News from 2021 Season
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.”
Head Coach – Chad Brubaker
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
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
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)
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)
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.”
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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.”
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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.