Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 24 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
I seemed to rally for the 2013 season from the following note I made prior to it:
I am again looking forward to 2013 and again plan to stay mostly at Pennsbury, Council Rock, Truman, and the T-day game, this year at New Hope. Perhaps a playoff or two depending on what team it is; and certainly Doylestown, Bensalem, Tennent, and Neshaminy fields are second level choices and do-able if I really want to go.
It would be my 63rd season, and the first game of the year, my 856th.
I continued to mentally adjust to the fact that the golden era (1989-2004) seasons were gone forever and would not ever be matched. No more league passes, very little company, no pre-season camp visits, and coaches that were strangers to me were the truths. Many facets I had loved were gone, and the fact that just about everybody I followed played Friday nights made the number of games I could see in a year a challenge. Just like everything else in the world, the high school football landscape was changing too.
I noted: “I feel right now (June 3, 2013) that I want to possibly go back to the “old days” and just follow Pennsbury, or the Rock’s, or Neshaminy like it was the old Lower Bucks County League; a sort of ‘retro’ movement for closeness and simplicity.”
I did get to the second Pennsbury scrimmage as normal, but gone was LaSalle and the new opponent was Archbishop Wood. At 7:00 PM the two squads went right to an officiated game of two 12-minute quarters. No free play session this year. I met the father of a Wood player who was a transfer from Lower Moreland. We had a nice chat and that player was a senior in 2015 at Wood. I also spoke to Tom Adams Jr. at some length. Tom was the son of, obviously, Tom senior whom I had spoken with for some years’ at Bensalem. Tom junior also coached at Bensalem for some years and I knew him to speak to also in those times. Over this season and the next, I would speak with and sit with Tom at several games, and I saw him for the first time the past (2015) season at the Neshaminy-Pennsbury game. The sad part is that I learned from Tom at that scrimmage in 2013 that his dad had passed a few years back; I did not recall seeing an obituary in the papers. No sign of Bud 4 who usually was at this one.
A great start to the season was a day-night doubleheader at different fields, and my wife decided to accompany me to both. I could ask for no better company as she was pretty football-savvy and knew the game well. The first game was possible because Truman chose a 1:00 PM weekday kickoff to entertain the Abraham Lincoln Railsplitters of Philly D12.
That would be a brand new team for me. Knowing zilch about Lincoln I noted that they seemed to experience execution problems to a degree on both sides of the ball.
The fine Truman band kept us entertained by playing their great “Grease” musical book in the stands, their drill apparently not quite in place yet. A bunch of Truman players scored in building a 41-7 halftime bulge; a point shy of fast clock. Tigers’ QB Zolna had a score, RB Livingston had 2 scores, receivers McCloud and Adamo had a TD apiece, and RBs Hill and Bloh had a TD apiece and the final was 47-7 so the fast clock was instituted at some point in the second half.
The missus rode with me to Doylestown to see Boyertown at CB East in the nightcap. I had never seen the Boyertown Bears play either and that was the choice factor for this game. It turned out to be an exceptional game; the kind I liked. East had four pre-season heralded players this time around. They were QB Zach Nelson, WR-DB Ilkiw (Ill-Q), and a brother-duo linemen Jake and Nick Duncan. In the game Nelson hit 16 of 27 attempts for four TDs and no picks. Ilkiw had 6 catches for 154 yards and two TD’s. CB East received and on their first play from scrimmage RB Gibson (I believe this was Alex, in his sophomore season) got 65 of his total 82 yards for the night and a TD. 7-0 CB East. But Boyertown had a good team, and fine RB Richmond, who would put in a night’s work of 27 carries for 210 yards and three TD’s.
The scoring parade was 7-0 East; 7-7; 13-7 Bears; 13-10 Bears at the quarter. Then 19-10 Bears; 19-17 Bears; and 25-19 CB East at the half. Boyertown owned the third quarter with four TDs. They added three PATs and it was 46-25 when we left 3 minutes into the last period. In that remaining time East scored twice to close it to 46-39; and then a last second East TD was actually (or called) a fumble short of the goal ending East hopes.
The second week of the season I soloed to Bensalem for the first time since 2007 and the death of my friend Bud 1 in 2008. The Pennridge Rams and Mike Class were in town. I spoke with Dan Taylor again and also Mr. Schopp, who was a long-time friend of my deceased Bud 1 and school-connected in ways I didn’t know. Now a senior and state-recognized, Class had a somewhat subdued day with 12 carries for 66 yards and one TD. His 5-yard run in the first quarter opened the scoring. Ram QB Pasquale was 9 of 11 passing with one TD and no picks. He also had 93 yards rushing and a TD. Rams other RB Imeir Simmons had 4 carries for 76 yards and two TDs.
The Owls jumped offside on the PAT attempts after the first two scores, so the Rams went for two and made both, 16-0. The Owls only score was a 35-yard pass TD just seconds before the half ended. I left with 9 minutes left in the game, and the final was 37-6 Rams.
My next two games were a wife-accompanied thumping of Morrisville by Lansdale Catholic 42-6, and solo a rare Sunday evening game Bristol at New Hope-Solebury. This was a good one won by the NH-S Lions 35-32. They had a fine looking QB in Connor Hayden. But the Lions were senior-laden, and that is usually bad news for the following season.
New Hope-Solebury had a fine 8-4 season and their first trip to the PIAA Class 2A playoffs. Unfortunately, they had to play West Catholic for their first (and last this year) playoff game.
Storms on the Jewish-holiday scheduled Thursday 9/12 date made that Sunday-night and a Monday night game available also. On Monday night it was Hatboro-Horsham (2-0) at Council Rock North (2-0). While the lopsided ending score could not classify this in the great game category, the number of big plays executed by Rock North made it fun to watch, except for the Hatter faithful. The opening kickoff was returned to the house for 99 yards by Rock’s speedy Canadian transfer Dejuan Martin. QB McIlwain then hit Martin for the 2-point PAT, 8-0 Rock very early. On their second possession, McIlwain faked a handoff and sped 66 yards to paydirt. Indian kicker Greenberg hit the PAT, 15-0 Rock. Next the Indians blocked a Hatter punt and McWilliams scooped it up and ran it 12 yards for a defensive TD, PAT was off, 21-0 Rock. A second defensive score in the first quarter was when Leuz picked a Hatter aerial and returned it 51 yards to the house; Greenberg PAT kick – 28-0 Rock at the end of one quarter.
In the second quarter the Hatters stopped the bleeding when QB Morris ran it in from 13 yards out. The PAT kick was off, 28-6 Rock. But the bandage soon slipped off. McIlwain connected for a 72-yard pass/run strike to Martin, 35-6 Rock. Then the Indians blocked another Hatter punt and incredibly it was McWilliams who again scooped it up and bolted 14 yards for another defensive score, 42-6 Rock. Before the half ended McIlwain hit Maisel for 21 yards, and another Greenberg PAT kick made it 49-6 at the half.
The Indians started subs in the second half as they should have. The Hatters Panera scored on a 36-yard rush; the 2-point PAT failed and it was 49-12. The fresh Indian seconds answered and perhaps the Hatter seconds were also playing, Welde ran it in from the 9. Greenberg still did the PAT and it was 56-12 after three. As I headed to the car, I could follow the Hatters coming up field towards the open end of the stadium, and saw a 2-yard plunge score. I didn’t wait for the PAT which was good 56-19 Rock. It was definitely all-JV by this time and the Hatters scored after I left again, final 56-26 Indians.
For the record-setting fifth time this season, my wife was with me for Pennsbury at Truman, as much for the bands as the game. We liked the Truman book “Grease” in the stands and wanted to see the drill. The “long orange line” was always entertaining and by this era, Pennsbury was always the biggest of the local bands. And as in football, with bands there is strength in numbers. The football Falcons seemed flat at the outset. The Tigers stopped the first Falcon offensive series and took the ball for the first score of the evening on a Fisher 1-yard run, Kenny PAT kick, 7-0 Tigers. This awakened the Falcons and they answered on a Ronquay Smith 11-yard run TD. Leon PAT kick, tied at 7. The score didn’t change by halftime as the Falcons again looked unlike themselves with miscues and allowing pretty good gains and possession by Truman; but no breaks for scores. The ground and pound and trademark hitting defense for the Falcons dominated the second half as most of Truman’s 4 fumbles occurred in half two. Smith scored twice for the Falcons in the third, on runs of 1- and 6-yards.
A lost fumble led to another Falcon’s possession and Snorweah 25-yard TD burst. It became 28-7 after three, and the rest of the game was after the departure of wife and me also. On the first play of the fourth quarter Smith got his 4th TD of the night, and it climbed to 35-7 Falcons.
Reserve back Chris Rupprecht with 8:30 left in the game had a 16-yard excursion to the end zone and junior kicker Josh Leon converted his sixth PAT of the night making it 42-7 and starting the fast clock.
The next day I soloed to Rock for Bensalem (0-3) at Rock South (0-3) for what I thought would be an even, entertaining game. It was! Dan Taylor arrived and we sat together for the first (and only) time. I had known him and his wife for years. The first quarter scoring drought was broken by a Rock South 63-yard interception return for a TD by Woelk. PAT kick missed, 6-0 CRS. In the second quarter Rock South QB Paprocki hit Anderson for a 31-yard TD strike, and the 2-point PAT run failed to make it 12-0. Then the Owls put on a nice drive, capped by an Archangeli 9-yard TD. Rosenfeld good PAT kick, 12-7 CRS. The South answered when Anderson bolted for a 58-yard score and Paprocki hit Haun with the 2-pointer; 20-7 CRS. With little time remaining in the half, the Owls QB Pisarchuk got in from 8 yards, PAT kick good, 20-14 CRS at the half.
This battle of the birds saw the Owls own the third quarter over the Golden Hawks. Pisarchuk had a 29-yard run TD. And Pegram hit a 6-yard pass to Forkpa. The progression ran to 21-20 Bensalem and then 28-20 Owls. I stayed the fourth quarter long enough to see a Pegram 24-yard strike to Mays TD and Rosenfeld PAT to make the Owls bulge 35-20. I missed three TDs by leaving that made the score 35-28 Owls, 42-28 Owls, and finally 42-35 Owls. It got closer but the team leading when I left still won it. Good game.
I motored to Tennent that night for West Catholic at Archbishop Wood. I only mention that I noted that the Wood O line blocked like the great CB West teams of the 1990’s. From my note I may not have known at the time that Mike Carey, the author of all of those fine CB West lines, was at Wood. It was Wood 42-0 at the half and it was raining and heavier downpours expected, so I called it a night at half this time. It is sometimes good to be right, I hit blinding torrential downpours on the way home; I was at least dry in the car, although driving was treacherous.
On Friday, September 27, 2013, I soloed to Neshaminy for the first time since November 2005, almost 8 years since I had been to Heartbreak Ridge. I spoke to HC Mark Schmidt outside of the main gate; for some reason, many times he was alone at games in which his team was playing. Just coincidence; or perhaps he used some pensive time before games? I was surprised that he asked me about how I was doing regarding a health condition that came up perhaps a year ago when I talked with him. I felt kind of honored that he had remembered that. I had it taken care of in early December 2013 through DaVinci Robotic Lathroscopic Surgery. My surgeon was a Council Rock North graduate some years’ back.
This was another fine edition of the Skins, and they were sporting a 4-0 record at the time, having allowed exactly 7 points on defense in their first four games. A 1.75 defensive average should get you a lot of wins. Of course this was the D’Andre Pollard team and this night he had 11 carries for 167 yards and 3 TDs. By 3 minutes into the third quarter it was 35-0 and mercy rule, and I was on the way out. Truman was on the upswing but no match for these Skins.
As it was homecoming with king and queen crowning and numerous booths strung along the fence at the entrance end of the field; this was an example of the “zoo crowds” I talk about; and I was going out real early this time.
On Friday October 10th, I started my notes with: “An absolutely superb season to date continued this weekend. Already I have loads to write about what has made a special season.” I seemed to be back; enjoying the season’s again. I made personal history this night, as for the first time since the concrete stands were erected at Council Rock North in 1977; I sat on the home side. (For a regular-season game, I had sat home-side for the CB West- Abington Heights 1998 PIAA playoff game). The opponent was Neshaminy, who as a neighbor school and territory got to this one in home field numbers. So many fans attended that they usually sat in the aisles solidly and this totally skived me close to claustrophobia. I sat next to a man who just happened to be from Neshaminy and was on this side for the same reason. It was full on the home side, but not sardine-like; and the aisles were kept clear.
The final was 42-20 Neshaminy and I made the comment: “Two things for sure – Neshaminy is for real, and so is Rock’s McIlwain.” This was Brandon McIlwain’s sophomore season of course.
The next night I again went to a “big crowd” game. I trekked to William Tennent for the big PCL St Joes Prep at Wood cross divisional matchup. Although I knew the potential was there I did not realize I was watching the two 2013 AAAA and AAA State Champions play. I noticed website man and recently retired Daily News sportswriter Ted Silary on the track very early in the night and I had to meet him. I hailed him with something about his website, and he came over to talk a few minutes. He was the nice guy I thought he would be; and a tremendous source for Philly high school sports.
Wood’s QB Tom Garlick opened scoring on a nice fake and keep 9-yard run. McDonald kicked the PAT, and it was 7-0 Wood. The Prep answered on a Martin to Reid 23-yard strike and Walsh PAT made it 7-all. In the second quarter Wood’s elusive McClenton looked unstoppable and had 24- and 80-yard TD bursts and it was 21-7 Wood. And then occurred one of the things that changes games. Late in the 2nd quarter Wood lost a fumble at about their own 36-yard line. Soon, the Preps premier RB Zaccheaus broke it off-tackle and was gone; Walsh kick 21-14 Wood at the half, but big “mo” had changed; and Prep would receive the second half kickoff.
The third quarter got defensive and the teams traded fumble recoveries. I left before the end of the third quarter because the lots at Tennent were the most packed with autos that I had ever seen there. Martin threw to Zaccheaus for a 6-yard score and the third ended 21-21.
In the fourth quarter Zaccheaus had another TD, a 4-yard run and it was then 28-21 with the Walsh PAT. Walsh later added a 33-yard field goal to ice it 31-21 Hawks.
I had a, now rare, three-game Friday night-Saturday day-night trio of games the weekend of October 11-12. I saw the Falcons 40-0 win over Tennent at Falcon Field Friday night.
The Saturday day game was Bensalem at Rock North and a 36-10 Council Rock Indian win. Here I got to speak with Neshaminy HC Mark Schmidt who would retire after the 2013 season. But he was not yet done with high school football. At night it was to Truman for Roxborough at Conwell-Egan, a nice game won 27-13 by the Indians of Roxborough. Another first-time look at a new team for me.
On Friday October 18, 2013, I stayed close to home for Abington at Council Rock South. RB Craig Reynolds of the Ghosts was the attraction. As the Ghosts were 6-1 and Rock South Golden Hawks 1-6, an unbalanced game might be the case. I sat with Rick Lee this time and met one of his sons. The Ghosts and Hawks programs were far enough apart this season for the Ghosts to dominate despite playing what was then their 3rd starting QB David Kretschman, who was a good one in 2015, and also was in 2013 as I noted. This might have been his first start and all he did was throw three TD strikes of 24, 12, and 33 yards to three different receivers. Reynolds had 30 carries for 192 yards and two TDs. It was only 21-7 Abington after three quarters and the final 41-14 Ghosts.
The next night I attended my fourth consecutive homecoming game, this time at Falcon Field for Council Rock North at Pennsbury. After a great opening drive and McIlwain long TD run was negated by a holding call, it was all downhill for the Indians. The Falcons promptly went on a 6-play 72-yard drive capped by a Snorweah 23-yard TD burst and Leon PAT – 7-0 Falcons. They followed a little later with a Thompson 7-yard run; Leon kick 14-0 Falcons. Just as time was expiring in the first quarter, the Falcon’s Rob Daly picked off a McIlwain aerial and returned it 82 yards to the house. It was 21-0 Falcons after one. Only one score in the second quarter made it 28 Falcons on a Snorweah 12-yard run and Leon PAT at the half.
Pennsbury received the second half kickoff and before long Thompson scored from four yards out and at 35-0 the fast clock became the rule. After the Falcon kickoff, on the 2nd play from scrimmage, the Indians Chris Welde broke one 64 yards up the middle and McIlwain hit Bibbens for the 2-pt PAT making it 35-8 Falcons. The third ended with that score. I left soon after the fourth quarter started and missed only a Smith 3-yard run; Leon Kick for the final 42-8 Falcon win.
By this point in the 2013 season I had already eclipsed my total games from 2012 and I was having a good season, and feeling good about high school football again. This was a big relief.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: