ROYERSFORD >> Earlier in the week, Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker said he wanted to make Friday night a statement game.
Think his players heard the message?
Loud and clear.
The Rams jumped all over Central Bucks East early and often Friday night, taking a 38-7 win inside Coach McNelly Stadium in the opening round of the District 1 Class 6A playoffs.
With the win over the ninth-seeded Patriots, No. 8 seeded Spring-Ford will now travel to top-seeded North Penn (a 56-7 winner over Haverford) for the second round of the district playoffs next Friday.
After the game, Brubaker sounded a bit like a baseball coach, especially talking about the Rams’ opening drive — an 80-yard, 13-play march down the field that took nearly six minutes before Selwyn Simpson rumbled his way into the end zone.
“We were moving the ball well, which was really good to see,” said Brubaker. “We don’t have to hit the home run every time — we’ll take the five yards, then come back and live another down.
“That first drive was probably our longest drive of the year. That’s not our norm. Of course, we’ll take the home run, but it’s nice to mix in a drive like that.”
Simpson, who racked up 26 of his 80 rushing yards on the opening drive, echoed similar sentiments to his head coach.
“We ran the up-tempo early on,” he said. “That gives us an advantage, because we have a lot of playmakers so we can spread the ball out nicely and spread teams out. That helps us create and find mismatches that they can’t cover.
Quarterback TJ Pergine threw for 216 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes to Stone Scarcelle (four receptions, 75 receiving yards) and Quinn McKenna (four receptions, 72 yards).
The Rams also had their way with the Patriots defensively throughout. Spring-Ford forced four turnovers, including on CB East’s first two drives — the latter proving to be a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dan Cassidy.
Three separate CB East players took snaps under-center, with starter Matt Szczypiorski and second-stringer Evan O’Donnell both leaving with injuries. Third-stringer Chad Guzzi accounted for the Patriots’ lone score — an 11-yard touchdown run with a shade over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“We didn’t have a full-barrel, but our guys constantly battled,” said CB East head coach John Donnelly, who had already been down four starters entering the game. “(Spring-Ford is) a very good football team, they’re well-coached and they execute. They’re got a lot of weapons and they’re really athletic.”
Jake Novriski hauled in a team-high four catches for 37 yards while Wes Verbit had 29 yards receiving.
After taking a first-round bow in last year’s district playoffs, Donnelly was quick to note the feats his seniors have surpassed over the past two seasons.
“These seniors are responsible for 16 wins in two years and two playoff berths,” he said. “There’s a lot to be proud of from that standpoint. They’ll realize that down the line.”
Beaten & Battered
The Patriots entered Friday down four starters, according to Donnelly, and boarded the buses afterward without another two of them.
Szczypiorski and receiver Conor Larkin were each taken in ambulances, Szczypiorski suffering an upper-body injury while Larkin suffered a gruesome leg injury while blocking on the opening play of the second half. O’Donnell left during the second half with an ankle injury.
Donnelly and Brubaker each had similar comments on the injuries — both noting that hits were clean, just an unfortunate part of putting on the pads.
“I love the game, but this is the part that’s really tough to swallow,” said Donnelly. “We’ve played a lot of physical football games this season, just freak stuff today.”
“Our thoughts are with those guys; you hate to see that,” said Brubaker.
Since their Oct. 7 loss to Perkiomen Valley, Spring-Ford has been absolutely dominant in every aspect. The Rams have been out-scoring opponents 204-14 with a pair of shutouts.
“Right now, we’re just trying to play our best football,” said Spring-Ford lineman Casey Callahan. “We went out there and did everything we needed to do. Now we’ve got to get better and get ready for North Penn.”