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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thriving, surviving and arriving in opening week of scholastic football

Some thrived, some survived, and some arrived. Some broke a record or two. Of course there were some surprises, even some disappointments.

No reason to expect anything different during the opening week of the high school football season.

Three out of the five teams likely to decide exactly who wins the Pioneer Athletic Conference title this year – Boyertown, Phoenixville and Spring-Ford – all won. They actually won too easily. Those other two teams – Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen – if you haven’t guessed by now, lost. Daniel Boone, the consensus favorite to run the table up in the Berks Football League’s Division One bracket, also won. Won quite easily, too.

Perkiomen Valley showed a bit of mettle by coming back time after time to outlast former PAC-10 rival Lansdale Catholic in triple overtime. Pope John Paul II also showed a little fortitude, coming from behind on a couple of occasions to defeat Berks Catholic.

Pottstown actually played comeback football, too, only to see a late turnover flick off its momentum switch and turn on Pius X’s in a disheartening loss.

And Methacton and Owen J. Roberts … not exactly the start either had hoped for, but exactly the start they experienced a year ago before reversing the ways in Week Two.

It all added up to six wins and five losses for the 11 area teams that kicked off their respective schedules last weekend.

And for the thrived, survived and arrived?

Obviously, the three contenders thrived.

Boyertown put up a school-record 509 yards running the football, and Jared Von Dohren’s 32.6 yards per carry (seven overall for 228 yards) is another single-game school record for backs with a minimum of five carries. And those 52 points – 44 of which were unanswered after Allen tied it at 8-8 in the first quarter – were the fourth highest single-game mark in the history of the Bears’ program. … Phoenixville ran for over 400 yards in a game for the first time since Week Eight of the 1999 season – that’s right, 12 years ago – with Vince Nattle accounting for 237 of them himself. Teammate Travis Andrews went over the 1,000-yard mark carrying the football, too. And linebacker Dennis Kelly is off to a big start with a pair of sacks. … Spring-Ford set a single-game school record for points scored with its 63 against West Chester East – the first time a Rams’ team had gone over the 60-point mark. Overlooked in the romp was first-year kicker Ryan O’Hara, who set a school record and all-time Mercury area record with his 9-for-9 effort on extra points (five shared the previous mark of eight in a game). … Daniel Boone also set a single-game school record for points scored with its 61 against Donegal – the first time a Blazers’ team had gone over the 60-point mark. The Blazers scored nearly every way possible, too, finding the end zone by running and throwing it, and by returning a kickoff and a fumble.

The survivors?

Perkiomen Valley opened with a lineup full of no-names, or a long, long list of new players. The Vikings also lost the turnover and total offense statistical battle with Lansdale Catholic. But they showed a bit more resolve – especially on the final play, a blitz that pressured LC quarterback Pat Schoenberger into an incompletion on the attempted two-point conversion – to endure the three-overtime marathon and earn some recognition (not to mention respect) in a hurry. … Pope John Paul II opened with a roster half the size of Berks Catholic, using most of its players on both sides of the football while the Saints platooned at nearly every position on both sides of the football. But the Golden Panthers didn’t wear down or out, which the defense sure proved by pitching a second-half shutout (until a late BC score against the reserves). Quarterback David Cotellese found a couple of reliable receivers (Jared Siejk and Tim Tadros) who will make opposing secondaries keep an eye on someone other than Jacob Gribb, especially the way they caught the ball under pressure to erase that halftime deficit.

If Pottstown builds on last Friday night’s debut, it’ll help erase the memories of the disheartening setback and put the team on the right track heading into the league portion of its schedule. The Trojans played well defensively, holding Pius X under 100 yards on the ground and limiting standout quarterback A.J. Long to 214 yards and one touchdown – significantly lower than his 250-plus yards and two-plus touchdowns a game averages of a year ago.

And for the disappointed?

For the first time in a long, long time, Pottsgrove lost its season-opener. But don’t think being 0-1 is the start of something new – like losing consistently – for the Falcons … not with the line they have, not with the smattering of skill people behind them, either. However, they’ll have to get it in gear in a hurry, opening this week with Pope John Paul II and then running smack into Upper Perkiomen, Boyertown and Spring-Ford. By October, the Falcons will either be in the running again or an also-ran for the first time in seven years. … It’s the same for Upper Perkiomen, which took a half to get its offense and defense unwound. Surrendering 27 unanswered first-half points after taking a 6-0 lead was the difference, especially when the Indians defense pitched a shutout in the second half and gave up a total of just 228 yards overall. Upper Perkiomen, like Pottsgrove, will be in it or possibly out of it – the PAC-10 race, that is – when it’s time to flip the calendar over to October.

The remaining two?

Methacton got beat by a very good Plymouth-Whitemarsh, possibly as good a team the Warriors will see for at least a month. Trying to win against a good team after falling behind 14-0 in the first four minutes of a game and 21-0 after one quarter – when you’re attempting to reverse a troubling 10-year trend of losing – is like scaling Mt. Everest with sneakers and a windbreaker. If there’s such a thing as a “must game” for the Warriors it’s this Saturday against Upper Merion, a longtime rival that has lost 11 in a row and 15 of its last 16 dating back to 2009. … And for Owen J. Roberts, that delayed Saturday night setback may not have been as bad as it looked at first glance. Quarterback Blake Bradshaw threw the ball well, someone other than Brumfield and Funk finally ran the ball and ran well at times, and the defense came up with three picks. The big challenge ahead for the Wildcats, who lost nearly every starter from a year ago, is not only filling in the holes but cementing them with consistency.

Just think, all that and we still have nine full weeks and a couple of other abbreviated weekends to go…

Perkiomen Valley scored more points in its opener (27) than it did in any game a year ago. The win was also the 150th in the history of the Vikings’ program. … Spring-Ford junior quarterback Hank Coyne went over the career 2,000-yard passing mark last Friday night. … Coyne and three others put together some absolutely ridiculous passing ratings in their openers. Coyne (14 of 19 for 269 yards, 3 TDs) topped the group at 244.7. Cotellese (12-22-260, 3 TDs) was at 189.7; Daniel Boone’s Tom Bodolus (14-23-184, 3 TDs) was at 169.6; and Pottstown’s Sage Reinhart (9-15-135, 1 TD) was at 157.6. … Bodolus’ passing rating doesn’t reflect what else he did, like run 16 times for another 194 yards and three additional touchdowns. That gets a overall rating of “WOW.”

According to two publications, a new state record was set Friday when Dobbins Tech’s Sishon Solomon returned an interception 109 yards in a 12-0 win over Lincoln. One wonders if the old record happened to be the 107-yard return Royersford High School’s Ralph Eagle brought back in a 12-0 win over Marple-Newtown back in 1931.



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