ROYERSFORD >> A mass exodus of seniors from last year’s District 1 Class 6A quarterfinalist Spring-Ford team had thrust the spotlight onto quarterback TJ Pergine.
He sure hasn’t shied away from it. More so, he’s thriving in it.
Need evidence? One doesn’t need to look any further than his performance in last week’s victory over Methacton. The senior quarterback’s 386-yard passing performance ended up becoming both a school and individual record and has now propelled him to the top of the Pioneer Athletic Conference passer leaders list with a conference high 1,271 yards on a 95-of-168 effort with a gaudy 14-2 touchdown to interception ratio. It gave the Rams their third straight victory and has them right in the thick of the Liberty Division race yet again.
No surprise, says head coach Chad Brubaker.
“There’s not a lot to say that I hadn’t said already,” he said. “He’s our engine and our point guard, whatever analogy you want to make. He’s brought guys along tremendously and we’re still not there yet but every week I see improvement from other kids. He’s as prepared as any quarterback that we’ve had. He has a great desire to be successful. He understands what it takes in terms of film study, he’s more willing to ask questions on scenarios that could arise. He’s got all those things, plus a tremendous desire to win.”
All of those traits were imperative for a Spring-Ford squad that came into the 2017 season with question marks up and down the depth chart offensively. Who would replace the playmakers of athlete Stone Scarcelle and running backs Selwyn Simpson and Matt Gibson? Who would step up along the line that saw every position vacated except for that of Noah Silva at left tackle and Matt LePore at center? Behind a steady Justin DeFrancesco and leadership of Pergine, all those questions are starting to see some answers despite early growing pains, which resulted in the team’s 1-2 start.
“We knew that we were going to have some growing pains due to inexperience,” Brubaker said. “My message to him was that he needs to be the positive guy and I’ll be the guy that gets on guys. He needs to counter that and stay positive with guys because ultimately they are the guys that line up with him.
“We’ve had pretty frustrating times especially in the preseason,” he added. “Honestly, there were some days that privately I wasn’t sure where we’d get to or what we’d accomplish. I think through coaching, by our staff and through just continual repetition, and also him (Pergine) putting the ball where it needs to go, we’ve made a lot of progress. Where we are now in terms of our receivers from where we were in team camp in July and preseason camp is significantly better.”
Pergine’s 386 passing yards broke a school record of 312 yards set by Brandon Leacraft in a game against Boyertown in 2014. The 27 first downs tied a school record for one game. The Rams had done it twice before in 1989 and 2014 — both against Methacton.
The play of receiver Spring-Ford Dante Bonanni has helped the growing pains for the Rams as he is second in the PAC with 422 yards receiving on 23 receptions with three touchdowns. The sophomore recently caught a career-best seven passes for 162 yards and two scores in last week’s win over Methacton.
Six from Week Six
1. >> There’s not much more than you can say about Pottsgrove’s Rahsul Faison. The senior running back is turning in a freakishly good season and is making it look easy. He finished with 283 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the Falcons’ 49-6 victory over rival Pottstown on Friday and is nearly 600 yards ahead of the PAC’s No. 2 rusher (Justin DeFrancesco with 759 yards). His 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns are tops in the PAC and in District 1.
2. >> PA Prep Live’s Football Top 20 remains unshaken within the Top 5. Only one game that featured a Top 20 team was decided by one score (No. 14 Pennridge defeated unranked Council Rock South 35-28)
3. >> Speaking of not so close games, of the 36 scheduled games in District 1, only six were decided by one score or less. (Delco Christian defeated Valley Forge Military, 21-17; Penn Wood over Interboro, 16-14; Pennridge over CR South, 35-28; Quakertown over Hatboro-Horsham, 26-20; Central Bucks East over Souderton 10-7).
4. >> Owen J. Roberts recorded its second shutout of the season with a 15-0 win over Norristown on Saturday. The Wildcats are tied with Perkiomen Valley for most shutouts by a Liberty Division team. Pottsgrove has recorded the most shutouts this season (three).
5. >> CJ McCafferty’s first touchdown reception of the season couldn’t have come at a better time. His ability to find the soft spot in coverage as quarterback Matt DeLaurentis eluded pressure was critical. DeLaurentis found McCafferty with an eight-yard touchdown strike as PJP stayed perfect with a 34-31 overtime victory over Phoenixville
6. >> Boyertown had Perkiomen Valley on the ropes through three quarters before falling to the Vikings, 46-20. The game was tied at 7 and at 13 with 5:04 left in the third before PV scored the next five touchdowns.