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.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Upper Perk tries to solve Pottsgrove problem

This column originally was published in the Oct. 30 edition.

LOWER POTTSGROVE — Football coaches are a creative bunch with all their X’s and O’s, lines going this way and that way, and a note or two scribbled under all of them in their playbooks and up on the chalkboard.

A lot of the fellas in the Pioneer Athletic Conference have been doing their share of doodling the past year and a half, desperately seeking a design that will baffle and bamboozle – and beat, obviously – Pottsgrove.

But so far this year, or if you care to go back to the end of the 2007 season, the Falcons have been able to solve every one of them (even some ingenious ones). If you’re counting, their ability to read all those schemes, and read them extremely well, have already translated into one PAC-10 championship, and unless Upper Perkiomen’s Keith Leamer comes up with a successful sketch tonight (and Phoenixville’s Bill Furlong can duplicate it next week), the Falcons will be on their way to no worse than a tie for a second straight championship.

“(Pottsgrove) is just a tremendous football team,” Leamer said earlier this week. “Offensively, they have Division I talent all over the field. They can score at any time. Defensively, they’re awesome. They have that great speed that swarms to the football.”

Leamer isn’t putting the unbeaten Falcons up on the proverbial pedestal, hoping they’ll get caught up in all the flattering remarks and come out flatter than they have in a long, long time. Others before him have tried that. It doesn’t work.

Not with head coach Rick Pennypacker continually reminding his team they’re only as good as the next snap they take or the next tackle they make, and that everyone – including Upper Perkiomen – has just enough quality personnel of its own to create some chaos and the added incentive of taking the bark and bite out of the top dog when they line up against the Falcons.

“Last year was last year, and this year … we haven’t won anything yet,” Pennypacker said. “And we told the kids in the beginning of the season that they’d have that target on their backs (as defending champions).”

Zeroing in on that target hasn’t been easy, though. As Leamer said, the Falcons are loaded on both sides of the ball.

Terrell Chestnut has matured into a very intelligent quarterback. His knack to make the right reads – and hand off to Maika Polamalu, Kayvon Greene and Preston Hamlette – and his ability to go east and west as well as north and south himself can and has left opposing defenses dizzy. The foursome has found a lot of open spaces because of the work up front from center Dan Foust, guards Eric Bonenberger and Eric Moran, tackles Scott Bonenberger and Chris Nester, and tight end Scott Madl.

The Indians will counter with their 5-2 defense, featuring ends Nick Hale and Nate Pompei, tackles Dwyan Gillespie and Dan Wolfrom, and nose guard Colby Stichter up front; linebackers Chase Fleming and either Jody Peart or Dalton Fleming in the middle; and corners Mark Cole and Tyler Moser and safeties Andrew Orlick and Dan Rotenberger in the secondary.

It’s a defense that has permitted only two opponents more than two touchdowns in a game this season, but those are the two games the Indians came up short in.

“Defensively we have to play assignment football, and tackle, tackle, tackle,” Leamer said of tonight’s imposing challenge against a team that averages an area-high 35.6 points a game. “We also have to create turnovers. I definitely feel this game will come down to turnovers.”

The Indians not only have to play turnover-free football, but possession-football … string together time-consuming drives, and get into the end zone with them.

Those responsibilities lie heavily on the shoulders of Hale at tight end, Gillespie and Michael Paul at the tackle slots, Steve Grover and Alex Zukowski at the guard positions, and Jake Nyce at center. With time to throw, quarterback Casey Perlstein (739 yards and six touchdowns) can keep a defense very honest. And with room to run, backs Chase Fleming, Cole and Asomchim Akpunonu (a combined 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns) can easily find the goal line.

“Gillespie, Perlstein and (Chase) Fleming are really tough match-ups, and Akpunonu is a big weapon for them, too,” Pennypacker said. “They’re very physical.”

So are the Falcons, who can huff, puff and blow away opponents’ run games. Ends Justin Oliveri and Polamalu, tackles Tyler Wysochanski and Green, and nose guard T.J. Demetrio, along with linebackers Brad Thornton and Hamlette, are surrendering an average of just over 110 yards a game on the ground. And the secondary, which features Angelo Berry, Chestnut, Madl and Isaiah Quick – arguably as good a foursome as any in the PAC-10 – can deflate an opponents’ passing hopes.

“Upper Perkiomen is a big challenge for us,” Pennypacker said. “They have a lot of weapons on both sides of the ball, and they’re well-coached. We’ll have to play our best game.”

So will the Indians.

“This is a great opportunity … playing a tremendous football team,” Leamer said. “We’ll have to play our best game.”

Neither was kidding.

* * *

Upper Perkiomen is 4-2 (6-2) after last week’s 21-12 decision of Phoenixville, while Pottsgrove is 6-0 (8-0) after its 41-6 rout of Methacton. … Pottsgrove, which has won the last two meetings, leads the PAC-10 and overall series, 14-9. … The winner in six of the last Indians-Falcons meetings have put up 40 or more points. … Leamer said Wolfrom may have to double on the offensive line if Grover hasn’t recovered from an injury. … The Falcons were hit with the flu bug earlier in the week and Madl was questionable as of Thursday. “We’re hoping our kids are healthy (by tonight), or we may have to go with a patch-work team.” … Polamalu needs 81 yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season.


Owen J. Roberts (5-1, 7-1) visits Boyertown (3-3, 4-4) tonight in a game the Wildcats need to remain no worse than a game behind Pottsgrove in the PAC-10 standings and also to remain in the upper-half of the District 1-AAA playoff points standings. OJR’s Ryan Brumfield is the area’s runaway leader in rushing (1,529 yards) and scoring (158 points). … Phoenixville and Pottstown meet tonight for the 97th time, the area’s longest-running public school series. … And Perkiomen Valley hosts Spring-Ford, looking to even the overall series at 13-13. The Vikings once trailed the Rams, 10-2, with one of those victories a forfeit due to a teachers’ strike.


St. Pius X lines up against Methacton in its next-to-last game in Mich Stadium. The Lions are on the road for their next two games before closing the book on its storied program Thanksgiving morning against Pottsgrove. ... The Hill School was supposed to resume its Mid-Atlantic Prep League schedule Saturday against defending champion Blair Academy. However, Blair was forced to forfeit the game due to an alarming number of injuries that left the Bucs with very few varsity players. The forfeit improves the Rams’ record to 3-0 (5-1 overall), which they hope to improve on against Valley Forge Military, which will fill the scheduling void Saturday. Hill’s Dante Ashteimer (803 yards) is closing in on the 1,000-yard mark, and head coach Marty Vollmuth hopes to have Jack Detmer calling the signals for the first time since an injury sidelined him three weeks ago.


Brumfield goes into tonight’s game at Boyertown situated third in rushing yardage and sixth in both total offense and scoring on The Mercury’s career charts. … Chestnut needs 57 yards to reach the 3,000-yard mark in career total offense. … Chestnut and Polamalu both have 228 career points going into the Upper Perkiomen game tonight.

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