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 email@example.com.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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 email@example.com.
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Perkiomen Valley needs to clean up penalties; Spring-Ford cruising into showdown
By Samuel Stewart Updated: November 2, 2015
They both left the field 9-0.
However, the mood between Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford couldn’t be any more different.
For good reason, too. Penalties will do that to you.
The yellow handkerchief raised ire with the Vikings despite a completely otherwise dominant showing in a 45-0 victory over Upper Perkiomen Friday.
Justin Jaworski hauled in a school-record, nine passes for 214 yards while David Williams also eclipsed the 100-yard mark in receiving.
Stephen Sturm had the fourth-best performance in PAC-10 history, throwing for 384 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. All while the defense pitched its third-straight shutout.
But in the face off 11 penalties for 121 yards, the stats seemed to matter very little, especially to head coach Scott Reed, Jaworski and tailback Ronnie Arch as they all echoed the same sentiment … limit the penalties.
“We were getting yards but we had so many penalties,” Jaworski said. “We have to clean that up. We’re not going to convert on a first and 30 against Spring-Ford. We just need to tighten up some screws but we’ll get to where we need to be.”
“That first half was sloppy,” Arch said. “We put up 26, and for what we’re capable of, that was really poor.”
“We’re not going to be able to play behind the sticks all night and get first downs the next couple of weeks,” Reed echoed later. “We shot ourselves in the foot. We can’t recover from that in a game the magnitude of next week and beyond.”
That’s because the team the Vikings face with a PAC-10 title on the line is firing on all cylinders … at the right time, too.
Spring-Ford (8-0 PAC-10, 9-0 overall), playing without starters Teddy Dylinski, Stone Scarcelle and Trey Jarmon, cruised to a 56-0 victory over Pope John Paul II Saturday.
Senior quarterback Ricky Venuto was his usual self, throwing for 200 yards and three scores while Matt Gibson ran for 112 yards, needing only five carries to do so.
More importantly, a team that was hindered by penalties throughout the past three weeks, saw that problem vanish. The offense was flag-free Saturday, and the Rams only saw themselves penalized twice – once for a false start on a PAT and a personal foul called on a late hit on PJP quarterback Matt Duff.
Not too shabby for the Rams in the eyes of head coach Chad Brubaker.
“We talked about cleaning up what we do,” the sixth-year head coach said. “We can’t wait for the big games to clean things up, we need to make sure that we are doing the right thing all the time. We did a pretty good job.”
Now, with a PAC-10 title on the line, which teams will we see Friday?
Advanced Ticket Sales
Advance ticket sales for the Perkiomen Valley/Spring-Ford football game Friday, November 6th at Spring-Ford will be sold at the respective schools Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Tickets can be purchased inside the athletic office at Perkiomen Valley High School or the main office at Spring-Ford High School. The cost is $3 for students and $5 for adults.
Spring-Ford races to 56-0 victory over Pope John Paul II
UPPER PROVIDENCE >> Spring-Ford will vie for its second PAC-10 Championship in five seasons next week.
On Saturday, however, the Rams took care of their necessary business.
Matt Gibson and Jason Wilson both eclipsed 100 yards on the ground while Ricky Venuto threw for 200 yards and three scores as Spring-Ford raced to a 56-0 victory over winless Pope John Paul II on the Golden Panthers’ Senior Recognition Day.
“I thought our kids competed,” Pope John Paul II head coach Rory Graver said. “We saw glimpses in the first half. We put together a nice drive but it stalled inside the 20. But again, you have to give credit to Spring-Ford. They’re a darn good football team, that’s the bottom line.”
Spring-Ford (8-0 PAC-10, 9-0 overall) compiled 537 yards of total offense in the commanding win that sets the stage for a winner-take-all season finale against undefeated Perkiomen Valley (8-0, 9-0) for the PAC-10 10 title next Friday night.
Gibson finished with 112 yards rushing on five scores, including scores from 30 and 62 yards, respectively. Wilson came in the late stages of the second quarter and finished with 170 yards and two scores on 12 rushes in a little more than a quarter’s worth of time.
Quinn McKenna also had a solid performance, hauling in five passes for 116 yards and two scores for a Ram offense that wasn’t penalized and played without starters Stone Scarcelle, Trey Jarmon and Teddy Dylinski.
“We talked about cleaning up what we do,” Spring-Ford sixth-year head coach Chad Brubaker said. “We can’t wait for the big games to clean things up, we need to make sure that we are doing the right thing all the time. We did a pretty good job.”
Pretty good may have been an understatement.
The Rams were consistent throughout, scoring a touchdown on eight of its 11 drives. The team had built a commanding 21-0 lead after the first behind solid play from senior signal caller Venuto before going into the half with a 42-0 edge.
Wilson, the scout team running back, made the most of his touches in the third quarter, rushing for 108 of his 170 yards in the frame before capping off his day with a 7-yard score to make it 56-0 eight seconds into the fourth. The senior broke runs of 24 and 58 yards in the third quarter and is now 13th in the PAC in rushing with 373 yards.
“These guys practice like everyone else and when they get their opportunity we expect them to work hard and play hard,” Brubaker said, “Jason’s a guy that works for us on scout team, emulates the other team’s running back and when he gets his shot he’s a hard runner who keeps his shoulders square and bangs up in there.”
The defense also made easy work of PJP, registering six sacks and an interception while holding the Golden Panthers to 110 yards of total offense and -7 rushing yards. Tim Rudderow finished with an interception while Tanner Romano and Joe Campbell each finished with 1.5 sacks.
Jared Johns-Lupold led PJP (0-8, 0-9 PAC-10) with 59 yards receiving and Dan Cirino finished with 11 receptions for 44 yards while Matt Duff finished 17-of-31 for 119 yards.
It just wasn’t nearly enough.
Spring-Ford rolls over Pope John Paul II in PAC-10 football
By Evan Jones
ROYERSFORD - If Spring-Ford was looking ahead to its Week 10 showdown with Perkiomen Valley, the Rams certainly didn't show it Saturday afternoon.
They made the short trip across Route 422 to Pope John Paul II and didn't mess around. The Rams rolled to a 56-0 victory in the Pioneer Athletic Conference contest that was broken open in the first quarter.
Quarterback Ricky Venuto, who only threw in the first half, completed three touchdown passes and had 202 yards through the air. Quinn McKenna caught two of the TD passes and running back Matt Gibson had two more on the ground as Spring-Ford (8-0, 9-0) led 42-0 at halftime.
The win sets up a clash with the neighboring Vikings for the PAC-10 championship. Perkiomen Valley is also undefeated after Friday night's 45-0 win over Upper Perkiomen.
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said he and his staff worked hard on not letting the team look past PJP.
"Next week doesn't mean much if we didn't take of what we needed to take care of this week," Brubaker said. "That was the mantra during the week and the kids followed through on that."
Indeed, the team played methodical football, moving the ball with little error. There were only two penalties, one fumble and no turnovers.
The only times the Rams didn't make it to the end zone was a single punt, time running out in the first half (at the PJP 1), and taking a knee near the end of the game.
"We talked about that," Brubaker said. "We have to make sure we're doing the right thing all the time. We did a pretty good job of that."
The offense had 523 yards overall, with Gibson rushing for 111 and Jason Wilson coming off the bench for 153 more that included two touchdowns.
Brubaker was pleased with the bench play, especially from Wilson, a senior whose main role has been playing the opposing running back on the scout team.
"These guys practice like everybody else," Brubaker said. "When they get their opportunity, we expect them to work hard. Jason works for us on scout team, emulating the other team's running back. He's a hard runner."
On the other hand, the Rams defense extended its scoreless streak to nine quarters as the Golden Panthers (0-8, 0-9) only got inside the Spring-Ford 30 twice and were stopped with an interception and on downs.
PJP quarterback Matt Duff was busy as he accounted for most of his team's offense. Withstanding a furious Rams pass rush, he was 17-of-31 for 121 yards, mostly short passes to Dan Cirino, who caught 12 for 46 yards.
Spring-Ford made sure PJP's running game never got off the ground as the Panthers were held to minus-7 yards overall.
PJP will end its season next week at Methacton.
Contact Evan Jones: 610-371-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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When the Pottstown and Spring-Ford football teams met last year at Grigg Memorial Field in Week 10, the Trojans had lost five games in a row and were nearing the end of a 2-9 season.
The Rams were trying to keep their slim hopes of a District 1-AAAA playoff berth alive and won 40-0 for a 7-3 record, but finished 24th in the power rankings and did not receive a postseason bid.
This time, there will be considerably more on the line for both teams when they meet Saturday at 2 p.m. for Spring-Ford's homecoming game at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Trojans (4-1, 6-1) and head coach Don Grinstead have turned their program around and are in line for one of the eight District 1-AAA playoff spots as they currently sit in third place in the power rankings.
Spring-Ford (6-0, 7-0) and coach Chad Brubaker have won 12 games in a row over two seasons and are ranked seventh in District 1-AAAA and in good position to receive one of the 16 postseason berths in that classification.
And then there is the battle for the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship, which is still far from decided.
"They are excited," Grinstead said concerning his players. "We're playing a very good football team in Spring-Ford. We're excited about that. We're going down there on homecoming, the second time we've been invited to homecoming this year. We're going to try to enjoy the moment."
"I knew they had some guys coming back, and they have a really good coaching staff," said Brubaker. "Don's doing a great job, and they have two assistants (Gary Rhodenbaugh and Steve Anspach) who used to be at Spring-Ford. We have a lot of respect for them. I'm really happy for them."
Both teams are coming off up-and-down performances in wins last week.
The Trojans didn't wrap up their 21-13 decision against Upper Perkiomen, which came in with just one win, until the final minutes.
"Upper Perk's a tough team, because they're really physical and big," said Grinstead. "They've got some pride and some heart. I thought we left some points on the board in the first half. We got it together at halftime, and we found some wrinkles and some things we like."
Spring-Ford had some second-half lulls after leading by 28 points at the half in a 35-14 win against Owen J. Roberts.
"Defensively, we played really well against Owen J.," said Brubaker. "We allowed only 19 yards in the first half. We gave up 170 yards on defense and had 400 yards on offense. But you wouldn't have noticed it's a win because our kids were disappointed. Our kids weren't really pleased with how they played. It just shows the expectations of our program."
Pottstown has averaged 257.7 rushing yards per game, including 789 on a league-high 113 carries by quarterback Brandon Tinson, 557 by Gary Wise and 316 by Isaiah Mayes. The Trojans have allowed only 15.1 points per game.
"They understand what they can and cannot do and play to their strengths," Brubaker said of the Trojans. "Some of the athletes they do have, you can't fall asleep at any point. If you do, they have guys who can take it 80 yards. They play hard and scrap and try to stay with you."
Quarterback Ricky Venuto (79-for-115, 1,209 yards, 17 TDs, 0 interceptions) has led the high-powered Rams offense to 45.3 points and 370.1 yards per game while the defense has allowed a league-low 10.3 points per outing.
"We make no mistake that we are a defensive football team running after the ball and causing turnovers and forcing teams to not have big plays and have long drives," said Grinstead. "We'll have some answers, but it all comes down to basic football how well do you block, how well do you tackle?"
Contact Dennis Weller: 610-371-5061 or email@example.com.
Different stakes for this Pottstown/Spring-Ford tilt
By Samuel Stewart
In past years, this game hadn’t meant much.
But as Pottstown travels to Royersford to take on Spring-Ford on the Rams’ Homecoming, the stakes couldn’t be any more different.
Way, way different.
That’s because at Week 8, Pottstown has become a player for its first PAC-10 Championship since 2002, and will find out whether or not it’s a championship contender as it takes on undefeated Spring-Ford Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
“It’d be huge to get a win there,” Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead said. “One because that would really put us in the race in the conference and would have us in a good position with two weeks left. It’d be great for our kids and our program. We’ve been through a lot but we’re still learning. Every week is new to these kids and every week brings a new experience. It would be huge in a lot of ways.”
Grinstead has revitalized a down Pottstown (4-1 PAC-10, 6-1 overall) program into one of the conference’s best in 2015. It’s first 4-0 start since 2003 brought a feel good story arc to the beginning of the year. Now, two more wins and a loss to Perkiomen Valley has brought the Trojans on the cusp of championship success for the first time in 13 years, proving that they are more than a feel good story. They’re legit.
Credit the transformation to the defense not giving up big plays.
Credit it to better execution along the offensive and defensive lines.
More importantly, credit it to the three that carry the Trojans week-in and week-out: senior quarterback Brandon Tinson, senior running back Bryant Wise and junior fullback Isaiah Mayes.
The trio have emerged as potent playmakers at just the right time. Tinson, a true workhorse of a signal caller, has made his mark on the area rankings, sitting second in the PAC in rushing yards (772) with Wise right behind him at No. 4 (526).
Mayes, who has seen an increased role in 2015, ranks No. 13 in the PAC in rushing yards. However, his lead blocking has proven vital for a Pottstown team that ranks No. 2 in the PAC in total rushing (1804).
Nothing will change Saturday against Spring-Ford.
“Absolutely, nothing will change for us,” Grinstead said. “We’ll try to scheme as best as we can and see if we can put our kids in a chance to be successful. Those three guys will carry the ball. Those are our guys. If we’re going to have success, they are going to be a huge part of it.”
The trio goes against the second-ranked defense in the PAC-10 and one that is coming off huge performances in the last two weeks.
The Rams were led by a two-sack performance by Tim Rudderow as the team registered six sacks in total in a 22-13 win over Pottsgrove last week. That was followed by a solid effort in a win over Owen J. Roberts on Friday, allowing only 152 yards of total offense in a 35-14 decision. The Rams are allowing 188 yards per game entering Saturday’s tilt.
“Our defense has played very well the last two weeks, except for one drive versus OJR and a long play on a missed tackle versus Pottsgrove,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “Obviously, we’re concerned with Tinson and Wise, who have shown big-play capability.”
The Rams have their share of weapons as well.
Senior quarterback Ricky Venuto leads the league in passer rating and in seven games has thrown for 17 touchdowns and zero interceptions. That mixed with the dynamic play of Stone Scarcelle, the running of Matt Gibson (66 attempts for 443 yards) and Selwyn Simspon (56 attempts for 436 yards), and a stout offensive line has caused some worries for Grinstead.
“They play really well and they are really good at transferring power to speed and they get after it up front,” Grinstead said.
“I’m concerned with everything about them, they are pretty complete as a football team.”
How well Pottstown measures up will be seen Saturday.
NOTES >> Pottstown ranks third in total defense behind Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford. Grinstead says that can be contributed to a defense that doesn’t allow the big plays. “A lot of that has to do with our guys getting to the ball, we have seven or eight players flying to the football. “We’re also making sure we have proper leverage on every defensive snap. Even if the offense executes the play perfectly, it turns out to be a 4-6 yard gain, not a 60-yard gain. We tackle really well this year and have a nice blend of kids that can get nice penetration. When you look at our defense it’s all about leverage and tackles.” … Pottstown will need to start fast as the Rams are outscoring their opposition 107-5 in the opening 12 minutes and 205-19 in the first half. … Brubaker said that his team will focus on cleaning up their penalty woes from the last two weeks. In total, the Rams have been flagged 53 times for 421 yards, which ranks third-worst in the PAC behind Boyertown (60) and OJR (56). … The Rams will honor four new players into their TD Club Wall of Fame: Jamie Rotonda, Trevor Sasek, Steve Schein, and Michael Bach.
BUCKTOWN >> Spring-Ford’s offensive machine never quite got into its full, vintage, mow-‘em-down mode Friday night.
Penalties played a part, but so did Owen J. Roberts’ stubborn defense.
At halftime, it appeared the game was headed toward the mercy clock, with Spring-Ford leading 28-0. But the Wildcats kept showing fight and got within two touchdowns before the Rams took control and remained undefeated with a 35-14 victory at Henry J. Bernat Field.
Recollecting when OJR cut the lead to 28-14 with 2:07 left in the third quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Dawson Stuart to Mitch Bradford, Spring-Ford’s versatile Stone Scarcelle said, “It was more like a reality check; we didn’t win it yet. Coach said (at halftime) it was 0-0. We obviously didn’t take that seriously. We should’ve come out with a harder effort, but luckily we had time to pick it up. Everybody got a little more intense, but we should’ve been like that from the opening kick.”
Spring-Ford (6-0 in the PAC-10, 7-0 overall) essentially iced it with a long drive culminating in dynamic junior Selwyn Simpson’s 35-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats, who had difficulty all night moving the ball on the ground, got a big 43-yard passing play on their next possession from the promising Stuart to the versatile Bradford (also the starting QB), but an incomplete pass on fourth down at the Spring-Ford 24 effectively spelled the end to any comeback.
Spring-Ford’s defense wasn’t exactly second-fiddle. The Rams held the Wildcats to 19 total yards in the first half and no legitimate first downs; OJR’s only first down the first half came by penalty in the final minute. And the Ram offense, despite sputtering at times, still managed some prolific numbers rushing, getting 126 from Matt Gibson and 92 from Simpson. The underdog Wildcats (3-2, 3-4), to their credit, just wouldn’t let the Rams turn it into a track meet, and they gained the Rams’ respect.
“Our run game was good tonight,” Simpson said. “We knew we had to run hard, especially after halftime. Their d-line was amazing; they’re one of the best ones we’ve faced. We scouted for them and prepared well.”
“I think we have the best defensive line in the league,” OJR coach Rich Kolka said, listing Connor Mitchell, Bryce Weeks, Nick Duliakas and Dan Hultz as his front four Friday night.
“I don’t think there was any reason we couldn’t have won the game tonight,” Kolka added. “At 28-14, we needed an additional stop. It’s hard to keep stopping them all night. We did a good job for the most part in the first half. It was just ‘almost,’ which I think is the best word to describe it.”
OJR recorded five sacks, 2.5 of them by Mitchell. Four sacks came in the first half.
Spring-Ford suffered 75 yards in penalties, some in the red zone.
“We had some penalties last week also, some in the red zone,” Scarcelle said. “It’s just not having our minds straight. We’ve got to keep our heads in the game.”
The Rams stalled in the red zone on their first two possessions, getting two field goals from talented kicker Owen Gulati, the first one a 43-yarder. With good field position, the Rams scooted 45 yards capped by Gibson’s 18-yard run to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Sacks by Duliakas and Mitchell forced Spring-Ford to punt on its first second-quarter possession. But Spring-Ford’s sturdy ‘D’ led by Jeremiah Ndjali, Tim Rudderow, Joe Campbell and Danny Kelchner up front gave the Wildcats nowhere to go.
Scarcelle, who occasionally lines up at QB, took a direct snap and scored from seven yards out for a 21-0 lead with 5:41 left in the half. Area passer-rating leader Ricky Venuto, who kept his interception-less season intact, completed some nice medium-range passes to help set up Simpson’s score right before the half.
But it wasn’t over.
OJR opened the second half with Stuart at quarterback and marched 76 yards to its first touchdown. Spring-Ford’s Trey Jarmon ran back the ensuing kickoff 86 yards to the end zone but it was called back for a holding penalty. OJR’s defense then held firm, forced a punt, and taking advantage of a short field (starting at the Ram 15 after Anthony Buehler’s nice runback), they scored to make it interesting.
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