TD Club Announces Award Winners at Banquet
Offensive MVP: TJ Pergine
Defensive MVP: Pete Agler
Brian Clarke Special Teams Award: Taylor Smith
Coaches Award: Hunter McClain & Gio Guarna
Lineman of the Year: Noah Silva
David Freed Award: Colby Goldsmith
Burlsworth Character Award: Ben D'Arcangelo
TD Club Award: Justin DeFrancesco
PSFCA Releases 2018 Big 33 and East / West Coaching Staffs
2017 Class 6A All-EasternPAFootball.com Team
Written by: David Mika on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018
District 1 Players:
OL Sr. Noah Silva, Spring-Ford
K Jr. Taylor Smith, Spring-Ford
All-Southeastern Pennsylvania Offense - Philadelphia Inquirer
L Noah Silva Spring-Ford Sr. 6-2 270
PK Taylor Smith Spring-Ford Jr. 6-1 185
2017 Mercury All-Area Football Selections
TJ Pergine, Spring-Ford
Justin DeFrancesco, Spring-Ford
Dante Bonani, Spring-Ford
Noah Silva, Spring-Ford
Matthew Lepore, Spring-Ford
Giovanni Guarna, Spring-Ford
James Albert, Spring-Ford
Pete Agler, Spring-Ford
Benjamin D’Arcangelo, Spring-Ford
Simeon Little, Spring-Ford
Taylor Smith, Spring-Ford
The Storti Insurance Week 11 Gridiron presented by RCTV
Neshaminy ends Spring-Ford’s season with 42-21 win
By Rob Senior
LANGHORNE >> Neshaminy wasted no time proving their worthiness of the No. 1 seed in Disrtict 1’s Class 6A.
Joel Stills ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns, while Cory Joyce added two interceptions in the Redskins’ 42-21 win over No. 16 Spring-Ford Friday night.
“Joel’s come on strong for us as a running back this year, after moving over from wide receiver,” said Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot.
Neshaminy scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions, and the contest was shaping up as a pure shootout until Joyce got involved.
Joyce’s first INT set up Neshaminy with a short field in the second quarter, ending a seesaw battle of touchdowns by the respective offenses.
“They ran a crossing route, and the coaches allow me to be more aggressive in those situations,” said Joyce. “I was able to jump on it.”
Neshaminy went into halftime with a 21-13 lead, and came out on fire, taking only six plays to go 66 yards and extend their lead to 28-13 behind the second of Stills’ three TD runs. Spring-Ford would use most of the quarter to embark on an 80-yard drive of its own, with Justin DeFrancesco tallying his third TD of the night to go with 155 rushing yards. But on the ‘Skims next play, Joyce took a swing pass from quarterback Brody McAndrew 33 yards to the house, giving Neshaminy back its two-score lead.
Spring-Ford was unable to respond, and Neshaminy moved into next week’s quarterfinals with arch-rival Pennsbury.
“That’s always a great atmosphere, it’s a great rivalry, and in the playoffs… what an experience for our kids,” said Wilmot.
“They’re gonna be upset after the last game (last week’s 21-20 Neshaminy win) but we’ll be prepared,” said Joyce. “Both of us are going to get the other’s best shot.”
The first half was a battle of the offenses, led by respective running backs DeFrancesco and Stills. SF got the game started with a 13-play, 60-yard drive capped off by DeFrancesco’s 4-yard TD plunge. Stills and the ‘Skins responded with a six-play drive capped off by the senior’s 21-yard scamper off a bobbled snap.
The Rams regained the ball and marched 50 yards into Neshaminy territory near the end of the first quarter, but stalled in the red zone and were forced to attempt a 32-yard field goal, which fell just short into a stiff breeze. Neshaminy took over, embarking upon a methodical 15-play, 80-yard drive culminating in bruising fullback Oleh Manzyk’s 1-yard TD run for a 14-7 lead.
Neshaminy’s Joyce intercepted Pergine at midfield on the ensuing drive, taking the ball back to the SF 24, with Mike Crescenzo taking the ball in for a 11-yard score and a 21-7 Neshaminy lead. DeFrancesco responded with his second TD, a 36-yard run on a zone read carry on 4th and 2, bringing the Rams within 8 at the break after a blocked PAT.
But the night belonged to Neshaminy and Stills, who was quick to credit his line and coaches for the career-high performance.
“All I really had to do was make my reads off what they gave me,” he said.
For the Rams, an up-and-down season ends at 6-5, but also with the knowledge that they gave the district’s top team their best shot, creating a contest that was up for grabs through three quarters.
“Neshaminy played mistake-free, they kept moving the chains … if we get some of those stops earlier, we had a shot,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “We told the players all week, no one gives you a shot in this game. We just needed to compete, and they did everything we asked them to do.”
It was the last game for Spring-Ford’s senior class, including the prolific backfield tandem of DeFrancesco and quarterback TJ Pergine.
“Four years went by so fast, and I couldn’t ask for a better team or a better experience,” said Pergine. “I’m looking forward to taking the things I learned here to college with me.”
Joyce, Stills help Neshaminy football get past Spring-Ford in districts
By Steve Sherman
LANGHORNE, Pa. – Soon after top-seeded Neshaminy advanced in the District 1 Class 6A Tournament with a 42-21 triumph over visiting Spring-Ford, Levittown radio station WBCB (1490 AM) selected as its stars of the game junior Cory Joyce and senior Joel Stills.
The media outlet couldn’t have chosen better.
On offense, the pair combined on four touchdowns and defensively, the duo teamed up on three interceptions.
Proving that it’s not how you start but rather how you finish, Stills ran for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second half to go with 91 yards and a score he recorded before the break.
His counterpart for the 16th-seeded Rams – senior Justin DiFrancesco – after notching 125 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 13 touches in the first half, was limited to just 30 yards and a TD on 10 carries after the intermission.
“That was a big difference,” admitted Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot.
“For the most part, the offense moved the ball the entire game and our defense buckled down in the second half.”
“We made some adjustments at halftime. Really, it was more of an attitude change,” added Joyce. “We weren’t really happy with how we played in the first half so in the second half, we came out trying to change that.
Two key plays on defense were registered by Joyce. The first came late in the first half and gave the offense a short field. The second came early in the fourth quarter as Spring-Ford attempted to draw within a touchdown of the Skins.
“Turnovers are key,” said Joyce. “If you can take the ball away, you take their momentum away and give yourself a chance on offense.
“It definitely helps winning football games.”
Given a short field after a sack and a partially deflected punt, the Rams needed to drive the ball just 22 yards to close within seven points midway through the fourth quarter. Soon after an apparent TD pass from quarterback T.J. Pergine to senior Mitchell Vagnozzi was called back on a Rams penalty, Joyce latched onto an ill-advised aerial from the Spring-Ford QB, ending the Rams’ possession at the Skins’ 10 yard line
“Fourth quarter, we wanted to seal the game,” said Joyce. “I made a good read on him and just put the game away.”
From there, Stills capped a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive with a 28-yard scoring sprint to help seal the win. Joel’s last two touches in the game netted 52 yards for Neshaminy and he recorded earlier TD scampers of 21 and 32 yards.
Stills gives all the credit to the offensive line, which is anchored by senior 265-pound tackle Gio Figueroa and senior 255-pound guard Nick Napadano.
“Breaking into the secondary part of the defense has to do with the offensive line,” he explained.
“They are really a big factor. If I can’t get past the front line, I can’t manage to get into the secondary and do my magic.”
With the win, the Skins advance to the D1 quarterfinals next Friday night versus eighth-seeded Pennsbury, a 17-0 winner over No. 9 CB South.
A week ago, Neshaminy needed a last-minute flea-flicker from Joyce to McAndrew to get past the Falcons 21-20.
Lafayette's Selwyn Simpson finally getting a look
Lafayette freshman running back Selwyn Simpson had 45 yards on 12 carries against Bucknell. (LAFAYETTE COLLEGE/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)
By Paul Reinhard
Special to The Morning Call
When Selwyn Simpson heard about John Garrett’s no-incumbents approach to his first season as head football coach at Lafayette, he was immediately enthused.
As a senior running back at Spring-Ford High School, Simpson was being actively recruited by the likes of Lehigh, Maine, Villanova, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart.
“After the coaching switch [at Lafayette], it was a new coaching era and I felt it could be something special and brand new,” Simpson said. “I didn’t want to go to a program where it was already distinguished and you’re just another player. I wanted to be part of Lafayette, where we could build something nice.”
There was a good chance he would have to wait his turn because the Leopards were bringing back four tailbacks and he would not be the only RB in the 2017 recruiting class.
Senior DeSean Brown was the most experienced of the lot, but it became evident that running back would become perhaps the most wide-open position on the team when four different players carried the ball in each of the first three games.
No back has been able to dominate, with 48 yards being the highest single-game total by any back during a season in which the Leopards have averaged only 20 yards a game.
Simpson got six carries in the first three games, then had none for three games in a row and one in Game 7.
But during the weeks of practices, things were happening.
“I feel like I came a decent way,” Simpson said during Tuesday’s weekly media luncheon previewing Saturday’s Patriot League game at Georgetown. “Coach Garrett pushes me to get better week to week and to learn more so when I get my chance to go on the field I can succeed. As the season went on I have gotten more practice reps and game-time reps. Coach Garrett always tells me to be prepared and that you’re only one play away from playing virtually the whole game.”
Brown injured his shoulder against Harvard and was held out of the Leopards’ last game on Oct. 21 against Bucknell because he was not 100 percent healthy.
Simpson got his chance and gained a net 45 yards on 12 carries while sharing the tailback duty with C.J. Amill. He also scored what to date has been Lafayette’s only rushing touchdown of 2017.
Garrett would not commit to who would be the starter at tailback on Saturday but did say, “It looks like DeSean is healthy.” He added, however, that shoulder injuries in running backs are “something better to take extra time with because of the contact aspect at his position.”
Simpson is growing into what could be a big and fast back. He reported for summer practice at 205 pounds, but he said Tuesday that his weight is already up to 216 or 217 to go with his 6-2 frame.
“I feel great,” Simpson said. “The way [strength and conditioning] Coach [Brad] Potts has us lifting and working out, I feel I’m in the best shape of my life. Even though I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, I’m still fast and can make all the moves.”
Lafayette (2-6, 2-1 Patriot League) is coming off its bye week to take on a Georgetown team that has lost seven in a row since winning its opener.
This will mark the return of Leopards’ defensive coordinator Luke Thompson to the Hoyas’ Cooper Field, where he spent the last three seasons in the same position.
Georgetown coach Rob Sgarlata was asked on a conference call which team would benefit most from Thompson’s job change.
“Everybody knows I’m probably not the smartest guy in the room, so I give the advantage to Luke,” Sgarlata said. “It’s a point of pride for me to watch Lafayette’s defense right now.”
Garrett said, “I know he’s our defensive coordinator, is doing a great job, knows about their roster. We are in the business of gathering information, so Luke has been a great source this week to tells us about the strengths and weaknesses of their players.”
Despite its overall record, Lafayette trails Colgate by half a game in the league standings and is still in the running for the league automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. A loss on Saturday would pretty much douse those chances.
Retired sports columnist Paul Reinhard is a freelance writer.
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Spring-Ford sinks Pope John Paul II, holds out district hopes
By Rob Senior
ROYERSFORD >> Despite their recent struggles, Spring-Ford fans knew the explosive, senior-laden Rams offense was the team’s best chance to stop their recent skid on Senior Night at Coach McNelly Stadium.
In the process, they just may have saved the season.
TJ Pergine threw for three first-half touchdown passes (four total) and the defense forced five turnovers as the Rams cruised to a 51-13 victory over Pope John Paul II.
The Rams (6-4 overall) compiled 414 yards of total offense, led by Pergine’s 241 passing yards and 194 total yards by Justin DeFrancesco (143 rushing, 51 receiving).
With the convincing win, Spring-Ford stays alive in the race for one of District 1’s 16 6A playoff berths. Numerous results from Friday night and Saturday will determine the Rams’ ultimate fate, hopefully decided by Saturday afternoon. The first domino fell Friday night, as Upper Darby, who came into Friday one spot ahead of the Rams, fell to Ridley.
Pope John Paul II (7-3) had already secured its place in the 4A playoffs and entered the week No. 2 in the rankings. That position is likely to remain with No. 3 Upper Perkiomen losing to Owen J. Roberts.
The game’s opening possession saw PJP stymie the Rams’ offense, forcing a 3rd-and-long from the Panthers’ 31. That’s when Pergine found running back DeFrancesco on a beautifully designed screen pass for the game’s opening points.
After that, the Rams navigated some short fields thanks to interceptions by Tyler Edwards and Leo Van Hulst, with two more Pergine TD strikes (to Edwards and Dante Bonanni, respectively) sandwiched around a unique play where senior tackle Noah Silva took a direct snap in an empty backfield, rolled right and threw back across the field to a wide-open James Albert.
“We’ve practiced that play for a few weeks,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “At this point in the season, you need kids to stay excited about what you’re doing. We have some more plays in our back pocket. They look great when they work.”
On the final play of the half, PJP quarterback Matt DeLaurentis found Dan Cirino from 14 yards out to get the Panthers on the board. AJ Natale added a 42-yard score early in the fourth quarter for the Panthers, but the Rams dominated time of possession late to secure their sixth victory of the year – and keep postseason hopes alive.
Edwards added another late interception and another TD catch on consecutive 4th quarter plays for Spring-Ford. The senior all-purpose player did a little bit of everything for the home team, finishing the night with two INTs and two TD catches – a standout performance on a roster littered with impressive statistics after a few frustrating weeks.
“We have no idea whether we’re going to make the playoffs,” Edwards admitted, “so as seniors, we wanted to come out tonight with a bang.”
The offensive outburst ended a month’s worth of frustrating performance for the Rams. Brubaker alluded to the introduction of a new set or two, but Edwards’ explanation was simpler.
“When our line can give TJ a pocket and not force him to scramble he’s gonna do damage,” he said. “Most games, we like to focus on the run – and we did – but we were also able to pick on the corners and safeties.”
For PJP, the loss extended their losing streak to three games, after a blazing 7-0 start. Next week’s District 1-4A playoff will likely see the Panthers in a rematch with Upper Perkiomen, the team that handed PJP its first loss of 2017. That may be all the motivation they need to turn things around.
“I think it’s clear I need to do a better job, preparing our kids, getting us ready to play,” said PJP coach Rory Graver. “We’re very excited for the opportunity to play Upper Perk. They really beat us up the last time we played, but we anticipate a excellent matchup.”
Spring-Ford’s fate isn’t certain yet, but if the Rams do make the playoffs they will likely do so as the 15th or 16th seed, meaning a showdown at the home of a district heavyweight next Friday.
“Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen,” said Brubaker. “It comes down to whether your kids are energized, ready to play – it’s an opportunity for us to build on tonight.
“We’ll be a low seed. No one will expect us to win – and we’re fine with that.”
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Owen J. Roberts shuts down Spring-Ford
By Tom Nash
BUCKTOWN >> No one needed to remind the Owen J. Roberts sideline all that was at stake under the lights of Henry J. Bernat Stadium Friday night. A win, and the Wildcats would have a great shot at making the District One Class 6A playoffs. A loss, well … “We weren’t even thinking about what a loss could mean,” said Owen J. Roberts quarterback Dawson Stuart. “We were just focused on winning.” The Wildcats were determined and focused throughout, dominating from start to finish on the way to a stunning 33-0 win over Spring-Ford. Owen J. Roberts quarterback Dawson Stuart (14) and receiver Hunter Hinrichs celebrate after connecting for a long TD reception against Spring-Ford Friday. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media) With the win, the Wildcats (3-2 Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division; 7-2 overall) move that much closer to earning their first district playoff berth since the 2010 season. With the loss, Spring-Ford (3-2; 5-4 overall) may very well find itself on the outside looking in for the first time since 2014 when districts get started in a couple weeks. “It’s only been done two, maybe three times in school history,” said Owen J. Roberts head coach Rich Kolka of making districts. “So that says a lot about our guys. That was one of our goals — three years ago, no one talked about us. Now, we could be in a district playoff game.” Friday’s game felt much like a November playoff atmosphere with Stuart at the forefront of it. The senior threw for 213 yards along with a pair of touchdowns to wideout Hunter Hinrichs. Hinrichs racked up a game-high 143 yards on six receptions — including a 78-yard strike down the left sideline during the first quarter that set the tone. “We knew we needed to make big plays early on to win against a good team like that,” said Hinrichs, the program’s career leader in receiving yards. “Dawson and I have that connection, that spark together.” Stuart had nothing but praise for his favorite target as the pair has undoubtably been on the same wavelength since their youth football days at Norchester. “Hunter is one of our best athletes,” said Stuart, who owns OJR’s all-time career records in passing touchdowns and yards. “We saw a mismatch on that play — he had (the defensive back beat) in height, quickness and speed. So I was looking at him the whole time, hoping he would make a play and he did. He beat his guy and took it all the way. “He’s doing all the work. I know I just have to get it near him and he’ll go get it.” Stuart kept the Spring-Ford defense honest with his feet, too. Utilizing the option with running back Hunter Scherfel in tow, Stuart racked up 50 yards rushing on 11 carries. Meanwhile Scherfel wore away the clock during the second half on the way to a 105-yard rushing game that featured a 3-yard score during the fourth quarter. OJR’s defense was solid all game. The Wildcats held Spring-Ford to its lowest total yardage output all season — 175 yards — and hardly let quarterback TJ Pergine set his feet in the pocket. Sean Praweckyj put the stamp on the team’s memorable night with an 80-yard interception returned for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter for the final 33-0 score. “That was as dominating of a performance on both sides of the ball as I have seen coaching high school football,” said Kolka. “There is no question. And that was against a good team. Spring-Ford is always a good team.” Meanwhile, Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker deemed it a ‘humiliating’ night to be a part of. The Rams were shutout for the first time since the 2012 season — a 49-0 loss against Phoenixville. They only made one trip into the red zone all night, which resulted in a missed field goal attempt from 27 yards out during the first quarter. “They didn’t do anything special, just played tough football,” said Brubaker. “Hats off to them. They beat us in every facet of the game tonight.” Just when it looked like the Rams were getting going, they had the carpet pulled out from under them. On their first drive of the second half, running back Justin DeFrancesco had a 44-yard touchdown erased by a costly holding penalty. Two plays later, the Rams would punt it away for the first of three times in the half. Defrancesco, usually a focal point to the Spring-Ford offense, was held to just 47 total yards by OJR’s bigs up front. Pergine rarely looked comfortable in the pocket where he completed just 12 of 27 passing attempts for 95 yards and scrambled for 46 yards on the ground. Next week, the PAC holds its regular-season ending divisional crossover games. With Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford and Boyertown all boasting the same inner-divisional record and no team emerging based on head-to-head criteria, the standings will turn to the district power rankings. Based on that, Owen J. Roberts will claim the No. 2 seed and face Frontier foe Upper Perkiomen, while No. 3-seeded Spring-Ford will take on Pope John Paul II.
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Spring-Ford gets back on track, downs Boyertown 16-0
By Jeff Stover
ROYERSFORD >> It seemed almost inconsistent with the nature of the day.
Spring-Ford staged its annual Homecoming festivities in conjunction with Saturday’s game against Boyertown. And while the Rams put a happy cap on the raucous day with a 16-0 victory over the Bears, head coach Chad Brubaker was left wanting by the way his players came out.
“I’m disappointed by my perception that we were uninspired,” he said as the party atmosphere at Coach McNelly Stadium and vicinity wound down. “We have to execute better. We’ll check the film.”
It was a very close Pioneer Athletic Conference (Division 1) game through the entire first half, the Rams going to the locker room with a 3-0 lead courtesy of a Taylor Smith field goal. Three other series saw SF (3-1 PAC, 5-3 overall) end with a missed field goal, on downs and with an interception.
To its credit, Boyertown’s defense played a prominent part in keeping pace with Spring-Ford. Blaise Caroselli intercepted a pass three plays after the Rams’ Cole Trauger recovered a fumble at his 37 to stop a Bear march that featured big runs by fullback Marcus Thomas (17 yards) and quarterback Ayden Mathias (14).
“Our kids played their hearts out,” Boyertown head coach T.J. Miller said. “It doesn’t matter if the opponent is a Spring-Ford or a winless team … it’s a testament to what our seniors have built on.”
It was a first half where the kicking game was in the spotlight. Smith had a 39-yard field-goal attempt blocked when the Rams’ first possession stalled at the Boyertown 22, and Declan Coyle’s attempt to pull the Bears even at the half saw his 25-yard try blocked.
Smith’s 37-yard field goal attempt — his second of two in the first half — was good with 2:39 left. It remained the game’s lone scoring until the first two minutes of the second half, when Spring-Ford created more separation on the scoreboard.
Justin Defrancesco (20 carries, game-high 135 yards) sprinted through a left-tackle hole at the Ram 45 and roared down the Boyertown sideline for a touchdown with 10:44 on the clock.
“We got a huge block from (Noah) Silva,” SF quarterback T.J. Pergine said. “It opened a huge hole for Justin, who has speed. It brought life to the team.”
Spring-Ford added a final touchdown with less than two minutes to go, Pergine hooking up with Colby Goldsmith (two catches, 10 yards) on a two-yard toss.
Turnovers ended up a big issue for the Bears. Goldsmith’s interception of Mathis at the Ram 39 set the home team up for an 11-play, 30-yard drive culminating with Smith’s field goal, and Cole Trauger recovered a fumble to halt the Bears at the Ram 37 with less than 1-1/2 minutes until the half.
A lost fumble quashed one drive at the Spring-Ford 16 near the end of the third quarter, and Clarence Thomas intercepted a Jerry Kapp pass to close out the game.
“Turnovers killed us,” Miller noted.
The Rams’ passing game sustained drives all day long. Pergine completed 15 of 27 tries for 158 yards, five to Defrancesco for 53 yards and three more to Dante Bonnani for another 53.
“They (Boyertown) like to play a lot of man defense,” Pergine said. “We took advantage of that, executing pretty well.”
Credit for that went to the Ram line of Silva, Gionvanni Guarna, Matt Lepore, James Begg and Gunnar Romano, who kept their Bear counterparts at bay.
“Our offensive line was pushing off the ball,” Pergine said.
On the defensive side, Spring-Ford limited Boyertown to just 66 yards passing on combined 8-for-21 accuracy. Mathias had the bulk of the passing work, going 7-for-18 for 60 yards while Jerry Kapp accounted for the rest late in the second half.
“Our defense did a good job,” Brubaker said. “I was concerned with their offense — we’re not real big. We hung in there when we game them short fields.”
The Bears’ offense covered 197 yards on the ground, led by Mathias (19 carries, 75 yards). Thomas added another 68 largely hard-fought stripes on 17 tries, and Nick Moccia had 51 on five carries.
“Our backs did the best they could,” Miller said.
The win got the Rams back on track following last weekend’s 28-7 loss to Perkiomen Valley. All alone in the division’s second-place slot after dropping the Bears (2-2, 2-6), they will visit neighboring rival Owen J. Roberts next week in a continuing bid to extend their season well into November.
“We’re in position to win out and make the playoffs,” Brubaker said. “The players have to decide if they have the passion to do that.”
“With the loss to PV, we’re not stopping there,” Silva added. “We’re going to work hard this whole week. Our tank is still full.”
NOTES >> Kylie Lynch was named Spring-Ford’s Homecoming queen during halftime ceremonies. Dylan Rumsey was crowned Homecoming king. … The school added two new members to its Hall of Fame class pregame: Andrew Scanlan (Class of 2012) and Ross Pennypacker (Class of 2000). Ross’ father, Pottsgrove football head coach Rick Pennypacker — himself a 2008 Hall inductee — accepted the award for his son.
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Schimpf does a little of everything as Vikings defense dominates Spring-Ford
By Sam Stewart
GRATERFORD >> L.V. Miles’ epic description of his nephew Boobie in the opening scenes of the 2004 movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ has become fodder for football memes and gifs throughout social media.
If there were any games to transpose his quote over game film it’d be Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford’s annual rivalry tilt. The player’s film to accompany it: Brendan Schimpf.
Schimpf did it all for the Vikings in a resounding victory over their neighboring rivals, coming up with a back-breaking pick-six, a rushing touchdown, a devastating sack and a momentous 52-yard reception to help lead Perkiomen Valley to a 28-7 victory Friday night in a key Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division contest.
The win puts Perkiomen Valley in control of its own destiny in the Liberty Division race, the Vikings only needing to win one of their next two remaining conference games to clinch the division after Owen J. Roberts fell to Boyertown on a last-second field goal.
“It feels good,” Schimpf said. “This is always the circled game for the season. You’re always ready to play when this game comes.”
Schimpf didn’t need to fill the Gatorade cooler, walk the dog or paint the back porch, but boy he showed that he could flat out play football. Same too, the rest of the Perkiomen Valley (3-0, 6-1) defense, which limited the Rams to a season low 219 yards of total offense — 68 of those coming on the team’s last possession as a TJ Pergine to Tyler Edwards score eliminated the chances of the series’ 13th shutout since 1976. Head coach Rob Heist wasn’t singling anyone out for their effort — they all deserved credit after registering their second-best defensive effort of the season (team allowed 135 yards in shutout against OJR in Week 5).
“This was the best week of practice that we’ve had in my career here and the best week of practice I think the coaches have ever seen,” said defensive back Remy Sell. “We were firing on all cylinders and we were able to come out here and translate what we did on the practice field and get after it. Our coaches stressed to all of us that they were going to put us in a lot of situations and one-on-ones. We stepped up. Me, Austin (Rowley), Randy (Washington) and (Ryan) Cerula, we all came up and decided that it was time to hunker down and make some plays.”
The same could not be said for a Spring-Ford (2-1, 4-3) squad that saw its three-game winning streak snapped. Seemingly out of sync the majority of the game, the Rams never got over a goalline stop by the Viking defense midway through the first quarter. They committed 12 penalties for 105 yards, punted a season-high nine times (eight of those stemming from three-and-outs) and didn’t find the end zone until the aforementioned Edwards’ touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.
“We struggled a lot with the team speed,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Obviously we didn’t put ourselves in good situations at times. We were for whatever reason out of sync. TJ had a lot of pressure real quickly. Their defensive front and their linebackers caused us a lot of problems where we had to have receivers open right away. We didn’t and we were in trouble.”
Schimpf, the WILL linebacker and tailback, was a big part of that. After scoring on a 2-yard plunge stemming from his 52-yard reception on a short crossing route, Schimpf came up with the backbreaking play on the Rams’ next drive, stepping in front of a Pergine screen pass and racing 49 yards untouched for the score and a 21-0 lead. His blind-sided sack on Pergine late in the fourth capped his day.
“I saw him drop back so I automatically dropped back into my passing lane and it was right there,” Schimpf said of his interception. “As soon as I caught it there was just green grass in front of me. It’s something you always look out for. They do very well, have a lot of different pass concepts so you just have to get to your zone and see what happens.”
Cole Peterlin was solid in his first game on the big stage, the junior quarterback throwing for 123 yards on a 10-of-20 effort. He struggled to find his accuracy early but helped lead the Vikings to back-to-back scoring drives in a tide-turning third quarter that helped pad a 7-0 halftime lead.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” Peterlin said. “This is only the first time I’ve played in front of so many people that were so hype for a game. I just had to stay calm and do what I do. We just came out and had a couple of first downs and get stops and we eventually started hitting it.”
Peterlin finished with 95 yards on the ground and two scores — his 39-yard touchdown up the gut on an outside zone capping a scintillating Viking second half. He’s still trying to find the lineman who came up with the key block.
“Not really sure, trying to figure it out,” he said of the block that sprung the run. “As soon as I saw that I just ran straight to the end zone. I had no one in front of me, I just had the corner on the side and I had to beat him to the end zone.”
NOTES >> A packed house has become commonplace for the annual rivalry and that was no different Friday night at a sold out Thomas J. Keenan Stadium. “It doesn’t get any better than PV-Spring-Ford right now in this whole area, maybe in the state,” Heist said. “It doesn’t get as good as this rivalry. It’s an awesome environment and it’s fun to be a part of.” … L.V. Miles’ full quote in the movie as scouts watched Boobie play: “That’s my nephew out there. That boy can play some football. He can play left, he can play right, don’t make no difference. He can block, tackle, score the TD, snap the ball, and kick the extra point. Hell, the boy will fill up the Gatorade cooler, walk the dog and paint your back porch. I’m telling ya, the boy can flat out play football. … Oh, and he can pass!”
Perkiomen Valley, Spring-Ford boast new-look rosters, play for same implications
By Sam Stewart October 5, 2017
The roster turnover has provided plenty of new faces.
The implications between Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford’s Friday night matchup, however, remain the same.
An annual showdown that again holds conference championship implications headlines Week 7 of the Pioneer Athletic Conference slate as the Rams travel to The Valley to take on the Vikings, Friday at 7 p.m.
It marks the first time in three years that the game will be held in Graterford after the previous two installments of arguably the conference’s best rivalry were played at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium. Those games lived up to the anticipation, the 2015 title tilt in front of nearly 12,000 fans going in favor of the Rams before the Vikings avenged in 2016 with a two-score victory to solidify their standing as the Liberty Division’s best.
Those two games featured some of the best football in the rivalry. Veteran-laden squads captivating not only the attention of the PAC, but the entire district in games that also carried weight in the district seedings picture. This year, despite roster turnover from both squads that have new names proliferating the statistical leaderboard, expect that trend of high-quality football to stay the course.
“It’s going to be electric,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist said. “There’s going to be X-thousands of people here. They’re going to come in hype, our kids are going to be hype. It’s going to be awesome.”
Perkiomen Valley (5-1), the No. 10 team in the PA Prep Live Football Top 20, comes into Friday’s contest winners of three straight, including wins over District 1 Class 4A runner-up Interboro and previously undefeated Owen J. Roberts. Junior quarterback Cole Peterlin continues to improve in his first year under center, throwing for 1,036 yards and six touchdowns (second best in the PAC) while leading all quarterbacks in rushing with 393 yards and two scores. His stable of receivers continue to impress, especially deep threat Isaiah Domine, who’s hauled in 17 receptions for 276 yards and three scores while running back Jon Moccia continues to show his ability to catch out of the backfield, hauling in a team-best 25 catches for 289 yards.
More notably, however, is the play of the Vikings’ defense despite the loss of starting end Alec Jackson. Led by linebacker Noah Shine and nose tackle Kevin Lovett, the PV defense has come on strong in recent weeks. Their plus-5 turnover ratio is tops in the conference while their 11.8 points per game allowed ranks third behind Pottsgrove and Owen J. Roberts. Credit it to a team effort and the supporting cast that have filled in nicely for the loss of the team’s senior leader in Jackson.
“We’ve had some kids repping in there,” Heist said. “Jahir (Holmes) has stepped in along the defensive line for us, which has been nice. He’s a senior so I’m confident that he can handle that mentally and physically.”
The defense will be up for one its most challenging tasks to date against a Rams squad that comes in winners of three straight and boasts a bevy of different formations and looks.
“We’ve had our scout (team) try to replicate — as best as they could — their offense and their schemes so that we could have the best look possible,” Shine said. “They’re a well-coached team so we know we have to be disciplined and do all of our assignments right.”
“We’ve watched a lot of film and studied what they do so we can apply it out here on our field,” Lovett said. “Every game is the same. We need to keep that 1-0 mentality and give it all we got, all the time.”
While Spring-Ford quarterback TJ Pergine (95-168 for 1,271 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions) and running back Justin DeFrancesco (81 carries for 759 yards and nine touchdowns) get a lot of the credit — and deservedly so — for the Rams’ offensive success, the offensive line that only returned two of its starters from a season ago are starting to jell and have looked strong in the team’s previous three wins against Exeter, Norristown and Methacton. Center Matt Lepore and left tackle Noah Silva were tasked to bring the newcomers along the line together. Through trips to Royersford’s Annamarie’s and other offseason bonding exercises a line that took its lumps through the first three weeks has come on strong since Week 3’s loss to Wilson.
“Silva and I would talk in the winter or the spring and take people to Annamarie’s or what not and talk about the plays and try and get some work in,” Lepore said. “Getting the younger guys in and bringing up the seniors that didn’t get to play last year was key. We wanted to establish communication and we’re getting there. We’re still creating that chainlink with everyone but we continue to progress and get better each week.”
Among the newcomers, senior left guard Gio Guarna has blended in seamlessly, his longtime friendship with LePore and Silva aiding in the process.
“We’ve been friends for a while now,” Guarna said. “When it came time for me to step up to the plate, for the sake of these guys, I had to know my stuff and I had to hone my craft to get as good as I could to help the team win.”
So far, it’s worked. Whether the Rams’ line can continue their progression this week remains to be seen. But for all the new faces, one thing remains constant: this rivalry keeps getting better.
“We’re confident,” Silva said. “We’re ready for them. This is a new year and everyone has cleaned off the slate.”
“I don’t care what team we play,” Guarna said. “We just need to go out there and execute.”
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Spring-Ford hitting its stride once again behind Pergine
By Sam Stewart October 2, 2017
ROYERSFORD >> A mass exodus of seniors from last year’s District 1 Class 6A quarterfinalist Spring-Ford team had thrust the spotlight onto quarterback TJ Pergine.
He sure hasn’t shied away from it. More so, he’s thriving in it.
Need evidence? One doesn’t need to look any further than his performance in last week’s victory over Methacton. The senior quarterback’s 386-yard passing performance ended up becoming both a school and individual record and has now propelled him to the top of the Pioneer Athletic Conference passer leaders list with a conference high 1,271 yards on a 95-of-168 effort with a gaudy 14-2 touchdown to interception ratio. It gave the Rams their third straight victory and has them right in the thick of the Liberty Division race yet again.
No surprise, says head coach Chad Brubaker.
“There’s not a lot to say that I haven’t said already,” he said. “He’s our engine and our point guard, whatever analogy you want to make. He’s brought guys along tremendously and we’re still not there yet but every week I see improvement from other kids. He’s as prepared as any quarterback that we’ve had. He has a great desire to be successful. He understands what it takes in terms of film study, he’s more willing to ask questions on scenarios that could arise. He’s got all those things, plus a tremendous desire to win.”
All of those traits were imperative for a Spring-Ford squad that came into the 2017 season with question marks up and down the depth chart offensively. Who would replace the playmakers of athlete Stone Scarcelle and running backs Selwyn Simpson and Matt Gibson? Who would step up along the line that saw every position vacated except for that of Noah Silva at left tackle and Matt LePore at center? Behind a steady Justin DeFrancesco and leadership of Pergine, all those questions are starting to see some answers despite early growing pains, which resulted in the team’s 1-2 start.
“We knew that we were going to have some growing pains due to inexperience,” Brubaker said. “My message to him was that he needs to be the positive guy and I’ll be the guy that gets on guys. He needs to counter that and stay positive with guys because ultimately they are the guys that line up with him.
“We’ve had pretty frustrating times especially in the preseason,” he added. “Honestly, there were some days that privately I wasn’t sure where we’d get to or what we’d accomplish. I think through coaching, by our staff and through just continual repetition, and also him (Pergine) putting the ball where it needs to go, we’ve made a lot of progress. Where we are now in terms of our receivers from where we were in team camp in July and preseason camp is significantly better.”
Pergine’s 386 passing yards broke a school record of 312 yards set by Brandon Leacraft in a game against Boyertown in 2014. The 27 first downs tied a school record for one game. The Rams had done it twice before in 1989 and 2014 — both against Methacton.
The play of receiver Spring-Ford Dante Bonanni has helped the growing pains for the Rams as he is second in the PAC with 422 yards receiving on 23 receptions with three touchdowns. The sophomore recently caught a career-best seven passes for 162 yards and two scores in last week’s win over Methacton.
Spring-Ford takes care of Methacton, 43-7
By Ryan Brennan
ROYERSFORD >> TJ Pergine and the rest of the Spring-Ford Rams didn’t want to hear about next week’s matchup with Perkiomen Valley heading into their Friday matchup with Methacton.
The Rams came out firing on all cylinders, leading to a 43-7 dismantling of the Warriors to move to 2-0 in PAC Liberty play and 4-2 overall on the year.
“We’re taking it one week at a time,” said Pergine, ensuring he and his teammates weren’t looking ahead to their Oct. 6 showdown with the Vikings.
The senior quarterback finished his night 22-for-35 with 396 yards and three touchdowns as well as 36 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
On the Rams’ opening possession, Pergine completed his first three passes to get the offense down to the 3-yard line. From there the quarterback used his legs, scrambling around before finding a hole in the middle of the pocket for the 3-yard TD run.
“That first drive is huge. It’s always the best one; you have to punch it in and score right away and that’s what we did,” said Pergine
On the ensuing Warriors’ possession, Dylan Schultz fired a pass that was intercepted by Justin DeFrancesco to give the Rams great field position. Spring-Ford would use a combination of runs and Pergine darts before DeFrancesco would punch one in for a 14-0 lead.
Later in the quarter with the Warriors backed up at their own 10, a mishandled snap eventually recovered by quarterback Schultz in the end zone would lead to a Rams safety.
With the ball back in his hands, Pergine was able to find his favorite target of the night, wide out Dante Bonanni (8 receptions for 173 yards and two TDs), streaking down the middle of the field for a 43-yard touchdown to give the home team a 23-0 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter was a much different result for the Rams.
Twice the Rams’ offense was able to get the ball deep into Warriors territory but were only able to come away with two Taylor Smith field goals.
“They had three field goal attempts in the first half. That’s a big difference where they only got six points but could have had 21. That’s a credit to these guys for bending but not breaking,” said Warriors coach Paul Lepre. “They had a couple opportunities to run it in and Zach Skalecki ran a guy down in the corner when he could have walked into the end zone.”
In the second half, the Rams offense got back to its scoring ways.
Pergine scrambled to his left before shoveling a pass to DeFrancesco who did the rest of the work, scurrying 19 yards for a touchdown.
The senior running back finished his night with eight rushes for 98 yards to go along with four receptions for 71 yards.
On their next possession, Pergine once again found a streaking Bonanni this time for a 53-yard score and a 43-0 lead.
The Warriors would answer with a score of their own when sophomore running back Michael Torcini pounded his way into the end zone on a 12-yard run to give the Warriors there only points of the night.
It was a long night for the Warriors offense as they only managed 11 first downs (five on the final drive) and 134 yards of total offense.
Schultz only managed to complete three of his 13 pass attempts and added 20 yards rushing. Torcini finished his night with 13 rushes for 82 yards.
“It’s a challenge for these guys to keep their heads up and keep battling every week,” said Lepre, who seemed optimistic despite the result of the game. “I think tonight we turned a corner. There was some good senior leadership and playing hard out of seniors.”
FUTURE RAMS >> It was youth night at McNelly Stadium as the Rams were led out on the field by players and cheerleaders of all ages in the Spring-Ford youth football program.
MOVING UP >> After his second touchdown pass of the night, Pergine passed Trevor Sasek for third all-time in passing TDs with 40. The senior is now five away from passing Lance Viola for second.
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DeFrancesco’s five touchdowns help lift Spring-Ford past Norristown, 49-6
By Sam Stewart
WEST NORRITON >> Rumor has it Spring-Ford’s Justin DeFrancesco owns real estate in the end zone. For as many times as the senior was in it Saturday, that’s the only possible explanation.
In total, the do-it-all back’s five touchdowns and 100-plus yard game on the ground was more than enough to help lift Spring-Ford to a 49-6 victory over host Norristown in both teams Pioneer Athletic Conference openers.
It marked the second straight game DeFrancesco finished with 100 yards or more on the ground. He finished with a game-high 163 yards on 16 attempts with four scores as he helped revive a Rams squad that struggled to turn it on through the first quarter-plus with two fumbles and a three and out. He figured in the Rams’ first three scores, a 12-yard touchdown reception and a 29-yard touchdown run on a counter in a span of two minutes giving the Rams a 21-0 lead late in the second.
DeFrancesco now ranks second in the PAC with 656 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
“We knew we just had to stay in the game and it would all come to us,” DeFrancesco said. “Our O-line really stepped up in the run block and the run scheme. We just stuck to our gameplan.”
“You got to get the ball into the hands of the guys who can make plays,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Turnovers are something we have to clean up. We’re in league play now, so every week is important.”
Spring-Ford quarterback TJ Pergine had another productive day throwing for 163 yards and three scores, his most impressive coming on a strike to Dante Bonanni on a go route for a 67-yard touchdown to make it 28-0 before the half. DeFrancesco added five receptions for 56 yards and a score for a Ram offense that had five scoring drives that lasted less than two plays. Part of that plays credit to the Rams’ defense forcing three turnovers, including a blocked punt that led to the team’s second score.
“We know we have a lot of potential on this team and we haven’t even reached that potential yet,” DeFrancesco said. “We have a lot of people on our team that are just starting to be where they need to be. We’re all coming together.”
“We just need to put some drives together,” Brubaker said. “In a game like that, it’s good to score quickly, but I’d like to see us put some drives together.”
The result was never in question, but Norristown’s Izaiah Webb and receivers Boubacar Diawara and John Devine made enough plays to keep it interesting as the running clock was held off until the fourth quarter. Webb finished with 236 yards through the air with Diawara supplying seven receptions for 81 yards. Devine added three receptions for 49 yards and the team’s lone touchdown that capped a nine-play, 51-yard drive to open the second half. Norristown finished with 259 yards of total offense and were in danger of finishing with a negative total in rushing yards before Isaiah Tucker’s 30-yard run at the gun.
“We had them in advantageous down and distance situations and let them out of it,” Brubaker said. “Some of that is a credit to them and plays that they made and some of it is attributable to not doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
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Pergine, DeFrancesco dominant in Rams’ win over Exeter
By Rob Senior
Before Friday’s game, Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker stressed the importance of strong play from his senior quarterback, TJ Pergine, in the Rams’ chances for success this season.
It’s safe to say Brubaker’s pleased with the immediate results.
Pergine came out on fire Friday night, throwing for three first-half touchdowns, while senior running back Justin DeFrancesco ran for 251 yards. When all was said and done, the Rams had a convincing 45-21 win over previously undefeated Exeter.
“He’s been playing at a high level-stats don’t always tell the story for (Pergine),” said Brubaker. “But tonight I felt we did an all-around tremendous job.”
“(Coach Brubaker) is the key to our success,” Pergine said. “Since Week 1 and even during the summer, he’s had us in the weight room, keeps us working hard, and he believes in us. Everything starts with Coach.”
Early on, the Rams wasted no time getting on the board with a 31-yard field goal from Taylor Smith. After a 20-yard TD run by Exeter’s Nick Sarangoulis (who ran for 182 yards on the night), Pergine took to the air, finding sophomore Ryan Engro for an 8-yard score that gave Spring-Ford a lead they would not relinquish.
Senior Tyler Edwards cranked up the highlight reel early in the second quarter with a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone to extend the lead. After Justin DeFrancesco ran in from a yard out to make it 24-7 Rams, the young — but rapidly improving — Spring-Ford defense forced a quick Exeter three-and-out to give the offense the ball back with two minutes left before the half.
Pergine and company immediately went to work, as the quarterback broke a 46-yard run deep into Exeter territory. On first and goal, Pergine pump-faked a quick out and found a wide-open Colby Goldsmith for a 31-7 halftime lead.
The otherwise entertaining first half was marred by 15 total penalties — 10 on the home team from Exeter, who struggled to sustain drives. Multiple first-half possessions came to an abrupt halt in the red zone, with penalties the main culprit.
Aside from the standout performance on the ground from Sarangoulis, Exeter QB Brandon Unterkoefler added 99 yards on the ground.
After halftime, the Rams quickly put the game out of reach. On a third-and-13 from the Spring-Ford 7, DeFrancesco took a draw untouched 93 yards to the house to make it a 38-7 lead. He wasn’t done, however, adding an 87-yarder later in the quarter.
“I can’t take much credit — the holes I ran through were huge,” said DeFrancesco. “Happy to get the win, and the long runs, but the credit goes to the guys up front.”
In all the Rams compiled 524 yards of total offense before pulling the starters with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, leading 45-7. Unterkoefler added two late scores for Exeter to tighten the final margin, but the Rams got on the bus back to Royersford with a 2-2 record — and a confident leader in Brubaker.
“We had a sour taste in our mouths from last week (a 28-21 setback against Wilson), and I told the kids to be angry about that, and use it as fuel to improve,” Brubaker said.
“I feel like we did just that tonight.”