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

Let’s Talk Turkey

This column originally ran in the Nov. 25 edition of The Mercury.

There’s still a lot of football to be played. Meaningful football, that is. And we’re talking Pioneer Athletic Conference football, too.

For the 14th time since the new league kicked off its first season back in 1986, the championship will be decided in between the time moms get up this morning to prepare the turkey and trimmings and the time everyone sits down to gobble, gobble, gobble…

Thanksgiving Day football – though nowhere near the favorite it once was thanks to the playoff madness that has sadly sacked so many games and the traditions that went with them – is alive and well.

Alive and well, thankfully, in more than half of the PAC-10 neighborhoods.

And this morning, Boyertown will bus on over to Upper Perkiomen and Pottstown will cross the Schuylkill to Owen J. Roberts with one thing and one thing only on their collective minds – a PAC-10 title, or at least a share of it. And Phoenixville and Spring-Ford, though out of the championship chase, will both have plenty to play for when they meet in Royersford.

For Boyertown, which settled for second-best in its first three runs through the PAC-10 before capturing its only championship in 2006, and for Owen J. Roberts, which has won it all twice and shared another title only to settle for runner-up honors four times since its last championship in 1993, today’s games are opportunities to erase the memories of their District 1-AAAA playoff losses two weeks ago, to strut their stuff in a similar playoff atmosphere and, of course, celebrate a title.

The Bears (7-1, 9-2 overall) are as healthy as they’ve been all season, and hungry. The Indians (4-4, 5-6) have an assortment of aches and pains, perhaps as many as they’ve had all season, and trying to finish up with back-to-back league wins for only the second time this season.

Advantage, of course, Boyertown.

Big up front on both sides of the ball, and quick behind the lines both on offense and defense, the Bears have limited six of their opponents to two touchdowns or less while putting up a school-record 339 points. They made a statement quickly by defeating two-time defending champion Pottsgrove in their PAC-10 opener, were on a virtual unchallenged run behind quarterback Dylan Pasik and his fleet of running backs for the next five weeks, then got bounced – and bounced good – by Owen J. Roberts. They recovered with a win over Methacton the ensuing week … and now need just one more for no worse than a share of the title.

Upper Perkiomen may be forced to go without quarterback Casey Perlstein, who if missing will be denied a chance to go for the double-double and become the first player to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in a PAC-10 season. The Indians also reportedly have a lineman or two ailing. Scoring has never been a problem, not with reliable John Olson carrying the ball and the fleet Ron Gillespie catching it. But keeping pace with their guests – without Perlstein, the general who generates the offense – could be quite the challenge.

Over in Bucktown, Pottstown and Owen J. Roberts will go at one another for the 51st time – the area’s longest Thanksgiving Day rivalry.

Advantage, of course, Owen J. Roberts (but never get too comfortable or cocky with a quick pick in this spirited series).

Pottstown (1-7, 3-8), with a sprinkling of points here and there (not to mention a break or two along the way), could easily be 5-3. The Trojans have lost four games by a touchdown or less, including a one-pointer to Pope John Paul II and three-point, double-overtime thriller to Perkiomen Valley. But the Trojans could be a bit testy because quarterback Jeff Endy is healthy and the owner of an out-of-this-world passing rating the last three times out; the swift Malik Brinkley and Marc Smith are the same two backs who combined for 444 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening win over Pius X up in Bangor; and the defense features the area’s sack leader in Chaz Mitchell and a linebacker in Cory Heuber who pound-for-pound may be as proficient as anyone this season.

The Wildcats (7-1, 8-3), remember, finally have a chance to stop playing second fiddle to Pottsgrove – the only team to have beaten them the previous two years. Despite looking like anything but a challenger after a season-opening, non-league loss to Conestoga and then the shocking setback two weeks later at Spring-Ford, they clawed their way back into contention with seven straight wins – all quite convincing wins, too. There may not be a better buddy system on any line in the PAC-10 than two-way starters Sean Moloney, Kyle Moore and Mike Nowak. No one has benefited more than tailback Ryan Brumfield, who has run for just under five miles (8,323 yards to be exact) in his fantastic four-year career at OJR. And yet with all those headliners, the versatile and very talented Sam Funk hasn’t gone unnoticed anywhere he lines up on offense or defense.

Down in Royersford, rebuilt Phoenixville visits rebounding Spring-Ford in a game that has its own share of interesting twists.

The Phantoms (2-6, 3-8) list of injured would’ve filled a ward or two at neighboring Phoenixville Hospital this fall. They lost their key running back after two games, just about the time they lost third-year quarterback Tom Romano. Despite the setbacks, the Phantoms were all even at 3-3 and in the District 1-AAA playoff chase at the midway point. But despite some heady efforts from the likes of Alex McQuiston, Ryan Pannella, Marcus Stokes, Dennis Kelly-Ukata and others, they’ve dropped five in a row.

There’s no better way to put the brakes on such a skid, or better way to help heal all the aches and pains it has brought, than to win the last one. And Phoenixville has been doing that rather consistently, winning eight straight years against a team that had long had the upper hand before the streak started in 2002.

The Rams (5-3, 8-3) appear ready to end the run, though. They’ve righted their sails since being shut out at Boyertown, winning three in a row and putting themselves in a position to match the program’s best season since 1999. And while it would easy to look at sophomore quarterback Hank Coyne’s passing to such reliable receivers as Andrew Scanlan, Drew Thomas and Darryl Branch or Chase Stewart’s running this season, defense has underlined their success. Sack-happy twin ends Bjorn and Max Ullmann, the linebacking threesome of James Hoff, Steve Joyce and Matt Krueger, and a one-two-three punch from Matt Glowacki, Andrew Keys and Ryan Conway in the secondary have helped the Rams limit their opposition to just 160 yards and 15.2 points a game. And the Rams’ defense, along with their special teams, own an area-high six touchdowns.

So, yes, there’s still a lot to play for this morning.



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