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Defense shines as Perk Valley topples Spring-Ford 28-16
The Vikings’ front seven did the dirty work, stymieing a Rams ground game that ran wild in last year’s contest, while David Williams made a tide-turning interception in the third quarter as the Vikings topped Spring-Ford 28-16 on the Rams’ Senior Night Friday night.
The win is only the Vikings’ (3-0 PAC, 7-0 overall) second over their neighboring rival in the past six years and puts them in control of their own destiny with the PAC championship three weeks away.
“We worked hard, did what we need to do and got the job done,” PV defensive tackle Alec Jackson said. “I have no words for this, I couldn’t ask for anything else. No one messed up, we played well. It was a solid job all the way around.”
“I thought our defense played amazing tonight,” Perkiomen Valley first-year head coach Rob Heist said. “They were disciplined, they knew their responsibilities, they knew their adjustments and we got 11 hats to the ball and tackled well tonight.”
The Vikings’ defense — led by the play of Jackson, Vaughn Stolzer, Nick Marren, Jahir Holmes, Noah Shine, Mario Scotese, Kevin DelaCruz, Kevin Lovett, Chris Jimenez and Jon Rotunda to name a few — limited the Rams’ ground game to just 77 yards. Senior running back Matt Gibson, a Viking killer who ran for 187 yards in last year’s PAC Championship win, was limited to 69 yards on 14 carries. The second part of the Ram tandem, Selwyn Simpson, was limited to just 30 yards on eight carries, his seven-yard touchdown with less than a minute in the fourth capping the scoring.
Scotese and Shine registered sacks in the win.
The Vikings forced the Rams into three three-and-outs to start the game and only broke once, a 80-yard pass from TJ Pergine to Dan Cassidy making the score 13-7 one play after Stephen Sturm’s 4-yard touchdown run gave the visitors a two-touchdown lead.
They more than made up for that momentary lapse, however. Williams, a senior safety, delivered a decisive blow on the defense’s next drive, picking off a pass that bounced off a Spring-Ford receiver and returned it 17 yards to give the Vikings a commanding 21-7 lead, one they didn’t relinquish.
“It was huge (Williams’ interception),” Sturm said. “It gave us the momentum back. Dave is a hell of a player. He always comes in with the mindset of being that nasty safety over the middle. Today it really showed. He stepped up and made some huge hits. From there, the interception, right place, right time. He made the play and took it back to the house.”
Pergine finished the game 18-of-37 for 287 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions with Cassidy leading the team with 99 yards receiving on four receptions. Spring-Ford (2-1 PAC, 5-2 overall), which started three drives behind their own 15, turned the ball over on downs deep in Viking territory on two occasions. The first came as the Rams failed to convert a 4th and 15 at the PV 25 midway through the second in a scoreless game, the second stemming on a bad hold on a field goal try on the drive following Williams’ pick-six.
“We just didn’t play a good game,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “I made mistakes, kids made mistakes, we all made mistakes and we’re all accountable for that. We have to look at the film. We felt like we could come in and run the ball and they did a good job up front, bouncing us out of the holes we were trying to get to and we were forced to come back.”
“We kept getting ourselves in bad situations early, down and distance wise. Our defense played really well in the first half but they were able to get enough first downs to where we would be pinned deep in our own territory. Our defense was on the field for a long time in the first half. We started the game with four three and outs, and obviously you can’t do that.”
Sturm finished the game with 241 yards passing and three total touchdowns (two passing, one running). Justin Jaworski, who was cleared Wednesday after suffering an injury to his MCL in Week 4, finished the game with a game-best six receptions for 101 yards. Remy Sell hauled in four passes for 87 yards, his biggest a 64-yard reception that gave the Vikings a 28-9 lead with nine minutes remaining in the fourth.
“This game was huge for me,” Sturm said. “Last year I was very disappointed in the way I played. All offseason, thinking about it, if there was one game that I could fix, one game I could have prepared for more it was Spring-Ford’s. I wasn’t happy with the way I played at all. All offseason I dedicated my sweat, my hard work in the weight room to this.
“We came up, defense played amazing. The O-line was amazing and we did what we had to do.”
Defense, Sturm rise up in Jaworski's return as Perkiomen Valley handles Spring-Ford
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD – In the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s version of Gunfight at the OK Corral – Perkiomen Valley got some added firepower with the return of injured, record-setting wideout Justin Jaworski.
But it was the Vikings’ defense that actually stole the show in a pivotal 28-16 victory over archrival Spring-Ford, enabling PV to grab the PAC Liberty Division lead by the throat.
Sure, Jaworski provided a huge spark, notching six catches for 101 yards and picking off a pass in his surprisingly quick return from a partially torn MCL and growth plate fracture. But the real headliners was a ferocious defense that notched two interceptions and held the Rams to 76 rushing yards.
Marco Scotese and Noah Shine finished with sacks for the Vikings, who set the tone by forcing a trio of three-and-outs from Spring-Ford at the onset. Other strong contributions came from Alec Jackson, Vaughn Stolzer, Nick Marren, Jahir Holmes, Kevin DelaCruz, Kevin Lovett, Chris Jimenez and Jon Rotunda for the Vikings, who grabbed a 7-0 halftime lead when Stephen Sturm tossed an 8-yard screen pass to Brendan Schimpf at the 1:27 mark of the second quarter.
“The kids were flying around out there, making plays,” said Perkiomen Valley first-year head coach Rob Heist. “The kids played amazing defense. They showed amazing discipline and handled their responsibilities, allowing just the one big play (TJ Pergine’s 80-yard TD pass to Dan Cassidy in the third quarter). Our defense set the tone.”
The biggest play from the Vikings’ D came from David Williams, who hauled in an interception off a deflection and rambled 17 yards to the house for a 21-7 lead with 5:16 left in the third quarter.
After Spring-Ford (2-1, 5-2) drew within 21-9 on Billy Frazier’s endzone sack of PV quarterback Stephen Sturm (243 yards, 2 TDs passing) for a safety late in the third quarter, the Vikings (3-0, 7-0) put the nail in the coffin when Sturm hit Remy Sell in stride with a 64-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline for a 28-9 lead with 8:46 remaining.
“Give them credit, we got outplayed,” said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker. “You can’t start out the game with (three) three-and-outs. That's just something you can’t do. We felt like we would have success running the ball but they did a good job up front, bouncing us out our running lanes.”
There was plenty of bounce from the Vikings, with Sturm at the center of activity. The senior quarterback led Perk Valley on the ground (16 carries, 69 yards, TD) and through the air.
“This was a great team win for us,” Sturm said. “The defense and the offensive line played amazing. Last year I was very disappointed the way I played and all offseason I dedicated my sweat and hard work in the weight room to this. We learned from our mistakes last year, and that’s what makes a great team.”
Greatness is a superlative often attached to the electric Jaworski, who was cleared to play Wednesday and didn’t put on his uniform until the Vikings headed back to the locker room following the pregame warmups.
“When I got hurt, I was focused on getting back for Week 7 and Spring-Ford,” said Jaworski, who now has 878 receiving yards in just 4.5 games. “I went to physical therapy 5-6 times a week and the doctors cleared me Wednesday and said I had 100 percent stability.
“Sturm has been doing a great job spreading the ball around and the guys have been stepping up all year, especially on the offensive line. Remy has been playing out of his mind.”
Williams’ pick provided the decided turning point – “that killed us,” Brubaker said – and the Vikings now find themselves in the driver’s seat for the Liberty title and a shot at reclaiming the top spot they held in 2014.
“David Williams’ ‘Pick Six” was definitely the play of the game,” Heist said. “The kids showed great focus coming into this game. Our mentality all year is 1-0, to play it one game at a time. And now we have to go back to that thought process with Norristown up next.”
For the Rams, Pergine threw for 287 yards and Simpson capped the scoring with a 6-yard TD run with 28 seconds left at the end of a roughing-the-passer aided, 47-yard scoring drive (six plays). But it was too little, too late.
“Our defense was on the field too long, especially in the first half, and I knew that would eventually hurt us,” Brubaker said. “We played well defensively but we were off. Sometimes you have to man up and tip your cap to the other team.”
Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley set to renew rivalry Friday night
By Sam Stewart
ROYERSFORD >> He ran over, through and around Perkiomen Valley’s defensive line in last year’s win.
Now, senior running back Matt Gibson and the Ram offense are looking for an encore.
Perkiomen Valley, meanwhile, is looking for the exact opposite.
Friday night, as the undefeated Vikings (2-0 PAC, 6-0 overall) visit Spring-Ford (2-0 PAC, 5-1 overall) at Coach McNelly Stadium in the most anticipated game of the season, both teams will finally have their answer.
“The biggest thing for us this year is being gap disciplined, knowing your assignment on every front that we’re putting up there and tackling,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist said. “It wasn’t so much schematic last year but him (Gibson) making plays, being slippery, making people miss and turning highlight-reel runs. We need to get to where we need to be, get 11 hats to the ball and tackle.”
“Selwyn (Simpson) and Matt (Gibson) are essentially three year starters and they know what they bring to the table, and we do too,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “We expect the same from them every game. They’re going to run hard and we just need to create some lanes for them to run in.”
Last year, finding lanes wasn’t a problem for the two-headed monster in the Rams’ backfield. In some instances, they made their own.
Gibson finished with a game-best 187 yards, including two sensational touchdowns, while Simpson added 94 yards on 11 carries and a score as the Rams captured their first PAC-10 championship since 2011 with a 28-14 victory in the last week of the regular season.
This year, the duo has been more than formidable. Gibson ranks fourth in the PAC with 494 yards and six scores on 69 carries. Simpson has 280 yards and 10 touchdowns on 47 carries for a Ram offense that ranks first in the league in scoring (43.5 ppg) and second in rushing (182.7 ypg).
Needless to say, stopping the backs and getting through a much vaunted offensive line is a focal point for the PV defense.
“We can’t have any mental mistakes, especially up front,” said PV’s 6-3, 245-pound senior defensive lineman Vaughn Stolzer. “We have to be crisp.”
“They’re (Spring-Ford) physical,” added junior Alec Jackson. “We’re just going to have to get after it, do what we need to do and hopefully get the job done.”
Getting the job done is what Perkiomen Valley failed to do last season, falling flat in their trip to Royersford as the offense could only muster six points through the first three quarters.
That’s a sticking point for PV, which enters Friday winners of six straight, including a victory over The Haverford School that snapped the Fords’ 21-game win streak. Senior quarterback Stephen Sturm, who threw for 298 yards while completing 32-of-55 in last year’s loss, is unsurprisingly the league’s leading passer. He’s completed nearly 70 percent of his passes (102-for-149) for 1,679 yards and 20 touchdowns, 37 of those completions going to senior wide receiver Justin Jaworski, who was injured in Week 4.
In his place, Brendan Schimpf, David Williams, Sean Owens and Remy Sell have carried the workload. Williams is coming off a solid Week 6, hauling in four passes for 69 yards in the Vikings’ 30-0 victory over Boyertown. Owens ranks fourth in the league in receptions (19 for 331, five touchdowns) with Schimpf adding 224 yards on the ground.
“We asked the kids to step up when Justin got hurt,” Heist said. “Justin is one of the best players in the area and that left a big gap for us. It was put to all the other receivers and running backs ‘listen, you’re going to get more touches. We need you to step up and make plays.’ We’ve been spreading the ball around to as many different people as we can and trying to be unpredictable. So far, so good. This will be the real test. They are the defending champs. Their defense is excellent and every single year they are very well coached. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
That defense is led by a front seven that wreaks havoc. Their goal: to make teams one dimensional. The result: Successful.
Led by Tanner Romano, Nick Salomone, Toby Poet, Billy Frazier, Ryan Yanulevich, Josh Tumelty and Lee Albert, the Rams defense has only allowed more than 250 yards of total offense in one game — Week 3’s loss to Wilson in double overtime. The Rams ‘D’ ranks second in the league in points against (14.3 ppg), rushing yards allowed (237.8 ypg) and third in total yards allowed (237 ypg),
“What we’ve been successful with is making teams one dimensional,” Brubaker said. “We’ve been pretty good playing the run throughout the year and I would expect nothing different. We tend to give up some yards passing but we tighten up in the red zone. That happened last year and it happened against Wilson earlier this year. We just need to continue to play sound football. The guys on defense, we have different guys making plays each week. That’s kind of our defensive strength, that they play within the system they are given.”
“We’re not going to act like they don’t have any players,” Romano said of Perkiomen Valley. “Every team has got them and they definitely do. We game plan around some players and we’re ready to play. We’re excited.”
Keep on Growing
Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley are anticipating the same amount — or more — of fans Friday night. Last year brought more than 8,000 through the gates, many having arrived well before 6 p.m.
“I love it when the student sections are there to warm up,” Brubaker said. “Spring-Ford tends to be a later arriving crowd. You turn around at the beginning of the game then you turn around during the first quarter and the stands are full. In a game like this, seats are at a premium, parents and kids are getting there early and I love it. I love that atmosphere and that energy.”
Peak of the Rivalry
Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford’s matchups have had some added weight the past two seasons, the winner going on to win the PAC title. This year will be no different with the winner set on the path to the first PAC crossover championship in Week 10.
“I mean it’s an awesome rivalry,” Heist said. “It’s grown into something that’s manifested itself into something bigger than both schools. It’s not just football. It was basketball last year, field hockey, soccer, any competition between our two schools is super competitive and an awesome, awesome rivalry. The atmosphere, even though we came on the wrong side of that, being apart of that was amazing. There was around 9,000 people there, I expect it to be similar this year. We have a veteran group, I expect our kids ready to go.”
Both teams held the same mentality of “winning the week,” and not making Friday’s night’s game any bigger than it had to be.
“Practice has definitely been intense all week,” Salomone said. “We’re going later, working harder but it’s worth it.”
“We just need to treat it like any other game,” Gibson added. “Just go out there and do our best.
“We just need to look at it as just another game,” PV’s Jahir Holmes said. “We don’t want to put this game on a pedestal and get emotional 10 minutes before the game. We need to go out and do what need to do.”
Prediction: Spring-Ford wins another on its home turf, tops PV 28-21
Spring-Ford / PV History
Rick's Pa. Pigskin Picks: Contrasting styles collide
By Rick O'Brien
Perkiomen Valley's aim against Spring-Ford is to gain payback for last season's loss and take a huge step toward winning the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division title.
In the overall sports rivalry between the schools, Perkiomen Valley would also like to gain a measure of revenge for the controversial and heartbreaking loss it suffered on the hardwood in February in the league final.
In the basketball contest, Perkiomen Valley fans stormed Spring-Ford's court with 0.1 seconds left to celebrate an apparent 45-44 victory. The Vikings were assessed a technical foul by the referees, and they ended up bowing, 54-48, in overtime.
The Vikings (6-0 overall, 2-0 conference) and host Rams (5-1, 2-0) will clash on the gridiron at 7 p.m. Friday at Coach McNelly Stadium.
"This has always been a big game for us," said Perkiomen Valley first-year coach Rob Heist, who is in his 13th season with the Vikings and a graduate of the school.
Last season, before the conference added Norristown and Upper Merion and split into two divisions, Spring-Ford captured its first league title since 2011 with a 28-14 win over Perkiomen Valley in Week 10.
A Perkiomen Valley offense that averages 37.7 points is spurred by quarterback Stephen Sturm. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw has completed 102 of 149 passes for an area-high 1,679 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Vikings suffered a major blow when they lost multipurpose threat Justin Jaworski to a partially torn medial collateral ligament, suffered Sept. 16. "That's unfortunate, because you want to play them when they're at full strength," Rams coach Chad Brubaker said.
Sturm now mostly spreads the ball among halfback David Williams, fullback Brendan Schimpf, and wideouts Remy Sell and Sean Owens.
The Rams' spread offense is ignited by quarterback T.J. Pergine, running backs Matt Gibson and Selwyn Simpson, handyman Stone Scarcelle, and tight end/wideout Quinn McKenna.
Pergine has hit on 64 of 109 passes for 1,143 yards and 14 touchdowns; Gibson has carried 70 times for 500 yards and five TDs; and Scarcelle, who sees time at quarterback, has 26 receptions for 469 yards and six touchdowns.
Perkiomen Valley's 3-5-3 defense is headed by middle guard Kevin Lovett, tackles Alec Jackson and Kevin DelaCruz, and linebackers Nick Marren and Mario Scotese.
The Rams' 4-3 defense is keyed by end Tanner Romano, linebackers Ryan Yanulevich and Lee Albert, and safeties Dan Cassidy and Adam Sharkey.
No. 6 Perkiomen Valley at No. 11 Spring-Ford, Friday, 7 p.m. Vikings linemen Chris Jimenez, Vaughn Stolzer, and Jahir Holmes need to give Sturm time to throw.
Pick: Spring-Ford, 28-21.
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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.
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Spring-Ford hits gas, tops Norristown 50-14
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.”
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Spring-Ford smashes Exeter, 38-6
By Dan Dunkin
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.