Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 23 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
Following the disastrous season of 2011 I began to use the computer to organize my thoughts so I could read and ponder on them and make some analyses. I came up with the following, among other thoughts:
For 2012 key on four fields – Pennsbury, Council Rock, Truman, and War Memorial, Doylestown. When the schedules come out, from day and time see who can be caught on these fields. If needed, extend to Bensalem and Tennent, both with worse traffic routes, but both have good parking. After the first three weeks of the season see if tweaking is necessary based on records. Perhaps somebody thought to be 3-0 after three is 0-3; or vice versa. Be mindful of who they played, but see if you need to get someone not scheduled to see on the docket.
As with most situations in life, if you make a sound plan and stick with it and allow for tweaking if necessary, you can usually find a win.
The planned early, first-week scrimmage, which I had rarely ever attended – Council Rock North at CB West did not work out due to one of my age-ailments, but it didn’t deter me.
I did again make the LaSalle-Pennsbury scrimmage and there spoke with a woman whose son was a LaSalle starter. He was a stud-looking young man and played well. I found they were from Hatfield, where my Bud 2 was from, and had they not chosen LaSalle would be a North Penn Knight. It was a fairly even scrimmage, the free session, Pennsbury 19-7; half game LaSalle 7-0.
The opener this year was CB South at C Rock South. Having witnessed 6 playoff games of Rock South the last two seasons, it was a kind of natural; but I had no allusions about all of that 2 and 3-year talent that had graduated at Rock South. A 42-7 Titan victory was testament to the Golden Hawks being young and green almost to a man. They would struggle to a 2-8 season after two seasons of 11-2 and 12-2.
Well, my plan said what stadiums to concentrate on, and for the first 9 games of the season I alternated at Council Rock and Pennsbury. Rock was sometimes for North and sometimes for South, and they were exactly alternated – at Rock games 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9; and at Pennsbury games 2, 4, 6, and 8.
So week two it was Frankford at Pennsbury. The normal gatekeeper, an institution there, I learned was ailing and due back in a couple of weeks. I ran into no one that I knew.
I thought that Pioneer QB DiGeorgio was indeed as advertised. He was a quick, elusive QB; cool under pressure, and an accurate southpaw passer. But at least this night the Pioneers did not throw as much as I thought they might. It was a good, close game score-wise, but I also thought that the Falcons discipline (penalties), ball handling (fumbles), kickoff coverage, and pass defense lacked at times. But it was only the second game of the season and they faced a strong running Easton the first time out.
The first quarter was scoreless. In the second period the Falcons scored from 4 yards out and kicked the PAT to take a 7-0 lead. Then Frankford put on a 76-yard drive, aided by two Falcon 15-yard penalties. A DiGeorgio to Compton 4-yard TD pass made it 7-6 Falcons. On the PAT try, the Falcons jumped offside twice. So DiGeorgio ran in the PAT and the half ended 8-7 Frankford.
In the third quarter a short Falcon run made it 13-8 Pennsbury after a run PAT attempt failed. Next, a short Pioneer run TD was followed by a DiGeorgio to Compton pass PAT and it was 16-13 Pioneers. But before the third ended, Pepper had scrambled for a 15-yard score; kick PAT good – 20-16 Falcons at the end of three. In the fourth quarter DiGeorgio hit his receiver Turbeville for a 7-yard TD and a kicked PAT made it 23-20 Frankford. I saw that one up close as I was at the fence in the last quarter. As I was leaving I did see the 30-yard Stewart burst that put the Falcons back on top 27-23 after the kicked PAT. After I left I missed an electrifying 89-yard interception return by Falcon Tom Hose and Falcon kicker Kniaziewicz hit his fourth PAT to ice the game at 34-23.
Rain kept me from Tennent that Saturday night for North Penn at Wood. I did see the broadcast of NP-Wood on Comcast TV 8 live. If I had made this game, the strange alternating fields at Rock and Pennsbury would have been skewed.
Week 3 Friday it was Pennridge at Rock South and I was there to see Mr. Michael (Mike) Class. And I was right, as the Ram outstanding RB had 29 carries for 274 yards and two TDs. His yards per carry average was 9.5. It was 31-7 Pennridge as expected.
Week 4 was Pennsbury’s turn again and this time the building Truman Tigers were in. Coach Cubbage and his staff and plans were producing, as among the Tigers 60 players, fully 25 were freshmen. Three years prior the entire team was 23 players. This was the nucleus that would produce a fine 2014 team and one with great prospects for 2015 before perhaps 3 of their top 5 key players were injured for the season. Unfortunately for these Tigers, Falcon 255 lb FB Daquan Mack was back, and tonight he scored four TDs on runs of 1, 2, 31, and 6 yards. His first made it 7-0 at the quarter. His second made it 14-0 Falcons in the second, after both kicked PAT’s. The Tigers forced a safety on the Falcons before half and it ended 14-2.
The Falcons came out smoking in the third quarter and scored three times – Mack 31, Snorweah 9, and Mack 6. The Falcons successfully converted a 2-point PAT after each score on a Mack, and 2 Pepper runs. The 24-point third put it away at 38-2, but a fourth quarter was still to be played. I took off as there was no doubt, and Falcon reserve Smith had two run TDs in the last quarter – 2 and 8 yards. The final was 51-2 Falcons.
On week 5 it was back to Rock North and this time to see Council Rock North and their freshman sensation QB/S Brandon McIlwain. Tonight this young man was 10 for 19 passing including a 30-yard TD, and also rushed for 62 yards and a TD. Receiver Brandon Knotts had two receptions for 72 yards and the 30-yard TD. Senior RB A. J. Neilson had 86 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Indian kicker Pedinoff had two high PATs and a FG late which I did not see. William Tennent was the opponent and it ended 17-0 Rock North.
The Friday night Council Rock South at Pennsbury game was moved to Monday night due to a staph infection outbreak at CRS. As this was my scheduled game, again fate twisted things into the perfectly alternate schedule mentioned. Tonight it was RB Shawn Pepper that did the damage on 10 carries for 214 yards. That was exclusive of an 85-yard burst he had that was called back by a hold. The Falcons threw some utilizing the talents of QB Breon Clark. Again it was only 5 passes, but he hit two for 84 yards. One was a 49-yard TD strike to Pepper. The other a 35-yard completion to Dan Chaudhri. The Falcons went for the 2-point conversion after each of their first three scores. It was 8-0 at the quarter and 16-0 at the half, then 28-0 after three quarters. After I left CB South scored on a 14-yard run TD to make the final 28-7 Pennsbury. Game switches such as this usually produce various coaches looking at future opponents. Tonight I had the pleasure of speaking briefly with Mark Schmidt of Neshaminy, Biz Keeney of Tennent, and Tim Sorber of Abington. This was the only game this season where I noted such activity.
I thought that Truman (2-3) might beat C Rock South (0-5), but the Rock program was still stronger despite the records. I took this one in at CRN and it was a CRS 32-13 win.
Saturday same week it was Abington (4-1) at Pennsbury (3-2) and I was also there. The Ghosts opened scoring with a first quarter Carraba 23-yard FG, 3-0 Abington. But Pepper hit Tom Hose for a 28-yard strike; Kniaziewicz (K) PAT kick 7-3 Falcons after one. Pepper broke one 29 yards in the second quarter’s only score; K kick – 14-3 at the half.
In the third quarter the Ghosts’ Collins had a 4-yard rushing TD, but the run PAT try failed, and it was 14-9 Falcons. On the next series the Falcons’ Pepper broke one 54 yards and the K-kick made it 21-9 home side at the end of three. As I moved to the sideline fence for the fourth, before long, Falcon Safety Muse intercepted a Ghost aerial in front of my direct view and raced it up the near sidelines for a 76-yard pick six.
Kniaziewicz kick – 28-9 Falcons and I did my thing and started home. Falcon sub Pfender got the last Falcon score to make the final 35-9 Pennsbury.
The weekend closest to my 71st birthday, October 12-13-14 was spoiled by another of my age-afflictions and I saw no games in person.
At Council Rock North for the 5th (and last) time this season the opponent was guess who? —- Pennsbury. Pennsbury was coming in 5-2 and Rock North was 3-4. This game was a rivalry of sorts, the teams pretty much didn’t like each other; but nothing like Neshaminy-Pennsbury. I sat with Falcon HC Snyder’s mom and dad who I was getting to know and converse with as I had so many bygone coaches. The Falcons got the first score on a Pepper 2-yard run; K kick 7-0 Falcons. But the Rock’s McIlwain’s 4-yard answer and Pedinoff (P) PAT tied it up at 7. Breon Clark scored from the one for the Falcons and the PAT was blocked – 13-7 Falcons. On another possession, Clark ran a beautiful 27-yard sprint and then hit Hose for the 2-point PAT, 21-7 Falcons. Rock with the ball and running out of time in the half ended with a controversial one second added back by the officials. Set up for a field goal, Pedinoff drilled it from 27 yards out – halftime 21-10 Pennsbury.
In the third quarter Pedinoff hit a 42-yard FG and it was 21-13 Falcons. But Pepper bolted 65 yards for a TD, K kick for Falcons, making it 28-13 after three. After I had left in the fourth quarter the teams traded pass TDs and PAT’s to make it 28-20, and finally 35-20 Falcons. I noted that for the first time in some time that the Falcons rushing attack was enhanced by the passing of Bensalem (Conwell-Egan)-transfer Clark. He was 6 of 10 for 102 yards, one TD, one 2-point PAT, and no picks. Rare stats for the Falcons.
And with this game my alternate Council Rock-Pennsbury field rotation odyssey came to an end. I would not see Rock stadium again this season but would be back to Falcon Field.
On the next day, actually Saturday night, I was at Truman for a Bishop McDevitt – Conwell-Egan matchup. The visiting Lancers were few in numbers (a Class A team), and suffered on the offensive line. A pistol or shotgun offense saw many high snaps causing a second or two for the QB to gain control and thus affected was the timing of the offense. The Conwell-Egan Eagles amassed 329 yards rushing and scored one TD in each quarter; leading 28-0 when I left. The final was 28-6 Eagles.
I’ll take a local Sunday day game when I can get it, and this Sunday I made it a 3-game weekend. When I arrived at Tennent and saw the Archbishop Carroll Patriots I knew that they were in trouble. Although defending AAA state champ Archbishop Wood was but 5-2, both losses were respectable to AAAA powers, and the Vikings were getting it in gear. Carroll simply had no studs; about 30 players- they looked like a cross country team. No weight program?
I was quite surprised. The Wood lines looked to outweigh them 50 pounds a man. The next day Ted Silary said on his excellent website for Philadelphia sports, “at times Carroll looked disinterested”, and I saw it too. I don’t know if I ever saw a game where the entire staff and team seemed to have thought, we can’t win, we have to be here, so let’s play and go home. I may be 100% wrong, maybe there was just little talent or experience to play with; it was an amazing situation for all of the years I had followed football. Wood just scored and continued scoring, 21-0 at the quarter, 42-0 and mercy rule at the half. At the end of three 49-0 and the end of what I was to see. Wood subs even won the fourth quarter 13-7 to make the final 62-7.
It was a far cry from the 2000 Carroll Patriots that put a 13-0 season on the board.
Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy left us without power from Monday 10/29 until Saturday night 11/3 at 9:00 PM. It resulted in a Monday night game 11/5 – Bensalem (2-7) at Truman (2-7). As the records indicated mutual lack of success I thought that this might be a good one, and I was correct. Truman scored first on their fine RB Fisher’s 9-yard run. The PAT went wide right and it was 6-0. The score held for the first quarter. I noted that the Owls had a strong sophomore back in Alex Archangeli, whose 7-yard plunge and Rosenfeld PAT made it 7-6 Owls. A little later, Alex went in from the 9 and with PAT kick it was 14-6 Owls at the half.
In the third, the Tigers Fisher again got in from the one, and a 2-point pass PAT knotted it at 14-all. The third ended with that score. The Owls speedy Elijah scored from the 11 and it was 21-14 Owls. As I spent a minute or two at the rest room, I missed Truman’s Bobby Hill’s 51-yard run to the house, but I did see a botched PAT attempt turned into a 2-point pass PAT. That made it 22-21 Tigers. As I was leaving I saw a Tiger defensive back pick off a Hopkins’ pass and return it to the Owls 11. Fisher then took it in and the PAT was blocked and it was 28-21 Tigers. After I was humming home in the car The Owls Elijah scored from the two and the PAT was good to knot the game at 28 at the end of regulation play. The Tigers got a Kenny 29-yard field goal on their OT possession, but the Owls got a 1-yard Archangeli plunge TD to win the game 34-31. A real good one!
Next it was the District One 4A first round game between the West Chester Rustin Golden Knights (8-2) and Pennsbury Falcons (8-2). The Knights’ looked stud-like and athletic and I sensed a good close game. Rustin also ran a wing-T and so knew what Pennsbury ran and how to defend it. It would come down to either personnel or breaks, I thought. With their vaunted running game bottled up the Falcons went to the air for two first quarter TDs. Clark hit Pepper for a 39-yard TD and Bullaro for a 53-yard TD. It was 14-0 Falcons after one. There was no scoring in the second period. In the third quarter the Knights’ QB Fithian hit Burke for a 30-yard TD, but the PAT was missed and after three quarters it was 14-6 Falcons. I left with about 6 minutes left just before Pepper finally got loose for an 85-yard TD run to put the Falcons up 21-6. The scrappy Knights then came back with another yard 25-yard pass TD for a 21-13 final.
The new Turkey-Day tradition of South Hunterdon-New Hope Solebury continued in Mt. Airy, NJ (the region outside of Lambertville where the South school is located) this year. As I followed neither team (except NH-S wins-losses) except for this game, I listed no names. A long pass TD on their first possession put the NH-S Lions up 7-0 early. The South Eagles had a strong run up-the-gut game all day (shades of Woody Hayes and the OSU “3 yards and a cloud of dust”). They drove the field and tied it at 7. In the second quarter another mirror drive the other directions made it 14-7 Eagles. But, just before the half, another nice aerial right in front of our viewing area pulled the Lions into a 14-14 tie at the half.
We began our hiatus with about 6 minutes left in the game, as South is a rural setting and the parking not adequate, cars were lined the rural farm roads and woodlands in every direction. Very near the end of the game, the Lions hit a 48-yard field goal to win the game 17-14. A very well-played game.
The wisdom of officials of both schools was shown by making this natural cross-river rivalry a reality. In two games the scores were 12-10 and 17-14, and in both cases the visiting team won.
This was the season finale for me this season, but I got 15 games in, far better than the 7-game disaster of 2011 and a move toward a more “normal” season for me.
But another telling note at the end of the season revealed that PIAA playoffs were just not close enough for me this year, other than the Rustin-Falcon game. That said; there were playoff games this year at Poppy Yoder in Perkasie (3); and CB South (3). Granted some were the same nights, but I had been to those two stadiums before; but now, they were “too far”. If only the “company factor” of the golden era were available; but it was not so.
Travel, age, weather conditions, traffic, and the fact that games are readily more available on TV, radio, or computer stream definitely ruled my game-seeing decisions now.
It may be Hell to get old; but it does beat the alternative!
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