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2017 Mercury-Area Boys Golf Preview


Coach: Mark Takacs, 30th season.

Home course: Hickory Valley.

Last year’s record: 4-6 Pioneer Athletic Conference; 4-6 overall.

Outlook: The Bears ended their season on a high note, picking up a pair of wins against Pottsgrove and Norristown. They’ll look to carry that momentum into the 2017 season, as Boyertown will mix in a few veterans with some young faces. It’s a group that gives Takacs plenty of optimism heading into the season, despite the loss of Kyle Green, Connor Fellin and James Gassner, all lost to graduation.


Coach: Rich Simmons, third season.

Home course: Arrowhead Golf Course (Blue).

Last year’s record: 2-12 Berks League I; 2-13 overall.

Players to watch: Collin Gabbett, Sr.; Jake Wightman, Sr.; Ben Sjosten, Jr.; Evan Pingitore, Jr.

Outlook: All-Berks selection Gabbett returns at the head of the card for his fourth season with the Blazers. He’ll be joined by some new faces, including Colton Yenser and Kyle Vonderlinden, in what promises to be a balanced division. “We’re looking to stay competitive with several first-year players,” said Simmons.


Coach: Joseph Lagor, eighth season.

Home course: Brookside Country Club.

Last year’s record: 20-6 in fall/spring seasons.

Players to watch: Hunter Ramee, Sr.; Drew Steinmetz, Jr.; Jack Murray, Jr.; Echo Wu, So.; Billy Gussler, Fr.

Outlook: The Blues will have big shoes to fill following the graduation of Stuart Fuller (University of Richmond) and Charlie Musto (U.S. Naval Academy) from last year’s team which claimed the crown in the PAISAA, Keystone Cup and the Metedeconk Prep Tournaments. Steinmetz should be expected to take over ace duties as The Hill’s scoreboard boasts a bevy of local and international talent. “We have a strong core of returning players as well as some strong newcomers, some of whom are tournament tested at the national level,” said Lagor. “We are hoping to build on last year’s strong fall and spring seasons. The team will feature a nice mix of international (Canada, South Korea, China) and local players.”


The Methacton boys golf team graduated eight seniors from last year’s PAC championship team, including two-time All-Area selection Kyle Vance. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Coach: Kevin Flanagan, 11th season.

Home course: Skippack Golf Club.

Last year’s record: 9-1 PAC (Four-time defending champs); 11-1 overall.

Players to watch: Christian Rossi, Sr.; John Cooper, Sr.; AJ Thomas, Jr.; Dylan Lasecki; Andrew Catania; Nick Martin; Mitch Thompson; Sean Henry; John Haley.

Outlook: This season should be the most challenging in several years for the Warriors as they look to make it half a decade as the repeat PAC Champions. Graduated are eight seniors from last year’s program, including two-time Mercury All-Area selection Kyle Vance along with wingman Dan Rieger. Of the Warriors seven players to advance to districts last year, Thomas is the lone returner this season. Flanagan holds out hope, though, boasting a roster that has been waiting in the ranks. “We will look to seniors Christian Rossi, John Cooper, and junior AJ Thomas that have the most varsity experience,” he said. “Andrew Catania, Mitch Thompson, Nick Martin, Sean Henry, Dylan Lasecki and John Haley will have to learn on the fly as they will be put into a different position coming into the season. We hope to continue our success and make the final four and compete for a PAC championship.”


Coach: Ian Morris, 13th season.

Home course: Jeffersonville Golf Club.

Last year’s record: 2-7 PAC; 2-7 overall.

Players to watch: Caleb Ryan, Jr.

Outlook: Although the Eagles were far from the top of the team standings last season, Ryan did his best individually during the postseason. Entering his junior year, Ryan capped his season with a runner-up finish at the PAC Individuals, then followed that up with appearances at Districts and Eastern Regionals before finishing tied for 23rd overall at the PIAA Championship. He’ll again be at the top of Norristown’s card, which graduated two seniors from last year’s squad, including Matt Piccari and Dylan Copestick.


Owen J. Roberts’ Ward McHenry returns atop the Wildcats’ scorecard after playing a major role with the team in each of the past three seasons. (Digital First Media file)

Coach: Ted Snyder, 16th season.

Home course: Kimberton.

Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC; 8-4 overall.

Players to watch: Ward McHenry, Sr.; Ryan Glenn, Jr.

Outlook: The Wildcats return a pair of district qualifiers in McHenry and Glenn, but will look to replace another pair in Tommy Opitz and Mark Amadio, both lost to graduation as they look to contend for their fifth straight PAC Final Four appearance. McHenry, an All-Area First Team selection, has shown all the ability to be a steady ace with the league’s powers, the only question will be OJR’s depth on the scorecard. Snyder put it simply as always, “(We) hope to contend for a playoff spot.”


Coach: Tavio Hunsicker, fourth season.

Home course: Raven’s Claw Golf Club.

Last year’s record: 5-5 PAC; 6-5 overall.

Players to watch: Andrew Giorgi, Sr.; Colin Leary, Sr.; Christian Riehs, Sr.; Thomas Lombardo, Sr.; Andrew Burkhardt, Jr.

Outlook: The Vikings have been searching for consistency at the top ever since the graduation of ace Nate Guerrini two seasons ago. All-League selection Dallen Hall filled in nicely as a senior last season, as PV once again looks for someone to emerge. Hunsicker remains optimistic as PV looks to return to PAC Final Four form after missing out last season. “Our goal is to improve throughout the season and we hope to be competitive in every match,” he said. “The league will be very competitive again this year.”


Coach: Stephen Winnick, 16th season.

Home course: Pickering Valley Golf Course.

Last year’s record: 6-4 PAC; 7-5 overall.

Players to watch: James Peterson, Sr.; Johnny Kettelle, Sr.; Greg Jergensen, Sr.; James Sinnot, Jr.; Mitchell Schwartz, Jr.; PJ Sullivan, Jr.; Parker Stevens, So.; Kyle Resuta, Fr.

Outlook: The Phantoms are coming off a solid season where they finished above the .500 mark for the first time in over half a decade. Phoenixville will look to put together another strong turnout this year, despite the loss of All-Area Second Team selection Max Farbstein as well as Michael Ellis. “A lot of youth, but quality golf swings,” said Winnick. “The coaches believe this team might have a better ability to compete if the boys continue to develop.”


Pope John Paul II’s J.T. Spina is coming off a strong finish to the 2016 season, where he placed third overall in the PIAA Championship at Heritage Hills Golf Resort. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Coach: Brian Kovatch, first season.

Home course: Gilbertsville Golf Club.

Last year’s record: 7-3 PAC; 8-4 overall.

Players to watch: J.T. Spina, Sr.; David Antoniuk, Sr.; Greg Hiriak, Sr.; Courtney Caiola, Sr.; Ethan Slover, Jr.

Outlook: Spina is coming off a career-best finish after taking the bronze at the PIAA Championship last season. He’ll be at the forefront of the Golden Panthers’ lineup, which is in search a third consecutive PAC Final Four appearance as well as a No. 2 starter to build on with the loss of Mike Limongelli to graduation. PJP returns plenty of talent and is seemingly ready to take the next step. “We believe we have the talent to compete for a third straight (PAC Final Four) appearance, which is one of our team goals,” said Kovatch, who takes over for Tony Romano. “A solid group of seniors coupled with good underclassmen depth has the program bullish on the coming fall season and into the future.”


Coach: Donald Petrella, ninth season.

Home course: Gilbertsville Golf Club.

Last year’s record: 1-9 PAC; 1-11 overall.

Players to watch: Cameron Mowery, Donnie Petrella, Wyatt Yashura.

Outlook: The Falcons will make the move from Blackwood to a more manageable Gilbertsville Golf Club, a move that Petrella hopes will help round his players throughout the season. Pottsgrove has just three league wins in the past four seasons, so a change of scenery could be a step in the right direction. “Cameron Mowery is a junior who is a talented kid with good character, and is primed to take a big step this year,” Petrella added. “The hope is that some of our other younger players make good progress this season.


Spring-Ford’s Ben Pochet is coming off a standout junior season. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Coach: Jeff Mast, 31st season.

Home course: Turtle Creek Golf Course.

Last year’s record: 13-2 (Pioneer Athletic Conference runner-ups); 12-2 overall.

Players to watch: Ben Pochet, Sr.; Jack Straub, Sr.; Drew Clifford, Jr.; Axel Kolbach, Jr.

Outlook: The Rams graduated six members from last year’s deep program, which ran through the PAC’s regular season undefeated before falling to four-time champ Methacton in the championship and eventually went on to earn a PIAA berth. “We certainly won’t be as experienced as last year’s team,” said Mast, “but the goals are the same — work hard, be competitive and improve.” At the forefront of the Spring-Ford card will be Pochet, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year. Pochet capped a standout junior season with top finishes in the Eastern Regional and District One Championships along with a silver finish at the PAC Individual Championship.


Coach: James Baxter, ninth season.

Home course: Gulph Mills and Westover.

Last year’s record: 0-10 PAC; 0-10 overall.

Players to watch: Brandon Higgins, Sr.; Mike Strycharz, Jr.

Outlook: The Vikings’ journey from the Suburban One League to the PAC turned out to be a difficult one – their winless record stands as proof. They’ll turn to seniors Higgins and Strycharz to try and gain some ground this season.


Coach: John Brittain, 16th season.

Home course: Macoby Run Golf Course.

Last year’s record: 4-6 PAC; 7-6 overall.

Players to watch: Jerek Svanson, Sr.; Macaulay Swen, Jr.; Deion Dopera, Jr.; Brett Miller, Jr.; Derek Newark, So.; Zach Rozanski, So.; Soren Svanson, Fr.

Outlook: The Tribe will take its show on the road this season, hosting only four matches while traveling for seven of them. That will provide a little extra challenge for a youthful Upper Perk team that features only two seniors with eight freshman after graduating four seniors from last year’s squad. Think the Tribe is up for the challenge? “(We) have a very young roster but have some experienced golfers returning for the 2017 season,” said Brittain. “(I am) optimistic that his young squad will continue to improve in a very difficult Pioneer Athletic Conference.”



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