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Oh, Brother: Clark-led Phoenixville handles Pottstown, 51-21

Phoenixville's Mason Koch, bottom, and Pottstown's Malchi Jones scramble during their bout at 126 pounds Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog - MediaNews Group)

POTTSTOWN >> A sibling rivalry it’s not.

More like a difference in philosophies. But for the Phoenixville wrestling program, the reuniting of brothers Brad and Brandan Clark has bred a higher degree of success.

The former Methacton standouts are back on the same side of the mats for the first time since the 2016-17 season, when Brad was head coach at Pottstown and Brandan was his assistant. They went in different directions the past two years: Brad as head coach at Methacton, Brandan at Phoenixville.

Their philosophies, developed over time, have meshed into a fast start for the Phantoms this winter … a start that continued Wednesday when Phoenixville handled Pottstown in their meeting of Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division programs, 51-21.

“We’re like yin and yang,” Brandan said after watching his Phantoms go to 2-0 in Frontier competition (5-2 overall). “I’m ‘in your face,’ and Brad’s more ‘nitty gritty.’ But he’s helped out tremendously.”

Phoenixville coaches Brad Clark, left, and Brandan Clark share a laugh during their match against Pottstown Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

For Brad, it’s been a bit of an adjustment going from head coach to assistant. But he relishes the opportunity to work with his younger brother, who was four years behind him (2007-2011) as a competitor at Methacton and a PIAA silver medalist at 215 his senior season.

“I came along to help him,” Brad said. “Wrestling brought us together. Not many brothers can say they wrestled together.

“Not being a teacher in the building is tough,” he added, a reference to his situation at Methacton. “At Phoenixville, 4:30 p.m. practices fit my schedule better.”

For Brandan, the reunion with his brother offers the perfect complement to Micah Bollinger and Mark Houseal, both in their third years of service at Phoenixville.

“Having Brad is a bonus,” he said. “He completes the staff.”

Phoenixville’s Roman Ciaverlli pins Pottstown’s Patrick Green at 182 pounds Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

A flurry of falls in the upper weights were key to Phoenixville putting distance on the scoreboard between it and Pottstown (0-2, 3-8), breaking an initial 3-3 tie.

Owen Koch (160), Anthony Stevenson (170:), Roman Ciaverlli (182) and David Polanki (195) got successive drops that staked the Phantoms to a 27-3 lead before the run was broken up by Justice Harris’s pin at 220 for Pottstown.

Nolan Martin got the visitors back on track with a fall at 285, and Antonio Valenteen (120) and Mason Koch (126) closed out the pin parade following a double-forfeit at 106 and forfeit to 113-pound teammate Justin Meyers.

“We pride ourselves in wrestling the full six,” Brandan noted. “It doesn’t matter what happens in the first two (periods). We wrestle through everything.”

Phoenixville’s David Polanki, left, works toward a takedown of Pottstown’s Jaime Diego at 195 pounds Wednesday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The Trojans rebounded from a 51-9 deficit in the last two weights of the night. Demond Thompson and Kyleaf July scored first-minute falls at 132 and 138, capping a night during which Pottstown got the first points in seven of the 12 contested weights.

“I knew we’d be strong with Demond and Kyleaf,” Pottstown head coach Nick Wade said. “(126) was big … Malachi Jones had him (Koch) in trouble, and Justice took care of business.”

The early scoring split saw Jared Hewitt get Pottstown a 4-2 decision of Matt Wallence at 145, and the Phantoms’ Angelo Franzone answering with his 8-4 verdict over Devon Green. They were the lone bouts not decided by pins.

“There were some toss-up matches,” Wade said. “I want us to capitalize more on getting opportunities, winning bonus-point battles and getting pins where we needed them.”

For his part, Brandan Clark is pleased with his wrestlers’ performances.

“Right now, we’re firing on all cylinders,” Brandan Clark said. “We’re wrestling the full six with intensity.”

Pottstown’s Demond Thompson, top, controls Phoenixville’s Jake Geiger Wednesday night at Pottstown. Thompson won by first period pin. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

NOTES
Brad Clark’s record as a head coach was 29-29. Brandan’s record to date is 24-30; the current 2019-20 mark is the only winning total thus far. … Both teams are now looking to Saturday’s PAC Championship Tournament at Pottsgrove. The action will start at 9 a.m.

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