RED HILL >> It was the fitting finale to a memorable Senior/Parent Recognition Night.
Ten members of Upper Perkiomen’s burgeoning senior class posed with head coach Tom Hontz for a group picture at the conclusion of Friday’s game with Pottstown. It was a Kodak moment coming on what could be their final high-school game in their home stadium.
“We all love Coach Hontz,” Tyler Whary, one of the seniors who lingered on the field after everyone else had departed, said.
If it does end up being the Indians’ home-field finale of the 2017 season, Whary will have much to remember it by. His play on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball was key to UP rolling up a 33-0 victory on Pottstown in their Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division capper.
Whary was the anchor of Upper Perk’s rushing game, covering 161 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. He was also on the receiving end of one of fellow senior/quarterback Tyler Keyser’s longer passes, a 26-yarder that helped fuel the third of four Indian touchdowns on the night.
On the defensive side, Whary closed out his team’s scoring with a career-first pick-six inside the game’s four-minute mark. It figured prominently in UP (4-1 PAC, 6-3 overall) claiming the division’s runner-up spot with Pope John Paul II losing to Pottsgrove 63-27.
But it wasn’t until the second half the Indians put distance between them and Pottstown (0-5, 1-8). They went into the halftime locker room leading by a mere 10-0 score, hampered along the way by a fumbled punt and an interception in their end zone.
“We went in at the half and fixed what we had to,” Whary said. “It was Senior Night. The coaches didn’t have to say anything.”
In tandem with the running game, UP’s passing game put up some big numbers of its own. Keyser went 12-for-15 for 137 yards, connecting with classmate Ryan Kendra for six plays covering 88 yards — the highlight a 12-yard scoring toss with 5:12 to go.
“Tyler was calling his number, and they came up big,” Hontz said.
The defense’s lights-out play was a particular source of pride. Along with Whary’s interception-turned-touchdown, the Indians scored a safety seconds into the fourth quarter to take a 19-0 lead.
Backed to its own eight, Pottstown quarterback Owen Morton was tackled in the end zone by Cole Fryer. For the night, the UP defense held Pottstown to just 71 yards total offense.
“The safety was great,” Hontz said, “and so was Whary’s pick six. We were saying we had to make that happen.”
Their own defense offered the Trojans their brightest moments. Nehemiah Figueroa came up with the second-quarter interception that dashed UP’s 12-play, 75-yard march, and Jamal Adams stopped another at the Pottstown 27 by picking off Keyser.
“The interceptions helped,” Pottstown’s first-year head coach, Mark Fischer, said. “We made three stops inside the 10. The kids practiced hard and worked hard all week.”
The Trojans actually crossed into UP territory on four of their possessions. But they had only four first downs to show for their work.
“We competed tonight,” Fischer said. “We went into the half looking to make adjustments. We fought hard.”
The Upper Perk rushing attack got another boost from Keyser (eight carries, 58 yards), who went eight yards around his right end 18 seconds prior to the end of the first half. Austin Tutolo had another 55 on nine totes, and sophomore Tyrese Reid added 33 on six runs.
For Pottstown, Jon Oister was the leading rusher with 59 yards on five carries. Morton added 5-for-9 passing good for 32 yards.
Upper Perk will now look to next week’s second-place game with Owen J. Roberts. It also has its sights set on making the District 1 playoffs a second straight year.
That, in itself, enhances the game in the Indians’ eyes.
“Last year, we wanted to make sure we didn’t get banged up for the playoffs,” Hontz said. “It (game) will be important this year for the playoffs.”
NOTES >> Ryan Casola got UP going by making a 28-yard field goal inside the game’s first three minutes. The Indians had moved from the opening kickoff to Pottstown’s six, only to face a fourth-down situation at the 11. … Kayleigh Durning was called on to make Upper Perk’s conversion kicks on its last two touchdowns. Casola was good on the first two. … Pottstown’s probable opponent in the PAC’s “fifth-place” game will be Methacton, which went winless in Division 1 with Friday’s loss to Perkiomen Valley. The teams played back on Sept. 15, the Trojans getting Fischer his first victory at the helm of the program with a 12-6 verdict.
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