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.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pius hoping to change its history

This column originally ran Oct. 23 in The Mercury.

BUCKTOWN -- Some teams have their way with others. It just doesn’t seem to matter who’s better, or who’s good and who’s not so good, and forget about the won-loss column.

Fortunately, time erases most trends. And, as new players come and go, so do the memories (the best as well as the worst of times, that is).

But there are a few fellas, coaches in this instance, who may want to weave a little bit of that history into the ol’ pre-game preachings tonight.

No one more, perhaps, than St. Pius X head coach George Parkinson.

Yes, the Lions are 3-2 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and 5-2 overall. Yes, they’ve already won more league games than the five teams before them did. Yes, those five overall wins are the most by any Lions team in seven years. And, yes, they’re about a first down or two behind Calvary Christian – actually a mere 1.2 points behind – in the District 1/12-Class A playoff points standings.

But as good as it’s been for the Lions so far this season, they’re fully aware they can ill-afford another loss if they hope to retain a lane in both those PAC-10 and postseason races.

And there’s no bigger challenge, at least for now, than Owen J. Roberts … the same Owen J. Roberts that has more than once in the past defied the odds (and logic) in match-ups with Pius.

The Wildcats (4-1, 6-1 overall) are just a game behind unbeaten Pottsgrove in the PAC-10 and situated right smack in the middle of the District 1-Class AAA playoff points standings themselves. In other

words, they’re pretty darn good themselves. And their track record against the Lions is, well, rather impressive – or disheartening to the Pius faithful.

For one, the Wildcats have not lost to Pius since getting blanked 27-0 back in 1995. That’s 13 straight wins, if you’re counting. Moreover, they’ve won 18 of the last 21 meetings since joining the league back in 1988. And if you care to go back to when they started playing one another in the Ches-Mont League, OJR has had the upper-hand in 26 of the 32 games (with one ending in a tie).

Former St. Pius head coach Dave Bodolus was almost speechless after a couple of upset losses to OJR, as was Ray Gionta following his one and only game against OJR.

Bodolus had a difficult time explaining what happened in 1999 after his heavily favored Lions were thumped 38-14 by OJR, the lone blemish in their PAC-10 championship season. He had an equally difficult time explaining what happened two years later when the heavily favored Lions came up short in a 32-29 thriller with the Wildcats before regrouping and playing their way to the PIAA-Class AA state semifinals. And Gionta wasn’t exactly a chatty one in 2002 after a 19-14 setback to the Wildcats with a team that would make its way into the postseason as well.

Obviously, Parkinson and his Lions would like nothing more than a win tonight to end the mystique – or whatever they call it – and hit the breaks on their 13-game skid.

They’re all still working on the respect factor. Some critics are quick to point out their five wins have come against teams who are a combined 7-28, and the only two teams with winning records on their schedule thus far have beaten them.

That may be a bit unfair, especially if you chat with OJR head coach Tom Barr, who sat in on Pius’ win over Spring-Ford last Saturday and had nothing but very good things to say about the Lions.

And when made aware of OJR’s long rule over Pius … “I don’t want to hear about that,” Barr said.

Neither do the Lions, who’d like nothing more than to bring a little magic of their own to the field tonight.


Three other PAC-10 teams, as well as Daniel Boone up in the I-C League, cannot afford to look past this weekend’s games.

OJR cannot take Pius lightly, of course, not with what is on the line and not with longtime rival Boyertown up next. Depending on where your allegiance lies, the OJR-Boyertown series has been one of the best for more than 50 years, even back when it was North Coventry battlin’ the Bears.

Upper Perkiomen has to take Phoenixville very seriously and not look ahead to next Friday night’s visit to Pottsgrove. Yes, Phoenixville may have started 0-for-5, but both the training room and sick-bay are almost empty now and the Phantoms’ improved health has certainly showed the past two weeks with back-to-back shutouts.

Pottsgrove, like Upper Perkiomen, is at Methacton on Saturday. The Falcons stack up as the favorite in every imaginable category. But hunger, the hunger to end disappointment and reverse one’s woeful ways, is one incredible intangible that you can’t measure with those first-down chains. Plus this is Week Eight – and if you knew your PAC-10 history you’d know it’s the week that has produced more surprises and upsets than any other week of the league season.

Up in the I-C, Daniel Boone travels to Pottsville and hopes to make it four in a row over the Crimson Tide. The Blazers can then focus on Muhlenberg – who they have lost to 19 straight times – in a bid to tackle the Section One title.


The Hill School sure can’t look ahead to next week’s game with defending Mid-Atlantic Prep League champion Blair Academy. The Rams take a long bus ride to Wyoming Seminary on Saturday, and a win could put them in a very enviable spot to avenge last year’s lone MAPL setback (to Blair) and run off with a championship. And with quarterback Jack Detmar a “probable” return to the lineup, the Rams will have a considerably better passing threat to go with their productive run game.


When Abdul Smith graduated a year ago and went off to Rutgers, a lot of people thought Perkiomen School’s program would switch off. Not so.

One big reason has been the play of O.C Hightower, who has run for three touchdowns, pulled in five touchdown passes, and scored five other times – an area-high – on kickoff or punt returns and off defensive turnovers.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Hightower, who along with teammate Bruce Brittingham give the Indians as good as one-two punch as any other in the Philadelphia region’s private school sector, have Perkiomen on pace for its winningest season in 31 years.


Tireless Jim Algeo and his Lansdale Catholic football teams pulled off a few big wins and big upsets during their 22 years in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. All of them may pale in comparison to last Monday afternoon’s 36-27 victory over Bishop McDevitt.

The Crusaders were winless in six games this season, thanks in part to a young and inexperienced lineup, and were ailing a bit with a few starters either less than a 100 percent or out of the lineup entirely. Bishop McDevitt, on the other hand, was undefeated.

Surprise, surprise … and what a great gift for Algeo, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary two days earlier.


Algeo’s son, Dan Algeo – the head coach at Cardinal O’Hara – may want to steal one of those upset formulas from dad. His Lions are 7-0, but will meet Philadelphia Catholic League Class AAAA power St. Joseph’s Prep (5-1) on Saturday night. The Hawks’ lone loss this season was to North Penn back on Sept. 19.



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