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

No love lost between PAC-10, Ches-Mont

This column originally ran in the Nov. 12 edition of The Mercury.

Pioneer Athletic Conference and Ches-Mont League football teams haven’t exactly been buddy-buddy … not for a long, long time.

Twenty-five seasons have passed since Phoenixville, Pottsgrove, Pottstown, Spring-Ford and St. Pius X pulled out of the Ches-Mont and teamed up with Lansdale Catholic, Perkiomen Valley and Upper Perkiomen to establish the then PAC-8. The mass exodus stirred up a wave of emotions, even created some disharmony. Then, two years later, when Great Valley and Owen J. Roberts departed the Ches-Mont and booted the new league’s membership up to 10, the competitive fires became even more intense.

For a while, whenever anyone from the leagues lined up against each another, you could bet no one had to grab any chalk and scribble “we’re-better-than-you” on the locker room blackboard. Beating one another went beyond the scoreboard.

Time, of course, has healed most of the wounds from the break-up. Very few, if any, of the administrators who sat down together but failed to resolve their issues, chief amongst them divisions — or realignment based on enrollments and geography — are around today. And none, not a single one, of the head football coaches who drew up the game plans or strolled the sidelines back in the final season before the break-up are around today, either.

So, yes, despite an occasional scrimmage or early season non-league game here and there, the competitive fires haven’t really been all that intense in recent years.

But don’t dare think the PAC-10 versus the Ches-Mont flames haven’t flared up – or been brought up and talked about – this week.

Tonight, in the opening round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs, two of the PAC-10’s best, co-leaders Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts, visit two of the Ches-Mont League’s best, American Division champion Bayard Rustin and National Division co-champion Downingtown East.

You think anyone is determined to make a statement this evening?

Boyertown, which got dumped by Downingtown West (35-6) in its only previous District 1 playoff appearance four years ago, is 1-3 overall against Ches-Mont League opponents since joining the PAC-10 in 2002. The Bears have never met Rustin before. However, ever since losing to Phoenixville in its inaugural football season four years ago and to Pottsgrove in the opening round of districts the following season, the Golden Knights have gone 4-1 against PAC-10 teams – losing only last year’s District 1-AAA semifinal to eventual champion Pottsgrove – and own a noticeable 154-47 advantage in points scored.

Owen J. Roberts, up in the AAAA bracket for the first time, did survive a double-overtime marathon with Great Valley in the opening round of the Class AAA playoffs two years ago. But ever since leaving the Ches-Mont, the Wildcats are dead even – 10-10-1 overall – against their former league rivals. Downingtown East, meanwhile, has only gone up against one PAC-10 team and won that game quite decisively. However, no one needs to remind any longtime local fan about how Downingtown – before the jointure split into two schools – dominated area teams.

Ironically, the two AAAA games are just part of tonight’s postseason treat.

Down in the Class AAA bracket, Upper Perkiomen will be visiting a familiar opponent in Strath Haven, unquestionably the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s biggest nightmare (yes, nightmare), and Pottsgrove will be entertaining Academy Park, the team the Falcons played in their very first postseason game back 10 years ago.

Strath Haven strung together eight straight district titles and two state championships from 1996 through 2003. During that stretch they played 10 postseason games against PAC-10 teams and won all 10, and won all but one – a 28-24 thriller over Upper Perkiomen in 1996 – rather easily when all was said and done. The Indians, who lost 21-10 to Strath Haven the following season, too, have made five previous postseason appearances, but have just one win – over then PAC-10 rival Lansdale Catholic – in six tries.

Pottsgrove, of course, is starting what it hopes will evolve into a second straight District 1-AAA title. Unlike last year, though, the Falcons have two losses – thanks in part to a defense that imploded at Boyertown (34-28) and Owen J. Roberts (49-20). But they also have an offense, seemingly healthy for the first time since Week Three, which has rung up nearly 1,300 yards and 160 points in the last three games. Academy Park, which lost an early lead and the game (20-7) to Pottsgrove back in 2000, lost its only other two tests with PAC-10 teams, both to Spring-Ford in the late 90s. And don’t think the Knights’ 6-4 record is all that bad, either, considering three of the losses were to teams on the district’s postseason cards tonight.

* * *

ON THE RUN: Yards, as well as points, may be plentiful tonight in Downingtown. The game features two of the district’s – if not Pennsylvania’s – top backs in OJR’s Ryan Brumfield and the hosts’ Drew Harris. The two have combined for more than 4,100 yards and 58 touchdowns between them this fall.

Brumfield is leading the state with his 2,538 yards and, unofficially, is fifth in the entire nation. He has run for more than 200 yards in seven straight games and in all but one of OJR’s 10 games this season, averaging just under 10 yards every time he takes a handoff. He’s also found the end zone at least three times in each of the last seven games.

Going into tonight’s game against the Cougars, Brumfield’s career numbers are 1,127 carries for 8,281 yards. He is fourth on the state’s all-time rushing chart and within reach – with at least two games remaining – of No. 3 Zach Barket (8,325) of Schuylkill Haven and No. 2 James Mungro (8,432) of East Stroudsburg South. The all-time leader, former Steelton-Highspire standout Jeremiah Young and his 9,027 yards, may be a wee bit out of reach unless the Wildcats make a long postseason run of their own.

Harris, a familiar name in Downingtown football lore, has run up 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns in nine games this season.

ON THE RUN II: At Pottsgrove tonight, Terrell Chestnut – who may be as close to 100 percent as he was before being injured during Week Three’s loss at Boyertown – needs 176 yards to become the first area quarterback to run for more than 3,000 career yards.

CLASS ACT: Upper Perkiomen quarterback Casey Perlstein, who has quietly racked up some impressive numbers in his two seasons running the Indians’ offense, has been selected as the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s recipient of the Norristown Chapter of Football Officials’ Sportsmanship Award.

The late Nick Pergine, who served as the chapter’s president for many years before losing his courageous battle with cancer, once said the Sportsmanship Award revealed more about its recipient than any statistic and was more valuable than any block or touchdown he may have made on the football field. And that is especially true with Perlstein – the son of Steve Perlstein, the athletic director at Upper Perkiomen – who has been nothing but a class act on the football field.

SIDE LINES: The area’s four teams go into tonight’s opening rounds with a combined 12-14 record in postseason play. Pottsgrove (9-6) boasts the only winning mark, while Owen J. Roberts is all even (2-2) in four games, Upper Perkiomen is 1-5, and Boyertown is 0-1. … Up in District 3, Daniel Boone is making its area-record fifth straight playoff appearance – and eighth consecutive postseason appearance when counting two Eastern Conference games in 2003 and 2005. Pottsgrove is second in that category with four straight District 1-AAA appearances, followed by Owen J. Roberts with three.



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