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.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rams out to avoid weekly wildness

In just three weeks, Pioneer Athletic Conference football has been called just about everything imaginable – competitive, entertaining, unpredictable, even downright crazy. That would kind of cover it. It sure could kind of cover what appears to be another puzzling, if not wacky, weekend in the PAC-10.

And no one may have as difficult a time safely escaping the ongoing PAC10 mystery this weekend than SpringFord. The Rams (3-0, 4-1 overall) are coming off arguably their biggest win in 13 years, or since a 35-7 blowout of Lansdale Catholic on the next-to-last weekend of the 1998 season – the last time they won (or shared) a PAC10 championship. Tonight they visit Boyertown, where they’ll line up against a team with a considerable advantage in size and experience, where they’ll go up against a team that just a month ago – or before all the madness kicked off – was the consensus favorite to win a second straight title.

However, in their three league games thus far, the Bears (0-3, 2-3) have squandered fourth-quarter leads in all of them and, of course, lost all three.
“But they’re still a very dangerous team,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “They’ve lost three (straight) games by a total of 14 points, and lost them in some peculiar ways.”

For the record, Boyertown has never opened a PAC-10 season with four straight losses. As a matter of fact, Boyertown has lost four straight league games just once (dropping the final four games of that disappointing 2007 season) since joining the league nine years ago. And for what it’s worth, Boyertown owns one of the area’s best wonloss marks when playing at home.

“We’re sure not overlooking them because we know (head) coach (Mark) Scisly will have them ready to play.”

The Rams, of course, should be ready as well.

They’re averaging just under 375 yards a game, thanks in part to as balanced an offense as any in the PAC-10. Sophomore Jarred Jones has emerged as one of the area’s more explosive running backs, which he put an exclamation mark on last week with 207 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Pottsgrove. That makes it considerably easier for quarterback Hank Coyne, who owns the area’s highest passing rating thanks to an eye-opening 61 percent completion percentage, 927 yards and 10 touchdowns. It also helps that Coyne has six very good receivers, with Andrew Scanlan, Darryl Branch, Ryan Conway and Tyler Yazujian the most active among the group.

Overlooked in the Rams’ offense is their front line, anchored by center Brian Czop, guards Paul Castro and Justin Meals, tackles Brian Tatum and Mike Gilmore, and tight end R.J. Sheldon.

“Our offensive line had a solid game adjusting to different fronts and communicated well last week,” Brubaker said. “But (Boyertown) is much bigger than us up front, so we’ll have to make good offensive decisions and take what (Boyertown) is giving up.”

Now there’s a kicker. The Bears are allowing just over 200 yards a game and, in case you didn’t know, have permitted seven less points than the Rams have in five games overall. They’re a very active and aggressive gang on defense, with Rutgers-bound Chris Muller (6-6, 305) plugging the middle at nose guard. And Jon Neiman (team-high 31 tackles), along with Troy Heuer (29) and Gray Garber (28), all have a nose for finding the ball.

If there is a neutralizer tonight it may be Spring-Ford’s defense and special teams. The Rams have kept opponents from throwing up big numbers behind sack-happy Kevin Nyce, Mason Romano and Travis Daywalt, and kept opponents in step behind Zameer McDowell, Ian Hare, Andy Lovre-Smith and others. Their special teams have gotten huge returns from Xavier Ingram, and an area-high 37 points from kicker Ryan O’Hara (28 point-afters, three field goals).

“But we must do a great job of interpreting the wing-t looks we’re going to see,” said Brubaker, well aware of the Bears’ capabilities up front and the one-two punch behind the line that comes from Neiman (508 yards) and fullback Max Marcus (491) – who have found the end zone seven times each.

New quarterback Chase Garber (117 yards rushing) gave the Bears an offensive lift last week. But in the last three weeks the Bears are averaging 150 less yards and 27 less points than what they averaged the first two weeks. … Branch is questionable, which would mean switching Scanlan to safety and bringing in Rocco Iannetta at a corner in Spring-Ford’s defensive alignment. Boyertown, still slowed a bit by a less than 100percent Jared Von Dohren (injured three weeks ago), may be forced to go tonight without corner Ronnie Mauger (injury).

Also tonight, Methacton (2-1, 3-2) is at Pottsgrove (3-1, 3-2), with both teams looking to remain in the PAC-10 race. The Warriors are going for their third straight league win, which they’ve done just once – during their inaugural season in the PAC-10 three years by defeating Upper Perkiomen, Pottstown and Spring-Ford in Weeks Three through Five, respectively. … Rounding out tonight’s card is Owen J. Roberts (0-3, 14) at Upper Perkiomen (0-3, 14), with both teams looking for that elusive first league win. Saturday afternoon, Pottstown (2-1, 3-2) heads down to Pope John Paul II (1-2, 2-3). The Golden Panthers are coming off a big win last week, but no one needs to remind the Trojans who PJP beat a year ago for the program’s very first win.

Daniel Boone, which needs two more wins to clinch its school-record ninth straight winning season – all under head coach Dave Bodolus – should get within one tonight against visiting Reading (1-4). Next week the Blazers are at Muhlenberg (1-4). Nothing comes easy against the Muhls, who despite being 1-5 a year ago took the then unbeaten Blazers down to the wire before falling, 28-21. Overall, Muhlenberg owns a 349-3 record against Daniel Boone. … After next week, the Blazers close with Governor Mifflin (4-1) at home and both Conrad Weiser (5-0) and Exeter (5-0) on the road.



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