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Owen J. Roberts, Pottstown set to renew Thanksgiving Day rivalry

BUCKTOWN >> It’s a tradition-rich rivalry that has been generally even-sided throughout the years.

Until the past decade, that is.

Owen J. Roberts will look to win its fourth straight contest over Pottstown and seventh in the past 10 years as the Wildcats host the Trojans in their annual rivalry game on Thanksgiving Day.

This is the 58th installment of the Thanksgiving Day series between the Wildcats and the Trojans and one of nine still played in District One. OJR holds a 35-21-1 series advantage and will look to make it four straight over the Trojans for the first time since accomplishing the feat from 1998-2001.

Pottstown's Isaiah Mayes breaks through for a big gain during the second half. (Sam Stewart - Digital First Media)

Pottstown’s Isaiah Mayes breaks through for a big gain during the second half of a game earlier this season. (Sam Stewart – Digital First Media)

“It’s one of the few games that remains so that’s kind of cool in that aspect,” OJR head coach Rich Kolka said. “I like the guys that I’m coaching now, so it gets to extend the season a bit, and allows for the younger guys to get some valuable reps. I like the whole thing about playing on Thanksgiving, but the only I don’t like is the wait between the last game and the Thanksgiving game. Two-plus weeks without any games is tough.”

The Wildcats, winners of two straight, will clinch their first winning season since 2010 with a victory over the Trojans. Running back Hunter Scherfel leads the team with 627 rushing yards on 157 carries and eight touchdowns while the ‘Cats rank third in total defense (253.4 ypg).

“This is big for No. 7 for us in the program,” Kolka said. “To get a winning season, with somewhat of a quick turnaround (OJR is 16-44 in the past five seasons), would be beneficial for us. We could use that as momentum going into the offseason.”

They’ll go up against a Pottstown (1-4 PAC, 2-8 overall) squad that has lost two straight and has struggled under first year head coach Gary Rhodenbaugh. Pottstown’s bright spot this season has been the story of Marvin Pearson, who scored his first varsity touchdown a month ago despite going blind at the age of 10. He was fired up for the game on Thursday, his first Thanksgiving Day game.

Owen J. Roberts’ Hunter Hinrichs runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the Wildcats’ win against Norristown Saturday. (Jeff Davis - For Digital First Media)

Owen J. Roberts’ Hunter Hinrichs runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the Wildcats’ win against Norristown earlier this season. (Jeff Davis – For Digital First Media)

“This will be my first and last Thanksgiving Day game, so I want it to be special,” Pearson said. “I think we’re ready for it and I hope we can come out of it with a win.”

Pottstown hasn’t won a Thanksgiving Day game since winning two straight in 2011-2012.

Last Year’s Contest

Owen J. Roberts’ fast start propelled the Wildcats past Pottstown 41-13 in 2015. Dawson Stuart was 9-for-12 for 124 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats built a 20-0 lead in the first quarter before holding on for the win. The game also marked the last for Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead, who led the Trojans to their first district playoff appearance since 2002.

Stat This

Pottstown ranks No. 11 in the PAC in total offense (194.4 ypg) and will go up against the third best rush defense in the PAC in OJR (116.9 ypg). … Pottstown’s Isaiah Mayes leads both teams with 807 rushing yards while Scherfel is second with 627 yards. … OJR’s Hunter Hinrichs comes into the game as the leading receiver, hauling in 26 passes for 450 yards (good for 11th in the PAC).

District One Doings

  • No. 1 North Penn and No. 10 Garnet Valley square off in the District 1 Class 6A title game Friday night. Garnet Valley is coming off a 44-27 victory over Perkiomen Valley in which the Jaguars rushed for 426 yards in a dominating ground effort. North Penn topped Coatesville, 42-25, to earn their 11th trip to the district title game.
  • North Penn quarterback Reece Udinski, along with PV’s Stephen Sturm, eclipsed the district record for passing yards in a season (3,300) set by Downingtown East’s Pat Devlin in 2005. Udinski is now up to 3,402 yards after going for 257 on 11-of-17 passing in the semifinal victory over the Red Raiders, which sent North Penn to a district final for the 11th time in the past 15 seasons.

Sturm currently holds the district season mark after his 264-yard effort in PV’s loss in the semis to put his final total at 3,438 yards.

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