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Mercury-area season in review

From the first day of heat acclimation practice Aug. 6 to Owen J. Roberts’ Thanksgiving Day victory over Pottstown at a snow-covered Bernat Field, the area football season likewise ran a similar gamut.

There was an abysmal opening-week showing in which all 11 local teams in action went down to defeat, but there were also several teams that improved as the season progressed.

Perkiomen Valley brought home its first outright Pioneer Athletic Conference title, Pottsgrove reached the District 1-AAA semifinal for the third straight year and Daniel Boone blazed a memorable District 3-AAA tourney trail.

Here’s one final look back:

Viking conquest

After opening the season with a 29-27 loss to Council Rock North, Perkiomen Valley put together a school-record nine-game winning streak to highlight a perfect PAC-10 campaign.

With a bevy of skill peopl such as seniors Taiyir Wilson and Ryan O’Donnell and the sophomore trio of quarterback Stephen Sturm, wideout Justin Jaworski and running back David Williams on offense and a dogged defense spearheaded by Seth Jonassen, T.J. Foley and Liam Grande, the Vikings turned away fellow league contenders Methacton (22-19 in Week 2), Spring-Ford (20-7 in Week 3) and Pottsgrove (49-21 in Week 9) to claim their first PAC-10 title since 2007.

Perkiomen Valley made its second straight District 1-AAAA tourney appearance, falling 27-24 to Downingtown East on a field goal on the game’s final play.

Falcons still flying

When Pottsgrove suffered a 41-7 Week 1 loss to Ben Franklin (its worst defeat in 12 seasons) and was just 2-2 after four weeks (after losing two combined games in the previous two seasons), the Falcons appeared at a crossroads. But with star wide receiver/cornerback Mike Fowler and stalwart two-way lineman Patrick Finn setting the tone, veteran coach Rick Pennypacker’s crew rallied strong down the stretch to salvage a season highlighted by a 13-12 District 1-AAA quarterfinal win over Academy Park.

Doubling their pleasure

After improving from 2-8 to 4-6 last year, Daniel Boone continued that trend and then some in a memorable 8-5 season.

Behind an offensive attack led by diminutive but dynamic senior Paul Galanti (who led the area with 1,336 rushing yards) and a defense driven by senior middle linebacker Jon Passifione, Boone doubled its victory total for the second straight season and took down third seed Lampeter-Strasburg (34-14) and 11th seed Milton Hershey (28-16) in the District 3-AAA Tournament before the 14th seeded Blazers finally succumbed to seventh seed Cocalico 24-6 in the semis.

Going green

Methacton (7-2 PAC-10, 8-3) notched its fourth straight winning season for the first time in school history. Along the way, the Warriors snapped Pottsgrove’s record 25-game league winning streak with a 20-7, Week 4 victory over the Falcons. After opening 0-2, Methacton won eight of its final nine games for its first eight-win season since 2000.

Ram-paging finish

Spring-Ford’s PAC-10 contention hopes and District 1 tourney dreams were dashed in a 2-3 start that saw losses to State College, Perkiomen Valley and Pottsgrove, but the Rams regrouped to win their final five games (by a combined margin of 256-40). The Rams ranked first in the area in total offense (429.5 yards per game) and scoring (41.1 points per game).

Passing fancy

Spring-Ford senior Brandon Leacraft led the area with 24 touchdown passes, connected for a school-record 23 completions and school-record 312 passing yards in a 44-22, Week 4 win over Boyertown and had a school-record streak of throwing 126 passes without an interception. … Pottsgrove senior Torin Verdone (166.7) was the area’s leader in passing efficiency. … Perkiomen Valley sophomore Stephen Sturm threw for an area-best 2,029 yards and also tossed 21 TD passes. … Hill School postgrad Devon Kennedy was tops with an average of 240.1 passing yards per game.

Derrickson delivers

Methacton senior Connor Derrickson did plenty of damage both on the ground an in the air. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior rushed for a team-high 1,098 yards and area-best 18 touchdowns while also throwing for 1,387 yards and 14 more TDs. He had seven 100-yard-plus rushing efforts, including a season-best 158-yard, three-TD effort in a 44-6 Week 9 victory over Phoenixville.

What a rush

Daniel Boone’s Paul Galanti had two 200-yard-plus performances, highlighted by a 226-yard, two-TD effort (while also being named Homecoming King) in a 35-12 Week 6 win over Reading. … Pottsgrove senior Devon Fink led the PAC-10 with 1,155 yards on the ground, including a 251-yard, two-TD outburst in a 42-6 Week 3 win over Upper Perkiomen. … Upper Perkiomen’s Mike Felix, despite playing just five complete games due to injury, still ran for 877 yards — topped by a 278-yard game in a 21-6 Week 9 win over Phoenixville. … Boyertown junior quarterback Lawrence Garnett ran wild for 249 yards and four TDs as the Bears amassed 589 rushing yards in a 58-28 Week 9 victory against Pope John Paul II.

Catching on

Perkiomen Valley sophomore Justin Jaworski led the area with 49 receptions, while Pottsgrove senior Mike Fowler accumulated an area-best 882 receiving yards. … Spring-Ford senior Brandon Barone finished with a gaudy 27.3 yards-per-catch average for his 27 receptions. … Daniel Boone senior Jonathon Charles shared the area receiving TDs lead with Fowler with 11, while piling up 824 receiving yards and boasting a 23.5 yards-per-catch average. … Methacton’s Louis Cotteta had 776 receiving yards to go along with 10 TD grabs and a 21.0 yards-per-catch average. … Hill School junior Bryce Allen had 14 receptions for 145 yards and two TDs in a 24-16 Week 4 loss to Peddie and three TD catches in a 49-26 Week 8 loss to Lawrenceville. … Owen J. Roberts’ Tony Thomas (11-182 in Week 7 vs. Upper Perkiomen), Hill’s Richie Tabarrini (11-124 against Lawrenceville) and Pope John Paul II’s Jared Lupold (10-124 vs. Bishop McDevitt in Week 1) also had double-digit catch games, while Phoenixville’s Matt Palubinski had two different nine-reception efforts.

Saints of the gridiron

Douglassville residents Pop Lacey and Eric Bodolus helped Berks Catholic (12-1) reach the District 3-AA championship. Lacey, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior running back/inside linebacker, rushed for a team-best 989 yards and delivered 23 total touchdowns for the Saints, who are coached by St. Pius grad Rick Keeley. Bodolus — a junior linebacker/offensive guard who is the son of former Daniel Boone coach Dave Bodolus — had a team-high 95 tackles.

Defensive doings

Perkiomen Valley senior Liam Grande pilfered three passes over the final two games to finish with an area-best six interceptions, while Pottsgrove junior Deyon Doctor and Boyertown senior Justin Siejk each picked off five passes. … Perkiomen Valley junior T.J. Foley led the area with 10.5 sacks, with Daniel Boone’s Cinque Ramsey collecting 10. … Perkiomen School’s Marlon Lindsey racked up three interceptions, two of which he returned for TDs, in a 38-27 Week 5 win over Pennington. … Pottsgrove’s Mike Fowler punctuated a 35-7 Week 7 victory over Pottstown with a 103-yard interception return for a touchdown. … Foley and teammate Tim Mallon each had 3.5 sacks in a 20-7 Week 3 win over Spring-Ford.

Special special teams

Methacton senior Dontae Thomas returned three kickoffs for touchdowns. … Pottsgrove’s Mike Fowler had an 86-yard kickoff return TD and 56-yard punt return score in a 48-12 victory over Owen J. Roberts in Week 6. … Perkiomen Valley’s Garrett Patla, a left-footed sophomore, led area kickers with 66 points. … Phoenixville’s Miguel Ramirez booted home a 39-yard field goal in a 24-6 Week 4 win over Pope John Paul II.

Game of the year

Unlike the previous three seasons, the winner of the Week 5 showdown between Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford didn’t go on to win the league title. What the Falcons and Rams did do, though, was hook up in an epic clash at Pennypacker Field that ended with Pottsgrove holding on for a 35-29 victory.

Senior fullback/linebacker Wyatt Porter delivered a career performance with a 22-yard TD catch, a 1-yard TD run, a momentum-shifting fumble recovery in which he stole the ball from Spring-Ford’s Matt Gibson inside the 5, an interception and a key fourth-and-inches conversion run in the fourth quarter.

Torin Verdone threw for a career-best 246 yards and three touchdowns, Devon Fink ran for 112 yards (including a 69-yard TD that broke a 21-21 tie and put the Falcons up to stay) and Mike Fowler turned in one of the most memorable plays of the season by turning a pass in the left flat into what may have been a season-changing 80-yard TD reception.

Spring-Ford, got 108 receiving yards and three TDs from Danny Matthews and a monster defensive performance from Brendan Zimmie, but was turned away at the Falcons’ 13 with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter.

Wise guys

Pottstown senior cousins Gary Wise and Bryant Wise generated most of the offense for the Trojans’ ground-based triple-option scheme. Gary, a quarterback, rushed for a team-best 769 yards and nine touchdowns, highlighted by a 140-yard, three-TD performance in a 32-9 Week 4 win over Phoenixville. Bryant, a tailback, ran for 521 yards — 123 of them coming in a 34-14 Week 1 loss to Sun Valley.

Coaches corner

Perkiomen Valley’s Scott Reed guided the Vikings to their first unbeaten league campaign. Under Reed, PV is 27-8 overall over the past three seasons. … 26th-year Pottsgrove head man Rick Pennypacker increased his PAC-10 career-record victory total to 211. … Spring-Ford’s 7-3 finish means the Rams are a gaudy 48-14 in the five-year tenure of coach Chad Brubaker. … Methacton increased its victory total for the third straight season (from six to seven to eight) under Paul Lepre. … After Daniel Boone went 3-12 in the first 15 games of third-year coach Bill Parks’ tenure, the Blazers have gone 11-7 since. … Under first-year head coach Tom Hontz, Upper Perkiomen (4-5, 4-6) quadrupled its victory total from last season.

Frosty finale

Owen J. Roberts closed out an otherwise frustrating fall with two victories in its last three games — capped by Thursday’s 14-0 victory over Pottstown in its snow-covered home confines. Mitch Bradford scored on a 35-yard TD run in the first half, Brad Kinckner delivered a 41-yard interception return TD in the second half, and the Wildcats’ defense came up huge in pitching its first shutout since a 27-0 win over Phoenixville in Week 4 of the 2010 season.

Extra points

Perkiomen School won four of its first five games en route to a 5-3 finish. … Former Boyertown assistant coach Matt Bauer guided Exeter to an 8-3 mark that included a trip to the District 3-AAAA playoffs. … Former Pottstown and Boyertown assistant James Martinez led Fleetwood to a 7-5 campaign culminating in a trip to the Eastern Conference Class AAA final.


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