POTTSTOWN >> It was a time of sadness for both Pottstown and Boyertown Saturday afternoon.
The Trojans, needing two conditions to take place in order to qualify for the District 1 playoffs — a win over the Bears and a loss by Pope John Paul in its game with Methacton — didn’t get the one it could control. They were topped by their guests, 21-14, in this Pioneer Athletic Conference divisional crossover game between the league’s fifth-place teams: Pottstown from the Frontier Division, Boyertown from the Liberty.
“We had the opportunity,” Pottstown head coach Gary Rhodenbaugh said, “but we gave it away.”
The sadness for Boyertown (3-7) came in the team’s huddle following its last game of the season, when head coach George Parkinson informed the players he was stepping down from the post he held for three years. Parkinson leaves with a 13-17 overall record, having posted 5-5 records the first two seasons.
“I started on this (Grigg Memorial) field 27 years ago, coaching little league,” he said. “It’s ironic that I’m ending here.”
Though unaware of the game’s significance for the program until it was over, the Bears made it a fitting finale for Parkinson. They built a 21-point lead in the first half, then weathered a late surge that saw the Trojans (2-8) drive for touchdowns on what would be their last two possessions of the game.
Pottstown ended up short in its “Pink Out Game” when Boyertown, getting the ball back with little more than six minutes remaining, ran the clock out with an 11-play possession covering 70 yards to the Trojan three. The Bears ran the ball exclusively on the drive, quarterback Ayden Mathias sharing the duties with Nicholas Moccia, Chris Berry and Marcus Thomas.
“At the end, we had real nice play calling,” Mathias, a sophomore playing behind center for the third time in a varsity contest, said. “We were able to not give predictions to the defense, to get yards. It was one of the best drives of the game.”
The ball literally took some Boyertown-friendly bounces in the early going.
Three plays into the game, Jerry Kapp intercepted a pass from Pottstown quarterback Owen Morton — one that was tipped by the intended target — at the Boyertown 32. The Bears covered the 68 yards to the end zone on eight plays, another tipped pass figuring in the scoring drive capped by a 22-yard connection from Mathias (7-for-13, 101 yards) to Kapp at the 7:07 mark.
The Bears got the ball back one play after the ensuing kickoff, Marcus Thomas recovering a Pottstown fumble at the Trojan 27. Jonathan Stahl worked the ball down to the 11, and Thomas (nine carries, 53 yards) got it to the two before bursting through his right tackle for the score at the 5:40 mark.
“Boyertown made plays when it had to,” Rhodenbaugh said. “We had our share of missteps, but we had a lot of kids who played hard.”
The Bears got a third score with 2:52 left in the first half. Mathias, the team’s leading rusher with 71 yards on 13 carries, went 57 yards around his left end two plays after Kyle Kooker intercepted Josiah Wiggins at the Boyertown 34.
“I’m extremely pleased with his play,” Parkinson said of Mathias, who was coming off a game with Norristown where he had three completed passes for 48 yards. “He’s getting better and better. He didn’t get many reps, but stepping in as a sophomore and doing the job … it’s exceptional.”
Mathias noted two previous games — against Perkiomen Valley and Norristown last weekend — helped forge his emergence as a varsity quarterback, and Boyertown’s turnaround in its finale. The Sept. 30 game with the Vikings (a 30-0 loss) saw him complete just one pass for six yards while being intercepted twice, and in last weekend’s 20-14 loss to the Eagles he watched the way Norristown celebrated its scores.
“It was a good season-ender,” he said. “We had three games in the losing streak (PV, Owen J. Roberts, Spring-Ford) where they scored 111 points against us. And last week hit home for us. We brought that to practice this week.
“It worked pretty well today, nicer than at PV.”
With its passing game shut down by Boyertown — Morton and Wiggins a combined 0-for-5 with the two interceptions — Pottstown ran its way back into winning contention. Isaiah Mayes emerged as the workhorse with a game-high 164 yards on 31 carries, while Wiggins and Morton scored on successive second-half possessions.
Wiggins (five carries, 45 yards) went around his right end for a three-yard scoring run with four minutes left in the third. Boyertown followed with a drive extending over into the fourth, only to see it end at the Pottstown 20 when Aaron Diamond intercepted Mathias.
The Trojans’ ensuing march used 10 plays to get the ball to the Bear five, from which Morton (35 yards on four totes) went five around his left end to make it a 21-14 game following his conversion run. Boyertown was assessed a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, Pottstown set up at the Bear 45.
“We had a hard decision to make when we scored,” Rhodenbaugh said. “We opted to use the penalty to get field position, but it didn’t pan out.”
The Bears’ clock-eating drive got a timely save from Ryan Zern, the senior lineman recovering a fumble at the Trojan three with about a minute left. Boyertown was able to run off the remaining time after picking up four chain-moving first downs on the 11-play possession.
“The kids knew it (game) was on the line,” Parkinson said, “and they gave it everything they got. I was mostly happy with their discipline, and the way they played four quarters.”
At present, Pottstown has its traditional Thanksgiving Day contest with Owen J. Roberts (Nov. 24 in Bucktown) on the schedule.
“I’m proud of the kids’ effort,” Rhodenbaugh said. “They were able to move the ball at times, and they played defense.”
NOTES >> Following the game, Boyertown athletic director Nick Palladino issued an e-mail statement regarding Parkinson’s resignation. “The (Boyertown) athletic department and administration would like to thank Coach Parkinson for his unrivaled commitment to our student-athletes both on and off the field,” the statement read. “The search for Coach Parkinson’s replacement will begin in the near future.”