Friday, November 30, 2012

District 1-AAAA final: Spring-Ford vs. Coatesville coverage

Coatesville 59, Spring-Ford 28, FINAL

Scrambling to provide the in-game video fans have come to expect this season at Mercury Sports Live, in a pinch we've set up a YouTube video channel that is now featuring in-game video from Coatesville vs. Spring-Ford.

Go directly to the YouTube channel here

Follow Darryl Grumling, @MercSmokinD and @PottsmercSports on Twitter for updates.


By Don Seeley

Here we go... could this be the last week of the Pick'ms ???? One surprising pick this week. If I'm wrong, I'm a homer (not the first time I've been accused of that) or plain stupid (closer to the truth). If I'm right, well, then I'm a genius (and I have to take advantage of that rare opportunity).

Spring-Ford (12-2) vs. Coatesville (11-2): There's no way Spring-Ford is going to win this game - at least that is what everyone is saying, at least what I began thinking last last Friday night after Coatesville won and Spring-Ford and Pennridge didn't even play their game yet. The more I think about it, there's no way Spring-Ford wins this game. Coatesvile is sooooooo good. Maybe that's why I'm about to go out on a limb (maybe because I've covered the PAC-10 every year it's existed, or maybe because I'm an old, old SF graduate) ... SPRING-FORD.

Interboro (11-2) vs. Archbishop Wood (10-2): Pottsgrove is the only team that has given Archbishop Wood any type of game in this round - or come close to Archbishop Wood - in recent memory (30-28 back in 2009). As good as Interboro may be, and as average as Archbishop Wood may be (by Archbishop Wood standards that is), it still isn't enough. And don't forget, the defending state champions had their "BYE" last week to get in a little rest and extra preparation ... ARCHBISHOP WOOD.

BRISTOL (9-1) vs. DUNMORE (12-1): Bristol may have shocked the Class A bracket with its 22-0 shutout of previously unbeaten Williams Valley last week, but Williams Valley is NOT Dunmore. The Bucks have knocked off a pair of unbeaten oponents the past two weeks - avenging its lone loss this season with a win over Old Forge for the District 2 title, then bumping off traditional state power Southern Columbia last Friday night ... DUNMORE.

* * *

SEASON: 72-21 (.774).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

FOOTBALL: Underdogs, just the way Spring-Ford likes it

Photo by Barry Taglieber Travis Daywalt (35) and Spring-Ford will once again be the underdogs in Friday’s District 1-AAAA final against Coatesville.

By Don Seeley

DOWNINGTOWN — There may not be a soul alive, at least anyone still breathing outside the Royersford, Spring City, Limerick and Upper Providence communities, who isn’t expecting to read Spring-Ford football’s obituary first thing Saturday morning.
No one outside the immediate Spring-Ford football family has given the Rams any hope at all in surviving tonight’s District 1-Class AAAA final against Coatesville at Downingtown West High School.
It isn’t exactly anything head coach Chad Brubaker, his staff or the Rams haven’t heard before, though.
Spring-Ford wasn’t exactly everyone’s choice when the postseason kicked off against Garnet Valley, hardly anyone’s choice the following week at Ridley, and few fans’ choice last Saturday at Pennridge.

(For entire story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Spring-Ford believes it belongs this time against Coatesville

Mercury file photo Yousef Lundi and Spring-Ford take on Coatesville in Friday’s District 1-AAAA championship.

By Don Seeley

DOWNINGTOWN — One glance at Coatesville, be it on paper or on the football field, certainly reveals just how good a team it is.
Seeing the Red Raiders, live or on film, can be downright terrifying.
Just ask Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker, who has played and replayed every available reel as well as viewed and reviewed just about every move the Red Raiders have made this season in preparation for tonight’s District 1-Class AAAA championship showdown at Downingtown West High School.
“This team is better than last year’s team,” Brubaker said without hesitation during a practice earlier this week. “They are able to run the ball, and they are able to take home run shots down the field. They also play great defense and swarm to the ball.”
Last year, Coatesville spoiled Spring-Ford’s postseason debut with a 60-28 win.
But there may be a difference, at least from where Brubaker will be standing this evening.

(For complete story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Rams need a quick, productive start

JRC file photo Linebacker Kyle Hoffner (23) and the Spring-Ford Rams recognize they need to get off to a quick start in Friday’s District 1-AAAA championship against Coatesville.

By Don Seeley

DOWNINGTOWN — Getting off the ball on offense and getting to the ball on defense, or getting off to a good start, is very important for any team in any game.
It will be imperative for Spring-Ford tonight when it lines up against Coatesville in the District 1-Class AAAA final at Downingtown High School.
The Rams (12-2) used a little bit of both to get by Garnet Valley and Ridley, and just the right mix of both to pummel Pennridge in what has become an unprecedented three-game ride through the postseason thus far.
There’s no question they’ll need a whole lot of both, as well as equally stable special-team play, to slow down or even stall a very fast and very aggressive Coatesville … if they intend on winning their first district title and extending their extraordinary playoff journey into next week’s state semifinals.

(For entire story, click here ... )

Rams cashing in on Coyne’s value

Spring-Ford quarterback Hank Coyne.

By Don Seeley

There isn’t a soul on the current Spring-Ford roster who was born when Lance Viola was taking snaps from center Jerry Hoff and terrorizing the opposition with his throwing arm (and that seemingly always perfectly timed quarterback draw) from 1971 through 1973.
Come to think of it, there aren’t many (if any) parents of players on the current Spring-Ford roster who were even born when Viola led the Rams to the Ches-Mont League title his senior season.
Viola was good … really, really good. And what made Viola so good was his poise, his ability to throw accurately with a defender or two hanging on him, his knack for turning a game around, if not dominating it … his confidence.
He also owned practically every Spring-Ford passing record, too, at least until Trevor Sasek broke a few before his final season in 2009, and Hank Coyne erased all of them since, or up through last Saturday afternoon’s District 1-Class AAAA semifinal win at Pennridge.
“He’s good,” the now 56-year-old Viola said shortly after being introduced to Coyne on the sidelines Saturday and wishing him luck in this week’s district final against Coatesville at Downingtown West High School.

(For complete story, click here ... )

NOTEBOOK: Five named Mini Max Award winners

Phoenixville's Ryan Pannella.

By Don Seeley

PHILADELPHIA — Ryan Pannella is going to get a chance to sit down next to a quarterback, actually four of them, who he’s been chasing on the football field the last three years.
The Phoenixville two-way starter, along with Pioneer Athletic Conference rival quarterbacks Brandon Bossard of Methacton, Tory Hudgins of Pottsgrove, Sage Reinhart of Pottstown, and Hank Coyne of Spring-Ford, were all named 2012 Mini Max High School Award winners on Wednesday by Ron Jaworski, president of the Maxwell Football Club.
Fifty-one players in all from the eastern half of Pennsylvania, representing Districts 1, 3, 11 and 12, were selected based on their coaches’ nominations and criteria beyond their achievements on the football field — such as academics and community service.
The seniors will be honored Thursday, Jan. 10 at the Drexelbrook Catering Ballroom in Drexel Hill.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FOOTBALL: Spring-Ford’s O-line a big reason for success

Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury Spring-Ford quarterback Hank Coyne, here throwing against Pennridge last weekend, has had plenty of time in the pocket his season, thanks to a tight-knit offensive line in front of him.

By Don Seeley

When Spring-Ford opened camp back in August, head coach Chad Brubaker had, or at least thought he had, an offense that could present quite a puzzle for opposing defenses this season.
Few could argue, because quarterback Hank Coyne, fullback Yousef Lundi and tailback Jarred Jones — who accounted for just under 3,700 yards and had a hand in a combined 42 touchdowns a year ago — were all back. So was tight end R.J. Sheldon. So were linemen Justin Meals and Mike Gilmore.
After two days of practices, though, a couple of potential starting linemen opted to leave the team.
Suddenly, Brubaker had a puzzle of his own to resolve.
“I think we knew Meals and Gilmore would be our tackles, but we weren’t too sure who our interior three would be,” Brubaker recalled Tuesday afternoon.
Finding a center and two guards — the guts of an offensive line — isn’t quite as easy as it may sound. But Brubaker not only found three, but three who were just the right fit … or more than good enough to help lead the Rams to where they are now.
And that’s in Friday night’s District 1-Class AAAA final against Coatesville at Downingtown West High School.

(For complete story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: PAC-10 earning some respect

By Don Seeley

The Pioneer Athletic Conference has been trashed by a lot of football fans and by more than a few media types in recent years for its postseason futility.
But the league — split right smack down the middle with five AAAA and five AAA schools — hasn’t been quite as bad as some may think. Yes, only four schools — Lansdale Catholic, Methacton (prior to joining the league), Pottsgrove and St. Pius X — have won district or sub-regional titles. Lansdale Catholic’s were in Class AAA and AA, while all of Methacton’s and Pottsgrove’s were in the AAA bracket, and Pius’ were in AA and A. And yes, until Spring-Ford’s three-game run this month, no one in the league had even won a game in the AAAA bracket.
However, if Spring-Ford pulls off what many think would be an upset Friday night against Coatesville, believe it or not, the PAC-10 — including past as well as current members — would be all even (45-45) in district and state playoff games.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Monday, November 26, 2012

FOOTBALL: Studious Spring-Ford keeps making the grade

A collective effort by the Spring-Ford defense, including Robby Varner (56), Travis Daywalt (35), Ian Hare (57), R.J. Sheldon (81) and Mason Romano (52) is one reason the Rams have reached the District 1-AAAA championship.

By Don Seeley

Coatesville took Spring-Ford to school last year in the first round of the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs. There was certainly a lot to digest mentally after that forgettable 60-28 loss in front of the homefolk.
And in what has become an unprecedented as well as unforgettable postseason run this fall, the Rams took their own head coach — of all people — to school two weeks ago in a when-will-it-ever-end, 28-26 upset of Ridley.
“I (learned) my play-calling was tight,” Chad Brubaker admitted.
The Rams jumped in front 28-0, then gave up 26 unanswered second-half points to Ridley before it was over and they barely graduated, if you will, into last Saturday afternoon’s semifinal at Pennridge.
“There are times when it’s appropriate to take a shot, like throwing in an obvious running situation or running play-action in a second-and-short situation,” Brubaker explained. “I didn’t do that against Ridley. I needed to trust our players, but I didn’t. That’s on me. They deserved better than that and I realized it after the game.
“Our skill players converted third-down situations over and over against Pennridge. That’s because we trusted them to make good decisions … our offensive line in pass protection and in their blocking schemes, our backs hitting the right holes, our receivers running quality routes, and everyone competing for the ball.”
The end result, of course, was a very impressive 35-24 win over Pennridge.
Not exactly a straight-A performance, mind you, but oh so darn close to it.

(For complete story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Trojans, Phantoms finish up in style

 By Don Seeley

POTTSTOWN — Lost in all the headlines and hoopla of postseason football was last Thursday morning’s entertaining Pioneer Athletic Conference finale between Pottstown and Owen J. Roberts.
The visiting Trojans got a 14-yard run from Dayon Mohler with 6:28 remaining in the game to erase a one-point deficit and provide the difference in their 26-21 win.
Mohler’s run and two interceptions — which gave him an area-high six on the season — underlined the 54th consecutive meeting between the Thanksgiving Day rivals and helped provide Pottstown with its first non-losing season since 2002.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Spring-Ford 35, Pennridge 24

By Don Seeley

PERKASIE — Big plays in the playoffs are well, just that ... big, as in very, very big. As in what often extends a team’s postseason run into late November and early December.
Spring-Ford’s frigid fans didn’t have enough fingers and toes to count’m all up Saturday afternoon, as the Rams came up with a slew of them offensively and defensively in a thrilling 35-24 win over host Pennridge in a District 1 Class AAAA semifinal showdown at Poppy Yoder Field.
And while all big plays can’t be measured by the yards or points they produce, Spring-Ford certainly had its share of them, too. None as key as in the final drive, which started with 7:38 left and — thanks to quarterback Hank Coyne converting a pair of third-down passes covering 26 and 15 yards, and Yousef Lundi running for 14 yards to convert another — ended with Coyne taking a knee as the clock wound down to all zeroes.

(For complete story, click here ... )

Photo by Kevin Hoffman/The Mecury Spring-Ford's Zameer McDowell hauls in a 25-yard TD reception Saturday.

FOOTBALL: Defense carries Spring-Ford to District 1 final

Photo by Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury Spring-Ford's Kyle Hoffner intercepts a pass Saturday.

By Barry Sankey

PERKASIE — Spring-Ford extended its history-making football season at least one more week Saturday afternoon, and the Rams’ defense had a lot to do with it.
Spring-Ford may have defeated Pennridge, 35-24, in a District 1-Class AAAA semifinal to advance to the district championship game gainst Coatesville, but somewhat camouflaged by that high score was some solid play by the defense. That effort included three turnovers against Pennridge that included a fumble recovery on the hosts’ first play from scrimmage and two big second-half interceptions.

(For more information, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Jones, Spring-Ford pass Class test

Spring-Ford's Mason Romano (52), Robby Varner (56), Ian Hare (57), Travis Daywalt (35) and R.J. Shelton (81) gang-tackle Pennridge's Mike Class Saturday.

By Darryl Grumling

PERKASIE — The status of each team’s feature back was a feature angle heading into Saturday’s District 1-Class AAAA semifinal.
Much ado had been made all week about whether Pennridge workhorse Mike Class would see action after reportedly suffering a concussion during a quarterfinal victory the week before over Pennsbury.
Spring-Ford junior tailback Jarred Jones, meanwhile, was a question mark as well, having come out of last week’s quarterfinal win over Ridley with a bruised knee.
So when Class started the game and Jones remained on the Spring-Ford sideline, conventional wisdom suggested it would be a huge advantage for the third-seeded hosts.
Over the final two quarters, however, the tale of the two standout rushers took a decided turn to the Spring-Ford side.
Jones didn’t earn his first carry until the first play of the second half, but boy was it a memorable one — a 74-yard TD sprint that set the tone for a strong finish as Spring-Ford continued its scintillating season with a 35-24 victory at Poppy Yoder Field.

(For complete story, click here ... )

VIDEO from Spring-Ford vs. Pennridge

We'll have video highlights as they're available from today's District 1 semifinal between Spring-Ford and Pennridge, courtesy of Darryl Grumling & Don Seeley.

Post-game interview with Zameer McDowell:

Zameer McDowell 25-yard TD catch. Rams lead 34-24:

Jarred Jones opens 2nd half with a 74-yard TD Run. 28-18 Rams:


Spring-Ford visits Pennridge this afternoon (1 p.m.) in the District 1-Class AAAA semifinals at Poppy Field in Perkasie.

Check back here for exclusive coverage ... we'll have it all!

Pre-game report (video) with Don Seeley and Darryl Grumling
When someone scores - you'll have it on Twitter
Halftime report (video) with Don Seeley and Darryl Grumling
When someone scores - you'll have it on Twitter
Postgame report (video) with Don Seeley and Darryl Grumling ... and possibly a surprise guest!

Then check back here tonight for complete coverage:
Game story by Don Seeley
Game notebook by Darryl Grumling
Statewide playoff notebook by Don Seeley


Friday, November 23, 2012

FOOTBALL: Spring-Ford, Pennridge regrouped, ready for District 1-AAAA semifinal

(Mercury file photo) Spring-Ford football coach Chad Brubaker will lead the Rams into Saturday's District 1-AAAA semifinal against Pennridge.

By Don Seeley

PERKASIE — For a good part of a week, it seemed everyone was asking who would be playing and who wouldn’t be playing for Spring-Ford on Thanksgiving eve, and who would be playing and who wouldn’t be playing for Pennridge on Thanksgiving morning.
Everyone got their answers, some of which they liked and, of course, some of which they didn’t like.
But there will be no such questions today, because both Spring-Ford and Pennridge have regrouped and re-energized their football engines since their mid-week holiday commitments, and both are Ram-ed up for this afternoon’s (1 p.m.) District 1-Class AAAA semifinal showdown at Poppy Yoder Field.

(For complete story, click here)

FOOTBALL: Many similarities between Spring-Ford and Pennridge

(JRC file photo) Jarred Jones and Spring-Ford take on Pennridge in a District 1-AAAA semifinal Saturday at 1 p.m. at Poppy Yoder Field.

By Don Seeley

If there is one thing both Spring-Ford and Pennridge learned in last week’s District 1-Class AAAA quarterfinals, it was how no lead is a safe lead … and how to, well, hang on.
Spring-Ford had a 28-0 halftime lead, then withstood a Ridley air attack for a 28-26 win — which wasn’t secured until Zameer McDowell dropped Ridley’s quarterback one yard short of the end zone on a two-point conversion attempt with 2:46 remaining. Pennridge had a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter, then withstood a very impressive Pennsbury rally for a 28-27 win – not secured until Pennsbury’s final point-after attempt hit the upright with 1:47 remaining.
Eerie similarities, for sure.
Big leads.
Big leads nearly blown.
A two-point win, a one-point win.
And both teams are coming off their traditional Thanksgiving games — Spring-Ford against Phoenixville (played Wednesday night), and Pennridge against Quakertown (played Thursday morning).
On top of all that, they’re both the Rams.
So, dare we say it? Sure, why not.
This afternoon’s district semifinal could be (and probably will be) a “Battle of the Battering Rams.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

Thursday, November 22, 2012

FOOTBALL: Pottstown 26, Owen J. Roberts 21

Photo by Kevin Hoffman/The Mercury Pottstown’s Austin Debnam (2) deflects a pass away from Owen J. Roberts’ Jay Thomas while teammate Denzel Harvey also defends late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s 26-21 Trojans’ win.

By Don Seeley

BUCKTOWN — Good defense hasn’t exactly been Pottstown’s rally cry this fall. Allowing a very generous 409 yards and 38 points a game certainly lends itself to being analyzed, criticized and, at times, ostracized. Even more so when there haven’t been a whole heck of a lot of issues on the other side of the ball.
So, down to their final game, with the opportunity to finish with the program’s first non-losing season in 10 long years, the Trojans played ... defense.
They buckled down, not under, and came up with their own share of big defensive plays Thursday morning to hold off host Owen J. Roberts, 26-21, in the 53rd renewal of the their Thanksgiving Day series.

(For complete story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Mohler's multi-faceted effort sparks Pottstown

Pottstown players celebrate Thursday's 26-21 victory over Owen J. Roberts

By Darryl Grumling

BUCKTOWN — Some folks look at Pottstown’s Dayon Mohler and see a ballhawking safety.
Others fancy the Trojans’ junior as an effective running back.
Pottstown coach Brett Myers, however, has an even more succinct way of describing the 5-foot-11, 157-pound Mohler.
“I’d classify him as a good football player,” Myers said.
So would the majority of the folks who witnessed Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving Day Pioneer Athletic Conference showdown between the Trojans and Owen J. Roberts at Wildcat Stadium.
Mohler saw more action than a retail store parking lot on Black Friday in helping the Trojans overall close out their first non-losing season in 10 years with a 26-21 victory over the Wildcats.

(For entire story, click here ... )

Pottstown vs. OJR Thanksgiving game

Pottstown is taking home the trophy this year after triumphing in this year's Thanksgiving Day game versus Owen J. Roberts.

Look for the stories from Don Seeley and Darryl Grumling.

FINAL Pottstown 26 OJR 21

What will be in Pottstown's trophy case this year

Second Half Highlights

Sage Reinhart scampers for a TD, making it 20-7 Pottstown

OJR's Wyatt Scott scores a TD on a run, 20-14 Pottstown

 Pinelli connects with Hinrichs for a TD, 20-21 OJR

Dayon Mohler with the day's final TD, 
putting Pottstown up for good 26-21

Crowd filling up pregame Thursday

First Half Highlights

 Monroe Hampton opens the scoring with a TD run for Pottstown

Sage Reinhart connects with Antonio Brown for an 80 yd TD

OJR sacks

Jarrad Pinelli's pass hits Kyle Hinrichs

Pottstown gets their own sacks

 Pinelli to Will Bradford for an OJR TD

Pottstown, Owen J. Roberts tackling tradition this Thanksgiving

By Don Seeley

BUCKTOWN — There is no championship on the line.
Pride, well, that’s another thing entirely.
Pottstown has an opportunity to finish with its best Pioneer Athletic Conference run in five years and close out the program’s first non-losing season in nine years. Owen J. Roberts has an opportunity to put the brakes on a five-game slide and rev up some much-needed confidence and momentum for next year.
All that — sparked even more by the competitive on-field (as well as off-field) fires that have always heated up this series — will supply the drama for this morning’s 54th renewal of their Thanksgiving Day rivalry at Owen J. Roberts High School.
“This is my sixth Thanksgiving game, and we’ve really learned to embrace the tradition,” Pottstown head coach Brett Myers said. “As I mentioned last year, the Thanksgiving game is very big for us. It’s like a bowl game. We don’t worry about records; we worry about the game as its own entity.”
“I told our players after our last game (a 28-21 loss to Upper Merion on Nov. 9) that we need to go out with a big win,” Owen J. Roberts head coach Tom Barr said. “A win will benefit next year’s team in starting off with good movement forward. I told them if they care about this team, and OJR football, they have to work hard for a win in helping your teammates and all the players before them.” 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Phantoms achieved goals in win over Rams

By Don Seeley

ROYERSFORD — For nearly an entire week, Bill Furlong kept hearing how his Phoenixville football team would be greeted by Spring-Ford’s non-varsity starters when they kicked off their final game of the Pioneer Athletic Conference season Wednesday night.
Sure enough, the Phantoms were.
And did they ever take advantage of the opportunity — which presented itself when Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker made the decision to rest his regulars for Saturday afternoon’s District 1-Class AAAA semifinal showdown at Pennridge.
Some will remember it as a mismatch, which it certainly was.
The Phantoms dominated both lines of scimmage, well behind and past them too, depending on direction they were heading or defending. They scored on four of their initial five possessions of the first half; got the running clock when an interception was returned for touchdown just 1:45 into the second half; and scored two more times to close it out at 49-0.
Furlong was happy, and not only for finishing up at 6-3 in the PAC-10 and 7-5 overall, but for finishing up with one of the best performances of the long season ... albeit it against non-varsity starters or not.
“I thought we executed well,” he said. “The kids played hard and played together. Our goal coming in was to play our best game, and we accomplished that goal. And playing (against non-varsity starters) doesn’t take away anything from this.”
Nor should it.
As they have been for a good part of three seasons, seniors Ryan Yenchick and Ryan Pannella — along with unsung fellow seniors Tom White, Chris Demy and Sean Hesser — were superb. Yenchick was his usual workmanlike self, running for more than 90 yards and three touchdowns and catching one pass on offense and popping up around the ball more than enough times on defense. Pannella dictated his blocking space at tight end and caught a pass on offense and dominated whatever area he chose to be in, punctuated by a pair of sacks, on defense. White was his usual blue-collar, bullish self up front on both offense and defense (with one sack). Demy, who in his first year at quarterback matured beyond many’s expectations, ran for one score and kept Spring-Ford honest in the box by completing fives passes. And Hesser ran for one touchdown and returned that interception for another.
Still, as well as the Phantoms played and as often as they scored — and as happy as Furlong and his staff were — so were, believe it or not, Brubaker and his cast of non-varsity starters, many of whom never got any time at all in a Friday night or Saturday afternoon game this season.
“Coach (Brubaker) told us we played a good game,” said two-way sophomore end Bryce Rhodenbaugh, who’ll share Thanksgiving dinner today with his father, Phoenixville assistant coach Gary Rhodenbaugh. “Our defense wasn’t that bad. I think we lived up to (Brubaker’s) expectations.”
“I actually thought our kids played well,” said Brubaker, whose Rams will take an 11-2 overall record into Saturday’s matinee at Pennridge. “They hit, and was a great opportunity for us as a staff to see them and evaluate their play.”
What Brubaker saw was his team surrender a lot of yards and, of course, a lot of points. But, as he pointed out, there weren’t many noticeable big plays.
The Phantoms took the opening kickoff and drove 66 yards in 13 plays, then their next possession 56 yards in 11 plays for the 14-0 lead after one quarter. And interception and respectable punt return set up two short-field, scoring drives to double that spread after two quarters. Then the Rams’ defense thwarted another drive that go to their own 21 right before the break.
“Everyone was excited to play,” Rhodenbaugh said. “I know I was nervous in the beginning, and others were, too. But we were excited to be playing in a Thanksgiving game. I think we gave (Phoenixville) a good game.”
“Our kids played tough,” Brubaker said. “I’m happy with a lot of them because they were physical, and they didn’t back down. They played a very good seven-win team, and it’s a shame because the scoreboard doesn’t reflect that.”
Phoenixville’s dominance up front didn’t allow the Rams to get any run game going, and three quarterbacks — Brandon Leacraft, Zac DeMedio and Matt Daywalt — were hurried six times and sacked four times, which went a long way in explaining their combined 9-for-21 with three picks.
So, in the end, Furlong and the Phantoms got the win they sought ... and earned in every aspect.
And Brubaker and the Rams had no regrets over the decision made to go with non-varsity starters.
“We have an opportunity that’s never occurred before in the history of our program,” Brubaker said, referring of course to Saturday’s district semifinal. “We have to make the most of it.
“To play for a possible district title is an opportunity that you don’t often get. It’s like a bowl game, what everyone’s goal is. And no one stops in the middle of the playoffs, or in working toward achieving that goal. It’s unfortunate (going with non-varsity starters) but it’s the way we decided to play it out. You can’t please everyone.”

Phoenixville finished behind Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford — both 7-2 — and champion Pottsgrove (9-0) in the final PAC-10 standings. ... Tickets for Saturday’s District 1-Class AAAA semifinal at Pennridge will be on sale from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the high school gymnasium lobby entrance at Spring-Ford High School. ...


Phoenixville defeated Spring-Ford, 49-0, Wednesday night at Coach McNelly Stadium.

The game was originally scheduled for Thursday morning, but was moved up to Wednesday night because of Spring-Ford's District 1-Class AAAA semifinal game at Pennridge on Saturday afternoon.


By Don Seeley

Here we go again… the Week 13 picks, and I'm sure hoping I do better this week than last.

Phoenixville (6-5) at Spring-Ford (11-1): This would've been a great match-up despite the records, as last year's game proved to be. But the Rams, at least according to head coach Chad Brubaker, will be lining up with non-varsity starters because of Saturday's District 1-AAAA semifinal with Pennridge. As pumped as the Rams may be for the opportunity to play, they won't be able to match up with the Phantoms' regulars. … PHOENIXVILLE.

Pottstown (5-6) at Owen J. Roberts (3-8): Both teams can light up the board when in sync, especially Pottstown with the little fella directing the offense. … POTTSTOWN.

District 1-Class AAA Semifinal, Spring-Ford at Pennridge: Spring-Ford is going with non-varsity starters Wednesday night, Pennridge is reportedly going to begin with its regular starters Thursday morning (at Quakertown) because of playing for an outright league title. Both teams had forgettable second halves last week, but won and advanced - and that's all that matters this time of the year. Rams win this one. ... SPRING-FORD RAMS, that is.

Last week (local picks): 0-2.
For the Season: 69-21 (767.)

Football: Phoenixville raring to go against Spring-Ford reserves

Phoenixville running back Ryan Yenchick

By Don Seeley

ROYERSFORD — There’s no question Spring-Ford has captured the fancy of its loyal following, and a lot of Pioneer Athletic Conference football fans’ attention as well, with its current postseason run in the District 1-Class AAAA playoffs.
Phoenixville head coach Bill Furlong and the Phantoms will be among the well-wishers when the Rams travel to Perkasie on Saturday for a semifinal shootout with Pennridge.
Just don’t expect Furlong or the Phantoms to be cheering for their Pioneer Athletic Conference rivals tonight when they meet at Coach McNelly Stadium. And don’t expect them to give two hoots that they’re lining up against Spring-Ford’s non-varsity starters, either.
“We’ve preached all year that our goal is to play our best game that week, and that hasn’t changed (for tonight),” Furlong explained. “That’s our goal, regardless of the other team’s record, what injuries they may have…
“We have to be ready for anything. We have to be ready for (Spring-Ford), too, because their junior varsity players are pretty darn good. They probably would’ve had a few wins in our league this year.”
If tonight’s game does indeed play out as it appears it will, the Phantoms (5-3, 6-5 overall) — who have been idle since a District 1-Class AAA first-round loss to Interboro two weeks ago — will obviously be heavily favored over the Rams (7-1, 11-1). 

Seeley on football: Another year, another playoffs vs. Thanksgiving dilemma

By Don Seeley

ROYERSFORD — Chad Brubaker made a decision this past weekend he didn’t really want to make, a decision he knew wouldn’t make a whole lot of people happy … a decision he truly believed he had to make.
Not long after Spring-Ford held off Ridley in last Friday night’s District 1-Class AAAA playoff game, and moments after school officials agreed to move up the annual Thanksgiving morning game with Phoenixville, Brubaker announced the Rams’ regular starters would not play tonight (7 p.m.) against the Phantoms.
It wasn’t necessarily a surprising move, or an unprecedented one for that matter, because the Rams have yet another game — and a much bigger game in every sense of the word — on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Pennridge in a district semifinal showdown.
“We had to make some decisions that we knew may be unpopular, but when everything is broken down we have to look at what is best for our football program and the safety of our players,” Spring-Ford’s third-year head coach explained. “There is a reason there are no football tournaments on weekend, why we only play one game a week.
“Our kids play 75-plus snaps a week, banging into other players who are big and strong, too. We played 48 minutes of physical, intense football at Ridley, and we’re going to have to play 48 minutes of physical, intense football against Pennridge. Our varsity players need time for their bodies to recover and rejuvenate. That’s why we can’t justify playing them against Phoenixville, why only non-varsity participants will play (tonight).”

( For the complete story, click here )

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Notebook: Falcons left their mark this season

Pottsgrove running back Mark Dukes
By Don Seeley

LOWER POTTSGROVE — Mark Dukes, Tory Hudgins and their Pottsgrove teammates may have come up a little short in last week’s District 1-Class AAA semifinal, but they sure didn’t fail to leave some more marks in The Mercury area’s leader and record books.
Dukes and Hudgins finished up last weekend first and second in the area, respectively, in both scoring and yards rushing, a reflection of just how good the offensive line in front of them was this fall. Together, it led the way for another record-breaking year of football for the Pioneer Athletic Conference champion Falcons.
Dukes (1,347 yards) and Hudgins (1,267) are pretty much a lock to finish one-two in rushing. The only other player with a chance to run past them is Phoenixville’s Ryan Yenchick, who has 1,019 yards going into tonight’s game at Spring-Ford. Dukes (142 points) and Hudgins (141) could be overtaken in the scoring column, though, because Pottstown senior Monroe Hampton is right behind them with 138 points going into Thursday morning’s game at Owen J. Roberts.
Last week’s loss denied Hudgins of becoming just the third area quarterback to run for more than 3,000 career yards, too. Hudgins finished with 2,928 (7.2 yards a carry) and 53 touchdowns, and 4,385 total yards of offense.
Dukes closed with 2,489 career rushing yards, quite an achievement considering he had just 10 carries as a sophomore and missed 5½ games as a junior last season.

( For the complete story, click here )

Monday, November 19, 2012

SEELEY COLUMN: Brubaker leading Spring-Ford to new heights

Spring-Ford football coach Chad Brubaker has guided the Rams to the District 1-AAAA semifinals.

By Don Seeley

Sometimes it isn’t about how big or how fast a player a coach sends out onto the football field as it is exactly who that imposing over-sized lineman or that lightning-quick running back may be.
As every coach readily admits, it’s awfully difficult, if not impossible, to measure, weigh or even clock those players’ character.
Character is the backbone of an athlete, and it distinguishes the strength and soul of a team as well as its confidence. And certainly not always, but way, way more often than many choose to believe, it is the foundation of any successful program.
Character … not only knowing how to do everything the correct way on and off the field as well as in and out of school, but committing to it.
It is exactly what Chad Brubaker was looking for when he interviewed for the head coaching position a Spring-Ford a little over two years ago.

(For entire story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Loss doesn’t sack Falcons’ successful season

Sene Polamalu helped Pottsgrove win the PAC-10 title and open the season with 11 straight victories.

By Don Seeley

LOWER POTTSGROVE — Losing isn’t as much unacceptable as it is painful for everyone associated with the Pottsgrove football program.
The losses have been few and far between in recent years, actually over the last decade, as head coach Rick Pennypacker and his staff has assembled good team after good team after team, season after season after season. But no one, not the Falcons nor any of their coaches, have been able to escape the sting of a season-ending loss.
And yes, last Friday night’s 31-28 setback to visiting Henderson in the District 1-Class AAA semifinals — which denied the Falcons a chance to defend their district title and shut down their otherwise spotless 11-0 season — left the entire Pottsgrove gang hurting.

(For complete story, click here ... )


By Don Seeley

Athletic directors and District 1 officials have released this week's schedule of games involving Mercury-area teams:

7 p.m. Wednesday: Phoenixville vs. Spring-Ford at Coach McNelly Stadium in Royersford.

10 a.m. Thursday: Pottstown vs. Owen J. Roberts at Wildcat Stadium in Bucktown.

1 p.m. Saturday: Spring-Ford vs. Pennridge at Poppy Yoder Field, Pennridge South Middle School in Perkasie.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


By Don Seeley

The Phoenixville at Spring-Ford football game, originally scheduled for Thursday morning, has been moved up to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21st.

The Pottstown at Owen J. Roberts game will be played as scheduled on Thursday morning (10:00.

The District 1-Class AAAA semifinal featuring Spring-Ford at Pennridge has "TENTATIVELY" been scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24th.

Spring-Ford 28, Ridley 26

By Darryl Grumling

FOLSOM — Whether you’re talking about life or football, possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Spring-Ford’s football team gave a memorable first-hand display of that Friday night in what wound up to be an epic District 1-AAAA quarterfinal against Ridley.
The No. 7 seed Rams forced a mind-boggling six turnovers against the undefeated Green Raiders, five of them coming in a first half that ended with them up 28 points.
Spring-Ford then survived a furious Ridley rally in holding on for a 28-26 victory that continued their historic campaign.
Zameer McDowell and R.J. Sheldon combined to sack Collin Wright on a fourth-down play at the Rams’ 39 to seal a crazy contest in which the momentum swung like a seesaw.

(For complete story, click here...) 

Spring-Ford's Jarred Jones searches for a hole in Friday's 28-26 win over Ridley. The Rams will face Pennridge on the road next weekend. (Photo by Julia Wilkinson/JRC)

Spring-Ford’s McDowell on a rampage

By Darryl Grumling

FOLSOM — The twitter handle of Spring-Ford’s Zameer McDowell is @YouCant_Zme.
Friday night, though, nearly everyone in the large crowd at Ridley High School saw plenty of the Rams’ big No. 88.
McDowell, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end/defensive end, had his fingerprints all over the Rams’ 28-26 District 1-Class AAAA quarterfinal victory over the Green Raiders.
“I couldn’t sleep (Thursday) night, I was thinking about this game so much,” said McDowell, who will probably sleep soundly after the effort he gave in helping the seventh-seed Rams win their sixth straight game and improve to 11-1 overall.
With second-seed Ridley driving for what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown late in the first quarter, McDowell delivered a game-changing Pick 6 — stepping in front of a screen pass attempt at his own 14 and rambling 86 yards the other way to put Spring-Ford up 14-0.

W.C. Henderson 31, Pottsgrove 28

By Don Seeley

LOWER POTTSGROVE — Sometimes, as painful as it may be, you have to step back and bow to the better team ... to the victor.
And as unaccustomed as Rick Pennypacker is to doing that, he nonetheless gave rival Henderson its well-earned due and props.
The veteran Pottsgrove head coach had no choice after watching the visiting Warriors’ defense dominate the second half of Friday night’s District 1-Class AAA semifinal, ending the Falcons’ unbeaten run and season, 31-28.
The Warriors (9-3) — who will meet Interboro in next week’s district final at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School — dug out of a 14-0 hole in the first quarter get within 21-14 at the half. Then, after getting back to even twice in the second half, they took their initial lead of the entire evening when Sean Engle boomed a 31-yard field goal just inside the right upright with 2:54 remaining.
They got the lead ... and the win.
“No excuses,” Pennypacker said. “(Henderson) executed, made the big plays. We didn’t. We probably made more mistakes tonight than we had the whole season. Give (Henderson) credit.”
(For complete story, click here...) 
Pottsgrove’s Zach Birch (left) and Sene Polamalu (4) hit Henderson quarterback James Bady and force a fumble. Bady would recover the ball himself. (Photo by Tom Kelly III)

Fast start doesn’t do Falcons any favors

Pottsgrove's Tory Hudgins is off to the races during Friday night's game against Henderson. (Photo by Tom Kelly III)

By Austin Hertzog

LOWER POTTSGROVE — First quarters and the Pottsgrove football team haven’t gotten along so well in more than a handful of games this season.
A game’s first 12 minutes have served as a feeling-out process, if you will.
The next 36 minutes of the clock, that’s when the Falcons made it much more of a ‘Feel This!’ process in running up an 11-0 record and earning the top seed in the District 1-Class AAA playoffs,
It wouldn’t be out of line to call the first quarter of Friday night’s district semifinal against West Chester Henderson a surprising twist.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Scoreboard for Nov. 16


Spring-Ford 28, Ridley 26, FINAL


W.C. Henderson 31, Pottsgrove 28, FINAL

Video from Pottsgrove-West Chester Henderson

Austin Hertzog and Don Seeley are at Pottsgrove for tonight's District 1-AAA semifinal matchup between No. 1 Pottsgrove and No. 4 West Chester Henderson. Video will be posted here, with the most recent clip at the top:

Brennan runs it in to put Falcons back on top:

Hudgins to Fowler inside the 5 sets up a TD:

Video from Spring-Ford vs. Ridley

Darryl Grumling & Frank Otto are in Ridley for tonight's District 1-AAAA quarterfinal matchup between No. 2 Ridley and No. 7 Spring-Ford. Video will be posted here, with the most recent clip at the top:

Interview with Zameer McDowell, who stuffed Ridley's potential game-tying 2-point attempt:

More celebration for the Rams:

Spring-Ford celebrates the win:

Romano's sack seals the victory for Spring-Ford:

SportsCenter Feels Darryl's Pain (new video)

Earlier this week we mentioned that Darryl Grumling's run-in with Spring-Ford's Mat Goodrich had a brief cameo on SportsCenter.

This morning, it reached a new level of hilarity, as ESPN's SportsCenter picked Darryl's video as the #3 play in this week's "Not Top Plays."

The video is below, and just so happens to be narrated by SportsCenter anchor Kevin Neghandi, who is a graduate of Spring-Ford's nearby neighbor, Phoenixville. Kevin even gives a shout-out to his "rival" town next door.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FOOTBALL: Falcons, Rams on verge of history

Under head coach Rick Pennypacker, the Pottsgrove football team has become a perennial contender in the District 1 playoffs. (File photo by Tom Kelly III)

By Don Seeley

Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford will both tackle a little football history tonight.
The Falcons entertain Henderson, one of its former Ches-Mont League rivals — a team they haven’t lined up against in 25 years, and a team they didn’t often fare too well against in those days. They’ll be looking to change that undistinguished trend from long ago with a win … and will surely be motivated by the opportunity knowing it would mean a spot in the District 1-Class AAA final for the fourth straight year.
“Our kids have been in the playoffs many times, so we know they’re aware of how important every game is at this point in the season,” Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker said earlier this week.

(For complete story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Pottsgrove to lay it on line vs. Henderson

Tory Hudgins (5) and Pottsgrove face Henderson in tonight's District 1-AAA semifinal.

By Don Seeley

LOWER POTTSGROVE — Rick Pennypacker laid it all on the line this week … on his offensive and defensive lines.
Up front, the veteran Pottsgrove coach persisted, is where tonight’s District 1-Class AAA semifinal against visiting Henderson will be decided.
“Henderson has a very big and physical defense, so our offensive line will be facing a huge challenge,” Pennypacker explained. “Their defense is one that could make us look ugly at times, so we just have to play our brand of football. And their offensive line is huge and gets off the ball, too, so we’re a little worried about their size advantage up front.”

(For complete story, click here ... )

FOOTBALL: Spring-Ford set for Ridley in 1-AAAA quarters

Hank Coyne (11), Jarred Jones (6) and Spring-Ford take on Ridley in tonight's District 1-AAAA quarterfinal.

By Don Seeley

FOLSOM — With Milestone No. 1 now history, Spring-Ford is desperately seeking Milestone No. 2.
And that would be a win in tonight’s District 1-Class AAAA quarterfinals at Ridley.
“We still believe we have a lot of football in us,” Rams head coach Chad Brubaker said earlier this week.
For some, that may sound a bit brash, maybe even a little arrogant. For Brubaker and the Rams, well, it’s merely confidence.

(For complete story, click here ... )


By Don Seeley
   Here we go again… the Week 12 pick’ms. And, yes, I do hope I’m wrong on one of them.

   District 1-AAAA Quarterfinal - Spring-Ford (10-1) at Ridley (11-0): This is one of three legitimate toss-ups in the AAAA bracket. Traveling to Delaware County, or Folsom to be specific, and being greeted by three linebackers – who collectively may be as good as any three in the entire district – isn’t all that inviting of a challenge. Neither is going punch for punch with the rest of an old-fashioned, down-in-the-dirt, blue-collar football team. Just don't count out the Rams, who have been picked to win this game by two other courageous pickers in the state… RIDLEY.

   District 1-AAA Semifinal – Henderson (8-3) at Pottsgrove (11-0): Henderson plays pretty darn good defense; so does Pottsgrove. Henderson has a good offense; Pottsgrove has a very, very good offense. That’s the difference. … POTTSGROVE.

Last week: 7-2.
For the Season: 69-19 (.784).


   No. 16 Wissahickon (8-3) at No. 9 Coatesville (9-2): Wissahickon owned the first-round shocker with its win over No. 1 seed Downingtown East. Coatesville doesn’t usually need a wake-up call, but Wissahickon sure dialed one up last week. Still, a Suburban One American Conference team knocking off two very good Ches-Mont League teams in back-to-back weeks of the postseason isn’t likely to happen. … COATESVILLE.

   No. 13 Neshaminy (8-3) at No. 5 Central Bucks South (10-1): Over the past 10 years, Neshaminy (and longtime assistant Jay Weidenbaugh – a Spring-Ford graduate) certainly has had a lot of success this time of the season, and proved it with the upset of No. 4 Plymouth-Whitemarsh last week. In comparison, C.B. South is a relative newcomer to the playoffs, but also a very good newcomer. … C.B. SOUTH.

   No. 7 Spring-Ford (10-1) at No. 2 Ridley (11-0): See above (but remember this could easily go the other way if Ridley doesn’t play defense). … RIDLEY.

   No. 6 Pennsbury (9-2) at No. 5 Pennridge (10-1): May be the most balanced quarterfinal on tonight's docket. Pennsbury hasn’t lost since an awful 1-2 start (losses to Easton and Downingtown East), and has allowed just 41 points in its last eight games. Pennridge hasn’t lost since Week Two’s stunning setback to lowly Bensalem, but included in its nine-game run is an October Hat Trick at home against Souderton, Central Bucks South and North Penn. Still, the Rams are also quite generous defensively. … PENNSBURY.

   No. 2 Henderson (8-3) at No. 1 Pottsgrove (11-0): See above (but remember, like the Spring-Ford game, it could go the other way if Pottsgrove doesn’t keep it rolling offensively) … POTTSGROVE.

   No. 3 Interboro (9-2) at No. 2 Academy Park (10-1): Academy Park beat the Bucs two weeks ago (49-26) for the first time in 18 years, and for its first Del Val League championship in 18 years. That doesn’t mean tonight’s rematch is a revenge win or even a guaranteed win, just a bit closer of a win. … ACADEMY PARK.

Last week: 6-2 in AAA / 4-0 in AAA for a 10-2 mark.
Overall for the Season: 79-21 (.790).