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Pottsgrove’s Rahsul Faison feasts on Upper Merion

Pottsgrove's Rahsul Faison breaks through the during the Falcons' game against Upper Merion on Friday, Sept. 22 2017, (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

UPPER MERION >> Pottsgrove running back Rahsul Faison scored a 28-yard touchdown on his team’s first offensive play from scrimmage against Upper Merion.

He was just getting started. The senior rushed for 278 yards and five touchdowns on 18 carries in a 49-0 Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division win at Upper Merion Area High School.

“The offensive line blocked really well tonight,” he said. “They were opening holes for me all game long.

“(Taking the first carry for a touchdown) feels good. It makes me want to keep going, knowing I can keep capitalizing and taking advantage of (the blocking).”

Faison scored on runs of 28, 10, 15, 30 and 39 yards before leaving the game in the middle of the third quarter to get the second-team unit some work.

Pottsgrove’s Ephraim Hurt-Ramsey and Ryan Bodolus tackle Upper Merion’s Anthony Swenda during their game on Friday, Sept. 22, 2012. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

“That is hands-down the best running back we’ve seen this year,” Upper Merion coach Victor Brown said. “That’s the best running back we’re probably going to see all year. He’s very good. Kudos to him and (Pottsgrove head) coach (Rick) Pennypacker for developing him. Coach Pennypacker took his talents and what he does well and puts it to work for him. He’s a great player.”

The Stony Brook commit made his big night look effortless. He glided behind his blockers, made jump cuts and turned on the jets when it was necessary.

“I’m a patient runner, waiting for things to develop,” he said. “Once I see it develop I just go. (Le’Veon Bell) is my favorite running back — that’s who I study all the time. I try to let things set up and go with the flow.”

As a team, the Falcons, ranked No. 14 in the latest Pa Prep Live Top 20 rankings, rushed for 390 yards on 30 carries — a 13-yard average.

“That’s what we do,” Pennypacker said. “We run the ball and we expect our second teams to do just like the first team. We coach them as hard as we coach our first team. We’re proud of them and think they did a good job.”

Pottsgrove’s Avery Grant runs for a touchdown after his catch during the Falcons’ game against Upper Merion on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Still scoreless

Upper Merion was held scoreless for the third consecutive week after being blanked by Sun Valley and Owen J. Roberts.

David Brown sparked the Vikings on the opening kickoff. He returned it 55 yards all the way to the Pottsgrove 33-yard line. They picked up a first down and reached the Falcons 19. A negative rushing play and holding penalty resulted in a 2nd-and-26 and quarterback Anthony Swenda threw an interception to Pottsgrove’s Desmond Austin.

Despite scoring zero points, Brown saw some positives in the offense. Swenda went 5-for-12 passing for 44 yards.

“I know we did some things we haven’t been able to do all season,” Brown said. “We didn’t finish drives, but we sustained some drives. We sustained some drives throwing the ball. The goal here for us is to continue to improve daily, get our passing game to a point that we can be balanced out a little bit instead of being so one-dimensional. I think we made a step in the direction tonight. Not looking for the silver lining or anything, but without looking at the film, I can tell that we did much better passing the ball than we have all season.”

The Falcons defense obviously played a big role in the shutout. Well-timed blitzes kept Upper Merion’s signal-callers under pressure all night. Defensive end Ryan Bodolus finished the game with four sacks.

“We have eight kids back on defense.” Pennypacker said. “We’re going to bring people, we’re going to blitz people, we’re going to bring people from the edges. We’re pretty fast, we’re pretty quick. We sometimes don’t have great technique but we make up for it with our speed and quickness.”

Upper Merion quarterback Anthony Swenda runs the ball during the Vikings’ game against Pottsgrove on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

League opener

Friday night’s matchup was the PAC Frontier Division opener for both teams. Pottsgrove improves to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in league play and Upper Merion falls to 0-5 overall and 0-1 in league play.

“That’s definitely a perfect start,” Faison said. “We just have to keep taking it one game at a time and don’t look too far ahead.”

Future success

Upper Merion’s first-year coach Brown sees improvements in the team despite the 0-5 start.

Standing across the field, Pennypacker sees a bright future from Brown and the Vikings, too.

“I think Victor will do a good job,” Pennypacker said.

“Victor’s going to do alright here. He’s a new coach, new philosophy, he’ll be OK … His kids play hard. They’ll turn it around. I have a lot of faith in him. I know some of those coaches. They’re good people, good men. As long as the kids stick it out with him, they’ll be something to reckon with.”

Pottsgrove 49, Upper Merion 0
Pottsgrove       21 14 7 7 — 49
Upper Merion 0 0 0 0 — 0
1st Quarter
P – Faison 28-yard run (Kasper kick) 9:00
P – Faison 10-yard run (Kasper kick) 4:21
P – Sisko 46-yard pass to Grant (Kasper kick) :51
2nd Quarter
P – Faison 15-yard run (Kasper kick) 7:32
P – Faison 30-yard run (Kasper kick) 3:06
3rd Quarter
P – Faison 39-yard run (Kasper kick) 9:15
4th Quarter
P – Grant 40-yard run (Kasper kick) 7:50
Passing: P: Jay Sisko 2-3-86-1-1. UM: Anthony Swenda 5-12-44-0-1, Zaire Savage 0-1-0-0.
Rushing: P: Rahsul Faison 18-278-5, Elijah Chhuor 4-12-0, Kobey Baldwin 1-8-0, Avery Grant 4-72-1, John Bing 3-20-0. UM: Tyrese Leach 12-12-0, Zaire Savage 7-2-0, Anthony Swenda 12-(-13)-0, David Brown 2-7-0, Taiyan Lobban 1-0-0.
Receiving: P: Avery Grant 1-46-1, Desmond Austin 1-40-0. UM: Kyle Thorton 3-30-0, Taiyan Lobban 1-6-0, Ahmad Stone 1-8-0.
Interceptions: P: Desmond Austin. UM: Ahmad Stone.

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