Upper Moreland handles Pottstown, 33-6

WILLOW GROVE >> Qualifying for the District 1 playoffs requires a team achieve a certain level of success during the regular season.

Advancing up the post-season ladder requires another set of successful standards.

Pottstown had enough regular-season success to be included in the district’s Class AAA bracket this fall. But the Trojans couldn’t sustain that level of accomplishment Friday, falling to Upper Moreland by a 33-6 count on the opening night of district-level play.

Scoring 19 unanswered points in the second half, second-seeded UM ended the Trojans’ first district-playoff foray since 2002 rather abruptly. The Golden Bears rode the speed-and-power play of junior running back Rodney Morgan — he covered more than 300 yards while scoring two long-distance touchdowns — and shut-the-door defense to a semifinal-round date with Marple Newtown next Friday.

“This is a real confidence-builder for us,” UM head coach Adam Beach said afterward. “We have a senior-dominated team, and we’re going to keep going next week.”

Pottstown, in the meantime, was left to regroup for its traditional Thanksgiving Day duel with Owen J. Roberts after being handled by UM. The Trojans (7-4) spotted the Bears touchdowns on their first two possessions, scored in the closing minute of the first half, then mustered only 14 yards’ total offense down the stretch while watching their hosts score on their first three drives of the second half.

“Obviously, we would have liked to play better,” Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead said. “We didn’t play our best, and that’s on me. We didn’t execute on offense, and we had some crucial penalties.”

Pottstown’s lone score was a 12-yard pass from quarterback Brandon Tinson to Ernest McCalvin 36 seconds before halftime. It was the capper to a 15-play, 55-yard march that saw Tinson, Bryant Wise and Isaiah Mayes all contribute … and Upper Moreland add life with a roughing-the-passer penalty on a third-down incompletion.

“In the second quarter, we got things under control,” Grinstead noted, “but we weren’t able to sustain it.”

The Golden Bears, by comparison, got plenty of inspirational play from Morgan and quarterback Casey Decker. They accounted for all UM’s touchdowns, Decker scoring on runs of 14, eight and three yards while Morgan (21 carries, 304 yards) had TD runs of 40 and 69 yards.

“Rodney is a great kid who committed himself to training during the off-season,” Beach said. “His discipline and power are come from all the work he did in the off-season.”

At the same time, Beach was quick to point out his team’s offense, which amassed 452 yards on the ground and through the air, is more than a one-man show.

“Nick Delucas (24 yards on seven totes) ran tough,” he noted. “It’s not just Rodney, but our whole offensive line.”

Pottstown saw four of its five second-half possessions three-and-out affairs. Its ground game was headed by Mayes (16 carries, 51 yards), Tinson (21 yards on 12 carries) and Wise (nine carries, 18 yards) contained by a Bear defense praised by Beach for “doing a really good job crowding the box.”

The Trojans now focus on the Thanksgiving Day finale with Owen J. Roberts, which will be the swan song for the soon-to-be-retired Grinstead, closing out his three-year tenure at the helm of the Pottstown program. It will be played at Grigg Memorial Field, with only a two-week period between it and the Upper Moreland game.

“It’s not as big a gap as we’ve had some years,” he said. “We’re going to use the time wisely.”

NOTES >> Pottstown’s defensive stars were Tinson, who picked off a Decker pass just before the end of the first quarter; and Steven Hewitt, who sacked Decker inside the second quarter. … Wise ended up punting the ball away eight times for an average of 31.2 yards per kick. His best was a 52-yarder in the second half.

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