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.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In the face of adversity

It always seems so easy to talk about Boyertown, Pottsgrove, Owen J. Roberts and Daniel Boone. This season has been no different.

Boyertown is still unbeaten and alone atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference standings; both two-time defending champion Pottsgrove and two-time runner-up Owen J. Roberts are only one game back of the Bears; and Daniel Boone is still unbeaten and alone atop the Inter-County Section One standings.

Everyone has something to say week in and week out – good or bad, that is – about those four teams, and rightfully so.

But neither Phoenixville nor Pope John Paul II had been the subject of many conversations in recent weeks, and understandably so. Phoenixville head coach Bill Furlong may have been thinking of joining the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, and PJP head coach Mike Santillo may have been thinking of joining the cast of Survivor.

The Phantoms have created their own three-block path from Washington Field to Phoenixville Hospital. They’ve been unfortunate, actually unlucky, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time in absorbing a series of injuries that otherwise would seem like a script of football fiction. Nine starters, either down for the count for a game, two or three, or out for the entire season, have forced Furlong to be considerably more creative lining up his personnel than outlining any game plan.

Furlong and his staff lost a projected two-way starter for the season before it even kicked off because of a concussion; a two-way starter for the season after two games; and another two-way starter for the season after three games. He lost his kicker, one of the area’s best, for the season due to a soccer-related injury. A few two-way linemen haven’t played in weeks, and no one knows for sure when they’ll return… Only one Phantom – lineman Marcus Stokes – was in a position he played last year when Phoenixville gave Boyertown a bit of a battle two weeks ago.

Yet the team continues to redefine resiliency, and did it with an exclamation mark last Saturday afternoon throughout a 48-6 win at Methacton.

Their medical chart may reveal page after page of aches and pains, a lot of frustration – even a tinge of anger. But the Phantoms are back to even at 2-2 in the PAC-10 and 3-3 overall. And if the District 1-AAA playoffs would kick off this weekend, Furlong’s persistent Phantoms would be playing in them.

That is worth talking about.

So is Pope John Paul’s win last Saturday, and not because it was the program’s first win but because how it was achieved.

The Golden Panthers, with about a handful or so of seniors on the roster, hadn’t had much to cheer about through the first month of the season. But being young as well as the new kids on the PAC-10 block had worn off, as did some noticeable week-to-week improvements. The so-called moral victories were getting old, too. Being 0-for-5 was testing the mental approach, the confidence, the drive.

And no one would’ve thought the Golden Panthers’ misfortunes were going to change Saturday, especially when trailing 32-20 and taking possession on their own 11-yard line with 8:20 remaining. Those numbers, and that particular scenario, sure seemed like they added up to a sixth straight loss.

Seemed like, that is. The Golden Panthers used a penalty, one big run and three long passes to find the end zone in just under three minutes and get within 32-26. Then a defensive stand, their best of the afternoon, gave them the ball back. Two snaps later, they were back in the end zone again to get even at 32-32, and the decisive point-after – not so automatic considering a motion penalty pushed the attempt back five yards – was good. Finally, Pope John Paul had its first win.

And that is worth talking about.


PRIVATE MATTERS: Perkiomen School got back to even at 2-2 with a win over Emily Fisher Charter (from Trenton, N.J.). Panther senior Bruce Brittingham was as happy about it as anyone because he’s not only from Trenton but knows a lot of the EFC players – including quarterback Quaron Brittingham, his cousin. Perkiomen hits the highway this week for a game at St. Luke’s in Connecticut. … The Hill School opened defense of its Mid-Atlantic Prep League title by blanking Peddie. It was the Rams’ third shutout in their last four MAPL outings. This Friday they host Mercersburg, who they dumped 29-0 a year ago.

STREAKING: Boyertown is 6-0 for only the second time in the history of its football program, matching the 1954 team’s start. The Bears will attempt to go 7-0 for the first time ever this Friday at Pottstown. … Spring-Ford came up with one of its best games at Pottsgrove in recent memory, but couldn’t convert in a couple of second-half trips to the red zone and lost to the Falcons for the 11th consecutive season. … Daniel Boone, which needed a last-minute drive to beat Pottsville two weeks ago and came up with big play after big play in overtime to defeat Reading last Friday night, is 6-0 for the first time in four years and only the third time in the history of its football program. The Blazers won seven in a row in 1966 and eight straight to kick off the 2006 season. They’ll try to match that first mark this Friday at home against Muhlenberg.

MAKING THEIR MARK: Pottstown’s Kyle Dentler, overshadowed by a number of outstanding kickers this season and last, set a PAC-10 record Saturday by booming a 47-yard field goal through a strong crosswind. … Perkiomen Valley quarterback Alex Smith was 19 of 37 passing at Boyertown, the sixth and third best marks, respectively, in PAC-10 history. Teammate Ben Carbutt had 11 receptions, which tied the league’s third-best effort. … Owen J. Roberts’ 549 yards of offense at Upper Perkiomen was the league’s ninth-best mark.

MOVING UP: Pottsgrove’s Maika Polamalu is now a member of The Mercury’s Top 10 for career rushing. The senior running back has 3,679 yards, but needs just 81 yards to move ahead of Pottstown’s Christian Allen and Spring-Ford’s Joe Haley and Mike Bach into the seventh spot. … OJR’s Ryan Brumfield continues to run where no area back has ever run. Brumfield is at an even 7,100 yards rushing, up to 7,967 yards of total offense, and at an even 550 points scored – all Mercury-area career records.

NOTABLE: The Scanlan brothers, all six of them – Bill, Jerry, Joe, John, Kevin and Robert – officiated the Spring-Ford and Pottsgrove game last Friday night. It’s believed to be the first time that’s ever happened in Pennsylvania (if not the entire country). … Owen J. Roberts graduates Luis Laboy and John Hayward and their Red City Outlaws teammates will line up against the Philadelphia Hornets in the IFL-EFA Association’s first round of playoffs Sunday afternoon at Exeter High School. The Hornets (8-2) won the semi-pro league’s North Division title. Laboy has run for 207 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 20 yards, while Hayward has 17 tackles, including five for losses, and a sack.



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