BUCKTOWN >> He’s off to Disney World a winner.
Owen J. Roberts head coach Rich Kolka can thank his defense for that.
OJR’s run defense was suffocating while the Wildcats built an early three-possession lead en route to a 23-6 victory over Pottstown in the 58th installment of the team’s Thanksgiving Day rivalry.
OJR (7-5) closes out the season winners of three straight while also clinching its first winning season since 2010.
“It was very important for us to come out with a win,” junior wide receiver Sean Praweckyj said. “With the back-to-back seasons where we’ve improved, I feel like we’ll have more kids come out. It’s a big positive for us.”
“Going into the offseason winning the last three will give us a ton of momentum to build upon,” Kolka said. “We only had four seniors this year so it’ll be a big momentum boost for our underclassmen.”
Pottstown has now lost four straight Thanksgiving Day games. The Trojans started strong on the game’s first two possessions, but had momentum sucked away via a Ted Bradford 58-yard pick six on a bubble screen late in the first quarter. From there, it was all OJR, which built a 20-0 lead for the second consecutive season, before holding on in the second half.
“That was a definite momentum swinger,” Kolka said. “You didn’t see that play again after that. That was definitely a big play.”
“That was tough,” Pottstown head coach Gary Rhodenbaugh said of the interception. “That has been our Achilles Heel, turnovers and killing drives with them. That was unfortunate that it happened again today.”
Pottstown’s rushing attack was stymied throughout, finishing with just six yards on the ground. Quarterback Owen Morton threw for 137 yards on 10-of-19 passing while receiver Aaron Diamond hauled in three receptions for 56 yards. None of which were good enough to get the Trojans a much-sought after victory.
“We thought that if they could throw the ball and beat us, then good for them,” Kolka said. “We didn’t think they’d be able to do that. We had to stop the run and we were able to do that pretty well.”
“We knew we had to stop the run and we did a pretty good job on that,” senior Nick Duliakas, who rushed for 25 yards on a fake punt, said. “We got them into their passing territory which is kind of untreaded with them.”
OJR finished with 224 yards of total offense. Hunter Scherfel led the ground attack with 60 yards on 10 carries while Praweckyj finished with 47 rushing yards and 13 passing yards on two completions, one a touchdown on a wide receiver reverse pass where he found an awaiting Hunter Hinrichs wide open in the back of the end zone to make it 13-0. Quarterback Dawson Stuart then supplied the dagger early in the second quarter with an 11-yard run along the right side to make it 20-0 before the team’s traded field position throughout the second half. Pottstown’s Anthony Wiggins capped the scoring with a one-yard touchdown late in the fourth.
“Defensively we settled in,” Rhodenbaugh said. “Overall I was really proud of the fact they played all four quarters. Unfortunately we didn’t have the result that we wanted, but after a rough start, it could have went in a different direction.”