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

OJR hopes third time’s the charm

This column was originally published in the Oct. 15 edition of The Mercury.

BUCKTOWN — Tom Barr has lined up his Owen J. Roberts defense this way and that, nearly every way imaginable, in hopes stopping Pottsgrove’s offense the last two years.

Not a whole heck of a lot has worked, though.

Back in 2008, with Terrell Chestnut, Maika Polamalu and Preston Hamlette accounting for over 300 of the team’s 383 yards, Pottsgrove rolled up a 41-14 win. Last season, with Chestnut, Polamalu and Kayvon Greene accounting for 256 of the team’s 289 yards – all on the ground, too — Pottsgrove ran up a similar 35-14 win.

Those two losses were the only two in the Pioneer Athletic Conference for the Wildcats, who otherwise had a handle on everyone else but still had to settle for second place behind Pottsgrove both seasons.

So, not surprising, Barr and his staff were back to scheming again … trying to come up with a game plan that will not only stop the threesome and the rest of the Falcons tonight, but also keep the Wildcats in the chase for that elusive PAC-10 championship and a District 1-AAAA playoff berth.

Unlike the last two years, though, the Wildcats (3-2, 4-2) need a win tonight over the Falcons (4-1, 5-1) — and another win next week at Pope John Paul II — just to set up yet another showdown. And that, of course, would be against unbeaten Boyertown, which put itself in the enviable position it’s in way back in Week Three by sacking Pottsgrove with its first league loss in over two years.

But because of a surprising setback to Spring-Ford last month, a little round-robin, which has happened only once before – back in 1998 when Lansdale Catholic, Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford shared the title – is the best OJR can hope for right now.

To set up that sort of scenario, though, it’s first things first … like beating Pottsgrove, a rival that doesn’t look all that different than it did a year ago (or two years, for that matter).

“(Pottsgrove) is a little different this year, but not that much different,” Barr said earlier this week. “They still have those three talented backs, but I think their line is quicker. They don’t need to pull a lot because they can go right at you. Their zone blocking is so good.”

The Falcons’ front – center Dan Foust, guards Eric Bonenberger and Chris Nester, and tackles Madison O’Connor and Scott Schollenberger – arguably had their best showing of the season last Friday night. And then there are those other three (or four)…

Chestnut isn’t 100 percent since going down with an injury against Boyertown. He’s yielded the quarterbacking responsibilities to Tory Hudgins, who’s more than carried his weight. But when head coach Rick Pennypacker called on Chestnut last week in the fourth quarter of a then 14-14 brawl with Spring-Ford, it was Chestnut who danced and pranced his way into the end zone for the decisive score. Then there’s Polamalu and Greene, who have done nothing but demoralize defenses. Polamalu has 808 yards and nine touchdowns, and averages over eight yards a carry. Greene has 653 yards and 13 touchdowns, and averages just under seven yards a carry.

Up the gut, off the tackle or around the outside, regardless of who’s taking the snaps, it’s an offense – an option offense – that can drive the field or strike immediately.

“Right now they have (Polamalu and Greene) who can play either role of dive man or pitch man,” Barr said. “A lot of teams key on certain personnel, like a lot of teams do against us (with running back Ryan Brumfield).

“But against Pottsgrove you can’t really key on any one person. And you really can’t load up the box against them, either. I know they haven’t thrown the ball much, but don’t let that fool you. They threw on us two years ago (Chestnut was 4 of 6 for 165 yards and two touchdowns), and they can still throw it. They just haven’t had to much this year.”

OJR’s defensive fortunes lie up front with Joe Polignano and Kyle Moore at the ends and Mike Nowak and Sean Moloney inside of them at the tackles. Linebacker Jake Manfredi sets up inside, or in between Sam Funk and Mike Moran.

“One problem with the option offense is that a lot of teams don’t execute well, but Pottsgrove does,” Barr said. “They run the veer as well as a tight version of the option, so we had to spend a lot of time (defensing) that this week.

“Our defense has been playing well, and playing well against the run inside. But our concern (with Pottsgrove) is our defense on the outside.”

Pennypacker and the Falcons have a little issue of their own to be concerned about, too. That would be Brumfield.

The senior tailback had 145 yards and a touchdown last year and 113 yards and two scores the year before against the Falcons. Those numbers pale in comparison to his usual weekend production, but Pennypacker and everyone else is well aware of the fact that Brumfield has literally rewritten the PAC-10 as well as Mercury-area record books.

“First of all, Owen J. Roberts is a very good football team,” Pennypacker said. “And Brumfield may be one of the scariest backs we have faced.”

Brumfield, who leads the area in rushing (1,357 yards) and scoring (15 TDs), could be even scarier this time around because the OJR passing game at last surfaced last week. Quarterback Ryan Megay completed 5 of 6 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns against Upper Perkiomen.

“Ryan Megay is coming around and making correct choices now,” Barr explained. “That helps, too, because teams can’t always load up the box on us now with the threat of putting (the ball) up.

“But the thing about (the Falcons) is that they react quicker than most teams. They get off the ball quick and get into the gaps so fast that you’re only able to get a piece of them. They just beat teams to the punch.”

Pottsgrove, which got strong games last week from sophomore end Nick Brennan (in his first start), nose guard T.J. Demetrio and linebackers Danny Michaels and Robbie Curtin, will no doubt load up the box in an attempt to slow down Brumfield. But they’ll also be aware of him returning kicks …an area of the game that nearly proved disastrous for the Falcons last week.

“Last week was a big win for us,” Pennypacker said. “But we have to play better on both sides of the ball against Owen J. And we have to shore up our special teams, especially against Owen J.”


Polamalu (3,679 yards) needs 81 more tonight to move from No. 10 up to No. 7 on The Mercury’s career rushing chart. … Brumfield tops the chart with an even 7,100 yards, which put him at No. 9 all-time in Pennsylvania history. He needs only four yards to move up one more spot and 166 yards to move up to No. 7 ahead of Southern Columbia’s Henry Hynoski.


Daniel Boone ended a 19-game losing streak to Muhlenberg last year with a 13-0 shutout. Things “look” like it could be a bit easy in making it two in a row tonight when the unbeaten Blazers (3-0, 6-0) host the struggling Muhls (0-3, 1-5). But head coach Dave Bodolus, who absorbed six of the losses in the skid that began in 1990 and didn’t end until last year, will be taking nothing for granted against his guests.

The Blazers are alone atop the Inter-County League Section One standings, with four teams (Conrad Weiser, Exeter, Governor Mifflin and Pottsville) all a game back at 2-1. After tonight, the Blazers face three of them – at Governor Mifflin next week, home against Conrad Weiser the following week, then at Exeter in the regular-season finale on Nov. 5.


The Hill School continues its Mid-Atlantic Prep League grind Saturday afternoon at home against Mercersburg.

One of the Storm’s best-known graduates was the late James Stewart. Yes, James Stewart the actor, who was nominated for five Academy Awards, won one and was later presented Hollywood’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

Stewart was born in Indiana, Pa., had two younger sisters and was expected to continue his father’s hardware business, which had been in the family for three generations. Instead, he attended Mercersburg, where he played football and ran on the track team before graduating in 1928.

In addition to his acting achievements, Stewart also had a noted military career. He was a World War II and the Vietnam War veteran who rose to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.



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