SHARON HILL >> All through training camp and early into his senior football season at Academy Park, Kyle Rogers heard the whispers. He dismissed them, too.
“My teammates,” the wide receiver was saying Friday, “they pushed me harder and harder every day. And everybody said, I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. And I just had to play the way I can play.”
In an historic 59-18 victory over visiting Boyertown Friday, Rogers answered critics, erased doubts and scored touchdowns, hardly in that order. He caught four Skylor Fillis passes for 81 yards, three for touchdowns. And that was critical in helping the Knights set the program record for points in a game. Twice previously, Academy Park scored 53, first in a 1996 shutout of Harriton, then in a 53-10 triumph over Chichester in 1999.
Though startled early by the Bears’ option offense, the Knights settled in to finish the non-conference portion of their schedule at 2-2 and on a two-game winning streak. Boyertown dipped to 0-4.
At 5-10, 150 pounds, Rogers was not high in Academy Park’s preseason plans. But he showed speed and hands Friday, helping Fillis complete all six of his passes for 112 yards.
“He’s playing far above my expectations,” Academy Park Jason Vosheski said. “He’s playing lights out. I think he’s got confidence now. Because he has the speed. Now, he has confidence, too.”
The Knights’ confidence was put to an early test Friday when Boyertown buzzed to an 18-6 lead. Though Academy Park’s Issa Fox returned a fumble 19 yards for a touchdown nine seconds into the game, Boyertown quarterback Ayden Mathias answered with a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play of the ensuing series.
“It was a read option,” said Mathias, who would pass for 110 yards. “They all flew to the fullback, and there was no one even looking in my direction. I looked back at my coach and there was no one there.”
The Bears took a 12-8 lead 55 seconds into the second quarter when Marcus Thomas churned one yard for a TD. That opportunity was set up by a 29-yard fourth-down pass from Mathias to Jerry Kapp. When Mathias scored on an 11-yard keeper 7:07 before halftime, the Bears had a 12-point lead … and the Knights’ attention.
“We started slow, but any time you can get a win, it’s good,” Vosheski said. “I wasn’t as much nervous early as I was angry, because we were making mistakes we shouldn’t make.”
Sufficiently staggered, the Knights settled to score the final 51 points, including a recovered fumble in the end zone by Ameen Stevens with 3:02 left to put the Knights up by 41 and activate the speed-up rule.
Fox scored two touchdowns, including a six-yard run. Fillis mixed in a 47-yard touchdown run and contributed 129 rushing yards and 241 yards of total offense. And Zion Bradley scored on a two-yard run.
The Knights thrived on special teams, with Jermal Martin scoring on four two-point conversions, with Devon Golds adding a fifth. Kareem Burton, who rushed for 106 yards, added a conversion kick.
“Right now, we’re about the (Del Val) league,” Vosheski said. “I like our chances against most teams. This is a good way to go into it.”
As for the Bears, they continue to develop under first-year coach T.J. Miller.
“We are making progress, but it comes down to when games go back and forth, are we going to be able to get on top and stay on top,” Miller said. “And right now, we are not at that point yet. We’re still building to that point where we can get there.”
Rogers, among others, made that difficult Friday.
“I wasn’t showing it at first in practice,” he said. “Then I told myself I had to step up. I just wanted to work harder. I wanted to do something after high school. I want to play football. I feel like we are going to be pretty good. We are going to be hard to stop.”