During the first annual PAC Media Day, Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz affirmed that senior quarterback Zeke Hallman was primed to be a premier quarterback in the league.
Three weeks into the 2016 season, Hontz’s words speak true.
One year after finishing with a quarterback rating under 100 in a disappointing season for the Indians, Hallman has emerged as one of the premier signal callers and has helped bring a new sense of hope in Red Hill as the team seeks its first winning season since 2009 … even after a 1-2 start.
“He just has a real command of the playbook,” Hontz said of Hallman, “I also have to tip my cap to Casey Perlstein (UP assistant coach who played football at Kutztown University), he’s been working directly with Zeke all preseason.
“Zeke really understands the reads, and after three years of experience he better have an idea,” Hontz chuckled.
Hallman’s maturation has been instantly noticeable as he’s thrown for the same amount of touchdowns (11) as he did in all of 2015. He’s also protected the football, throwing only one interception compared to the nine he had last season. He’s also on pace to finish with 2,123 passing yards, a far cry from the 1,068 he finished with in the Indians’ 3-7 2015 campaign.
“Things started slowing down for me last year during the Phoenixville game, when we came out at home at the last game of the season (48-0 UP win),” Hallman said. “Offseason work with Casey really helped with the mental aspect and the physical aspect. In my third year starting, everything is slowing down and I’m able to go through my progressions.
“Casey was very big during practice on telling me to not make a throw that I wouldn’t make on Friday night. He really hit hard on protecting the football, if it’s not there just run the ball. Trust your speed. He’s really hit home on letting me know to protect the football.”
Led by the tutelage of Perlstein and the standout play of receivers Ryan Kendra (20 receptions for 389 yards and six touchdowns) and Tyler Keiser, Hallman and the Indians are averaging 35 points per game and have led in 10 of the 12 quarters. Yet, a 1-2 record looms large for a squad whose depth issues have played a major part in losing late leads, first against Boyertown in Week 1, then to Upper Moreland in Week 3. Both weeks had game-time temperatures near 90 degrees. Both saw key Indians starter sidelined late due to cramping.
“We’re disappointed in being 1-2, but you just feel an energy getting ready for each game. We all feel as if we got a shot to win every week and have built a gameplan around that. The kids are really buying into that. It just happened to be 95 degrees for two of those games and we had bodies all over the sideline cramping. It’s not from lack of conditioning or our efforts. When you’re playing both ways in that type of heat you just lose too much fluids and cramp up.”
And for a team that’s lost both games by one score, the Indians could have easily started 3-0.
“Ryan Kendra has stood out, so has Tyler Keyser who had three touchdowns against Kutztown,” Hontz said. “We’ve got other people that can help out. If we had (Austin) Tutolo back and healthy we’d have a real strong and dynamic backfield with (Tyler) Whary. It’s just a matter of getting everyone on the field at once. Freshman Tyrese Reid has even stepped in and given us another dimension. We feel that we have the skill people and our pass protection has been doing really well this year. If we can erase some of the mental mistakes we can even pound the ball a little bit more.”
No Fazing Faison
Pottsgrove’s Rahsul Faison has been unstoppable in his first two games and now leads the conference in with 499 rushing yards on 44 attempts with six touchdowns. He’s averaging a whopping 11.3 yards per carry.
Laying the Wood
Spring-Ford’s Dan Cassidy made his presence felt in the Rams’ double overtime loss to Wilson Friday … and in a big way. The gunner on the Rams punt team, Cassidy sprinted down the field and laid out the Wilson returner for one of the biggest hits of the week. Video on papreplive.com
The Hill School came away with its first season-opening win since 2009 — a 25-16 win over Wyoming Seminary — in head coach Jeff Hollways’ debut. First-year running back Daniel Adeboboye carried it 11 times for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns. True-freshman running back Gernard Finney carried it 10 times for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The speedster also reeled in two passes for 16 yards.
Perkiomen Valley alum Grant Wiley (Class of 98) was recently inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame. Wiley, a former Mercury All-Area Player of the Year, earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors after recording 94 tackles and 14 tackles for losses in 2000 for the Mountaineers before finishing as a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award in 2003.
Drink to That
Haverford School’s Tommy Toal threw for 210 yards as the Fords overcame a 20-8 halftime deficit against West Catholic to win their 21st-straight contest, 37-34. Haverford School travels to Perkiomen Valley Friday.
Things haven’t fared so well on the ground for Boyertown QB Jerry Kapp. After rushing for 158 yards in the team’s victory over Upper Perk in Week 1, Kapp has been going in reverse in the team’s past two losses, finishing with -11 yards rushing in each loss.
Player of the Week
Rahsul Faison, Pottsgrove >> Running back rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns in the Falcons’ 36-6 victory over Boyertown on Friday.
Coach of the Week
Jeff Hollway, Hill School >> Hollway earned a victory in his coaching debut with the Hill against his former team, Wyoming Seminary.