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 19, 2012

Pottstown offense will be a challenge for unbeaten Falcons

This column originally appeared in the Oct. 19, 2012, print edition of The Mercury.

By all calculations (and those dreaded expectations), Pottsgrove shouldn’t run into too much trouble tonight during its visit to Grigg Memorial Field.

The Falcons have yet to lose in the Pioneer Athletic Conference (6-0), or the entire season (7-0) for that matter; have both the league’s and area’s No. 1 ranked scoring offense and No. 1 ranked scoring defense; are sitting atop the District 1-Class AAA playoff points standings; and are ranked sixth in the state.

That alone is enough to make most teams shake, rattle and roll.

Especially Pottstown, their longtime neighboring rival — which has come oh so close to beating the Falcons in recent years but instead have failed to finish them off since 2002.

Just don’t be putting any wins or losses in either column before all the pushing, shoving and shouting is over and done with this evening, though.

“I don’t want to hear about (that winning streak),” Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker said. “Pottstown always causes us concerns. That team is well-coached, and they have great schemes.

“Their offensive line has improved, and their defense is getting better each week. We’re going to have to play well. If we’re not ready to play, believe me, we’ll get beat.”

While the Falcons have been running the table — only Methacton has scored on their first-team defense, and only Methacton has been able to take a lead on them — the Trojans have quietly rebounded from an up-and-down start with two straight wins. They’re now 3-2 in the PAC-10 and 4-3 overall (the first time the program has been over the .500 mark this late in the season in nine years), and sitting just outside the cut line for a berth in the District 1-Class AAA playoffs.

While the Falcons may have the best tandem in the area with running back Mark Dukes (764 yards) and quarterback Tory Hudgins (656 yards), the more-balanced Trojans counter with running back Monroe Hampton (755 yards) and quarterback Sage Reinhart (1,354 yards passing, area-high 160.1 pass efficiency rating).

But if there is indeed a glaring difference between the two teams, make no mistake about it, it is defense.

Pottsgrove has been playing it very well, while Pottstown has been quite generous, or at least up until that big stop in overtime produced a win against Pope John Paul II two weeks ago and a punt return for six points and an interception protected a late lead in the win over Upper Perkiomen last week.

“I’m not concerned with who we beat, just that we’ve won,” said Pottstown head coach Brett Myers. “We are improving every week defensively. That’s been the key to our wins the past two weeks.”

Much of the Trojans’ improved play has come from Mason Weber, Chase Waters and Andrew Gazzillo. It doesn’t help that the injured Josh Everette is doubtful, though.

The Trojans will have to step it up even more tonight — on both sides of the ball — if they’re to pull off another October Upset Special, which Pottstown teams have done more than anyone else in the history of the PAC-10.

Make that must step it up … because the Falcons are coming off a very impressive showing in their 59-7 win over Owen J. Roberts. It was the fourth time they’ve punched up more than 50 points and the fifth time they’ve held their opponent to a touchdown or less this season.

“I don’t know if it was our best game, but it may have been our most complete game on offense, defense and special teams,” Pennypacker said. “Our kids played well in all three areas except for the kickoff return (OJR took back for its lone touchdown).

“But it should be that way at this point in the season. It should be that way because we feel we should improve each week.”

While Dukes and Hudgins are obviously the headliners, most of their jaunts into open spaces can be attributed to their teammates up front. Center Zach Birch, guards Anthony Pond and Tommy Sephakis, and tackles Madison O’Connor and Patrick Finn — along with unsung fullback Nick Brennan — have dominated opponents.

Hampton and Reinhart, unquestionably as underrated as any two skill players in the PAC-10, and the rest of the Trojans’ offense will also have to deal with a defense that has been led by Pond at nose guard, Sene Polamalu at outside linebacker, and a smothering secondary featuring Michael Fowler, Jalen Mayes, Riley Michaels and Qwhadir Miller.

“We can’t concern ourselves with Pottsgrove as much as we must continue worrying about ourselves improving,” Myers said. “(Pottsgrove’s) the same team it’s been the past six years.

“(Pottsgrove) is really big up front with a good quarterback, a good tailback, and a good fullback. Their defense is very good, too. They’re no different than the past six years … they just have different names in the program.”

* Pottstown has not been shut out in 42 straight PAC-10 games, the second longest active streak behind Pottsgrove’s record 91 in a row. … Pottstown defeated Pottsgrove in five of the two teams’ first six Pioneer Athletic Conference meetings (with a tie in the middle of that stretch). Up until the Trojans’ last win — the 47-0 romp in 2002, their last championship season – neither team had won more than three in a row in the series. … Pottsgrove has only gone over the 50-point mark against Pottstown twice (54-7 three years ago and 51-38 in 2001). Pottstown’s biggest win over Pottsgrove was a 53-0 shellacking in 1971. … A win tonight will, unofficially, clinch a spot in the playoffs for the Falcons, who still have two biggies remaining on the regular-season schedule — Perkiomen Valley at home next week, and a trip to Phoenixville the following week.


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