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Loss won’t damper Perk Valley’s 2017 championship season

GRATERFORD >> In another wildly successful season for the Perkiomen Valley football program, the Pennridge Rams served as the team’s kryptonite.

Before Friday night, the only blemish on the record of the Pioneer Athletic Conference champion Vikings was a 29-0 setback at the hands of Pennridge in week 2. PV hoped that getting their rematch at home in the district quarterfinals would provide them the extra life needed to avenge the earlier defeat, but it wasn’t to be, as Pennridge moved to the district semifinals with a 25-0 victory.

“That’s an outstanding football team this year,” conceded Perkiomen Valley head coach Rob Heist. “Great size, great speed, and they execute.”

Regardless, for a team that came into the season needing to replace two of the most prolific performers in area history — let alone program history — the 2017 campaign can’t be viewed as anything other than a rousing success for Perk Valley. A 10-2 finish was perhaps highlighted by a 43-26 triumph over Pottsgrove in the PAC title game, and last week’s thrilling come-from-behind win over Penn Wood, 38-30, in an opening-round playoff matchup.

“I attribute our success to the 24 seniors we have on this team — each one a leader,” Heist added. “I will miss this class for sure. They’ve set the bar high. They work hard, they’re willing to go the extra steps, the extra mile, that you need sometimes to be successful. Our practices were always positive, upbeat… I think we felt we could compete with anyone we stepped on the field against this season.”

The Vikings did more than compete. The team ran roughshod over the Liberty Division, winning all five games by at least 21 points, and shutting out three of their five divisional rivals.

Last season, en route to a 2016 PAC championship and a district semifinal berth, then-PV quarterback Stephen Sturm and WR Justin Jaworski established themselves as the all-time leading passer and receiver in PAC history, respectively. Losing such production to graduation could’ve crippled a lesser program. At PV, it just created opportunities for the next wave of success.

The task of replacing Sturm fell to junior Cole Peterlin, who acquitted himself quite nicely throughout the season, completing over 60 percent of his passes and amassing 2,609 total yards (1,705 passing, 904 rushing) — moving him within striking distance of a 2,000-yard passing/1,000 yard rushing season, an unofficial gold standard of sorts for dual-threat quarterbacks.

“In the beginning of the season, obviously I was new to (the starting quarterback role),” said Peterlin, “but I do feel like I matured throughout the year.”

“We ask a whole lot of the quarterback position in this program,” said Heist. “We put a lot of pressure on Cole – he needs to be a runner, a passer, he’s got to be knowledgeable.

“Starting in January, we’ve met at least once a week to work on techniques and watch film. I think Cole felt like it was his turn. Stephen Sturm was an incredible football player, but Cole really stepped up this year and proved a lot of things to us. I’m really excited for next season.”

Rather than attempting to replace Jaworski’s production, Coach Heist and the Vikings relied on their unrivaled depth at the skill positions. The quartet of Isaiah Domine, Jon Moccia, Remy Sell, and Brendan Schimpf each ended Friday’s contest among the PAC top-20 receivers as the offense amassed over 30 points per game – more than enough for PV’s opposing defense, which racked up a total of four shutouts and holding opponents to just over 12 points per contest.

“What we’ve been able to build here is a testament to our current staff, as well as Scott Reed, our former head coach,” said Heist. “For me, I can sit back, let our coaches do their thing with total trust. We’re not the biggest team, but we have fighters.

“Every year, our goal is to win our league and we’ve accomplished that the past two years. Now we’re adding winning districts as a goal. Perkiomen Valley’s never won the district, but every year I feel like we’re taking steps in that direction, and learning from our failures. It’s gonna happen.”

The Vikings can hold their heads high as two-time defending PAC champions, and the program rides a five-year streak of not only reaching the district playoffs, but winning at least one playoff contest in each of those seasons. Going into the 2018 season, any conversation about District One’s signature football programs is incomplete without mentioning the Perkiomen Valley Vikings.

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