Drew Thomas returns a kickoff 86 yards for a TD in 2010 vs. Pottsgrove.
Zameer McDowell and RJ Sheldon meet at the QB on the final play of the District 1 AAAA semi-finals...and the sideline erupts!
Spring-Ford's Vu receives Freed Award at PAC-10 Coaches banquet
By Barry Sankey
UPPER PROVIDENCE -- Spring-Ford senior linebacker Tim Vu received the prestigious David L. Freed Award during the Pioneer Athletic Conference Football Coaches Association 29th annual all-league banquet Sunday afternoon at the Rivercrest Golf Club.
Outside of being a starting linebacker and the Rams' play-caller on defense, Vu suffers from Type 1 Diabetes and is also a fine student in the classroom, sporting a 96.6 percent grade point average.
"This is the first time in my five years here that I have had one of my players win this award,' said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker. "Despite his stature, Tim prepared himself to becoming a varsity starter. He dedicated himself to getting stronger in the weight room, and he became one of the strongest players pound-for-pound that we have had at Spring-Ford.'
Vu received the award from Brubaker, who also detailed the criteria for receiving the Freed Award. It goes to a senior football player from the PAC-10 who epitomizes the fine character of the late David Freed, a former Spring-Ford lineman who died following a practice incident in 1975 with a blocking machine that is no longer manufactured.
Vu was ever-present even as he navigated the challenges of living with diabetes.
"We had to monitor him on the field and watch what he had for the team meal. But he only missed one day in four years,' Brubaker said.
Vu will study electrical engineering in college.
Other special award winners were: Brandon Barone, Spring-Ford (Joseph Edwards Scholarship); Seth Jonassen, Perkiomen Valley and Zach Dorsey, Spring-Ford (Bill Rogers Lineman of the Year); Conner Derrickson, Methacton (Offensive Player of the Year); Brett Capobianco, Perkiomen Valley and Brendan Zimmie, Spring-Ford (Defensive Player of the Year); Patrick Finn, Pottsgrove (Two-Way Player of the Year); and Michael Fowler, Pottsgrove (Most Valuable Player).
The All-Academic Team featured Boyertown's Dalton Hughes, Methacton's Ryan Hoehl, Owen J. Roberts' Nicolas Thomas, Perkiomen Valley's Darrell Philpot, Phoenixville's Tom Hammaker, Pope John Paul II's Matt Mesaros, Pottsgrove's Finn, Pottstown's Gary Wise, Spring-Ford's Vu and Upper Perkiomen's Jason Pirri.
Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed gave closing remarks after his Vikings captured the 2014 PAC-10 championship with a perfect 9-0 record. It marked Reed's second title in 11 years of coaching the Vikes.
Notes -- Dave Reidenouer, a former Ches-Mont League football star at Pottstown High School and Bloomsburg University during the 1970s, served as master of ceremonies and introduced guests. ... Boyertown head coach George Parkinson delivered the invocation.
Eight PAC-10 athletes honored at Tall Cedars
By Barry Sankey
ROYERSFORD -- Eight Pioneer Athletic Conference football players and their coaches were honored during the annual Tall Cedars Lodge Football Night on Wednesday evening.
Honored players included Patrick Finn, Pottsgrove; Shawn O'Donnell, Boyertown; Brendan Zimmie, Spring-Ford; Joshua Torrens, Owen J. Roberts; Andrew Narducci, Perkiomen Valley; Matt Mesaros, Pope John Paul II; Matt Palubinsky, Phoenixville; and Vaughn Bertoti, Pottstown.
Perkiomen Valley was recognized for its undefeated run in the PAC-10 and first outright championship in school history, all coming under the direction of head coach Scott Reed. Perkiomen Valley offensive line coach Jason Basile was the first to speak about his player, Narducci.
"Andrew was our center and is an excellent representative of our program,' said Basile. "He fought his way up. As a junior, he started four games at left tackle last year. This year he was our starting center. But he could have been our right tackle, right guard, left guard or left tackle. He was extremely versatile and stayed calm.'
Narducci carries a 3.2 grade point average and plans to study accounting in college. He is considering UConn, Delaware, Temple and Bloomsburg.
Boyertown head coach George Parkinson talked about O'Donnell, an offensive lineman for the Bears.
"Number one, he is a good student, an honor student, and he gives back to the community,' said Parkinson. "He played offensive line, but he wasn't the biggest guy. He used his intelligence and technique and (has a lot of) heart and desire. He has a great work ethic, and his enthusiasm is contagious.'
O'Donnell has also helped his father coach youth football for the last seven years. O'Donnell plans to major in history in college. He is deciding between Albright, Wilkes and Indiana.
Owen J. Roberts head coach Tom Barr talked about Torrens.
"Joshua was always a guy you could depend on,' Barr said of the offensive lineman. "This year we had guys go down in our offensive line. We never had the same five guys on the field at one time so we had to change people around. But he never questioned his role.'
Torrens played tackle, guard and center for the Wildcats.
"He knew what had to get done, and he really helped us out a lot,' said Barr. "He is a team player, and he stayed injury free by dedicating himself in the offseason in the weight room.'
Torrens wants to study metal fabrication and welding at Stevens College, and he would also like to play football there.
Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker talked about Finn, who also happens to be his nephew. Finn has been an outstanding student as well as an outstanding two-way lineman on the football field the last two seasons.
"Patrick is a special kid,' said Pennypacker. "We brought him up in ninth grade, and he was a skinny runt. Four years later he became a good football player. We like our players to have character, academics and skill. His character is beyond reproach. He never talks, but he lets his actions speak for themselves. He was voted our captain by 46 of 47 votes.'
Finn carries a 101.3 cumulative grade average in his schoolwork with honors courses in his curriculum. A member of the National Honor Society, Finn plans to study mechanical engineering in college on a scholarship to Bucknell University while also playing football. Finn also had big offers from Navy, Army, Villanova and Delaware to play college football.
Also an outstanding wrestler, Finn finished second in the state at 285 pounds during the PIAA Championships. However, he will not be wrestling this year. He plans to have surgery on his shoulder in order to prepare for his college football career.
Pope John Paul II head coach Rory Graver discussed Mesaros.
"I have known Matt since his freshman year,' said Graver. "He has really developed into a leader and always competes in school and in the community. He was voted our most outstanding player.'
Mesaros has a 3.9 GPA. He also gives back to the community as a CYO coach and Special Abilities Coach for Shooting Stars. Mesaros was moved from quarterback to wide receiver this year, but he maintained a positive attitude to help lead the squad as a team player. He was also willing to help out the Golden Panthers' younger quarterbacks.
Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker talked about defensive end Brendan Zimmie, who went from not playing football at all to becoming a standout contributor this season.
"It is a tribute to how hard he's worked,' said Brubaker. "He did not play football as a sophomore. He came out last year and played JV linebacker and on special teams. But he had a tremendous offseason, and he had a really good wrestling season. During the spring and summer, he developed in the weight room. The coaches felt ' we have to get this kid on the field'. We ended up moving him to defensive end. He has a motor and he plays to the whistle. Everything he's gotten, he's earned.'
Zimmie registered seven sacks and had six hurries this season in becoming an elite pass rusher in the PAC-10. He also excels in the classroom with a 96 percent cumulative grade average and a 1,310 combined score on the GSAT.
A quiet kid, Zimmie still knew how to lead his Ram teammates.
"He motivated kids,' said Brubaker. "He knew what buttons to push. He earns what he gets.'
Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead spoke about Bertoti, a 160-pound center on the Trojans' offensive line last year who also led the team in tackles.
Grinstead remembered when he took the job at Pottstown last year, he was looking for offensive linemen. Bertoti told him he was the center. Grinstead was skeptical due to Bertoti's size, but it turned out to be true and solid.
"It is because he was as tough as nails,' said Grinstead. "He did not play this year because he broke his leg on the second play in our first scrimmage. Football can be cruel, but we all love the sport, and it teaches us life lessons. He went through four hours of surgery. He got back to practice for our Thanksgiving Day morning game. But the hardest part I had to do was tell him he wasn't ready. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a coach, but he just was not ready. He would have been one of our best players this year. We missed him like crazy.'
Grinstead praised Bertoti and his parents for raising such a fine young man. Bertoti plans to enter a branch of the military for his future career.
Phoenixville head coach Evan Breisblatt brought along Palubinsky, an all-purpose junior performer for the Phantoms. Palubinsky was accompanied by his mother, Phoenixville assistant superintendent Dr. Regina Palubinsky, as well as Phoenixville principal Dr. Craig Parkinson.
"Matt Palubinsky is a great example for my own kid,' said Breisblatt. "He was the first-ever junior captain I've had, and I have been coaching for 19 years. We left it open, but we all agreed.'
Breisblatt said Palubinsky, like all the honored football players, does the right things as far as being a student-athlete, which may not be "cool,' but they do not care what other people think.
Palubinsky played wide receiver, tight end, running back and quarterback for the Phantoms, and he also doubled on defense. He also played on all of the special teams.
"He never came off the field,' said Breisblatt. "He did it all.'
The Tall Cedars continued a tradition that began in 1941 and has continued ever since. Bob Mull has been the longtime chairman of Football Night. The Tall Cedars also presented gifts to each of the football players.
The guest speaker for the evening was West Chester University head football coach Bill Zwaan, who has been directing the Golden Rams to success in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) for the past 12 years. Zwaan was a star quarterback at Archbishop Carroll High School before graduating in 1972, and then went on to become a standout quarterback at the University of Delaware.
ROYERSFORD - It was a time for Spring-Ford High School to recognize the senior members of its football team, cheerleading squad and marching band.
The gridders from the Class of 2015 accepted their accolades prior to Friday's game with Owen J. Roberts, then spent 48 minutes repaying their fans while fashioning themselves an indelible memory for the years to come.
On the occasion of their final regular-season game at Coach McNelly Stadium, the Rams seniors headed a 49-13 victory on their neighboring Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals. They did it by scoring 35 unanswered points after trading touchdowns at the start, securing the running clock for the entire second half and being recognized once more as they came off the field as the game wound down.
"We were trying to get around to all our seniors,' head coach Chad Brubaker said afterward. "This was their last game on the field, and we wanted to make sure to recognize them ... how they progressed in their time here. They deserve it.'
Brandon Leacraft was at the forefront of Spring-Ford's senior showcase, throwing three TD passes and catching a fourth in the course of his team's 35-point run. Classmates Brandon Barone and Danny Matthews were on the receiving end of respective 23- and 1-yard strikes from Leacraft, who then pulled in a 13-yard toss from Stone Scarcelle to cap a double-reverse play that put the Rams (6-2 league, 6-3 overall) up by a 35-7 count with little more than seven minutes left in the first half.
Leacraft then closed out the first half's offensive surge by connecting with Ted Dylinski on a 20-yard toss inside the five-minute mark. That put the second half's action on fast-forward, the clubs trading touchdowns over the final 8:30.
"He's having a great year, making great decisions,' Brubaker said of Leacraft, who completed 13 of 16 passes for 164 yards, to a stable of five different receivers. "He has one more game to go, and he may be setting some records.'
A number of other Spring-Ford seniors got their names called prior to taking their final bows before the hometown crowd.
Along with Barone (67 yards) and Matthews (55) having three-catch nights, Alec Welsh (two receptions, 16 yards) and Brett Conway (one for 11) were part of the six Rams targeted by Leacraft during the night.
"We have a number of good receivers,' Brubaker said, "and we wanted to utilize them.'
On the defensive side, Connor Crawford had a fumble-forcing sack of Owen J. quarterback Mitch Bradford — one of four mishandles the Wildcats (1-6, 1-8) sustained during the game, three of which were recovered by the home team.
"One thing we said to them at the half was, we can't make mistakes against a team like that,' Roberts head coach Tom Barr said following the Wildcats' sixth straight defeat. "But we didn't want the kids to quit. We wanted to still go after them.'
Owen J's second-half resolve was highlighted by a 15-play, 85-yard march after recovering a Spring-Ford fumble. Bradford (8-for-16, 59 yards) finished the drive with a 14-yard TD pass to Tony Thomas with 8:29 left.
"We came out in a ' Wildcat' for the first series, then went into a two-minute offense,' Barr explained. "We weren't going to quit as a staff ... we wanted to make something happen. I was happy with the way we responded, the way we played in the second half.'
The ' Cats recovered another Rams fumble two plays after the ensuing kickoff, getting to the Spring-Ford 37 before turning the ball over on downs. Selwyn Simpson then covered the distance to the end zone on two runs, the second a 29-yard burst through left tackle for a final touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.
"It's tough when you're struggling through injuries,' Barr said. "But the kids have had a good attitude in practice, picking themselves up. They're not quitting on each other.'
In complement to the seniors' show, a number Spring-Ford underclassmen also contributed to the home-field swan song.
Sophomore Matt Gibson rushed for 110 yards, to include touchdowns of 15 and nine yards bookending Bradford's 12-yard TD rush for Owen J. in the first quarter. Simpson, another 10th-grader, finished with 76 yards on eight totes.
Brubaker, outlining the Scarcelle halfback-option pass Leacraft called: "We've practiced it for a while. We wanted the kids to have some fun.' ... The Rams' high-octane offense resulted in just one punt for the game, which didn't come until their first series of the second half. The home team ended up getting the ball back immediately, Welsh recovering the fumble. ... Barr confirmed Owen J. will be looking to schedule a contingency game, between next week's meeting with Pope John Paul II and its traditional Thanksgiving Day finale with Pottstown. He noted the possibility of bringing in Northampton, coached by former Boyertown field boss Mark Scisly, if scheduled opponent Upper Moreland ends up in the District 1 playoffs.
ROYERSFORD - If nothing else, the Pope John Paul II football team left Saturday's 56-0 Pioneer Athletic Conference loss to Spring-Ford knowing it's finally through a brutal three-week stretch in which the Golden Panthers have been outscored 161-18.
PJP head coach Rory Graver even found some positives from the shellacking.
“In these last three games, I thought that was the best first half,” Graver said. “Our defense caused two turnovers, and offensively, we were moving the ball ... It's something for us to build on for the next one.
“It's great experience. We start eight underclassmen on defense and seven or eight on offense, and this (Spring-Ford) is what we aspire to be.
It's good experience for our guys to get out there and see how these teams perform.”
As the score would indicate, the incremental progress that the Golden Panthers made Saturday was not enough to hold Spring-Ford back on its Homecoming game, as quarterback Brandon Leacraft and his skill position cohorts did a number on PJP, tallying 459 total yards.
One of the turnovers Graver mentioned happened on the Rams' opening possession, when Trey Jarmon fumbled at the PJP 43 after a 6-yard completion, setting the Golden Panthers up with excellent field position.
They even strung together a first down on a pair of runs by quarterback Matt Duff and lead back Andrew Salvo, but eventually punted away.
“I was a little disappointed that we put the ball on the ground,” Rams head coach Chad Brubaker said. “That's what we're trying to avoid. But our kids recovered from that and played pretty well. We just need to execute no matter what the score is, and hopefully we'll get that corrected.”
Spring-Ford (5-2, 5-3) wasted no time getting to work following their opening mishap. The Rams, in the span of roughly four minutes, racked up 21 points (all while recording just three plays on offense) on Leacraft's 67-yard pass to Danny Matthews, Brandon Barone's 54-yard punt return, and a 12-yard run by Leacraft that more or less settled matters.
PJP tight end/defensive lineman Jake Hennessey provided another highlight early in the second with a nifty interception near the line of scrimmage, but the Golden Panthers (1-5, 1-6) proceeded to go three-and-out, and only record one more first down the remainder of the half.
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, only padded its lead. Leacraft's 57-yarder to Barone and a 3-yard run by Matt Gibson put the Rams up 35-0 and in position for a second-half running clock. They tacked on two more scores in the third, on Gibson's 7-yard run and Selwyn Simpson's 1-yard run. Rick Venuto ran for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth to cap the scoring.
Leacraft finished with 246 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air and another 23 and a score on the ground. Simpson led the Rams in rushing, with 106 yards on just nine carries. Barone had 108 receiving yards and a score on three receptions.
For PJP, Duff finished with 93 yards and a pair of picks on 10-for-21 passing, and led the team in rushing with 35 yards on 11 carries. As a unit, the offense gained only 115 yards.
Despite the negatives associated with his squad's performance, Graver found a few things he was impressed with.
“I thought Salvo ran well at times,” Graver said. “Duff played with some poise, and Jared Lupold always plays well for us.
“Defensively, (Mike) Frazier caused that fumble in the first and we had Hennessey with that interception. We've got guys that play hard. We just need to get better, and build off of this.”
Spring-Ford closes out the league season against Owen J. Roberts and Pottstown, respectively. PJP, meanwhile gets Boyertown next week, followed by Owen J. Roberts to close out its campaign.
Proliferation of no-huddle offenses dot area landscape
By Darryl Grumling
Posted: 10/13/2014 07:13:41 PM EDT
Offensive numbers in the local scholastic football scene are beginning to pile up — in a hurry, if you will.
A big reason is the proliferation of no-huddle attacks that have sprouted up in recent years.
This season, virtually half of the area's 13 teams run some form of a no-huddle offense.
Perkiomen Valley is the proverbial pied piper of the helter-skelter set, having run the hurry-up for the past three seasons.
Spring-Ford went no-huddle this year, as did Hill School with the arrival of coach Dave Rackovan (a successful proponent of the offense during his tenure at Central Bucks South over the past four seasons).
The uptempo style has also helped Daniel Boone win four of its first seven games.
"I think it's just something that people have come around to that can give themselves a competitive advantage,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said.
You certainly can't argue with the results at Perkiomen Valley, which has put together a 24-7 mark since going to the no-huddle attack.
"Within our league, we felt we could use our numbers to our advantage with an uptempo offense,' Vikings coach Scott Reed said. "It creates a different rhythm in practice. There is less standing around.'
Pioneer Athletic Conference-leading Perkiomen Valley (6-0, 6-1) has utilized the hurry-up attack to amass an area-best 270 points. The Vikings — who haven't been held under 20 points this year — have racked up 201 over their past four games.
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, has used the rapid-fire set to average an area-best 423 yards per game.
In Saturday's 49-20 victory over Methacton, the Rams accumulated 482 total yards and ran a staggering 87 offensive plays in lighting up a strong Warriors defense.
"We've always had a two-minute package, but this is the first year that we are running it exclusively,' Brubaker said. "We knew to be successful this year, we were going to have to do some things differently.'
Though Hill School has yet to win in four games, the Rams offense is certainly not the problem. Quarterback Devon Kennedy is averaging 241.3 passing yards per game and wide receiver Bryce Allen hauled in 14 receptions for 145 yards and two scores in Friday's 24-16 loss to Peddie.
"It's like anything else in football; people like to stay with the trends,' Rackovan said. "The positives are that you get more practice reps, it forces defenses to prepare differently, and it's fun for the players.'
"It creates confusion for the defense,' said Phoenixville coach Evan Breisblatt, who has the Phantoms running a variation of the hurry-up. "It's very hard for defensive coordinators to get signals into the defense. It creates a tempo where players have less time to think and have to just react.'
Not all of the aspects of the no-huddle trend have been positives, however.
As Reed pointed out, it can be hard for teams to switch gears from full throttle to ball control as they attempt to close out games.
In addition, the nature of the no-huddle (more passing, more plays, more penalties) has translated into significantly longer games.
Whether the no-huddle endures for generations to come or flames out remains to be seen, though its shock value is beginning to diminish, according to Rackovan.
"Defenses are starting to catch up as they see more of it, and changing the way they practice, prepare and call the game,' he said. "The bottom line is that you still have to block and tackle, and you must be fundamentally sound and have good players. The good teams have all of those ingredients.'
Which is even more of a necessity if you want to succeed in the fast lane.
Spring-Ford aces Methacton test, 49-20
FAIRVIEW VILLAGE - Brandon Barone and several of his Spring-Ford football teammates spent the early part of Saturday taking their SATs.
A few hours later, the senior wide receiver played a key role in helping the Rams ace a key Pioneer Athletic Conference examination at Methacton.
Barone delivered two touchdown receptions — including a highlight-reel 35-yard grab early in the second quarter — as Spring-Ford used a bevy of big performances en route to a 49-20 victory.
Senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft threw for 199 yards and four touchdown passes, sophomore Selwyn Simpson came off the bench to rush for all of his game-high 135 yards and one TD in the second half and the Rams (4-2, 4-3) racked up 472 total yards against the Warriors (4-2, 4-3), who saw a four-game winning streak halted.
"We played well offensively and defensively, and our special teams gave us some good field position,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "It was a total team effort.'
Brendan Zimmie recovered a Methacton fumble at the Warriors 15 to set up a Leacraft-to-Trey Jarmon 7-yard touchdown connection that opened the scoring with 4:54 left in the first quarter.
But what was arguably the play of the game occurred a little less than two minutes into the second quarter, after Steve Rice partially blocked a Methacton punt that enabled the Rams to take over at the Warriors 35.
Leacraft immediately heaved one deep down the right side into double coverage, and the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Barone somehow outfought Akeem Walcott and Dontae Thomas to come away with the ball and give the Rams a 14-0 lead.
"I'm always calling for a jump ball,' Barone said. "They say I'm too small, but I like to show what I can do.'
Barone has done plenty this year, with a team-high 19 catches to go along with area-bests of 566 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns. Still, he is only one of several potent playmakers in the Rams' dangerous offensive arsenal.
"Man, our weapons are incredible,' said Leacraft, who extended his area-best TD pass total to 17 (against just one interception). "It's great. I just throw it out there, and they'll make a play, like Brandon Barone did.'
Leacraft, who finished 19-for-37 and also ran for 50 yards, also leads the area in passing yardage (1,347).
"Brandon has done a really good job for us,' Brubaker said. "We felt he was really starting to settle into the role and understand what we were trying to do before he got injured last year. There have been times this year where he's struggled to get back into rhythm, but today and the past few weeks he's done a really good job of picking out the right guy and he's really improved in his film study, which has made him a better quarterback.'
Methacton also features a quality signal-caller in Conner Derrickson, who ripped off a 25-yard TD run to get the Warriors within 14-6 with 5:29 left in the first half.
Spring-Ford's Zach Hare, however, brought back the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to the 1 to set up a Matt Gibson TD run, and things kind of snowballed from there for Methacton.
John Strickler â The Mercury
John Strickler â The Mercury
"We had a hard time playing up to what we've been doing the last few weeks,' Warriors coach Paul Lepre said. "Give them (the Rams) credit. They made plays, and they got after us today. They manhandled us a little bit. I'm about to go in to count my walking wounded, and it's a little bit discouraging at this point.
"Our guys were focused this week; they had a good week of practice. But we just never really got clicking today.'
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, seemingly didn't miss a beat in the second half.
They scored on their first drive of the third quarter when Barone turned Leacraft's short pass in the right flat into a 15-yard catch-and-run TD on a third-and-6 play. Then Jarmon broke up a fourth-down pass to blunt a Warriors drive and scored on a 4-yard run to jack the lead to 35-6 with 2:07 left in the third.
Simpson, a promising 6-1, 190-pounder, carried it 19 times in the final two quarters (including an 8-yard TD run with 3:16 remaining that provided the final margin) as the Rams deftly shifted gears to their ground game. Versatile sophomore Stone Scarcelle (who earlier completed a 25-yard pass to Leacraft) also hauled in a 14-yard TD.
Barone (78 receiving yards), Scarcelle, Jarmon and Danny Matthews all notched four receptions for the Rams, with seven different players having at least one catch.
Matt Gibson ran for 60 yards as part of a 248-yard, Spring-Ford rushing effort.
Derrickson wound up rushing for a team-high 126 yards for Methacton, which also got an 86-yard kickoff return TD from Thomas and an 18-yard Derrickson-to-Thomas scoring hookup. Walcott finished the game with five receptions for 71 yards.
But for the most part, the Warriors found it tough sledding in seeing their hopes at a piece of the league title dashed by a revved-up Rams attack.
"This was the biggest game remaining on our schedule,' Brubaker said. "Normally at this point in the year, we're trying to look ahead to the playoffs and see how things are going to shape up. While that's probably not something that's going to happen for us, our kids are still going to keep scrapping and try to get better each week. All we can do is control what we can control.'
"With our team, we don't look at the past, we look towards the future,' Leacraft said. "Everybody on our team hates losing. We just want to win.
"Everybody dug deep. We hadn't been so good in our away games, so it was time to step up.'
Which the Rams did in passing a stern test with flying colors.
Spring-Ford puts it all together in derailing Methacton
By DAVE KURTZ
WORCESTER – Brandon Leacraft threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns and Spring-Ford rolled up 475 yards of total offense in a 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over Methacton Saturday afternoon.
Leacraft hit Brandon Barone with scoring tosses of 35 and 15 yards and added TD passes of 7 yards to Trey Jarmon and 14 yards to Stone Scarcelle as the Rams snapped a four-game Warriors’ winning streak and virtually ended Methacton’s title hopes.
“It’s a little setback in the scheme of things,” said Methacton coach Paul Lepre. “They took advantage of their size and executed really well. Against a team like that you can’t make mistakes.”
The most costly blunder came midway through the second quarter after the Warriors (4-2 league, 4-3 overall) closed within 14-6 on quarterback Conner Derrickson’s 25-yard touchdown run. On the ensuing kickoff, Spring-Ford’s Zach Hare found a seam on the left side and went 84 yards to the one-yard line, setting up Matt Gibson’s 1-yard TD run for a 20-6 halftime lead.
The huge special teams play ignited a run of 21 unanswered points for the Rams, who went up 35-6 and essentially put things away on Leacraft’s 15-yard TD pass to Barone and Jarmon’s 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“Our defense played really well,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “I’m really proud of the kids. We were out of our routine today with the SATS and the late start, but they overcame that and came ready to play.”
Zach Dorsey, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound two-way senior tackle for the Rams, was certainly ready to play. Combining forces on both sides of the football with the likes of Zach Smiley, Matt Rice, Joe Goul, Nate Schoeck and Brendan Zimmie, Dorsey was instrumental in Spring-Ford ruling the trenches.
“We played as a team,” said Dorsey. “We showed our talent and played as a unit. This was a big game for us and we worked together and played up to our full potential. We knew were a lot better team than our record (3-3 coming in), and we finished the game strong. We needed this win for ourselves.”
Spring-Ford improved to 4-2 in the league and 4-3 overall with the victory. Sophomore running back Selwyn Simpson came on for an injured Gibson in the second half and totaled 136 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.
“We had some guys dinged up and our other sophomore running back came in and did the job,” said Brubaker of Simpson. “Zach Dorsey was big today, and our seniors played well as a group. We were getting the push and were able to finish drives after squandering some opportunities in the first half. Our special teams have been good all year. And like I said before, our defense played really well.”
♦ Leacraft spread the ball around, hitting six different receivers. The senior QB also hauled in a 25-yard reception from Scarcelle on the back end of a perfectly-executed wideout option pass
♦ Zimmie’s fumble recovery at the Methacton 15 set up the game’s first score – Jarmon’s 7-yard TD reception with 4:54 remaining in the first half
♦ In addition to Barone (3 catches, 65 yards, 2 TDs), Danny Matthews (5-42), Scarcelle (4-39, TD) tight end Bryce Rhodenbaugh (2-23) and Jarmon (4-15, TD) also had multiple catches
♦ Spring-Ford hosts Pope John Paul II next Saturday (2 p.m.) in its annual Homecoming game at Coach McNelly stadium
♦ Two-way standout senior back Akeem Walcott went down with a potentially-serious lower leg injury in the second half after contributing 72 yards receiving and another 18 rushing
♦ Dontae Thomas ripped off an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter after scoring earlier in the period on an 18-yard TD pass from Derrickson
♦ Derrickson rushed for 125 yards and threw for another 151, with Walcott (5-72) and Thomas (5-66, TD) his main targets
♦ Methacton coach Paul Lepre: “We weren’t able to do what we’d done the past few weeks. We were focused and ready to play after a good week of practice. Spring-Ford made plays and manhandled us a little bit. We came out of this game with quite a few injuries, I’ll need to go in and count my walking wounded.”
♦ Methacton travels to Owen J. Roberts next Friday night
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Spring-Ford comes up big in win over Methacton
By Dennis Weller
Spring-Ford's Brandon Leacraft throws for 200 yards and four touchdowns Saturday in the Rams' 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference game at Methacton.
Spring-Ford wanted to prove that it was a better football team than its .500 record might indicate and did that convincingly Saturday with a 49-20 Pioneer Athletic Conference win at Methacton.
Brandon Leacraft threw for 200 yards and four touchdowns for the Rams (4-2, 4-3) and Selwyn Simpson came off the bench and ran for 136 yards in the second half.
Connor Derrickson rushed for 133 yards for the Warriors (4-2, 4-3).
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said he thought it was his team's best performance of the year.
"In a way, it's a shame, because in our other big games, we didn't play as well as we did today," he said. "They knew this was a big game on our schedule."
"We knew we were a lot better team than 3-3," said Ram senior lineman Zach Dorsey. "We're hoping to finish out 7-3. This would be a start to that."
Spring-Ford led all the way after opening the scoring on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Leacraft to Trey Jarmon with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter.
A 35-yard scoring toss to Brandon Barone two minutes into the second quarter made it 14-0 and the Rams advanced the ball to the Methacton 10-yard line on their next possession and appeared ready to break it open.
Then the Warriors briefly changed the momentum when they recovered a fumble and drove 87 yards for a touchdown, the last 25 on a run up the middle by Derrickson. But Zach Hare returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the 1 and Matt Gibson ran it into the end zone from there for a 20-6 Rams lead.
Another scoring pass to Barone and another TD run by Jarmon in the third quarter broke it open for good.
"We didn't stop what they were doing," Methacton coach Paul Lepre said concerning the Rams, who racked up 468 total yards in a game that included 69 pass attempts and lasted nearly three hours.
"They have a lot of athletes they can get the ball to and their quarterback has a good arm," Lepre said. "They're a good football team."
And that's just what the Rams wanted to prove, according to Dorsey.
"We played like a team and we played to our full potential, because we're a talented team," he said. "Defensively, we worked together and on offense, we worked together. This is a good way to show us we're a good team, playing a good game against a solid team. This is a game we needed for ourselves."
"Zach Dorsey was big today," said Brubaker. "He's a guy who's a vocal leader on our team. All our seniors there were a lot of guys who got dinged up."
The Warriors also moved the ball well with 339 total yards.
Methacton's Dontae Thomas provided some late excitement with an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But the Warriors were forced to punt six times in the first half and lost a fumble in each half.
"Our defense played really well," said Brubaker. "We always came up with the stop when we needed it. That has been an issue this year. That was good to see."
Lepre said he thought his team had trouble with the Rams' big linemen, such as Dorsey.
"I think we felt going in their defensive line was a little bigger than most defensive lines we've seen the last couple months, so we spread things out," he said. "That's been our issue with Spring-Ford the last couple years. Their size is an issue. Against a team like that, you have to make every play."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROYERSFORD -- They say the best way to be successful in football is with an offense that displays a balanced attack through the air and on the ground as well as a hard-nosed defense that can make crucial stops when needed.
Spring-Ford fit the image Friday night, boasting an array of talent both on offense and defense as well as special teams, as they handily defeated Upper Perkiomen 62-7 under the lights at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Rams (3-2 PAC-10) finished the game with 439 total yards of offense spearheaded by quarterback Brandon Leacraft's 219 combined yards while giving up just 194 total yards to the Indians (1-4). Spring-Ford also scored on two special teams plays including a punt return from Teddy Dylinski and an Upper Perkiomen fumble on the kickoff returned for the score by Brendan Zimmie.
"We executed really well tonight,' said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker. "It was definitely a good team win. We took a little time to settle in, but once we got it going, the team clicked really well.'
After the opening quarter, the game looked to be nowhere near what the scoreboard showed at the finish.
The Rams opened up the game with a scoring drive capped off by a 3-yard run from Matt Gibson to give Spring-Ford an early 7-0 lead.
But the Indians looked to answer back as they marched the ball down the field only to be stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the Spring-Ford one-yard line.
For Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz, being stopped on the doorstep was a letdown.
"We were knocking on the door, but we just couldn't get the ball into the end zone,' said Hontz. "Things kind of snowballed from there. We lost a lot of the fire we came out with, and their sideline really took the momentum from that point on.'
The Rams closed out the first quarter with a 43-yard pass from Leacraft to Dylinski. Just two plays later, Leacraft ran it for a 31-yard touchdown to make the lead 13-0.
After forcing an Upper Perk punt, the Rams took over at the Indian 45. In the drive, Gibson took two carries for 27 yards capped by a 14-yard touchdown run to extend the Rams' lead to 19-0.
"My blockers were creating a lot of good holes which allowed me to run the ball pretty well,' said Gibson who finished with 75 yards and two touchdowns on six carries. "Those guys are the reason I was able to run the ball so well tonight. They were really working out there which got our offense going.'
On the ensuing Indian drive, the Rams forced a three-and-out and another punt from Zeke Hallman. Back deep to receive, Dylinski returned the punt 65 yards for the score to go up 27-0 with just over five minutes left in the half.
But the quarter was far from over.
On the opening play of the Rams' next possession, Leacraft found Brandon Barone on a corner fade for a 40-yard score and extended the lead to 35-0.
On the first play of Upper Perkiomen's next drive, quarterback Jacob Breyer threw an interception to Connor Crawford who ran it back to the Indian 32-yard line.
Again, the Rams scored right away as Leacraft found Trey Jarmon on a shovel pass that went for a 32-yard score and a 42-0 halftime lead.
"We wanted to make a statement in the second quarter,' said Leacraft, who finished with 150 yards through the air and 69 more on the ground. "As a team we all had last week's loss (35-29 to Pottsgrove) still in the back of our heads. Tonight it was our motivation. We wanted to come out and show what our team could do.'
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Spring-Ford's Tanner Romano leveled return man Austin Tutolo, which jarred the ball loose and was recovered by Zimmie for a touchdown extending the lead to 49-0.
The Rams went up 62-0 after an 8-yard touchdown run by Ricky Venuto and 55-yard TD run from Selwyn Simpson.
But the Tribe refused to let the scoreboard phase them.
The Indians found the end zone as Tyler Keyser threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Kendra, who finished with a team-high 60 receiving yards, to bring the closing score to 62-7.
"We did a lot of things well out there,' said Brubaker. "We moved the ball well on offense, we made stops when we needed to defensively. We had a lot of things working. Moving forward, this win will be really good for our team.'
The Rams will look to stay hot next week as they travel to Methacton Saturday while the Indians will look to rebound next week as they host Owen J. Roberts at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Week 5 Gridiron - Sponsored by the Peanut Bar & Grill
Porter, Pottsgrove turn back Spring-Ford in epic 35-29 victory
By Darryl Grumling
LOWER POTTSGROVE - Much like his Pottsgrove football teammates, Wyatt Porter took a beating — literally and figuratively — last week, when the Falcons saw their record 25-game Pioneer Athletic Conference winning streak snapped in a loss at Methacton.
Friday night, however, Porter was the one doling out the most punishment as Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford went at it in a game for the ages.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior fullback/linebacker delivered more mayhem than an episode of "Sons of Anarchy' as the Falcons came away with a 35-29 victory at Pennypacker Field.
Porter caught a 22-yard touchdown pass, ran for a 1-yard TD, saved a potential Rams score by literally stealing the ball from Matt Gibson after a 45-yard run, intercepted a pass on a Spring-Ford fake punt and also gained a hard-earned two yards on a pivotal fourth-and-inches play in the fourth quarter.
More importantly, he epitomized a circle-the-wagons mentality that took Pottsgrove (3-1 PAC-10, 3-2 overall) from potential desperation mode to right back into the thick of the league's title chase.
Verdone also had the performance of his career, throwing for 246 yards and three TDs, while teammate Devon Fink ran for 112 yards — including a 69-yard scoring burst with 5:14 left in the third quarter that broke a 21-21 tie and put the Falcons up to stay.
"We showed a lot of effort and a lot of heart, and that's what we're all about,' said Porter.
"I give so much credit to my kids and coaches,' Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker said. "After last week (a 20-7 loss), those guys came out hard, played hard and we had a great game plan. I'm just so proud of them.'
Spring-Ford (2-2, 2-3) got three touchdowns and 108 yards receiving from senior wideout Danny Matthews and another mammoth effort from defensive end Brendan Zimmie. But a missed extra point after Matthews' 23-yard score (as a result of scooping up a fumble after a Brandon Leacraft-to-Bryce Rhodenbaugh pass completion) that cut it to 28-27 with 4:50 left in the third quarter came back to haunt the Rams.
After forcing a fourth-down incompletion from Leacraft from the Falcons 35 a little less than two minutes into the final period, Pottsgrove methodically marched 65 yards on 16 plays and made it 35-27 on Porter's 1-yard plunge up the gut with 2:21 left.
The Rams, thanks to a 38-yard hookup from Leacraft to Stone Scarcelle, found themselves 13 yards away from a potential game-tying TD and two-point try, but the Falcons defense (with linebacker Madison Kelsey providing six tackles and Porter, Patrick Finn and Daquan Dantzler collecting five apiece) forced four straight incompletions, the final one with 1:10 remaining.
Pottsgrove couldn't quite kill the clock, with punter Mike Fowler taking a safety with six seconds left for the final margin before a chinese-fire-drill-like return started by Trey Jarmon that included several laterals flamed out around midfield on the ensuing free kick as time expired.
"We had four shots at it,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said, shaking his head outside the team bus. "Their quarterback played a heck of a game, but we've got to do a better job. I don't know what to tell you; it's frustrating.'
Early on, the Falcons appeared to be headed for frustration as the Rams scored on their second offensive play on a 53-yard scoring run by Jarmon.
But Pottsgrove answered with a Verdone-to-Porter 22-yard TD two drives later and from there momentum kept shifting as each squad continued to hit the other with offensive haymakers.
Leacraft hit Matthews for a 64-yard scoring connection to put the Rams up 14-7 with 2:18 left in the first quarter. Two plays later, Fowler took a pass in the left flat, ran over a defender and raced down the sideline for a 70-yard catch-and-run TD that knotted it back up.
Verdone found Fink for a 30-yard TD to give Pottsgrove a 21-14 lead with 2:12 left in the second quarter, but a 65-yard run by Scarcelle after a dropped punt snap set up Leacraft's 15-yard TD pass to Matthews that tied it back up 25 seconds before intermission.
The Rams then appeared to be in prime position to take the upper hand, forcing a three-and-out to start the second half before Gibson broke off a huge run from the 50. But Porter never gave up on the play and wrestled the ball free from Gibson at the 5.
"I just tried to hustle and get to him,' Porter said, "and I figured I might as well try to go for the ball.'
"When I saw that,' recalled a smiling Fowler, "I was like, '˜Oh my God.' Wyatt just brings a lot of energy out there. He's the definition of a guy that plays with his hair on fire.'
Who extinguished Rams' threats throughout the epic affair.
"There was some crazy stuff tonight,' Brubaker said. "I'd like to think it (the outcome) would be different if that (strip) didn't happen.'
Instead, the Falcons went up to stay on Fink's TD through the left side and found themselves clinging to a 28-27 lead and faced with a fourth-and-inches from their own 44 midway through the fourth quarter.
Pennypacker didn't hesitate to go for it.
"If we can't get a yard there,' he reasoned, "we don't deserve to win.'
Porter got the call and rumbled between the tackles for two yards to move the chains in the a vintage Falcons march that took 7:41 off the clock.
"Wyatt played a great game,' Pennypacker said. "He was a man out there. He's just a headsy kid, who always seems to have his nose at the right place at the right time.'
Which helped the Falcons reverse their fortunes in a big way while dealing a death blow to the contention hopes of the Rams in an instant classic encounter.
"We worked hard all week in practice, watched a lot of film,' Porter said. "It wasn't a clean win, but we went out and got the job done.'
Spring-Ford, Pottsgrove clash in must-win matchup
By Darryl Grumling
For the past three seasons, it has been the big game as far as Pioneer Athletic Conference football is concerned.
Perennial power Pottsgrove. Suddenly resurgent Spring-Ford.
The winner of this high-profile showdown has gone on to claim the PAC-10 title each of the last three years.
But when the two-time defending league champion Falcons (2-1, 2-2) and Rams (2-1, 2-2) square off Friday night at Pennypacker Field, on Pottsgrove's military appreciation night, the contest will have more of an elimination-game feel than title-game setting.
With Pottsgrove having fallen to Methacton 20-7 last week, and Spring-Ford having been taken down by Perkiomen Valley 20-7 in Week 2 (while PV is off to a 3-0 league start), neither the Falcons nor Rams can afford another defeat should they want to keep their title aspirations alive.
"Pottsgrove has had the upper hand in our series for years,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, whose team's 49-35 victory in 2011 is the Rams' lone success in the past 14 installments of the series. "Despite having one loss in the league, our kids know that this is an important game.'
As do the Falcons, according to coach Rick Pennypacker.
"They are a very good team,' he said of the Rams, "and we have a great amount of respect for them.'
Spring-Ford is coming off a record-setting effort in last week's 44-22 victory over Boyertown, in which senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft (312 passing yards, 23 completions), senior defensive end Brendan Zimmie (15 tackles) and the passing offense (333 yards) set new school single-game marks.
Sophomore Matt Gibson has rushed for a team-high 313 yards, while Brandon Barone (13 catches, area-best 435 yards, three TDs) heads a list of 10 different receivers who have caught at least one pass.
On defense, Zimmie (28 tackles) and linebackers Steve Rice (23) and Connor Crawford (22) have played big roles in a unit which has forced nine turnovers over the past three weeks.
"We are pretty close to where we thought we'd be,' Brubaker said. "We knew that we had some big games early and had to play well to win. We played well enough to win our opener (a 34-20 loss at State College), but struggled on third down defensively and offensively made some costly mistakes in key moments that affected the outcome of the game. And we just didn't play well enough offensively to beat PV.'
Pottsgrove, which saw its record 25-game PAC-10 winning streak snapped last week, will try to regroup behind an attack led by star wideout/corner Mike Folwer (11 receptions, 238 yards, three TDs), senior running back Devon Fink (the area's leading rusher with 456 yards and six TDs) and senior two-way tackle Patrick Finn.
But Pennypacker's squad will also have to overcome a rash of injuries that saw, among others, freshman fullback Parris Janusek leave last week's game and fullback/linebacker Wyatt Porter also banged up.
Counting their 41-7 opening-week defeat to Ben Franklin, the Falcons have lost as many games this year as they did in all of 2012-13 (when they went a combined 22-2).
"We are very inexperienced and young, and have been hit hard with a few injuries, which has caused us to rely on our depth,' Pennypacker said. "We are making mistakes that we hadn't in past years, and that is expected. But our kids are still working hard and have been upbeat. I just have to do a better job getting them ready to play.'
Which means preparing the Falcons' defense for a Rams' no-huddle offense averaging 409.3 yards per game.
"They are big, fast, athletic and well-coached,' Pennypacker said. "They never skip a beat and have been on a roll on both sides of the ball. Their depth is a major concern for us and the fast-paced offense causes teams to wear down as the game goes on.'
Nonetheless, Pottsgrove — which has won four of the past six PAC-10 titles and is 55-4 over its past 59 league games — has been a formidable foe to take down.
"They are the type of team that can give us problems as they come right at teams, offensively,' Brubaker said. "We are going to have to do a better job of getting off of the field on third downs. Offensively, we still have to cut down on our penalties and route-running mistakes.'
And who can limit their mistakes will go a long way in determining who emerges from Friday's survival showdown.
Spring-Ford, Pottsgrove try to stay in PAC-10 running
By Dennis Weller
Spring-Ford has gotten off to a slow start in three of its four football games this year and recovered to win just one of them.
That's something the Rams do not want to do again in tonight's game against two-time defending champion Pottsgrove, which will try to get its offense in sync after having its Pioneer Athletic Conference 25-game winning streak broken last week.
"We have to find a way to stop that," said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, whose squad fell behind State College 10-0 in a 34-20 loss, trailed Perkiomen Valley 16-0 at the half before losing 22-19 and gave up two touchdowns in the first six minutes to Boyertown last week before storming back for a 44-22 win. "That's actually happened in three of our four games and two of them, we didn't get out of it. We have some theories. We need more focus early from the kids.
"That's a big thing for us. If that happens, they (the Falcons) will shorten the game because they'll continue to run the ball. They still come off the ball really hard and, obviously, (wide receiver Michael) Fowler is a concern."
But if any team is well-equipped to wipe out a deficit, it would be Spring-Ford (2-1, 2-2), which has gotten more than 800 yards and nine touchdowns through the air from senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft. Matt Gibson has rushed for more than 300 yards on the year for the Rams, who have averaged a league-high 31.5 points and right around 400 total yards per game.
On the other hand, Pottsgrove (2-1, 2-2) has scored just seven points in each of its two losses, including a 20-7 setback at Methacton last week.
"We haven't played well on offense very much at all," said Falcons coach Rick Pennypacker. "We have to correct that. We've been spoiled. We've always been able to do what we want. We made some changes."
Pottsgrove has averaged a league-high 195.5 rushing yards per outing - including a total of 464 from Devon Fink - while averaging 84.8 through the air, with Fowler catching 12 passes for a 20.2-yard average and three touchdowns.
"We played well defensively against Methacton," Pennypacker said. "They had three big plays. I'll give Methacton credit. We had opportunities to do things, and we didn't do it."
Much of the problem for Pottsgrove, which has put together 11 straight winning seasons and not lost more than two PAC-10 games in any year since 2006, is inexperience something that hurt last week against the Warriors.
"We're young," said Pennypacker, whose team had not been held to seven points in a PAC-10 contest since a 37-7 loss to Perk Valley in 2007. "You expect this when you have only two starters back on both sides of the ball. Methacton scored on a turnover and another touchdown when one of our kids wasn't lined up in the right spot. It's a process. The kids are doing the best they can.
"I'm more worried about us than them. You have freshmen and sophomores in there who are being asked to do things they haven't done before. Spring-Ford is big, fast and athletic. We've just got to be able to play inspired football and disciplined football because they're very good."
This will be the fourth of six key games to be played among the top four teams in the standings, with the Spring-Ford at Methacton and Perkiomen Valley at Pottsgrove games yet to come.
The Rams may not win the PAC-10 title even if they win all of their remaining games. But Brubaker thinks that his team will still have a say as to whether or not it can make the District 1-AAAA playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
"At this point, having lost to Perk Valley (the last unbeaten team in the PAC-10 at 3-0), all we can do is control our own destiny and the kids have to focus on each week," he said. "Our goal is to get into the playoffs. With so many Quad-A teams and with us having five AAA teams on our schedule, we really have to win out to make the playoffs."
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or email@example.com.
The Gridiron - sponsored by the Peanut Bar & Grill - Week 4
Spring-Ford pulls away late for 44-22 win over Boyertown
By Darryl Grumling
ROYERSFORD — If Steve Rice and his Spring-Ford football teammates didn't already realize they would have a fight on their hands in Friday night's Pioneer Athletic Conference contest against Boyertown, the Bears wasted no time getting that message across.
Boyertown scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, and not even 30 unanswered points by the Rams could seem to shake off the Bears.
In fact, deep into the fourth quarter the Bears were only down one possession as they drove into Spring-Ford territory.
"We knew we had to step up there and make a big stop to help our offense out,' said Rice, a junior linebacker.
That's exactly what the Rams defense did, holding on downs with a little more than six minutes remaining and tacking on a couple of big-play touchdowns to close out a 44-22 victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
With Spring-Ford up 30-22, Rice and Connor Crawford combined for a fourth-down sack of Boyertown quarterback Lawrence Garnett, and two plays later Spring-Ford quarterback Brandon Leacraft hooked up with receiver Brandon Barone for a back-breaking 51-yard TD.
Ted Dylinski returned an interception for another score in the final minute as the Rams improved to 2-1 in league play and 2-2 overall.
"We'll take the win,' Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. "But we just have to play better. We're still inconsistent at times.'
Spring-Ford's Leacraft rebounded from a nightmarish outing in last week's 20-7 loss at Perkiomen Valley to throw for a career-high 280 yards — completing passes to nine different receivers — and four touchdowns; Barone hauled in eight receptions for 135 yards and two scores; and Rice recovered two fumbles as part of a defensive effort that posted four takeaways.
Boyertown (1-2, 1-3) got two TD runs by Garnett, four catches for 48 yards by Justin Siejk and a solid power game that amassed 187 rushing yards — but two lost fumbles and two interceptions proved to be too much to overcome against the turnover-free Rams, which amassed 451 yards of total offense.
"I just think at times we blew the momentum with those turnovers,' first-year Boyertown coach George Parkinson said. "We had them on their heels a little bit, and that's the thing that irks me the most. We try to preach playing penalty-free, fumble-free, turnover-free football, and it just frustrates me that we continue to do that (turn the ball over). Give credit to Spring-Ford, that's a good football team and they played well, but we also beat ourselves tonight as well.
"Before we came out, I said to them in the locker room, ' I know you can stay with these guys physically. But we also needed to win the mental game, and we didn't get that done.'
Nonetheless, the Bears came out firing from the get-go — getting a 38-yard TD run by Dan Heller on their third play from scrimmage and a 1-yard scoring run from Garnett with 6:03 left in the first quarter to take an eye-opening 14-0 lead.
Spring-Ford got on the board on Owen Gulati's 20-yard field goal with 2:13 left in the opening period before the Rams' high-octane offense finally started to heat up.
First, Leacraft found Danny Matthews for a 14-yard scoring strike three plays into the second quarter.
Then, a Rice fumble recovery on the Boyertown 18 led to a 4-yard TD run by sophomore Matt Gibson (15 carries, 102 yards) that put the Rams up to stay at 17-14 with 8:51 left in the second quarter.
And, finally, the 5-10, 165-pound Matthews took a short pass over the middle from Leacraft on a fourth-and-5 play and turned it into a 32-yard catch-and-run TD 2:12 before the half that sent the Rams into the locker room up 23-14.
"We tried to spread the ball around and got to ball to different people tonight,' Brubaker said. "That's what we try to do.'
Spring-Ford appeared on its way to a rout with an impressive drive to open the second half that culminated in a 13-yard TD pass from Leacraft to Barone that extended the lead to 30-14.
The Bears, however, weren't quite finished.
"I feel that if we play disciplined football, we can play with anyone,' Parkinson said.
Boyertown showed that by answering with a 13-play march highlighted by Mike Murphy's 26-yard run and capped by Garnett's 7-yard TD run and subsequent conversion run that cut the deficit to 30-22 with 3:18 left in the third.
That's how it stayed until midway through the final period, when the Bears strung together three first downs and had a first-and-10 from the Rams 36 to set the stage for the key series of the game.
After procedure penalty set the Bears back five yards, Crawford and Tim Rudderow combined to corral Garnett for a 2-yard gain. Tim Vu then delivered a pop to Garnett on a 2-yard gain on second down. Brendan Zimmie brought Garnett down for no gain on the third-and-11 sequence, and Rice and Crawford tag-teamed for the sack and 4-yard loss on fourth down.
"The key for us was just sticking to our assignments; just doing what we know,' Rice said.
"Give our kids credit for hanging in there and coming back, but we obviously have to come out better than that,' said Brubaker.
Leacraft completed a whopping 24-for-38 passes. "We've been stressing progressions with him, and he did a better job with that tonight,' Brubaker said. "We've just got to continue to improve there.' ... Bryce Dorsey hit Zach Hare for a 29-yard completion on a successful Spring-Ford fake punt from its own 40 late in the third quarter. ... Alex Nagy had an interception for Spring-Ford, which got two and a half sacks from Zimmie and one from Rudderow. ... Garnett finished with 46 rushing yards, with Hunter Vogels (44) and Heller (40) also contributing to a balanced attack.
Dynamite defense leads Perkiomen Valley past Spring-Ford, 20-7
By Darryl Grumling
Posted: 09/13/2014 12:33:52 AM EDT
GRATERFORD — Tim Mallon saved the day for the Perkiomen Valley football team last weekend with a final-minute fourth-down batdown.
Friday, Mallon simply owned the night.
The senior outside linebacker had the game of his career with four sacks and an interception to spearhead a dynamic defensive effort that carried the Vikings to a watershed 20-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference victory over neighboring rival Spring-Ford.
With T.J. Foley collecting three sacks and Ryan Light another, Perkiomen Valley (2-0 PAC-10, 2-1 overall) racked up eight total against a harried Rams QB duo of Brandon Leacraft and Stone Scarcelle in taking down the Rams (1-1, 1-2) for the first time since 2009.
"For our seniors, who have never beaten Spring-Ford, it was really emotional for us to come out here and do this,' the 5-foot-11, 160-pound Mallon said. "We were all jacked up in school ready to go for tonight.'
Were they ever.
After Spring-Ford got an initial first down on its first drive, the PV defense stiffened and forced a punt.
Four plays later, sophomore quarterback Stephen Sturm threaded a pass through two defenders in the seam to 6-foot-3, 225-pound Taiyir Wilson — who made a juggling catch before shedding a tackle and turning it into a 43-yard TD reception that put the Vikings up 7-0 with 7:54 left in the opening period.
"That set the tone for us,' PV coach Scott Reed said. "Our defense had a great (opening) series there and we were able to score right away. Our kids made plays tonight. It's hard to take credit as a coach when your kids are out there making big plays. We had some big sacks and big catches.'
The receiving quartet of Wilson (three receptions, 87 yards), Liam Grande (four catches, 84 yards), Justin Jaworski (four catches, 51 yards) and Ryan O'Donnell (five grabs, 45 yards) helped PV move the chains and set up a couple of critical field goals by left-footed sophomore Garrett Patla.
Patla nailed a 24-yarder with 2:40 left in the first quarter to put PV up 10-0, then drilled a 32-yarder 1:50 before the half to make it 13-0.
That's how it stayed until the fourth quarter. The Vikings drove to the red zone before Sturm was intercepted by Spring-Ford's Ted Dylinski at the 3. But on the ensuing play, PV safety David Williams picked up a fumble and returned it for a back-breaking TD that extended the lead to 20-0 with 8:09 left.
The Rams finally got on the board less than a minute later when Scarcelle — who came on when Leacraft was shaken up on a Foley sack — threw a perfect strike to Brandon Barone (three catches, 107 yards) for a 70-yard TD that cut the lead to 20-7.
But Foley had sacks to help blunt each of the last two Spring-Ford possessions and help the Vikings close it out in appropriate fashion.
"Our D-line played well, and our linebackers and D-backs played phenomenal,' Mallon said.
That was the case across the board, as Seth Jonassen, Wilson, Foley, Darrell Philpot and Dan Roe wreaked havoc up front, the linebacking corps of Mallon, Light, Brett Capobianco, Nick Marren and O'Donnell created plenty of chaos; and the secondary of Grande, Mike Holland, Williams and Jaworski for the most part contained the Rams' dangerous air attack.
"Not to take any credit away from them, because they obviously played really well, but we were making scrimmage mistakes in Week 3,' said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, whose team committed three turnovers. "That's something that we have to correct as an offensive staff.
"We never got any rhythm. We couldn't seem to sustain a drive, and because of that we weren't able to use some things we had in our game plan. We didn't really get on the plus-side of the field, so we weren't able to do some of the things we wanted to offensively.'
Sturm wound up completing 16 of 30 passes for 267 yards, with Williams rushing for 56 yards for PV.
"Give them credit, they played well,' Brubaker said. "I thought we played really well defensively, but we were just on the field for too long. On that (first) touchdown, 21 (Wilson) made a great catch. And their QB played a heck of a game, too. I was impressed. We hit him a couple times right as he threw the ball, but he stood in there.'
Matt Gibson ran for a team-high 90 yards for Spring-Ford, which had won 28 of its previous 31 league games.
"It doesn't matter how good the other team' offense is,' Mallon said. "If your defense works harder than them, you're going to pull through.'
"Coach (Matt) Young and Coach (Tim) Connolly had a great game plan, and our kids executed it,' said Reed. "They give you a lot of looks and a lot of things to get ready for. We knew going in this was going to be a major challenge.'
Suffice it to say the Vikings were up to the test, with their D posting a Grade-A effort.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.
Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley set for early-season PAC-10 battle
By Darryl Grumling
Perkiomen Valley opened its football season with a stirring second-half comeback that came up just two points shy in a loss to Council Rock North.
Then last week, the Vikings put together an impressive first two quarters before holding on for their dear lives in a three-point win over Methacton.
Returning senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft leads the PAC-10 in passing yards in 2014. Leacraft and the Rams travel to Perkiomen Valley for an early
When Perkiomen Valley plays host to Spring-Ford Friday night in an early-season Pioneer Athletic Conference showdown at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium, Vikings coach Scott Reed hopes his squad can generate that kind of effort for all 48 minutes.
"If we don't do that, we're going to be in a lot of trouble,' Reed said. "We're going to have to play our best football to compete against those guys.'
Spring-Ford (1-0 PAC-10, 1-1 overall) bounced back from a 34-20 Week 1 loss at State College to trounce Phoenixville 55-7 in last week's league opener.
Senior quarterback Brandon Leacraft leads the area with 470 passing yards and five touchdown passes, with Brandon Barone, Stone Scarcelle and Danny Matthews fronting a deep receiving corps.
In the backfield, Matt Gibson — a 5-foot-8, 155-pound sophomore who has rushed for a team-best 141 yards — has been a pleasant surprise, according to Rams coach Chad Brubaker.
"I think we're pretty much where we thought we would be at this point,' Brubaker said. "We had every opportunity to win the first game, but we just didn't do it. Hopefully we learned from that loss to State College, and it carries over going forward.'
Perkiomen Valley (1-0, 1-1) has also shown plenty of promise on an offense that has three key sophomores — quarterback Stephen Sturm, tailback David Williams and wideout Justin Jaworski.
The left-handed Sturm has thrown for 362 yards and four scores; the 5-9, 155-pound Williams leads the area with 169 rushing yards; and the sure-handed Jaworski has 10 receptions for 129 yards and one TD.
"Right now our biggest thing is finding consistency in being efficient,' said Reed, whose team had leads of 16-0 and 22-6 against Methacton last week but had to hold off a late Warriors rally for a 22-19 win. "From a numbers standpoint and field position standpoint, we had Methacton's number in the first half. But we didn't close drives out. We fumbled the ball down in their end, and we stalled a couple times. We need to find that killer instinct and be able to put a drive away and put points on the board.'
That won't likely be easy against a Rams defense that's gotten strong contributions from defensive end Brendan Zimmie (three sacks) and corners Trey Jarmon and Barone.
"We've got to get pressure on their quarterback and put him in situations he doesn't want to be in down- and distance-wise,' Brubaker said. "A couple of big keys will be controlling the line of scrimmage and trying to get to their QB.'
Meanwhile, the Vikings defense — led by linebackers Brett Capobianco and T.J. Foley, tackle Seth Jonassen and corners Liam Grande and Mike Holland — faces a daunting test against a Rams attack with a plethora of creative play calls.
"They're extremely talented on both sides of the ball,' Reed said of the Rams. "On offense, they have playmakers, nice size on their line and the quarterback distributes it very well. They're more balanced than I've every seen under Coach Brubaker.'
Since Perkiomen Valley took a 21-0 victory in the 2009 meeting, Spring-Ford has won all four encounters during Brubaker's tenure, including a grind-it-out 14-7 win at Royersford last year.
"Whoever plays four quarters obviously has a better chance to win,' Brubaker said. "It's going to be interesting. Both teams are going to be primed and ready. We've played in front of two huge crowds so far, and we're hoping it's a big crowd. I think our kids are starting to become more comfortable and excited by that.'
"I think we've got to deal with the momentum shifts when they happen,' said Reed. "The key for us, more than anything, is to be in a position to win the game at the end.'