BUCKTOWN >> It’s a successful season being built one weekend at a time.
Owen J. Roberts’ fast start to the 2017 campaign picked up considerably more momentum Friday. The Wildcats ran their season mark to 4-0 by rolling over Upper Merion, 47-0, in a non-divisional pairing of Pioneer Athletic Conference member schools.
Quarterback Dawson Stuart figured in on four of the Wildcats’ first five touchdowns, throwing to Sean Praweckyj and Hunter Hinrichs for a pair of scores and running for two others. A couple late-game substitutes also contributed to the point production while the defense kept the Vikings (0-4) from sustaining any more than three-and-outs twice the entire night.
“You always want to have confidence going into a game,” OJR head coach Rich Kolka said. “But one week at a time … that’s how we’re doing it.”
Only one of Owen J’s first eight possessions didn’t result in a score. And the ‘Cats parlayed two second-half turnovers — a Brendan Krumenacker interception and Connor Zuch’s fumble recovery — into touchdowns to bolster their 20-point halftime lead.
“Offensively, we preach scoring every time we get past the 40-yard line,” Stuart, who had a combined 154 yards passing (135) and rushing, said. “We made progress on that. And we got a shutout from our defense.”
Roberts limited UM to 54 yards of total offense and three first downs. Its most productive offensive player was Dave Brown, who covered 50 yards on nine carries — the biggest a 30-yard run up the middle to move the ball from his 36 to OJR’s 34 near the end of the third quarter.
Looking back, though, Viking head coach Victor Brown saw more than just the statistical disparities between the teams.
“High school football is more than just the football aspects,” he said. “We’re trying to get them to do so much more.
“The kids did what we asked. They played hard until the end. One thing that’s not so visible is seeing the guys’ effort. We always ask the best of our kids, and they give it to us.”
Roberts had a lion’s share of good efforts logged at Wildcat Stadium.
A total of 14 players contributed on the offensive side, with Cooper Chamberlain and Christopher Williams getting into the scoring act down the stretch. Chamberlain, the third quarterback seeing action behind Stuart and Praweckyj, ran nine yards for a touchdown two minutes inside the fourth quarter for a 41-0 lead that got the “running clock” going. And Williams punctuated the night with a six-yard scoring run off left tackle with 3:42 left.
Ted Bradford got into the act at the start of the third quarter, scoring on a 12-yard burst through his left tackle at the 7:51 mark.
“As a coach, you want to play everybody,” Kolka said. “Everyone on our roster played. That’s what it’s all about.”
Stuart’s passing was highlighted by an 11-yard scoring toss to Praweckyj 5:38 before the half, and a 35-yard strike to Hinrichs inside the final minute. He also hooked up with Hinrichs on a 37-yarder in the third quarter, which helped maintain the Wildcats’ second scoring drive of the second half — one capped by Stuart’s two-yard run with 4:45 left in the third.
“We scored big, and got jayvee guys in,” he said. “As a team, we love it.”
Defensively, Krumenacker intercepted UM quarterback Anthony Swenda to set up Owen J. possession culminating with Bradford’s scoring run. Two plays into the Vikings’ subsequent possession, Zuch recovered Swenda’s fumble off a sack by Krumenacker to halt a UM drive to the OJR 37.
“Our defense has played well all year,” Kolka said. “They tried to run something different than we’ve seen. It’s a credit to our guys.”
“After they made big plays,” Stuart added, “our guys really got involved.”
A second Upper Merion fumble, recovered by sophomore Daniel Frisk near the game’s end, shut the door on the Vikes.
“We need to make improvements on that,” Brown said. “We’re not where we want to be with turnovers.”
Conversely, Kolka pointed with pride to Roberts playing turnover-free ball. It had only one fumble in the second quarter, but it was able to recover the ball though it went over to UM on downs.
“Having no turnovers is important,” he said. “We did a good job securing the football. It’s a big start.”
NOTES >> Roberts had a combined 451 yards total offense, 294 of it coming on the ground. Marcus Martin led the rushing game with 82 yards on 10 totes, Praweckyj followed with 77 and Hunter Scherfel added another 51. … Chamberlain went 2-for-2 in passing good for 22 yards. He also had two conversion kicks on the night. … Roberts’ ball-control efficiency led to kicking zero punts on the night.