KUTZTOWN >> For the first time in nine seasons, the Upper Perkiomen Indians have started a football campaign with consecutive wins.
Friday night’s casualty was Kutztown. The Indians gashed the Cougars three plays into the host’s season opener. It didn’t subside until Upper Perkiomen found the end zone in each first-half possession — six in all — en route to a 47-12 win at Andre Reed Stadium at Kutztown University. It came on the heels of a three-score verdict over Boyertown a week ago.
“I’ve read somewhere that a 2-0 start is a good path to get into the playoffs,” Upper Perkiomen coach Tom Hontz said. “And that is ultimately our goal. The tests start next week. We’ve got a good one next Friday against Upper Moreland.”
Tribe quarterback Tyler Keyser directed scoring drives of 58, 30, 17, 37 and 52 yards before halftime. The senior didn’t put the ball up much, but he didn’t have to — a punishing offensive line took care of business in the trenches when it mattered.
Keyser was 2-for-4 for 45 yards and both completions went for touchdowns — 38 yards to Ryan Kendra on the Tribe’s third snap of the game and a seven-yarder to Austin Tutolo to close the first half. He added a six-yard scamper for a score late in the first half, a segment that ended with his club holding a 40-0 advantage. He was, as were most of the starters, pulled during the third quarter with that prohibitive lead.
“We’ve put a lot of work into practice and have conditioned ourselves really hard,” Keyser said. “Our seniors are stepping up and we’re playing like we know how to.
“We pride ourselves on first-series touchdowns and try to keep it rolling from there.”
In between was an alternating mix of heavy and fleet running, all fronted by a line that handled Kutztown’s front seven. Tyrese Reid provided the speed, with scoring dashes of 12 and 36 yards. He finished with 95 yards on eight carries. Tyler Whary provided the bruising changeup, four totes for 29 yards. It wasn’t much in terms of quantity, but it was the kind of heavy stuff that’ll wear down a smaller club taking the field with 22 players.
Young back Will Klinger added a pair of second half touchdowns.
“We can do a number of things,” Hontz said. “Tyler’s throwing the ball well. We’ve got Kendra as a weapon; Reid. We have thunder with Tulo and Whary.
“These guys know our offense so well. The seniors have been doing it for four years. It’s clicking on all cylinders, as long as we stay healthy.”
It was a tough start to the 2017 campaign for the smaller and younger Cougars, playing up a couple of divisions (5A to 3A) against the Indians. The evening was not devoid of bright spots, however.
Kutztown got 20 carries and 88 yards out of 225-pound sophomore running back Caleb Riegel, including a late two-yard plunge for the game’s final score. Reigel did most of the work himself, projecting a steely determination even with the contest out of reach.
First-year head coach Charlie Maddocks Jr., who arrived from an assistant coach position at Lancaster Catholic, was pleased with his club’s fight, a key component moving forward in what he termed “changing the culture” at Kutztown.
“We have 22 guys and they didn’t quit,” Maddocks said. “We need to change the culture and for me it’s already happening. I can see it in them. We’re going to have growing pains. Everyone thinks success is a straight up path. It’s not. It’s bumpy. It’s incremental. We took our lumps but we came out healthy, which is huge for us because we can’t afford injuries.”
Maddocks has two sons on the 2017 Cougars — starting sophomore quarterback Charlie III and freshman wideout Owen. Charlie was 12 of 18 for 102 yards and one touchdown, a 13-yard strike to back Drew Miller midway through the third quarter for the season’s first score. Owen caught three balls from his older brother for 13 yards.