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, October 8, 2010

PAC-10’s first full Friday could go far in determining contenders

This column appeared in the Sept. 17, 2010 edition of The Mercury.

No Pioneer Athletic Conference title will be decided tonight, not in Boyertown, not in Royersford, and not in Graterford, Phoenixville or Pottstown, either … nowhere. Check the calendar, it’s only Week One for eight of the league’s 10 teams.

There’s no back to the future in high school football.

Pottsgrove seems to be nearly everyone’s favorite to run off with an unprecedented third straight outright title this season. That’s no secret. But there are some who’ve been a bit reluctant to go with the Falcons, hinting instead that Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts and Upper Perkiomen are contenders, too.

They may have a point.

Then again, they may not.

But by Saturday morning, everyone – from those already on the Pottsgrove bandwagon to those who’d like to see it run out of gas and coast into anonymity – will get a darn good idea of who’s who. It’s been a long time since the first full weekend of PAC-10 football had such a competitive card.

In other words, the innocent schedule-makers made tonight pretty darn outrageous.

Boyertown just happens to be hosting Pottsgrove, which of course is the no-doubt-about-it headliner; Owen J. Roberts just happens to be visiting Spring-Ford, a great rivalry that becomes even more unpredictable this time around since the Rams have opened with two wins for the first time in 11 years; and Upper Perkiomen just happens to be at

Perkiomen Valley, a team that’s much better than its 0-2 record indicates and, for those unaware of the Vikings’ past, a team that owns as many if not more PAC-10 upsets than anyone in recent years.

The Pope John Paul II at Phoenixville and Methacton at Pottstown games may not carry the collective football weight as those other three. But how they play out, or who wins and who loses, may dictate how much of a threat they’ll be down the road … or if they’re capable of tackling a contender role themselves.

“I don’t know why anyone would say this game could decide the league title,” said Mark Scisly, kicking off his third season as Boyertown’s head coach. “There are a lot of good teams in this league … and we all have to play one another yet. The first game does not decide a league title.”

For the record, the opening round of a PAC-10 season has on occasion gone a long way in deciding a championship. Three years ago — or the last time Pottsgrove didn’t win the title — Lansdale Catholic pounced all over Perkiomen Valley in Week One and appeared to be on an unbeaten run to the title. That was until a shocking 28-27 overtime loss to Pottstown in Week Five. Perkiomen Valley, meanwhile, bounced back from that opening-night loss, ran the table, and picked up a share of the title with LC.

“People who feel our game with Boyertown could decide the PAC-10 championship are right, but so will every other game on our schedule,” said Rick Pennypacker, who can tie Lansdale Catholic’s Jim Algeo’s record of 129 career PAC-10 wins with a victory tonight. “This is a game with supposedly two of the better teams playing one another. But that’s all it is.

“It’s too early in the season to say this game as a must game. There are too many good teams with good coaches out there, so to say the winner of this game gets a leg up for the title doesn’t know too much about football.”

What some people do know is that the last time Pottsgrove played in Boyertown – two years ago, that is – the Bears came within inches, literally, of beating the Falcons. Quarterback David Crognale was stopped just short of the goal line in the waning moments of an out-and-out, 24-20 brawl.

And since Boyertown joined the PAC-10, the teams have split their eight meetings.

“We feel all the pressure is on Pottsgrove,” Scisly said. “They’re the team with the winning streak in the league. They’re everyone’s preseason pick (to win the title).

“Our guys are excited to have the opportunity to play Pottsgrove. We feel we have nothing to lose.”

That mentality, not to mention the Bears’ size, speed and talent on both sides of the ball, is what concerns Pennypacker. Quarterback Dylan Pasik has guided an offense that has yet to turn the football over. Thus far he is 11 of 17 for 376 yards and five touchdowns throwing the football, and he has a slew of backs to hand off to, among them Jon Neiman and Jared Von Dohren.

The defense, which has surrendered just two touchdowns in two games, is led by Dalton Schaeffer and Chris Muller up front. Behind them, linebackers Jeff Elwanger, Zach Heffner and Troy Heuer have been on the spot, as have Brooke David at a corner and Tyler Mauger at strong safety.

“This will be one of the toughest games we play,” Pennypacker said. “I think this is one of the best Boyertown teams we’ve seen in a few years, too. They’re big, fast and tough.”

Don’t think Scisly isn’t aware of who the Bears have to deal with, though.

Much like their hosts, the Falcons have size, speed and talent. They’re very experienced – and good – on both lines. And they have what you may call the Troublesome Threesome, or Terrell Chestnut, Kayvon Greene and Maika Polamalu. Combined, they have taken 52 carries for 604 yards and 13 touchdowns. That’s an average of 11.6 yards per carry, or a touchdown every four handoffs. That isn’t troublesome, that’s terrifying for most defensive coordinators.

“We’ve prepared for Boyertown just like we do for everyone else,” Pennypacker said. “We have to because we know we are the underdog … everyone wants to see us lose. We know that. It’s no secret.

“We know people have built this game up so high, but it’s our job (as coaches) to keep our players focused on the task at hand. This is a big game, but we still have to play an entire schedule and not just two games in September.”

Over at Owen J. Roberts, head coach Tom Barr pretty much said the same thing.

The Wildcats, whose only two league losses the last two seasons have been to Pottsgrove, cannot afford to look ahead to another October rematch with the Falcons. There’s plenty to do before that, and it begins tonight at Spring-Ford.

“Our goal is to win the PAC-10 title, but that’s the goal of the other nine schools in our league, too,” Barr said. “We have to take one game at a time.”

First up is Spring-Ford, a team off to its first 2-0 start since 1999.

“Spring-Ford has a new coach (Chad Brubaker) who knows how to win and how to motivate his players, and the Spring-Ford players are excited, believe me,” Barr said. “They’re excited over their start, and they want to prove something to everyone else in our league. They’re coming into this game with a lot of emotion.”

The Rams come in with an offense that’s already generated 721 yards and 72 points. They have a sophomore quarterback (Hank Coyne) who’s shown poise in the pocket and thrown the football well, and a pair of backs (Chase Stewart and Drew Thomas) who can accelerate and find the end zone in a hurry.

“My concerns start with playing a team with a lot of emotion, a team that has lost to us the last two years, a team that seems to be finding ways to win now,” Barr said.

But Brubaker and the Rams will have to find a way to stop OJR – namely Ryan Brumfield. A game-breaker and, of course, record-breaker, Brumfield has 459 yards and five touchdowns already. Going back to last season, he’s run for 200 yards or more in six straight games. Sam Funk can’t be overlooked, either, regardless of where he lines up offensively.

But neither Brumfield, Funk or anyone else does it alone. Up front, OJR has as good as one-two-three punch on the line as anyone with center Mike Nowak, guard Sean Moloney and tackle Kyle Moore, and newcomers Jake Manfredi and Mike Shine haven’t exactly been pushovers, either.

“Right now there’s a lot of pressure on our seniors, especially the four (Brumfield, Funk, Moloney and Moore) who’ve been with the high school team for four years,” Barr said. “But the pressure has been on the positive side, meaning influencing the players to work hard. And we’ll have to work hard and continue to play aggressively in this game.”

And to think there’s nine more weeks to go.



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