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Garcia, Miller, Phoenixville out to avenge last season’s loss to Upper Perk

PHOENIXVILLE >> Don’t think Phoenixville has forgotten its 48-0 loss to Upper Perkiomen in last season’s penultimate game.

It hasn’t.

Now, with the PAC conference schedule ready to commence and both the Phantoms and Upper Perkiomen ready to vie for a division title, what a time it would be to make a statement.

“Upper Perk has whipped our butts the last two years,” Phoenixville head coach Evan Breisblatt said. “They’ve been more physical than us. We need to go in there and match their physicality. They have dog-whipped us the last two years and we need to go in there ready to go to war.”

The Phantoms enter Friday night’s game (at Upper Perkiomen, 7 p.m.) on a high note after senior running back Matt Garcia finished with 234 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns in the team’s 34-12 victory over Chichester. Garcia, who battled injuries throughout his junior year, now stands 393 yards shy of his ultimate goal — becoming a 1,000-yard rusher.

“That’s always been my goal,” Garcia said as he stood next to the hulking 6-2, 290-pound junior Jon Miller. Turning to Miller, “Running behind this guy, it’s been easy.”

“Our goal as a line has been to produce a 1,000 yard rusher,” Miller added. “We’re getting there.”

Garcia, standing 5-6, 165 pounds soaking wet, has been the standout so far for the Phoenixville offense, his 607 rushing yards one yard shy of area leader Rahsul Faison from Pottsgrove. Garcia has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of the four contests, his aforementioned 234-yard performance the second best the PAC has registered this season.

Following a year hampered by injuries, one being a broken thumb that kept him out for three weeks, Garcia’s emergence has been well deserved.

Credit that to him, and Miller’s steadiness along the line.

“Garcia is what we like to call ‘the dude’ or ‘the freak.’ He has uncanny athleticism,” Breisblatt said of the back who deadlifted 540 pounds this summer. “He’s been the spark that we’ve needed. He was hurt last year, off-and-on last year. He’s well deserved of all he’s getting, his accolades and all his yards. No one works harder.

“I’ve always wanted to run the football. I think running the football is what’s eventually going to win us games. Jon has been the cornerstone of this offensive line since his freshman year. He started against Ryan Buchholz from Great Valley (now a defensive end at Penn State) his freshman year and he’s grown so much.

Now, the duo are counted on to lead the Phantoms against an Indians team that has defeated them two straight seasons, 21-6 in 2014 before the 48-0 drubbing last season.

“It’s going to be huge for us,” Garcia said. “It’d give us a solid winning streak, lots of momentum to roll onto the next few games.”

“We’re going to have to be physical and mentally tough,” Miller added. “We’d love to get a win here.”

Looks are Deceiving

Upper Perkiomen comes into Friday’s contest with a 1-3 record — one that could easily be 3-1 if not for fourth quarter leads being lost — and have been grounded after Cocalico’s 48-14 victory last week.

“The fact that we started so well, an impressive 10-play drive for a touchdown, proved we could play with them,” Upper Perk head coach Tom Hontz said about his team’s loss to Cocalico. “We just could not keep it up on the offensive side because of both mental and physical errors. Defensively, we just could not tackle. We drill and practice tackling techniques constantly, but it just does not translate into sound tackling on game day. It is difficult with a team our size to replicate the size and speed of our opponents.”

As imperative it is for Phoenixville to get off to a good start, the same can be said for an Upper Perk squad that is very much alive in the Class AAAA playoff race.

“Despite a frustrating opening to the season, we now start divisional play and if we can get healthy and execute like we are capable, we can perhaps make some noise in the PAC,” Hontz said. “The goal now is to finish .500 or better. If we do that we can still qualify for playoffs in the 4A division.

“Phoenixville is going to be a great test — a win could be the turning point to our season we need. They have a great back (Garcia) who is very tough to contain and they have a QB (Troy Rossman) and WR (Nasir Green) that can do some very nice things. They play swarming defense and seem to come up with key turnovers when needed. We have to tackle well and maintain our discipline on the offensive side of the ball if we want to win this contest. It should be a highly competitive, evenly matched battle.”

Golden Laces

Phoenixville and Upper Perkiomen will team up in a “Lace up for Pediatric Cancer Game.” Both teams will wear gold laces with coaches wearing yellow ribbons.

September serves as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In the U.S., 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year.

Players to Watch

Phoenixville >> Nasir Green has been the team’s primary target at receiver. He ranks seventh in the PAC with 13 receptions.

Upper Perkiomen >> Zeke Hallman took a step back last week, only completing 45 percent of his passes for 113 yards. However, Hallman has protected the football, his one interception a PAC best among qualified quarterbacks.

Boyertown set to honor HOF Class

Boyertown will induct its 15th class into the Boyertown High School Football Hall of Fame Friday night at halftime.

The three inductees are: Richard Schell (Class of 1951), Harry L. Adrian (Class of 1969) and Brandon Mason (Class of 2000).

Schell was a three-year starter at right tackle on offense and linebacker on defense and earned All-Berks County honors in his senior season.

Schell taught at Upper Perk and Spring-Ford and served as the Rams athletic director from 1976-1980.

Adrian was a defensive end on the 1968 Ches-Mont Championship team which went 8-1 in the league. He was a co-captain and earned all Ches-Mont honors his senior season.

He went on to become a teacher and executive director of Union Snyder Community Action Agency from 1986 until his passing in 2015.

Mason holds three school records: career reception yardage 1197 yards, career touchdown receptions with 18, and touchdown receptions in a game with three. He was named to the All-Area team in 2000.

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