Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford look strong again, while Pottsgrove’s Rahsul Faison has made a statement in a big way.
The 2016 high school football season definitely hasn’t disappointed thus far, and with the PAC league schedule set to commence Friday, here are seven things I’ve learned from the non-league slate:
1. Perkiomen Valley will be OK.
The Vikings have lost leading playmaker Justin Jaworski to injury (severity/length of time the all-time leading receiver is out still unknown) and will need to adopt a ‘next-man up’ mentality. However, whether that be receivers Remy Sell and Sean Owens or tailbacks David Williams and Brendan Schmipf, the Vikings have enough talent at the skill positions to help carry the workload that Jaworski had (37 receptions for 777 yards) done in the first four games. PV’s line — led by Temple commit Chris Jimenez, the 6-3, 245-pound senior Vaughn Stolzer and 6-2, 235-pound junior Jahir Holmes — has looked extremely solid in the first four non-league wins, and oh yeah, reigning Mercury-Area Player of the Year Stephen Sturm is still at QB.
2. Spring-Ford’s defense is for real … again.
Forget the 40 points and 400-plus yards the Rams allowed to District 3 powerhouse Wilson, SF’s defense is as good as advertised. The Rams are allowing 18 points per game (second to only Pottsgrove) and have received sensational play from seniors Dan Cassidy (PAC-leading three interceptions) and Tanner Romano (three sacks, six tackles for loss). Add in Lee Albert (14 tackles), Billy Frazier (two sacks), Adam Sharkey (10 tackles), Nick Salomone and Stone Scarcelle (one interception) and you have a defense that looks: Pretty. Darn. Good.
Note: Two weeks ago in the Rams’ 41-40 loss to Wilson in double overtime, Cassidy set a school record for tackles in a game with 16.
3. Pottsgrove’s Rahsul Faison is the area’s best running back.
The PAC is filled with exceptional running backs, but Faison has set himself apart from the rest, finishing with a PAC-best 608 yards in three games of the Falcons’ 2-2 non-league start. Faison, an Archbishop Carroll transfer, leads the PAC with seven rushing touchdowns and a gaudy 8.6 yards per carry.
4. Phoenixville very well may produce a 1,000 yard back.
Sean Sabo and Jon Miller wanted the O-line at Phoenixville to produce a 1,000-yard back, and with the way senior Matt Garcia is running, that very well may happen. Garcia is 393 yards shy of eclipsing the mark and his 234-yard, three touchdown performance in Week 4’s victory over Chichester was the second best among area backs (Faison rushed for 287 yards in Falcons’ Week 3 victory over Boyertown).
5. Sun Valley was a PAC nightmare.
Sun Valley made its way through its non-league schedule with ease by topping Pottstown, Pope John Paul II and Upper Merion in the first three weeks by double digits.
6. Upper Perkiomen’s Zeke Hallman and Ryan Kendra can do damage.
Indians QB Zeke Hallman and receiver Ryan Kendra have become the league’s No. 2 tandem behind PV’s Sturm and Jaworski throughout the first four weeks. Hallman has thrown for 750 yards (second to Sturm), while Kendra is second in the PAC with 429 yards receiving with six touchdowns on 23 receptions. The Indians are 1-3 to start the season, but could easily be 3-1 after seeing fourth-quarter leads evaporate to Boyertown and Upper Moreland in Weeks 1 and 3, respectively.
7. Pottstown, Pope John Paul II and Upper Perkiomen are alive and well in playoff hunt.
Pope John Paul II finally broke a PAC-worst losing streak of 21 games with a 33-0 dismantling of Berks foe Schuylkill Valley while Pottstown’s Gary Rhodenbaugh picked up his first win as the Pottstown head-man with the Trojans’ 20-14 victory over Methacton. The Indians, Trojans and Panthers are 1-3, but four out of the six teams in 4A classification advance to the playoffs. With Octorara also 1-3, two of these PAC teams could claim a playoff berth by season’s end.
* * *
Week 4 Player of the Week
Matt Garcia, Phoenixville >> Senior tailback rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns as Phantoms topped Chichester.
Week 4 Coach of the Week
Rory Graver, Pope John Paul II >> Graver and the Golden Panthers snapped their 21-game losing streak with 33-0 victory over Schuylkill Valley. The Golden Panther defense allowed one yard of total offense.
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