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Mercury Football Preview: Hill School aiming for fresh start with new coach Patterson

He appears a perfect fit as The Hill School’s latest football head coach.

Orlando Patterson, Hill School

Years of experience as a player and coach at private schools, located primarily in the Boston region and Massachusetts area, give Orlando Patterson a very good idea of what life will be like at Pottstown’s storied prep school. And that life is already in full gear.

On board at the Hill since June, Patterson has been busy getting a football program — one that had to forego the 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic — ready to be back for a normal season. That season kicks it up a notch when the Rams host Germantown Academy 2:30 p.m. Saturday at The Dell Field.

He has knowledge of the Hill from his scholastic career at Tabor Academy, where he played between 2001 and 2005.

“It’s been fantastic overall,” Patterson said of his Hill experience thus far. “The variety of sports. Field hockey and water polo are both strong, and soccer and lacrosse. There are a lot of good student-athletes here.”

The Mid-Atlantic Prep League is also an organization he holds in high esteem.

“I was attracted to it (Hill) because of the MAPL,” he said. “It’s one of, if not the best, leagues around … very competitive. That easily attracted me to the position.”

In that vein, Patterson understands the mindset of the Hill community for having a successful football program.

“The people at the Hill are hungry,” he said. “But it’s going to take time. We have to get everybody buying into what we’re trying to do. Once we get the players on board, then we’ll work on it with the school.”

Patterson’s involvement in the sports dates back to his youth, when he played Pop Warner ball for the Boston Raiders. After a year of public school, he transferred to Tabor Academy, where he served as a team captain. He then went on to Hobart College and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament three times. During Patterson’s junior season at Hobart, the Statesmen won the Liberty League Championship. 

Following Hobart and a teaching and coaching internship year at Bridgton Academy (Bridgton, Maine), Patterson was appointed head coach at Blue Ridge School where he led the Barons to a Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division II Football State Championship in just his second season. He also earned “Coach of the Year” honors at the league, region, and state levels. After three seasons at Blue Ridge, Patterson returned to his alma mater where he served as the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the Tabor Academy Seawolves, leading a potent offense to the NEPSAC Super Bowl Championship in 2016 – its first since 1999.

Patterson served as director of auxiliary and summer programs and resumed head coaching duties at Roxbury Latin School in his native Boston from 2017 to 2019. In his last stop before arriving at The Hill School, Patterson was an assistant varsity coach and JV head coach for the perennial football juggernaut Boston College High.

At the Hill, Patterson has a core of players with local roots. Tristan Reynolds, a sophomore wide receiver/defensive back, is from Boyertown; Kaden White, a running back/linebacker, is from Pottsgrove; Quin Craig, a wide receiver/defensive back, is from Chester Springs; and Luke Cawley, a senior co-captain who plays offensive and defensive line, is from East Norriton.

Among the standouts joining them are Mo Hinds, an offensive/defensive lineman from Canada with size (6-foot-5, 285 lbs.).

“We also have some post-graduates who will be good,” Patterson said.

Patterson looks to employ a style that is “fast and aggressive,” but he also wants it to “be fun” for the players.

“We’ll be playing pressure defense, for sure,” he said. “We have a good linebacking corps. We’ll play a three-front but send players. We want to get the ball in our athletes’ hands.

“We talked to the boys about being hungry, developing team camaraderie. We had a scrimmage last weekend, and we felt good about it, walking away healthy.”

Patterson figures his team will be tested by Germantown Academy in its opener. The Patriots opened their 2021 season last weekend with a 48-18 victory over Simon Gratz. Running back Brian Allen had 186 yards on 16 rushes and two touchdowns in the win.

“They’re aggressive and strong up front,” Patterson said. “They fly to the ball on defense.”

His plan for countering GA’s strong areas?

“We’ll focus on what we can control,” he said. “Do things right and execute for 48 minutes.”

Patterson’s coaching staff has Dan Edleman (Class of 2004) as defensive coordinator. Other assistants are Kevin Tkachuk, Ernest Higginbotham, Gavin Harter and Jay Williams.

“We have a great dynamic,” he said. “They’ve been helpful in my transition.”

Week 3 games
Avon Grove at Owen J. Roberts, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Wildcats nipped Avon Grove three games into 2019, 14-13.

Preview: Roberts’ offense continues to thrive on Avrey Grimm’s running abilities. The senior overcame cramping issues against Wissahickon – a 34-24 comeback win – to gain 187 yards and three touchdowns while the passing game had quarterback Michael Reed go 8-for-15 for 145 yards and an aerial score to Anthony Villarosa. The defense also proved to be opportunistic, picking off two Aidan Defeo passes; one of them was returned by Ned Burgess 30 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Red Devils (1-1) are coming off a 31-8 win over Penn Wood. Among its scoring plays was a 36-yard interception return by Trent Lucovich and three passing touchdowns from senior quarterback Connor Walsh.

Daniel Boone at Garden Spot, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Blazers topped the Spartans in the first game of their 2019 season, 20-14.

Preview: The Blazers (0-2) are looking to break into the win column after being outscored in their first two outings by a combined 60-24. They got a big rushing effort from J.T. Hogan, who gained 170 yards on 16 totes and scored their lone touchdown in the fourth quarter of last Friday’s 19-10 loss to Twin Valley. Their defense was bolstered by interceptions from Riley Brady and Alex Vassallo.

Like Boone, the Spartans are also looking to break into the 2021 win column. Their latest outing was a 38-23 loss to Conestoga Valley last Friday.

Downingtown West at Perkiomen Valley, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Vikings lost to the Whippets when they faced off in 2019, 33-17.

Preview: Perkiomen Valley was in control of District 1 power Coatesville last weekend, building a 27-14 lead before the Red Raiders scored three times in the third quarter to overtake their guests in an eventual 36-27 verdict. Senior QB Ethan Kohler (17-for-28, 285 yards) threw three touchdown passes — two of them to Dawson Debebe — and Ryan Klimek added field goals of 39 and 32 yards to his three conversion kicks for a total of nine points in complement to his 101 yards rushing.

The Whippets (1-1) are coming off a 13-7 win over a talented Haverford School program. West quarterback Evan Wickersham had a 71-yard pass connection in a game that was ultimately decided by field position.

Fleetwood at Upper Perkiomen, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Indians fell to the Tigers in early 2019, 30-20.

Preview: Upper Perk (1-1) handled Lower Moreland last weekend, 35-20, in a Friday matinee. Dylan Hank had three rushing touchdowns, while Brady Thompson went for 138 yards as UP ground out six yards per carry on 46 rushes.

Fleetwood (1-1) is coming off a 38-14 win over Annville-Cleona last weekend. Gavin Morris scored four touchdowns (three rushing) as part of his 137-yard performance, and Villanova commit Tanner Maddocks had rushing and passing TDs to go with his 174 yards (109 ground, 65 air) total offense.

Methacton at Wissahickon, 7 p.m. 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Warriors have not played the Trojans in more than a decade.

Preview: The joy over Methacton’s season-opening win against Harriton was supplanted by the unhappiness of a 42-14 loss to Plymouth-Whitemarsh last weekend. The Colonials scorched the Warriors for 391 yards on the ground, averaging close to 10 per carry. Methacton’s scoring was on a 15-yard passf rom Dan Brandi to SahBri Hill and Tyler Weil-Kasper’s 15-yard run in the second and fourth quarters, respectively.

Wissahickon had the early advantage on Owen J. Roberts last weekend, but with quarterback Aidan Defeo hampered by leg cramps in the second half, its 18-13 halftime lead reversed into a 34-24 loss. DeFeo and marquee running back Kyle Leaman (148 yards, three TDs) combined for the Trojans’ 219-yard rushing offense, but the passing game was done in by Defeo throwing a pair of interceptions.

Norristown at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Eagles were handled by the Colonials when they played in 2019, 48-7.

Preview: Norristown is coming off a 23-7 loss to Upper Merion in the rival schools’ annual “Battle of the Bridge” game. Kaden Cruz’s nine-yard TD run in the first quarter gave Norristown its lone lead of the game, UM pulling even in the second before scoring 16 in the fourth.

Plymouth-Whitemarsh QB Aidan O’Brien racked up a combined 207 yards offense, 104 on 3-for-3 passing and 103 on the ground. He contributed to pairs of touchdowns both ways.

Phoenixville at Upper Moreland, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Phantoms lost to the Golden Bears in 2017, 42-7.

Preview: Phoenixville’s game schedule finally got started last weekend after COVID-tracing issues forced it to cancel its opener with Great Valley and move the Bishop Shanahan game from Friday to Saturday. The 34-6 loss to the Eagles saw the Phantoms avert a shutout early in the fourth quarter when Ty Romance and Ahmid Spivey collaborated on a three-yard touchdown pass — that after the defense stopped a Shanahan drive five yards from the end zone.

Upper Moreland (2-0) is coming off a close 33-29 win over Archbishop Ryan. It came into the 2021 season returning starting quarterback Byron Hopkins and running back Cameryn Jackson (both seniors) along with four of five linemen headed by Joe Marczcak and Lucas Villanueva.

Pottstown at Octorara, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Trojans opened the 2019 season by edging the Braves, 14-13.

Preview: In a rare Thurday night affair at Grigg Memorial Field, Pottstown fell to Bangor 54-7. Their lone score of the game, coming about four minutes into the fourth quarter, was Gabe Hicks’ nine-yard pass to Nyles Bunn-McNeil.

Octorara (2-0) rolled over York County Tech last weekend, 48-0. The 2021 team returned starters like quarterback Weston Stoltzfus, running back Mike Trainor and linemen Kaden King, Angel Mauricio and Wes Thomson.

Schuylkill Valley at Pottsgrove, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Falcons have not played the Panthers in more than a decade.

Preview: Pottsgrove made the trek to Ocean City, N.J., lst weekend to play former PAC-10 rival Lansdale Catholic. It posted a 39-14 victory with help from a breakout game by Amir Brunson, who ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 carries; and quarterback Ryan Sisko, whose 4-for-5 day featured a 65-yard toss to Vinny Scarnato and a scoring strike to Tyler Kaufman.

The Panthers come in 0-2, their latest loss to Elco, 21-6. A pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns by Elco proved the difference in what had been a close game.

Spring-Ford at Cumberland Valley, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Rams beat the Eagles one year ago, 20-14.

Preview: Spring-Ford maintained its stingy defensive play a second week, following a season-opening 44-0 whitewash of West Chester East with a 48-0 rout of Chambersburg. While quarteback Ryan Freed (19-for-25, 157 yards) threw four touchdown passes, the Ram “D” harried a pair of Eagle QBs into throwing a combined three interceptions — two for Payton West, one for Cole Turner — and registered an unofficial 15 lost-yardage tackles on the night.
Cumberland Valley remained winless with last weekend’s 21-3 loss to Central York.

Twin Valley at Upper Merion, 7 p.m. Friday

Last Meeting: The Vikings have not played the Raiders in more than a decade.

Preview: Upper Merion started their season with the traditional “Battle of the Bridge” meeting with rival Norristown, and it took the game by a 23-7 score. UM scored several times in non-routine ways, Nicholas Gerace recovering an Eagle fumble in the end zone and Nolan Clayton (one rushing TD) forcing a safety in the fourth quarter.

Twin Valley is 2-0 after last weekend’s 19-10 win over Daniel Boone. Its offensive stars were Dominic Caruso, who had 130 yards and two touchdowns, and Evan Myers, who collected 181 yards through the air on 13-for-20 passing efficiency.

Springside-Chestnut Hill at Pope John Paul II, 1 p.m. Saturday

Last Meeting: The Golden Panthers have not played the Blue Devils in more than a decade.

Preview: PJP (2-0) has decimated the opposition thus far, its wins over Archbishop Carroll and New Hope-Solebury by a combined 94-14. IN last weekend’s 51-0 romp over New Hope, the Panthers got a three-touchdown performance from Josh Little and a pair of scoring throws from D.J. Clarke, Pope John Paul II hammered New Hope-Solebury 51-0. Josh Little scored two touchdowns on the ground and added a third through the air from quarterback DJ Clarke, who also connected with freshman Braden Reed for a pair of scores. The defense was keyed by sacks from Brendan Kenning, Boyd Skarbek and Joe Pickell as it held its guest to minus-30 yards total offense.

SCH got its season off to a good start last weekend with a 38-14 win over Cheltenham. It returns senior two-way starters R.J. Moore and Ivan Thorpe, who’s also established himself as a kick returner.

Boyertown at Wyomissing, 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last Meeting: The Bears have not played the Spartans in more than a decade.

Preview: Boyertown (1-1) found itself unable to keep pace with Exeter last weekend, Anthony Panarello accounted for all its points in the fourth quarter — the Eagles leading by 49 points at that stage — with a 12-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run.

Wyomissing is 2-0 with victories over Daniel Boone and Pottsville. Friday at Pottsville, Tommy Grabowski ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns and Charlie McIntyre scored twice as the Spartans cruised past the Crimson Tide (1-1). McIntyre capped the team’s scoring with an 81-yard kickoff return.

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