BOYERTOWN >> For Academy Park, last season was simply a foreshadowing.
Hard to imagine for a team defending its conference and district titles while also coming off a PIAA playoff appearance.
But for the Knights, that’s what the 2016 season has been all about. Just ask senior Teddy Wright, who carried the offensive load in Academy Park’s 26-7 win over Boyertown on Friday night at Bear Memorial Stadium.
“Last season, Vo (Academy Park head coach Josh Vosheski) gave me one carry, one time to shine,” said Wright with a laugh, “and I scored on it. One carry, one touchdown.
“That was just a sign of things to come this year.”
The win lifts Academy Park to 4-0 overall while Boyertown drops to 1-3, now amid a three-game skid after a Week 1 win over Upper Perkiomen.
Wright put in a workmanlike effort on the night, racking up 167 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown to go along with a 30-yard reception. Swapping carries with Wright throughout, Dazhon Miller carried it 14 times for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Knights outrushed Boyertown 223-61.
“We’re blessed to have two very good running backs,” said Vosheski. “Since they’re both two-way players, they typically rotate in the backfield so we can keep them fresh throughout.”
“It’s an honor to be running the ball with Dazhon,” added Wright. “I know that if I don’t make the play, he’s gonna come in and make the play. We’re both elusive power backs.”
Academy Park kept Boyertown off the board through the first 34 minutes before Bears quarterback Jerry Kapp hit Dan Yednock for a beautiful 26-yard strike with just over a minute left.
The Academy Park defense hardly let Kapp stand still under center throughout, seemingly forcing him out of the pocket at will with their front four. The Knights’ defense finished with three sacks and two interceptions including Issa Fox’s interception returned 64 yards for the game’s opening score in the first quarter.
“There are a lot of things that we need to look at and adjust,” said Boyertown head coach George Parkinson, “especially our pass protection. We knew this was going to be one of the best pass rushes that we’d see all year. Even when we rolled Jerry out, they still gave us trouble.”
Hunter Vogels was held to 41 yards rushing while Marcus Thomas had 29 yards on four carries. Chris Berry hauled in two receptions for 47 yards including a 36-yard gain.
The Knights out-gained Boyertown in yards 284-175 and out-scored the Bears in both halves.
But things could have been far worse.
Academy Park put the ball on the ground six times, twice giving away possession. The Knights also racked up seven penalties for 66 yards.
“We’re far too sloppy in all facets right now,” said Vosheski. “We’ve got to keep our composure and even more importantly hang on to the football. We can’t afford to give the ball away like we did.”
Although his team stays unbeaten on the season, Vosheski and the Knights have a long way to go if they plan on overshadowing last season’s postseason run.
“We know where we are right now, and we know where we want to be,” he said. “If we can clean up the mistakes, I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team.”
TALK ABOUT UTILITY >> In addition to finishing as his team’s leading rusher Friday, Wright handled defensive duties in the secondary where he had a pick and also booted the Knights’ lone punt for 36 yards.
SCORES TO SETTLE >> Prior to Friday night, Boyertown had been outscored 57-27 in the opening half through their opening three games — their only first quarter score coming last week against Pottsgrove. Academy Park had been outscoring opponents 42-18 in the first half. The Knights kept those trends going with a 14-0 halftime lead on Friday night.
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE >> Last season, Boyertown started out 1-3 before rattling off two consecutive wins and eventually finishing the season at 5-5. The Bears will look to bounce back next week when they take on Methacton.
“We’ve got to build off this,” said Parkinson. “We’ve got to correct the mistakes we made in this game and continue to get better every week. We can’t afford to have any setbacks. We’ve got to have a great week of practice and carry this momentum into Methacton.”