EAST ROCKHILL >> If Pennridge had any concerns about being upset in its season opener Friday night, those concerns were pushed aside quickly.
The Rams, ranked No. 19 in PA Prep Live’s preseason Top 20, forced Norristown to go three-and-out on the game’s opening possession at Helman Field at Pennridge High School.
Senior Anthony Dechant blocked the ensuing punt and a personal foul penalty against Norristown set the Rams up with a first down at the Eagles 11-yard line.
On the first offensive play of the season, Ryan Garner ran 11 yards for a touchdown. He followed that up by running in a two-point conversion to make it 8-0 and get the wheels turning on what would be a 41-7 Rams victory.
“It doesn’t get much better,” Pennridge coach Jeff Hollenbach said. “I told them at halftime, I said, ‘I can’t quite remember the first play of the season is a touchdown and the two-point conversion right after that.’ That was an awesome way to start. We wanted to establish the running game, establish our power game right from the beginning and I think that’s what we did.”
Pennridge did most of its damage on the ground.
Josh Pinkney ran for a game-high 141 yards and two touchdowns. Garner also scored twice and chipped in 46 yards. As a team, the Rams ran for 268 yards on 36 carries — a 7.44 average — and five touchdowns.
“It’s the running backs looking good in the open field,” Hollenbach said, “but it’s mainly our interior guys. They’re big and strong … We’ve got some big strong kids inside. They worked hard in the weight room. They’re agile kids — they’re not just big and sloppy kids.”
Hollenbach pointed to Zack Tarburton as having an especially good game on the offensive line. Tarburton is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound junior.
“When you come out in a football game and you see that size, with our younger guys it’s an eye-opening — ‘oh boy,’” Norristown coach Jason Powel said of his run defense. “Our reaction time wasn’t there. I think we did a better job of it in the second half. Once they got the first one under their belt, now it’s, ‘hey I know what to expect. I can go play.’”
Kyle Schetter did a lot for the Rams Friday night. He ran the ball three times for 33 yards, caught a 16-yard pass and grabbed an interception on defense.
Two of those touches turned into touchdowns. He returned an interception 17 yards to the end zone and raced 29 yards with a handoff for a score.
Zak Kantor and Oliver Jervis both took snaps for the Rams. They combined to go 8-for-17 for 126 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.
“Both of them played well during the summer,” Hollenbach said. “I wanted to see what they would do out here, especially Zak the junior — just getting out here and getting his feet wet with varsity competition. Oliver has been here before. I wanted to get Zak in that situation and he did really well. Oliver played very well, too.”
Ready for a showdown
After celebrating the season-opening win, Pennridge will shift its attention to Neshaminy. The Redskins beat the Rams twice in 2016 — once at Pennridge High School and once in the district playoffs.
“We know about Neshaminy,” Hollenbach said. “We’re coming ready to play.”
Norristown hung tight for a quarter before the Rams pulled away.
Quarterback Izaiah Webb went 10-for-17 for 101 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and ran for a one-yard score.
Kirk Wilson ran for 57 yards on 18 carries and Eleazar Hill caught three passes for 56 yards.
“Our kids played hard,” Powel said. “We made a lot of mistakes and beat ourselves there for a little bit. We gave (Pennridge) the advantage early. I’m proud of my kids. We have a lot of young kids who cut their teeth against a good, big football team. There’s got to be a little more of a collective effort in practice with the older guys and the younger guys coming together. This group gets it. For us to come up here — Friday night lights in a stadium like this, big team, crowd and band — it’s a good experience for us.”
The Eagles face Interboro next week.
Pennridge 41, Norristown 7
Norristown 7 0 0 0 — 7
Pennridge 14 14 7 6 — 41
P-Garner 11-yard run (2-pt Garner run)
N-Webb 1-yard run (Nagle kick)
P-Pinkney 28-yard run (2-pt failed)
P-Schetter 17-yard interception return (Cuthbert kick)
P-Pinkney 60-yard run (Cuthbert kick)
P-Garner 5-yard run (Cuthbert kick)
P-Schetter 29-yard run (kick blocked)
N: Izaiah Webb 10-17-101-0-2
P: Oliver Jervis 4-7-82-0-0, Zak Kantor 4-10-44-0-0
N: Izaiah Webb 7-(-21)-1, Kirk Wilson 18-57-0, Rashiid Santos 5-4-0, Isaiah Tucker 3-8-0
P: Ryan Garner 5-46-2, Josh Pinkney 10-141-2, Zak Kantor 5-(-10)-0, Oliver Jervis 2-19-0, Nick Tarburton 3-6-0, Ryan Angelini 5-21-0, Kyle Schetter 3-33-1, Andrew Nace 1-(-2)-0, Taj Utsey 2-14-0
N: John Devine 2-29-0, Rashiid Santos 1-6-0, Eleazar Hill 3-56-0, Boubacar Diawara 4-10-0
P: Kyle Schetter 1-16-0, Nick Tarburton 4-53-0, Joe Devine 1-29-0, Josh Pinkney 1-7-0, Ryan Garner 1-21-0
P: Shawn Ackley, Kyle Schetter.