Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 21 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
The day after the Friday night 10/29/2010 Abington-Council Rock South game I was back to Rock North for an expected even game between Bensalem (2-6) and Council Rock North (0-8). It was a day game between two teams with rough seasons and I knew there would be little crowd and that was part of the appeal. A half-hour before kickoff there were 8 people in the away stands; 5 Bensalem fans, 2 Council Rock South coaches scouting North; and me. By kickoff maybe 50 or 60 people were in the away stands.
The return of the two big college-bound players out all year to date was evident this game for Rock North. But first there were still problems as the Indians fumbled the kickoff and it was returned 27 yards for a TD by the Owls Newkirk. Vogler PAT kick good – 7-0 Owls. But Rock North scored the next three – Cottom 11, Parker 10, and Cottom 2-yard runs with two Henritzy kick PAT’s and a Terry run PAT made the score 22-7 CRN at the half.
Bensalem’s Vogler hit a 27-yard FG to open second half scoring, 22-10 CRN. But still in the third, the Indians QB Knotts hit Cottom with a 7 yard TD; kick good 29-10 CRN after three periods. As I was exiting in the 4th quarter at the sideline fence, Bensalem QB Prisco hit Newkirk for 8 yards in the corner of the end zone right in front of me. Prisco ran the 2-pt PAT in and it was 29-18. I left and later missed a 55-yard Cottom run; and PAT to make the final 36-18 and Council Rock North’s first (and only) win of the season.
I got a double bonus in 2010 not since repeated. The final regular season night was big rivalries and “zoo crowds” I now shunned. And by that I mean big crowds, heavier traffic, possibly ticket lines, bathroom rushes, and sometimes particularly zealous crowds due to the rivalries. But the PCL had scheduled a class AAAA Playoff game at Harry S Truman, a stadium very familiar to me. And due to the distance from the schools playing and the diversely scattered population base for these schools the crowds were usually never too large. I went and there was indeed elbow room, I sat completely alone in an entire section of the huge home-side bleachers.
It was LaSalle-Father Judge. Interestingly, I had seen both of these teams this year – LaSalle in a scrimmage with Pennsbury, and Judge in the season opener at Council Rock North. The first score was right in front of me, an Explorer pick and return for a TD by Mike Piscopo; Winslow kick PAT 7-0 LaSalle. Still in the first quarter Explorer QB Kevin Forster, subbing for an injured Matt Magarity, broke either an option or keeper for a 52-yard TD; Winslow converted, 14-0 LaSalle. In the second period Forster repeated his feat, this time for 46 yards; 21-0. In the third period, the Explorers Coleman took a punt return 64-yards to the house, 28-0.
And finally, after star RB Abdur-Rahman finally got his helmet adjustment right (he was fussing with it all game), he broke a 51-yard TD run (PAT blocked) 34-0 LaSalle, end of three.
I left early in the fourth and the final score was a Father Judge 85-yard drive and Myers 1-yard plunge; Foley kicked the PAT and the final was 34-7 LaSalle.
Only while getting all the days scores late Friday night did I notice that the other PCL 4A semi-final would also be at Truman on Saturday night. I returned Saturday and parked in the same spot and sat in the same spot. To illustrate my crowd comments, 20 minutes before kickoff there were 2 people in the stands on the visitors’ side, which was actually the St Joes Prep “home” side. I had no newspaper to recap this one, but there was some fine play and a Roman Catholic win 27-19. It was my first-ever viewing of Roman Catholic.
On Friday night 11/12 my wife was again in Connecticut with her youngest sister and oldest sister for sisters’ weekend on my wife’s birthday. I had a PIAA playoff game at Council Rock North. Despite anticipated crowds, I still did local PIAA playoffs when possible. The opening kickoff was returned to the Souderton 47 by the CRS Golden Hawks giving them good field position. It only took about 3 or 4 plays for QB Billy Fleming to take it in for a 3-yard TD and the dependable Ben Solis PAT gave the Golden Hawks an early 7-0 bulge. The Souderton Indians responded with a drive right down the field, but it stalled at the 6 or 8 or so. They opted for a field goal and it was 7-3. In the second quarter the Indians looked solid on both O and D, and entered the halftime locker room with a 10-7 edge. And they would get the ball to start the second half.
But, the Indians could not convert their initial second-half possession. When the Hawks got the ball, Solis hit a 35-yard FG to knot it at 10. Then Fleming broke one for 38 yards and accurate Solis made it 17-10 Golden Hawks near the end of the third quarter. The ensuing kickoff was returned for a long gain to about the South 17-yard line across the field from me as I was now at the sideline fence on the visitor’s side. A first down was made, and several short scoring attempts turned back when the third quarter ended and the teams marched away from me to the closed end of the field. Then a pass scored for Souderton and the PAT made to knot it at 17 and I moved to the home side near the concessions area and watched the Golden Hawks put it away with about 4 and ½ minutes left in the game. Actually, I heard the 1-yard plunge by Fleming, and PAT by Solis “good!” as I was walking to my car. The final was 24-17 in a very good game.
The Golden Hawks were home again the following week for CB West and this game was one for the record books. I of course took it in. Rock South received the opening kickoff, drove the length of the field and scored on a 1-yard plunge by Whitely. Rock’s fine kicker Solis then kicked the first of every PAT attempt that he would try. West’s first possession resulted in a three-and-out and punt; the only punt this game would see. Rock then repeated their long drive routine with QB Billy Fleming capping it with a 2-yard plunge; with Solis PAT it was 14-0 Hawks at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the West offense sprang to life and a 16-yard run by Poeske (PAY-ski); and an Edwards kicked PAT made it 14-7 Hawks. Then, on one of the rare miscues of the night, an errant pitchout by Fleming was recovered by the Bucks and they were back in business. West’s star running back Rasheed Williams then galloped 28-yards, and with Edwards PAT it was knotted at 14.
Rock South responded with an aerial, Fleming to Gallo, 34 yards to retake the lead 21-14. Then C B West emulated the first two Rock possessions and put on a long drive with a 2-yard Udinski to Poeske pass capper; Edwards PAT; 21-all. The Hawks then put on another drive, this time in big run chunks, with Fleming keeping the final 4 yards; Solis remained perfect 28-21 Rock South. There would be no quit in either team this night. Featuring Williams runs, the Bucks again answered with Rasheed lugging the final 7 yards. Both kickers remained perfect, 28-28 with 3 minutes left in the half. Council Rock South then put on a 54-yard drive in 7 plays to score with 6 seconds left in the half to enter the locker room with the edge 35-28. The second quarter had seen 49 points scored and a total of 964 yards from scrimmage gained!
This pace was bound to slacken, and it did. Despite a lot of offense again in the third period there was only one score, a Rock South Dimirgian 59-yard bolt; and with another Solis PAT, a 42-28 lead for the Golden Hawks. In the fourth stanza, Solis hit a 29-yard FG to put what I thought was the game out of reach for West. It was 45-28 with 8 minutes left in the game. While I was correct there were three more scores; for CB West; a Udinski 1-yard run made it 45-35 and with time left. Then Rock South’s Dimirgian scored on a 4-yard run to make it 52-35. West still wouldn’t quit, and Udinski hit Bell with a 13-yard strike to make it 52-41. West then missed the only missed PAT of the night by either team; I believe it was just a kick attempt, but I had left early to avoid the big crowd exit and don’t know for sure. The final was 52-41.
My brother-in-law (Bud 3) drove to Truman this year for the Truman Conwell-Egan Turkey Day classic. It was only my third company game of the season – my wife once (other than the June all-star game also), Bud 2 once (a chance meeting), and now this. As Egan was 0-9 and Truman 2-9, a close, good match was expected. Cold gray, threatening skies had the lights on at the stadium upon arrival. A long, successful opening drive by the Tigers ate about 7 minutes of the clock and was capped by a QB Thompson 1-yard plunge and Bryant kicked the PAT, 7-0 Tigers. The first quarter ended with that score. In the second the Eagles answered on an 8-yard Benedetti run after the drive was mostly aerial oriented. The PAT snap was bobbled, but QB-holder Clark scrambled around his left side and made it 2 points and it was CEC 8-7. During the second quarter the rain-sleet-snow started. Truman then had a big run (Thompson I think) to the CEC 1-yard line. Thompson again plunged a yard for the score, but a run PAT attempt was stopped and it was 13-8 Truman at the half.
The snow was now coming down in big wet flakes and it was only going to get worse, and sloppy play was likely, so we called it a day at halftime this year. Two short TDs by Egan in the third made it 21-13 Egan after three quarters. Both teams traded scores in the fourth with the CEC PAT blocked and the Truman PAT missed to make the final Conwell-Egan 27-19. The Egan QB Breon Clark was just back from a most-of-the-season injury this game and it was the difference in the game. His passing and rushing and 2-pt PAT run added up to the slim victory for the Eagles, their first and only of the season.
There was a big crowd at Council Rock North for the D1 semi final between North Penn and Council Rock South Thanksgiving Friday night. This time I expected the big and seasoned Knights would be too much for the great-season Golden Hawks and I was right. The Knights used their offense for defense by keeping the ball out of the hands of that talented O of the Golden Hawks.
On the first play of the second quarter, Knights’ senior FB Dom Taggart broke a scoreless tie with a 1-yard TD plunge, capping an 8-play, four minute drive. Mandes kicked his first of four for the evening and it was 7-0 Knights. The Knights’ scored again in the second when QB Ernst hit Wendowski for a 3-yard TD. The Knights took a 14-0 lead at halftime.
As they had won the coin toss and deferred, the Knights would get the ball first in the second half; they were right where they wanted to be. And per game plan, the Knights executed a 12-play, 6:44 drive capped with a 6-yard TD pass to Taggart to go up 21-0 and pushing the Golden Hawks into uncomfortable territory – behind and late. They had to score, and did – a Dimirgian 1-yard plunge and Solis PAT and it was 21-7 Knights at the end of three. Early in the fourth, the Knights’ erased any momentum felt by the Hawks with a reverse to speedy Mercer who raced 47 yards to paydirt and a 28-7 lead with about 9 minutes left in the game. I then departed and missed a meaningless, but ending to a fine career, Billy Fleming 8-yard TD and PAT to make the final 28-14 North Penn. Talk about a fine old-time football score!
Just as my observance of high football crowds revealed a perception that North Penn was not overly crowded for most away games, and that the PCL did not draw well with exceptions, I was convinced that Neshaminy drew as well as anybody away from home. And as the District One final was Neshaminy-North Penn at Council Rock North, I passed to listen to it on computer. I realize that this is silly to a degree, as I have met and talked to a lot of fine fans from everywhere if they are amenable to conversation; and I can sit and deeply observe the game if the crowd does not want to talk to a stranger. But one thing I cannot stand is people sitting in the aisles for seats at the concrete and aluminum bleacher seating. If this is the case I have to exit the stands and watch from field level.
But my 2010 season was a rebound from the downers after the end of the golden era. I made 23 games, the most since 2004 (28) the last year of my golden era. And I saw 5 PIAA playoff games, also the most since the 2004 season. The company factor was never going to come back, and I enjoyed my wife at two games, Bud 2 at one game, and Bud 3 at one game this season. This company factor was so important to travel and games now that I was aging, and it was now not around. I saw a lot of quality teams in 2010. Locally Abington 10-3, twice; C Rock South 11-2; five times; Neshaminy 12-2, once; C B West 9-3, twice; North Penn 13-2, three times; and Wood 13-1, once. I also saw Harrisburg 9-3 at Pennsbury; and Friendship Academy (DC) at Wood in Doylestown. Friendship was extremely good with about 10 Division 1 prospects, and could not have lost many games. I also saw Souderton 7-4; state 4A runner-up LaSalle 13-2; Father Judge 8-3; and Roman Catholic 8-4.
The 2010 season renewed my spirits for high school football; but disaster lay ahead.
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