Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 17 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
My first post-season note in 2006 was that I noticed recent newspaper articles that announced the pending arrival (in 2008) of the Philadelphia Catholic League teams to the PIAA. Likely private schools St Joes Prep and LaSalle would also join, and they certainly did!
The 2007 annual June Bucks County Lions all star game was in Doylestown this year. It would be my 5th straight and I met Bud 1 and Bud 2 there. Bud 4 was expected, but would be late as he was following the Pennsbury Girls softball team with relatives playing on the team; but we did not see him. Two of my favorite coaches were the big attraction for me this season – Larry Green had the North and retiring Mike Ortman had the South. I did speak with both coaches before the game which was my big highlight. South won 31-23.
Bud 2 and I made a two-party camp visit this season as Bud 4 had a water line replacement issue at home this season. We started at CB East and had a nice visit with Larry Green, Tony Schino, and Chuck Rocconi; and then on the way to Morrisville stopped by Bud 4’s and indeed a backhoe was digging up his front yard while he sat watching on the back of the hauler that brought the backhoe. The Bulldogs weren’t out, so we headed back to my house for lunch and then to Falcon Field. They weren’t out either so we headed for Heartbreak Ridge. We caught Mark Schmidt and Roger Grove, former Norristown Head Coach, who was at Neshaminy now. It was the longest we had ever got to talk with the two coaches mentioned. We noticed that they had a good-looking tight end this season (Luke Carrezola).
I soloed to the annual Falcons-LaSalle Explorers scrimmage. Bud 4 was supposed to be there, but didn’t show up, possibly still experiencing plumbing issues (our camp trip was just the day before). The Falcons had lost a lot to graduation from their first ever District One Championship and Eastern runner-up 2006 squad. And I had no clue about the ramp-up that the PCL schools were accomplishing to enter the PIAA. Thought the Falcons were going to be in trouble this season. (They finished 4-6, quite different from 13-2 in 2006).
My first three games this year were solo runs. Company was really thinning out now, plus Bud 4 was still doing Morrisville stats; Bud 2 scattering a few games here and there, Bud 3 only Thanksgiving games, and Bud 1 reaching 89 years young in September 2007.
On the Thursday 9/20 Jewish holiday scheduled week game I soloed again to Pennsbury, but met Bud 4 and his brother-in-law there. CB South and Eric Reynolds, their 5-10, 190 pound speed and power back were in town. After a 7-7 tie, a Reynolds 59-yard burst in the second quarter and PT made it 14-7 Titans. A little later South QB Johns hit Donnelly with a 13-yard TD strike and the PAT was missed, 20-7 Titans at the half.
In the third quarter the Falcons closed with a 22-yard Lollis run, and missed PAT to make it 20-13 Titans. A fourth quarter 4-yard Reynolds run sealed the deal 27-13 CB South.
On Friday 9/21 I parked at Bud 4’s house and walked with him to Robert Morris Field for a Morrisville-St. Andrews (DE) game. For the first time this season, I met Bud 1 there. He was 2 weeks past 89 this night. Among many I knew at my old alma mater’s field was Buddy Ortman, visiting just to see a game. The Cardinals had some stud-looking players for a 2A-sized school, but Morrisville was scrappy and hung in there for a while. The final was 24-6 St Andrews.
The following Friday I expected Bud 1 at Falcon Field (and North Penn), but he called me during the week and said he was going to Bensalem at CB South instead. A good first half ended 14-14. Knights’ QB Davey broke a 19-yarder in the third quarter and it was 21-14 Knights. In the fourth period, Katch plunged 2 yards to make it 28-14 Knights and that is the way it ended. I noted, “Knights’ kicker (Brandon) McManus a weapon, made all four PATs and kickoffs consistently in the end zone.” He kicked for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
My first trip for a regulation game (I had seen a scrimmage there) to CB South was made on Friday night 10/12/2007. I met Bud 2 there, I believe we had arranged by phone for the meet. We weren’t alone as Neshaminy (6-0) versus CB South (6-0) was the draw. In addition, Neshaminy travels well; they almost always pack away stands for games. In the first quarter the Skins got up by 14 on a 5-yard TD pass and an Ulmer 31-yard scamper. The Titans’ defense then stiffened, but on offense mistakes (fumbles and penalties) kept them off the board; 14-0 at the half.
The third quarter was all CB South. A Johns to Donnelly 57-yard strike closed the gap to 14-7. Then a Titan drive and 1-yard plunge knotted it up at 14. The Redskins’ had a good drive going but fumbled the ball at the Titans 5-yard line. On the first South play from scrimmage, Eric Reynolds bolted 95 yards for a TD. This time Bud 2 and I had a double reason for leaving early. The parking scheme at CB South was a bit confusing with various “one-way” signs indicating that you would have to go around the school and past the stadium to get out. I was parked in front of the school with clear exits there and as there was no one else around at all, I used the natural exits and did not know if I was in violation or not (the ‘one ways’ possibly being just for school hours). It is one reason that I have never seen another game at South.
The PAT after the Reynolds’ dash was missed and it was 20-14 Titans. Then the Skins hit a 34-yard pass TD and PAT to go up again 21-20. But the CB South offense was now warmed up and answered on a drive and 1-yard plunge; missed a 2-pt PAT attempt and led 26-21. Their D then held for the win.
On Saturday October 20, 2007 I traveled to Bensalem for the first of a day-night doubleheader day, but at two different fields. Of course Bud 1 was there; he seldom missed a Bensalem home game. It was Abington (3-4) at the Owls (3-4). The Ghosts Kevin Morton generated 322 yards of mixed offense, throwing for 2 TDs, and running for one. On defense he had a pick.
It was Bensalem homecoming and the most long, drawn-out, long-winded woman narrating that I ever experienced. It extended so long that I had to leave before three quarters to make the night game at Pennsbury. The final was 28-7 Abington.
That was the last time I saw Bud 1 for football. That sad story in the next chapter.
I soloed to three more games up to and including the Friday night 11/2 match. These were Pennridge at Pennsbury, 33-14 Falcons; CB West at Council Rock North, 27-9 Bucks’; and Abington at Truman, 28-0 Ghosts.
Now I noted that I chose the Tigers-Ghosts affair over Neshaminy-Pennsbury, North Penn-CB South, and Council Rock North-South for two reasons. One I wanted to see that high-powered Abington offense again; and two, “the other three games would be ‘zoos’”.
Even more telling was my notes for Friday night 11/9/2007. I tell it exactly as I wrote it in 2007: “Sign of the times. I was tired from raking leaves and there was a ‘chance’ of possible light showers. Years ago I would have made one of many possible choices – Tennent at Bensalem and Bud 1; and playoffs – Upper Dublin at Neshaminy; Wissahickon at North Penn; Calvary Christian at Bristol; even Downingtown East at Souderton. All were possible. But with games available on TV and computer stream (I thought); I chose to stay home.”
Again on 11/16: “I eschewed another chance for a ‘local’ playoff game either at Neshaminy or CB South. My traffic and weather concerns made it another choice to sit home and try to catch a media game.
With brother-in-law (Bud 3), and Bud 2, I did again travel to Kingswood Twp, NJ for the annual Thanksgiving Day game for South Hunterdon and Del Val. It was a good one this season, a 14-7 Del Val game until we left with a short time remaining in the game; possibly Del Val scored again, they were close. It was almost a solo game for me as both Bud 2 and Bud 3 knew just about everybody on the Lambertville side and even some on the Del Val side and were engaged in conversations all game. I had a few myself; as my Lambertville years gained a few people to talk to also.
I saw only 15 games in 2007; my lowest total since 1986 (9). I saw no PIAA playoff games for the first time since 1993. I had company at about half my games 7 out of 15. I saw or heard 22 media games, and this availability was also playing into my choices for comfort over attendance.
By my notes near the end of the season I see now that self-imposed feelings were causing some of the decline. I may not be a Dr. Sheldon Cooper, but I know that if you let things be a barrier they indeed will be a barrier.
My year-end notes were in a down tone for certain. I only mentioned those not already covered. Wood was playing home games at Wissahickon this season due to a renovation at Tennent. Neshaminy was in the midst of heavy school construction and parking for games was impeded by a mass of construction equipment, trailers, semis, etc all over the school property.
And recent news was that Larry Green was stepping down at CB East. I indicated that the pre-season camp visits were now likely done, as we had not established relationships with the various new coaches and only Mark Schmidt remained at the big schools who knew us. Bud 2 had also established himself with Dick Beck of North Penn, but we never went that far for pre-season visits.
I also noted the entrance of the PCL to the PIAA for 2008. The Suburban One league realigned yet again, and I made the note and planned to reshuffle my record pages and what teams I followed. I actually dropped North Penn as they were not an original Bucks County school, nor in my prime National Conference for 2008. I later reneged and put NP as a “guest school” in my records.
I was not going to quit high school football, nor my local records keeping; but I was mentally struggling with the loss of the posse, contact with coaches, and traffic, crowds, and weather concerns for games that never before bothered me.
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