UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Pottsgrove High School enjoyed a banner day when it came time for special awards during the 29th Annual Pioneer Athletic Conference All-League Banquet Sunday afternoon at the Rivercrest Golf Club.
Pottsgrove defensive end/tight end Chris DeFrancesco won the David L. Freed Award; running back Tyrell Barr took home the Joseph Edwards Scholarship; and offensive tackle Jake Adams captured the Bill Rogers Lineman of the Year award.
Also receiving high honors as a multiple award-winning school were Perkiomen Valley junior quarterback Stephen Sturm, Most Valuable Player; junior wide receiver/defensive back Justin Jaworski,Two-Way Player of the Year; junior running back David Williams, Offensive Player of the Year; and Spring-Ford linebacker Steven Rice, Defensive Player of the Year.
All awards were voted upon by the PAC-10 Football Coaches Association, which also selected first team, second team and honorable mention all-star recipients for both offense and defense.
DeFrancesco is undergoing chemotherapy for a 6-to-8-week period to deal with testicular cancer, which represents a testament in courage and fight to overcome adversity that no scholastic student-athlete should ever have to deal with. Pottsgrove head football coach Rick Pennypacker told the story of DeFrancesco’s career, both from an athletic standpoint as well as his battles with cancer that arrived at age 17 and other physical issues with his leg and ankle. Spring-Ford head football coach Chad Brubaker first explained the criteria for winning the David L. Freed Award, which is named in memory of former Spring-Ford lineman David Freed, who died from head injuries suffered in a 1975 practice incident on a machine that is no longer manufactured.
Despite numerous setbacks along the road, DeFrancesco has maintained a positive attitude and has continued his diligent work ethic as a star member of both the Falcons’ football and wrestling teams.
Pottsgrove Head Coach Rick Pennypacker with Joseph Edwards Scholarship recipient Tyrell Barr at the PAC-10 Football Awards Banquet Sunday. (Barry Taglieber - For Digital First Media)
Pottsgrove Head Coach Rick Pennypacker with Joseph Edwards Scholarship recipient Tyrell Barr at the PAC-10 Football Awards Banquet Sunday. (Barry Taglieber – For Digital First Media)
DeFrancesco received first team all-league honors as a defensive end. Barr was named a first team all-league running back. Adams received first team honors as an offensive lineman.
“I had no idea I was getting it (Freed Award),” said DeFrancesco. “Then they started talking about it. Coach (Pennypacker) started talking, and so I had a great feeling. Everybody started clapping for me and everything. It helps to have the will to fight, and still fight. You can never give up on your dreams. You have to do what you believe in and keep striving.”
DeFrancesco has spent an extraordinary amount of time in the weight room while preparing for rigors in two scholastic sports during his high school career – football and wrestling.
Because of the extensive media coverage the DeFrancesco case has received, and because he is such an admirable student-athlete on top of it all as a special person, DeFrancesco has been constantly receiving best wishes from students, players and other coaches he does not even know.
“They say they are praying for me,” said DeFrancesco, “especially with the coaches and kids I don’t even know. I am really appreciative.”
“He practiced every day and never stopped lifting,” said Pennypacker of DeFrancesco’s sports time despite the illness. “He bulked up. He asked ‘When can I play football?’ All he cared about was playing football.”
Following surgery, DeFrancesco still made it back on the football field two weeks later to compete with the rest of his Falcon teammates in the District 1-AAA playoffs, a testament to his fight then and now as his battle continues.
Barr became a primary focus of the Pottsgrove offense this season as a durable running back. Barr is originally from Phoenixville, where he first played football in the 60-year-old Phoenixville Marian Youth Club (PMYC) youth sports program. Tyrell’s father, Timothy Barr, played sports at Phoenixville and is still employed there at the Good Samaritan Shelter. Tyrell’s uncle, Harry Barr, still holds the Phantoms’ school record for the 100-yard dash, which is in the area of 9.8 seconds.
“I grew up in Phoenixville and played Little Brothers football in PMYC,” said Tyrell Barr. “My dad really helped me. I moved to Pottsgrove when I was in the middle of my seventh grade year. I was playing basketball at Pottstown at the time, and my mom decided to move to Pottsgrove. At first, I started crying, and I didn’t want to move for the third time. But then I didn’t mind it. I have had good guys around me here from eighth grade on up. Having that chemistry out on the field really helps.”
Barr has enjoyed being part of the traditional football success that Pennypacker’s teams have created at Pottsgrove throughout the entire program. But it has been more about learning life’s lessons from the game of football, like the values of hard work, dedication and teamwork and friendships, moreso than the wins and losses and individual statistics from any single game or season.
“I am coming out of an organization with a great tradition at Pottsgrove,” said Barr. “No other place has this kind of winning tradition like we have at Pottsgrove. We carry on the winning or losing. At the end of the season, you always walk away with something.”
His future plans include majoring in applied mathematics at either Princeton University or Temple University in the pursuit of becoming an actuary.
Perkiomen Valley head football coach Scott Reed bid farewell to the PAC-10 football fraternity after stepping down after 12 seasons to devote more time to his own kids and family. Reed guided the Vikings from 2004-15 and compiled an overall record of 82-53 while winning two PAC-10 championships. He also led PV to four District 1-AAAA playoff berths.
This past fall, the Vikings went neck-and-neck with Spring-Ford throughout the season before the Rams won the showdown contest between the two schools in the last week of the campaign as well as the league championship. PV did win one game in the district playoffs. Reed noted that he has been fortunate to have coached some outstanding athletes. He said he has also been blessed to have four assistant coaches who have been so loyal and faithful to him, as well as becoming great friends. The PV assistant coaches include Jason Basile, Matt Young, Tim Connolly and Rob Heist.
Reed will remain active as a basketball official during the winter months.
As coach of the league champions, Brubaker also gave a speech. He said the PAC’s reputation in football is enhanced by how teams perform during the playoffs. Brubaker congratulated PV on its district playoff victory. He also said the Rams are very excited about the league’s expansion next year, when Norristown and Upper Merion will be added to the loop. The 12 member schools will be divided into two divisions of six teams per side, based on larger and smaller school enrollments. Brubaker said the new schedule will allow teams to play some interesting, high quality non-league games.
Brubaker said he, too, has been blessed with top athletes as well as fine assistant coaches. The rest of the Rams’ staff includes Steve Schein, Steve Moyer, Jim Mich Jr., Chad Strickler, Chuck Nesley (first year with SF after a tenure at Owen J. Roberts), Jamie Gray, DJ Fox, Dale Bergman and Mike Engro.
Brubaker said football is a great game that has come under attack because of the number of concussions involved. But he also pointed out that a high number of safety precautions have been taken to prevent severe head injuries, including upgraded helmets. Game rules, he said, also allow for safety measures at a higher rate while dealing with the nature of football. Brubaker said an objective report would show that head injuries can be as serious in some other sports as they are in football.
The PAC All-Academic Team was recognized at the banquet. Those student-athletes are: Quinn Hair, Boyertown; Nicholas Ross, Methacton; Conor Mitchell, Owen J. Roberts; Eddie Landherr, Perkiomen Valley; Cory Bird, Phoenixville; David DeBias, Pope John Paul II; Max Stump, Pottsgrove; Brandon Tinson, Pottstown; Jason Wilson, Spring-Ford; and Mahlon Schaffer, Upper Perkiomen.
Notes >> Dave Reidenouer, executive secretary/treasurer of the football coaches association, gave opening remarks and introduced guests. … Boyertown football head coach George Parkinson gave the invocation, which included a prayer for DeFrancesco’s recovery. … Perkiomen Valley athletic director Larry Glanski serves as PAC-10 athletic director liaison.
Venuto Recognized by Burlsworth Foundation!
Congratulations to Ricky Venuto, who was recognized by the Burlsworth Character Award Foundation for sportsmanship and character in high school football. His name and Spring-Ford football will be listed in the credits for the movie Greater, coming nationwide to theaters January 22, 2016.
Honorable Mention Offense
Stone Scarcelle - Ath
Alex Nagy - OL
Noah Silva - OL
Rudderow honored at Tall Cedars
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD >> The 74th annual Tall Cedars of Lebanon Football Night was held Wednesday evening at the Masonic Lodge home in Royersford.The group, which started having its banquet and programs back in 1941, has muscular dystrophy as its main project goal to benefit. The year 2015 represents the 100th anniversary of the Spring City Forest.
Players honored with their coaches included: Mike Banks, Boyertown; Tim Rudderow, Spring-Ford; Jared Johns-Lupold, Pope John Paul II; Jimmie Zazzi, Pottstown; Tim Nestor, Perkiomen Valley; Jake Adams, Pottsgrove; Mitch Bradford, Owen J. Roberts; and Matt Palubinsky, Phoenixville.
Coaches present included: George Parkinson, Boyertown; Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford; Rory Graver, Pope John Paul II; Steve Anspach, assistant, Pottstown; Matt Young, assistant, Perkiomen Valley; Rick Pennypacker, Pottsgrove; Brian Lester, assistant, Owen J. Roberts; and Evan Breisblatt, Phoenixville.
Brubaker, head coach of this year’s PAC-10 champion Spring-Ford Rams, talked about Rudderow — a standout defensive tackle for the Rams.
“Our defense was very good this year,” said Brubaker, who recorded his second championship as a head coach with the Rams. “But we had no Division I players. We were like the 1984 Miami Dolphins with a No Name Defense. Tim epitomizes what we try to do at Spring-Ford.”
Rudderow saw some playing time as a sophomore and then became a starter during his junior season. That role continued this past season.
“He is a really hard worker with a motor that goes 100 percent,” said Brubaker. “He is a great example for the other players on the team.”
Rudderow closed out his career with 83 tackles, including 22 tackles for losses. He also recorded seven sacks and 11 hurries.
Rudderow plans to enter the Reserves or pursue a career in criminal justice.
“Football teaches a lot of life lessons, and Tim learned that a lot of times at Spring-Ford,” said Brubaker.
Young, an assistant coach who works with the defense at Perkiomen Valley, brought with him Nestor, a three-year starter with the Vikings. This past season, PV won its first-round District 1-AAAA playoff game.
“We knew we had a pretty decent defense coming back this year,” said Young. “But we also had some glaring holes, some big holes to fill. Tim was a receiver during his sophomore and junior years. But we needed an inside linebacker. He came to us during the summer and said he would like to give it a try. This was really important to me. He learned a lot the hard way. He was an unbelievable leader on defense and he earned all-league honors.”
Pennypacker talked about Adams, who became an instrumental part of the Falcons’ team as an offensive lineman and leader as a captain. He also carried a stellar grade point average as a student in the classroom.
“Jake was my favorite player this year,” said Pennypacker. “He is a tremendous kid who gave us great leadership. He leads by example and did things the right way. I had his brother (Jeff) a couple years who made all-league as a linebacker and tight end. There is also another brother in ninth grade coming up. Jake was a hard worker in the weight room. He always kept the team in line. He is one of the best offensive linemen I ever coached.”
Adams is being recruited by a number of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) schools.
Parkinson brought along Banks, an offensive and defensive lineman who became an anchor on both lines.
“I coached Mike for four years,” said Parkinson. “When he was in eighth grade, I was the ninth grade coach at Boyertown East. He moved up to play with the ninth grade. Then we were reunited during his junior and senior years in high school. It was a nice thing to watch his development as a player and young man.”
Besides his dedicated work in the weight room, Banks also made definite work on improving his footwork a primary area. He gained a large amount of quickness and speed in his game.
Banks served as a team captain because of his leadership abilities and work ethic.
Breisblatt brought with him versatile standout three-way performer Palubinsky, who was also honored at the Tall Cedars event a year ago. Breisblatt said he has been coaching football for some 20 years and has enjoyed having some top quality players at all collegiate levels during that time span.
He termed Palubinsky “the ultimate player for me and he has been for three years.”
A two-time team captain, Palubinsky was also the recipient of the Mini-Max Award this year. During his career, he recorded more than 200 tackles while playing several different positions. He posted some awesome numbers as a receiver while doing just about everything on the field in terms of offense, defense and special teams.
Palubinsky was also heavily involved in a number of other school activities as well as community service. He also ran the Phuture Phantoms football camp during the summer.
Leister brought with him Bradford, who represented the heart and soul of the Wildcats’ team as a quarterback and defensive back.
“Every time he got the football, he was exciting,” said Lester. “He gave 110 percent. We had a new coaching staff this year, and he was a three-year starter. His leadership came up.”
The Wildcats had a new coaching staff this past season, which brought about new schemes. Players like Bradford stepped up, even after OJR dropped its first two games. The Wildcats ended up 6-6 overall.
“He was Mr. Excitement,” said Lester.
Graver was joined by Johns-Lupold, whom he considered a great student-athlete for two years while playing for the Golden Panthers. Johns-Lupold was named PJP’s Most Valuable Player for two years and also served as team captain and leader. An all-league wideout, Johns-Lupold also became a top punter. During the summer, he overcame an emergency bout with his appendix, during which time he lost a lot of weight and strength. But to his credit, Johns-Lupold became an even bigger, stronger and better player this season.
Pottstown assistant coach Anspach brought Zazzi, who was a central figure in the Trojans’ resurgence to prominence this season under former head coach Don Grinstead. Grinstead, who left immediately after the season to take a job in Florida, gave remarks to Anspach to be read at the banquet. After starting his scholastic career at just 170 pounds, Zazzi’s dedication in the weight room upped his bulk and strength to the point where he became an anchor along the offensive and defensive lines.
“He fulfilled his vision and earned everything he got,” said Grinstead in his letter about Zazzi. “He is a high school coach’s dream. He’s selfless and works hard.”
* * *
Kutztown University head football coach Jim Clements was the guest speaker. Under his guidance, the Golden Bears have finished 6-5 and 7-4 in the PSAC each of the last two years. He has an overall career coaching record of 79-33.
* * *
Bob Mull, chairman of the Tall Cedar Football Night, was also in attendance.
Neshaminy knocks off Spring-Ford in District 1-AAAA first round
By Samuel Stewart
ROYERSFORD >> Two years ago it was Neshaminy’s ground game that ousted Spring-Ford from the District 1-AAAA playoffs.
This year, however, chalk this victory up to the aerial attack as Mason Jones threw for 202 yards while Zach Tredway hauled in a game-high six passes for 88 yards as Neshaminy again ousted the Rams, 31-16, in the District 1-AAAA opening round Friday at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Redskins’ win marks the second time in three years that the team has ended the Rams’ run in the district playoffs. D’Andre Pollard was the catalyst to the team’s victory in the second round in 2013, rushing for 177 yards in a 56-27 victory.
This year, a fresh cast yielded the same result. To go along with the efforts of Jones and Tredway, Joe Pirrone did a valiant job in spelling a battered Will Dogba, rushing for 113 yards on 28 carries. Denzel Hughes added 83 yards on four receptions as the Redskins recorded 350 yards of total offense.
The Redskins will play the winner of No. 5 Central Bucks East and No. 12 Quakertown at a date and time to be determined.
“The key for us tonight was starting off strong,” Jones said. “All week we prepared to come out strong offensively and defensively. We came out and executed from the start and we were able to maintain that effort throughout the game to get that ‘W.’”
Spring-Ford sees its season come to a close after winning its first PAC-10 championship since 2011. Ricky Venuto closed out his senior season by throwing for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Quinn McKenna recorded six receptions for 75 yards and two scores as the Rams fell behind 24-0 midway through the third.
The Rams finished with at least 10 wins for the fourth time in five seasons.
“I’m talking to them in there and I’m struggling to not smile,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Even though it’s disappointing and the kids are upset, I told them that you can’t hang your heads. There were a lot of opportunities tonight that they could have packed it in, but they didn’t. They kept fighting and we finally got it together on a couple drives but it was a little late.
“Neshaminy is a strong football team. Their philosophy is to keep running it at you until you break, and I didn’t think our kids broke. I just feel like we didn’t execute and play our best game.”
Defensively, the Rams received strong efforts across the board in the first half, forcing an early punt before recovering a fumble at their own 3-yard line on the next possession.
They just didn’t have time to catch their breath.
The Rams offense was out of sync early, going three and out on their first two possessions before a Tredway interception was the catalyst to the Redskins’ second touchdown that made it 14-0 midway through the second.
The defense’s fatigue showed early in the second half as the Redskins scored on their first two possessions, their first coming off a Jones 15-yard keeper to make it 24-0 before Hughes answered a Rams touchdown, breaking free down the middle of the field for a 55-yard touchdown reception that effectively put the capper on it.
“We gave them short fields and we had a couple three-and-outs to start the game but our defense kept us in that game,” Brubaker said. “I can’t say enough about them. That’s a big strong team. We were outsized but those guys kept fighting and I’m real proud of them. They hung in there well.”
NOTES >> Spring-Ford finished with 264 yards of total offense and was only penalized once. … The Rams fumbled the ball three times, losing one. … Dylan McDonald hit a 30-yard field goal to close out the second half and give Neshaminy a 17-0 lead. … Tanner Romano recorded a sack for Spring-Ford.
The Week 10 Gridiron - sponsored by The Peanut B&G
Perkiomen Valley, Spring-Ford looking to put Friday in rearview
By Sam Stewart
All the excitement that came from Friday’s win.
All the morose that came from Friday’s loss.
Well, that all can be forgotten now.
It’s district playoff time and Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley are gearing up for a deep run in the District 1-AAAA playoffs, leaving the memories of the Rams’ 28-14 victory over the Vikings four days ago behind.
A task that the kids have seemed to adhere to, says Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed and Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said.
“The kids are kids,” Reed said. “They seemed fine today. They’re just ready to move on to the next season.
“They worked hard today, we lifted, watched film and it felt like any other Monday. They seem to be in really good spirits, even in losing Friday. We’ll move on.”
Reed’s sentiments were echoed by Brubaker.
“I think our kids realize they need to hit the reset button,” Brubaker said. “I think our kids recognize that they have to turn it back on. We had a good weekend and now we’re ready to go.”
For Spring-Ford, the Rams come into their opening round date with No. 13 Neshaminy high off Friday night’s victory that garnered them their first PAC-10 title since 2011. The Rams dominated the ground game, registering 350 yards on the ground, while Matt Gibson rushed for a game-high 187 yards and two scores in the win.
The defense lived up to its end, limiting the Vikings (ranked No. 1 in points per game), to six points in the first half, yielding the second score on a Stephen Sturm quarterback keeper with 33 seconds remaining in an already decided game.
“There were a lot of different guys that made plays and that was nice to see,” Brubaker said. “We had guys that hadn’t really played before that came in. Nick Crawford with the interception, he’s been out since the first game when he broke his hand. Tyler Uba came in a couple of times to play corner and did a good job in coverage and almost had a big interception. Joe Campbell had a sack. There were a lot of guys that came in and did a decent job for us when we needed it.”
The loss sent Perkiomen Valley tumbling down the District 1-AAAA power rankings, dropping them to 10th with a trip to Haverford looming, while also ending the team’s quest for a PAC repeat. Stephen Sturm finished the game with 298 passing yards and a score in the loss while the offense sputtered in the Rams end of the field, turning the ball over on downs three times in plus field position.
But for running back Ronnie Arch, the loss wasn’t all bad.
“It definitely woke us up,” Arch said. “It was a wake up call. Now, we’re ready for the upcoming weeks and hopefully we can make a district run.
“During our film session, Coach Reed emphasized to forget about Friday. We need to play our hardest this Friday because it’s do or die. None of us want this season to be over.”
Let the fun begin.
Spring-Ford runs off with PAC-10 title
By Dennis Weller
ROYERSFORD - Outstanding defense and an excellent passing game have been two keys to Spring-Ford's success this season. But it was the running game that made the difference Friday night as the Rams won the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship with a 28-14 victory over Perkiomen Valley in a battle of unbeaten teams at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Spring-Ford (9-0, 10-0) ran for a season-high 352 yards and all four touchdowns came on the ground.
Matt Gibson rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns, Selwyn Simpson helped the Rams wrap up the win with some power running at the end and finished with 98 yards, and Stone Scarcelle's 80-yard TD run to start the second half proved to be the biggest play of the night.
"Ultimately, our game plan was to run Selwyn, Matt and Stone," said Rams coach Chad Brubaker. "Our plan the whole time was to run downhill, run the football."
After Perk Valley (8-1, 9-1) took a 6-0 lead on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Stephen Sturm to Justin Jaworski - the first touchdown that Spring-Ford has allowed in the opening quarter all year - the Rams came right back with a five-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead for good at 7-6.
The last 46 yards came on an electrifying run by Gibson, the 5-9, 155-pound junior, who made several direction changes and then shot past the last defenders.
"This was a huge, huge day for the offensive line," said Gibson. "The past couple of weeks, I'm just trying to hit the holes."
Gibson has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the last four games and averaged 124 yards per outing during that time.
"Matt is just slippery," said Brubaker. "About three weeks ago, he started to hit his stride."
"He's something," said Perk Valley coach Scott Reed. "He's just patient, and then he hits a burst."
The long run by Scarcelle came on the first play of the second half and a two-point conversion gave the Rams a 15-6 advantage.
Scarcelle has run the ball just 20 times this season, but has averaged 9.4 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns.
"When we use him, he makes big plays," said Brubaker.
Gibson scored again late in the third quarter when he took a handoff at the Perk Valley 29-yard line, cut to his left, then put on the speed to turn the corner and leave the defenders behind.
Then Simpson ran the ball five straight times at the end of a 73-yard drive in the fourth quarter, including a 35-yard touchdown to make it 28-6 with 1:55 to go.
"They don't go down the first hit," Brubaker said concerning his running backs, who averaged 10 yards per carry. "They just keep churning their legs."
"I give their coaching staff credit," Reed said. "They have a good offensive line. They have two very good running backs. Their outside guys are big and physical. They have all the ingredients to run the ball."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Spring-Ford captures first PAC-10 title since 2011
ROYERSFORD >> Stone Scarcelle, Matt Gibson and Spring-Ford had their impending matchup with Perkiomen Valley circled on their calendar since the summer.
It was the Vikings who had helped dash the Rams’ PAC-10 hopes last season, falling them in a Week 3 clash that paved the way for a Viking title.
It was the Vikings that stood in their way to an undefeated PAC-10 and regular season finish.
It was the Vikings … that didn’t stand a chance Friday night.
Gibson ran for a game-high 187 yards on 17 carries and two scores while Scarcelle and Selwyn Simpson put the capper on a historic night as Spring-Ford topped Perkiomen Valley 28-14 to finish the regular season undefeated and capture its first PAC-10 championship since 2011.
Their alma mater never sounded so sweet.
“It feels great, what other answer is there,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “This just feels great. I’m proud of my kids. They’ve earned everything they’ve gotten up to this point and now we start a new season and we’re excited about that.”
“It feels amazing,” Gibson added, filled with emotion as the Rams took in their school’s alma mater, first time as PAC-10 champions. “Our whole team had been waiting for this game since the summer. We just wanted to get back and win this game. It gives us huge momentum now that we have a home game in the playoffs. It’s huge.
“There’s been a lot of talk back and forth all week. There was a lot of hype all week so it was great to come out and get the job done.
Gibson’s running was the catalyst to an all-out ground assault with the Rams registering 350 yards on the ground. Scarcelle, who scored on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to make it 15-6, finished the game with 87 yards on two carries after nursing a foot injury that kept him out in last week’s win against Pope John Paul II. Simpson added 94 yards, capping off the scoring with a 35-yard touchdown run in the fourth, and securing a home game for the Rams in the first round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs against a team yet to be determined.
All of that was a credit to a Herculean effort from the Rams’ offensive line.
“The offensive line did a tremendous job tonight,” Brubaker said. “We told them and the defensive line before the game tonight that it was in their shoulders. They both came through when we needed them.”
“Our offensive line stepped up huge tonight,” Gibson said. “There were holes every time I ran the ball. All my runs are a credit to them.”
Perkiomen Valley junior quarterback Stephen Sturm finished the game with 298 yards, completing 32 of his 55 pass attempts in the loss. David Williams hauled in 11 passes for 113 yards while Justin Jaworski added nine receptions for 97 yards but the Viking offense couldn’t generate much throughout the night, turning the ball over on downs after lengthy drives three times before Sturm’s interception to Nick Crawford early in the fourth sent the Viking fans out to escape the impending traffic.
“We knew they were going to get their yards and I’m sure they out-gained us but we were going to bend and not break,” Brubaker said. “We dug in when it counted on third and fourth down and stepped up when we needed to. I can’t say enough about our defense. There were a lot of good individual efforts tonight and a lot of kids who made plays.”
The loss ended the Vikings’ quest for a PAC-10 repeat and will also send them down a few spots in the District 1-AAAA rankings, forcing the team to hit the road for the first round of the district playoffs.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed said. “I think my kids gave maximum effort tonight. We just came up short. My congratulations to Chad Brubaker, his staff and his kids. I think they have a really good football team and I wish them the best in the playoffs. I hope they represent our league well and were able to do the same.”
The Vikings seemed destined for a better performance as Sturm connected with Jaworski for an 18-yard score with 4:06 left in the first.
The Rams took no time to answer. Gibson took a handoff from senior quarterback Ricky Venuto and scampered 47 yards for the score on a run that put the Viking defense on skates.
Defenses took over the rest of the half, PV’s forcing two punts with the Rams forcing the Vikings to turn it over on downs after a 12-play, 71-yard drive.
From there, it was all Spring-Ford.
Scarcelle made his presence felt on the opening play of the third quarter, taking the snap in the wildcat formation before breaking a few tackles and finding the edge en route to an 80-yard touchdown run that made it 15-9 after Bryce Dorsey’s two-point conversion run.
“We talked about it at halftime, we were getting the surface level that we wanted and we put them into situations where they had to make decisions,” Brubaker said. “In their 3-3 defense they like to stay balanced but we put them in situations where they had to make a choice and we called the right play there. Chad Strickler, who coordinates our run game, thought we had it and he did a great job.”
After the Rams’ defense came away with another fourth down stop on the team’s next possession, the Rams added some cushion, Gibson exploding up the middle before finding daylight for a 29-yard touchdown run that made it 21-6 with 3:28 remaining in the third. Simpson added a 35-yard run to make it 28-6 with 1:55 remaining before Sturm capped off the scoring with a 23-yard keeper.
Just too little, too late.
“This game has been in the back of our heads all year, obviously because of last season,” Scarcelle said. “We just wanted to come out on top so badly. Scout team worked hard all week. Offense and defense worked hard all week. It was just a total team win.”
NOTES >> Venuto finished the game with 32 passing yards on only nine attempts. … Ronnie Arch led the Vikings with 42 rushing yards. … Sean Owens added six receptions for 69 yards. … The Rams registered three sacks in the win, Steven Rice, Tanner Romano and Joe Campbell all had one.
Spring-Ford runs past Perkiomen Valley to earn PAC-10 title
By DAVE KURTZ
ROYERSFORD - Spring-Ford took the Pioneer Athletic Conference title by brute force Friday night.
In a battle of unbeatens for PAC-10 supremacy, the showdown turned into a posedown for the Rams (9-0, 10-0), who rolled up 351 yards and four touchdowns rushing en route to a 28-14 victory over defending champion Perkiomen Valley before an overflow crowd at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Matt Gibson led the ground attack with 185 yards and a pair of scores, Selwyn Simpson chipped in with 100 yards and a clinching 35-yard TD burst and Stone Scarcelle delivered the tide-turning play with an 80-yard jaunt down the right sideline on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter to furnish a 15-6 lead.
“Our offensive line was huge, I have to credit them on every one of my runs,” said Gibson after the Rams earned their first PAC-10 crown since 2011. “Our game plan was to run the ball down their throats. It was working, so we just kept running it..”
Spring-Ford’s offensive line of Matt Rice, Tanner Romano, Brian Tatum, Alex Nagy, Nick Salamone and Casey Callahan made it all work after Perk Valley (8-1, 9-1) jumped on top 6-0 when Stephen Sturm hit Justin Jaworski with an 18-yard touchdown pass at the 4:01 mark of the first quarter.
The answer came quickly from Gibson, who raced 46 yards on a dazzling cutback run to the house to put the Rams up 7-6 after Owen Gulati’s conversion kick with 2:21 left in the first quarter.
“Our line and running backs did a tremendous job,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “Our game plan was to run the ball downhill, right at them and throw when we needed to. With Selwyn, Matt and Stone running the way they did, we left a lot on the play sheet.”
The Rams’ defense also did its part to defuse the electric Perk Valley attack, which came in averaging a PAC-10 best 48.3 points and 463 yards. Joe Campbell, Steven Rice and Romano recorded sacks, Nick Crawford came up with an interception and Danny Kelchner had a fumble recovery to help Spring-Ford to a plus-2 in the ever-important turnover battle.
“We stopped them when we needed to,” said Brubaker of his defense, which gave up 305 passing yards to Sturm but buckled down at the most opportune times. “We made stops when it really mattered, in the Red Zone, and turned the ball back over to the offense.”
The back-breaking play was delivered by Scarcelle, who awakened the massive throng estimated at close to 10,000 with his lightning-quick, 80-yard bolt to set the second-half tone.
“It was a counter out of the ‘Wildcat,’ and the line blocked really well,” said Scarcelle. “Coming out like that gave us a lot of momentum.”
The momentum continued when Spring-Ford, projected as a No. 4 seed in the upcoming District 1-AAAA playoffs, went 75 yards in 8 plays on its next possession, reaching the end zone on Gibson’s 29-yard run with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter.
Perk Valley still had time to make up the difference, but never managed to get things clicking on all cylinders as second-half drives ended three times in Spring-Ford territory at the 25-, 42- and 15-yard lines. All told the Vikings had four empty possessions inside the Ram 25.
“Spring-Ford has a very good defense,” said Perk Valley coach Scott Reed, whose club will open districts on the road next Friday as a probable No. 11 or No. 12 seed. “Every time we threatened, they answered. Their offensive line and running backs are very good, their outside guys are physical and their guys up front got after it. All the credit goes to them.
“But I’m really proud of my kids. They gave maximum effort and showed great attitude. We ran into a tough football team and just came up short.”
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Spring-Ford defeats Perk Valley to clinch PAC-10 title
By Dennis Weller
ROYERSFORD - There was no way that Spring-Ford was going to stop the Perkiomen Valley offense all the time in Friday night's showdown for the Pioneer Athletic Conference football championship.
But no matter how many yards the Vikings piled up or how many passes Stephen Sturm completed, the Rams did the job in crucial situations in a 28-14 win in front of an overflow crowd at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The victory gave the Rams (9-0, 10-0), who ran the ball for 352 yards, their first league title since 2011. Matt Gibson rushed for 185 yards - including two electrifying touchdown runs - for Spring-Ford. Selwyn Simpson had 98 yards on the ground and Stone Scarcelle sped 80 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to give Rams a 15-6 lead.
Sturm went 31-for-54 for 291 yards for the Vikings (8-1, 9-1), who racked up 431 total yards.
"We knew we weren't going to stop them," said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. "They're too good. When they were down close or in the red zone, that's when we needed to get our stops."
Perk Valley took the lead with four minutes left in the first quarter on an 18-yard pass from Sturm to Justin Jaworski, but the extra point attempt was blocked.
Spring-Ford came right back with an 80-yard drive, the last 46 on an amazing run by Gibson on which he cut from one side of the field to the other and back again and shot past the final few defenders for a 7-6 lead.
The Vikings had a chance to go back on top right before the half after advancing to a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line. But a 2-yard loss and a pair of penalties backed them up to the 30 and time ran out after a completed pass to the 20.
Then Scarcelle took a direct snap and darted 80 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion run by Bryce Dorsey made it 15-6.
"That was the big turning point in the game," said PV coach Scott Reed. "They captured the game in the second half right out of the gate and took momentum."
"The line just blocked so well on that play," said Scarcelle. "It's momentum for us. A slow first half, but that gave us momentum. There was still a long way to go, but we locked it up on defense."
The Rams proceeded to stop the Vikings on downs on the Spring-Ford 25 on the next possession and the hosts put together a 75-yard drive, with Gibson bursting for a 29-yard TD run to make it 21-6.
Another stop on downs by the Rams, an interception by Nick Crawford and a 73-yard drive - capped by a 35-yard run by Simpson - wrapped up the win.
Gibson wound up with an average of nearly 11 yards per carry and the team averaged 10 yards on its 35 attempts.
"The offensive line was huge tonight," said Gibson. "Every time I got the ball, there was a huge hole."
"We just played a very good team," said Reed. "I'm so proud of my kids. I thought they played very hard. Two things we can control are effort and attitude. They took care of both of them."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or email@example.com.
- See more at: http://www.readingeagle.com/sports/article/spring-ford-defeats-perk-valley-to-clinch-pac-10-title#sthash.dsFE08Jb.dpuf
Week 10 Hype Film
Trenchmen to play a huge part in PAC-10 title game
By Sam Stewart
They were seen as the major question mark entering the 2015 season.
Now, Perkiomen Valley’s offensive line has become one of its strengths as it enters the PAC-10 Championship against Spring-Ford Friday night at Coach McNelly Stadium at 7 p.m.
“I think they’ve gotten better.” Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed said. “It all works together. Stephen has a good internal clock and gets the ball out. Our receivers have made plays, and our backs have made plays and I think that’s what gives the offensive line confidence. Where they believe on any play, ‘hey this could be a positive play.’
“At the same time, our offensive line has played nine games together. There’s a sense of chemistry that’s started to build between them. I think they take pride in what each other is doing and the jobs each other are doing out there.”
Whether that chemistry would be built with the departures of Seth Jonassen, Andrew Narducci, Darrell Philpot and Dan Roh was the major question entering the season for PV, with four new starting linemen joining the only returning starter in John Tittle.
Despite a shaky Week 1 effort in a win over Council Rock North, the line consisting of seniors Tittle and Anthony Rohrbach, juniors Chris Jimenez and Vaughn Stolzer and sophomore Jahir Holmes, has done enough to quell any remaining doubt.
The trenchmen have paved the way for the No. 1 ranked Viking offense (454 yards per game) and have given up only eight sacks in quarterback Stephen Sturm’s 207 dropbacks.
“One of the biggest question marks was up front considering I was the only returning starter,” Tittle said. “I think we definitely meshed well. I think we’re ready to get after it.”
“A lot of our success has to do with the coaches,” Stolzer added. “They put in all their time, whether its on the field in practice or at home, and pick up on things that we might not pick up on. Then they make sure that we know it so when it comes to gametime, there’s nothing we will be surprised with.”
So far, with guidance of offensive line coach, Jason Basile and a bonded group, there hasn’t been much to shake the Vikings line.
Even if they aren’t the biggest.
“We do have our strengths,” Jimenez said. “Me and Anthony are obviously a lot bigger than the rest but I mean everyone else on the line, their tough. Jahir is tough. He put is time in the weightroom and he’s not the strongest kid that we have but he’s a hard working kid. He never gives up. Tittle is the smallest guy on our line, one of the heaviest, but he has heart. Him and Vaughn aren’t very fast but they get it done.”
* * *
Spring-Ford’s offensive line has a ‘no access’ policy on their quarterback Ricky Venuto as well, as the team has surrendered a league-best six sacks this season. The line, led by senior Matt Rice and consisting of Tanner Romano, Brian Tatum, Alex Nagy, Nick Salomone and Casey Callahan have helped lead the Rams to score 45.2 points per game, second best in the PAC behind Perkiomen Valley.
“When we go to practice we always work hard,” Spring-Ford senior offensive lineman Matt Rice said. “It all starts up front. That’s our big message. We may get blamed for stuff, we may not get credit sometimes, but we go in, get our work in and go out and do what we need to do.
“Our offensive line sticks together. We’re always talking in the locker room, always making jokes. We stick together, we don’t yell at each other when things go wrong and we pick each other up and keep moving on. That’s what helped us be so successful this year.”
* * *
The Rams’ defensive line has been on a roll the past few weeks as well, recording six sacks in a 56-0 win over PJP Saturday while pitching two straight shutouts. Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker believes they have to be at their best Friday.
“I think their line (PV’s offensive line) has done a really good job all year,” Brubaker said. “We don’t have any secret formulas, we line up across from the other guy and try to beat them. Danny Kelchner, Tim Rudderow, Jeremiah Ndjali, Tanner Romano, Toby Poet and Joe Campbell have played well.
“Everyone has to play their best game, that’s what it’s about. This week, at some capacity is a playoff game for us. It’s not lose and be done, but at the same time there’s just as much at stake as a playoff game.”
* * *
Both teams have gone through the conference unscathed after Week 1 tests.
Spring-Ford overcame a 19-7 halftime deficit to State College, scoring 21 fourth-quarter points to spring its season into motion.
“The win was huge,” Senior quarterback Ricky Venuto said. “We weren’t playing bad in the first half, but we weren’t playing great. We weren’t playing Spring-Ford football. Teddy Dylinski, who’s unfortunately out for the rest of the year, made some huge plays for us. That really revived us. We were able to close the game and we’re hoping to do the same against the brown and orange.”
Perkiomen Valley, meanwhile, trailed 30-21 at the half to Council Rock North before the Vikings scored 21-unanswered in the third quarter before rolling to a 56-36 victory.
Since then, the Rams have outscored their opposition 379-47; Perkiomen Valley outscoring its opposition 379-50.
* * *
Since the PAC-10 was formed in 1986, Spring-Ford leads the overall series 15-14 with Perkiomen Valley winning last season’s encounter 20-7.
* * *
The last time two teams were undefeated entering the last week of the season was in 1994 when Spring-Ford ousted Phoenixville on Thanksgiving Day 22-17.
QB Venuto’s long lineage an asset entering PAC-10 title showdown
By Austin Hertzog
He’s spent years learning from his father, watching great offensive talent churn out at Villanova.
That’s the gift one receives when your father is one of the most renowned offensive coordinators in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Now, for first-year Spring-Ford starting quarterback Ricky Venuto, it’s his time to show what he’s learned.
Venuto brings his undefeated Rams into the ultimate decider for the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship, a date with undefeated Perkiomen Valley with title and district implications at stake.
“Obviously this game is huge,” Venuto said. “State College was a huge game and we won that game so we’re just trying to funnel all the momentum from this season into this game. I’m not trying to worry about being too nervous for it, but it’s human nature to be nervous for a game like this.”
In a game of this magnitude, who wouldn’t be?
Don’t let pregame jitters fool you, however. Venuto is as ready as can be.
He’s seen it all before.
Credit that to his long lineage of gridiron glory.
“Football has always been around for me,” Venuto said. “Whenever I go to Villanova games, my dad has some quarterbacks that I watch. They play big in the big games so I learned that a good quarterback plays big in the big games. I’m just trying to learn from those guys. My dad has done a good job teaching me how to lead.”
Venuto is the latest making waves in a storied family history. His grandfather, Sam, went on to play for the Washington Redskins after an illustrious career at Gilford College.
His father, Sam, played at Delaware and is now one of the most respected coaches in the FCS in his 17th season as the offensive coordinator at Villanova.
His uncle Jay played for the Baltimore Colts, his cousins’ Garrett and Chase play for Penn State and Brockport, respectively.
Now, it’s him who’s adding a gold star to an already star-studded family resume.
Venuto’s first-year as the primary signal caller has become one filled with many positives. He’s first in the area in quarterback rating (201.1), second in passing yards (1,626) and has thrown for 23 touchdowns to one interception.
His efforts in two critical PAC-10 games earlier this season were admirable. He recorded two of his 200-yard passing performances in showdowns against Pottsgrove (6-2 PAC-10) and Pottstown (5-2), throwing for 521 combined yards in two Rams’ wins.
“I think he’s had an excellent senior year,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed said of Venuto. “They’re a lot like us. The receivers have made plays for him, he’s made plays for them. Their O-line does a nice job.
“It instills confidence when all these different facets are doing well. He’s a product of all his guys doing well and they’re a product of him having a great senior year.”
His team, meanwhile, has taken off, rolling to its first 8-0 PAC-10 start since the Rams won the title in 2011, setting up a showdown with Perkiomen Valley and the quarterback that has been neck and neck with him on the stat sheet, junior Stephen Sturm.
For Venuto, it’s great to end the PAC-10 season dueling with another top quarterback.
“He’s a great player,” Venuto said of Sturm. “I’ve watched him at a couple of his games and he throws the ball really well. He’s smart. It’s cool being able to play him in such a huge game like this because he’s a good player.”
Sturm leads Perk Valley in play and voice entering PAC-10 title battle
By Austin Hertzog
Meek and mild with a powerful arm.
That was the only way to describe Perkiomen Valley quarterback Stephen Sturm during his debut sophomore season.
He had a penchant for the scintillating performance, but an unwillingness to make his voice heard.
This year, that’s not a problem.
The junior QB is more than ready to lead with his play and his voice when the Vikings head over to Spring-Ford Friday with the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship on the line.
“Last year, I felt as a sophomore and as a underclassmen that there was a hierarchy to the team,” the junior quarterback said. “Part of me felt that it wasn’t right for me to be vocal and almost get on the older guys because they had been there for a while. For them to have a sophomore tell them what to do, I didn’t think that would go over too well.
“With a year under my belt now, I’ve taken more of a leadership role because I’ve been there before. I’ve been in big games, I’ve been in a playoff game. I know what I’m talking about a lot of times and it’s more comfortable for me to be that leader now that I’m a year older. They know I’ve played before when it matters most.”
No arguments there. Sturm’s level of play has displayed growth from his standout sophomore season, where he threw for 2,029 yards and 21 touchdowns, both on and off the field.
“They threw a lot of blitzes at me that I’ve never seen before when we played Downingtown East in the (2014 District 1-AAAA) playoffs, and in the first half I didn’t play as well as I wanted to,” Sturm said. “Now I understand the different coverages and how teams can disguise them. I learned that spending time in the film room and analyzing defense’s weaknesses is huge, so I’ve really been focusing on that.”
His understanding of opposing defenses and quick release has been vital for a PV team that saw the departure of a veteran offensive line that consisted of Seth Jonassen, Dan Roh, Darrell Philpot and others. That line had helped Sturm and his playmakers mature. This year, it was his turn to repay the favor with a young offensive line.
He did just that, while piling up the statistics to match. He leads the PAC-10 in yards (2,209) and touchdowns (26) and presents a major challenge for head coach Chad Brubaker and the Spring-Ford defense.
“It concerns me if he has a lot of time in the pocket to throw and he’s also a crafty runner,” Brubaker said. “He’s a kid who picks his spot and he’s a pretty smart quarterback. If we give him a lot of time or the pocket closes down and he chooses the right moment on a third-and-long (to run for) a first down, that will be disheartening. That will be our major concern with him.”
Sturm takes on Spring-Ford’s first-year senior starting quarterback Ricky Venuto, one who acts and plays with just as much veteran savvy and the statistical evidence to prove it.
“Obviously it’s on my mind that we’re neck and neck on the stat sheet, but I try not to focus on it,” Sturm said. “I couldn’t care less about how many yards I throw, I just want to win. If there was any game where I didn’t care about my stats, it’d be this game. Obviously Ricky’s a good quarterback. He manages their offense really well so it should be a really good quarterback battle.”
Unbeaten Spring-Ford, Perk Valley face off for PAC-10 title
By Dennis Weller
If ever there were a classic in the making, it would be tonight's battle between Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford for the undisputed Pioneer Athletic Conference football championship.
Both teams come into the 7 p.m. contest at Coach McNelly Stadium with 8-0 records in the league and 9-0 overall, and they are tied for seventh place in the District 1-AAAA power rankings.
Both have high-powered offenses that have averaged more than 45 points while turning the ball over just seven times each, and both defenses have allowed less than 10 points per game.
And while the other eight teams in the PAC had something to say about it over the past eight weeks, it seemed almost inevitable from the beginning that the Vikings and Rams would meet with everything on the line in their last game of the regular season.
"That's interesting that we play them last, no matter what the results are," said Perkiomen Valley coach Scott Reed, whose team is the defending champion and has won 18 league games in a row since a 23-12 late-season loss in 2013 in a battle for first place with eventual champion Pottsgrove. "For the fans, for the community and for the players, it's great. For the coaches, it's crazy."
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker - whose team has won 14 in a row overall since a 35-29 loss at Pottsgrove in late September of last season - and his staff were looking at the date with interest even before the opener.
"As a coaching staff, we definitely did," he said. "We knew we had a lot of returning players before the State College game and had a chance to be good."
Spring-Ford has not allowed a point in the first quarter since giving up a safety and a field goal to State College and has not trailed in a PAC contest.
Perk Valley came from behind to defeat Council Rock North in its opener and trailed briefly in a 34-21 win at Pottsgrove in Week 3. But since then, the Vikings have had an easy time six games in a row and shut out their last three opponents.
"I think they're probably in the same situation," Reed said of the lack of recent challenges for his team and the Rams. "We trailed against Council Rock North and Pottsgrove, but that's a lot of weeks ago. But it will come back to the players. They're pretty loose maybe loose on the outside and volcanos on the inside."
Brubaker thinks that weekly criticism and the desire to improve have kept his team ready, despite the frequent one-sided wins.
"No matter how the game goes, there's always something to be critical of and improve upon," he said. "Our coaching staff does a good job of mixing praise and criticism. The players welcome criticism. They want to get better."
Last year, the sophomore trio of quarterback Stephen Sturm, running back David Williams and wide receiver Justin Jaworski led the PV offense. All three have done well again this season, Ronnie Arch has come on to lead the team in rushing, and the inexperienced offensive line has come through.
Spring-Ford has had some new players take over, including quarterback Ricky Venuto, after graduating its starting quarterback and other key offensive players.
"I think in some ways, guys in certain positions stepped up," said Brubaker. "It happens every year. Certain guys who aren't on the radar in the summer step up."
The Rams coach thinks that his team's play on the line will be a key to the outcome.
"We want to certainly get pressure on the quarterback," said Brubaker. "That's magnified in a game like this. Get pressure on him, make him feel uncomfortable back there. And control the line of scrimmage."
Getting off to a good start and limiting mistakes will be keys for the Vikings.
"Somebody's going to score first, and we'll see how the other team reacts," said Reed. "I think, obviously, we have to play clean football, not getting penalties and turnovers. The challenge is big enough as it is. Our biggest thing is to try to play mistake-free football. We want to leave everything on the field, knowing at the end of the day that we played our best."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- See more at: http://www.readingeagle.com/sports/article/unbeaten-spring-ford-perk-valley-face-off-for-pac-10-title#sthash.gFgP6NPw.dpuf
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