News from 2022 Season

Spring-Ford rolls past Boyertown in PAC Liberty opener

By  Evan Wheaton

  • September 24, 2022

ROYERSFORD >> Spring-Ford came into Week 5 looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Well, picture that proverbial snap as a branch getting obliterated beneath its foot.

By scoring six touchdowns on its first six drives, the Rams bombarded Boyertown in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty opener, 42-0 at Coach McNelly Stadium Friday night.

“Spring-Ford did a great job keeping the offense off the field for sure, but then again, we kicked ourselves in the foot fumbling there twice and took us out of the first quarter,” Bears coach Justin Konnick said.

Boyertown (2-3) had two turnovers, the first on a fumble along the Spring-Ford 1-yard line. After recovering on their 3-yard line, the Rams (3-2) pieced together a lengthy 12-play, 97-yard drive capped off by a 10-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Will Fish.

 

Fish was a human battering ram and all 5-foot-11, 205 pounds of him chopped up 142 yards on 18 carries, adding another touchdown on a 28-yard run to the house just before the half to carry a 35-0 lead into the break.

“During our first game, we knew that we could run the ball against Governor Mifflin and the past few weeks, we haven’t been able to do that,” Fish said. “To come out tonight and show that we can run the ball against everyone, it’s a big deal and means a lot to us.”

Through the first four weeks, Spring-Ford averaged just 54 rushing yards per game. A major item on the Rams’ agenda was to establish that ground game which hadn’t been present thus far.

And with 265 rushing yards across the hands of six different members of its backfield, it’s safe to say Spring-Ford did just that.

“That was the goal. We’ve been struggling,” Rams coach Chad Brubaker said. “It’s obvious if anybody’s looked at the box scores. We’ve played two pretty good teams, but even prior to that, we had not broken out the way we wanted to break out offensively and how we want to execute.

“We pulled back a little bit this week in terms of complexity. We decided we were going to be more downhill as opposed to a read team and we took a lot of the reads, zone-read and other reads out of the game and just ran downhill. Obviously we got results.”

 

The results weren’t exclusive to the ground. Sophomore quarterback Matt Zollers — who entered Week 5 with a PAC-high nine passing touchdowns — threw 9-for-15 for 154 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half.

His first came two minutes into the second quarter on an 11-yard strike to Zach Zollers to double up the Rams’ lead, 14-0.

“We were running a bunch of RPOs and the linebackers were coming up heavy and I was just throwing right behind their ears,” Matt Zollers said. “They were playing a lot of cover-zero and a lot of cover-four, and that’s pretty easy coverage to pick apart.”

 

Junior wide receiver Belal Abdelrahman hauled in a 16-yard end zone reception from the 6-foot-4, 200-pound signal caller to put an exclamation point on a two-play, 75-yard sprint with 7:15 left in the second quarter.

With just under four and a half minutes remaining before the break, Zollers once again found Abdelrahman in the end zone with a 12-yard dart.

“I mean, that’s Spring-Ford,” Konnick said. “Spring-Ford’s gonna go out there and throw the football and we went out there and did everything this past week to get ready for that.

“Obviously we weren’t good enough and they did what they needed to do to move the ball down the field and (Zollers) is a hell of a quarterback. His brother is a hell of a receiver and we knew coming into this game what we were up against.”

Mike Bendowski caught four passes for 46 yards and added another 75 yards on the ground across six touches. The junior closed out the scoring with a 33-yard rushing touchdown five minutes into the third quarter.

 

The Rams weren’t the only ones with major offensive keys on the field. Junior running back Cole Yesavage entered the game as the leading rusher in the PAC with 518 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns.

If a shutout to open league play wasn’t enough for Spring-Ford’s defense, holding one of the strongest running backs in the area to just 27 yards on 13 carries is another box checked off the list.

That, avoiding injuries and handing the game over to second and third-stringers to get some valuable experience for the bench late in the third quarter was also a plus for the Rams.

“We wanted to make sure when we come out in the second half, it doesn’t turn into mistakes and mental mistakes and everything like that,” Brubaker said. “Our second-team guys did a good job of that in the second half.

“We did make some mistakes, but it was nice seeing different guys get touches in the second half that haven’t gotten touches all year. I think as a program, we really needed a game like this.”

Manheim Township overcomes penalties with late defensive stand


Hayden Johnson completed 24-of-33 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns to lead Manheim Township over Spring-Ford Friday.

ROYERSFORD — All of Manheim Township’s frustration, and all those penalties, were erased by three timely defensive plays. One prevented a touchdown. Two ended the potential game-winning drive.

Township held off Spring-Ford 17-14 in a nonleague football game Friday night. It was 48 minutes that became a test of perseverance.

Jake Cramer’s tackle was the clincher. The senior dragged down Belal Abdelrahman short of the first down to end Spring-Ford’s chance at the go-ahead score in the final minute.

“I immediately looked at the sticks and saw it wasn’t a first down,” Cramer. “That was it. We just wanted to get off the field. The defense was putting it out there. It felt good.”

One play earlier, Shymere Covington pushed a receiver out of bounds to force an incompletion. Each of those passes could have kept the drive going. Instead it stalled at Township’s 44-yard line.

Township’s defense held Spring-Ford to 152 yards on 48 plays. Both of the Rams’ touchdowns came on drives that started in Blue Streaks territory.

The most important defensive stand may have happened late in the third quarter. Eli Rodriguez sacked Matt Zollers before he could connect with a wide-open receiver for what looked like a sure 35-yard touchdown.

Despite trailing in the fourth quarter and being called for 13 penalties, Township prevailed.

“There’s a learning opportunity here,” coach Mark Evans said. “We didn’t have our ‘A’ game and we found a way to win. That’s what good teams that are going to become great teams do. They find a way to win.”

Turning point: Township faced a gut-check when it trailed 14-10 with 6:45 remaining. Hayden Johnson completed four consecutive passes and hit Charlie Kingsbury for an 8-yard score to put the Blue Streaks back in front.

Covington’s 34-yard kickoff return and Declan Clancy’s bruising 12-yard reception were keys to the drive, which succeeded despite running back Nick Good being out with an injury.

“Our kids stayed focused when they needed to,” Evans said. “They didn’t let all the periphery get to them.”

Star of the game: Johnson completed 24-of-33 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns. The other score went to Landon Kennel. Nine receivers caught passes. Kingsbury was the top target with 5 receptions for 64 yards.

Key statistic: The teams were called for a combined 21 penalties for 188 yards. Township received the brunt of it by being whistled for 113 yards worth of infractions. Two unsportsmanlike calls came after the Blue Streaks had the ball on Spring-Ford’s 1-yard line. Those cost Township a likely touchdown.

Cumberland Valley deals Spring-Ford its first loss

​ROYERSFORD >> Last season, Cumberland Valley pulled out an improbable win over Spring-Ford on the final play of the contest.

Friday night at Coach McNelly Stadium, the Eagles were taking no such chances. 

Cumberland Valley made the long trip from Mechanicsburg pay off with a 28-16 win over the Rams on a night where the visitors always seemed to come up with the big play.

The teams were dead even on first downs. They each had six penalties, each committed one turnover, and total yardage was comparable (321-265 for Cumberland Valley).

But the difference was Cumberland Valley’s (3-0) ability to strike in all fashions from different points on the field. Their scoring drives weren’t long – a six-play scoring foray marked the Eagles’ longest of the night – but they were authoritative.

Spring-Ford’s Zach Zollers (4), Luke Pajovich (34) and Matt Yurko (26) team up to tackle Cumberland Valley quarterback Isaac Sines. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Senior quarterback Isaac Sines combined play-making ability, efficiency and poise, passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns on only eight completions, in addition to his 59 rushing yards and rushing score.

“And I thought we actually did an excellent job against him,” said Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker. “But there was always that second-and-long play where he escapes or extends the play — and now it’s third and two instead of third and long. 

“We knew what he was capable of. He’s their conductor.”

Sines also contributed to a Cumberland Valley secondary that frustrated the Rams’ offense for long stretches, facing 40 passing attempts on the night and forcing Spring-Ford to work for their two scoring drives (eight and 12 plays, respectively). The Rams went the first 15 minutes of the second half without a first down, during which time the Cumberland Valley lead grew from 14-8 to 28-8.

On the Eagles’ second drive of the third quarter. Sines did it all, extending a play to hit Griffin Huffman for a 33-yard gain, then following a short run with a strike to an open Caiden Pines down the seam for a 27-yard score and a 21-8 advantage.

After a Rams punt, fullback Josh Wagenheim burst loose on his second carry of the evening for 58 yards early in the fourth quarter, setting up Bryce Staretz’s short TD plunge to ice the game for the Eagles.

“We took this game very seriously,” said CV coach Josh Oswalt, “because we know Chad [Brubaker] and Spring-Ford have an excellent program and they’re sound in all facets.

“Josh (Wagenheim) isn’t our starting running back, he’s a linebacker — but he competes all week for those few carries. We ride the hot hand. One week it’s Bryce (Staretz), there’s Isaac at quarterback… we have a lot of contributors.”

An evenly played first half saw the visiting Eagles take the lead into the break when Sines found Paddy Hernjak over the middle for 24 yards and a go-ahead score with only 35 seconds before the break. 

Cumberland Valley had the better of the possession in the early going, but the two squads exchanged touchdowns and turnovers, in that order, before the Sines-to-Hernjak go-ahead score. Sines himself carried the ball over from eight yards out midway through the first quarter and kicked his own extra point for good measure.

Early in the second quarter, the Rams responded with a Matt Zollers scramble followed by a catch-and-run from Mason Scott to the CV 3. Senior Will Fish finished the drive from there, and Spring-Ford would take their only lead of the night on a two-point conversion, with Zollers finding his older brother Zach on a fade to the right corner.

But it would be the last offensive highlight for the Rams until the fourth quarter. The Zollers brothers just missed on an end-of-half Hail Mary attempt, and the Cumberland Valley defense stiffened, holding SF to 31 total yards on their first four drives of the second half before a 12-play, 79-yard journey ended in Matt Zollers’ five-yard scoring strike to Mike Bendowski.

Spring-Ford’s Mason Scott picks up extra yards after catching a pass against Cumberland Valley. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The 2-1 Rams return to action next week against Manheim Township, Cumberland Valley’s District 3 counterparts who fell to the Eagles 31-27 in both teams’ opening game on August 26.

“We got some pressure on [Sines], but we have some things to resolve in the secondary,” said Brubaker. “Offensively, we need to take what’s there for us. Stay ahead of the chains, get ourselves into second-and-five type situations. When you’re down, you can’t play from behind the chains.”

NOTES: It was the second straight season that Cumberland Valley gave Spring-Ford their first loss. Almost a year ago to the day, the Eagles turned a botched game-winning field goal attempt into an improbable touchdown as time expired for a 23-19 victory in Mechanicsburg.

Playing without kicker Liam McGarvey, the Rams opted to go for two-point conversion after both touchdowns and were successful on each attempt. Sines’ do-it-all approach spread to special teams, where he was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points. Rated No. 10 in Pennsylvania 6A football by MaxPreps before the game, Cumberland Valley returns home next week to face Central Dauphin East before traveling to play Harrisburg, ranked No. 3 among 6A teams in the state.

“In my opinion, [the Mid-Penn Conference’s Commonwealth Division] is the toughest in the state,” said Oswalt.

Spring-Ford set for true test from Cumberland Valley in Week 3

The record books show a 2-0 start, but Spring-Ford still has some strides to take before starting league play in a couple weeks.

While by no means perfect in execution, the Rams’ first two efforts have been strong enough to get them a pair of victories behind solid if at times inconsistent team play and a pair of impressive statistical showings from sophomore quarterback Matt Zollers (26-for-43, 418 yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT).

But coach Chad Brubaker says that won’t be enough this week when the Rams welcome Cumberland Valley of District 3 to Coach McNelly Stadium.
Last year, a 2-0 Spring-Ford was on the road and dropped a 23-19 verdict to Cumberland Valley on Sept. 10.

The Eagles come in with a similar 2-0 record earned in victories over Central York and Manheim Township.

“They are a powerhouse program,” said Brubaker. “We’ve been able to get a couple of victories without playing our best games. We no longer have that luxury.”

Indeed, a dominant first-half effort on defense and special teams last week was clouded by a second half in which District 12’s Olney dominated possession and played the Rams to a standstill for the final 24 minutes. The first-half advantage stood up, with Spring-Ford prevailing 28-8.

Against Cumberland Valley, however, such extended dominance may not be realistic. The Eagles’ first two performances have them among the “Five Teams to Watch” just outside the Top 10 in statewide Class 6A rankings, and they’re plenty battle tested after winning those two contests by a combined six points.

The offense is piloted by dual-threat senior Isaac Sines, whose air and ground games are almost perfectly balanced (222 yards rushing, 216 yards passing, 4 pass TDs/3 rush TDs). The thunder to Sines’ lightning is junior Bryce Staretz, averaging just over five yards per carry with two scores of his own.

The Eagles know how to be efficient in the passing attack – their 11 completions in 2022 have yielded four scoring strikes without a turnover.

“We will need to contain Sines,” said Brubaker. “They are at their best when he is scrambling.”

They’re not bad on defense either, picking off a trio of passes already this season. Sines also does the place kicking for the Eagles – a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points this year – and Brubaker was impressed by a long Cumberland Valley kickoff return against Central York.

The Rams’ defensive approach starts with their game-changing defensive line talent. Luke Pajovich (16 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks) leads a unit also featuring Franny Undercuffler, returning All-Area defensive end Zach Zollers and emerging junior Evan Strzeminski. Gage Swanger’s steadiness in the back seven complements his versatile skill set on offense (99 yards receiving, two TDs).

For the Rams offense, it expects to be sophomore QB Zoller and the unit’s biggest test to date.

“Matt must take what is there to get us into manageable down and distance,” said Brubaker. “We need to match [Cumberland Valley] for 48 minutes.”

Spring-Ford improves to 2-0 with win over Olney

ROYERSFORD >> Attrition is a fact of life in high school football, but it seems especially pronounced in the early season.  

As important as wins and losses are, watching a new team’s growth is paramount in the lead-up to league play starting at the end of September.

That’s why Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker looked like anything but a 20-point victor after Thursday night’s 28-8 win over District 12’s Olney.

Despite a decisive disadvantage in manpower, the visitors from Olney outplayed SF for much of the second half, not the desired outcome following the Rams’ impressive debut against District 3’s Governor Mifflin a week ago.

“We need to play a complete game, and that second half wasn’t it,” said Brubaker. “We have work to do to get better.”

Olney dressed only 27 players for the contest. As one might expect, the difference was in the trenches as Spring-Ford was able to control possession in the first half, amassing a 21-0 lead while also racking up 14 tackles for loss on the night defensively.

Franny Undercuffler and Luke Pajovich were the leaders with four TFLs apiece. Spring-Ford stopped the Trojans from crossing midfield until late in the third quarter, but the players echoed their coach’s thoughts on improvement.

“We need to take our opponents seriously the whole 48 minutes,” said Pajovich. “There were a lot of penalties, and I think that got us off our game. That can’t happen. We need to maintain, need to keep going.”

Sophomore QB Matt Zollers’ hot start continued as he threw for 171 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.

As much as there can be a ‘turning point’ in a 21-0 game that ends with a 20-point margin, Shyheem Taylor’s red-zone interception of Zollers in the third quarter marked the moment when Olney came to life. He returned the ball to the Rams’ 39, marking Olney’s best field position to that point. But the Rams’ defense would stiffen, providing their highlight for the evening with a goal-line stand that allowed them to keep Olney off the board for the time being.

The Trojans would break up the shutout on the first play of the fourth quarter, a safety on a punt snap out of the end zone.

Olney quarterback Dylan Health was under siege all night but showed impressive resilience that paid off in a late scoring strike to Amari Alvin to bring Olney within 21-8 with five minutes to play. But Spring-Ford recovered the onside kick and embarked on a five-play scoring drive culminating in Will Fish’s barreling 16-yard scoring reception to ice the contest.

Surprisingly, the Trojans got stronger as the contest progressed, controlling possession for much of the second half despite the numbers disadvantage. The performance impressed many observers, leaving both viewers and Olney staff to wonder how the outcome might have differed had Olney enjoyed similar roster depth to the Rams. 

“We need to keep our heads in the game — more stamina, more energy,” said Undercuffler.

Spring-Ford’s special teams repeatedly set up the home team with outstanding field position in the first half, blocking two punts deep in Olney territory with each leading to touchdowns.

Neither team made much happen on offense early, but Zach Zollers’ work on special teams and at wide receiver got Spring-Ford a first-quarter lead. His punt block gave the Rams possession inside the Olney 30, where it took six plays for Matt Zollers to find his older brother on a fade for a 12-yard touchdown pass that opened the scoring.

The second quarter saw the Rams double the lead when Gage Swanger took a short hitch, juked a couple Olney tacklers and dove across the goal line from 24 yards out. Three minutes later, it was Mason Scott catching Matt Zollers’ third TD pass of the half on a 21-yard toss, set up by Mike Bendowski’s blocked punt.

Olney (1-1), who opened with a 12-9 win over Father Judge of the Philadelphia Catholic League last week, returns to the field next week at Chichester. Dylan Health led the Trojans with 73 yards passing and 35 yards rushing. Penalties were indeed costly, with the Trojans whistled 13 times on the evening.

Despite the final score, Olney takes a lot of positives from Thursday’s game after hanging tough for 48 minutes.

“Hats off to them,” said Brubaker. “I think they played better than us. We need to find some fire.

“We didn’t throw well, catch well, block well… I did think we tackled well, but we allowed them to control that game.”

Spring-Ford (2-0) moves onto another non-league challenge next week when they host Cumberland Valley from District 3. The Rams dropped a heartbreaker to the Eagles a year ago, falling 23-19 in the final seconds on a broken play.

The Rams figure to take advantage of the extra day of preparation a Thursday night game affords them — a benefit Franny Undercuffler feels is much needed.

“[The short week] threw things off a little bit [tonight], but we were able to get the win,” he said. 

“We’ll be angry next week,” said Pajovich. “I hope our whole team realizes we need to play better.”

Spring-Ford scores opening win over Gov. Mifflin, 21-10

SHILLINGTON >> Spring-Ford started its season with a win on Friday night.

The Rams were stout on defense and relied on the arm of sophomore quarterback Matt Zollers to earn a 21-10 win over Gov. Mifflin in a non-league game.

“Overall, we’ll take the W,” Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker said. “We have to finish drives and we’ve got to cut out the penalties on offense. We had way too many penalties offensively.”

Aside from the penalties, the Rams’ offensive success was facilitated by Zollers. With a big arm and strong pocket presence, Zollers completed 13-of-24 pass attempts for 240 yards and three touchdowns.

“I expect Matt to complete every pass,” Brubaker said. “That’s what he can do. When we call a pass play, I expect Matt to complete it.”

Zollers made a splash early on, connecting with older brother and senior wide receiver Zach Zollers on a 66-yard touchdown during the Rams’ first offensive series of the game to give them a 7-0 lead. Zach Zollers finished with seven catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

The Mustangs responded late in the second quarter, stringing together a lengthy drive before Delsin McNeil plunged in the end zone on a 2-yard quarterback sneak to tie it 7-7. McNeil finished with seven carries for 39 yards and the rushing touchdown and completed 2-of-5 pass attempts for 16 yards.

Gov. Mifflin took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter thanks to kicker Jackson Schools, who nailed a 22-yard field goal. Schools finished the game 2-for-2 in field goals and PATs.

“We were a little flustered early on,” Mustangs coach Jeff Lang said. “We recovered. We hung with them for most of the game.”

Spring-Ford responded on its next drive, as the Zollers brothers connected for another touchdown. The Rams led 14-10 at the half.

Spring-Ford scored the lone points of the second half midway through the third quarter, as Matt Zollers found wide receiver Gage Swanger for a 33-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Swanger’s lone catch of the game.

The Rams consumed the clock in the second half, relying on productive inside runs from running back Will Fish. The senior finished with 19 carries and 118 yards.

“He was punishing people,” Brubaker said. “He was running real well, so we just kept it going.”

The Mustangs struggled on offense in the second half, as Spring-Ford crowded the box and stuffed the running game. Fullback Brayden Reis was the lone bright spot for Gov. Mifflin, as the senior ran for 113 yards on just 10 carries.

“They wore us down,” Lang said. “In the end, it showed.”

The Mustangs were shutout in the second half and scored just 10 points, their lowest output since October 2018. In its first regular season loss since September 2019, Gov. Mifflin mustered 221 yards of total offense, 205 of which came on the ground.

“Defensively, I thought we did pretty well,” Brubaker said. “You have to be very disciplined against their offense.”

2022 Slogan Reveal

2022 SPRING-FORD YOUTH & JUNIOR HIGH FOOTBALL CAMP

JUNE 20-22

9 AM - 12 PM

ENTERING GRADES 2-9

COACH MCNELLY STADIUM

$75 before 6/13

$85 after 6/13

Registration: https://tinyurl.com/SFcamp2022

Payment: https://sfboosterclub.net/youth-football-camp

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