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, November 8, 2011

From top to bottom, it’s been a memorable season for PAC-10

It seems as though the high school season just kicked off. Yet all that remains this week (other than the playoffs, of course) is one Pioneer Athletic Conference matchup, a handful of non-league games, and the storied Hill-Lawrenceville showdown. Then there are the three Thanksgiving morning games … a treasured tradition that, in all likelihood, will get the death sentence in the coming months after the PIAA officially approves a shorter and much earlier-ending season.

But what is so ironic is how this Pioneer Athletic Conference season opened with so many questions and evolved into one with even more. It has been, if nothing else, one of the most unpredictable in recent memory.

Expectations exceeded reality for a couple of teams. Players, coaches and fans, even the media, were guilty in their preseason opinions of Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen – both of whom had more than a few holes to fill in their lineups and lugged large, large targets on their backs from the get-go. Few people, if any, thought Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford were ready to make the impressive runs they have – not when the Falcons lost two of the best players to ever step foot on a PAC-10 field and a slew of other veterans to graduation; not when the Rams lost all but one of their starters on the defensive side of the ball to graduation.

Still, it wasn’t so much the disappointing downfall of two teams and startling surge of two others as much as it was what so many others provided the PAC-10 this fall.

Phoenixville, which saw two straight (and two very promising) seasons devastated by injuries, stepped up front-and-center as a contender. The Phantoms were among those in the chase until last week’s loss to Pottsgrove, but could still have something to say about who or whom wins the PAC-10 title when they entertain Spring-Ford on Thanksgiving.

Methacton, which hasn’t had much to shout about since enlisting in the PAC-10 three years ago, took Phoenixville down to the wire before losing by four points; lost by just two points to Pottsgrove; and had Spring-Ford on the run before losing by a couple of touchdowns. But the Warriors turned it around since, winning three in a row that – regardless of Thursday’s outcome up at neighboring Perkiomen Valley – clinched their first winning season in the PAC-10 and first winning season overall in 11 years. That’s a big step for head coach Paul Lepre and his program, and a giant leap for the PAC-10 in its collective effort to become even more competitive.

Perkiomen Valley had so many new faces show up for Day One of summer camp that head coach Scott Reed and his staff thought of giving everyone a name tag. The Vikings opened with three straight wins before mounting injuries – painfully similar to what Phoenixville had endured the previous two seasons – left them hobbling. But the emergence of a sophomore quarterback and so many other unknowns around him kept the Vikings competitive, so much so they had league leader Spring-Ford on its collective heels throughout last Friday night’s game.

Pope John Paul II – the team that only a year ago survived just one game and gave up a whopping 40-plus points every weekend – stumbled out of the gate with three losses. The Golden Panthers reversed their ways in a hurry, though, winning four of their next six, taking Phoenixville to the final minute before falling in one of those two losses. Two months ago, if anyone would’ve uttered PJP and district playoffs in the same sentence they would’ve been called for unsportsmanlike chit-chat and ordered to stay home every weekend in September, October and November. But guess who’s playing over at Pottsgrove again this Friday night?

Most will claim Pottstown and Owen J. Roberts haven’t had a lot to shout about. But Pottstown sure opened some eyes early on with wins over Boyertown and Phoenixville (sandwiched around a disheartening come-from-ahead loss to Perkiomen Valley), and despite a few injuries that have played into their recent five-game tailspin, they too had Spring-Ford with its back to the wall just two weeks ago. And Owen J. Roberts, which graduated nearly its entire offense and defense – a gang of veterans who produced 30 wins, a PAC-10 title and three postseason appearances – nonetheless plugged away. The Wildcats had three games in their grasp, and none of those three included the one-point setback to Upper Perkiomen or the double-overtime loss to Methacton.

A darn good season after all … and it isn’t over yet.

* * *

Perkiomen School closed out its season last weekend, finishing up 4-4. While most would say .500 is no big deal, well, it actually was up in Pennsburg.

Head coach Tom Calvario, in just his second season, had a roster of 24 players. Repeat, 24 players. His team played a much, much stronger schedule this season, too. That, along with the lack of depth, became oh so evident down the stretch when the Panthers dropped their final three games.

But 4-4? Not bad at all. And it was the eighth time in 13 years – or since 1999, when the program was brought back after a six-year hiatus – Perkiomen has had a .500 or better mark.

* * *

Hill School’s game on Sunday with Blair Academy marked the 50th anniversary of the Rams’ 66-0 blast of the Bucs – which remains the second-highest number of points ever scored by a Hill team and the second-largest margin of victory in the history of the program. The Rams couldn’t match those numbers from back in 1961, of course, as they fell to Blair and slipped out of the Mid-Atlantic Prep League title chase.

They can erase that memory in a hurry, though, and put an exclamation point on its season with a victory this Saturday at Lawrenceville. It’ll be the 109th meeting between the two rivals – who make up one of the longest-running scholastic football series in all of America.



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