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.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Buckle up for Bears-Tribe Part IV

This column originally ran in the Jan. 13 edition of The Mercury.

The district duals get under way in nine days, then there are another 22 days before the real drama begins — the month-long run of sections, districts, regionals, and states. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Just in case you were accidentally locked in Zerns or trapped in the ice up on Green Lane Reservoir over the weekend and unable to unravel the mat mind, few need to be reminded that Wacky Wednesday is upon us.

There’s no better way to describe the annual scrap between Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen, which has created volley after volley of vile insults and side-splitting insinuations — as well as an overload of predisposed predictions — for the last six years, or since the Bears bolted from the Berks Conference and enrolled in the Pioneer Athletic Conference lineup.

Their seventh get-together, actually ninth overall if you add in the two district dual brawls back in 2004 and 2005, could be a Boyertown blowout if you listen to some of the vocal Bear faithful. Then again, it could be an edge-of-your-seat thriller if you lend an ear to some of the just-as-verbal Indian followers.

The short but engaging series has had both.

Right now, Boyertown is the two-time defending PAC-10 champions (sharing last year’s title with Spring-Ford) and ranked No. 1 in the area and in the so-called “official“ District 1 poll. In other words, the Bears are very, very good. Upper Perkiomen isn’t delivering the roundhouse that led to eight consecutive undefeated PAC-10 titles, but has improved considerably since the season began and thrown a knockout punch here and there along the way to stand No. 2 in the area and at No. 7 in that “official” district poll. In other words, the Indians are still pretty darn good.

So what gives, or what will give Wednesday night up in Red Hill?

Well, the pill flip (to determine what weight class kicks off the match) and the coin flip (to determine who has to send out their wrestler first in each of the individual bouts) will unquestionably add to the drama. But the outcome of those flips could turn the whole affair into a flop, too.

Upper Perkiomen needs both (flips) … badly.

Make no mistake about it, a lot of fans have jumped off the Upper Perkiomen bandwagon the last two years, but the dark gym and earsplitting hometown crowd can still be a bit intimidating for guests. The Bears aren’t likely to be daunted by the noise. Still, they can ill-afford any early Upper Perkiomen momentum (remember how that can fire up the competitive juices).

But Boyertown is No. 1 for a reason — head coach Pete Ventresca doesn’t have many holes in that lineup. So wherever the match gets started, Upper Perkiomen will have a difficult time getting on a roll it needs.

That’s because if the match starts down low, the Bears have Jeremy Minich, Matt Malfaro, and Jon Neiman at 112 through 125. If it starts in the middle, the Bears throw out Trevor MacMinn, Alex Pellicciotti, and Ryan Kemmerer anywhere from 130 through 145. And if starts up top, the Bears give you Tim Feroe at 152 or 160 and Zach Heffner at 189 or 215. The Indians can counter, mind you, especially with Marty McStravick and Garrett Fellman at 119 and 125, with Mike McStravick at 140, and with Nick Edmonson, Nick Hale, and Jared Bennett in three of the last four weight classes.

So, the bottom line? Make no mistake about it, Boyertown is the favorite. On paper — which, remember, carries absolutely no weight — the Bears should have five wins in their collective pockets and the Indians should have three, and bonus points should come out of all eight of those individual bouts. That leaves six so-called swing bouts … the majority of which Upper Perkiomen not only needs to win, but needs to win with pins, technical falls, and major decisions.

And no matter how it unravels and finishes up, rest assured no one else is going to knock the survivor off the top rung of the PAC-10 standings.

This is an early treat, a championship treat, to keep the wrestling hearts and souls all warm and fuzzy until the postseason heats up next month … enjoy it.

Pellicciotti, who is 2-1 against Upper Perkiomen opponents, will have a bit of added motivation for the showdown. The junior, who has wrestled at 130, 135, and 140 pounds this season, will be shooting for his 100th career win. He is on pace to break the Boyertown record (next season) of 143, held by former teammate Jesse DeWan.

There is one other big PAC-10 match Wednesday night — Perkiomen Valley’s visit to Owen J. Roberts. The Vikings, who know just how good Boyertown is (after losing 61-9 to the Bears last month), are balanced up and down their lineup and are currently No. 3 in the area. The Wildcats feature four outstanding individual talents in lightweights Jonathan Dempsey and Andrew Kinney and upperweights Nick Fuschino and Scott Syrek.


Three of the PAC-10’s new coaches — Methacton’s A.J. Maida, Phoenixville’s Dave Saville, and Pottsgrove’s Jeff Madden — have now gotten into the win column in the league. The fourth, St. Pius’ Matt Houseal, will go for his first when the Lions visit Madden and Falcons on Wednesday night.

Pottsgrove swept the Chichester Duals last weekend, and it’s believed to be the very first regular-season tournament title of any kind in the history of the Falcons’ program. Pottsgrove did win the 1989 District 1-AA championship under Joe Tornetta, now the head coach at Great Valley.


Daniel Boone will find out in a hurry if a third straight Berks Conference Division II title is within its grasp. The Blazers (3-1, 8-5) are at Governor Mifflin (4-0 in Division I) on Wednesday night, then host division rival Conrad Weiser (3-1, 8-2) on Saturday night.


When Ryan Kemmerer picked up his 150th career win last weekend at the Cumberland Valley Duals, he became just the eighth area wrestler to reach the mark. Six of the seven in front of him on The Mercury’s career win chart are Upper Perkiomen graduates, including older brother and all-time leader Zack Kemmerer, whose 199 wins are still tops in the district as well as the state. The brothers’ combined total 349 is also No. 1 in the area, while David and Robert Hoffman, who attended The Hill School and Owen J. Roberts, respectively, combined for 320. Rounding out the area’s Top Five brother combination are the Hill School’s Zach and Orion Doll (272), Spring-Ford’s Matt and Mike Moley (254), and Hill School’s Ty and David Willman (244).

The District 1 brother — make that family — honors go to the Rappos over at Council Rock South. Rick (121), Mike (148), and Mark (152) combined for 421, a number that now stands at 473 when adding in the current totals of the two youngest brothers — sophomore Matt and freshman Billy.


Pottstown joined Spring-Ford and Upper Perkiomen as the only teams with 100 or more wins in the Pioneer Athletic Conference when head coach Eric Dusko and the Trojans opened their dual meet season with a victory over St. Pius X. … Perkiomen Valley will try to make that group a foursome Wednesday night when head coach Tim Walsh’s gang visits Owen J. Roberts.


Neshaminy last week became just the fourth team in District 1 history to reach the 600-win mark. The Redskins reached the milestone by surviving a 37-35 thriller with Truman. … Upper Darby is currently at 594 and could conceivably get six more this week with two Central League matches on Wednesday and Friday followed by the Kennett Duals on Saturday. … Spring-Ford is five wins from reaching 500, while Pottstown is 11 shy of 500. … Ridley is the district’s all-time leader, opening the week with 670 — all of which belong to head coach Carl Schnellenbach.



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