Perk Valley learns from last year’s mistakes in district win

There were no first-round jitters for Stephen Sturm or Perkiomen Valley.

Evidenced by his 307-yard performance and the dynamic performance from senior Ronnie Arch, the Vikings advanced past the first round of the District 1-AAAA playoffs for the second time in school history, leaving Haverford 35-28 victors last Friday night and remaining the PAC-10’s last team standing.

It was a night-and-day difference from the Vikings’ District 1-AAAA opener against Downingtown East last season, one in which Sturm and the Vikings couldn’t recover from a sluggish first half before failing to put the clamps down late in a 27-24 loss.

“A lot of those kids played in the Downingtown East last year,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed said. “We went down a score on the first play from scrimmage (against Haverford) and I didn’t see any panic.

“Sturm last year, he’ll be the first to tell you that his first half against Downingtown was not good. You could feel the nerves last year and then this year it felt like ‘All right, we’ve been here, we know what this is about. Let’s just do our thing.’ I think you saw some maturity out of the group in that situation on Friday night.”

There was never any doubt.

Arch finished the game with 71 yards receiving and 85 yards rushing as the Vikings regrouped after allowing a touchdown on the first play of scrimmage, building a 21-7 lead before putting the game away in the final quarter.

Five receivers caught at least two passes in the win, most notably junior Justin Jaworski, who shattered a PAC-10 record for most receiving yards in a season, hauling in 10 passes for 143 yards to give him 1,049 yards for the year to break Upper Perkiomen’s Ronnie Gillespie’s mark of 1,020 set in 2010. Sturm, also broke a longstanding PAC-10 record, topping Zach Zulli’s mark (2,541) for most passing yards in a season, his 307-yard night giving him 2,848 yards and 30 touchdowns (also a record).

“It just seems like each week it’s a different kid who seems to be the kid to go off, and that’s the fun part about this team,” Reed said. “Sean Owens had a big game, Justin was doing his thing, David (Williams) was doing his thing. Aaron (Morton) had a couple of catches and Ronnie just seemed to have the most big plays.”

The win puts the Vikings in play to reach the District 1-AAAA semifinals for the second time in school history. First, it must contend with No. 15 Pennsbury (35-28 winners over No. 2 Downingtown West) in the team’s first home playoff game since its District 1-AAAA opener against Glen Mills in 2007.

For Reed, the ride should be a fun one.

“Every district playoff win feels like you won a championship,” Reed said. “You know you’re playing other team’s league champions. Haverford is going to play for the Central League title on Thanksgiving. Pennsbury, this weekend, is at the top of their division except for losses to North Penn and Neshaminy who are both district qualifiers and won their first playoff game. You’re talking about every team you face being so hard to beat and being so hard to gameplan for but that’s also the fun of it. The joy to grab a win, it feels amazing for your coaches, your kids and the program in general.”

District 1 Doings

Pennsbury’s 35-28 upset over No. 2 Downingtown West did some bracket busting across the district. Quarterback Mike Alley’s two-yard sneak proved to be the decided as the Falcons pulled out the win in overtime. Alley finished the game with 130 yards on 24 carries in the win.
No. 1 Downingtown East battled back from a halftime deficit to defeat Plymouth-Whitemarsh 35-28 in the first round. The Cougars will face No. 9 North Penn, which received 100-yard rushing efforts from Nyfease West (115) and Nick Isabella (104) in a 48-7 victory over Unionville, Friday night.
Neshaminy, which cruised to a 31-16 victory over Spring-Ford Friday, will face No. 12 Quakertown, which topped No. 5 Central Bucks East 7-6.
In the other quarterfinal. Upper Darby and Upper Dublin will go at it after blowout victories in round one. Upper Darby’s Isaiah Bruce rushed for 337 yards and seven touchdowns as the Royals defeated Council Rock North 59-34 for the school’s first district win in school history. Upper Dublin quarterback Ryan Stover ran for four touchdowns and threw for another as the Cardinals routed No. 14 Garnet Valley 35-3.

In Class AAA, Marple Newtown defeated Pottsgrove, 20-7, for the school’s first district win in program history. The Tigers will face Upper Moreland (winners over Pottstown) in the semifinals Friday. No. 1 Academy Park will face reigning champion Great Valley in the other semifinal.

In Class AA, Springfield (Montco) is still alive for its second consecutive district title and will face New Hope-Solebury in the district final Friday at Central Bucks West. Delco Christian and Bishop McDevitt (District 12) will vie for the Class A Championship Friday after convincing wins in the semifinals, Delco Christian 32-14 winners over Calvary Christian and McDevitt 51-7 winners over Jenkintown.

Around District 3

Exeter (No. 3) is the only Class AAAA team remaining from the Berks Football League in the District 3 playoffs after a 46-0 victory over Cedar Crest (No. 14). The Eagles’ Gabe Schappell rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 150 yards and a score as the team built a 24-0 lead entering the half.

In Class AAA, Conrad Weiser fell to Susquehanna Township 42-3. Berks Catholic and Wyomissing won their respective Class AA battles, No. 2 BC with a 61-14 victory over No. 7 Annville-Cleona and No. 1 Wyomissing topping No. 8 Hamburg 42-6.

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