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Pioneer Athletic Conference

McClure’s touchdown is what high school football is all about

WORCESTER >> Four years had come to one play.

Methacton senior Liam McClure was prepared for it.

Down 45-0 late in the fourth to Perkiomen Valley, McClure lined up wide before taking off on the snap. He sprinted five yards, planted his left foot and looked back as quarterback Jason Eckman tossed it his way.

The rest, as head coach Paul Lepre put it, “was history.”

He hauled in the pass from the lefty and sprinted 60 yards down the sideline for his first-ever touchdown, capping the play and his senior night with a thunderous spike.

No flags, just thunderous applause from both ends and a quick reminder that high school football is way more than wins and losses.

Way more.

“PV wanted to say good job on my touchdown run and it was so encouraging,” McClure said. “My family was so thrilled to see my run. Although we may have lost to PV for the third straight time I was there, I had a really good effort.”

McClure is on the autism spectrum, yet Friday as he dashed 64 yards to the end zone, he looked like any other player.

Years of commitment and dedication ultimately led up to it.

He took to football in 2012, a few weeks after attending a Philadelphia Eagles training camp where he was able to meet Trent Cole and Dion Lewis. The camp sparked his interest. The football season that fall lit the flame that’s been burning within him since. 

“I wanted to be on the football team and I had a hard time getting along with people,” McClure said, donning a midnight green sweatshirt commemorating the middle school’s 2012 season. “I played linebacker at that time. We were undefeated that year.”

Since then his time has only gotten better as a leader and a player.

“Liam is one our guys that’s here consistently, he’s always on time ready to go to work,” Lepre said. “He not only works for himself but he’s always out there encouraging other guys to go out there and do their best.

“He does it through his actions more than his words. Those are the types of things the players take notice to, seeing him come to practice everyday and working hard.”

His junior season, McClure was featured in a special documentary produced by the Philadelphia Eagles. The eight-minute ‘Road to Victory’ documentary focused on McClure from his birth to his high school years, growing up with a form of autism, a disorder which can be characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

The Eagles production staff came to Methacton High School to film the feature during the first week of training camp back in August. The end of the documentary featured McClure’s favorite moment from his scholastic career … until the touchdown this season of course.

“All the fans were chanting my name last season against Phoenixville,” McClure recalled. “It was an amazing thing to do. For all of the students in the section just to chant my name was amazing. My friend Kyle Derrickson, was stepping up just to chant my name. I won’t forget that.”

There wasn’t any chanting Friday night. The cheers replaced that. So did the more than 23,000 views of his touchdown reception on Facebook. His goal for the video: “for the whole City of Brotherly Love” to see it. Chances are, they will. Chances are they’ll see a player who defies the odds every day succeed in a sport that’s allowed him to come into his own.

That’s what high school football is about.

“What can you say about a player who could score his first career touchdown as a senior, on his senior night?” McClure asked.

They’d say good job, Liam. Good job.

Have No Fear

Pope John Paul II’s 18-12 victory over Pottsgrove was the team’s first-ever victory over the Falcons. Quarterback Matt DeLaurentis had another sensational game, throwing for 216 yards and two touchdowns as the Golden Panthers came back from a 12-0 deficit.

“The biggest thing was, we finally believed,” Nick Yerger said. “I feel as though every other team that went against Pottsgrove was afraid of the team ‘Pottsgrove’. But we played our game and we weren’t afraid. We believed in ourselves.”

The win marks quite the turnaround for PJP, which came into Saturday’s contest losers of two straight. The team now holds a firm grasp on the No. 4 position in the District 1 Class 4A playoff race entering the regular season’s final week.

Week 10 Matchups

The Pioneer Athletic Conference Week 10 cross-over matchups have been set. The matchups were determined by corresponding placement in the division standings. All games are being hosted by the Frontier Division schools.

PAC-10 Championship: Perkiomen Valley at Pottsgrove, Friday at 7 p.m.

Liberty No. 2 Spring-Ford at Frontier No. 2 Upper Perkiomen, Friday at 7 p.m.

Liberty No. 3 Methacton at Frontier No. 3 Pope John Paul II, Saturday at 1 p.m.

Liberty No. 4 Owen J. Roberts at Frontier No. 4 Upper Merion, Friday at 7 p.m.

Liberty No. 5 Norristown at Frontier No. 5 Phoenixville, Friday at 7 p.m.

Liberty No. 6 Boyertown at Frontier No. 6 Pottstown, Saturday at 1 p.m.

* * *

Advance tickets are available for the PAC championship game throughout the week at the respective schools.

Tickets may be purchased at the Perkiomen Valley Athletic Department during regular business hours Monday through Friday and in the Pottsgrove District Office from Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Adult tickets are $5 and student tickets are $3. Ticket booths the day of the game will open at 5:30 p.m. There will be no admittance into the stadium prior to 5:30 p.m.

Garcia, Romano set school marks

Matt Garcia rushed for 151 of the Phoenixville’s 177 yards of total offense in the team’s 27-14 loss to Upper Merion Friday night. The senior back shattered the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,507 yards set by Jimmy Johnson in 1966.

Spring-Ford’s Tanner Romano passed brother Mason’s single-season record of 19 tackles for loss from 2012 in Saturday’s 58-0 win over Owen J. Roberts. Tanner’s total stands at 20 with more games to play.

Whary eclipses 1,000

Upper Perkiomen’s Tyler Whary eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark with his 196-yard performance in the team’s 43-16 victory over Pottstown Saturday afternoon. The junior back is third in the PAC with 1,141 yards behind Pottsgrove’s Rahsul Faison (1,306 yards) and Phoenixville’s Matt Garcia (1,567).

Seeing yellow?

Pottsgrove was flagged a season-high 12 times for 135 yards in Saturday’s loss — 111 yards in the first half.

Power Rankings

Perkiomen Valley still holds on to the No. 3 position in the District 1 Class 6A rankings with Spring-Ford moving up to No. 8. North Penn and Neshaminy still sit at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. In Class 5A, Upper Merion moves up to No. 19 and are three spots from No. 16 Radnor for the last position. Phoenixville is No. 20.

In Class 4A, Pottsgrove remains No. 2 following its loss and Interboro’s victory over Academy Park (Class 5A No 2.) Upper Perkiomen is No. 3 with PJP holding firm to No. 4. Pottstown and Octorara follow at No. 5 and No. 6. Pa. Prep Live recently reported the Octorara’s departure of District 1 beginning in 2018.

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