Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Leamer, Tribe look for more

Originally published in the Sept. 5 edition of The Mercury

Keith Leamer doesn't have to be reminded the first two chapters of Upper Perkiomen's football season read like a fable featuring David and Goliath with Indians in the middle ... his Indians, that is.

The veteran head coach and Indians opened last week against Allentown Allen, a program that has won just one of its last 21 games and is desperately seeking an end to those woeful ways with its third different coach in three seasons. Tonight, its Downingtown West, a program that the last two seasons has won 20 of 24 games, made back-to-back appearances in the District 1-AAAA playoffs, and has been quite content (and successful) since head coach Mike Milano arrived six years ago.

"There's a difference, obviously," Leamer said before Thursday's final tune-up for tonight's final preseason tune-up. "Allentown Allen has some great athletes, but those kids are on their third coach in three years and trying to find some direction.

"Downingtown West is a well-established program, such a well-coached team with so many great athletes. They're definitely a big step up for us, and they'll be a measuring stick for us as we get ready (for the Pioneer Athletic Conference season)."

The Indians are quite familiar with the Whippets, if not a bit rambunctious to get into it again with their hosts. Last year, they led for most if not all of the first three quarters before a late rally enabled the Whippets to survive a 37-28 thriller.

Leamer and his staff got another glimpse of them earlier this summer in a scrimmage, then spent a good part of this week watching film of their wild 47-21 win over Owen J. Roberts last Friday.

"They have a new quarterback (Brett Gillespie), but he's much more athletic than the young man they had last year, who was very good, too, by the way," Leamer said. "But (Gillespie) adds another dimension to their attack. He can throw, but he can also run. He can take it to the house at any time. He's scary. And they also have that tough running back (Jared Heller), who is a big key to their offense."

Gillespie was impressive in his varsity debut, hitting 8 of 13 passes for 215 yards and a score. Heller, well, there wasn't much he didn't do - running for 51 yards and two touchdowns, catching five passes for 151 yards and another score, and returning a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown.

Tackle Jawad Majeed and ends Nick Hale and Nick Edmonson, who has moved up from linebacker since last year, will lead a, Upper Perkiomen defense determined to put the pressure on Gillespie and put the clamps on Heller. The secondary, which features Mark Cole, Kenny Golden, Britt Kerr and Andrew Orlick, will be looking to track down the passes Gillespie does get off. And smack in the middle of them is Chase Fleming, unquestionably talented enough to become one of the area's best linebackers.

"Downingtown West is so physical, a team that just wears you down," Leamer said. "That's what happened last year ... we were right there for three quarters before they took over in the fourth (quarter) and beat us. But we feel we're a little stronger and a little faster than last year."

The Indians sure looked it last week.

That may have come as a surprise to some, but not to Leamer.

"A lot of people forget that because injuries to so many of our seniors last year we were forced to play a lot of underclassmen," he explained. "Combine that with some of the big guys up front and others who stepped up..."

Yes, the run game was in order last week, generating 188 yards between Shawn Wenhold, Ryan Connor and Jeff Randall, and there was nothing wrong with the passing game with Tom Paul completing half of his 18 attempts for 188 yards and two scores. Producing 462 yards and allowing only 160, while creating three turnovers, isn't a bad start.

The offense will get a significantly bigger test tonight against the Whippets, who are led by linebackers Ryan Kendra and Even Trexler.

"We're still looking for that consistency," Leamer said. "We had so many mistakes, like the penalties (11 for 90 yards) and dropped passes. We want to eliminate them, be more consistent. That's what we're looking for.

"You always look for improvement. We could play the perfect game, but the kids know that's not good enough for me. I'll raise the bar on them. You just can't be satisfied with any practice or with any game. You have to continue to improve so when you get into those big games down the road and late into the season you're ready for them."


Methacton officials have moved Saturday's non-league game with Kennedy-Kenrick up to this afternoon (4:00) because of a weather forecast calling for heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Hanna.


Pioneer Athletic Conference teams are hoping to reverse last week's humbling 3-7 mark, including a winless 0-5 showing against District 1 rivals. Two of the three victories, incidentally, were against a pair of teams from District 3 and 11 that were a combined 0-20 a year ago.


Boyertown rookie head coach Mark Scisly is looking for his first win tonight. On the other sideline, Governor Mifflin's Mark Veechio, in his 18th season with the Mustangs' program, is looking for his 100th career win.


It's been a while since Rich Gould and Greg Bamberger were strolling the hallways or playing sports at Phoenixville High School, but both are doing their part to keep other athletic programs going.

Gould, who starred in cross country, basketball and track and has spent a good number of his 27 years at Upper Moreland High School coaching football, basketball and track, was named the school's athletic director early this summer. Gould's late father was a well-known and very respected football and basketball official.

Bamberger, who starred in football at Phoenixville and a three-year starter at Duke, last month began his third year as the director of athletics at Kutztown University. Bamberger was an assistant football coach at Virginia Military Institute, Southeast Missouri State and Glenville State (W.Va.) prior to arriving at Kutztown, where he helped the Golden Bears win the prestigious 2005-06 Dixon Trophy - awarded to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference's top athletic department.


The only area teams who have yet to kick off their seasons - The Hill School and Perkiomen School - will finally get on the field next Friday afternoon. Perkiomen travels to Tower Hill (Del.) and Hill hosts Germantown Academy in a pair of matinees scheduled to get under way at 3:45 and 4 p.m., respectively.


A peek at some of the big games around District 1 and throughout the state:

District 1: Lansdale Catholic and North Penn square off tonight for the first time in seven years. The two longtime Thanksgiving Day rivals haven't met since because of their success in the postseason. North Penn, now No. 3 in the state's Class AAAA rankings. owns a 17-4 lead in the series. The Crusaders, who haven't beaten the Knights on the football field since a 25-0 shutout back in 1988. ... Garnet Valley, the Class AAA state runner-up a year ago and ranked No. 9 in the state, visits Penncrest, which opened with a very impressive shutout of Strath Haven.

State: In AAAA, Liberty visits No. 4 Parkland, two the state's top teams who dropped their openers last week, in a District 11 showdown; and No. 5 Penn Hills, which lost 45-17 to No. 1 Gateway last week, hosts a very good Bethel Park out in District 7. ... In AAA, District 10's Erie Cathedral Prep, which fell to No. 5 after losing to crosstown McDowell (No. 10 in the AAAA rankings), travels to St. Joseph's Prep in Cleveland; and No. 10 Manheim Central visits potential AAAA breakthrough Wilson up in West Lawn in a District 3 feature. ... In AA, two ranked teams face off against highly touted rivals - No. 7 Trinity hosts Delone Catholic in District 3 and No. 10 Tyrone visits Huntingdon in District 6. ... And in Class A, No. 4 Southern Columbia, which saw its streak of five straight state titles end a year ago, looks to go 2-0 at Montoursville up in District 4; No. 6 Clairton travels to No. 10 Monessen out in District 7; and No. 7 Schuylkill Haven, with Zach Barket (311 yards and five touchdowns last week), visits Marian Catholic up in District 11.

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