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

Tossing and turning

This column was originally published in the Sept. 23 edition of The Mercury

The last thing Rick Pennypacker wanted to hear before he plopped into bed and hit the pillow last Friday night was that Boyertown had lost. Don’t get the veteran Pottsgrove coach wrong, he isn’t exactly a Bears fan.
Mercury File Photo Head coach Rick Pennypacker, right, and Pottsgrove, which is 2-0 in the PAC-10, visit Boyertown tonight. The Bears are coming off a 34-27 loss to Pottstown last Friday.

But going to sleep knowing those Bears were next up on his team’s schedule… Nightmares? “I just know that (Boyertown) is mad, and now we have to be the one who plays them next,” said Pennypacker, very much aware of how preseason Pioneer Athletic Conference favorite Boyertown got bumped off last week at Pottstown, 34-27.

“That team is going to be fired up now, and I know (head coach) Mark (Scisly) will have them sky-high to play us. They are hard to beat over there to begin with, and I know his teams don’t play like that two weeks in a row.”

For the record, Boyertown has lost back-to-back games just twice under Scisly’s watch. A few coaches around the league, as well as the majority of Boyertown’s faithful following, didn’t think the Bears would lose one PAC-10 game this season.

But Pottstown went toe-to-toe with the Bears up front, used a couple of big plays on offense to take an early lead and, with the help of an even bigger defensive stop late in the fourth quarter, pulled off the first of what could be many surprises this fall.

The ironic part of last week’s game is that it seemed as though the football cleats were on the other foot. The Bears, remember, opened their league schedule a year ago with a surprising 34-28 upset of the Falcons, ending the two-time defending champions’ 26-game PAC-10 winning streak and igniting the Bears own co-championship season. But that was last year. Now, the Bears have to turn it around. And turn it around in a hurry.

“There were some things (against Pottstown) that really disappointed me,” Scisly said earlier this week. “I’m hoping that was a wakeup call for us. I’m hoping the guys put the effort forward to fix what went wrong.”

Not everything went wrong, of course. Nick McMenamin had yet another solid game at center, helping pave the way for Jon Neiman and Max Marcus to run for 254 yards and three touchdowns. However, the passing game produced just 28 yards. And the defense surrendered a generous 289 yards on the ground and another 162 passing, overshadowing the continued aggressive play of Gray Garber and Troy Heuer. No matter how you add that up, though, 451 yards is way, way too much – and just one yard shy of doubling the number (226) the Bears gave up in their first two games combined.

But while the Bears were stumbling, the Falcons were running, running and running some more, turning what most anticipated as an early season showdown into a Pottsgrove hoedown.

Not much of anything went wrong for the Falcons in their 67-7 rout of Upper Perkiomen. The 67 points and 522 yards rushing were both the second-best marks in PAC-10 history. Mark Dukes ran for a career-high 242 yards and four scores and Robbie Curtin contributed 113 yards and two more scores. Even quarterback Tory Hudgins used his legs to get into the end zone twice, too.

“First of all, nothing went right for (Upper Perkiomen),” Pennypacker said. “They had a bad night. They were put in an early hole and couldn’t get out of it.

“We are not as good as that score indicates, and that’s why I feel we’re still not playing at the level we have to play at in order to compete with Boyertown, Pottstown and Spring-Ford. Yes, our offensive line did a good job last week, but the kids have to play better in order for us to have a chance. We have to step it up this week. We can’t afford any letdowns.”

There sure isn’t any time to relax. Next week, Pottsgrove is back on the road at SpringFord. The week after that, the Rams get on the bus and head up to Boyertown.

Don’t dare think it’s a threeteam chase now, either.

Pottstown – which beat Boyertown and gave a lot of other teams a dose of confidence in doing so – visits Perkiomen Valley; Spring-Ford has to deal with a very angry Upper Perkiomen in Red Hill; and Phoenixville, still playing under most people’s radar despite three straight wins, has to entertain Owen J. Roberts, which has dealt the Phantoms more than their share of disappointments in 52 previous meetings.

“Coming off a big win is no different than coming off a loss for us,” said Pottstown head coach Brett Myers, denying the Trojans had any hangover from the Boyertown win during this week’s preparations. “We put (wins and losses) behind us and focus on improving as a football team. That is something we’ve always taken pride in because over the course of my time at Pottstown, at the end of the year, we are a better team – no matter how many injuries we’ve had or games we’ve lost. Our kids keep improving.”

Myers hopes the improvement continues tonight against the Vikings, who have outlasted Lansdale Catholic in triple-overtime; showed a bit of grit in a loss against District 1-AAAA playoff contender Souderton; and came back to sack Owen J. Roberts last week.

“We have to improve on sustaining our blocks and finishing plays because we’re again going to be the smaller team on the field,” Myers said. “We have to hustle to the ball (on defense), too, because PV has some playmakers who can both run and throw. They’re very difficult to defend.”

Upper Perkiomen had to forget about the second-worst loss in its program’s history in a hurry, too. The Indians have one of the league’s best running backs in John Olson and a potentially dangerous passing game with quarterback Dylan Wesley. But they’ll have to deal with a SpringFord defense that, behind senior Kevin Nyce – not even a projected starter when camp opened this summer but the team leader with 5.5 sacks – gets into opposing backfields with regularity. The Indians will also have to regroup defensively, because SpringFord may be as balanced with the run-and-pass as anyone in the league.

Still-underrated Phoenixville must also keep the momentum it generated a week ago down at Methacton. The Phantoms took their final possession downfield for the go-ahead score, then held off the host Warriors’ last-minute attempt to pull out the win.

Saturday’s lone PAC-10 game has Methacton visiting Pope John Paul II. The Warriors, if overlooked in the least could surprise any of the aforementioned contenders, feature one of the best individual defensive talents in David Low. The senior standout and his teammates must deal with the area’s leading passer – PJP’s David Cotellese (781 yards, 7 TDs), who has two excellent receivers in Jared Siejk and Jacob Gribb and as many as three other reliable targets to throw to.



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