Better Spring-Ford bests Upper Perkiomen
Special to The Mercury
ROYERSFORD — Chad Brubaker and Steve Moyer both had their share of distractions heading into Friday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference football game.
And the Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen head coaches, respectively, collectively had their share of questions just exactly how their squads were going to perform after their share of adversity. For Brubaker, the big question was how his team would respond without the services of junior running back Jarred Jones, who is out the next few weeks due to injury. The other question mark for the Rams was just how well they would answer the challenge after what Brubaker called a lackluster effort in the team’s previous outing against Pope John Paul II. Moyer and company, meanwhile, were interested in seeing just how well the Tribe would respond after a rough start to the 2012 season, and if the team can consistently show improvement every Friday night. As it turned out, the Rams took the advantage on both fronts. Spring-Ford scored on its first five offensive touches, then played some pretty solid defense as it rolled to a 42-6 victory. In the process, the Rams (2-0, 4-0) also notched a milestone win, giving the Spring-Ford program an overall winning percentage into next weekend’s big showdown against Pottsgrove. “We definitely felt we didn’t play snap to whistle last week, but tonight we hit hard, played hard and had fun,” Brubaker said. “I didn’t start thinking about Pottsgrove until right now. We’re not where we need to be yet, but I felt we took some positive steps tonight and that’s the key.” One of the other keys was the work of running back Yousef Lundi. The senior showed he could shoulder the offensive workload as he lugged the ball 16 times for 124 yards and two scores. Spring-Ford also got a boost from the efficient work of quarterback Hank Coyne, who finished 8 of 13 for 137 yards and three scores. “It was somewhat different because I had more carries, but I know what’s expected of me,” Lundi said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team so I can’t worry about it. We just have to play hard every week, and all week we talked about putting four quarters together and we did that tonight.” Coyne got the Rams on the board as he hit RJ Sheldon on a slant from 12 yards out early in the first. When the Rams got the ball back, Coyne used a 32-yard pass to Zameer McDowell to set the stage for an eight-yard touchdown flip to Ben Schein. Lundi added a pair of scores after that, one from 17 yards out and one from six, and Coyne hit Gary Hopkins for a 37-yard strike on a post to give the Rams a 35-0 advantage at the half. Upper Perk (0-3, 0-4), meanwhile, had a hard time offensively, racking up 45 yards in the first half and 130 overall. Junior running back Aidan Schaffer led the effort with 102 yards and a score on 22 carries. He got the Tribe on the board in the fourth quarter as he took seven straight handoffs late in the fourth quarter, capping off the all-Schaffer drive with a six-yard score off left tackle. The Indians got a scare in the second quarter as senior quarterback Dylan Wesley went down with an injury to his shin after taking a hit while rolling out. He sat out a few plays in the first-half drive, and gave way to sophomore Wyatt Brumm in the second half. “In the beginning of the game I thought we started to take a step in the right direction,” Moyer said. “We had people around the ball defensively. But offensively we couldn’t sustain anything; we had some problems up front on run blocking and in pass protection that got us in trouble. “Defensively we did some decent things, but the thing we take away from this is that we took our lumps against some of the top clubs in the league. In the second half of the season we need to start to do more things positive.” Spring-Ford’s defense got a boost from a 57-yard interception return for a score from McDowell in the second half. Kyle Hoffner also helped out on defense with a pair of tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery, and Sheldon had a tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery. Ian Hare notched a sack and Chase Stine had a tackle for a loss. Upper Perk’s defense was bolstered by fumble recoveries from Alex Soto and Tyler Zehr, and tackles for a loss from Robert Brett (pass break-up), Robbie Hinson, Travis Kline (pass break-up) and Kyle Morelli.
Did someone mention playoffs?
By Don Seeley
The official District 1 postseason playoff points standings aren’t officially compiled and released on a weekly basis until the first week of October… or after five weekends of football.
Can’t get too excited over those things until then, right? We sure can … but keep in mind they’re definitely unofficial. Not surprisingly, Pioneer Athletic Conference contenders Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove are the area’s top teams on the respective Class AAAA and AAA charts thus far. In AAAA, Spring-Ford is at No. 7, trailing – from the sixth up to first spot – Kennett, Ridley and C.B. South (tied for fourth), Rustin and Downingtown East (tied for second), and No. 1 Garnet Valley. Just outside the Top 16, which is the number of teams in the big-school bracket, is Perkiomen Valley (tied for 19th).
Mercury Capsule - By Don Seeley
UPPER PERKIOMEN AT SPRING-FORD Records: Upper Perkiomen is 0-2 (0-3) after a 57-6 loss to Pottsgrove; Spring-Ford is 1-0 (3-0) following a 51-36 win over Pope John Paul II. Inside the Lines: Upper Perkiomen is moving the ball (averaging over 210 yards a game), but not getting a lot of time to do it because of a generous defense that has allowed an average of 505 yards and 51.3 points a game. Aidan Schaffer has run for 245 yards and two scores, while quarterback Dylan Wesley has thrown for 257 and four scores — nine of his tosses and three of his touchdowns being pulled in by Robbie Hinson. Quinn Perlstein has been productive since returning from an early injury. ... All eyes will be on Spring-Ford’s offense and how it performs without all-league running back Jarred Jones (out 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist). Run game will likely by led by Yousef Lundi and Tate Carter, while Hank Coyne (38 of 64, 434 yards, 4 TDs) is capable of handling increased passing responsibilities. Defense has gotten a boost of late from Mason Romano, Ian Hare and Kyle Hoffner. Notes: Spring-Ford leads the PAC-10 series, 16-10, and the overall series, 17-11. … Carter has 33 touches (carries and receptions) for 285 yards and five touchdowns. ... Jones had run for 346 yards and six touchdowns in two games for the Rams. ... Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker: “We are fortunate to have depth at the running back position, but (Jones’ injury) leaves us without a fullback who has experience because of moving Lundi exclusively to tailback. The loss of (Jones) will not affect what we’re trying to do offensively. We have a lot of confidence in Lundi and the rest of our team.”
Upper Perkiomen was no match for Pottsgrove, falling 56-7 … Spring-Ford opened the league portion of its schedule with a 56-31 win over Pope John Paul II
Spring-Ford rolled to a 52-7 victory
Upper Perkiomen scouting report
Not much has gone right for Steve Moyer in his return to the Upper Perk sidelines. The inexperienced Indians are allowing 421 ypg while picking up just 294. Top guns for UP, which has a deceiving plus-3 turnover ratio in the early going, are running back Aidan Schaffer (41-245, 2 TDs), quarterback Dylan Wesley (21-52, 237, 4 TDs against just one pick) and WR Robbie Hinson (9-133, 3 TDs). Dan Heinrichs is averaging 9.0 tackles to lead the Tribe defense.
Spring-Ford scouting report
The defending PAC-10 champions are dealing with some injury issues, most notably running back Jarred Jones. Jones is expected to miss 4-8 weeks with an undisclosed injury, so the chore of moving the chains will full squarely on the shoulders of Yousef Lundi (24-255, 4 TDs) and Tate Carter (23-148, 3 TDs). Senior QB Hank Coyne has been solid, hitting 38-64 passing attempts for 434 yards and 4 TDs without a pick. Carter has been the Rams’ top receiver with 10 catches for 137 yards and 2 TDs. Offensively, Spring-Ford is averaging 42 ppg and 402.7 ypg while allowing just 17 ppg and 251.7 ypg. Top defensive players so far are Mason Romano (2 sacks) and Travis Daywalt with 5 tackles per game apiece.
Steve Moyer, Upper Perkiomen: “The front part of our schedule has been really tough with Boyertown, Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford. We are young but the kids are gaining experience. We are looking for improvement every week.”
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “ Going into Game 4, we haven’t put together all 3 phases of the game. Last week we were good offensively and on special teams, but not as focused defensively. We need to work to put all 3 together as we reach the heart of our league schedule.
“We are a little dinged up with Jarred out for 1-2 months. Other players have some nagging injuries. Our players cannot look at Upper Perk’s record and just assume we will be successful by walking onto the field.”
Coyne Surpasses 4,000 Career Passing Yards
Spring-Ford’s Hank Coyne surpassed the 4,000-yard plateau this past weekend, giving him 4,105 yards and 41 touchdowns. Coyne is the second career 4,000-yard passer for the Rams and finds himself a mere 613 yards shy of Trevor Sasek’s program record of 4,718 career pass yards.
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Injuries sideline two area standouts
Don Seeley - The Mercury
Calling last weekend one of the wildest ever in the Pioneer Athletic Conference would be an understatement. Fortunately, none of the scoreboard lights blew out during or after the five games, which saw the teams combine for 340 points – far and above any previous weekend total in the league’s history. Unfortunately, Spring-Ford junior Jarred Jones – one of the running backs who contributed to the record-breaking offensive – went down with an injury that may restrict him to the defending champions’ sidelines for the next six to eight weeks. And if that isn’t bad enough news, over at The Hill School, head coach Gray Simpson may have to go the rest of the season without two-way starter Adam Regensburg – unquestionably as strong a candidate as anyone in the area for The Mercury’s Player of the Year honor. “You never like to hear about (the injuries),” said one coach – neither the Rams’ Chad Brubaker nor Simpson – who spoke off the record. “But (injuries) are part of the game. You deal with them, hope the rest of your team steps up, and move on.” For the Rams, it means their offensive line of Andy Cutler, Tyler German, Mike Gilmore, Justin Meals, Montana O’Daniel and R.J. Sheldon must step it up, and step it up immediately. It means running backs Yousef Lundi and Tate Carter, possibly even sophomore Mike Fuhrmeister, must step it up. And it means quarterback Hank Coyne, perhaps as poised as anyone in the Spring-Ford lineup, may have throw it up a little more than he’s accustomed to in hopes of keeping opponents honest on the defensive side of the ball. But no matter how the linemen or their teammates behind them do, the Rams’ offense will be a little less formidable without the explosive Jones. A year ago, Jones ran for 1,520 yards and 17 touchdowns to help the Rams make an unbeaten run through the PAC-10, earn a postseason playoff berth for the first time in the history of their program, and produce a school-record 448 points. And even though he sat out the second game this season with an ailing shoulder, Jones was averaging over 10 yards a carry (342 yards overall) with six touchdowns. He got 154 of those yards and half of those touchdowns in the first half of Saturday’s 56-31 win at Pope John Paul II, then took a seat for the rest of the day after a 29-yard run with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Lundi is likely to get the added workload. A senior with an inch and about 10 pounds on Jones, is also averaging over 10 yards a pop (23 carries for 255 yards) and has found the end zone four times. Carter is just as valuable carrying the ball as he is catching it. The 5-foot-7 junior has run the wildcat offense and scored three times, and caught two touchdown passes. And, given the time to throw, Coyne is as proficient a passer as anyone in the PAC-10. It’s ironic that Brubaker’s postgame comments Saturday seem more appropriate for this week’s preparations for visiting Upper Perkiomen. “We have to find it in ourselves to ignore all the distractions and just go out and play,” he said.
Spring-Ford nears statistical milestone
Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker can guide the Rams program to above .500 with a win Friday against Upper Perkiomen. (Mercury file photo)
Don Seeley - The Mercury
ROYERSFORD — When Royersford and Spring City high schools’ Thanksgiving Day rivalry ended in 1954, the football feud didn’t.
Even the late Norm Reichenbach, who guided the Spring City program for a couple of seasons prior to the merger that formed Spring-Ford and was named the Rams’ first coach, couldn’t believe how competitive his new team was … and that was throughout the first couple weeks of practice, against one another.
“It was still Royersford against Spring City for a lot of the guys,” Reichenbach recalled during an interview back in 1979. “It took a little while for some of them to realize they were now on the same team.”
The Eagles and Pirates had won a lot of games, combined to win 15 league titles. So fans from both sides of the Schuylkill envisioned even more success when they first teamed up together in 1955.
It didn’t happen, not at first.
The Rams strung together four winning seasons, and two of them (1959 and 1962) looked like championship runs before late-season losses cost them Ches-Mont League titles.
It wasn’t until 1969, when third-year coach Merle Bainbridge guided the Rams to the first of three Ches-Mont championships.
And even though the Spring-Ford program would move into the Pioneer Athletic Conference in 1986, win six outright titles and share another, it wasn’t until last week — for the first time in over a decade — the program got back to even.
Last Saturday afternoon’s romp at Pope John Paul II put the Rams’ overall won-loss record at 305-305-22 three weeks into the school’s 58th season.
So a win this Friday against visiting Upper Perkiomen would put Spring-Ford over the .500 mark going into next week’s showdown with Pottsgrove.
Spring-Ford tops Pope John Paul II in shootout
Don Seeley - The Mercury
UPPER PROVIDENCE — One would think a coach would be happy to open his league season with a win, a 25-point win no less, and his third straight without a loss.
Spring-Ford’s Chad Brubaker wasn’t the least bit pleased with Saturday afternoon’s 56-31 victory at Pope John Paul II. The execution, both offensively and defensive, wasn’t exactly fluid or consistent. The focus was, well, out of focus, as 11 penalties — a few of the unnecessary sort — surely attested to. So even though the Rams had the tandem of Jarred Jones (184 yards) and Yousef Lundi (135) account for most of the 339 yards running the ball (as well as all four touchdowns), and even though quarterback Hank Coyne added another 187 yards and three scores throwing the ball, a 526-yard offensive wasn’t enough to pacify their third-year coach. “I can’t come out of this game feeling great,” Brubaker said. “I’ll take the win, but we still haven’t put four quarters together and I don’t know why. “Maybe we think we’re good, but were certainly not good yet. We have the potential, but potential doesn’t win games, performance does. We had a lot of work to do.” Spring-Ford actually scored on each of its five first-half possessions — Coyne’s back-to-back 31- and 11-yard tosses to Tate Carter and Jones’ three runs covering 57, 54 and 10 yards. But in between all that were a pair of James Bleming touchdown passes, 63 yards to Chris Veisbergs and six yards to Jamel Stinson. And when PJP kicker Kirk Cherneskie boomed a 32-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, the Rams owned a 35-17 ... nowhere near, or much, much closer, than most expected between the unbeaten defending Pioneer Athletic Conference champions and winless hosts. It sure got a little interesting when the Bleming skirted the right side from 11 yards out to cap the Golden Panthers’ first possession of the second half to make it 35-24, even moreso when PJP’s defense put the breaks to all three of Spring-Ford’s possessions. “We get up (on teams) and then relax for some reason,” Brubaker said. “That’s been our M.O. We have to find a way to get out of it. But, hey, give (PJP) some credit. Those kids played hard, and they performed.” For the most part, the Golden Panthers did. Although the non-existent run game took a hit when Nick Diprinzio left on the final play of the opening quarter after injuring his knee, Pope John Paul’s front showed noticeable improvement. Backup Nick Howarth ran for 58 yards, and Bleming — though sacked five times — had enough time to put up 40 passes, completing 18 of them for 258 yards and his team’s other three touchdowns. “After three quarters it was still a football game, a legitimate football game,” said PJP head coach Mike Santillo. But three quarters a game doesn’t make. The Rams need just two snaps for Lundi to streak 71 and 45 yards for his two scores that made it 49-24 with 10:26 left. They only needed two snaps on their ensuing possession for Coyne to flip 14 yards to Gary Hopkins that — combined with Ben Schein’s eighth straight placement — definitely put it out of reach at 56-24 wth 7;36 remaining. “The big plays hurt us,” said Santillo, who got his final score on Bleming’s 77-yarder to Veisbergs (three receptions, 148 yards, two touchdowns). “We just don’t have the guys that size (of Spring-Ford), or the guys with that kind of strength (of Spring-Ford). “But we do have the biggest hearts. Our kids didn’t quit. They played hard. It’s just Spring-Ford is a good football team.” Perhaps.
But Brubaker won’t necessarily agree ... not quite yet. “Somehow we have to find it in ourselves to ignore the distractions,” Brubaker said. NOTES
Schein, who has taken over the kicking duties, boomed a pair of kickoffs into the end zone and dropped four others inside the 10-yard line. He also came up with big plays on defense and caught a 13-yard pass from Coyne on offense. ... The Rams got 1.5 sacks from Mason Romano and Ian Hare, and one from both Kyle Hoffner and Zameer McDowell (who shared a pair with Romano and Hare). ... Both Coyne and Bleming spread their completions among seven receivers each. ... PJP actually had possessino of the ball for 20 more plays (72-52) than its guests.
Spring-Ford overcomes feisty Pope John Paul II
By DAVE KURTZ
UPPER PROVIDENCE – Chad Brubaker strives for perfection.
The detail-oriented Spring-Ford football coach has high expectations for his defending PAC-10 champions, and anything less than precise execution and crisp play is cause for concern.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Brubaker said Saturday after the Rams overpowered Pope John Paul II 56-31 in their league opener. “I think we have the potential to be a very good football team. But potential doesn’t win football games – performance does.”
Spring-Ford had its share of solid performances while improving to 3-0 overall on the young season.
The ground attack was certainly there – piling up 338 yards and five scores behind big-play threats Jarred Jones (14-183, 3 TDs) and Yousef Lundi (6-135, 2 TDs). Hank Coyne did a solid job behind center – guiding a balanced offense that produced 525 yards and throwing for 187 yards and three more scores.
Spring-Ford’s defense had its moments, too, picking up 5 sacks and limiting the improved PJP running attack to 81 yards. Despite getting constant pressure on PJP quarterback James Bleming, the Rams’ secondary was torched for 254 yards through the air and a pair of Bleming to Chris Veisbergs touchdown passes that covered 63 and 77 yards.
The Rams had a 35-17 lead at the break, but allowed the Golden Panthers to hang around. PJP got as close as 35-24 when Bleming found the end zone on an 11-yard scramble with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.
“We need to find it in ourselves to ignore all the distractions and just go out and play,” said Brubaker. “We get up a couple of scores and then we tend to relax. That seems to be our MO.”
The Rams’ MO over the last two seasons has also been the ability to respond to a challenge. Lundi turned closer with touchdown runs of 71 and 45 yards on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter to make it 49-24. Coyne later hit Gary Hopkins with a 14-yard TD pass to blow things open with 7:46 left.
“Hank Coyne played pretty well,” said Brubaker of his senior quarterback, who got the party started by tossing TD passes of 31 and 11 yards to Tate Carter for a 14-0 lead. “The running game was pretty good.”
Spring-Ford’s offensive line of Justin Meals, Mike Gilmore, Montana O’Daneill, Tyler German, Andy Cutler and tight end R.J. Sheldon created running lanes for Lundi and Jones and did a good job in pass protection. Jones, who is still nursing a shoulder injury that kept him out of last Friday's win over Daniel Boone, did most of his work in the first half, scoring on runs of 57, 54 and 10.
PJP also had a measure of a running game, something that was missing in its previous two outings.
“We were able to run it a little bit against a big football team, and overall we were more balanced,” said PJP coach Mike Santillo, whose club slipped to 0-2 in the league and 0-3 overall. “For three quarters we were in the football game.
“One of the problems is, we’re just not physical enough. We don’t have guys with the kind of size and strength that Spring-Ford has. We’re the smallest school in the league, but we feel like we have the biggest heart.”
NOTES: The Rams’ got 1½ sacks apiece from Mason Romano and Ian Hare, and one each from R.J. Sheldon and Kyle Hoffner … PJP lost two-way back Nick DiPrinzio to an undisclosed knee injury in the second quarter. Offensive lineman Jake Kopchuk joined DiPrinzio on the sidelines later in the period with a lower leg injury. Neither player returned, with DiPrinzio exiting the premises to learn the extent of the damage … The Golden Panthers’ Jamel Stinson caught 6 passes for 43 yards, including a tremendous grab on a six-yard out pattern for a touchdown in the second quarter … Ben Schein was a perfect 8-8 on extra points for Spring-Ford, while PJP kicker and two-way lineman Kirk Cherneskie hit a 32-yard field goal and was 2 of 3 on conversion attempts.
SPRING-FORD AT POPE JOHN PAUL II
Last Week: Spring-Ford (0-0, 2-0) shut out Daniel Boone, 39-0; Pope John Paul II (0-1, 0-2) fell to Pottsgrove, 53-14.
Inside the lines: Spring-Ford showed plenty of offense (374 yards) in opener, then plenty of defense last week (limiting Daniel Boone to 101 yards with Kyle Hoffner’s fumble and Andy Lovre-Smith’s interception returns for touchdowns). Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon contributed sacks, too. Injured running back Jarred Jones is still questionable, but Tate Carter (108 yards, 2 TDs) and Yousef Lundi (87 yard, 2 TDs) were proven backups last week. Quarterback Hank Coyne is 25 of 42 for 247 yards thus far. …Pope John Paul II needs to find a run game to help ease the pressure on quarterback James Bleming, who has accounted for all but 46 yards of the offense by completing 32 of 68 attempts for 524 yards and all five of the team’s touchdowns. Two-way starter Josh Bildstein is having another productive season on the front lines. Receivers Jamel Stinson, Tim Tadros and Eric Veisbergs will challenge the Rams’ secondary if Bleming has time to throw.
Notes: Spring-Ford leads the PAC-10 and overall series, 2-0. … Carter played six positions last week on offense, defense and special teams, and Jack Haney had a strong game on kickoff coverages. … Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker: “We need to continue to develop our consistency on offense, especially mentally. We also made positive strides defensively, flying around more and putting pressure on the quarterback.” … PJP head coach Mike Santillo: “I don’t sense any frustration with the kids. We all know we’re in a tough stretch in our schedule, but we’re continuing to work hard and giving a maximum effort on every play. We’re a young team looking to get better each week.”
—Compiled by DON SEELEY
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Spring-Ford (0-0, 2-0) at Pope John Paul II (0-1, 0-2)
Saturday, 1 p.m.
► Last week
Spring-Ford, the defending PAC-10 champions, notched its second straight nonleague victory with a 39-0 shutout of Daniel Boone … PJP had no answer for Pottsgrove in the league opener for both schools, falling 53-14
► Last season
Spring-Ford posted a 33-21 decision
► Spring-Ford scouting report
The Rams are averaging 35 ppg with a balanced attack that produces 341.5 ypg (218 rushing, 123.5 passing). Individually, Spring-Ford’s top performers are running back Jarred Jones (20-158, 3 TDs), quarterback Hank Coyne (25-42, 247, TD) and receiver Gary Hopkins (9-97). Jones missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury and remains questionable for the Rams’ PAC-10 opener. Defensively, Spring-Ford is allowing just 210 ypg and 10.0 ppg. The Rams got a pair of defensive TDs last week from Kyle Hoffner and Andy Lovre-Smith and limited the Blazers to 101 total yards.
► Pope John Paul II scouting report
The good news - the Golden Panthers have a clean bill of health. The bad news – PJP struggles to sustain up any semblance of a running attack. The one-dimensional offense, led by quarterback James Bleming (32-64, 524, 5 TDs) has averaged a league-best 274.7 ypg through the air. But an unproductive running attack is dead last in the circuit with a 23.5 ypg average. Bleming has moved the ball around to a deep stable of talented receivers including Tim Tadros (8-165, TD), Jamel Stinson (12-149, TD) and Chris Veisbergs (5-125, 3 TDs). PJP is a minus-4 in the turnover department, and must do a better job of taking care of the football. Defensively, the Golden Panthers are allowing 46.5 ppg and 369.5 ypg.
Mike Santillo, PJP: “We moved the ball effectively on Friday night. We had a couple of key turnovers and played poorly on special teams. We need to do a better job of tackling and taking care of the football. Spring-Ford is good in all three facets of the game (offense, defense and special teams). Their overall team size, depth and speed are also large concerns.”
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “Offensively, we need to continue to develop our consistency, especially mentally. We were a block away from numerous big plays on Friday night … we have to make them. I was really pleased with special teams (other than extra points), especially our kickoff coverage. Special teams really set the tone for us in the 2nd half with a big punt return by (Tate) Carter with two big blocks. We made positive strides defensively. We flew around more and put pressure on the quarterback. We need to continue to take steps each week to get where we would like to go. We are looking forward to Saturday. We’ll find out a lot about our secondary.
“Pope John Paul throws the ball all over the yard, so if our secondary is not focused, there will be breakdowns. We are going to have to rotate guys in on the defensive line to keep them fresh in our pass rush. We need to put 4 quarters together and be ready from the start of the game.”
S-F on the Big Ticket
Spring-Ford gets Defensive in Win Over Daniel Boone
By Darryl Grumling
Posted: 09/08/12 12:01 am
Updated: 09/08/12 12:02 pm
Photo by Darryl Grumling Spring-Ford’s Gary Hopkins dives for extra yardage while being dragged down by Daniel Boone’s Darius Hinton and Pop Lacey.
BIRDSBORO — A super defensive effort helped Daniel Boone hang tough with Spring-Ford into the second half of Friday night’s non-leaguer at Brazinsky Field.
But it was defensive performance that bordered on the supernatural that enabled the Rams to turn a grind-it-out battle into a 39-0 victory.
The Spring-Ford ‘D’ haunted the Blazers throughout the second half as the Rams improved to 2-0.
There was senior defensive end Zameer McDowell, making like Jason Vorhees at Camp Crystal Lake with a game-changing, crunching hit on Boone quarterback J.D. Okuniewski.
There was junior defensive end Mason Romano, tormenting the Blazers like Freddy Krueger did to the kids on Elm Street.
“We knew we had to put the game on our backs,” the 6-foot, 210-pound Romano said. “It was everyone’s effort; not one single guy. Everybody got fired up, that’s what happened. Everyone was playing hard.”And there was the duo of Andy Lovre-Smith and Kyle Hoffner, who were as active as Michael Myers on Halloween — each contributing a defensive score.
Spring-Ford got a 1-yard Wildcat touchdown run by Tate Carter — subbing for feature back Jarred Jones, who missed the game with a collarbone injury — with 5:28 left in the first quarter, and a 3-yard TD run by Yousef Lundi 1:53 before halftime to take a 12-0 lead to the locker room.
Then, on a second-and-7 play on Boone’s first possession of the second half, the 6-5, 220-pound McDowell came charging free from the blindside to unload on the 6-foot, 175-pound Okuniewski — forcing a fumble that Romano recovered at the Blazers’ 16.
Though the Rams didn’t score (fumbling in the end zone for a touchback) and the tough-as-nails Okuniewski returned a few plays later, momentum had swung to the Spring-Ford side for good.
“They’re big, athletic and the defending PAC-10 champs,” first-year Blazers coach Bill Parks said of the Rams. “They’re a great team. They’re very organized and they play hard. They hit a lot harder than they did last year, and they had a great team last year.”
After Spring-Ford forced a three-and-out after the touchback fumble and Carter returned the ensuing punt to the Boone 35, Rams coach Chad Brubaker went to the ground with Carter gaining all of the yards on a six-play drive capped by his 9-yard run that made it 18-0 with 4:12 left in the third.
Carter, 5-7, 170-pound junior, ran for a game-high 108 yards and two TDs.
“Our main player (Jones) wasn’t there, and I just went out there and did what I had to to,” Carter said. “I knew it would be a little of a struggle, but I just tried to put my head down, protect the ball and run hard.”
Lundi (12 carries, 87 yards) scored on a 3-yard run on the final play of the third quarter to make it 25-0, then the defense kicked things into overdrive.
First, Lovre-Smith took an interception back 25 yards for a score three plays into the final period, then Hoffner picked up a fumble and returned it 53 yards for a TD for the final margin with 8:38 left in the game.
Brubaker was just as pleased with his squad’s effort on special teams, something he felt set the tone for the defensive frenzy.
“We did a much better job in the second half,” he said. “We had a couple of big plays on kickoff returns where we held them deep inside (their territory) and we had guys flying around. The same thing happened on punt returns with a couple big blocks. Our special teams gave us the momentum going into our defensive series, and we fed off those kinds of things.”
Senior linebacker Ian Hare and senior defensive back Ben Schein were each credited with a team-high five tackles for the Rams, who held the Blazers to 101 total yards."
Our defensive front is our strength,” Brubaker said. “We’re inexperienced in our secondary, but we’re going to get better. Most of our returning players are on the defensive front.”
Senior quarterback Hank Coyne went 12-for-21 for 98 yards, with Gary Hopkins collecting a team-high five catches for 31 yards.
Boone’s tandem of Steve Seivers and Okuniewski was harassed into a combined 4-for-17 night. Sievers rushed for a team-best 30 yards for the Blazers, who got a team-best 9.5 tackles from Pop Lacey and 6.5 more from Ryan Bologa.
“I think we missed opportunities early,” Parks said. “Momentum gives you energy and we lost the momentum and had to use even more energy to get it back.
“We need to improve on everything we do. We need to condition better. We have to get better on what we’re doing, and we’re going back to the fundamentals.”
Jones Named PAC-10sports.com Player of the Week
ROYERSFORD – Like fine wine, Jarred Jones seems to be getting better with age.
The Spring-Ford speedy running back, coming off a sophomore season in which he earned first team All-PAC-10 honors and compiled 1,457 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing, picked up right where he left off when the Rams opened their season last Friday with a 31-20 nonleague conquest of powerful Whitehall.
Jones racked up three touchdowns and 158 rushing yards on 20 carries to for the defending PAC-10 champions, who rallied from a 20-13 deficit with 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
“Jared is a special athlete,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “We are working with three new linemen and two returning offensive linemen have moved positions. We knew there would be some growing pains. What Jarred provides is an ability to cover up some of those growing pains with his quickness and explosiveness.”
What Jones also provides is the ability to finish off drives, showing a special knack for finding the end zone. Jones’ three touchdown runs covered 4, 21 and 3 yards – with his 3-yard burst putting the contest out of reach for Whitehall. For his efforts, Jones is the pac-10sports.com Offensive Player of the Week.
“Jarred has the ability to make people miss and to take on would-be tacklers,” Brubaker said. “He has the ability to run away from people in the secondary.”
Jones is the final piece in a balanced offense that includes strong-armed quarterback Hank Coyne, a deep set of skill position players and an offensive line that is taking large strides to becoming a cohesive, productive unit.
“In the second half (against Whitehall), we got away from our zone series and started running right at them,” said Brubaker. “This gave our offensive line an opportunity to come off the ball and gave them better angles. Yousef Lundi did a nice job as a lead blocker.“
And Jones flourished, despite getting dinged up toward the latter stages of the second half. In addition to all the high-ceiling skills, Jones also proved to be equipped with a high degree of toughness.
“Jarred played most of the fourth quarter with a tweaked shoulder after injuring it on the last play of the third quarter,” said Brubaker.
It would apparently take more than a few aches and pains to prevent Jones from accomplishing his mission – getting Spring-Ford off and running in 2012.
Spring-Ford (0-0, 1-0) at Daniel Boone (0-0, 0-1)
► Last week
Spring-Ford ran off 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter en route to a 31-20 victory over highly-touted Whitehall … Daniel Boone was hammered 40-7 by Cocalico in Coach Bill Parks debut
► Last season
The Blazers pulled out a 20-14 overtime decision
► Spring-Ford scouting report
The defending PAC-10 champion Rams have a bit of inexperience on the offensive line, but some serious breakaway potential keyed by pac-10sports.com’s Offensive Player of the Week Jarred Jones. Jones rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns as Spring-Ford utilized a balanced attack that rang up 374 yards of total offense (225 rushing, 149 passing). Senior quarterback Hank Coyne was efficient in the passing game, hitting 13 of 21 attempts for 149 yards and one TD without an interception. Gary Hopkins (4-66) and Tate Carter (4-38) combined for 8 catches, 104 yards and the touchdown. Defensively, Spring-Ford allowed 319 total yards (188 rushing). There were no injury updates provided by Spring-Ford.
► Daniel Boone scouting report
Coming off a 2011 campaign that produced a 10-2 record and a trip to the second round of the District 3-Class AAAA playoffs, the Blazers showed what a difference a year can make. Boone managed just 179 yards of total offense while giving up 354, and were held scoreless until the fourth quarter when Steve Sievers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tom Pufnock. Sievers and Emmanuel Lacey combined for 65 rushing yards on 6 carries in the setback.
Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford: “ We made a lot of correctable mistakes on Friday versus Whitehall. It was a big win for our program, but it only counts as one win. We need to challenge ourselves each week to get better and to correct the mistakes we made in previous games. Daniel Boone beat us in overtime in Week 2 last year. It was an important game for us because we needed those points for playoff (seeding). Our kids are highly motivated to avenge the loss from last year.
“Boone kids are tough and play hard no matter what the score may be. They run around and they hit. We are also playing on their home turf so that adds a dimension to their motivation.”
SPRING-FORD AT DANIEL BOONE CAPSULE
Last week: Spring-Ford won 31-20 over Whitehall; Daniel Boone fell 40-7 to Cocalico.
Inside the lines: Spring-Ford showed considerable poise in its comeback win over Whitehall, and while quarterback Hank Coyne (13 of 21, 149 yards, 1 TD) and running back Jarred Jones (158 yards, 3 TDs) were the headliners, they got a lot of help up front – especially from senior offensive linemen Justin Meals and Michael Gilmore. Zameer McDowell showed his ability to make the big play, pulling down the go-ahead touchdown toss in between two Whitehall defenders. … Daniel Boone got a very strong game from center-nose guard Rhett Glaser, and hopes to get a shot of confidence with the return of wideout-safety Austin Monteiro. Run game, spread out among seven ballcarriers, produced just 115 yards. J.D. Okuniewski looks to improve on a 3-for-10 debut without tight ends Pat Stone and Dan Downs (both out with injuries).
Notes: Daniel Boone leads the series, 1-0, after last year’s 20-14 overtime win at Spring-Ford. … Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker: “Last week’s win was huge for our program, but we need to execute better. We had extra-point kicks blocked, and our kickoff and punt return teams need to do a better job. Defensively we have to be more physical and fly around more to get to the ball.” … Blazers only had the ball for 34 plays last week, while Cocalico had it for 52. … Daniel Boone head coach Bill Parks: “Our big concern this week is tackling Jones and defending Spring-Ford’s receivers.”
Pottstown Mercury Names Spring-Ford Staff of the Week
Spring-Ford’s Chad Brubaker is The Mercury’s Coach of the Week.
Brubaker led the Rams to 18 unanswered fourth-quarter points in a come-from-behind 30-21 win over District 11’s Whitehall.
“This was a big win for us,” Brubaker said. “I’m very proud of the fact the kids didn’t quit and came back to win it. But this wasn’t the Super Bowl. It was just one game, a game we expected to win. We have to get ready for next week now.”
Rams Highlights on the Big Ticket
Whitehall falls 31-20 to Spring-Ford in football opener
Rams score the game's final 18 points to claim victory.
Whitehall's QB Nick Shafnisky (9) (left) looks for room to run past Spring-Ford's Jared Shoemaker (29) (right) during the second quarter at Coach McNelly Stadium Friday night. (KEVIN MINGORA, THE MORNING CALL / August 30, 2012)
ROYERSFORD, Montgomery County — As players on both sides of the field began to drop with cramps in the second half, Whitehall's momentum seeped away.
The breaks for player injuries were all that stopped Spring-Ford in the fourth quarter.
The Rams turned all three of their fourth-quarter possessions into touchdowns, scoring the game's final 18 points. The late flurry gave them a 31-20 win in the non-league football opener for both teams.
On a hot night at Spring-Ford, Whitehall headed north feeling steamed. The Zephyrs appeared in control in the third quarter, with James Wah's 9-yard touchdown run capping a long scoring drive that put them ahead 20-13. A series of Whitehall miscues the rest of the way helped Spring-Ford grab a victory in one of the marquee opening-night matchups involving a Lehigh Valley Conference team.
"The third quarter, we were moving fast," Whitehall coach Brian Gilbert said. "I thought we had the third quarter. They were bending over; they were tired in the third quarter. We had the momentum there. Then once the fourth quarter and all the cramping hit, I think it changed the momentum. I don't know if it gave them a chance to rest or what the case is.
"The cramping on both sides I would say was even, but for some reason it ended up helping them out."
Spring-Ford junior tailback Jarred Jones gave the Zephyrs trouble as expected, running 20 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns. His 38-yard gallop on the final play of the third quarter forced him to leave the game for a few minutes but also put the Rams in goal-to-go position.
Tate Carter capitalized two plays later with a 5-yard touchdown run that pulled Spring-Ford within a point, but Ryan Bonshak kept Whitehall ahead by stuffing Carter on his two-point run attempt.
Whitehall drove into Spring-Ford territory on its next possession but had its drive stall at the 34-yard line when quarterback Nick Shafnisky, one of the players plagued with cramps in the second half, threw incomplete twice. He finished 4-for-11 for 62 yards passing and ran eight times for 81 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown burst in the second quarter. Shafnisky did not play on Whitehall's final two offensive series.
Spring-Ford followed its defensive stop by marching 66 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. It came when Zameer McDowell outmuscled two Whitehall defenders in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown pass from Hank Coyne (13-for-18, 157 yards). The referees conferred for a few moments before deciding that McDowell had wound up with possession of the ball, leaving Spring-Ford with a 25-20 lead with 4:13 to play.
"Once they scored and took the lead, I feel like our momentum went down," Shafnisky said. "We can't have that. It [stinks]."
Whitehall managed one first down on its next possession with backup Jeffrey Charles (80 yards) guiding the offense but turned the ball over on downs at its own 31-yard line. Spring-Ford put the game away with four straight running plays that ended with Jones in the end zone after a 4-yard run.
Despite the result, Gilbert liked a lot of what he saw from the Zephyrs. Wah ran 17 times for 83 yards and two touchdowns to lead a ground attack that produced 204 yards. Zack Delp produced four sacks, and Nick Sommer caught 7 passes for 120 yards.
The mistakes — a holding call that wiped out a 45-yard pass play to the 1-yard line and a questionable pass interference call that preceded Spring-Ford's first touchdown among them — stuck out more.
"I was happy with the way we ran the ball," Gilbert said. "I was happy with the way we threw the ball. We tackled well at times. Their running back is really good. Their offense is really good, but I thought we played really good defense at times. We were just too inconsistent."
Spring-Ford Charges Past Whitehall
ROYERSFORD — Chad Brubaker’s two big concerns through Spring-Ford’s summer camp and scrimmages were his receivers and secondary.
One game isn’t enough to convince the Rams’ third-year coach that’s all well, but Brubaker sure looked a bit less restless after Friday night’s come-from-behind 31-20 win over visiting Whitehall.
And for good reason.
Six different receivers, half of whom didn’t even get their fingers on the football a year ago, pulled in nearly everything thrown at them from veteran quarterback Hank Coyne. The biggest catch, and the last one of the evening, was the most impressive — Zameer McDowell grabbing an 18-yard toss in between two defenders for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:13 remaining.
The secondary, featuring corners Jared Shoemaker and Joe Bush and safeties Matt Daywalt and Ben Schein — none of whom were in those spots with any regularity a year ago — were aggressive coming up to stop the run and were disciplined in their coverage except for the waning moments when in prevent mode. And the biggest play from them came from the smallest of the foursome, the 5-foot-9, 150-pound Schein, who batted away a Whitehall pass to end the Zephyrs’ comeback hopes with 1:47 remaining.
Jarred Jones then put it well out of the guests’ reach when he ran three yards with just 1:10 left to click off the clock for the final TD.
“We feel we have the talent there (in the two areas),” Brubaker said. “But we have to get them in there, and get some experience in the meantime in order to move forward. “I thought our receivers did a good job, and it’s always good to spread it around. We had our top two tight ends go down with leg cramps, but we have a lot of players who can contribute.
“Our secondary made a couple of blunders, we got away with most of them. But we feel pretty good. The effort was there, and if the effort is there and the mistakes are correctable you have to be excited in moving forward.”
Coyne finished 13-for-20 for 149 yards, most coming in the first half. He went to Gary Hopkins and Nate Carter four times each, and Joe Sink pulled in a pair. Carter also ran the wildcat offense well for 38 additional yards. Yousef Lundi chipped in with 33 more in support of Jones’ 158 yards and three touchdowns.
Overall, the Rams amassed 374 yards, a number that could’ve been substantially more if not for Whitehall’s Zachary Delp — the team’s leading tackler of a year ago — who had four of the Zephyrs’ five sacks of Coyne.
But what Brubaker, his staff and the Rams had to be pleased with was the comeback, from a 14-13 different at halftime and from a 20-13 margin going into the fourth and final quarter.
“We just had to keep fighting,” said McDowell, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior. “We wanted to show we can play with anyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what district you’re from, you have to come to play. We didn’t give up.”
“Just because you’re inexperienced doesn’t mean you can’t keep working hard and come back,” added Schein, who had a fumble recovery. “We’ve kept our focus all along. We came into this game expecting to win. We never expect to lose.”
Whitehall, ranked No. 2 in District 11-AAAA and also mentioned in several statewide polls, needed just five plays to get on the board. Quarterback Nicholas Shafnisky (4-for-11, 63 yards) found Nicholas Sommer on a 40-yard bomb to set up James Wah’s two-yard run just 1:38 into the game. Spring-Ford would tie it on its second possession when Jones skirted the left side from four yards out.
Spring-Ford then took a 13-7 when Jones went up the middle and cut to the outside for a 21-yard score five snaps into the second quarter. It took Whitehall one play after the ensuing kickoff to go in front when Shafnisky ran 50 yards and Tyler George added the point-after.
Whitehall upped its lead to 20-13 when Wah ran nine yards at the 7:11 mark of the third quarter, but that was pretty much the extent of the Zephyrs’ offense.
But not the Rams.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, Carter got in from the five to get the Rams within one at 20-19. After holding Whitehall, Coyne’s toss to McDowell capped an 11-play drive — apparently stalled twice by motion and holding penalties — and gave them the lead. Then Jones, who looked to have been done for the night seconds before the final quarter, did his thing to clinch it.
“We always emphasize playing that fourth quarter,” Brubaker said. “We emphasize that when we condition, that you have to go as hard in the fourth quarter as you do in the first quarter.”
“It was important to win this game so we can prepare for our next one and keep it going,” McDowell said. “We want to keep going in the right direction.”
Kathleen and Brian Clarke Sr., the parents of Brian “Deuce” Clarke, who while riding his bicycle was accidentally struck by an automobile and later died in July, served as Spring-Ford’s honorary captains for the game. The Clarkes, along with their other son, were presented a game ball signed by the coaching staff and a framed image of their son’s shield that the Rams, who signed it, will be wearing on their helmets this season. Brian Sr. handled the coin toss at midfield, where four doves were released, representing each member of the Clarke family. Schein: “We wanted to let everyone know we played this game for (Clarke). We’re proud to have won this (game) for him tonight.” ... There was also a moment of silence for another Spring-Ford student, Austin Purdue, who was killed in an automobile accident in August.
Follow Don Seeley on Twitter @DonSeeley1
LVC Game of the Week - Whitehall vs. Spring-Ford
No Position has changed as much as QB
By Don Seeley
Hank Coyne doesn’t mind passing the football.
Tory Hudgins doesn’t mind running with it.
And Brandon Bossard doesn’t mind doing a little of both with it.
There was a time, and not too awfully long ago, when Coyne, Hudgins and Bossard — any high school quarterback, for that matter — would’ve gotten the next play from the sideline and knew exactly what they’d be doing before they situated themselves under the center to take the snap, too.
Simple enough … but a thing of the past.
The game has changed.
And no position on the field has changed anywhere near as much as it has at quarterback.
Most area coaches, especially those who played themselves back in the 60s or 70s, even some in the 80s, have seen — up close — how the quarterback position as well as the game has evolved, too.
Among them are Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker, who helped pave the way as an offensive lineman for Spring-Ford’s very first football championship in 1969; Owen J. Roberts head coach Tom Barr, one of the Wildcat workhorses out of the backfield for Hall of Fame head coach Henry Bernat from 1977-79; and Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker, who worked on getting receivers and a handful of great quarterbacks on the same page at Wilson for a dozen years before taking over the Rams’ program.
“The plays came in from the sideline and we ran them,” Pennypacker recalled. “I don’t ever remember any audibles. The play called was the play we ran.”
“The plays came in from the sideline, we ran them and that was it,” Barr added, nearly echoing Pennypacker’s exact comment. “I don’t ever remember hearing an audible.”
Now it’s rare when a quarterback doesn’t call an audible at the line of scrimmage.
Looking back at last season, three area coaches said their quarterback probably checked off upwards of 50 percent of the original plays called. Three others said that figure was around 40 percent. A couple more estimated the number was closer to 30-35 percent.
Quarterbacks — as well as their teammates — still memorize the playbook, which may be heavily edited from week to week to address the next opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. But the quarterback, perhaps as much as anyone (including the head coach and offensive coordinator), must know where everyone else should be lined up for every single play.
And if that isn’t enough, the quarterback must identify the defensive sets lined up to stop him right smack across the line of scrimmage — and then check off, or call an audible, before he even gets under center to take the snap.
“We ask a lot of our quarterback today,” said Methacton head coach Paul Lepre.
“There are greater expectations now,” added Brubaker. “(At Spring-Ford), every one of our kids has to know what everyone else is supposed to do, not just the quarterback. That’s an across-the-board responsibility. But the buck stops with the quarterback.”
In other words, the success (or failure) of an offense begins and ends with the quarterback.
It isn’t about just getting that play, taking a snap, and handing off or throwing the football anymore.
“It used to be everyone pounded the ball down your throat,” Pennypacker explained. “But the game has changed in that regard.”
“Offenses have become much more complicated, and the defenses show you a lot more sets,” added Brubaker. “Then you have teams show you some things they’re not accustomed to doing, things you haven’t seen before (or prepared for).
“So you need an answer for that, a quick answer. You must be more flexible and overcome that. That’s why your quarterback is like a part-time assistant (coach) on the field. He can help tell (the coaches) what he sees out there.”
How well, or how quickly, a quarterback recognizes what he sees across the line more often than not will determine if the ensuing snap evolves into a busted play or a big play, a turnover or a touchdown.
So a quarterback today must commit to hours of preparation, well beyond the after-school practice grind, too.
“Quarterbacks today have to be more knowledgeable because they have to recognize those fronts and coverage packages, and that takes time,” Barr said. “The quarterbacks may be more advanced, though, because they’re learning so much in junior high, doing a lot of what we’re doing (at the high school level).
“And technology has had a big impact on them, too. With all the films, they can sit down anytime, look at plays or a game, and break down everything.”
But even with all the technological advances, most coaches will continue to outline (or scheme) their offenses around the quarterback’s strengths.
“We take into consideration what our quarterback’s skill set is,” Brubaker explained. “We ask ourselves if the starting quarterback is able to do everything in our offense.”
Just a few years ago, Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed had one of the most proficient passing quarterbacks in the history of the PAC-10 with Zach Zulli. For a couple of years, PV — long known to be a run-oriented program — became quite pass-happy.
“A quarterback’s skill set can often determine your philosophy,” Reed explained. “Zach Zulli was an amazing quarterback who could see the whole field, so we took advantage of his ability to throw the ball.”
For the last two years, Pope John Paul II head coach Mike Santillo had record-breaking southpaw David Cotellese and a slew of high-quality receivers … but virtually no running game.
“Our personnel dictated our offense,” Santillo said after watching the elusive Cotellese elude blitz after blitz and pick apart opposing secondaries, often finding a second, third or even fourth receiver on any given play.
Brubaker has had the luxury of having Coyne under center (not to mention Jarred Jones behind him to take handoffs). Coyne’s maturity from his sophomore to junior season was significant, as both his own numbers as well as the Rams’ drive to an unbeaten PAC-10 championship run indicate.
But instead of spelling Coyne in run-related or short-yardage situations as he’s done in the past, Brubaker may just go with his three-year veteran to answer those dilemmas this season.
“(Coyne) is up to 180 pounds or so now,” he said. “He’s bigger, stronger, and he’s improved his speed. So we’ll utilize him a little bit more as a running quarterback instead of what we’ve done in the past by bringing in someone else to run the football.”
Pennypacker, of course, has rarely strayed from running, running and running some more. He has had a long line of unsung quarterbacks who had the ability to check off when needed and execute. Just a few years ago, Terrell Chestnut proved it by guiding the Falcons to a District 1-Class AAA title. Last year, Hudgins duplicated that feat, and will in the lineup this fall looking to improve on his area-highs of 1,530 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns as well as guide the Falcons into the postseason again.
“Up to around 2001 we would call a play and just run it,” Pennypacker said. “But it’s evolved now to the point that our quarterbacks have the opportunity to call an audible on every play.”
“A lot of our kids, including Terry and Tory, have been very smart quarterbacks. They often audibled, often made the right calls.”
Lepre has been blessed to have Bossard, an Eastern Michigan University recruit who has the ability to effectively run as well as throw the football. A senior, Bossard is within reach of finishing his career at Methacton with well over 3,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing.
Most important, Bossard — like Coyne and Hudgins — made giant strides from his sophomore to junior season a year ago. He made the right reads, the right calls and became an integral part of the Warriors’ success last fall, helping produce their first winning season in the PAC-10 and first overall winning season since 2000.
That transition, or maturity, is what Reed hopes to get from Rasaan Stewart, a junior, this season.
“As a quarterback gets older the speed of the game gets a little slower,” Reed explained. “The learning curve isn’t as great.
“Rasaan is getting into deeper concepts now. He did a lot last year on instinct, and he had some success because of his athleticism. But he’s matured a lot, and now he’s developing into more of a quarterback. How he has a better feel for (the defenses) he sees, a better feel for the coverages he sees.”
Other coaches around the PAC-10 hope to see that maturity, that development, from their own quarterbacks, too … like Boyertown’s Griffin Pasik; OJR’s Jarrad Pinelli; Phoenixville’s Chris Demey; PJP’s James Blemming; Pottstown’s Sage Reinhart; and Upper Perkiomen’s Dylan Wesley.
“There are good quarterbacks all around our league,” Brubaker said.
“And the big thing is that a quarterback, with all the challenges and responsibilities he has now, can’t worry if he’s doing something wrong as much as he has to be concerned about what he can do to help his team,” Reed added.
“The quarterback is the focal point of every team,” Lepre said. “(The quarterback position) is where everything starts.”
And it takes, as one coach said, “a certain breed” to be a quarterback.
It has nothing to do with his weight, height, strength or speed, either.
“We all know that a quarterback has to know the plays, has the ability to recognize defenses, make sure everyone is lined up in the right place, and know his progressions,” Lepre said.
“But just as important, if not more important, he has to lead by example, and that’s with his efforts on and off the field. He has to be a leader, the player who demands respect from everyone on his team.”
Spring-Ford, Pottsgrove expected to lead PAC-10 pack
By Don Seeley
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury
Defending PAC-10 champ Spring-Ford could be the team to beat again this fall.
A year ago, the consensus among Pioneer Athletic Conference football coaches was either Pottsgrove or Spring-Ford running off with the title, and everyone else taking shots at one another for third or whatever place, perhaps even a postseason playoff berth.
Apparently the coaches did their homework, or had a little insight into who was exactly who.
Spring-Ford went unbeaten, Pottsgrove lost just once and, as predicted, the remaining eight teams did little to separate themselves from one another. Parity, perhaps, but it was the first time in the 26-year history of the league that four losses separated the No. 1 and No. 3 teams (and Methacton, Perkiomen Valley and Phoenixville actually shared that third spot with identical 5-4 records).
Last week, following a question-and-answer session during a tour of all 10 summer camps, the consensus was once again very, very similar … with an expected twist or two, of course.
“Everything goes through Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove, in whatever order you want,” said Pope John Paul II head coach Mike Santillo. “You have to go through those two (teams), at least until someone changes it, to win this league.”
“Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove have earned the right to sit on top of this league, at least until someone is able to say something differently,” added Methacton head coach Paul Lepre. “Both (teams) work very hard to maintain their level of play, too.”
“I still think Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove are in a class by themselves,” said Phoenixville head coach Bill Furlong, who got as good a look at the Rams and Falcons as anyone last November – falling to Spring-Ford on Thanksgiving Eve and then to Pottsgrove a couple of days later in the District 1-Class AAA final.
“Both of those teams have a lot of players back, good players, too. After that I think it’s pretty even. There are a couple of teams that could compete (for the title), but I still think a lot of teams are going to be beating each other up, and it could be pretty much like last year.”
Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove actually mirror one another, at least on paper.
The Rams have Hank Coyne, in his third year at quarterback with an opportunity to go beyond the 5,000-yard career mark in passing; Jarred Jones, arguably one of if not the best running back in the area; a defense splattered with experience and expertise … and an intense desire to repeat and advance in the postseason.
The Falcons have Tory Hudgins, who could run for more than the 1,530 yards and 28 touchdowns he amassed last year; a healthy and bigger Mark Dukes, who was on pace with Hudgins last fall before an injury ended his season nine weeks in; a defense that has speed and savvy in getting to the ball … and an intense desire to get back on top in the PAC-10 and win another district title.
Of course, neither Spring-Ford’s nor Pottsgrove’s coaches – that’s Chad Brubaker and Rick Pennypacker, respectively – care for the preseason compliments, nor do they think their teams are better than anyone else.
“This year is a little different for me,” Brubaker said. “My first two years, I kind of knew who was coming back, or what everyone had. But there’s a lot less of that now.
“I hear everyone saying Pottsgrove (is going to win the title). They’re going to be good. But beyond that, it’s hard to say at this point. I definitely think it’s going to be interesting.”
“For the last two years our kids were reading all the press clippings about how we were going to win this and win that, but we didn’t win (a PAC-10 title) either year,” Pennypacker said. “Sure, we have a lot of kids who played before, who played last season. But (experience) doesn’t necessarily translate into wins. We could be good, but we could also be average.
“This is a crazy league. I feel there are three or four teams capable of winning it this year, and I think there will be a lot of upsets like most years. And, like most years, it could come down to the last game of the season.”
The three teams that shared third a year ago – Methacton, Perkiomen Valley and Phoenixville – actually went toe-to-toe with both the Rams and Falcons, especially Methacton.
The Warriors, who finished over the .500 mark for the first time since coming into the league in 2008 and closed with its first winning record overall since 2000, had the Rams on the ropes before falling and lost by a mere two points to Pottsgrove. Lepre, who has reversed the program’s woes in just two seasons, has a couple of big-play defensive gems in Kyle Lowery and Cooper Given, yet another reliable kicker in Jose Holland, and – don’t forget – veteran quarterback Brandon Bossard, who has thrown for 2,365 yards and run for 999 more in his 2-1/2 seasons guiding the offense.
“We feel good about (the turnaround),” Lepre said. “We’re seeing a lot of good things, seeing how the kids respond to minor adversity. They’re not hanging their heads after something bad happens like they did before. That’s a thing of the past. They have risen above that now in game situations.
“I feel that’s a result of how our leadership has developed over the years. The kids before them were dedicated to turning this around, and there’s a lot of positive energy. They feel they can compete skill-wise now, and because of their dedication in the offseason they feel they can compete strength-wise.”
Lepre is also aware of some lofty expectations for the Warriors.
“We’re climbing a mountain, and right now we’re at the base looking up,” he explained. “We’ve heard some people are looking at us as the team to beat. Well, we’re going to have to work even harder to even be mentioned in the same breath as Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove.”
One team sneaking under the radar – or “keep an eye on them” as a few coaches have pleaded – is Perkiomen Valley.
Scott Reed was as optimistic as ever a week into camp, mainly because of the experience he’s working with, the execution he’s getting during drills, and the performance he saw during the Vikings’ first scrimmage.
“This is the first time in three or four years we actually have a good number of starters back,” Reed said. “We’ve always had our share of seniors, but a lot of them made their way up through the junior varsity. This is the first time we’ve had more returning starters than non-returning starters.
“The big thing about that is it helps make that learning curve a little easier. It’s easier to conceptualize things, easier to get into the deeper realm of things. It makes the teaching aspect easier, especially with the older kids helping each other out. But it doesn’t guarantee anything, either.”
Furlong has his share of returnees, too, especially up front with three-year starters Ryan Pannella at tight end, Ryan Hyland at tackle and Tom White at center. Pannella may also be as good as anyone in the PAC-10 at linebacker, and the same can be said about Ryan Yenchick at safety.
“We have a good frame to build on, but we’ll need some young guys to step up,” Furlong said.
Both Pottstown and Boyertown have some rather big frames up front, too. But both most get support from untested casts behind them.
The Trojans boast Mike Magyar at center, Jaloni Hutchinson at tackle and Darrell Bookard at tight end, a trio returning quarterback Sage Reinhart should sure like to work with. Reinhart scrambles well and threw for 1,266 yards and 15 TDs last season, but the run game needs a significant boost following the graduation of Malik Brinkley and Corey Baker.
“Our kids are committed, and they’re excited about this season,” said head coach Brett Myers.
Boyertown’s challenges are very similar. The Bears have outstanding talent up front with center Nick McMenamin, tackle Austin Jacobs and tight end Corey Long. But head coach Mark Scisly lost three other very good linemen and a trio of backs – Max Marcus, Jon Neiman and Jared Von Dohren – who combined for 3,221 yards and 41 touchdowns carrying the football.
“We’re very young, so how well our young players adjust to varsity football will determine how successful we’ll be,” said Scisley, who may have only six seniors on the entire roster when the season kicks off.
Upper Perkiomen has a lot of new faces – including head coach Steve Moyer, who previously directed the program from 1986-97. The Indians lost more than 20 senior lettermen and return just two starters on defense and offense, which could move the ball well behind veteran quarterback Dylan Wesley, who threw for 1,474 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall.
“You have to have good kids, kids who want to play, kids who want to plug in to what you want to do,” Moyer said. “We have to get back to the basics. But the kids have been good … very good.”
That good attitude and approach has both Owen J. Roberts head coach Tom Barr and Pope John Paul’s Santillo upbeat throughout the preseason, too.
Barr and the Wildcats went winless in the PAC-10 for the first time, and had just one win overall – the fewest in Barr’s 15 previous seasons and fewest by any OJR team since 1995. And even though he greeted a lot of newcomers in mid-August, Barr still has excellent talent in tight end-linebacker Jay Thomas, quarterback-safety Jarrad Pinelli, and linemen Nick D’Angelo and Brad Trego.
“Their attitude is good, though,” Barr said of his young gang. “We were pleased with what we saw during the offseason with the majority of kids showing up for workouts. And their approach in practice is very positive. They have enthusiasm. They’re excited.”
Santillo, despite losing record-breaking quarterback David Cotellese and four very good receivers, was also impressed with the Golden Panthers’ offseason routine. He has three of five starters back from the offensive line – guards Josh Bildstein and Chris DiLeva, and tackle Jake Kopchuk – and it’s no surprise his concern is getting a run game together for new quarterback James Blemming.
“Hopefully we can run the ball,” Santillo explained. “That’s a priority for us, to see how much we can get it going. I wish I could run the ball 80 times a game, but you have to go with what you have. Last year, because of our personnel, dictated we throw the ball. But we’d like to change that around a little this year.”
Almost as much as everyone, other than those at Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove, who would like to rearrange the upper echelon of the PAC-10.