POTTSTOWN >> The custodians and laundry-room workers may not like one result of Pottstown’s game with Springfield-Montco Friday.
But the players — and even the coaches, to a certain degree — enjoyed the “mud bowl” this District 1 Class 4A playoff game was. Scoring a 28-13 victory goes a long way toward putting up with a game-long rain shower and soupy brown mess Grigg Memorial Field was rendered.
“I was the least muddy person out there until they (players) started hugging me,” head coach Mark Fischer, his clothes streaked with mud, said after taking refuge in the coaches’ room. “I told (athletic director Matt) Miller they’ll have to wash the uniforms twice, and let them soak.”
In this instance, the reward outstripped the aggravation. The victory continues the Trojans’ resurgence from a two-win season two years ago, and puts them in the position of playing for a district title next week … against Pottsgrove, winner of another 4A semifinal with Bishop Shanahan.
Little wonder the Pottstown locker room was a blend of wet, muddy uniforms, a floor even wetter and muddier, and the gleeful shouts of players getting themselves psyched up for next week’s rematch with the defending district champion Falcons.
“It’s exciting, the chance to play our crosstown rival for the district championship,” Fischer said. “The opportunity to play them a second time.”
Daniel Darden and Josiah Wiggins led second-seeded Pottstown (6-5) in a mudbath their teammates celebrated post-game with belly slides through the field’s muddy sideline. Darden ran for a pair of touchdowns covering five and two yards, and Wiggins headed the Trojans’ modest (4-for-7, 77 yards) passing game by hooking up with Dereck Darden on a 46-yard scoring pass that enabled the locals to break up a 7-7 tie near the midway point of the second half.
“It was pretty bad, trying to keep our feet under us,” the junior quarterback Wiggins said. “But the passing game wasn’t going to get us there. The line did what it had to do.”
Springfield came in with its own designs for resurgence. The third-seeded Spartans (6-4), working back from a 2016 season where they cancelled every game after their opener due to low roster numbers, were seeking to win in the postseason. But they were unable to contend with Pottstown’s hammering defensive pressure and done in by messy field conditions that contributed to seven fumbles.
But Montco brought it back to a one-possession game early in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Max Perry finished off a 57-yard drive — one set up by Jeremy Tracey’s recovery of a Pottstown fumble — with a one-yard push through his left tackle at the 9:59 mark. Perry also went 62 yards for another score, answering Darden’s first TD run at 8:18 of the first quarter.
“I love these kids,” Springfield head coach Chris Shelley said while heading for a post-game huddle with his players. “Our kids brought it tonight.”
The Trojans’ defense held the Spartans’ offense to just 24 passing yards and 141 total. Dereck Darden had successive sacks of Perry inside the game’s five-minute mark while Jacob Wise, Jon Oister, Bobby Richards and Destyn Snyder made other drops of the Spartan signal-caller.
“With the conditions, we played a ‘vanilla’ defense,” Fischer said. “It was more beating the guy in front of you.”
Offensively, Wiggins ran 17 times through the muck for 90 yards while Jon Oister had another 80 primarily in the second half. Daniel Darden got another 55 on 16 totes, and Darius Smallwood scored on a one-yard run at the start of the third quarter to take a 21-7 lead.
In the air, Wiggins had another 22-yard hookup with Jahzeel Watson on Pottstown’s second offensive snap. It set the stage for Daniel Darden’s first TD.
“We had everything out there,” Wiggins said. “We made a big statement.”
NOTES >> Pottstown lost only one of six fumbles it had on the night. Springfield-Montco, by comparison had turnovers on three of its seven muffs. … Wilson Krewson and Carter Stepney teamed up with Perry for 12-yard catches that proved the sum total of the team’s passing game. … Daniel Darden recorded his 100th tackle of the season at the start of the second quarter.
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