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

Start Your Engines

The scrimmages and non-league games were well over a month ago, all but forgotten by now. The “see what we have” games are, or should be, a thing of the past, too. The midseason report cards have been handed out, read and reviewed. It’s time to move on.

The stretch run begins today.

It’s time to gear up for a league championship, for a postseason playoff berth, for respect … and for avoiding the temptation of looking beyond the “gimme games” that have, more times than many would care to admit, led to a slew of October upsets.

This afternoon, Hill School travels to Peddie School to begin a stretch the Rams hope will lead to a second straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League title. Tonight, unbeaten Daniel Boone heads up to Reading – a David vs. Goliath match-up no one would’ve envisioned 10 years ago – in a Inter-County League Section One game it should easily win (should, that is) but cannot just blink at with a downright brutal four-game grind ahead.

And then there’s the Pioneer Athletic Conference…

Tonight, Owen J. Roberts travels to Upper Perkiomen – OJR cannot afford another loss if it’s to stay in the chase for a PAC-10 championship and

District 1-AAAA playoff berth, and Upper Perkiomen faces the same challenge, especially in the District 1-AAA race. Saturday afternoon, injury ravaged Phoenixville is still in the District 1-AAA playoff picture when it lines up against Methacton, which must bounce back from last week’s lopsided loss to OJR because some may have forgotten the Warriors are among the PAC-10 and District 1-AAAA leaders. And the Pottstown and Pope John Paul matinee is simple enough to digest – Pottstown is looking for its first PAC-10 win this season and Pope John Paul is looking for the very first win of its new program.

Oh yeah, those other two? Spring-Ford at Pottsgrove and Perkiomen Valley at Boyertown … pretty big games, to say the least.

Spring-Ford is 2-1 (4-1 overall), it’s best start since going 5-0 back in 2000, a streak that ended with a 28-7 loss to none other than Pottsgrove, which went on to beat everyone that season. Pottsgrove (3-1, 4-1) has bounced back from its first league loss in 2œ years, and done it with an ailing Terrell Chestnut, a four-year starter and two-time Mercury Player of the Year who’s played sparingly with his injured shoulder. And, not that he needs to be reminded, head coach Rick Pennypacker hasn’t lost to his alma mater since 1999.

Perkiomen Valley, some say – including Boyertown head coach Mark Scisly – may have the most dangerous 2-3 team around. Scisly reminds anyone who cares to listen, and you can bet the Bears were all ears during this week’s practices. Boyertown, on the other hand, is big and quick up front, faster behind it, undefeated and can match the program’s best start since 1954 (that’s 56 long, long, long years ago).

Did someone say gear it up?

“All in all, our players and coaches know we are playing a very good football team that is playing extremely well (despite its record),” Scisley said. “Perkiomen Valley has a lot of starters back from a team that put it to us last year. It’s going to be a tough game for us.”

The Bears will throw more offense at the Vikings than they’ve seen yet this season. There’s considerable balance with quarterback Dylan Pasik throwing the ball (824 yards and 12 TDs without an interception) and Jared Von Dohren, Jon Neiman and Tom Froehlich running it. But some overlook who’s responsible for most of the production – that offensive line, namely center Tyler Bogert, guards Zach Paskel and Chris Muller, and tackles Tyler Boggs and Jake Semple. The good old gang has permitted just one sack all season.

“Their offensive line is big, athletic, physical, and can run while their three running backs look like three clones because they’re fast, tough, and run extremely hard,” said PV head coach Scott Reed. “You put all that together with a hot quarterback and there are a lot of concerns for any defensive coach or player in this league.

“Their defense is also very good. They create a lot of havoc for opposing offenses. They’re sound up front and in coverage. I think their biggest strength is their ability to rally to the football. They always seem to have a lot of players around the football. That’s a key component in a good defense.

“And if that’s not enough their kicking game (placekicker Aaron Sassaman and punter Zach Heffner) is outstanding. They’ve been giving opponents poor starting field position. That can be frustrating because it makes it harder to be aggressive when you are playing on your end of the field all the time. So the bottom line is that Boyertown’s playing very good football in all areas of the game. That’s a testament to their coaches and players.”

Over at Pottsgrove, Pennypacker has been giving Spring-Ford similar props.

“They’re a good football team, no doubt about it,” he said. “We feel Spring-Ford is as good as anyone in the league right now. We worked extremely hard studying film this week. We have a game plan, but we’re going to have to play our best game to beat them.”

The Falcons have two of the area’s big-play running backs in Maika Polamalu and Kayvon Greene, who’ve have helped make it a little easier for Tory Hudgins, who’s been running the option offense in Chestnut’s absence. But much like OJR, Pottsgrove gets nearly all its offense by running the ball, and Pennypacker is aware of what the Rams did in tripping up record-breaking Ryan Brumfield and the Wildcats a few weeks ago.

“They have a ton of experience on defense, so we knew they’d be good on defense,” said Pennypacker, who was in a tight game with the Rams last year before opening it up in the second half. “We’ll have to mix it up on them, take a few more chances than we’d like. We expect them to load up the box, so we’ll have to be ready to throw more than we have.”

Chad Brubaker, in his first year at Spring-Ford, has heard enough of Pottsgrove to know it’s a team as big if not bigger than OJR with two backs, not just one, to be concerned with.

“I thought our players responded well to the challenge of going against Brumfield and hope they respond the same way (tonight),” Brubaker said. “The key to playing any option team is to stay job-oriented and hope each player is disciplined enough to do his job on each play and not attempt to do too much.

“Being undersized as we are we must always pursue and gang tackle. Our defense is predicated on bouncing plays to the outside and running them down, so we’re facing a dilemma in a team like Pottsgrove that has breakaway ability.”

Should the Rams be able to slow the run game down, they’ve proven to be quite proficient against the pass, too. Ends Bjorn and Max Ullman have applied their share of pressure and gotten more than their share of sacks. The secondary, anchored by Andrew Keys and Matt Glowacki, has picked off 14 passes.

That defense has overshadowed the offense to an extent. Sophomore quarterback Hank Coyne has improved with each passing week, and thrown for 652 yards and eight touchdowns. He has excellent receivers like Andrew Scanlan and Drew Thomas, who have a combined 24 receptions for over 300 yards and four scores. The fleet Chase Stewart (491 yards) provides balance in leading the run game.

“I’m concerned with (nose guard T.J.Demetrio and Chestnut at safety),” Brubaker said. “(Demetrio) creates a lot of havoc up front, and that’s where we had some problems last week against Upper Perkiomen. We need to be up to the challenge because we’re undersized.”

It’s that time of the year when everyone has to play up a notch … and come up big.

* * *

Perkiomen School, originally scheduled to be off this week, returns to the field this afternoon (4:00) to host Emily Fisher Charter School from Trenton, N.J. … Saturday afternoon’s Pottstown-Pope John Paul II game has been moved from the former St. Pius X High School to Pope John Paul in Upper Providence Township. Kick off is 3 p.m.

* * *

Boyertown graduate Jimmy Develin, who had an outstanding career at Brown University, is playing for the Florida Tuskers in the UFL. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Develin has been lining up at fullback for the Tuskers, who are coached by Jay Gruden – brother of former Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Jon Gruden.

Develin has caught one pass for six yards so far for the Tuskers (1-2), who play their home game in the Citrus Bowl. They’re on the road this week against the Hartford (Ct.) Colonials.

The UFL features two former NFL quarterbacks – Jeff Garcia of the Omaha Nighthawks and Daunte Culpepper of the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

* * *

The Boyertown Football Hall of Fame will gain five new members tonight during halftime festivities at Boyertown. The new inductees are Tom Benfield (1966-68), former head coach Nick Noel (1953-72), Rich Rockwell (1966-68), Henry Schmidenberg (1954-57), and Terry Shaner (1949-52).



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