News from 2021 Season

Mercury All-Area: 2021 Football Teams

by papreplive

December 5, 2021
 

First Team

QB: Ethan Kohler, Perkiomen Valley

RB: Avrey Grimm, Owen J. Roberts

RB: Josh Little, Pope John Paul II

FB: Owen Koch, Phoenixville

WR: Dawson Debebe, Perkiomen Valley

WR: Kolten Kqira, Spring-Ford

WR: Alex Vassallo, Daniel Boone

TE: Zach Zollers, Spring-Ford

OL: Jake Jonassen, Perkiomen Valley

OL: Roman Ciaverelli, Phoenixville

OL: Ian Harvie, Spring-Ford

OL: Tommy Dickinson, Methacton

OL: Jacob Dobrowolski, Pope John Paul II

All-Purpose Player: Ryan Klimek, Perkiomen Valley

K: Ryan Klimek, Perkiomen Valley

Second Team

QB: Ryan Freed, Spring-Ford

QB: DJ Clarke, Pope John Paul II

RB: Harry Adieyefeh, Spring-Ford

RB: Leo Egbe, Boyertown

FB: AJ Hofer, Daniel Boone

WR: Michael Poruban, Perkiomen Valley

WR: Hayden Tenbroeck, Phoenixville

TE: Nolan Clayton, Upper Merion

OL: Grant Euker, Perkiomen Valley

OL: Solomon Ortiz, Phoenixville

OL: Kyle Pry, Boyertown

OL: Nyzir Lake, Pope John Paul II

OL: Dominic Demeno, Pottsgrove

OL: Jonathan Havrilak, Owen J. Roberts

All-Purpose Player: Tre Davis, Phoenixville

K: Cyrus Palladino, Upper Merion

 

First Team

DL: Zach Zollers, Spring-Ford

DL: Colin Leahy, Daniel Boone

DL: Brendan Kenning, Pope John Paul II

DL/LB: Aston Shrum, Owen J. Roberts

LB: Bryan Helenski, Perkiomen Valley

LB: Ryan Horvath, Spring-Ford

LB: Steele DePetrillo, Pope John Paul II

LB: Brady Thompson, Upper Perkiomen

DB: Cole Turner, Spring-Ford

DB: Joe Pickell, Pope John Paul II

DB: Brian Dickey, Methacton

DB: Jeremy Brewer, Perkiomen Valley

P: Nate Millard, Daniel Boone

KR: Gage Swanger, Spring-Ford

PR: Amir Brunson, Pottsgrove

Second Team

DL: Boubakar Jalloh, Upper Merion

DL: Gavin Shafer, Spring-Ford

DL: Mark White, Pottsgrove

DL: Luke Ordway, Boyertown

LB: Will Fish, Spring-Ford

LB: Gage Young, Perkiomen Valley

LB: Josh Little, Pope John Paul II

LB: Max Neeson, Pottsgrove

DB: Trenton Allen, Pottsgrove

DB: Jake Beaudoin, Perkiomen Valley

DB: Matt Blakemore, Methacton

DB: Payton West, Spring-Ford

DB: Quintin Craig, Hill School

P: Tyler Ready, Methacton

HONORABLE MENTION

Boyertown: Roman Marinello

Daniel Boone: Draven Klick, Tony Rulli, Ryan Souder

Hill School: Luke Cawley, Quintin Craig, Mauricio Hinds, Anthony McMullan, Dante McQueen, Kayden White, Anthony Wise

Methacton: Dan Brandi, Giancarlo DeFilippis, Khaydon Smith

Norristown: Chris Carter

Owen J. Roberts: Danny Cashman, Dominic Franks, Christian Gregory

Perkiomen Valley: Andrew Beck, Ryan Boozer, Austin Henry, Shane Nelson, Carson Pascoe

Phoenixville: Jaime Gray, Andrew Kirk, Sam Moore, Ty Romance, Ahmid Spivey, Mike Sposato

Pope John Paul II: TJ Boccella, Steve Rist, Derek Skarbek, Kese Williams

Pottsgrove: Bryce Caffrey, Shane Caffrey, Riley Delp, Cory Jubilee-Scott, Tyler Kaufman, Vinny Scarnato, Ryan Sisko

Pottstown: Johnny Cranford, Fredy Rodriguez

Spring-Ford: Mike Bendowski, Carson Bogdan, Luke Ellor, J’Seth Owens, Luke Pajovich

Upper Merion: Zayd Etheridge, J’Sun Hampton-Miller, Wyatt Hart, Alzere Thomas

Upper Perkiomen: Dylan Hank, Damon Faraco, Logan Simmon

Player of the Year

Ethan Kohler, Perkiomen Valley

Kohler tossed for 2,400 yards and 28 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions while completing 67 percent of his passes. He added another 567 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground as he guided the Vikings to the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship. (full story here)

“I cannot say enough about how Ethan’s grown as a player, a leader, and as a human being,” Perkiomen Valley coach Rob Heist said. “He’s worked his way into that conversation with the best quarterbacks to come through our program, and that’s not an easy task. When all is said and done, he’s going to leave here as the No. 2 all-time passer in Perkiomen Valley history behind Stephen Sturm.”

Defensive Player of the Year

Cole Turner, Spring-Ford

Turner led the PAC with six interceptions – including an eye-popping four picks in the first half of an October 8 game at Norristown, won by the Rams 49-0. He returned two of the half-dozen picks for scores, also contributing 28 solo tackles and forcing a fumble while leading the Spring-Ford secondary throughout the 2021 season.

“He’s not only tremendous statistically, leading the area in interceptions – he’s supporting the run and he’s getting guys in the right place,” said Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker. “From a leadership standpoint, we haven’t had many guys who compared to Cole. He keeps people focused and on task in practice, he’s the first guy there if he sees a teammate heading in the wrong direction. Cole’s as good a leader as we’ve had at Spring-Ford.”

Coach of the Year

Rob Heist, Perkiomen Valley

2021 All-Pioneer Athletic Conference Football Teams

by Austin Hertzog

December 1, 2021

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE
Liberty Division

QBEthan KohlerPerkiomen Valley12

RBAvrey GrimmOwen J. Roberts12

RBRyan KlimekPerkiomen Valley11

TE/H-Back/FBZachary ZollersSpring-Ford11

WRKolten KqiraSpring-Ford12

WRDawson DebebePerkiomen Valley12

WRMichael PorubanPerkiomen Valley11

WRDan CashmanOwen J. Roberts11

OLJake JonassenPerkiomen Valley12

OLTom DickinsonMethacton12

OLJohn HavrilakOwen J. Roberts12

OLIan HarvieSpring-Ford12

OLKyle PryBoyertown12

KRyan KlimekPerkiomen Valley11

FIRST TEAM

DEFENSE
Liberty Division

DTJake JonassenPerkiomen Valley12

DTJohn HavrilakOwen J. Roberts12

DEZachary ZollersSpring-Ford11

DEShane NelsonPerkiomen Valley11

DE/OLBJake BeaudoinPerkiomen Valley12

OLB/SSCarson PascoePerkiomen Valley11

ILBBryan HelenskiPerkiomen Valley12

ILBRyan HorvathSpring-Ford12

DBJeremy BrewerPerkiomen Valley12

DBLuke RicciPerkiomen Valley12

DBNed BurgessOwen J. Roberts11

DBCole TurnerSpring-Ford12

DBZach SchimpfPerkiomen Valley12

PColin EisenhardBoyertown12

SECOND TEAM
OFFENSE
Liberty Division

QBDan BrandiMethacton12

RBHarry O.B. AdieyefehSpring-Ford12

RBRoman MarinelloBoyertown12

TE/H-Back/FBLeo EgbeBoyertown12

WRJulian ArthurNorristown11

WRBrian DickeyMethacton12

WRGage SwangerSpring-Ford11

OLGrant EukerPerkiomen Valley11

OLAustin HenryPerkiomen Valley12

OLRyan ShanerSpring-Ford11

OLLuke EllorSpring-Ford10

OLJosh FobiaOwen J. Roberts12

OLReed OverholserPerkiomen Valley12

KCarson JohnsonOwen J. Roberts12

SECOND TEAM
DEFENSE
Liberty Division

DTVincent CorropolesePerkiomen Valley12

DTMichael BendowskiSpring-Ford10

DENoah PadwornyPerkiomen Valley12

DEBrandon  KelleyOwen J. Roberts11

OLB/SSAston ShrumOwen J. Roberts12

OLB/SS Matt BlakemoreMethacton12

ILBChris AugustineMethacton12

ILBGage YoungPerkiomen Valley12

DBGage SwangerSpring-Ford11

DBPayton WestSpring-Ford12

DBBocar DengNorristown11

DBGiancarlo DeFillippisMethacton12

DB Dan CashmanOwen J. Roberts11

PTyler ReadyMethacton12

Mercury Week 11 Football Review: Unsung heroes leave an impression for PAC teams in postseason exits

Of the six PAC football squads that qualified for the District playoffs in their respective classifications this season, only two – Perkiomen Valley (6A) and Pottsgrove (4A) progressed to the second round with victories Friday night. As such, our attention will turn to these teams in the coming days (hopefully, weeks) in anticipation of the next round of playoff matchups.

That’s the nature of sports, and especially of the single-elimination football postseason. Survive, advance, and people will continue to talk about you. Lose, and your season ends, and suddenly as the old oxymoron goes “the silence is deafening.”

So this week, we begin with a nod to those PAC players who went out with a bang this week. Talking to each of their coaches, it became clear these players were not necessarily the ones who stuffed the stat sheets on Friday nights, but nonetheless left lasting impressions on the field and within their programs and communities.

Cole Turner, DB, Spring-Ford >> Turner’s four interceptions in the first half Oct. 8 against Norristown got the Spring-Ford senior some headlines. But they’re not what coach Chad Brubaker will remember about Turner’s 2021 season.

“We were wondering where our leadership would come from this season,” said Brubaker. “Cole surpassed all expectations in that area. When one of his teammates is headed in the wrong direction – Cole reaches that kid before even the coaches can.”

The Rams started slowly in their 21-14 loss to Downingtown East but were the stronger team for much of the second half and came awfully close to completing a comeback from a 21-0 deficit. Brubaker gives the credit to Turner. “Sometimes you’ll see lopsided games in the playoffs, because that realization sets in – ‘this could be my last game.’ They start to feel down.

“At halftime, Cole was going around telling everybody ‘we’ll get back in this game. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ That encapsulates what he’s meant to this team beyond just his play on the field.”

Downingtown East holds off strong Spring-Ford rally

by  Pete Digiovanni

November 5, 2021

DOWNINGTOWN- At the beginning of Friday nights District 1 6A opening round playoff game between Downingtown East and Spring Ford, the fourth seeded Cougars looked like they were going to blow out the 13th seeded Rams. The Downingtown East running game behind Bo Horvath and Josh Asante were gashing the Rams defense and after 15 minutes of play the host Cougars held a 21-0 lead.

 

But, Spring-Ford decided to make it a game and what a game it was. Behind a superlative 364 yard passing night from Ryan Freed and a late fourth period blocked punt the rams had a chance to pull even with the Cougars the game’s final minute. But the cougars defense held fireman Freed’s fourth and seven pass sailed high and incomplete and the Cougars survived a very stiff challenge, 21-14. Downingtown East will now host undefeated Quakertown next Friday at 7 pm at Kottmeyer Stadium while the game Rams season is over.

 

Downingtown East (9-2) scored 14 first period points on two short runs from quarterback Jay Jenkins to take a 14-0 lead. Horvath and Asante did the leg work all night. Horvath finished with 170 yards on 36 caries while Asante chipped in with 85 yards.

 

“We were running all over them at the beginning of the game,” Horvath said. “But, then they started to stack the box and I know they picked up the intensity and we started to not get as many yards. But, we held on and won and now we go to next week.”

 

After Horvath capped a 65 yard Downingtown East drive early in the second period with a three yard plunge, the Cougars lead was 21-0 and it looked like Spring-Ford (6-5) was going to get blown off the field.  The Cougars received a short field courtesy of a Sean Conlon fumble recovery in Rams territory.

 

But, the Rams passing game started to click and click it did. Freed was sensational for the Rams, completing 22 of 36 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Receivers Payton West and Zach Zollers had big nights, with West hauling in a 54 yard touchdown pass to make it a 21-7 Downingtown East lead at halftime. Zollers hauled in nine basil for 147 yards and a fourth period touchdown pass.

 

“I just want to say that number 4 (Zach Zollers), made some incredible catches,’ Downingtown East head coach Mike Matta said. “And the QB was getting the ball out fast and he had a great game.”

 

The teams went scoreless in the third period with the Cougars running game seemingly held in check and a big Spring-Ford fumble inside the Cougars 20 yard line, killing a Rams drive. But a seven yard strike that was tipped, from Freed to Zollers in the corner of the end zone capped a 95 yard Spring-ford drive and the rams closed the gap to 21-14 with 5:27 to play in the fourth period.

 

“Ryan is five foot nothing and 100 some pounds nothing,” Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said. “But he knows the plays and makes great throws. we had our chances inside the 20’s but we could not get it in late. We came very close but not good enough.”

 

Downingtown East controlled the ball after the Rams fourth period touchdown but the drive stalled with 1:01 to play in the fourth period. The Cougars went into punt formation but the Rams Gage Swanger blocked the punt and the Rams had the ball at the Cougars 29 yard line.

 

Freed hit Zollers down to the seven yard line but that is as far as the Rams could get. Spring-Ford had to hurry because they were out of timeouts and when Freed’s fourth down pass sailed high and wide, all that was left was for the Cougars to take a knee and move on to next week.

 

“They really played a lot harder in the second half,’ Asante said. “And we lost a little bit of our momentum in the second half. They really started to crash down on the run but we got away with the wind that is all that matters.”

 

A relieved Matta talked about his team’s penchant for getting out to fast starts and then struggling in the second half.

 

“That has been us all season,” Matta said. “We let teams hang around and do not finish them off when we have the chance to. We need to play a whole game.”

Pottsgrove shocks Spring-Ford to keep season alive​

by  Owen McCue
October 30, 2021
 

ROYERSFORD >> It looked like somewhat of a Hail Mary, a jackpot toss, more hope than expectation.

But Pottsgrove quarterback Ryan Sisko knew the likely result of his pass even before he threw it.

While taking a hit that knocked him to the ground, Sisko let the ball fly. By the time he got to his feet, teammate Tyler Kaufman had the ball in his hands in the end zone celebrating a game-tying catch.

Sisko’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Kaufman with 17.9 seconds left and the ensuing extra point from kicker Landon Shivak delivered the Falcons a 14-13 Pioneer Athletic Conference Crossover victory over Spring-Ford on Friday night.

“I know I like him in a matchup everyday,” Sisko said. “I know if I throw it up, he’ll come down with it most of the time, and I threw it up and then got up and I look up and he’s in the end zone and we’re all celebrating. It was nuts.”

The Falcons’ came into Friday’s regular-season finale against the Rams needing a victory to secure a spot in the District 1 Class 4A tournament and keep their season alive.

They rallied from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to extend their 2020 campaign and pick up a win over one of the PAC’s big boys during PAC Crossover week (started in 2016) for the first time.

“All these people around here telling us we won’t win, we don’t have a chance, anything like that,” Kaufman said. “We proved them all wrong today.”

Spring-Ford struck first in the game when Ryan Freed tossed a three-yard score to Jseth Owens to go up 7-0 with 3:37 left in the first half.

The Falcons trailed 13-0 early in the fourth quarter after Rams’ running back Harry Adieyefeh — the game’s offensive standout with 131 yards rushing — punched in a one-yard touchdown run.

Pottsgrove went scoreless on its first eight drives of the game, but found a way to put together two touchdown drives to finish it.

Senior fullback Max Neeson scored the Falcons’ first touchdown on a three-yard run with 4:15 to play to cap a four-play 36-yard drive following a short Spring-Ford punt.

“Something my dad always says is, ‘It’s not over until it’s over,’ and that’s something my coaches preach too,” Neeson said. “In the locker room talking to the guys being down 7, being down 13 there was still a lot of football left to play. So as long as we do our jobs and get our jobs done, we can come back from everything.”

Pottsgrove’s Tyler Kaufman, who caught the game-winning touchdown catch, celebrates following Friday’s win over Spring-Ford.

Pottsgrove’s defense forced a second-straight Rams’ three-and-out to get the ball back following Neeson’s touchdown.

With his team trailing 13-7 with 2:21 to play and the ball at its own 26-yard line, Sisko marched Pottsgrove 74 yards in seven plays on the game winning drive.

A 14-yard pass to Kaufman and 19-yard toss to Riley Delp, who had a 26-yard grab on the team’s first touchdown drive, moved Pottsgrove into Rams’ territory.

After two Sisko scrambles took the Falcons to the Spring-Ford 23 with 20 seconds to play, the quarterback put a deep ball on the money to an open Kaufman in the endzone for what proved to be the game-winner.

“We were just going in the huddle, and coach said all verts with like 18 seconds left,” Kaufman said. “I just looked at Ryan and we both looked at each other. We knew what was going on. We do it in practice every day. He put the ball up there, and I went for it.”

Sisko’s two clutch fourth-quarter drives came after interceptions on the previous two Pottsgrove possessions.

After completing just one his first six pass attempts, he finished 6-for-11 for 98 yards, going 3-for-3 for 56 yards on the game-winning drive

“There’s probably not a quarterback I could be more proud of in my years coaching here,” Pottsgrove coach Bill Hawthorne said. “He had some tough times in the get-go, but all he did was fight through. He has some resiliency like I’ve never seen before, and in the end he got the ‘W’ for us.”

The Rams’ defense held Pottsgrove to a 121 total yards of offense, including 34 in the second half, before the Falcons’ final two drives. Cole Turner and Carson Bogdan both picked off passes and the Rams also recovered a pair of fumbles and blocked a field goal and two punts in the game.

Spring-Ford looked in control up 13-0 in the fourth, but Pottsgrove’s defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs following the Adieyefeh touchdown and the Falcons’ offense clicked at the right time against a Rams’ defensive unit that allowed a total of 17 points in its previous four games.

“They threw and we didn’t and that’s on me,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “The game’s on me.”

“The defense played great,” he added.

After allowing the Rams to gain 145 yards of offense, including 116 on the ground, in the first half, Pottsgrove’s defense tightened up after the break.

Outside the 10-play, 67-yard touchdown drive, the Falcons held the Rams to a combined 14 total yards on their other six second-half drives.

“We don’t have big star players, but we know how to play,” Pottsgrove senior Shane Caffrey said. “We came to play in the second half, and that’s what happened.”

“It means everything, This is what we play for all season. Just try to keep pushing, keep winning so we can keep playing.”

Spring-Ford was uncertain of the status of its season as it exited the field Friday night, but the Rams appear to be locked into the postseason despite Friday’s loss, ranking No. 13 in a 16-team District 1-6A playoff field.

Pottsgrove leapfrogged to No. 2 in the Class 4A field to go from the outside looking in to a potential district playoff host after Friday night’s win, which keeps the season alive for seniors like Sisko, Caffrey, Neeson, Kaufman and Vinny Scarnato.

“That was a big focal point this week is just we’re not done yet,” Sisko said. “Do it for the seniors because this is it and we don’t want to be done. It was win or go home and that was a big focal is just going hard so we don’t have to go home.”

NOTES >> Freed went 3-for-6 for 29 yards and Matt Zollers went 4-for-9 for nine yards, which included a negative 13-yard reception after catching a pass from himself deflected behind the line of scrimmage. … Will Fish ran seven times for 58 yards and Zach Zollers caught two passes for 37 yards for Spring-Ford. … Neeson ran 12 times for 32 yards, Caffrey ran 10 times for 29 yards and Shivak added 33 yards on a not-by-design fake punt.

Spring-Ford celebrates Homecoming with win over Owen J. Roberts

by Jeff Stover

October 23, 2021

LIMERICK >> As Homecoming celebrations go locally, Spring-Ford routinely puts on some spectacular ones.

While the pageantry, presentations and level of fan enthusiasm make them special, the football team adds to the spectacle by producing victories over whichever Pioneer Athletic Conference opponent it hosts. That was again the case Saturday when the Rams rolled up a 42-10 win on Owen J. Roberts at Coach McNelly Stadium.

Second place in the PAC’s Liberty Division standings, a higher-level opponent for next weekend’s crossover matchup and standing in the District 1-6A playoff rankings were the distinctions going to the winner. To secure these achievements, the Rams got a tone-setting performance from their defense.

A pair of second-quarter interceptions by Carson Bogdan and Jseth Owens — the first a 62-yard “pick six” — helped SF (4-1 division, 6-3 overall) expand the 14-7 lead it held on Owen J. (3-2, 6-3) after one quarter. Building a 34-10 advantage by halftime, the Rams added two more scores down the stretch while keeping the ‘Cats, minus the star of their running game, from regaining any traction.

“All season long,” senior Carson Bogdan said, “the defense has gone after it. Every game, we get stronger.”

Bogdan’s pickoff of a deflected pass at his 38 effectively derailed OJR’s attempt to pull even on the scoreboard after the Rams broke up a 7-7 game with Matt Zollers hooking up with Gage Swanger on a 35-yard TD pass near the closing minute of the first quarter. It was a most opportune set of circumstances for the home team, and a career first for Bogdan.

“My original thought was for making the tackle,” he recalled. “But it fell into my lap, and I was off along the sidelines.”

The other swipe, Owens doing it on the fly, got SF the ball at the eight. From there, Harry Adiyefeh Jr. went off-tackle to the end zone for a 34-10 Ram lead.

“That was a killer,” OJR head coach Rich Kolka said. “We were almost to midfield, and he (QB Michael Reed) made a great throw.

“We didn’t make the play, and you can’t do that. It was a back-breaker.”

Another timely score came Spring-Ford’s way after Roberts got a 33-yard field goal from Carson Johnson inside the first half’s two-minute mark. On the subsequent kickoff, Mason Scott fielded the boot at his 13 and ran to the end zone with 1:40 left in the half.

Things got worse for OJR when Avrey Grimm, running off-center on the last play before halftime, sustained a leg injury. Kolka hoped to get more details on the extent of Grimm’s injury Sunday.

“That rubbed more salt in there,” he said.

Grimm came into the game within 50 yards of reaching the 1,500-yard mark for the season. He got that accomplished with a 35-yard burst around his left end, upping his game total to 98 prior to the injury.

“I thought we could run the football at them,” Kolka said. “But that’s not the way it transpired.”

With Grimm out, Roberts went basically three-and-out on three of its four second-half possessions. Its most productive was a seven-play possession set up by Aston Shrum’s interception of Zollers at the Owen J. six.

“There’s room for improvement,” Bogdan said. “We can get better as a unit.”

The Spring-Ford offense benefited from the short fields its defense provided, and the heady play of Matt Zollers. The freshman, starting behind center with Ryan Freed unavailable, went 11-for-15 for 178 yards, hooking up with Payton West on a 12-yard toss 2:09 before the end of the first quarter and on a 10-yarder to Swanger with 4:49 left.

“He’s mature beyond his years,” Brubaker said of Zollers. “We kept it simple. This gives Spring-Ford a glimpse of its future.”

Adiyefeh (18 carries, 92 yards) added an eight-yard run 1:20 before the half to the Rams’ total. Their scoring was capped by forcing Owen J. into a safety in the fourth, the ball kicked beyond the end zone back line on a bad snap during a punt attempt.

“The defense did a great job,” Brubaker noted. “Our offense wasn’t on the field a whole lot, but it (defense) got the ball back for them.”

Evan Strzeminski contributed one solo sack while Gavin Shafer and Donnie Nicoline combined on another.

The stars of Owen J’s defense were Shrum and Ned Burgess with their interceptions. Offensively, Reed scored Roberts’ lone touchdown on a three-yard run off-center 1:50 before the end of the first quarter.

NOTES >> Prior to the start of the game, the school presented Brubaker with the game balls signifying his first and 100th wins as Spring-Ford’s head coach. … At halftime, eight former Ram gridders were added to the Football Wall of Fame: Dennis Slifer, Barry Mennig, Rich Valerio, Art Schreiner, Joey Haley, Mason Romano, Robby Varner and Hank Coyne. … Kayla Crawford was selected as Homecoming queen, and Davis Bunning king.

Spring-Ford’s Brubaker reaches milestone 100th victory

by  Rob Senior

October 19, 2021

 

Ten games a year.

Ten Friday nights, or Saturday afternoons in a few cases. Maybe 11-12, if you’re lucky. In some cases, you might get to 15 if your team is truly special.

That’s all you get in high school football – all the hard work, the team bonding, the workouts in 90-degree heat or in the weight room during the dead of winter all comes back to those 10 nights every fall.

It can take a toll on kids, parents, band members, and especially coaches. So when someone finds their reason, their motivation to stick it out long enough to claim victory on 100 of those nights – at the same school – that person has found something special.

Mercury 2021 Football Leaders

“I knew I had something special right away,” said Chad Brubaker, Spring-Ford’s head coach who claimed his 100th victory at the school Friday night against Methacton. “When I interviewed at Spring-Ford, there were multiple people in that interview room. [Former superintendent] Dr. Marsha Hurda, [former assistant superintendent] Dr. [Ken] Donahue, and of course [athletic director] Mickey McDaniel. In fact, Dr. Donahue still emails me every week just to check in and see how things are going.”

Dr. Donahue has certainly received his share of positive reports over Brubaker’s 12-year tenure. Four PAC titles, numerous District 1 playoff appearances, including a run to the district title game in 2012. But the fact that Brubaker’s still there, 12 seasons later, to provide the updates is the real victory in all of this.

“You get to work with these kids and see how they develop – maybe there’s a kid whose ability takes him to playing special teams as a senior but he’s out there, giving it his all every day,” Brubaker said. “Then there are kids with all kinds of ability, but they have trouble making the grades. It’s working with all of these kids and others that keeps us going.”

And when you’re around long enough, you get to see the outcomes. Gary Hopkins, a wide receiver on a couple of Brubaker’s earliest teams at Spring-Ford, is now back as an assistant coach. No doubt other former Rams will follow in Hopkins’ footsteps and return to a place they consider special – a lesson they learned from their head coach.

Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker, right, takes a picture with players Will Fish, left, and Kolten Kqira following Friday’s win over Methacton. (Owen McCue – MediaNews Group)

Asked for a favorite memory from his [first] 100 victories, Brubaker cited a contest against Owen J. Roberts in his inaugural season of 2010.

“We were both 2-0, and they [OJR] were favored to win the league that year,” he recalled. “We did a white-out, sold something like $12K in white-out t-shirts. ABC (channel 6) had a news van there, the place was packed.

“The look on the kids’ faces when they came out that night, saw the white out, saw the news van – that’s something that sticks with me.”

The Rams gave their coach his third win at the school that night back in 2010, and now 97 more have followed. Friday night’s victory also makes Brubaker Spring-Ford’s winningest head coach, surpassing Marty Moore’s 99 career wins.

True to form, however, Brubaker quickly shifted the conversation to the 2021 squad. Friday was the Rams’ third straight win to go to 5-3 after a three-game losing streak at the start of September.

“We know we can’t really afford any more losses,” he said. “And we knew what we were signing up for with our non-conference schedule (contests against District 3 powers Cumberland Valley and Manheim Township.) Next week, we have Owen J. Roberts, and they’re coming in with a better record than us. That’s another big game.”

If they do win out, Spring-Ford will be in the 6A District playoffs, but likely starting on the road against one of the top 5-6 teams in District 1. Brubaker views it as an opportunity.

“We’ve certainly run up against some formidable foes in districts the past few years,” he said. “But I like going in as the underdog. There’s no pressure on us – we just go out and play our game.”

Spring-Ford spoils Methacton’s Senior Night, gets Brubaker win No. 100

by  Owen McCue

October 16, 2021

 

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> The Spring-Ford football team delivered its head coach a special night Friday at Methacton.

Senior quarterback Ryan Freed accounted for three touchdowns and the Rams’ defense put together a shutout performance that included two takeaways and a blocked punt to earn a 39-0 win over the Warriors — the 100th for 12th-year head coach Chad Brubaker.

Though Brubaker was unhappy with his team’s penalties and had not one but two coolers poured on him in the postgame celebration, he felt excited about the accomplishment — not just for himself but a program he’s spent building for more than a decade.

“It’s not something I honestly actively think about, but it was really special,” said Brubaker, who passed Marry Moore’s 99 wins for most all-time at Spring-Ford. “These kids made it special tonight, and they had a lot of nice things to say and that’s really what it’s all about.

“That number is not representative of me, that is a program. It’s coaches, kids, alums, Touchdown Club, parents. It’s all that. It’s important from that standpoint. It takes a lot of work, certainly on my part, but there’s people helping from all different angles.”

 

Freed completed 13 of 17 passes for 133 yards and a pair of scores in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division victory. He also kept one himself for a touchdown run.

Freshman Matt Zollers added a touchdown pass for Spring-Ford (5-3, 3-1 PAC Liberty), connecting with senior Kolten Kqira, who hauled in eight catches for 111 yards. Juniors Zach Zollers and Gage Swanger, who also picked off a pass, caught the Rams’ other touchdown passes.

Senior Harry Adieyefeh carried 16 times for 133 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run. Junior Will Fish added a short touchdown run to go with his blocked punt and sack.

“That’s awesome for Coach Bru,” Kqira said. “That’s really good for him. He’s done a lot for our program for sure.”

“I’m proud of him,” Fish said.

The Rams jumped out to a 6-0 lead over Methacton (4-4, 1-3 PAC Liberty) when Freed connected with Zach Zollers on a five-yard touchdown pass with 8:27 left in the first quarter.

Methacton marched down the field on its third offensive possession, getting inside the red zone before Swanger intercepted a deflected pass.

Spring-Ford took advantage of the takeaway, marching 93 yards in 12 plays as Freed dove into the end zone on a rushing attempt to make the score 12-0 with 6:57 left in the second quarter.

Fish blocked a punt on Methacton’s ensuing offensive drive, and Zach Zollers tossed a 16-yard strike to Kqira on the next play to make it 18-0, a score that stood at halftime.

“I think those big plays, they shift the momentum to us and give us something to get our drives started off,” Fish said of the interception and blocked punt. “Obviously it gave us good field position and it just gets the offense going.”

 

The Warriors tried to surprise Spring-Ford with an onside kick to start the second half, but instead the Rams took advantage of the good field position and took complete control of the game, 25-0, on Fish’s one-yard score with 7:02 left in the third quarter.

Adieyefeh broke off his 71-yard touchdown run on the Rams’ next drive to make it 32-0 after three quarters, and Freed tossed a short score to Swanger in the fourth to finish off the game’s scoring.

“There were two big plays in that first half, and then we thought we’d go for an onside kick in the second half, and it was close,” Methacton coach Brian Kennedy said. “We get that, who knows, we maybe get a little momentum going. Football’s a game of momentum and we never got momentum.”

Methacton senior Dan Brandi completed 13 passes for 138 yards to lead the Warriors’ offense, which couldn’t get anything going on the ground against a stout Rams’ front. Senior Dean Sapalidis caught five passes for 37 yards, and senior Brian Dickey made three catches for 36 yards.

Dickey’s third grab of the game in the second quarter gave him the school’s record for career receptions. He can set the single-season mark with three more grabs in the team’s next two games.

Senior Giancarlo DeFilippis blocked a field goal, and senior Khaydon Smith intercepted a pass to add to the Warriors highlights on the day.

Sophomore Mike Bendowski added a late interception for the Rams, who recorded their second consecutive shutout and fourth overall this season.

“We were blitzing a lot, bringing a lot of pressure,” Fish said. “They were having a lot of trouble picking up our blitzes, but that was all in our preparation, film watching and our game plan.”

The Warriors travel to Perkiomen Valley next Friday for the Battle Ax rivalry, while the Rams take on Owen J. Roberts at home for their Senior Day.

Both Spring-Ford (No. 14) and OJR (No. 11) are District 1 Class 6A hopefuls. Brubaker noted each game down the stretch is a playoff game for the Rams, who likely need to win out in order to make another district playoff appearance.

“That’s our homecoming game, and just like tonight they’re going to give us our best game and we have to show up,” Kqira said. “We have to show up. It’s just showing up and doing our job. That’s Coach Brubaker’s biggest thing he’ll tell us is, ’Just do our job.’”

NOTES >> Friday was Methacton’s Senior Night. The Class of 2022, which is led by three-year starters Dickey, Matt Blakemore and Chris Augustine, helped turned a program around that went winless the year before they arrived and won just one game when they were freshmen. Former coach Dave Lotier returned Friday night to celebrate the group. “They’re a bunch of good football players, a bunch of good kids,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully they’ll excel at the next level.”

Spring-Ford’s Cole Turner ties program record with 4 interceptions

by  Ed Morlock
October 8, 2021
 

WEST NORRITON >> Spring-Ford safety Cole Turner entered Friday night with one interception on the season.

The senior doubled his interception total on Norristown’s first pass attempt of the game and tripled it the second time they threw the ball. Turner grabbed his third pick of the game early in the second quarter before snagging his fourth – and returning it 32 yards for a touchdown – two minutes before halftime.

“The defensive line got pressure, the linebackers dropped, corners did their job and I was just there to do my job, too,” Turner said. “I was happy to make it happen.”

Turner’s defensive score was his final play of the game. The Rams starters were given the rest of the night off after the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder gave them a 49-0 lead, which stood as the final score in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup at Norristown Area High School.

Turner’s four interceptions tie a Spring-Ford record that’s stood for 48 years, when Jay Feairheller accomplished the feat in 1973.

“It means a lot to me and my team,” Turner said. “I know we all work extremely hard. I work extremely hard and I’m glad it happened. I didn’t even know I got four. I was so locked into the game. It just happened. I put myself in good positions.”

“Cole has been one of the best leaders that we’ve had here at Spring-Ford,” head coach Chad Brubaker said. “He’s really kept us together during that three-game losing streak. It was tough. That was something we’re not necessarily used to. Cole’s just been outstanding. As much as those interceptions – he’s played excellent on the field – but he’s also just a great leader for us. I think that would be universal, everybody on the team; if you asked them, that’s what they’d say.”

A lot of Turner’s hard work comes in the film room. Brubaker said they introduce the game plan and send it out on Sunday night or Monday morning. By the first practice of the week, Turner knows everything and is ready to go.

“I saw (Norristown likes) to throw to (wide receiver Julian Arthur) a lot,” Turner said of this week’s film study. “I just had my eyes on him and read the QB and the linemen and I just did my read from there and then flew to the ball.”

When asked if he was surprised the ball kept coming his way, Turner said, “No, cause I put myself in good positions and my corners did their job and linemen did their job and linebackers did great today. We all did our part today.”

The safety’s record-setting night highlights a dominant effort from the Rams (4-3, 2-1 PAC Liberty) defense. The starters played seven possessions – interception, interception, punt, interception, fumble recovery, fumble recovery and interception touchdown. Gavin Shafer and Will Fish each recovered a fumble in the second quarter.

In those seven possession, the Rams allowed 45 yards and two first downs on 21 plays.

Spring-Ford flexed its defensive depth and held the Eagles (0-7, 0-3 PAC Liberty) scoreless for four possessions after the starters exited the game to finish the shutout.

“We tell all our guys no matter what the score is come into every quarter, every play it’s 0-0,” Turner said. “We have that 0-0 mindset, next-play mindset. Shutout the score and do your job. That’s how we get our ‘dubs.'”

Third down offense

The Rams offense thrived on third down while building its early lead. They converted on 3rd-and-10, 3rd-and-14 and 3rd-and-8 on three of their first four touchdown drives.

“That’s not necessarly a good sign,” Brubaker said of the third down conversions. “We’ll have to take a look at the film with some things.

“We threw the ball well and I guess the bright side is we converted third downs, but we don’t want to be in those situations, obviously.”

Quarterback Ryan Freed, who finished the game 6-for-6 for 179 yards and three touchdowns, connected with Kolten Kqira for a 65-yard gain on 3rd-and-10 on the third play of the game. On the ensuing play, he threw a jumpball into the end zone and Zach Zollers came down with it for an eight-yard touchdown.

After two Turner interceptions sandwiched around a Fish 10-yard touchdown run, Freed and Zollers were back at it again. On 3rd-and-14, Freed found his tight end for a first down and Zollers took it the rest of the way for a 47-yard score.

The teams traded punts and Turner grabbed another interception to set up Freed’s third touchdown of the game. On 3rd-and-8 he connected with Gage Swanger on a crossing route. Swanger was off to the races along the Norristown sideline and found paydirt from 64 yards away for a 28-0 lead.

Harry Adieyefeh Jr. scored a pair of touchdowns – from two yards and seven yards out – to make it 42-0 before Turner’s defensive score put an exclamation point on the Rams first half dominance.

Spring-Ford snaps skid, blasts Boyertown 42-7

 

By  Austin Hertzog

October 2, 2021
 

ROYERSFORD >> A three-game losing streak has rarely been seen around Spring-Ford in recent times.

It became clear early Friday night: it was not going to reach four.

The Rams dominated all phases and got two touchdowns apiece from seniors Payton West and Harry Adieyefeh as they rolled to a 42-7 victory over Boyertown at Coach McNelly Stadium.

It was 28-0 at halftime in favor of Spring-Ford, which improved to 3-3 (1-1 PAC).

“I think we knew the level we could play at, we just had to fix some little things,” said Adieyefeh, who ran for 91 yards on 14 carries. “We all know the team we have and tonight was a good first step. We knew what we could do, we just had to get the ball rolling.”

 

The Rams spread the wealth offensively: quarterbacks Ryan Freed and Matt Zollers split time and combined to go 17-for-19 for 290 yards and three touchdowns. They connected with eight different receivers, headed by Gage Swanger (5 catches, 47 yards) and Zach Zollers (4 catches, 62 yards, 1 TD).

“It felt good, good to be back in the groove,” said West. “It was nice giving people opportunities in space to run the ball and keep the ball moving.”
Boyertown got a hard-earned 77 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries from senior running back Leo Egbe. But the Bears (0-2 PAC, 2-4 overall) were outgained 444-145 in total yards by the Rams.

“We know we’re a lot closer to them than what we showed tonight,” said Boyertown head coach TJ Miller. “We just didn’t play to our ability.

“We couldn’t get our running game going in the way we wanted. Our passing wasn’t what we wanted in the quick game; it just wasn’t there.”

Senior QB Freed connected with receiver Kolten Kqira on a 9-yard score with 8:10 left in the first quarter to open the scoring. Spring-Ford doubled the lead when the Zollers brothers connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass as freshman Matt, who split drives with Freed, threw a fade to junior Zach in the right corner of the end zone.

It was 21-0 on senior running back Harry Adieyefeh’s first score of the night, a 5-yard burst with 7:33 left in the second quarter. The score was set up by a long reception from Freed to Carson Brogdan.

With 5:30 to halftime Matt Zollers hit West in stride on a slant for a 59-yard touchdown and 28-0 lead.

Spring-Ford enacted the running clock when Adieyefeh ran in from 6 yards on its first drive of the third quarter. With kicker Liam McGarvey’s fifth extra point it was 35-0.

West added another score, this time running, on a 23-yard touchdown run as a Wildcat QB, for 42-0 early in the fourth.

“I liked the execution on offense,” Adieyefeh said. “We got in the red zone and scored a lot, which we hadn’t been doing a lot the last two games. We came out running the ball, everyone scoring and finishing drives so it was really good.”

 

Boyertown avoided the shutout when Egbe rushed up the middle from 10 yards out with 5:37 to play.

Two weeks ago the Bears won a four-overtime epic over Pottsgrove, a performance Miller would like to see replicated going forward rather than Friday’s lopsided loss.

“To beat a team in four overtimes tells you about the grit and toughness of a team,” Miller said. “When we play our best we can beat anybody. When we don’t play our best, we can get beat by anybody and we’ve shown that this year. Now we have to play our best to make it consistent.”

It was Spring-Ford’s 11th straight victory over Boyertown, a streak that dates back to Oct. 22, 2010.

At 3-3, it’s time for the Rams to go streaking again to ensure they are back in the District 1 Class 6A playoffs, a run that began in 2015.

“We need to keep playing well, don’t let up on any of these PAC teams and show them we’re still a dominant team in the PAC and district,” Adieyefeh said.

Kohler, Perkiomen Valley deal Spring-Ford first PAC loss in 3 years

by  Rob Senior

September 25, 2021

Perkiomen Valley quarterback Ethan Kohler celebrates after his game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

GRATERFORD >> Over his four-year Perkiomen Valley career, Ethan Kohler’s done plenty to earn his unofficial title as the area’s top quarterback.

On Friday night, the senior showed there’s much more to holding such a moniker than gaudy passing statistics.

Kohler passed for 139 yards and a score, but his legs were the story as he ran for another 148 and a TD as the Vikings put an end to Spring-Ford’s two-year winning streak in the rivalry with a 28-22 victory in the Pioneer Athletic Conference opener at a packed Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.

Ryan Klimek’s two-yard run was his second score of the game and gave the Vikings the lead for good with 7:02 to play after Spring-Ford rallied from 14 down to tie the game in the second half.

The deciding drive was set up by Jeremy Brewer’s long kickoff return and following a Spring-Ford personal foul, the Vikings were able to start inside the Rams’ 30. An eight-play drive featured an even mix of runs and passes as Perk Valley reclaimed the lead.

“This is my senior year,” said Kohler. “Credit to them [Spring-Ford], they did not quit. But there was no way I was leaving here without a win. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”

At no time was that more evident than the run that more or less clinched the game. Kohler kept on a read and broke about a half-dozen tackles, en route to a 44-yard gain to set up PV with a first and goal.

Three plays later, he sealed it with a one-yard sneak to put PV ahead 28-14 with 2:46 to play.

“Coach Heist and I talk about it all the time — I’ve become a runner. My first two years, I was just a lanky kid who threw the ball. But adding that [running] ability opens up so many dimensions for our offense,” said Kohler.

Perkiomen Valley’s Jeremy Brewer (8) defends a pass intended for Spring-Ford’s Zach Zollers in the second quarter. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Perk Valley (3-2, 1-0 PAC Liberty) travels to Norristown as the newly minted division front-runners next week, while Spring-Ford (2-3, 0-1 PAC) tries to snap a three-game slide when they host Boyertown. 

Both squads move forward with the knowledge that the winner of this matchup has won the PAC title each of the last six years. For Perkiomen Valley, it’s a trend they intend to continue. For Spring-Ford, it adds a little urgency for a team that got up off the mat repeatedly on Friday night.

 

Perkiomen Valley’s Ryan Klimek rushes into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter against Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The opening quarter saw the Rams throw numerous personnel looks at PV, with no fewer than three Spring-Ford taking the snaps. Ryan Freed remained the starter and took the majority of the snaps at quarterback, but freshman Matt Zollers mixed into various situation, twice pinning the Vikings inside their own 10-yard line with quick-kick style punts. Once the Vikings’ offense took the field, their best option was Kohler’s legs, which got them 37 yards on seven early carries. Unable to cross midfield, however, the teams settled into a field-position battle that yielded a scoreless opening 12 minutes. 

But Kohler quickly found Ryan Klimek to open the second stanza and move into SF territory for the first time, and two plays later he hit senior WR Dawson Debebe on a quick hitch, with Debebe doing the rest for a 30-yard score that put PV on the board first, just a minute into the quarter.

The two sides exchanged punts before PV’s Jake Beaudoin administered the first of his two drive-ending sacks. From there, PV moved the ball methodically to double their lead on Ryan Klimek’s three-yard plunge with 1:11 left in the opening half.

PV’s defense was the story of the first half, holding the Rams under 100 total yards — though SF didn’t help matters with some untimely penalties. 

Meanwhile, Spring-Ford was unable to complete either of their sustained drives, both ending on Beaudoin sacks of Zollers, who continued to alternate at QB with starter Freed as the Rams tried to get something going on offense.

“I was able to get it done on those plays,” said Beaudoin. “Our senior class has never experienced this [beating Spring-Ford], so it’s a great feeling to bring the win back to the Valley.”

But the tide changed after the half when Rams running back Harry Adieyefeh (23 carries, 121 yards, 2 TD) burst through the line halfway through the third quarter, escaping for a 50-yard TD run. A blocked punt capped the quarter for resilient Spring-Ford, who was able to tie the contest at 14 with 10:39 left on Adieyefeh’s second score, followed by a two-point conversion run from Matt Zollers.

“We’re banged up, and I just told the kids in the locker room how proud I am of the effort,” said Rams coach Chad Brubaker. “They left it on the field, with everything going against them. You can’t ask for any more than that.”

 

Spring-Ford running back Harry Adieyefeh is forced to the outside on a carry in the second quarter. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Zach Zollers led the Rams in receiving with five grabs for 80 yards, plus a two-point conversion.

Matt Zollers and Freed combined for 150 yards passing, with Zollers throwing a late TD pass to Payton West. The freshman also delivered a half-dozen punts for a 40-yard average, announcing his presence in this rivalry much as his opposite number, Kohler, did in 2018 — the last time PV topped the Rams before Friday night. 

Notes: Before the game, Perkiomen Valley retired jersey number 22 in honor of Grant Wiley, one of the school’s all-time gridiron greats. Wiley played in the Big 33 game in 1998 before going onto West Virginia University, where he was recognized as a 2003 All-American. Wiley played for the Minnesota Vikings in 2004 and 2005.

PAC season starts with a bang with Perkiomen Valley vs. Spring-Ford

by  Austin Hertzog

September 24, 2021

There’s no downplaying the stakes of Friday’s rivalry game between Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley.

Since the start of the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship era in 2016, the outcome of Rams versus Vikings has propelled the winner to a plaque-raising championship celebration the final week of October.

The PAC league schedule kicks off Friday with no bigger game all fall than what is expected in front of a packed house in Graterford when the winners of the last seven PAC championships do battle.

For two such heated rivals, the two-time reigning champ Rams and Vikings enter Friday on similar wavelengths.

Both are coming off a challenging four-week non-conference run. Both endured narrow losses that resulted in 2-2 records.

 

Spring-Ford routed West Chester East (44-0) and Chambersburg (48-0) in its first two outings but lost in the final moments at Cumberland Valley (23-19) and couldn’t keep up with the passing attack of District 3 power Manheim Township last Friday in a 26-13 defeat.

Perk Valley had convincing wins over Springfield Delco (37-15) and Downingtown West (55-20) in Weeks 1 and 3, respectively. The Vikings led at Coatesville by 13 at halftime but were outscored 21-0 in the second half in a 35-27 loss Sept. 3. Last Friday, Manheim Central prevailed in a 43-40 shootout despite PV putting up 40 on a Barons team that entered having allowed only 7 points all season.

“I think we’re in good position overall entering into our league play,” said PV head coach Rob Heist. “The football coach in me says we’re two plays and two penalties away from being undefeated against some really good competition.

“I think we’ve improved every week so I feel good about where we are.”

Despite mixed results, both enter better prepared than last year’s season-opening matchup (the PAC played league-only games amid COVID-19 pandemic precautions) when Spring-Ford caused four turnovers and dominated with its run game in a 27-13 victory in front of a couple hundred socially-distanced supporters.

Friday will more resemble the atmosphere of the 2019 meeting at Perk Valley that is one of the great contests in recent PAC history. Spring-Ford won a back-and-forth battle 40-35, a tide-turning moment in the league that ended Perk Valley’s three-year reign atop the league.

“I think it’s pretty equal for both teams because there’s always a great turnout,” said Perk Valley senior quarterback Ethan Kohler. “We’re very fortunate to have an atmosphere like that and have that experience. That’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

Kohler will be in rare company by playing in a fourth SF-PV game after he was thrust into action due to injury as a freshman and helped the Vikings rally from 14 down in the fourth quarter to win 27-20 in 2018.

The 6-2, 195-pound signal caller has grown into one of the elite quarterbacks the PAC has known, an All-Area first team selection in 2020 who is 53-for-86 for 881 yards with nine touchdowns passing this season. He’s also rushed for 171 yards and five TDs.

Big game or not, he’s intent on not getting too high for the occasion.

“I’m going treat it like any other game,” Kohler said. “I’m going into it looking to do my job, get our assignments done. They’re always a great football team and great program. I’m excited to see how it goes.”

 

Kohler and the Perkiomen Valley offense will have their hands full with a Spring-Ford defense that has become the defining unit in the PAC title race over the past two seasons.

The Rams allowed only 9.5 points per game in 2020 when they repeated as PAC champion and reached the District 1 Class 6A semifinals. 

This year’s group is led by All-Area first team linebacker Ryan Horvath and senior defensive back Cole Turner, ‘who have done an excellent job not only on the field between snap and whistle but off the field with their leadership,’ according to Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker.

It is off to another strong start averaging 12.3 points allowed per game. 

“We played extremely well defensively all four weeks,” said Brubaker.

Leading the Rams, Horvath is matched by sophomore Mike Bendowski with a team-high 22 tackles, junior Zach Zollers has three sacks and junior defensive back Payton West has three interceptions.

Beyond the known commodity that is Kohler, junior running back Ryan Klimek has emerged for PV (39 carries for 314 yards, 4 TDs) while senior Dawson Debebe (16 catches, 341 yards, 3 TDs) and junior Mike Poruban (12 catches, 214 yards, 3 TDs) are the leading wide receivers. The offensive line features All-Area first team Jake Jonassen and seniors Austin Henry and Reed Overholser and juniors Grant Euker and Tim Ledger.

The strength vs. strength matchup should go far in determining Friday’s outcome.

It will in Horvath’s eyes.

“That’s how I view it,” he said. “Last year was really the first time I’ve played against them and a guy like Ethan Kohler, who is an excellent quarterback. That I feel like is going to be the key component to the game. These last couple games they’re putting up a ton of points, we’re not allowing many points — that’s the matchup.”

 

On the other side, the Spring-Ford offense has underperformed the past two weeks and will need to keep pace by getting its run game on track. Senior running back Harry Adieyefeh, who ran for 180 yards and a TD in the 2020 meeting, has 291 yards on 66 rushes this season. Senior quarterback Ryan Freed is 71-for-99 with 705 yards (8 TDs, 3 INTs) on the year with his favorite targets Kolten Kqira (22 for 254, 3 TDs) and Zach Zollers (16 for 183, 4 TDs).

“We ran a lot last year and I feel as if our run game and run blocking hasn’t been up to par compared to where we want it to be,” said S-F left tackle Ian Harvie. “We’re going to get that back this week and continue it forward.”

Harvie, a three-year starter, will be joined on the line by Danny Winters, Ayden Kling (in for injured center Luke Ellor), Mike Scalia and Ryan Shaner.

“It’s important to keep the ball out of Kohler’s hands as much as possible,” said Brubaker. “As much as our defense is key, the longer the offense is on the field getting first downs, it keeps them off the field, which is the best defense.”

The Vikings’ defense is led by senior linebackers Gage Young and Bryan Helenski, both of whom are averaging double-digit tackles per game, and senior defensive back Jeremy Brewer. 

Recent history is in Spring-Ford’s favor as winners of the last two matchups. But all parties agree that does not matter come Friday.

“It’s always made us hungrier after each year,” said PV’s Jonassen. “You go into the offseason, put in the work, and look in past that they beat us but that is in the past. We have a new season, another game to improve ourselves and get the ‘W’.”

“It makes them probably extra hungry,” Brubaker said.” I don’t think it adds any pressure to our side. Usually the games are close, even if it’s two scores apart. Definitely in 2019, our players felt like, ‘Enough of this’ because we had lost three straight years. There’s determination that comes from that.

“But if you really look at it, it’s a whole new year with a bunch of new guys. It’s about whoever performs better on that particular night.”

Spring-Ford stopped by Manheim Township’s aerial assault, 26-13

by  paprepliveSeptember 18, 2021

Royersford >> Ailed by a sluggish offensive performance and a handful of costly turnovers, the Spring-Ford football team was defeated by Manheim Township 26-13 in a non-conference showdown at Coach McNelly Stadium Friday night.

Manheim Township sophomore quarterback Hayden Johnson had a four-touchdown night (26-for-45, 278 yards), connecting twice with Penn State-bound wide receiver Anthony Ivey and twice with sophomore Landon Kennel.

Kolten Kqira (5 catches, 76 yards) caught both Spring-Ford scores.

The Blue Streaks struck first in the opening quarter, as quarterback Johnson found senior wide receiver Ivey in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard scoring reception with 6:02 remaining in the first. Manheim Township would only lead by six points however, as the Spring-Ford special teams squad blocked the extra-point attempt.

The Rams would answer on the following possession, coming away with a touchdown of their own on a seven-play scoring drive ending in a trick-play score. Spring-Ford senior quarterback Ryan Freed tossed the ball to junior wide receiver Jake Reigh, who turned his eyes downfield and found a wide-open receiver in senior Kolten Kqira for the 35-yard score. After a successful extra-point, the Rams would take a 7-6 over the Blue Streaks heading into the second quarter of play.

Manheim Township would regain control on their opening drive of the second quarter, as Johnson found sophomore receiver Landon Kennel in the back corner of the end zone for the 13-7 score after a successful extra point attempt.

Momentum began to snowball against the Rams on the ensuing kickoff as the Spring-Ford returner fumbled the ball on the return, handing the ball back to the Blue Streaks in Rams territory at the 42-yard line. Spring-Ford’s defense once again stepped up to the challenge, holding Manheim Township to a 32-yard field goal attempt, which bounced off the upright and out.

The Rams’ offense was unable to take advantage of the momentum, fizzling out with a five-play drive and allowing the Blue Streaks to head into half-time still holding a 13-7 lead.

“We couldn’t convert first downs,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said of the effect offensive struggles had on the defense. “All things considered we played well defensively, we just need to play better offensively. Zach Zollers was all over the field and played unbelievable; he’s going to be exhausted. We didn’t get a ton of pressure on the quarterback, but we got enough to put him into some bad situations where we were able to stay in the game. But if you don’t move the ball and change the field, you’re in trouble.”

Manheim Township would increase their lead on their second possession of the third quarter as Johnson found Kennel for their second scoring connection of the game on a seven-yard touchdown that gave the Blue Streaks a commanding 20-7 lead over the Rams.

Another four-and-out by Spring-Ford ending with a punt turned into a third consecutive touchdown and a 26-7 lead for Manheim Township as Johnson and Ivey connected for their second score of the game, this time on a 24-yard score (and another blocked extra-point) with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter.

The two teams would spend the remainder of the third and the opening of the fourth quarter trading four-and-outs and turnovers, as the Blue Streaks came away with an interception and a fumble-recovery.

“They [Manheim Township] tackled very well, we didn’t make a lot of guys miss,” Brubaker said. “But we wanted to mix it up a little bit and get the ball out into space and like I said, they just tackled well. We’ll have to go back and look at the film.”

Freshman quarterback Matt Zollers would make an appearance for the Rams in the latter possessions of the game, coming away with Spring-Ford’s only score of the second half on a 29-yard pass to Kqira with just under two minutes remaining.

Spring-Ford (2-2, 0-0) now looks ahead to a tough conference-opening matchup next Friday against Perkiomen Valley (2-2, 0-0), who fell at home 43-40 to Manheim Central on Friday.

Cumberland Valley earns 1st win with late score against Spring-Ford

Jeffrey Kauffman For The Sentinel

Cumberland Valley’s Griffin Huffman alertly picked up a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt and raced around the left end for the winning touchdown as time expired, giving the Eagles a 23-19 victory at home over Spring-Ford Friday night.

“It was a good snap,” Huffman said, “and I bobbled it and went to put it down, and I missed the tee, so I just had to go with it. This was a huge team win. Everybody contributed to get us to that point.”

Sam Herman kicked a 35-yard field goal with 2:38 left to give the Rams (2-1) a 19-17 lead.

The Eagles (1-2) responded with a 13-play drive, including two third-down conversions and a wheel route that saw QB Isaac Sines connect with J. D. Hunter down the left sideline to the 3-yard line. Three plays later, the Eagles attempted the field goal at 2-yard line, and Huffman finished up the rally to set off a huge celebration on the Eagles’ sideline.

“I am just so happy for the kids. We kept telling them to believe in themselves,” said Cumberland Valley coach Josh Oswalt. “This is only our 12th game in two years, so some of our kids are still learning.

“Isaac Sines is starting to believe in his ability and trusting himself. Huffman made a great play at the end. The defense made plays all night.”

Neither team did much offensively through most of the first two quarters. Spring-Ford got the wake-up call it needed after a Sines 35-yard field goal tied the game at three in the final minute of the first half. Gage Swanger returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to give the Rams a 10-3 halftime lead.

The Rams outscored their first two opponents 92-0, including a 48-0 shellacking of Chambersburg last week.

Cumberland Valley, searching for its first win, struggled on offense before Friday with only 10 points in losses to Central York and Manheim Central.

 

The Eagles played inspired football on the defensive side, holding the Rams to three points over their first four possessions. They forced and recovered a fumble, but again struggled to move the ball on the opposite side.

Cumberland Valley tied the game at 10 on an Isaac Sines pass to Huffman, who scored from 41 yards out. Spring-Ford scored on its next possession when Ryan Freed found Swanger, who raced 65 yards for a score.

An 18-play Eagles drive ended with an early fourth-quarter score, as Sines scrambled out of the pocket and found Hunter from 10 yards out to build a 17-16 lead.

Sines completed 12 passes for 166 yards, including three completions to Hunter and three to Paddy Hernjak. Hunter ran for 74 yards.

Spring-Ford’s defensive front dominates in shutout win over Chambersburg

by  Rob Senior

September 3, 2021
 

ROYERSFORD >> The story of PAC football in 2020 was the stingy Spring-Ford defense blanking three of their six opponents en route to an undefeated league championship.

Could we be in store for chapter two?

After starting the season with a 44-0 whitewash of West Chester East last week, the Rams offered little hospitality to District 3’s Chambersburg in their home opener Friday night, scoring another dominant shutout victory by a tally of 48-0.

Quarterback Ryan Freed set a career high with four TD passes, but the story of the night was the Rams’ front seven, who harassed Chambersburg’s two quarterbacks into three interceptions and registered (unofficially) 15 tackles for loss on the evening, holding the Trojans to 27 yards of total offense on the evening.

Spring-Ford’s defensive line features seniors Gavin Shafer and Donnie Nicoline, flanked by junior Luke Pajovich and sophomore Mike Bendowski. All four put up gaudy numbers in terms of tackles, hurries and QB pressures Friday night, ably backed by last year’s PAC Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Horvath at linebacker.

“As a unit, we know what we’re capable of doing – and that gives us confidence every time out because it’s not just one guy. It’s the whole group,” said Nicoline. “With only one real practice this week owing to weather and other circumstances, the Rams were extra-reliant on film study, which Shafer and Pajovich credited for some of Friday’s success.

“We knew our stuff by the time we got out there,” said Shafer, unofficially credited with four tackles for loss and a sack. “By the time we got out there, it’s just about execution.

“Our coaches draw up their formations, their plays,” explained Pajovich, “so when we get out there, we’re calling things out to one another. We recognize things from our study.”

Bendowski, the youngest member of the group, credited his elder teammates with allowing him to excel.

“I got some time at the end of last year,” he said, “and Ryan [Horvath], Donnie, everyone, they’ve helped me along. I’m grateful for all of them.”

Spring-Ford (2-0) travels to another District 3 opponent next week when they meet Cumberland Valley, who offered SF their toughest regular season game a year ago, a 20-14 Rams win at McNelly Stadium.

This time, the Rams’ vaunted defense will have an increasingly imposing companion — a passing attack with an experienced quarterback and a pair of reliable targets.

Freed finished the night 19-of-25 with 157 passing yards and four scores through the air. Two of them went to junior Zach Zollers (five catches, 46 yards), while Kolten Kqira led the team with six grabs for 60 yards. A somewhat quiet night on the ground for running back Harry Adieyefeh (16 carries, 45 yards) was softened by a four-catch, 32-yard performance through the air.

Chambersburg (1-1) was touted as a young team with promise, but next to no experience at the skill positions. The Trojans came in off an exciting, 16-14 season-opening win over Greencastle-Antrim last week, but quickly realized they were in for a different experience Friday night. 

Strangely, their deepest penetration of the evening would come as they took possession off an ill-advised lateral on the opening kickoff. Spring-Ford lost the ball at its own 15, but shut down the Trojans for three plays, forcing an errant 34-yard field goal attempt. 

It would become a theme. The Rams’ front seven dominated the game, allowing Chambersburg little breathing room and no first downs until the six-minute mark of the third quarter.

The trouble was that early on, the Rams’ offense repeatedly entered the red zone and came away empty. The absence of kicker Sam Herman didn’t help, but SF twice failed to convert in the red zone in the opening stanza.

“There was sloppiness early on, especially on offense, and I shouldn’t have made that call [on the opening kickoff],” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “But our defense did a heck of a job until we got our legs under us.”

That happened early in the second quarter when Freed found Zollers for an 11-yard score. The two-point conversion failed, but SF doubled the lead less than 90 seconds later when Chambersburg’s Jermere Jones was pressured into a rushed pass that went directly to Cole Turner, who saw nothing but daylight en route to a 25-yard TD return.

SF’s most impressive drive came right before half, a 72-yard venture that ended in Freed’s second TD toss of the quarter, this time a 4-yarder to Carson Bogdan. Will Fish brought in the conversion pass, making the halftime margin 20-0.  

The third quarter was more of the same — two Freed touchdown passes, including Zollers’ second score of the evening, and dominant defense capped by a pick-six, this time Payton West cruising home from 36 yards. Gage Swanger was the recipient of the other scoring toss, expanding the lead to 42-0.

West added a second INT to set up Chris Brittingham’s three-yard run for the final points of the evening. 

As Spring-Ford prepares to travel to Cumberland Valley, they do so with a familiar combination — a dominant defensive unit, and an opportunistic, improving offense.

“Sometimes people say we’re too small, we’re undersized,” said Nicoline.

“But we’re opening eyes around the PAC, around the whole area,” added Shafer. “We’re gaining confidence and getting closer as a team with each win.”

PAC Football Preview: Frontier facing fresh start; PV heads list chasing champ Spring-Ford in Liberty

By  Rob Senior

August 26, 2021

Every new season constitutes a fresh start, but 2021 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Frontier Division brings the cleanest of slates.

Everyone looks to return to a sense of normalcy after a 2020 campaign that saw each school’s scheduling, practices, and overall experience compromised repeatedly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seasons were cancelled, resumed, then further delayed and postponed — and that’s not a cumulative effect.

With the possible exception of Upper Perkiomen, who was the lone smaller school to play in the official PAC season in 2020, every Frontier school’s 2020 season became an exercise in just trying to make it to the field each Friday night.

Back-to-back league titles constitute an impressive accomplishment, but it’s not much of a focus for the Spring-Ford Rams as they embark on the 2021 season.

“When we’re at practice, we don’t spend time talking about defending a championship,” said coach Chad Brubaker. “We’re focused on ourselves and getting better – I haven’t used the phrase ‘defending our championships’ once.”

It’s good news/bad news for the Rams’ outstanding defense, which registered three shutouts on the way to their undefeated regular season in 2020, and battling eventual District 1 champion Souderton to the bitter end of a 27-24 season-ending loss in the district semifinals.

The bad news? Eight starters departed.

The good news? One top performer returns at each level, led by PAC Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Horvath, a linebacker. He’s joined by stalwart tackle Donnie Nicoline and safety Cole Turner, each of whom will be relied upon as lynchpins in an otherwise young defensive unit.

On offense, the Rams return QB Ryan Freed and RB Harry Adieyefeh Jr. (110 carries, 568 yards, 6 total TDs in 2020), who figure to benefit from what Brubaker called some of the more impressive depth along the line he’s seen in his time at Spring-Ford. Kolten Kqira leads a crop of promising targets on the outside.

It won’t take long to find out what the Rams have, as a challenging non-league slate leads up to the PAC opener on September 24 at Perkiomen Valley, where senior QB Ethan Kohler and the Vikings have been patiently awaiting their chance for payback since last year’s 27-14 loss to the Rams. Kohler debuted impressively as a freshman with a win over Spring-Ford back in 2018 and would like to repeat the feat once more before his high school days are over.

“Spring-Ford is the champion – until they’re not,” said PV coach Rob Heist. “They’re the pinnacle right now, and we’re chasing them.

“But I think we’ll be pretty battle-tested by the time we see them in Week 4. I think we’ll be more of the PV team people are used to watching.”

It’s a senior-laden Vikings squad that takes the field in 2021, with Kohler (97-for-154, 1,451 yards, 16 TDs, 1 INT, 175.12 passer rating; 205 yards, 7 TDs rushing) leading a group of 15 starters who return with extensive experience. Senior tackle Jake Jonassen figures to lead the group responsible for giving Kohler time to find a list of targets led by Dawson Debebe and Rasheem Grayson.

Over in Bucktown, Owen J. Roberts returns the PAC’s leading rusher in Avrey Grimm (97 carries, 661 yards, 6 TDs), who figures to serve as a workhorse yet again as the Wildcats lean heavily on two-way standout senior John Havrilak (two-way player of the year in 2020) and WR/LB Aston Shrum. Returning QB Michael Reed will be welcoming a new group of pass-catching targets as the Wildcats lost Dante DeNardo and Christian Grossi to graduation.

After a breakthrough campaign that brought the first winning record since 2014, it’s another new start at Methacton where Brian Kennedy takes over for Dave Lotier. A small group of seniors (nine) will nonetheless be counted upon heavily on both sides of the ball, particularly on a defense where Chris Augustine, Matt Blakemore, and Brian Dickey were All-Area performers. A hot start could have the Warriors in the thick of the race, as they won’t see perennial front-runners Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley until the season’s final two weeks.

In Boyertown, guard Kyle Pry is the only returning lineman for an offense that otherwise boasts a a strong array of skill position players, led by three-year starter Leo Egbe at running back. Roman Marinello will likely split carries with Egbe behind junior Anthony Panarello or sophomore Ryder Gehris at QB, while TE/WR Luke Ordway returns as not only the team’s leading receiver, but one of its top tacklers from his defensive end spot. PJ Cunnius, Nathan Deming, and James Thoburn are leading candidates to occupy spots on the line, while sophomores Jason Oakes, Cade Sennott and Cole Yesavage figure prominently in the Bears’ back seven on defense.

Norristown was the one PAC school who saw their 2020 season completely cancelled, but the Eagles did get to play a spring slate, which coach Joe Milligan hopes will create some cohesion as they move directly into the 2021 campaign with only a summer break. Senior Kaden Cruz figures to be a standout on both sides of the ball at running back and middle linebacker, while a QB competition between senior John DiNolfi and junior Robby Miller may not be settled until the opener against Bensalem.

Mercury Football Preview: Back-to-back champ Spring-Ford still has plenty to prove

by  Owen McCue

August 26, 2021

Following three straight seasons of watching league rival Perkiomen Valley conquer the Pioneer Athletic Conference from 2016-18, the Spring-Ford football program reclaimed its spot atop the PAC in 2019.

The Rams kept their crown last season with an unbeaten run through a COVID-altered PAC to win the program’s first consecutive league titles since 1994-95. They followed that up by earning one of only four District 1 Class 6A playoff berths and falling in heartbreaking fashion to Souderton in the semifinals.

The goals and standards haven’t changed for the Spring-Ford program — winning a league title and competing for a District 1 crown were always at the top of the list. But this year’s senior class would like to continue — if not surpass — the excellence of their predecessors.

“We’ve all been playing together since seventh grade,” senior running back Harry Adieyefeh Jr. said. “ It was always, ‘Once we get to high school we’re going to do this and go do that.’ For the most part, up until now we’ve lived up to the hype. But it’s senior year now and there’s no taking a break. We’ve gotta finish it as a team, as a family, as a group. I think it’s going to be a really special year.”

Read the Phoenixville football team preview next here

Like most seasons, the Rams (6-1 in 2020) graduated a large senior class, though they do have several starters back from a season ago.

Senior quarterback Ryan Freed, running back Adieyefeh and junior slot back Zach Zollers return to the back field. Senior offensive tackles Ian Harvie and John Kaputa provide a strong foundation up front.

Freed completed 74 of 123 attempts for 863 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions as a freshman in his first varsity season under center. Adieyefeh led the Rams on the ground with 110 attempts for 568 yards and five touchdowns, going over the 100-yard mark three times.

“It’s definitely going to help having myself, Ian, a couple other guys returning,” Adieyefeh said. “It’s definitely good to have a year of experience behind you. You know the plays, just mentally getting ready for the games. I think that will help us get over the hump in some of these big games.”

On defense, the Rams similarly have senior experience at some spots — defensive back Cole Turner, linebacker Ryan Horvath and linemen Donnie Nicoline and Gavin Shafer return as starters — while they’ll look for some less experienced players to fill other roles.

“I think it’s definitely going to be the D-line,” Turner said of the key to the defense. “We like to call them the hogs. They’re aggressive, but we’re also well-rounded at linebacker. We have some young guys we think can fill the linebacker roles. We have two receivers that might be able to play both ways that can definitely give us impact in the secondary too. As an all-around defense, we’re going to be really good.”

The Rams posted an 11-0 record against PAC competition in the past two seasons on the way to two league crowns.

Last year’s closest league decision was a 27-13 victory over rival PV in their season opener. The Rams’ defense didn’t allow a point in its final three PAC wins of 2020 on the way to finishing off their conference title.

This 2021 group knows as the wins continue to grow, so does the target on their backs.

“It does get bigger, but we just gotta keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing,” senior defensive lineman Donnie Nicoline said. “Just keep winning, and I think we’ll be fine.”

Harvie, Adieyefeh, Nicoline and Turner were vocal about their desire to elevate Spring-Ford’s reputation outside the PAC this season.

Despite hosting district playoff games in each of the past three seasons, the Rams haven’t won a district game since 2016.

The playoff bracket was reduced to four teams last season due to COVID restrictions. In the semifinal matchup, Spring-Ford fell to Souderton, 27-24.

“I think a lot of these teams outside the PAC really underestimate Spring-Ford because it’s been first round exit, first round exit, second round exit,” Harvie said. “I think we can definitely capitalize on this year having a really special team and make all those people think twice about Spring-Ford come the end of the year.”

Following consecutive league titles, the Rams have certainly established themselves as the area’s best over the past two seasons, but they still think they have a lot to prove.

“We’ve got a real chip on our shoulder this year,” Turner said. “People don’t think we’re going to be as good as previous years, but I think with the young guys we have coming up now and with the team bonding that we have we know that we’re going to be really good and people are really underestimating us.”

SPRING-FORD

Head Coach – Chad Brubaker

Assistant Coaches

Jim Mich, Jr. – Defensive Backs – Defensive Coordinator; Chad Strickler – Offensive Line – Run Game Coordinator; Steve Schein – LBs; Steve Moyer – CBs; Chuck Nesley – DTs; Steve Entenman – DEs; Jim Algeo – WRs; Gary Rhodenbaugh – RBs; Mike Palmer – TEs

Top Returners

Offense

SB – Zach Zollers, Jr., 6-2, 200 (6 catches, 56 yards, TD)

QB – Ryan Freed, Sr., 5-10, 175 (74-of-123, 863 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INT)

RB – Harry Adieyefeh, Jr., 5-10, 190 (110 carries, 568 yards, 6 total TDs)

OL – Ian Harvie, Sr., 6-3, 270

OL – John Kaputa, Sr., 6-0, 275

Defense

DB – Cole Turner, Sr., 6-2, 175 (19 tackles, 3 tackles for loss)

LB – Ryan Horvath, Sr., 5-9, 170 (38 tackles, 10 tackles for loss)

DT/DE – Donnie Nicoline, Sr., 6-1, 240 (9 tackles, 3 tackles for loss)

DT – Gavin Shafer, Sr., 6-0, 180 (12 tackles, 4 tackles for loss)

Special Teams

KR – Gage Swanger, Jr., 5-9, 175 (166 kick return yards)

KR – Kolten Kqira, Sr., 6-0, 180 (10 catches, 85 yards, 141 kick return yards)

Key Newcomers

QB – Kyle Keckler, Sr., 6-2, 190

DB – Carson Bogdan, Sr., 5-11, 170

WR – Payton West, Sr., 5-10, 170

WR/DB – Matt Yurko, Jr., 5-10, 170

ATH – Jake Reigh, Jr., 5-9, 165

WR/DB – Kevin Canuso, Jr., 5-11, 170

FB/LB – Will Fish, Jr., 5-10, 190

WR – Davis Bunning, Sr., 6-0, 170

FB/LB – Mike Bendowski, So., 6-0, 190

OL – Ryan Shaner, Jr., 5-11, 235

OL – Mike Scalia, Jr., 6-0, 240

OL – AJ Detwiler, Sr., 5-11, 240

QB – Gavin Vigilante, Jr., 6-0, 180

K – Sam Herman, Jr., 6-0, 160

OL/DL – Luke Ellor, So., 6-1, 240

OL/DL – Evan Strzeminski, So., 6-2, 220

OL/DL – Owen Norman, So., 6-2, 215

WR – Belal Abdelrahman, So., 6-2, 180

WR – Tanay Shankar, So., 5-11, 170

DB – Mason Scott, So., 6-1, 170

QB – Matt Zollers, Fr., 6-2, 175

Four-decade fixture Schein selected to Pa. Football Coaches Hall of Fame

​by  Jeff Stover

May 30, 2021

The last weekend in May will be a banner one for Spring-Ford’s football program.

Four Rams will be accorded various honors at the state level, in a time frame whose primary focus will be the nation’s annual Memorial Day observance. Assistant coach Steve Schein will be inducted into the Pa. State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame Sunday (May 30), and three Spring-Ford players will be playing in the East/West All-Star Game’s big-school (PIAA Classes 4A to 6A) contest at Central Dauphin High’s Landis Field in Harrisburg that same afternoon.

“We take pride in this,” SF head coach Chad Brubaker said of his team’s level of representation in the state. “It’s post-season honors based on reputation.”

Schein’s reputation, in a coaching career that comes close to the half-century mark, has been that of a person stressing the aspects of teamwork — winning gracefully, losing graciously — finishing something one starts, and discipline to his players. Those credos are at the foundation of a coaching resume marked by more than 100 victories in 17 years heading the grid program at Upper Merion beginning in 1983, and the numerous other seasons since 1973 where he assisted other teams in the Southeastern Pa. region … 26 of them at Spring-Ford.

“One of the things about Steve is, he’s always been attending clinics,” Brubaker, the person who nominated Schein for the Hall of Fame, said. “He’s current in terms of safety and schemes.

“There’s a tendency for guys who are older, who have been in a system for some time, to stick with what’s there. Steve always stays current.”

As Schein’s nominator for the Hall of Fame, Brubaker cited such criteria for selection as (1) serving as a head coach for at least 15 years and (2) having won 100 or more games. Success in terms of league and playoff competition is also considered.

Schein met those criteria during his time at Upper Merion High School. He won 117 games (record 117-70-6), four Suburban One American Conference titles, had a number of District 1 playoff qualifications and was a three-time Coach of the Year. He also served twice as head coach for the Montgomery County All-Star Football Game.

He recalled being approached by Upper Merion administrators about becoming the head coach at the school, on the occasion of the luncheon for the 1983 Montgomery County All-Star Game.

“They liked what I stood for,” he said. “The superintendent told me just to treat the kids fairly.”

After retiring as the Vikings’ head coach in 2000, Schein returned to UM — at the time considered a top program in the region — for a two-year stint as defensive coordinator under then-head coach Andy Toto. He then came back to Spring-Ford, where he served seven years on Gary Rhodenbaugh’s staff as a defensive and offensive coordinator before becoming an assistant on Brubaker’s staff.

“I’ve worked with great assistants and outstanding players,” he said of his time at Spring-Ford. “Guys like Hank Bernat (Owen J. Roberts) and Jim Mich Sr. (St. Pius X) … I learned a lot from them.”

Schein was active in other athletic programs at Spring-Ford in his first 10 years there. He was head coach of the wrestling team three seasons in the early 1980s and assisted on the track and field team.

Steve’s involvement with the community’s youth was marked by his founding of the Spring-Ford Youth Football and Cheerleading program in the 2000s.

“I didn’t understand why there was no football in the community,” he recalled. “The Spring-Ford Youth Cheerleading grew to be one of the top programs around.”

Schein’s own involvement in football dated back to his time as a 10-year-old participant in Pop Warner, middle school and high school (Levittown’s Woodrow Wilson High Class of 1969). He went on to the then-West Chester State College, where he played the sport at the freshman and varsity levels while attaining BA and M.Ed degrees in Health and Physical Education.

“I considered myself an average player,” he said, “but I loved playing the sport. I knew back in eighth grade I wanted to coach.”

Though giving the perception of having an intimidating personality, Brubaker sees another side to Schein’s demeanor.

“I think, as he’s gotten older, he has a huge heart,” he said of Schein. “He’s ultimately a softie, but he demands a lot from the players. When he gets animated and stern, the kids take notice.”

It’s a personality molded by Steve’s mindset about the foundation of the sport.

“Football is the ultimate team sport,” he noted. “There’s a role for everybody. One person can’t win a game.

“Some of my best teams had 11 good players who worked hard, stuck together and showed teamwork. And you never quit. I believe if you start something, you finish it.”
That aspect of Schein’s life was tested 4-1/2 years ago when he suffered a serious neck injury at home. He underwent surgery at University of Pennsylvania Hospital and rehabilitation at Bryn Mawr Rehab, driven by a desire to resume his coaching activities.

“My goal was to get back on the field,” he said. “I made it for camp.

He’s now taking a step-by-step approach to his long-term involvement.

“I’m taking it month by month,” he said. “As long as I have my health, I’m going to keep going.”

* * *

It’s had single players previously selected for the East/West All-Star Football Game.

In one instance, two were chosen. But Spring-Ford has leaped a higher bar this year by having three players named to participate in the East/West action being held the weekend of May 29-30 at Central Dauphin High School.

Kyle Kennedy, Nick Teets and Nate Capers will represent the Pioneer Athletic Conference champions in the 4-6 game. In a first for the game there will be East/West All-Star contests for big and small schools; the three highest classifications (4-6) will be in one, the three lowest classifications (1-3) in the other.

“They don’t go by stats, but by ability,” SF head coach Chad Brubaker said. “More kids will be able to play, and be recognized. It’s hugely positive for Pennsylvania.”

Kennedy, who plans to walk on Drake University’s football team after graduating high school, has served as Spring-Ford’s center and long snapper for three years.

“He’s done a great job,” Brubaker said of Kennedy, who also competes on the school’s winter and spring track programs. “He’s a smart kid who knows the fronts and makes line calls. It will be great to see what he can do.”

A Mercury All-Area second team offensive lineman in 2019, Kennedy was an All-PAC and All-Mercury selection in 2020, as well as Pa. Football News’ Class 6A long snapper. He is a Spring-Ford TD Club Wall of Fame qualifier from the Class of 2021.

Teets will be going on to play men’s lacrosse at Monmouth University. But his athletic versatility was demonstrated by his play as a wide receiver and defensive back in football.

“He’s a testament to the value of being a multi-sport player,” Brubaker noted. “I like having kids who play more than one sport.”

Teets is coming off a 2020 season that saw him catch 28 passes covering 412 yards, an average of 14.7 yards per reception. He was selected to the PAC All-Liberty team as a defensive back and wide receiver, as well as the PAC’s Liberty Most Valuable Player.

He was accorded similar honors on The Mercury All-Area team: Wide receiver, defensive back and Player of the Year.

Like Kennedy, Teets is a Spring-Ford TD Club Wall of Fame qualifier from the Class of 2021. For his career, he ranks fourth in receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,086) and eighth in receiving touchdowns (10).

The development of his gridiron skills has resulted in Capers receiving a partial scholarship to Bloomsburg University to play for the Huskies’ NCAA Division II program. The 6-foot-3 cornerback had 55 tackles (four for loss) and two interceptions in a 2020 season that saw him named a second-team defensive back on the PAC’s All-Liberty, Mercury All-Area and Pa. Football News second teams.

“He’s tall, lanky and comes up to make plays,” Brubaker said of Capers.

Both games will be played Memorial Day Weekend (Sunday, May 3) at Landis Field the Central Dauphin School District’s Landis Field in Harrisburg. They will be played in conjunction with the annual Big 33 game, the first at noon (small school) and the second at 5 p.m. (big school).

“Post-season honors are based on reputation,” Brubaker, a head coach for the game in 2017 and 2018, said. “It’s the purest recognition, being evaluated by coaches across the state.

“It shows they’re coached the right way. It’s a big honor to compete against the state.”

2021 Helmet Reveal

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S-F Youth Football Clinic Series Promo

2021 Schedule Graphic

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Big School PSFCA East / West Game Ad - by Coach Strickler

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2021 Slogan Reveal

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