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Mercury Week 4 Preview: Winless Methacton hoping positivity pays off at Pottstown

During preseason, first-year Methacton coach Dave Lotier’s progress in rebuilding the Warriors’ program was evident.

Following an 0-10 campaign that saw Methacton finish the 2017 season with only 19 players on the active roster, more than 60 athletes were in fall camp, demonstrating the renewed enthusiasm for the program.

Three weeks into the season, the Warriors are still waiting to see the results translate to the standings or the scoreboard, but the new coach says enthusiasm hasn’t dampened at all.

“The players understand the big picture, and the process we’re undergoing,” Lotier said in reference to the rebuild. “But there’s clear progress. Defensively, we’re improving each week — yards per game, point per game, they’ve decreased substantially each week as players buy into the system.”

Indeed, after a 47-0 thrashing at the hands of Harry S. Truman in the opener, Methacton hung in gamely for three quarters before succumbing to Pottsgrove, 34-0. As it so happens, those first two opponents are the No. 1 ranked teams in the District 1 power rankings in Class 6A and 4A, respectively. Last week’s 14-0 loss to Upper Merion saw the Warriors hold Vikings running back Zaire Savage to just 70 yards on 30 carries.

Still, it would be nice to have a reason to celebrate something after being shutout in three straight outings.

“Obviously, we need to clean some things up offensively,” Lotier allowed. “As coaches, we are getting a feel for our personnel and how we can put them in the best positions to succeed. We also need to continue to work on our execution and making sure we are doing all the little things it takes to move the ball and score.”

This week, the Warriors take on 2-1 Pottstown, 42-12 winners last week against Kutztown. The Trojans lead all Frontier Division teams in rushing through three games with 245 yards per contest, led by first-year starting quarterback Josiah Wiggins, who moved behind center from running back this season.

“Josiah’s been a leader for us all season,” said Pottstown coach Mark Fischer. “He does a great job running the offense. He threw the ball very well last week but he also adds his ability to run to our offense. He watches film weekly and understands what we are looking to do on each play based on teams’ alignment.”

Wiggins has run for 249 yards and five touchdowns and has passed for 14 of 33 attempts for 165 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions.

The Trojans’ offensive line, led by senior captain Destyn Snyder, has been a big part of the team’s success on the ground. After a humbling 26-0 loss to West Chester East in Week 2, Fischer was proud of how the line came together to rise to the challenge last week against Kutztown.

“I think we learned a lot from our mistakes,” he said. “This group works hard and continues to grow every week.”

Owen J. Roberts’ Marcus Martin carries the ball during Friday night’s game against Daniel Boone. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Upper Merion vs. Owen J. Roberts >> Two of the PAC’s leading rushers square off in Bucktown, as the Wildcats open their home slate. Senior running back Marcus Martin (324 yards rushing, 3 TDs) leads the offensive attack for the host Wildcats, while Zaire Savage (292 yards, 2 TDs) carries the load for Upper Merion, who looks to extend their winning streak to three games.

The Wildcats (2-1) look to bounce back from their first loss last week, 28-9 in Oxford. OJR will play host in four of their next five contests, starting this week as a prelude to showdowns with Liberty Division rivals Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley.

Daniel Boone at Conrad Weiser >> The Blazers (2-1) rushed for an astounding 486 yards in last week’s 36-29 victory over Ches-Mont contender Bishop Shanahan. With a flair for the dramatic, neither of Boone’s two victories have been settled until the final minutes. Last week, it was Tanner Vanderslice’s eight-yard TD run with 1:12 to play that yielded the winning points.

It’ll be hard to equal that output, but Daniel Boone will continue to establish their devastating ground game against a Conrad Weiser coming in off consecutive victories of their own in their respective Berks I openers.

Berks Catholic at Boyertown >> The emphasis is on the defensive side of the ball for the Bears (1-2) after consecutive losses that saw opponents put up an average of 41 points per contest. Last week, both sides of the ball struggled in a 34-8 loss to Pottsgrove.

Improvement won’t come easy against a 2-1 Berks Catholic team whose only setback came in Week 2, a 7-0 defeat at the hands of 6A power Central Dauphin. Abdul Macfoy (108 yards, two rushing TDs in last week’s win over McDonogh High of Maryland) leads the charge for the Saints, last year’s District 3 champion and PIAA semifinalist in 4A.

Ball control will be paramount for Boyertown, which features PAC leading rusher Jamie Moccia (375 yards, 5 TDs) and quarterback Ayden Mathias (267 yards, 4 TDs).

Exeter vs. Spring-Ford >> A pair of 2-1 teams renew acquaintances in Royersford, with Exeter looking to avenge a 45-21 defeat at the hands of the Rams a year ago.

Kolby Haag pilots the offense for the Eagles, who enjoyed 100-plus yard performances from Steven Rose and Jeremiah Nixon in last week’s victory over Lower Dauphin.

For the Rams, senior Nick DelRomano leads a defense that will look to limit the Eagles’ multi-faceted attack and get back on track after giving up 33 points in last week’s loss to Lancaster-Lebanon League power Wilson.

Quarterback Ryan Engro is 3rd in the PAC in passing with 375 yards of 29 of 57 attempts with 4 TDs and 1 INT. He also leads the team in rushing with just 105 yards as Spring-Ford has not established a consistent running game in any of its first three contests.

Upper Perkiomen at Fleetwood >> The location of the game was moved after Upper Perkiomen schools temporarily closed this week. The visiting Indians (1-2) look to bounce back defensively from last week’s 47-33 at Upper Moreland. The emphasis will be on limiting big plays against Fleetwood, still looking to notch their first victory of 2018.

Norristown at Cheltenham >> The Eagles celebrated the first victory of the Joe Milligan era last week, defeating neighborhood rival Plymouth-Whitemarsh 27-14. Norristown figures to continue looking to WR Christian Thomas (six catches, 76 yards and 3 TDs last week) in attacking a Cheltenham (2-1) defense that showed its potential in a season-opening shutout of Council Rock South. QB Adonis Hunter and RB Jamir Barnes lead the Cheltenham offense.

Phoenixville at Chichester >> It’s been a strong start to Don Grinstead’s tenure in Phoenixville, as the Phantoms equaled 2017’s victory total with their second straight win last week against Kennett. Alex Washington continues to assert himself as a breakout performer with his second consecutive 100- yard outing (22 carries for 119 yards and 2 TDs), while Travis Pannella turned in a triple-digit day of his own on the ground.

Chichester looks to rebound from a last-minute heartbreaker, as they fell 21-20 to another PAC outfit, Pope John Paul II, after a extra point was blocked in the dying seconds.

Glen Mills at Pottsgrove >> The undefeated Falcons (3-0) looked like their old selves last week, racking up 315 rushing yards in a 34-8 victory over Boyertown. QB Jay Sisko pilots the devastating rushing attack — mixing in a high-percentage pass for good measure now and then, such as last week when he attempted only two tosses, but completed both for a total of 99 yards and a score.

They face a test this week against a Glen Mills squad that upended West Chester Henderson last week, 24-9. The Battlin’ Bulls are in the midst of six consecutive road games, but seemed unfazed against Henderson, as two-way star Robert Hill ran for 104 yards and returned an interception 70 yards for a score.

Interboro at Perkiomen Valley (Saturday, at Phoenixville HS) >> After last week’s emotional win over Pennridge, the Vikings look to start a winning streak when they welcome the 1-2 Bucs of Interboro. Perkiomen Valley QB Cole Peterlin hopes for conditions more conducive to the Vikings’ dynamic passing game as he looks to attack a Bucs defense allowing over 35 points per game so far this season.

Flooding at Perkiomen Valley necessitated the game to be moved from Friday night to a Saturday noon kickoff at Phoenixville.

Schuylkill Valley at Pope John Paul II (Saturday) >> For the second season in a row, Pope John Paul II is off to a 3-0 start. Last week was the Panthers’ closest call, as they waited over 24 hours to complete a 21-20 victory over Chichester, thanks to weather delays and venue changes. The Panthers continue to spread the wealth offensively, with five different receivers catching passes from QB Kamal Gray (23-for-48 for 450 yards, 8 TDs, 0 INT), and senior AJ Natale leading the rushing attack.

This week, they battle 1-2 Schuylkill Valley, who claimed their first win last week over York County Tech, 47-6. Schuylkill Valley held their opponents to only 158 yards of total offense in the victory.

Pope John Paul II has had their way with Schuylkill Valley in recent meetings, 42-10 win in 2017 and 33-0 shutout in 2016.

Hill School at Kiski School (Saturday) >> The Rams make the trip to Kiski this week after a sloppy, season-opening 20-12 to Wyoming Seminary in a game that featured 42 total penalties (14 by Hill School).

They’ll need a much cleaner effort against Kiski, who opened last week with a convincing 43-0 shutout against Reigning Sports Thunder (OH).

2018 Mercury Area Rushing Leaders

RankPlayerTeamRush Att.Rush YdsRush TDRush Avg
1Marcus MartinOwen J. Roberts7344336.1
2Isaiah TaylorPottsgrove7344366.1
3Alex WashingtonPhoenixville9542864.5
4Jamie MocciaBoyertown5842367.3
5Josiah WigginsPottstown5437266.9
6Tanner VandersliceDaniel Boone5336937.0
7Ayden MathiasBoyertown4532347.2
8Zaire SavageUpper Merion9731823.3
9Cole PeterlinPerkiomen Valley6628534.3
10Chase LaceyDaniel Boone4728356.0
11AJ NatalePope John Paul II4427836.3
12Malachi DukaUpper Perkiomen4425625.8
13Tommy BuchertDaniel Boone4124516.0
14Daniel DardenPottstown5819503.4
15Isaiah GloverPottsgrove3119036.1
16Travis PannellaPhoenixville2715525.7
17Kamal GrayPope John Paul II2615345.9
18Mario MazzccuaHill School1814818.2
19Luke WharyUpper Perkiomen2614305.5
20Cooper ChamberlainOwen J. Roberts3713823.7
21Dylan RobertsonBoyertown2213306.0
22Ezra FigueroaPottstown1912706.7
23Larry WilliamsDaniel Boone2412405.2
24Jay SiskoPottsgrove3710642.9
25Devan BanosDaniel Boone1210508.8
26Ryan EngroSpring-Ford4210142.4
27Stephen BrillSpring-Ford178805.2
28Mike TorciniMethacton338002.4
29Daniel WatsonNorristown218013.8
30Jonathan OisterPottstown147615.4
31Jon MocciaPerkiomen Valley227113.2
32Dereck DardenPottstown147005.0
33Anthony SwendaUpper Merion176713.9
34Quinn FoleyDaniel Boone667111.2
35CJ McCaffertyPope John Paul II125914.9
36Jacob SturmPerkiomen Valley115915.4
37Andrew YoonSpring-Ford105705.7
38Michael ZelliUpper Merion155103.4
39Joe VeraUpper Perkiomen65018.3
40Noah SegalBoyertown84405.5
41Tyrese ReidUpper Perkiomen144122.9
42Armante HaynesSpring-Ford114013.6
43Kirk WilsonNorristown83804.8
44Connor PataniaPhoenixville183802.1
45Jadore ColbertPottsgrove123713.1
46Darius SmallwoodPottstown235117.5
47Mike CirielloMethacton143402.4
48Zachary DavisBoyertown103203.2
49Chris BruderPope John Paul II63205.3
50Steele DepetrilloPope John Paul II103113.1

2018 Mercury Area Receiving Leaders

RankPlayerTeamRecRec YdsRec. TDRec Avg
1Steve SkarbekPope John Paul II12332527.7
2Isaiah DominePerkiomen Valley15285819.0
3Dante BonanniSpring-Ford19261313.7
4Christian ThomasNorristown18251413.9
5Justin KormosPope John Paul II6221336.8
6Blaise ScarcelleSpring-Ford11158014.4
7Noah BakerSpring-Ford8156319.5
8Nehemiah FigueroaPottstown12139011.6
9Austin RowleyPerkiomen Valley8135016.9
10Savaughn DavidheiserOwen J. Roberts1412829.1
11Jamie MocciaBoyertown8127115.9
12Andrew CarducciUpper Perkiomen8125015.6
13Marcus MartinOwen J. Roberts9122213.6
14Jimai SpringfieldPottsgrove4113228.3
15Tyrese ReidUpper Perkiomen3102134.0
16Stephen BrillSpring-Ford697016.2
17Jon MocciaPerkiomen Valley139707.5
18CJ McCaffertyPope John Paul II887210.9
19Dante DenardoOwen J. Roberts128407.0
20Messiah SmytheUpper Merion376025.3
21Randy WashingtonPerkiomen Valley376025.3
22Larry DickersonMethacton573014.6
23Gabe RandallNorristown273036.5
24Jacob SturmPerkiomen Valley669011.5
25Luke WharyUpper Perkiomen667011.2
26Max KratohwillUpper Perkiomen662110.3
27AJ NatalePope John Paul II562112.4
28Sam KuhlOwen J. Roberts361120.3
29Gerald HubertNorristown160060.0
30Noah SegalBoyertown249024.5
31Taiyan LobbanUpper Merion348016.0
32Kirk WilsonNorristown346015.3
33Travis CummingsNorristown64607.7
34Matt OkuniewskiDaniel Boone345015.0
35Matt KeatingOctorara344114.7
36Justin MitalaPope John Paul II343114.3
37Alex WashingtonPhoenixville54308.6
38Aidan FoleyPhoenixville443010.8
39Malik Smith IIPerkiomen Valley241020.5
40Marc ClaytonUpper Merion336012.0
41Mike DoughertyPerkiomen Valley236018.0
42Collin FunkUpper Perkiomen43418.5
43Gernard FinneyHill School233016.5
44Will RoeseMethacton253101.2
45Josh FlowersHill School229014.5
46Jahzeel WatsonPottstown32608.7
47Chris SalvoPope John Paul II125125.0
48Anthony BillettaBoyertown224012.0
49Blaise CaroselliBoyertown32408.0
50Jadore ColbertPottsgrove123023.0

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