer McDowell and CB Joe Sink, filling in for Joe Bush.
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “We ran the ball well on Friday night. We were less balanced than we’ve been but we did what we felt we needed to do to win the game. We’re going to need to be more balanced during the playoffs in order to have success. We have protected the ball relatively well this year and turnovers play a big role come playoff time. We must protect the ball and try to force them to turn the ball over.
“Garnet Valley is good at running the ball and stopping the run. We have to be able to withstand any early setbacks and play 4 quarters. They have a very big, very good offensive line. It is important for us to make them drive the ball and work to force mistakes.We can do that by playing well on first and second down and making them do things that they are less comfortable with. Offensively, we must take what they give us and execute.
“I think last year, we were happy to get (to districts). We have now set playoffs as an expectation, so hopefully our kids want to make a splash.”
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RB Jones, Spring-Ford clinch playoffs, down Perkiomen Valley
By Don Seeley
GRATERFORD — Spring-Ford running back Jarred Jones missed six weeks of the season with a broken wrist. Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed wished the he would’ve missed seven.
Jones returned to the football field Friday night for the Rams’ showdown with Pioneer Athletic Conference rival Perkiomen Valley, and he sure wasn’t out of step or rhythm ... breaking the Vikings’ backs and their collective hearts with a 90-yard kickoff return for one touchdown and an 80-yard kickoff return that set up another to take the life out of a couple of PV comebacks and led Spring-Ford to a 42-28 win.
As dominating as the Rams were with a 28-7 lead at the break to back it up, the Vikings got back into contention with a touchdown on their first possession of the second half. On the ensuing kickoff, Jones outran everyone for the 90-yarder. Then, after the hosts put up a pair of unanswered scores to get within 35-28 with 8:13 remaining, Jones was off and running again with the ensuing kickoff, taking it down to PV’s five-yard line, where teammate Yousef Lundi took it in two snaps later for what would prove to be the final score of the evening.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Jones, just a junior, also accounted for 208 of his team’s season-high 373 yards rushing as the Rams (7-1, 9-1 overall) clinched a spot in next week’s opening round of the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs and, unfortunately, ended the Vikings’ bid to join them in the postseason.
“(Jones) is just sensational,” Reed said after two season-ending setbacks to PAC-10 champion Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford ended an otherwise superb season (7-2, 7-3). “He’s been off six weeks, comes back and does his thing. It makes you wonder where he’s been, or what he’s been doing. He’s just a heck of a football player. And Spring-Ford is a whole different dynamic with him.”
Jones was certainly happy to be back.
“It was horrible being out,” said Jones, who now has 550 yards in three games. “The whole time I wanted to play, wanted to help my team. And I did everything I could, running sprints and mile-runs, anything I could to stay in shape. I just couldn’t run with the team.
“I felt OK tonight. I didn’t feel anything different. It just seemed as though I was able to pick up where I left off.”
Jones may have been the show-stopper, but there were other show-timers on both sides of the field.
Lundi added 94 yards and two touchdowns — including a 71-yard burst at the 5:44 mark of the first quarter that gave the Rams a lead (13-7) they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game. Tate Carter contributed 71 yards and a score, most out of the Wildcat offense. And quarterback Hank Coyne, who didn’t even attempt a pass until the second play of the second quarter, sneaked in from a yard out for a touchdown and completed 4 of 11 passes for 53 yards.
Those numbers reflected how dominant the Rams were up front on the offensive line.
And as well as they may have played defensively, they still weren’t able to entirely contain Rassan Stewart, who ran 23 times for 132 yards and a touchdown and completed 20 of 36 passes for 155 yards and another score. Dakota Clanagan, who had six receptions for 51 yards and that score, also accounted for another on an early trick play that saw him throw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Martise Ray — giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead just 1:58 into the game.
But the rest of the first half was all Spring-Ford. Jones went 33 yards to get Spring-Ford back to even at 7-7, Lundi went his 71 yards to make it 13-7 and, after a Ben Schein interception, Jones went 32 yards to set up Coyne’s sneak that made it 21-7 with three minutes left in the opening quarter. Moments later, Carter took a snap on a fake punt, ran 18 yards for a first down and, five plays later, took it in himself from five yards away for the 28-7 margin that didn’t change through the break.
The second half, except for Jones’ two bursts, was a little different.
“(Jones’) kickoff returns were huge, but they also put our defense back onto the field right away, so that’s kind of a double-edge sword,” Brubaker said. “I was kind of disappointed in our second half because we didn’t control the ball and keep PV off the field. In the first half we did that, but in the second half we didn’t.
“I thought coming out for the second half the kids were ready, but Perk Valley never quit.”
“I think we kept our intensity in the second half, but our defense was getting tired chasing Stewart around,” added Jones.
Stewart didn’t allow the Rams to get entirely out of reach. He found Clanagan on a 20-yarder to make it 35-21, and pitched to Mark Bonomo (66 yards rushing) for a six-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 35-28 with 8:13 left.
Then Jones answered with his second long return ... and Lundi made sure it didn’t go for naught.
“The two (season-ending) losses are hard right now,” Reed said. “We knew they’d be our biggest challenges. But our kids didn’t quit. They played their hearts out.”
As did the Rams.
“This was a big win,” Jones said.
“We’re excited about getting back into the playoffs,” Brubaker said. “We hope to make a better showing.”
Spring-Ford defensive ends R.J. Sheldon (seven tackles) and Zameer McDowell (four deflected passes), and Mason Romano had a sack. ... Spring-Ford still has to play Phoenixville — which fell Friday night to Pottsgrove — on Thanksgiving. ... Stewart finished the season with more than 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing. ... Rams finished with a 426-387 edge in total offense, although the Vikings had possession for 17 more plays (72-55).
Spring-Ford’s backfield: What a rush
By Darryl Grumbling
GRATERFORD — When most casual observers think Spring-Ford football, the image likely conjured up is the aerial artistry of record-setting quarterback Hank Coyne.
But when the Rams have to, they are quite adept at going into the ground-and-pound mode.
Friday night was one of those occasions, when Spring-Ford’s versatile rushing attack laid the “groundwork,” so to speak, for a 42-28 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over Perkiomen Valley at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.
“We ran the ball really well tonight,” said Rams senior fullback Yousef Lundi.
The Rams (7-1, 9-1 overall) did that, and then some, en route to a victory that clinched a District 1-AAAA playoff berth.
• There was the power running of the 6-foot, 200-pound Lundi, who collected 94 yards and two touchdowns.
• There was the cat-quick slashing of junior scatback Tate Carter, who ran for 71 yards and one score while piloting several Wildcat formation looks.
• And, most importantly, there was the triumphant return of junior feature back Jarred Jones, who amassed 208 yards and one TD (while also contributing two long kickoff returns, one for a score).
The end result was a victory that clinched a berth in the upcoming District 1-AAAA Tournament for the Rams, who have won five straight since their lone loss to league champ Pottsgrove.
“We know we can throw the ball,” said Carter, a 5-7, 170-pounder. “But tonight we showed how effectively we can run the ball, too.”
The Rams made a concerted effort to run it from the get-go, opening the game with 13 straight rushing attempts.
And their offensive line of Michael Gilmore, Zach Dorsey, Montana O’Daneill, Josh Boyer and Justin Meals (along with tight ends Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon) was more than up to the challenge.
“Our O-Line did a great job tonight,” Lundi said. “They always do a good job, but tonight the holes were wide open.”
The Rams’ multi-faced backs took full advantage of that.
First, Jones — seeing his first action since breaking his wrist against Pope John Paul II in Week Three — ripped off a 33-yard TD to tie the game at 7-7.
Then Lundi, who many times is used as a battering ram between the tackles, showed he can also be a home-run hitter by rumbling 71 yards to put the Rams up to stay at 13-7 with 5:44 let in the first quarter.
Coyne even got into the act, scoring on a 1-yard keeper as Spring-Ford took a 21-7 lead after a quarter.
Carter, who had an inauspicious beginning with a punt-return fumble that set up Perkiomen Valley’s first score, made his presence felt as the game progressed.
He ran 18 yards on a fake punt attempt on a fourth-and-fourth play that set up his own 5-yard TD run out of the Wildcat to make it 28-7 in the second quarter.
“The first half, I was pleased with how we ran the ball,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “Obviously Jarred brings a combination of things to the table for us. Tate’s real quick. And Yousef, it takes him a little bit to get going, but once he gets in the open field, no one catches him.
“They all have different attributes, and we try to give different looks and get different guys touches.”
Which makes the Rams’ vaunted passing game even more dangerous for opposing defenses.
“When we run the ball like that,” Lundi said, “we take the pressure off Hank.”
“With Jarred back, we felt good tonight,” said Carter. “We just went out and did what we needed to do. We knew we had to run hard, protect the ball and just try to score. Once we get our call, we have to do what we need to do out there.”
Suffice it to say the Rams answered the call against the Vikings (7-2, 7-3), thanks to a big effort from their backfield and line.
“The good thing about our team is that it’s not just one player,” Lundi said. “We have a bunch of guys who work together and contribute every game. One night it could be Jarred. One night it could be Tate. Another night it could be Hank.”
On this night, the Rams controlled the trenches and used a strong infantry to come away with a victory in a battle of two of the PAC-10’s most lethal offensive arsenals.
Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley in a gimongous game
By Don Seeley
GRATERFORD — Noah Webster would likely be appalled by some of the additions to the American Dictionary of the English Language he published 184 years ago. But the ol’ fella would likely be OK with gimongous.
After all, there isn’t a better word to describe tonight’s football game between Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley.
This one is indeed big. It’s actually really, really big.
The winner, in all likelihood, will be playing next week in the opening round of the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs. The loser? Well, if the Rams come up short, there is a possibility they could drop out of the Top 16 allotted postseason spots and find themselves idle for 20 days — or until Thanksgiving morning’s finale with Phoenixville. If the Vikings falter, it could and likely will mean the end of their season, unless a slew of unlikely scenarios unfold — or upwards of three or possibly even four teams above them in the playoff points standings lose this weekend.
Sure are a lot of ifs and possibilities...
And on top of all that, a lot of the Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley players are neighbors, friends, and so on and so on. But they don’t necessarily like one another on the football field. It doesn’t matter if they’re unbeaten and lining up for their own little Super Bowl, or if they’re winless and lining up for that other type of bowl — they play one another with the energy and intensity that has made this annual meeting one of the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s best rivalries over the past decade.
Yeah, gimongous seems to fit.
“Our kids are very aware of what’s at stake,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “I’m sure both (teams) realize what a win means.”
“We don’t need to say or do anything to remind our kids of the importance of this game,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed added. “Our kids know what is at stake in this game.”
Spring-Ford goes into tonight’s game 6-1 (8-1 overall), on a bit of a high after last week’s 55-20 win over Pottstown. Perkiomen Valley is 7-1 (7-2), hopefully out of the dumps following last week’s disheartening 42-28 setback to unbeaten Pottsgrove. The teams’ PAC-10 record against one another is as even as it gets, too, or 13-13 since it began in 1986.
Both the Rams and Vikings have excellent quarterbacks, well-balanced offenses and defenses that, for the most part, have been stingy when it comes to allowing yards and points.
Both Brubaker and Reed are concerned about not having their usual four or five days to practice and prepare, about being a little out of their routine — thanks to Sandy blowing through the area and closing down the schools earlier this week. That certainly magnifies their concerns about scheming for one another.
“We’re very concerned about PV because they’re dangerous,” Brubaker said. “People have put a lot of emphasis on (quarterback) Rasaan Stewart, but (running backs) Mark Bonomo and Dakota Clanagan, and some others, are excellent high school football players.”
Reed couldn’t stop talking about tonight’s guests.
“Spring-Ford is very good, extremely well-coached,” he said. “They have been playing without one of their best overall players in (running back) Jarred Jones, but they really haven’t skipped a beat. They’re so fundamentally sound, and they have so many good football players.
“Their defensive line may arguably be the best in the league. They just have a lot of talent, size and speed. They have a three-year quarterback (Hank Coyne) who is really playing well and coming off a huge game against Pottstown. We will have to be at our very best to be competitive.”
The Rams have limited all but three opponents to one touchdown or less. Their defensive line, anchored by ends R.J. Sheldon and Zameer McDowell and tackles Mason Romano and Robby Varner, hasn’t been surrendering many yards on the ground. Linebackers Ian Hare and Andy Lovre-Smith are having banner seasons. And the secondary, getting huge hits and picks of late from Ben Schein and noticeable support from Jared Shoemaker, Travis Daywalt and Joe Bush, has been hard to throw into, around or over.
They’ll be tested by the versatile Stewart, who has thrown for 1,249 yards and run for another 946 yards and 18 touchdowns. The elusive Bonomo has run up 839 yards. Clanagan and Clay Domine (44 receptions, 731 yards) are reliable receivers, and Davon Mitchell is a threat deep downfield.
“Our defensive line has been very active the last few weeks,” Brubaker said. “We’ve been getting contributions from a lot of different players, too. But Stewart’s the real deal, and he’s not alone.”
Precisely Reed’s thoughts about the challenges awaiting his own defense.
The Vikings have given up an average of thirtysome yards and three-plus points more than the Rams thus far, numbers that don’t exactly give either a noticeable advantage. Their rotating front three — Austin Gansz, Tony Pachella, Luke DiElsi and Robbie Thacker — have combined for 8.5 sacks. Inside linebackers James Biddle and Mike Reiner, middle linebacker Danny Light, and outside linebackers Najdrer Philyah and Anthony Rotunda cover considerable ground. And McKnight, Martise Ray, Clanagan and Stewart are quick coming up on the run as well as covering the secondary.
“Perkiomen Valley is very active on both sides of the ball, so we must match their intensity and multiplicity,” Brubaker said. “They don’t give you a ton of looks defensively, but they hop around and try to create confusion. Our offensive line will be a huge key in this game.”
The Vikings hope to confuse Coyne, who is erasing record after record each week. The senior quarterback has thrown for 1,350 yards and an area-high 19 touchdowns. With Jones cleared to play earlier this week — and obviously a probable for tonight — Coyne’s passing game, buoyed a bit by the luxury of five quality receivers, has helped Yousef Lundi (792 yards) and the quick Tate Carter (554 yards) both average just under eight yards a pop carrying the football in Jones’ absence.
“Our kids hold Perkiomen Valley up pretty high up on the rivalry ladder,” Brubaker said. “We’re going to have to play a complete game, that’s offense, defense, special teams and coaching.”
“Our kids are excited for this one,” Reed said. “It’s the last game (of the regular season), it’s our Senior Night, we’re playing Spring-Ford, and there’s a district playoff spot on the line. Yeah, I think they’ll be excited to get out there.”
Jones hasn’t played since Week Three, when he broke his wrist against Pope John Paul II. … PV guard Bobby Gallus is questionable suffering an injury last week. … Special teams have been solid of late for both the Rams and Vikings. Brubaker acknowledged the contributions of Jack Haney and Jake Leahy. Sheldon is among the league’s better punters, and kicker David Gulati is among the leaders in kick scoring. Reed has been nothing but pleased with the addition of Brett Davis, who came over from the soccer team a couple of weeks ago and has responded with deep kickoffs, long punts, and near-flawless extra-point conversions.
Pac-10sports.com PV Preview
Spring-Ford routed Pottstown 55-20 to improve to 6-1 in the league (8-1 overall) … Perkiomen Valley dropped a 42-28 decision to Pottsgrove in a showdown for first place in the PAC-10. The Vikings are 7-1 in the league and 7-2 overall
Spring-Ford 42, Perkiomen Valley 28
What’s at stake
The defending PAC-10 champion Rams have won four straight, and appear primed for another trip to the District One Class AAAA playoffs with the return of game-breaking RB Jarred Jones, who has been medically cleared after spending 6 weeks on the shelf with a broken wrist. Standing in their way are the Vikings, who are currently tied for 14th in the playoff standings with Souderton and Kennett. Spring-Ford, ranked No. 11, could lock up a playoff spot with a victory and leave Perk Valley on the outside looking in. The winner will all but assure itself a berth in the district playoffs, while the loser – although not necessarily out – would need some help to qualify.
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Spring-Ford scouting report
The return of Jones should be a big boost for a unit that averages 36.6 points and 347.6 yards per game behind a balanced attack that features RB Yousef Lundi (102-789, 10 TDs), record-setting QB Hank Coyne (1,247 passing yards, 19 TDs, 3 interceptions), WB Tate Carter (856 yards, 12 TDs rushing and receiving) and WR Gary Hopkins (25-325, 5). Defensively, S-F allows just 13.7 points and 226.7 yards per outing behind Mason Romano (4.4 tpg, 3 sacks), Zameer McDowell (4.1 tpg), Kyle Hoffner (4.0 tpg), R.J. Sheldon (4 sacks) and Ian Hare (4 sacks). Spring-Ford has a plus-6 turnover margin for the season.
Perkiomen Valley scouting report
The Vikings lost starting senior left guard Bobby Gallus for the season to a broken arm in last Friday’s loss to Pottsgrove. PV’s no-huddle offense picked up 413 yards last week, just a tick above its PAC-10 leading average of 411.9 ypg. QB Rasaan Stewart has rushed for 924 yards and 17 TDs while throwing for another 1,121 yards and 8 TDs to pace a prolific attack that includes RB Mark Bonomo (110-822, 6 TDs) and the league’s top receiver Clay Domine (44-733, 4). Anthony Pachella and Danny Light have racked up 4.5 sacks apiece for a defense that allows 16.7 points and 268.8 yards per game. PV coach Scott Reed praised the strong play of Davon Mitchell, Dakota Clanagan, Kean McKnight, Domine and Bonomo on offense and the sound work of Najdre Philyah, Anthony Rotunda and James Biddle on defense. Brett Davis, a late season acquisition from the soccer team, has been providing deep kickoffs, solid placekicking (4-4 on conversion kicks last week) and sound punting – with one of his boots pinning Pottsgrove at its 2-yard line in the third quarter.
Scott Reed, Perkiomen Valley: “I think the kids will be excited for this one. It is the last game, it is our Senior Night, we are playing Spring-Ford, and there is a district playoff spot on the line. I don't think we need to say anything. I think the kids know what is at stake in this game.
“Spring-Ford is a very good football team and they are extremely well-coached. They have been playing without one of their best overall players in Jarred Jones and they really haven't skipped a beat. They are so fundamentally sound and they have so many good football players. Their defensive line may arguably be the best in the league. They have a lot of athletes running around on both sides of the ball and many of their players go one way. They just have a lot of talent, size and speed. They have a three-year QB (Coyne) who is really playing well and coming off a huge game against Pottstown. We will have to be at our very best to be competitive in this football game.”
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “We allowed too many yards against Pottstown but came up with turnovers, which is something we have really tried to emphasize. We executed pretty well offensively on Friday and performed very well on special teams. Robby Varner played a very good game against Pottstown, defensively. Tate Carter and Yousef Lundi ran as hard as we’ve seen them run.
“We need to play well in all 3 phases of the game. PV’s athleticism on offense is a real concern. We need to be secure in our tackling and have 11 guys around the ball.”
Seeley Breaks Down Playoff Picture
By Don Seeley
Losing, or even beating an opponent in a smaller enrollment bracket with four wins, sometimes can be quite deceiving.
Perkiomen Valley’s loss to Pottsgrove last Friday night dropped the Vikings from No. 10 down into a three-way tie with Kennett and Souderton for No. 14 in the District 1-AAAA playoff standings … or in a tie, that for now, accounts for the 14th, 15th, and 16th teams — or final three allotted spots for the postseason.
Spring-Ford, despite its big win over Pottstown, dropped from No. 9 down to No. 11.
So, yes, this Friday’s game between the Vikings (7-2) and Rams (8-1) will indeed impact, if not dictate, both teams’ postseason fortunes.
A Perkiomen Valley loss could, but not officially, oust the Vikings from the Top 16 and end their season. But Kennett also has a difficult task against No. 9 Unionville (7-2), and Souderton (6-3) has to deal with No. 21 North Penn (5-4) — which will not be entering the postseason for the first time since 2001. A couple of losses there would likely keep PV — win or lose — in the Top 16.
A Spring-Ford win would obviously seal the Rams’ deal of getting into the postseason for the second straight year. A loss will drop them, but not necessarily out of the Top 16 if others below them lose.
The top five in the AAAA bracket should and likely will win this weekend, with only previously mentioned No. 1 Downingtown East’s meeting with Henderson coming close to a toss-up.
After that, though, Haverford (8-1) — in a three-way tie for No. 6 — has a biggie against No. 13 Garnet Valley (7-2). Pennsbury (7-2) — another hopeful at No. 6 — travels to No. 12 Neshaminy (7-2).
Two others accustomed to contending for AAAA district titles most years, Abington (6-3) and Downingtown West (6-3), lost last week and dropped to No. 17 and No. 18, respectively. Both will be heavily favored to win this weekend, but will need help from a few teams above them (help as in losses).
North Penn not lining up for a District 1-AAAA championship is indeed rare. Over the past 10 seasons (2002-2011), the Knights won six district titles and finished second in three others.
Spring-Ford jumps out early, rolls over Pottstown
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD — The first half of action dictated the tempo for Friday night’s Spring-Ford/Pottstown football game at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The host Rams took control with a 28-7 first-quarter lead and extended that margin to 41-13 by halftime as both sides took turns advancing the ball. The final arithmetic read 55-20 in favor of Spring-Ford in the Pioneer Athletic Conference contest.
Spring-Ford (6-1, 8-1 overall) accumulated 410 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns and capitalized on four turnovers by the Trojans (3-4, 4-5).
Pottstown rolled up 401 yards of total offense itself, but the turnovers prevented the Trojans from mustering more points on the scoreboard.
“We have been studying films all week,” said Spring-Ford senior defensive back Ben Schein, who had an interception and active night in the secondary against the explosive Trojans. “They are really fast and they have a powerful offense. We game-planned so it came down to executing and stepping up to the challenge.”
The Rams knew they had to be persistent at keeping pressure on Pottstown quarterback Sage Reinhart plus an array of other talented skill players.
“They are a very athletic team,” said Schein. “They’ve got a lot of talent.”
So do the Rams. Yousef Lundi rambled for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, and Tate Carter added 139 yards and three scores on 11 tries as the Rams amassed 296 yards rushing with their blockers controlling the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, senior quarterback Hank Coyne, who is now the school’s career passing leader, passed for 96 yards and three touchdowns and was also on the receiving end of an 18-yard TD pass from tight end R.J. Sheldon.
Reinhart, Pottstown’s senior southpaw, completed 10 of 17 passes for 211 yards, including a 75-yard TD throw to Dayon Mohler in the first quarter.
“(Wide receiver) Antonio Moore was a concern when they were throwing the ball,” said Schein. “He has a chance to catch the ball on every play because he is so tall (6 feet, 6 inches). We had to be cognizant of that.”
Jared Shoemaker was pitted against Moore most of the evening, and the Trojan senior had one reception for 13 yards. Mohler had four receptions for 115 yards, and Denzel Harvey had four catches for 78 yards.
The Rams got sacks from Mason Romano and Kyle Hoffner, while Moore had one for the Trojans.
Schein credited the Rams’ defensive front line of ends Sheldon and Zameer McDowell and tackles Romano and Robby Varner for applying enough pressure on Reinhart to cut down on his time to make decisions.
“They kept them from throwing the ball to their full potential,” said Schein.
Pottstown’s Monroe Hampton ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, including a 35-yard TD scamper. Mohler finished with 63 yards rushing on six attempts, and Dezel Harvey tacked on 54 yards on seven plays.
Spring-Ford recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff return and took over at the Pottstown 11-yard line. Carter skirted left end for the TD on the first play from scrimmage, and David Gulati booted the extra point for a quick 7-0 lead.
Pottstown came right back with Reinhart finding Mohler over the middle for the long TD catch and run at the 11:16 mark of the opening period. Richy Masciarelli kicked the point after to tie the game at 7.
The Rams answered with Coyne connecting with McDowell for a 25-yard TD pass in the left corner of the end zone on the ensuing series to cap a 62-yard march in six plays plus one Ram penalty. Gulati’s kick made it 14-7 at the 8:12 mark, and the Rams were never headed the rest of the night.
“We wanted to come out and execute,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “We lost 18 minutes of football last week (lightning-shortened victory over Owen J. Roberts). We wanted to make sure of some things we had to take care of. We got some turnovers, which was good to see. We need to improve in that area. We feel good about ourselves tonight going into next week (against Perkiomen Valley).”
He spoke about Pottstown’s abilities on offense.
“We bent throughout the night a few too many times,” said Brubaker. “Every play is tough because of their skill players, and Reinhart’s a player. We mixed it up pretty well. We wanted to get a number of players touches. and I just feel we succeeded in doing that.”
Lundi scored on runs of three and 46 yards, while Carter had TD runs of two and nine yards along with a 17-yard pass reception for a score. ... Jake Leahy and Alec Vagnozzi led the Rams’ strong pursuit on special teams. ... Varner and McDowell recovered fumbles. ... Carter had two grabs for 31 yards and Sheldon had two catches for 17 yards. Schein and Cody Davis also had catches for the Rams.
Mercury's Pottstown Preview
By Don Seeley
Records: Pottstown is 3-3 (4-4) after a 55-20 loss to Pottstown. Spring-Ford is 5-1 (7-1) following a 33-6 win over Owen J. Roberts.
Inside the lines: Pottstown still has two of the biggest offensive threats in the PAC-10 with running back Monroe Hampton (799 yards, 17 TDs) and quarterback Sage Reinhart (area-high 1,4844 yards passing), and have been getting big production of late from Denzel Harvey and Antonio Moore. Trojans’ big concern is improving on the defensive side, where they’re allowing an average of 385 yards and 38 points a game despite consistence performances from Chase Waters. … Spring-Ford’s defensive front has played well of late, anchoring a unit that allows just 128 yards a game. Robby Varner is coming a solid game in which he blocked a field goal, and Jarred Shoemaker is becoming an all-league caliber cornerback. Quarterback Hank Coyne (1,254 yards, area-high 17 TDs) is on pace to have seven different receivers with at least 10 receptions each, a group led by Gary Hopkins and Tate Carter.
Notes: Spring-Ford leads the PAC-10 series, 18-8, and the overall series, 31-23-1. … The Trojans, who are still without two-way tackle Josh Everette (injured), are currently 10th in the District 1-AAA playoff standings, where only eight advance into the postseason. … Pottstown head coach Brett Myers: “We’re not concerned about any hangover from last week, from playing Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford, because everybody in the league has had to deal with the same. There’s no time for the weary. We have to improve our blocking and our tackling. Spring-Ford is very good, so we must get into rhythm and not waste plays on offense.” … Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker: “We played well offensively, pretty consistently on defense and really well on special teams last week. We must continue to play like that, and not overlook Pottstown, to have a chance at the playoffs. We need to prevent (the Trojans) from getting momentum and confidence because Pottstown is very dangerous. I love Reinhart, a gritty, get-it-done type player who puts the ball where it needs to be and is very shifty. We must be disciplined and execute.”
Pac-10sports.com Pottstown Preview
Pottstown dropped back to .500 at 3-3 in the PAC-10 and 4-4 overall with a 55-20 loss to neighborhood rival Pottsgrove … Spring-Ford raised its PAC-10 slate to 5-1 (7-1 overall) and stayed in the hunt for a league title by taking care of Owen J. Roberts, 33-6, in a contest ended by lightning with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter
Spring-Ford 27, Pottstown 20
Pottstown scouting report
Denzel Harvey returned the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to give the Trojans the early lead last week, but it was all downhill from there. Pottstown allowed Pottsgrove to score on nine straight possessions in the two-part contest, that was resumed Saturday morning after lightning forced the suspension of play Friday. Despite the consistent work of Julian Teller (5.0 tackles per game) and Dayon Mohler (4 interceptions), defense continues to be a problem for the Trojans, who allowed 459 total yards and five scoring plays of 30 yards or more to the Grove. For the season, Pottstown allows 38.4 ppg and 386.1 ypg to undermine an explosive offense that has produced 30.9 ppg and 379.5 ypg. Senior QB Sage Reinhart has thrown for 1,492 yards and 13 TDs and run for another 270 and 2 scores to lead the attack, which is also getting big efforts from RB Monroe Hampton (125-801, 15 TDs) and WR Tony Moore (17-391, 3).
Spring-Ford scouting report
The Rams worked a short shift in stopping OJR, led by record-setting senior QB Hank Coyne. Coyne hit 3 different receivers with TD passes and threw for 125 yards on 11-for-16 marksmanship, surpassing current Delaware QB Trevor Sasek for the most passing yards in school history (4,725). Spring-Ford has plenty of weapons in an attack that averages 34.3 points and 339.8 yards per game, including RB Yousef Lundi (90-629, 8 TDs), two-way threat Tate Carter (686 yards, 8 TDs running/receiving) and WR Gary Hopkins (25-325, 5). Defensively, Spring-Ford allows just 12.9 ppg and 204.9 ypg. The top performers on that side of the ball have been DT Mason Romano (4.6 tpg), DE R.J. Sheldon (5 sacks), DE Zameer McDowell (4.4 tpg, 3 sacks), LB Kyle Hoffner (4.1 tpg, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) and CB Jarred Shoemaker. The availability of top-shelf RB Jarred Jones, who has been out with a fractured wrist for the last five weeks, remains unknown.
Brett Myers, Pottstown: “Our play thus far has been up and down. To be successful, we must play at a more constant level for 4 quarters and we need our offense to play fast for 4 quarters. We can’t have wasted plays or drives. Special teams have scored a touchdown in the past 2 games and have continued to improve so we must continue to put pressure on our opponent with our return game. Defensively we must improve our tackling against the run. Spring-Ford is a very good football team that is well coached in all three phases of the game. For us to have success we must match their effort and discipline for the entire game.”
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “We lost 18 minutes of football on Friday night, so I’m very concerned going into this week. We missed out on opportunities to get better, in terms of our offensive and defensive execution. We are looking forward to being able to play a full 48 minutes. Pottstown, despite their record going into the game at the time, has played us extremely tough the past 2 years. We were fortunate to escape with a win last year at Pottstown. We need to execute early and turn drives into points.”
Taste of Spring-Ford: The 3rd annual fundraiser was a great time for everyone.
The Spring-Ford Touchdown Club's annual Taste of Spring-Ford event drew a huge crowd on Thursday evening.
Restaurants and other businesses from around the area were handing out food samples and chatting with guests in the packed cafeteria while Spring-Ford football players helped out clearing tables and serving food.
A group of Spring-Ford players were also hanging out in the gym for the "Pros vs Joes" activities. Kids were running an agility course, tossing a football through a tire and trying to beat several players across the floor to catch a ball.
There were also raffles, a silent auction, haircuts, and balloon sculptures.
Oehlert Brothers Football Player of the Week - Tate Carter
Annamarie's Band Member of the Week - Erica Geissler