Spring-Ford turns on jets in second half, tops Methacton 45-0
By Dan Dunkin
FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> Penalties and dropped passes short-circuited Spring-Ford’s usually electric offense at times in the first half Friday. Power outages don’t last long for the Rams, however, when you have defense and explosiveness like they do.
The Rams shut down Methacton’s running game, and it was only a matter of time before the Rams, leading only 17-0 at halftime, got rolling on all cylinders. They fired out of the second half gate and went on cruise control to win 45-0.
Junior quarterback TJ Pergine threw three touchdown passes, completing 12-of-18 for 205 yards. Matt Gibson (122 yards, 14 carries, a touchdown) led a robust running game that amassed 250 yards. Selwyn Simpson galloped for 80 yards on 12 carries and two TDs. Quinn Mckenna caught two TD passes and Dan Cassidy snared another.
Spring-Ford (2-0 PAC, 5-1 overall) got a great effort defensively, limiting the Warriors (0-2, 1-5) to 124 yards of total offense. Methacton quarterback Jason Eckman showed some nice mobility as well as passing capability, but was often under a big pass rush and was sacked three times.
“We weren’t trying to have the offense dictate what we did on defense,” Ram middle linebacker Ryan Yanulevich said. “We stayed focused, worked our game plan and got off the field on third down.
“We had good trust in our D-backs to go man if we needed to, and we had a good pass rush.”
Spring-Ford held Methacton to two first-half first downs and six for the game.
“They’ve been playing great all year,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said of his defense. “We can get pressure with our front four, which is always a bonus. They did a great job tonight.”
It wasn’t an altogether crisp night for the Spring-Ford offense in the first half, when there were four dropped passes and numerous penalties that slowed momentum. For the game, Spring-Ford had 85 yards in penalties. Brubaker wasn’t happy with the drops or the four fumbles (none lost), but he was pleased to see McKenna come back strong after missing two weeks with a twisted ankle, and happy with Pergine’s continued development.
It could have been worse for Methacton, and in fact it was far worse last year, when they lost 82-0 to the Rams. The Warriors, undersized, competed hard and put up good resistance in keeping the game within 17-0 at halftime.
“That’s marked improvement,” said Methacton coach Paul Lepre. “Our defense keeps us in games. We’ve got a scrappy bunch of guys on that side of the ball. We emphasize not giving up the big play, and when we do that, we execute, we can go into halftime at 17—0 behind a team that’s superior athletically.”
It took Spring-Ford barely a minute on the opening possession to go 80 yards and cap it with Gibson’s 16-yard score. But it wasn’t easy for the Rams the rest of the half. Ryan O’Toole, a good two-way player for the Warriors, made an interception when the Rams reached the red zone again later in the first quarter.
Methacton’s John Keenan made a nice leaping catch for a 21-yard gain near midfield but the Warriors then were stymied. They got good field position after forcing a Ram punt, but penalties and swarming Spring-Ford ‘D’ stopped them inside the Ram 30.
McKenna gathered a nice pass over the middle for a 34-yard TD 2:26 before halftime. In the third quarter, after another ferocious defensive series by the Rams, topped by Toby Poet’s sack, Spring-Ford set up at its own 47 and, after Simpson’s 20-yard burst, McKenna scored again from 33 yards out.
On the next Spring-Ford series, Pergine shook off a near sack and found Gibson for 14 yards before Simpson powered into the end zone.
Lepre lamented offensive mistakes that made his team’s climb harder, but complimented their heart.
“I’ve got to give my kids credit on that,” he said.
ROYERSFORD >> The Norristown Eagles and Spring-Ford Rams opened their slate of Pioneer Athletic Conference games in frenzied fashion Friday night at McNelly Stadium. The Eagles gambled with an onside kick to begin the game which paid off in a recovery, but that was one of the only positives for the Eagles in a 50-14 loss to the Rams.
“I told our guys, we don’t have anything to lose. Let’s just go out and play football. We are a young bunch and they know I get a little crazy,” said Norristown head coach Jason Powell. “I told them we were going to go onside kick. It worked out in our favor but overall we have to execute.”
Any “all in” luck the young Eagles hoped to have ended there. On the following play, the Rams’ Matt Booth’s interception set up a 52-yard pass from TJ Pergine to Quinn McKenna. Selwyn Simpson finished the drive with a 2-yard run, the first of his three first half touchdowns.
Norristown struggled with erratic play and high snaps for most of the night. Perhaps, the most costly coming on a 4th and 11 from their own 12-yard line. The mishandled snap gave the Rams the ball on the Eagles’ one-yard line and Simpson capitalized with a short run.
Simpson suffered a left ankle injury in the opening week of the season. Despite limited touches and no second half action, he was pleased to be healthy.
“It was one of my best games,” said the senior back. “The holes were there. I was battling an ankle injury early in the season and I’m finally healthier and able to show it more. My O-line always finds me holes. Today was a little easier especially with my ankle feeling better. I could hit them harder and faster.”
Pergine continued to pick apart the Eagles’ secondary after his 52-yard opening bomb. He hit Stone Scarcelle with time expiring in the first quarter for a 28-yard touchdown to put the Rams ahead 15-0. In the second quarter, Pergine connected with Matt Gibson, who scampered 44 yards for the score.
The Rams led 43-6 at the half. With a running clock for the second half, they cruised to the 50-14 win.
“It was really sloppy in the beginning. What we talked about all week was not being sloppy and part of that was my fault. It’s not how we wanted to come out. We didn’t get settled. We kept our composure and got back to the things we do,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker.
“We knew who their players were,” said Powell. “In the first quarter we had a short field and that’s when we came unglued. I’m happy the kids said hey let’s go play the second half and wipe the slate clean.”
During the week, Brubaker stressed the importance of making better in-game decisions and making fewer mental mistakes, especially at quarterback and on the offensive line.
“We struggled in the beginning of the game to pick up some of their blitzes but they settled down (o-lone). The coaches were able to diagnose what was going on and correct mistakes,” said Brubaker.
The offensive line paved the way for Simpson and Gibson in the first half.
“We have two backs and it kind of depends on how the game goes. Sometimes they alternate drives,” added Brubaker. “We don’t necessarily plan it but it’s how things turned out tonight.”
Justin Defrancesco took over backfield duties in the second half, touching the ball on nine of eleven of the Rams’ snaps. His game was highlighted by a 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
For Norristown, sophomore running back Kirk Wilson accounted for most of the Eagles positive yardage with his runs of 16 and 19 yards.
“He’s been working his tail off in the offseason. he’s one of the guys we think will be there especially when he grows,” said Powell. “Even though they are young, they have something they want to play for.”
ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford put up 40 points against District 3 power Wilson last week and it wasn’t enough.
That was tough.
But so were the Rams Friday against previously unbeaten Exeter. They amassed 436 yards of total offense, made a bevy of big plays, and were stifling defensively, holding the Eagles to nearly 200 yards below their per-game rushing average. The result was a resounding, rebounding 38-6 victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Spring-Ford (3-1), which opens PAC play with Norristown next Friday, got several prolific individual performances. Junior quarterback TJ Pergine threw for 240 yards – 120 in each half – on 12-for-22 passing and two touchdowns. Stone Scarcelle caught 7 passes for 163 yards and had two plus-40 plays, one of them a 49-yard score. Matt Gibson rushed for 103 yards on 10 carries, including bursts of 31 and 50, and Dan Cassidy had an 80-yard interception return for a TD and a 25-yard scoring reception.
“We talked about it all week, coming back after the loss at Wilson,” Cassidy said. “We wanted to come back strong and play hard.”
“No matter what, we have to take it one game at a time,” Gibson said. “We had to forget what happened last week (a double-overtime loss) and focused on the week ahead of us.”
Exeter has an excellent running back in junior Nick Sarangoulis and a fine running quarterback in Brandon Unterkoefler. They had combined for 449 yards on the ground in the first two games, and the Eagles had averaged 325. But against the Rams the going was tough. Stringing out pitch plays and swarming the inside, the Rams held the Eagles to 136 rushing yards on 37 carries, less than 4 per attempt. Sarangoulis had 73 yards on 21 carries and Unterkoefler 45 on 11.
Through the air, Unterkoefler found it just as difficult, as Spring-Ford played excellent tight coverage and held him to a 6-of-19 night. Tight end Gabe Schappell, big and talented, did make three catches for 68 yards including a 19-yard beauty late in the game that set up the Eagles’ lone TD.
After both teams played stout defense and traded punts in the early going, Spring-Ford started to spring loose late in the first quarter. They went 80 yards in just three plays, with Gibson going left for 31 and Pergine finding Scarcelle on a deep route for the 49-yard score with 32.9 seconds left in the first quarter. Scarcelle broke a tackle and was gone to the end zone.
Following a drive that led to a field goal, Spring-Ford mounted more momentum on another 80-yard surge that took just 2:06. Gibson’s 50-yard romp set up his 5-yard TD and it was 17-0 with 2:08 left in the half.
“They kept blitzing off the edges so I had to be very patient,” Gibson said. “Our line was doing a very good job and the holes opened up.”
The game opened up for Spring-Ford further when, on the next Exeter possession, Cassidy read a throw perfectly, made the interception and blasted 80 yards down the left side with a nice convoy, with 31 seconds before halftime – 24-zip.
It was extra unfortunate for Exeter; the Eagles had finally moved the ball fairly well and gotten into the red zone.
“A 14-point swing,” lamented Exeter coach Matt Bauer. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Spring-Ford. Their kids made a lot of plays. We just didn’t execute.”
“The line pressured the quarterback and got him to scramble, so he was throwing across his body,” Cassidy said. “And I was able to get in position to pick it off. And the linemen who pressured him gave me some nice blocks.”
Defensively, Spring-Ford was led by Tanner Romano, Toby Poet, Lee Albert, Ryan Yanulevich and a host of others. On both sides of the ball, the Rams look ready to attack the PAC.
“We’re excited to get back in the conference and play some familiar teams,” Gibson said.
Spring-Ford routs Exeter
By Brian Rippey
ROYERSFORD - If Exeter was hoping to catch Spring-Ford feeling down after a tough double-overtime loss in it previous game, the Eagles were in for a surprise.
Spring-Ford rebounded from last week's heartbreaking loss to Wilson to dominate Exeter 38-6 Friday night in a non-league football game between two teams hoping to contend for titles in their respective leagues.
"Our kids have a sour taste in their mouths from last week," said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. "We didn't expect any letdown. Our kids were ready to go."
The Rams (3-1) started slowly before ending Exeter's 13-game regular-season winning streak in dominant fashion.
T.J. Pergine passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns with Stone Scarcelle catching seven passes for 146 yards and the game's first score on a 39-yard reception in the final minute of the first quarter.
The Rams, among the favorites in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division, took over in the second quarter to build a 24-0 halftime lead.
Exeter (2-1), which moved the ball on two of first three possessions, had three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter when Spring-Ford flexed its muscle on both sides of the ball.
"Hats off to them," said Exeter coach Matt Bauer. "They're a very good football team and right now we're not. We have to fix a lot of things."
The Eagles, the defending Berks Football League Section 1 champions, will have little time to work on those problems. Exeter faces Gov. Mifflin in six days in a game that could go a long way in deciding this year's Section I title.
Exeter was limited to 227 yards of offense, including 141 on the ground.
Nick Sarangoulis, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, was bottled up for 85 yards on 22 carries.
Sarangoulis, who also caught two passes for just 1 yard, scored Exeter's only touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
But that was long after Spring-Ford had turned the showdown of contenders into a mercy-rule rout.
"We have a very inexperienced team and being in a big games like this we had a little bit of nerves tonight," Bauer said. "I think that was obvious."
Quarterback Brandon Unterkoefler had trouble finding open receivers against the Spring-Ford secondary.
He was sacked three times looking for someone to break open and completed just 7-of-18 for 86 yards. Exeter was forced to punt nine times.
After Spring-Ford opened a 17-0 lead in the second quarter on a 26-yard field goal by Erick Rodriguez and a 5-yard TD run by Matt Gibson, Exeter put together a drive late in the first half.
But the tables were turned when Dan Cassidy intercepted an Unterkoefler pass and raced 80 yards for a TD.
Contact Brian Rippey: 610-371-5070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Exeter vs. Spring-Ford a logical non-league rivalry
By Mike Drago
The pairing of Exeter and Spring-Ford looks like a natural fit for a Friday night, bringing together two emerging programs with top-flight talent.
They're among the top programs in their respective leagues - the Eagles in Section 1 of the Berks Football League, the Rams in the Pioneer Athletic Conference - separated by just 30 miles of highway.
It seems like a rivalry that could grow into something special.
"To me it's a great fit," said Exeter coach Matt Bauer, who was looking to add top-shelf competition to his schedule and found it in a Rams team that has reached the District 1-AAAA playoffs four times in five seasons.
Chad Brubaker, the former Wilson offensive coordinator who quickly elevated the Spring-Ford program, would like to see that, too.
It might not happen if District 1 goes ahead with a regionalization plan being kicked around.
Under the proposal District 1's 6A programs would be divided into four regional groupings and their schedules would be closed.
There would be no non-league games against opponents outside District 1 or outside a school's classification. League play would not exist, either.
That means a potential Exeter vs. Spring-Ford series, which renews tonight at Royersford, could be short-lived, especially if District 1 speeds ahead and puts its regionalization plan into effect for the 2018 season.
The Rams showed their ability last week in coming up inches short of winning at Wilson. They were turned back 41-40 when their bid for a two-point conversion in overtime was stopped.
"They gave Wilson everything they could handle," Bauer said of the Rams. "They do a lot of things well. They have a lot of weapons, and they're very physical up front. That (one-back Spread) offense is very hard to defend."
That's exactly what Bauer was hoping for as he set up a schedule that will fine-tune his team for its league opener next week against Gov. Mifflin.
The Eagles were hitting on all cylinders in last week's 35-7 win at Hempfield. They churned out 493 total yards as tailback Nick Sarangoulis and quarterback Brandone Unterkoefler each rushed for more than 100 yards.
Bauer was particularly pleased with his defense, which brought back just one returning starter from last year's Section 1 champions.
"We were 100 percent (improved) from Week 1," he said. "We were one play away from a shutout. After the first week, after all the mistakes, all the missed tackles, it was nice to see a big improvement."
Bauer noted the strong play of defensive linemen Connor Barwiss, Shane McGarry and Brett Moyer, the play of linebacker Braelin Grill and the aggressive play of the secondary.
"They really came into their own last week," he said of Matt Feeney, Gabe Schappell and Sarangoulis.
Brubaker saw the same things.
"The thing that stood out to me is how hard they compete and how aggressive they are," he said. "They're very aggressive defensively. They bring blitzes from all types of angles and challenge you on the line of scrimmage. I'm looking forward to seeing how our kids react to that."
Contact Mike Drago: 610-371-5061 or email@example.com.
Eagles to face Spring-Ford Friday night in Royersford
2016 Spring-Ford Poster
WFMZ The Big Ticket's Spring-Ford vs. Wilson Recap
Spring-Ford stopped inch short of topping Wilson in double OT
By Sam Stewart
WEST LAWN >> Call it cliché when one says football “is a game of inches.”
However, sometimes a cliché does the best to convey the narrative.
Friday night, it was an inch, not inches that separated Spring-Ford from a momentous early season victory, as Spring-Ford quarterback Stone Scarcelle was stuffed fractions away from the goal line on a two-point conversion in double overtime, sealing the game for District 3 powerhouse Wilson and sending the Rams home with a 41-40 defeat.
“This game will pay dividends down the road,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “We were in a tight game. Obviously it’s kind of cliche, but it’s a shame that in one of these games that one team has to come out on the short end. It would have been nicer to have said that we hung in there and had one more point than they did but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. I couldn’t ask for any more.”
Evident on the last play, neither team had anything left in the tank.
Following Grayson Kline’s one-yard keeper that put Wilson up 41-34 in the second overtime, Spring-Ford wasted no time in getting even. Selwyn Simpson barrelled his way for a 10-yard score, taking a Wilson defender three yards into the end zone with him, to make it 41-40, prompting a Ram timeout.
There was no question – the Rams were going for two.
Scarcelle lined up at quarterback with running back Selwyn Simpson to the right, took the snap and ran the read-option before keeping it himself and bulldozing his way right into the heart of the Wilson defense. Scarcelle’s helmet got in on the initial push, but Wilson defenders were right there to make sure that was all that got in. Trying to reach the ball over the plane, Wilson kept Scarcelle an inch short, prompting jubilation on the sideline as Bulldog players rushed the field. Ram players sunk. They had nothing left in the tank.
“There’s nobody in there crying, there’s nobody in there feeling sorry for themselves,” Brubaker said. “They gave it all they had and they have no reason to apologize. They played their butts off. We kept asking them to play one more play, play one more play and they kept coming up big.”
Wilson came away with the win despite committing 14 penalties for 133 yards. Players like Kline and Alex Twiford were the reason why.
Kline entered the game on Wilson’s last drive and engineered a beauty, a 10-play, 68-yard march that brought the Bulldogs in range of kicker Nick Borelli, who calmly booted a 29-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. Kline finishing 7-for-11 with 80 yards.
Starting quarterback Connor Uhrig finished 17-for-31 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for a team-best 88 yards on 16 carries
“To come in cold and march us down the field. It was huge,” Wilson head coach Doug Dahms said. “That’s the beauty of having a two-quarterback system.
“Last game we alternated them every two or three series but Uhrig was running real well and hitting some nice short routs so it’s kind of one of those things you just go with the flow.”
Twiford came up big all throughout, his catch in the second overtime one of the better moments for the 6-2, 225-pound tight end. Facing a third and goal at the 15, Twiford caught a strike from Kline and held on as a Ram defender tried to jar the ball loose. He fought his way to the one-yard line before Kline did the rest on fourth down, his one-yard keeper proving to be the difference in Brubaker’s return to Wilson. Twiford finished with a game-high eight receptions for 92 yards,
“He’s legit,” Dahms said of Twiford. “He made some big catches and made some big plays. He’s getting back; we only had him in a few series last week (against Governor Mifflin). He’s still a little gimpy but he played well enough.”
Spring-Ford’s Matt Gibson and Selwyn Simpson shined for the Rams. Gibson finished with 112 yards rushing on 24 carries, a true workhorse effort. Simpson lit up the scoreboard, rushing for three touchdowns, his 37-yard run up the gut giving the Rams a 24-21 lead in the third. Simpson finished with 85 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“Those guys (Gibson and Simpson) were banged up coming into the game,” Brubaker said. “There’s guys that were banged up the first two weeks. Lee Albert was banged up. Those guys just kept playing. We kept asking them to go back in there and make plays and they kept doing it. There’s not much more that you can ask of them.”
Big D >> The Rams defense, despite allowing 469 yards of total offense, was a huge reason why the game stayed tight. Led by the play of Dan Cassidy, Tanner Romano and Nick Salomone, the Rams ‘D’ kept the Wilson offense out of the end zone in crucial moments, limiting them to a field goal after the SF quarterback threw a interception deep in Ram territory. The defense also started the team’s comeback, registering a safety after a beautiful special teams play pinned Wilson down at the one. The safety made it 21-16 in the third before Simpson’s aforementioned touchdown made it 24-21.
“They came up huge all night,” Brubaker said of his defense. “We had a couple turnovers in our own territory. One time they held them to a field goal, the other they just held them. There are guys just running on empty making plays.
Staying Cool >> Spring-Ford kicker Erick Rodriguez, hit a 30-yard field goal to give the Rams a 27-24 lead midway through the fourth. Borelli was not to be outdone, hitting a 26-yarder to tie it at 24 before tying the game at 27 as time expired with a 29-yard boot.
Wilson outlasts Spring-Ford in scholastic football
By Steve Patton
Doug Dahms has been involved in some remarkable games during his long tenure on the Wilson football staff.
The one the head coach oversaw Friday night at West Lawn will rank among them.
"It's been awhile," said Dahms of the last time he was involved in a game quite like this one.
In a back-and-forth thriller, Wilson outlasted Spring-Ford 41-40 in two overtimes, securing the win by stopping the Rams just short of the goal line on a two-point conversion try.
In a game that lasted more than three hours and included 10 touchdowns and almost 800 yards of offense, Wilson's Nick Borelli kicked a tying 27-yard field goal on the final play of regulation after quarterback Grayson Kline scrambled out of bounds with two seconds left.
The teams scored touchdowns on both of their OT possessions from the 10-yard line, the Bulldogs (2-0) getting their second one on a 1-yard sneak by Kline on fourth down.
The Rams (2-1) scored on their first play of each extra period, the second on Selwyn Simpson's third TD run.
After the second score, former Wilson assistant and Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker elected to go for the win, but the Bulldogs stopped quarterback Stone Scarcelle inches from the goal line to set off a wild celebration.
The Bulldogs won despite being penalized 14 times for 132 yards, taking a safety and turning the ball over deep in Rams territory.
"Don't take anything away from Spring-Ford; they played great football," said Dahms. "But we made enough mistakes to last the rest of the season. What'd we have? A hundred yards in penalties? You can't do that."
Both teams had to rally, the Bulldogs doing it first after the Rams went 67 and 66 yards on their first two series to open a 14-point lead.
Wilson quarterback Connor Uhrig put his team ahead by going 10-for-13 for 193 yards in the first half, with touchdown passes of 33 yards to Iggy Reynoso, 29 yards to Brian Wright and 38 yards to Foday Jalloh.
The Rams turned the game around with the safety after pinning Wilson at the 1 on a punt, then got a long return on the free kick and a 37-yard TD by Simpson on the next play.
There were three field goals the rest of the way, the last by Borelli when Kline - who took over when Uhrig was injured late in the fourth quarter - completed 5-of-7 passes to drive the Bulldogs from their 20 to the Spring-Ford 12.
"I think it speaks to both programs' resiliency," said Brubaker. "We always strive to play four quarters. There's guys in that locker room that are hurting, and they kept going out and playing one more play. You can't ask any more of them."
That factored into Brubaker's decision to go for the win.
"We went for two because we didn't have much gas left in the tank," said Brubaker. "I asked the kids and I asked the coaches and they said we've got to go for it now."
Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley face stiff tests in Week 3
By Sam Stewart
Hold the icing: There are no cupcakes on Spring-Ford or Perkiomen Valley’s schedule this season.
Both the Rams and the Vikings have taken advantage of the new scheduling format brought upon by the PAC realignment, and on Friday, both face season-defining tests.
Rams head coach Chad Brubaker makes his long-awaited return to West Lawn as the Rams square off against perennial state powerhouse Wilson while Perkiomen Valley looks to go 3-0 as Pennridge, the No. 8 ranked team in Southeastern Pa., comes to Graterford.
For Week 3 matchups, those are pretty sweet.
“Our goal in scheduling non-league games was to try to get as many quality opponents as we could,” Brubaker said. “Come playoff time, we can rely on some of those experiences.”
“I think we’ve had a bunch of challenges this year,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist said. “Downingtown West was a very good football team. This (Pennridge) is an excellent team. They have size, strength, speed, quarterback play is terrific, really good inside linebackers. It will be a real good challenge.
“This would be a huge win for our program. Suburban One team, ranked 8th in Southeastern Pa., big school, and coming to our field. For us to play well and compete at that level would be great for PV.”
Brubaker returns to West Lawn for the first time during the regular season since departing to take over the Spring-Ford program in 2010. Brubaker spent 12 years as an assistant coach for the perennial state powerhouse, the last four as the offensive coordinator under head coach Doug Dahms. He was instrumental in the development of former quarterback Chad Henne, who went on to have an outstanding career at Michigan and started for the Miami Dolphins, and for the blistering Bulldog offense that set school records in virtually every offensive category, including yards rushing and passing, total offense, and points scored.
Despite his long history at Wilson West Lawn, Brubaker insists that Friday night doesn’t mark a return home.
He gets the story angle, but too much has changed in six years.
“I told my kids that this is about them,” Brubaker said. “They (Wilson players) don’t know who I am or who coach Brown (former Wilson defensive line coach Victor Brown) is. I get why people would be interested in me at Wilson, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with Friday night.
“Sure, this is my first time back during the regular season, but we’ve scrimmaged there twice. Things have changed a lot. They put turf in the stadium, redid their stands. It’s different anyway. Time moves on and we get older.”
What isn’t different is the Bulldogs’ status among the state’s elite.
The Bulldogs have run roughshod over their Lancaster-Lebanon opponents, compiling a record of 56-0 in the league (97-12 overall) and have won three District 3-AAAA titles since 2008 under the guidance of head coach Dahms, whose beard alone deserves a trophy.
This stands as Spring-Ford’s toughest regular season task yet and will quickly serve as a measuring stick for the growth of a dominant defense that’s allowed just 214 yards per game (Dan Cassidy with two interceptions) and a newly-minted starting quarterback TJ Pergine, who’s second in the PAC in passing yards (411) and third in touchdowns (5).
“Our defense has played well,” Brubaker said. “The best thing is how well they run to the ball. We’ve been tackling pretty well and there’s two real positive things. We’ve been able to create turnovers the first two games and that will be the key Friday night.
“TJ’s done a really good job. He lived up to what he could be the first two weeks. This will be a huge test for him, I think he’s ready to play and he’s going to learn mentally what it takes to play on Friday night.”
Forty-five minutes east, Perkiomen Valley will be tested by the arm and legs of Pennridge quarterback Jagger Hartshorn, who has been nearly unstoppable for the Rams offense, rushing for 379 yards in his first two games with six touchdowns (five against Norristown).
Pennridge is coming off a 31-24 loss to Neshaminy, a District 1-AAAA semifinalist last season.
“He (Jagger)’s a terrific athlete,” Heist said. “He’s a very good runner. They put him in good situations running the football. He can not only hurt you with his arm strength, but if you don’t keep him in the pocket, he’s going to scramble around and he’s going to do damage. We’re going to have to get 11 hats to the ball, gang tackle, be disciplined and play strong defense.
“We had a great week of practice. The kids are excited. They are ready to go. I feel like we have a good plan in place so hopefully we can execute to the best of our ability and I think we’ll be right there.”
ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford put its offense into high gear and combined that with another strong defensive outing as the Rams thumped visiting Chester, 55-22 in non-league football action Friday night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Rams constructed 35-6 lead after one quarter and stretched that margin to 48-6 over the Clippers by halftime.
Spring-Ford churned out 189 yards rushing and 149 yards passing to amass 338 yards of total offense.
Chester finished with 124 yards rushing and 108 yards passing for 232 yards of total offense.
“Our line did a lot better job than last week on protection,” said Spring-Ford junior quarterback TJ Pergine. “They got off the ball and we got our passing game and our running game going. Overall, we were good on offense. I give all the credit to them. They did a great job of protecting me. And our receivers did a good job of getting open a lot.”
Pergine completed 11 of 15 aerials for 156 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for two TDs himself. Matt Gibson rushed for 104 yards and one TD. He opened the Rams’ scoring with a five-yard scoring run.
Pergine threw touchdown passes to Quinn McKenna, Lee Albert and Stone Scarcelle.
Chester quarterback Jamir Green passed for 108 yards and one TD, a 78-yard scoring throw to Braheem Bishop.
The Clippers also scored on a 34-yard fumble recovery scooped up by George Johnson and an 81-yard scoring run by Devan Freeman. Freeman totaled 97 yards on the evening.
“We really prepared for them and their defensive style,” said Albert. “At practice we prepared for that. When Quinn went down, I had to go in. A lot of guys stepped on the second team, but we still have work to do.”
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker was happy with the Rams’ progress as they have been improving week to week.
“We wanted to establish a running game after last week,” said Brubaker. “We thought we would be more balanced if we did that.”
The Rams got sacks from Tanner Romano and Dean Costalas. Dan Cassidy and Tyler Edwards forced interceptions. Pete Agler made some big tackles on special teams to set the tone in the early going.
Chester defensive coordinator James Howard said the Clippers staff liked the fact the team stuck it out all four quarters
“We were impressed that the kids did no quit,” Howard said. “In years past we used to do that.”
He said Chester wants to play teams like Spring-Ford and Haverford in order to keep improving.
For Chester, Tahiaj Cooper intercepted a pass and Rushon Archer had a pair of sacks.
Unionville can’t overcome miscues in opening game loss
Powerful Spring-Ford dominates, 33-3
By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times
“The stars might lie, but the numbers never do.” — Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Unionville’s Mike Cresta (53) fights in the trenches against the Spring Ford offensive line. Jim Gill photo.
EAST MARLBOROUGH — While it’s possible that the stars were aligned for Unionville High School in its 2016 season opener against Spring-Ford, the numbers may have predicted a different story:
First off, the Rams are a 6A school with nearly twice the population of 5A Unionville High. Second, the Indians are a very young team with many new starters, especially on offense. Third, and this was the killer, mistakes, as in too many Unionville miscues to stay with one of the top programs in southeast Pennsylvania.
The result, pre-ordained or not, was a tough 33-3 loss to Spring-Ford, Friday night.
And while some of the younger players managed to shake off opening night jitters and their lack of experience and play better as the game progressed, key turnovers and mistakes at crucial moments broke open a game that been closely contested. Youth and inexperience reared their head at the worst time, head coach Pat Clark said.
Unionville’s Jesse Gill gets to Spring-Ford QB T.J. Pergine. Jim Gill photo.
“But that’s not going to be an excuse much longer around here,” Clark said after the game, “and really, it’s not an excuse now — but our kids know, every kid in our program knows the level we expect to play at and every kid know that we’re going to work together to be a better football team next week.”
While the 0-1 Indians gamely hung in with the Rams — the Indians managed to stop them repeatedly early on and grabbed a 3-0 lead on a Matt Manwaring field goal. Things started to unravel in the second quarter, when Spring-Ford QB T.J. Pergine — a junior making his first varsity start — started to find his rhythm. Pergine hit Stone Scarcelle with a 49-yard pass, which set up a quick 15-yard TD dash by Selwyn Simpson. In a flash, the Indians’ lead was gone.
But Unionville didn’t quit — again the offense got things going, in part keyed by the running of Jack Adams and pushed the ball all the way down to the Rams’ 1 yard line. But then a miscue — in this case — a fumble stopped the Indians cold in their tracks.
Seizing an opportunity to take control of the game, Spring-Ford immediately marched down the field behind Pergrine’s arm — a 34-yard pass to Quinn McKenna and then a 40-yard scoring pass to Scarcelle to make it 14-3 at the half.
Unionville QB Alex Gorgone looks to evade Spring-Ford defenders — the junior QB had an uneven debut as a signal caller. Jim Gill photo.
The third quarter wasn’t much better — and again it was miscues that cost the Indians. QB Alex Gorgone, another junior making his first varsity start, was picked off by Scarcelle, who promptly raced down the field for a score. Two more turnovers in the second half doomed the Indians’ chances of getting back into the contest.
Still, with less mistakes a bit more seasoning, this might have been a much closer contest — Adams and running back cohort Dante Graham showed flashes and the defense played well despite battling a larger and deeper opponent.
Next week’s contest at the tough Academy Park — a highly athletic team that at times can be undone by mistakes — will need Unionville to clean up some of its issues if it is to post its first win of the season.
“We’re going to have to tackle in space and take care of the football,” Clark said. “I think we got a good physical test this week, so I think we’ll be ready physically.”
Defense keys Spring-Ford to 33-3 win over Unionville
By Dan Dunkin
UNIONVILLE >> A Spring-Ford defense that was consistently stingy last year appears committed for a strong encore.
The Ram D, with many returnees from a unit that allowed just 10.6 points per outing in 2015, suffocated Unionville start to finish in the season opener Friday night. They helped blow the game open by forcing three third-quarter turnovers, which led to 13 points and spurred Spring-Ford to a 33-3 victory.
First-time varsity starting quarterback TJ Pergine made some big plays and Stone Scarcelle, a major impact guy on both sides of the ball, did damage to the Indians on offense and defense with a 40-yard touchdown reception and 38-yard interception return for a score.
“Our defense did a great job,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “We kind of had first-game jitters with a new starting quarterback. They did a great job of holding them off until we could break a couple of plays.”
Unionville didn’t record a first down until the second quarter. Spring-Ford was finding it tough sledding as well in the early going and the Indians had a 3-0 lead with 8:18 left in the first half.
It was then that Pergine, a junior, got in a varsity groove. He found the fleet Scarcelle for a 49-yard play, setting up Selwyn Simpson’s 15-yard TD run for a 7-3 Spring-Ford lead.
Spring-Ford’s defense then established the game’s turning point, denying the Indians the end zone after they had gotten a big pass play and advanced to the Ram 2-yard line. Linebackers Tanner Romano and Ryan Yanulevich along with a host of others pushed the Indians back. Two consecutive losses turned the ball back over to the Rams.
Pergine, Scarcelle and senior wideout Quinn McKenna took the Rams right back down the field. Pergine hit McKenna for 34 yards down the left sideline, and on the next play found Scarcelle for the 40-yard score 1:20 before halftime. Pergine showed a knack for buying time in the pocket and delivering the ball deep.
“T.J. hung in there,” Brubaker said. “He’s a tough kid. The good thing that came out of it was they gave him some pressure and he hung in there.”
“It was his first start so we had to kind of get him on his feet, get him in the varsity flow,” Scarcelle said of Pergine. “We told him, ‘All the seniors are with you. Be comfortable.’ He stuck in there, did a great job. He’s a gamer.”
Spring-Ford seized the momentum quickly in the third. Scarcelle read the play perfectly and picked off an Alex Gorgone pass in the flat for an easy TD runback. Now it was 21-3.
“All week we’ve been practicing against the routes they’re running,” Scarcelle said. “I just read my keys.”
On Unionville’s next possession, Romano recovered a fumble. That and an interception by Dan Cassidy later in the quarter, on a deep ball near the goal line, led to field goals by Erick Rodriguez.
“Turnovers really helped us out in this game,” Yanulevich said. “A lot of played together last year and the new guys stepped up. We had a great game on defense.”
“We owe it all to the coaches and all the preparation we do,” Romano said.
The Indians lost a bunch of skill-position players from an 8-3 club and might take some time to find their way offensively. Unionville junior running back Jack Adams had some nice second-half runs but the Indians never could crack the Ram D for a sustained stretches.
“We were killing ourselves. We’ve got to cut down on mental errors,” Adams said. “We were right in it for a while. We’ve just got to get better on offense. Our defense is pretty solid right now.”
The Indians’ D did do a good job thwarting the Spring-Ford running game. Spring-Ford had a 59-yard TD run by Selwyn Simpson in the first quarter called back for a hold, and the Rams couldn’t find much room between the tackles most of the night.
“We’re really disappointed we couldn’t run the ball,” Brubaker said. “But give credit to their defense, especially their linebackers. They were coming off the edge and the middle and we weren’t picking that up. We’ve got to look at the film and correct that.”
New Order: Spring-Ford seniors look to write their own script in 2016
By Sam Stewart
The two principles were evident in last year’s Spring-Ford seniors that led the Rams to an undefeated league record and the team’s first PAC-10 Championship since (2011).
Now, this year’s seniors are waiting for their chance to pen another chapter in the Spring-Ford record book.
“There were a lot of leaders on that senior class that really took control when they had to,” Rams offensive/defensive lineman Luke Nadwodny said. “Senior year only comes once, we need to take advantage of it.”
“Each senior class has its own identity and wants to go out a champion, so this year’s seniors want to create their own legacy,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Last year’s seniors will always have that. This year’s seniors want to establish their own place in school history.”
Friday night at Unionville, they get their first chance.
The Rams face a Indians squad that has plenty of fresh faces, yet plenty of talent. The Indians graduated 20 seniors from last season — including every skill position starter — on a squad that went 6-0 in the Ches-Mont American Division. The linebacker corps of Trevor Gardiner, Jesse Gill and James Watson headline a defense that will look to slow down a Spring-Ford rushing attack that averaged 202.8 yards rushing per game in 2015.
It’s a group Rams senior running back Matt Gibson is looking forward to running against.
“We’re excited for this game,” Gibson said. “Their (Indians) run defense is pretty good so we’re going to have to mix it up. We just need to go out and execute like we know how to do.”
Speaking of Fresh Faces
This year marks the first year of the new PIAA classifications and the four-game non-league schedule for members of the PAC.
Are the players excited? They sure are.
“We’re real excited for these games,” Spring-Ford’s Casey Callahan said. “We’re excited to see a team that we’ve never played before and kids we’ve never played before in a stadium we’ve never played in before.”
Tomorrow will be a hot one across the district with game-time temperatures projected to be at 84 degrees while only dipping down to 80 degrees at 10 p.m. Obviously, staying hydrated will be key in week one, or the “cramp game.”
“Starting tonight (Wednesday night), the plan is to drink a lot of water, Gatorade, eat a lot of pickles,” Gibson said.
“We just need to take care of our body, Nadwodny added. “Stay away from the junk foods, stay away from the chips.”
Nadwodny took to social media to dedicate his season to former Ram player Brian Clarke, who while riding his bicycle was accidently struck by an automobile and later died in July of 2012. “My senior season will be dedicated to a real one who unfortunately isn’t with us anymore,” Nadwodny said via Twitter. “but you always (will) be looking down over us.”