By Don Seeley
LOWER POTTSGROVE – The lights will seem a little brighter, the crowd will assuredly be larger and louder than any other this season, and the margin of error, or errors, will be as negligible as its ever been.
But as Scott Reed has preached all week to his
tonight’s showdown at Pottsgrove is just another game. Perkiomen
“It’s obviously a big game, and it’s going to be a great atmosphere, too,” Reed said. “But when we kick off it will still be a 100-yard patch of grass and 11 guys wearing a different color jersey than our 11 guys.”
Nonetheless, it’s a very, very rare clash of colors.
And as big a spattering of colors than
has even been part of. Perkiomen Valley
Perkiomen Valley is 7-0 (7-1 overall) and just one win away from clinching no worse than a tie for its third Pioneer Athletic Conference title, just one win away from clinching a berth in the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs. Pottsgrove is 7-0 (8-0), just one win away from no worse than a share of a record eighth PAC-10 title, just one win away from clinching a sixth straight postseason appearance and the No. 1 seed in the district’s Class AAA playoffs.
Yep, this certainly is a big, big game.
But neither Reed nor Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker thinks they hold any advantage based solely on big-game experience, either.
“We don’t think about that at all,” Reed said. “I’m not sure what kid steps on a field on a Friday or Saturday and thinks about what happened a week ago, a month ago or a year ago. Players, and coaches, live in the moment.”
“We don’t feel we have an advantage in that respect,” Pennypacker added. “The kids from both sides will play their best game because they know what’s at stake. No doubt this is a big game, but the winner only gets a leg up in the race (for the title) because we both have big games again next week, too. We treat every game as a big game, and this one is certainly no different.”
Both the Falcons and Vikings have dominated thus far. They’ve produced very similar offensive and defensive numbers against six common opponents thus far, even outscored them by not-so-disparaging margins (258-77 by
312-67 by Pottsgrove). Perkiomen Valley
And if there is one thing they do share more than anything else it is the respect for one another.
“Where do you start and where do you end with Pottsgrove,” Reed said. “They’re extremely well-coached, they’re big, they’re physical, they’re fast … and they don’t make many mistakes. It’s our job as coaches to find weaknesses, but we just don’t see any.”
Valley reminds me of that (unbeaten) Pottstown team back in 2002,” Pennypacker said. “They
have so much talent and speed. We have so much respect for coach Reed and his
staff, too. Our kids know the challenge we’re facing. They know if they don’t
play their best game against ( ) is could get very
If anything, and perhaps unfairly, the game could be decided on just how well
quarterback Rasaan Stewart and Pottsgrove quarterback Tory Hudgins perform
against defenses both Reed and Pennypacker have schemed to stop them. Perkiomen Valley
Stewart has emerged as one of the PAC-10’s top players – a legitimate Player of the Year candidate. He runs well (969 yards, 16 TDs), as does Mark Bonomo (707 yards, 6 TDs), and has responded superbly when called upon to throw (1,042 yards, 6 TDs) – especially to Clay Domine, Davon Mitchell, Dakota Clanagan and Bonomo – in guiding an offense averaging 414 yards a game. Hudgins, of course, can also run well (809 yards, 15 TDs). But he hasn’t had to throw that much because of Mark Dukes (920 yards, 18 TDs), Nick Brennan (339 yard, 4 TDs) and others also run so well they’ve accounted for all but 46 of the 379 yards of offense they’re averaging every weekend.
“Stewart’s versatility, his ability to run as well as throw, may present the biggest challenge we’ve faced all year,” Pennypacker said. “That young man has kept me up at night thinking about him. He is one of the best athletes to come along in this league, and his supporting cast makes (
) very dangerous.
We have to make many adjustments in order to contain all their weapons.” Perkiomen
Making adjustments is something Reed expects to do against Hudgins and the Falcons.
“Hudgins executes the option extremely well, and they mix in enough (different) schemes to keep you off-balance,” Reed said. “That team has so many weapons. We have to play assignment football. Tackling will be of utmost importance, because their backs run so hard, and they’re extremely elusive and explosive.”
Overlooked in the offensives, of course, is the work up front by both teams’ offensive lines.
“We have to be as close to perfect as we can,” Reed said. “Penalties, turnovers, negative plays … they always cost you, and they’ll be very costly against a team as good as Pottsgrove.”
“We have to play good, sound fundamental football,” Pennypacker added. “
is one of the best teams I’ve seen in the past 10 years.” Perkiomen Valley
* * *
The combined rushing totals of Dukes and Hudgins average out to 9.4 yards a carry. Stewart and Bonomo average 8.1 yards a pop. … Defensively, Pottsgrove’s Sene Polamalu (5), Birch (3) and Pond (3) and
’s Danny Light
(4.5), Tony Pachella (4.5) and Mike Reiner (3) are among the area leaders in
sacks. The Falcons’ Mike Fowler (4), Brennan (2) and Jalen Mayes (2) and the
Vikings’ Kean McKnight (2) and Martise Ray (2) are among the leaders in
interceptions. … Perkiomen
Valley – which shared
PAC-10 championships in 2007 and 1998 – needs a win tonight and next week
(against Spring-Ford) for its first outright title. … Pottsgrove needs a win
tonight to clinch no worse than a record ninth overall league title and another
win next week for its record seventh outright title. … Birch and Perkiomen
Valley Adams are both questionable for tonight’s game because of
Don Seeley is the sports editor of The Mercury. His high school football column runs Tuesdays and Fridays through Thanksgiving. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.