RED HILL >> Tom Calvario felt the final score wasn’t indicative of the quality of Nativity BVM’s football team.
But it spoke volumes about the quality of his Perkiomen School squad.
The Panthers, playing a rare Friday Night Lights “home” game at Upper Perkiomen High School’s stadium, extended their mastery over the Green Wave to three years with a 38-0 victory. On the Perkiomen side, the game featured a monster passing performance by junior quarterback Nick Guadarrama and stifling, inspired play by the defense … all of which was enhanced by the first opportunity in several years to play a home game on a turf field, under stadium lights.
“I like turf better than grass,” Guadarrama said afterward, “and I love playing under lights. I love the support of our fans coming out. It’s a good feeling.”
And as for Nativity, which was thwarted on two second-half drives toward the Perkiomen end zone inside the five-yard line …
“They’re not that bad a team,” Calvario noted. “I don’t think they were 38 points worse than us.”
But the Panthers showed they were 38 points better — possibly more. They scored the first six times they touched the ball, fueled by Guadarrama’s spot-on throws to a corps of receivers who turned a number of the throws into big gainers by weaving their ways through the BVM secondary and putting out considerable second effort.
Guadarrama was perfect on all 11 of his throws, which covered 297 yards and produced all Perkiomen’s touchdowns. Four of his completions covered more than 30 yards apiece, the longest going 69 yards.
“I’ve never had a game like this,” the Connecticut product said. “The middle was open a lot. And it was all thanks to the line.”
Guadarrama’s night started out with a nine-yard TD connection to Jose Cruz (four catches, 90 yards) at the 6:34 mark of the first quarter, capping Perkiomen’s 72-yard march from the opening kickoff. It continued with 52 seconds left in the frame, another hookup to Cruz covering 69 yards.
Three minutes into the second quarter, Guadarrama found Aiden O’Brien on a four-yard toss. A fumble recovery by Chandler Brooks on Nativity’s second play from scrimmage put the Panthers in position to make it a 26-0 game, Guadarrama and Brooks (two catches, 85 yards) collaborating on a 59-yard TD strike less than 1½ minutes later.
But the Panthers were just getting warmed up at that point. They went into halftime with a 32-point advantage after Steve Ratigan went 48 yards with a Guadarrama toss inside the two-minute mark.
“We tell the guys, ‘Pass for five, run for 95,’” Calvario said of his receivers’ big gainers. Six of them were in double-digit yardage.
Perkiomen maintained its fire to start the second half. Kicking off to Nativity to start the stretch run, it got the ball back when the Green Wave fumbled on its first play, and Guadarrama found O’Brien on a 31-yard pass play that made it a 38-0 game less than a half-minute in.
That score also activated the “running clock,” which subsequently signalled big performances from the Perkiomen “D”. It stopped BVM on downs at the Panther one, then at the seven around the midway point of the fourth quarter. From there, the Panthers ran off the clock with four running plays covering 20 yards before Guadarrama took a “knee” twice to finish off the team’s third victory in four outings.
“We stayed focused,” Guadarrama noted. “We came off the bus ready. We got smacked by Tower Hill because we didn’t come off the bus ready.
“I liked the way we came off tonight.”
Perkiomen’s defense worked the shutout despite Nativity getting 143 of its 201 yards total offense on the ground. It forced quarterback Matt Cromyak into 5-for-14 passing, with one interception setting up the Panthers’ third TD.
Along the way, Cromyak was dropped for lost yardage five time, and running back Ryan McDonald twice.
“The defense played well,” Calvario noted.
And it all played out against the backdrop of the Upper Perk stadium, giving the Perkiomen players that Friday Night Lights experience before a home crowd for the first time in four years.
“It’s a special night for the kids,” Calvario said. “We play mostly afternoons Friday and Saturday, and the only time we play under lights is away games. We’re thankful to Upper Perkiomen for allowing us to play this night game.”
NOTES >> Perkiomen saw another long-strike scoring opportunity — a 94-yard aerial collaboration between Guadarrama and Brooks late in the third quarter, after it stopped Nativity at its one — called back by a personal foul. The Panthers then fumbled the ball away two plays later. … Guadarrama headed the Perkiomen game with 51 yards on eight carries.