Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 20 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
Once again it was my wife that was the catalyst for a rebound of my HSF viewing hobby; just as it had been in 1984. In 2010 she wanted to see the Lion’s All-Star game in Doylestown because a couple of Morrisville players she knew and liked were playing. We did it, my first all-star game since 2007. South won 34-10. And 2010 would be my 60th season, another milestone; but nothing exceptional was planned.
I soloed to the annual LaSalle-Pennsbury scrimmage and found no one there I knew. The Explorers were the defending State 4A Champions, and without their top RB this night still looked solid. A new QB was Matt Magarity, and he rarely missed a receiver this night. The Falcons rebuilding defense looked shaky.
The Falcons were at Cottingham Stadium and getting blasted by Easton 34-13 in week one, so I opted for Father Judge at Council Rock North. A new Head Coach, Adam Colluchi was at Rock North. After the Ortman-English crew departed with their record-setting 10-1 and first PIAA playoff season-ever year in 2006; Tom Coates from within the system was the coach for 2007-2009. After seasons of 3-7; 3-7; and 6-5, Coates was not rehired for the 2010 season in a bit of controversy that never left the school grounds.
The new coach would suffer a 1-9 first season, the worst year for Rock North since 1956 (1-8). The Indians were not without talent for they had a Purdue-bound RB in Brandon Cottom, and another fine Iowa-bound player John Raymond; I believe a tight end, defensive end. But bad luck with injuries would hamper both their senior seasons; Raymond was not available from game one. And Cottom was injured on the first play from scrimmage game one, and out for a long time.
I chose the game to see a touted Judge 3-year starting QB; but he had transferred elsewhere before the season; and to see Cottom, who did not carry the first play and still was hurt and gone for the game. Disappointing to say the least. The game was good though. Judge got the lead 7-0 and then it was a 7-7 tie. North went up 14-7, and then suffered a safety, 14-9. The Crusaders answered with a TD and missed 2-point pass PAT try, 15-14 Judge. With about 10 minutes left in the game I departed as delays for players cramping for Rock North really broke the pace of the game. Judge iced it in the 4th, final 22-14 Crusaders.
Harrisburg was at Pennsbury the second week of the season, and I had to see that one. John Chaump, now fully retired from coaching, and I talked for a while pre-game. His brother, the PA Hall of Fame George Chaump was still coaching Harrisburg, I believe; the reason for John’s attendance. I met and sat with Bud 4’s brother-in-law, Denny Poland, and Phil Lanctot, all three ex-athletes from Morrisville originally.
This one was a good one. The high-powered Cougar O hit a 70-yard catch/run TD on the first play from scrimmage, 7-0 Harrisburg with 18 seconds elapsed. The Falcons answered, but a blocked PAT kick made it 7-6 Cougars. It seemed difficult to keep the Cougar O off the board and they scored again and it was 14-6. But the Falcons answered again and had to go for two, and missed 14-12 Harrisburg. With 1:39 left in the half Pennsbury kicked off high and short and all of the Cougars peeled back to block. The Falcons recovered the ad hoc onsides kick. With 27 seconds left in the half the Falcons scored and made a 2-point PAT to take the lead 20-14. On the Cougar’s last play of the half as time expired, they completed a 50-yard pass/run on which the receiver reached out across the goal line as he was tackled. The official called him down at about the 3-inch line before the score. Only a replay, not available in high school, could have cleared it up.
The Falcons appeared in good shape as they would get the ball to start the second half. But as they drove QB Pepper had the ball pop up in the air at about his own 20, and the Cougars’ Julian Bouleware caught it in mid-air and raced into the end zone. It was 21-20 Harrisburg and the initial second half possession advantage was lost for Pennsbury. The Cougars scored again and their perfect PAT kicker made it 28-20 Harrisburg. In the fourth quarter the Cougars set up for a 29-yard field goal. It was either partially blocked or shanked short to the Falcon 5-yard line. An alert Adam Lewis picked up the ball for the Falcons and raced up the visitors sideline before the Cougars reacted and carried it 95 yards for a TD. It was 28-26 Harrisburg. A 2-pt PAT pass was accurate but dropped. My now long-time practice of leaving early no matter how good the game or how much the outcome is in doubt prevailed, and I began to depart. In the end with 3 minutes and 34 seconds left in the game the Falcon’s Pepper ran one in from 4 yards out; PAT not made and it was 32-28 Pennsbury. Only an interception in the end zone with 56 seconds left in the game by Falcon Jay Jabat saved the game for Pennsbury.
I have to add this one to my list of “best games seen” if I ever get around to really making a study and constructing such a list.
By this season and my 69th birthday, I was suffering from a variety of age ailments that would be a burden to getting to games at times. Accordingly I did not get to a scheduled Council Rock South at CB East game in Doylestown for 2:00 pm Saturday 9/11.
On the annual Thursday-scheduled games, heavy rain kept me from two games, a 4:00 kickoff I planned to see the first half, and then get to a 7:00 pm game.
Still on Friday night was Delaware County Christian, a 1950 school that came to the Bicentennial League from the Southern Chester County League, at Morrisville. My wife was interested; so we took it in. Three-year starting QB Cookson was out and the Bulldogs called on junior Eric Wilcox to fill in. And did he ever! Eric had 12 completions for 234 yards and four TDs – three to Julian Walker of 63, 37, and 44 yards; and one to McClease for 44 yards. Jimmy Miller, Wilcox, and Matt Beyer had short rushing TDs; while Goodwin kicked 5 of 7 PAT’s.
The Bulldogs were never behind, but the Knights could score too. The sequence was 7-0; 7-6, 14-6 (1st Qtr.); 20-6; 26-6 (half); 33-6; 33-12; 33-18 (3rd Qtr.); 33-24 when we left a few minutes into the 4th quarter. Another Bulldog score made it 40-24, and then the Knights’ Boyd returned the ensuing kickoff to the house and it was 40-30. The Bulldogs got the final tally to make it 47-30. I wrote in my notes: “The Dogs need a little ‘D’ to go with all that ‘O’.”
A bizarre Monday night sort-of doubleheader was caught on 9/20 due to two games moved from the rain and lightning Thursday past. One would be a full game, and the other a completion of a lightning-suspended game.
The full game started early and for some reason I was either unaware, or wanted to see the suspended game, because I got to the full game with a little over 5 minutes left in it. It was Hatboro-Horsham at Council Rock North. The score at that time was 21-14 H-H. Incredibly, the Hatters punted to a returner with 18 seconds left in the game. He raced it some 70+ yards to the house and the tying TD with PAT, 21-21 end of regulation. The first OT ended 0-0, or still 21-21, as a CRN field goal try was blocked. In the second OT, Rock tried a third-down field goal and it was blocked again. So they set up on fourth down for another try, and believe it or not, it was blocked for a third consecutive time. The Hatters than ran in a TD with no PAT necessary, final 27-21 Hatboro-Horsham. I noted, “With their top three players injured, C. R. North looks awful.” And it appears that the team was very down due to the injuries. That made them 0-3 while two committed Division 1 players sat.
The second game started with 1:56 left on the clock in the first half. The status was Council Rock South up on Pennridge 7-0 at that time. Rock South had possession deep in the Rams territory. A Fleming to Donnelly 4-yard slant-out pass made it 13-0 quickly. The PAT sailed high, but to the right; no good.
After a normal halftime, in the third quarter Fleming sneaked a yard and Donnelly ran in a 2-point conversion to make it 21-0 Golden Hawks. A little later Ben Solis, who I noted “was a good looking punter and place kicker”, made a 27-yard field goal, 24-0 Rock South. Ben would be all-state in his senior year in 2011. With about 7 minutes left I departed and after I did the Rams turned it over on downs at their own 11 yard line with 4:36 left in the game. Rock South’s Damirgian pounded it in from the 4, and the accurate Solis kick made the final 31-0 Golden Hawks.
On this Monday night I sat near Galen Snyder, Pennsbury Coach in the stands and he recognized me from various practices and games I saw him at Falcon Field. At halftime I spoke with him for some time and I rarely spoke of various teams’ strengths and weaknesses, etc. because I knew that the man, or men, I spoke to knew a lot more about that data then I did. His next game was the Owls of Bensalem, and all I said was that they were 0-3 but hungry, dangerous, and capable.
I was at the game on Friday 9/24 when the Owls came a-calling.
Diminutive but dynamite Owl Christian Fernandez had three TDs, 74 yards rushing, and 2 interceptions for the Owls. At the half the score was 6-0 on a 4-yard Fernandez scamper and blocked kick PAT. In the third quarter the Owl’s hit a 32-yard field goal and at the end of three quarters it was 9-0 Bensalem. The Falcons finally got on the board when Sibel rushed for a 15-yard TD. The Falcon kicker was wide-right all night. It was 9-6 Owls. The Owls answered this score with a Fernandez 1-yard plunge and kick PAT 16-6 Owls. Pepper’s 1-yard plunge after I left made it 16-12 Owls. On the Falcons last chance, Fernandez picked off a Prine pass and returned it 40 yards for the clincher, final 23-12 Bensalem.
It was the first Owls victory over Pennsbury since 1998. I spoke with Mr. & Mrs. Snyder, the parents of HC Galen and got to know them over the ensuing years. What terrific people they are. I saw Rick Lee another former Morrisville athlete who goes to various games, even in 2015; sat with him twice in 2015 season.
I made a note on Sunday 9/26/2010 indicating that I did not know it before, but the previous Friday night game Council Rock South at Truman was called at halftime; a 35-0 Golden Hawk win, because the Tigers did not have enough varsity-eligible players to play the second half. The season was in doubt for Truman and the football program there in a deep trough. It would take a few seasons for new coach Ed Cubbage to turn it around at Truman, but he and his staff did. He reportedly had 23 players to work with this first season.
I checked out the North Penn Knights on Friday, 10/1 at CB East on Doylestown War Memorial Field. They were 3-1 losing their opener to defending 4A state champion LaSalle 14-27. CB East was reportedly improved under new HC John Donnelly and had upset Abington in their opener 13-7. They were 2-2 coming in. I made no detailed notes, but it was 28-6 Knights. There was plenty of room in the away stands, and I think it was here that I formed an opinion that the Knights did not necessarily travel as strongly as some other schools. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps it depends on the game, or perhaps it is chance that I was at less-attended Knights games. But I do remember games at Neshaminy and Pennsbury hosting the Knights, and I always had elbow room on the away side of the stadiums.
I tested my theory again the following week as at the same field the Knights 4-1 met CB West 4-1. CB West scored first on a Udinski to Bell 27-yard aerial; Edwards PAT 7-0. The ensuing kickoff was returned for a TD, but called back for a penalty. But Mercer then broke a 30-yard score and Mandes booted the PAT and it was 7-7 after one quarter. A Knights’ Taggart 3-yard plunge and Mandes PAT and 48-yard field goal just before the half put the Knights up 17-7 at the half.
Having deferred at the original coin toss the Knights got the second-half kickoff and scored twice in the third quarter. Needhammer broke a 55-yarder and Ernst hit Mercer for a 20-yard TD; Mandes kicked the two PAT’s and the third quarter ended Knights 31-7. In the fourth period Wendowki had a 43-yard punt return TD; Mandes stayed perfect and it was 38-7.
In the fourth quarter possibly against some subs, Williams finally got loose for a 39-yard score and Edwards kick made it 38-14. I then made my exit. I only missed another CB West score – a 21-yard Udinski to Bell air strike and with Edwards PAT kick the final was 38-21. Ironically as I write this in October 2015, the present North Penn QB is Udinski; and of the same family. I didn’t mention crowd size in my notes.
The Pennsbury Falcons had experimented with a Power I the first half of the season and posted a 2-3 record. For their homecoming on October 9 against William Tennent they returned to their vaunted wing-T. The Panthers drew first blood when, after recovering a Falcon fumble, a Kofa 19-yard wounded-duck pass was hauled in by their receiver Hunter Wuensche on the Falcon one on a fourth-down play. Geiger plunged the yard and Excell kicked the PAT 7-0 Panthers. But Tennent could not stop the Falcon run game. Just installed at a RB slot was Daquan Mack, a sophomore for the Falcons. Having never carried the ball before, Mack had 151 yards on 19 carries, and scored the first Falcon TD. The run PAT attempt was stopped and it was 7-6 Tennent. Falcon QB Pepper had 113 yards on 15 carries and 3 TDs. A 12-yard burst, again run PAT failed; made it 12-7 Falcons at the end of one. Pepper added a 25-yard scamper; PAT kick Kniaziewicz and it was 19-7 Falcons. Just before the half, the Panthers’ Excell hit a 31-yard FG and the half ended 19-10 Pennsbury, a nice game.
Zach Gainie, a Falcon Junior, had 71 yards rushing and an 8-yard score in the third quarter. The PAT kick was again good and it was a 26-10 game after three. I moved down to the fence along the visitor’s side exit end of the stadium for a different perspective. I had been doing this for years, but depending on whom I was sitting with; if there was no company, I would almost always take a fence spot before I left. I was close enough to see a nice spin-move that Pepper executed to get into the end zone from 13-yards out. Kick PAT good again and it was now 33-10 Falcons and certainly out of reach. With about 7 minutes left in the game I trundled out. Falcon back up player Brown scored the final Falcon TD after an interception set it up. His 2-yard plunge and the PAT made the final 40-10.
My birthday-eve I again visited Falcon Field for Abington 4-2 and Pennsbury 3-3. Once again, I passed on a 6-0; 6-0 matchup Council Rock South at Neshaminy due to the “zoo” atmosphere I expected there. A strong gusty wind howled, but thankfully it was not extremely cold; still, full bundling was necessary. The Falcons got off to a good start. Adam Lewis returned the kickoff 36 yards to the Abington 48-yard line. Brandon Garrett ran 18 yards to the 30. Pepper then raced the remaining 30 yards for the score. Kniaziewicz nailed the PAT; 7-0 Falcons after two plays from scrimmage. The Ghosts were more patient and answered with a 10-play, 61-yard drive with Schreiner getting the final 13 yards for the score, and the MacMillan PAT kick was good; tied at 7. The half ended with the same score.
The Ghosts opened the second half with an 8-play, 66-yard drive capped by a Schreiner 8-yard run and good PAT 14-7 Ghosts.
Pepper then led the Falcons on a 15-play, 56-yard drive and he capped it himself with an 8-yard scamper. There was still 9:22 left in the game but the Falcons sought a 2-point PAT and the win.
They were stopped short. It was 14-13 Ghosts and it ended that way. I mulled in my mind the decision for 2 with that much time left. But Falcons’ 6-6 310 lb all-state lineman J. J. Denmen and RB Daquan Mack were both out of action this game. The Ghosts had a better record and Galen likely figured he should take the chance and not allow the Ghosts more chances by risking overtime; plus there was still time left in regulation as well for another possession and score.
On October 22, 2010 I chose Neshaminy at Truman because I had seen all the other teams that were playing each other that night at least once, and I had seen neither of these clubs yet this season. Truman had about 24 to 26 players and Neshaminy 63. But the Tigers were scrappy and had speed in their small numbers. Still, it looked bad for them when on the second play from scrimmage, the Skins’ Sean Ulmer took it 47 yards to the house; Sheridan kick – quickly 7-0 Neshaminy. But when the Tigers got the ball they kept it on a long time-consuming drive, scoring with about 2 minutes left in the first quarter. Kick good it was 7-7. In the second the Skins’ Ulmer and Woodruffe scored and it was 21-7 with scarce time left in the half. But Tiger QB Thompson hit Lionell Chapman with a 35-yard TD strike with only seconds left in the half. A penalty set the PAT try back 15 yards and a pass failed, and it was 21-13 at the half, a good game.
A routine 3-yard plunge for the Skins made it 28-13 in the third; and as the third was winding down and I was winding my way to the car, the Skins were in scoring position again. A Woodruffe 10-yard plunge capped it and it was 35-13. Truman’s Winton scored in the fourth to make the final 35-19 Neshaminy.
The next day I soloed to Doylestown for Quakertown (3-4) at CB East (3-4) and a possible playoff elimination decision. Just by chance I ran into Bud 2 there, a rare occasion anymore. East was bigger and stronger this season and it was 13-0 East at the half. It was 26-6 with 9 minutes left in the game when Bud 2 and I strolled out. East added two long 4th quarter runs of 50 and 38 yards to close out the scoring 40-6 CB East.
I opted for another good matchup when I chose Abington (6-2) at Council Rock South (8-0) for Friday night 10/29 at Council Rock North. The CRS Golden Hawks had played practically error-free ball in their 8-game win streak, having 1 turnover in those 8 games! Tonight they had 4 turnovers in one game and it cost them 17 points in a 10-point loss. Go figure. The Ghosts scored first on Halloween weekend; Ireland for 7 yards; MacMillan kick 7-0. Abington HC Tim Sorber opened the playbook for this one. A 60-yard halfback-option pass/run Schreiner to McFadden followed and with the kick PAT 14-0 Ghosts. Tired of handing out treats and getting tricked, Hawks QB Fleming dashed 24 yards and a run PAT failed and it was 14-6 Ghosts end of one. In the second the Hawks’ triple option got going and the result was two short scores off of drives and a run 2-point PAT and a Solis kick PAT to make it 21-14 Golden Hawks. But the Ghosts rattled the chains on a 78-yard drive and with just 18.1 seconds left in the half, Ireland hit Lee with a 14-yard pass and with the Mac kick the half ended 21-21.
In the third period South’s Damirgian broke a 50-yard score and Solis kick, 28-21 C Rock South.
Abington answered with a drive and Ireland 1-yard plunge; Mac kick 28-28. Then a 36-yard field goal by the Ghosts MacMillan made it 31-28 Ghosts at the end of three. Early in the fourth the Ghosts’ Ireland went in from the four; 38-28 Abington. Woody with the big “A” was happy again. I made my usual early departure – about 9 minutes left in the game. Both teams scored in the last 9 minutes; Abington’s was another playbook page when off of a fake punt, a 75-yard pass/run scored another TD. I don’t know the sequence but it ended 45-35 Abington, the same 10-point margin as when I left. It was a very good game.
The rebound 2010 season continues in part twenty-one.
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