Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 25 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
On Friday October 25, 2013, I returned to Doylestown and the Continental Conference of Suburban One for the first time since the opening night of the season. The attraction was the North Penn Knights (5-0 league) versus the CB West Bucks (5-0 league). An old fashioned battle royal as in the Pettine-Pettine era was expected; but lasted for only one quarter. I spoke to Dick Beck briefly pre-game; he would not have remembered me, but I was sure he would remember my Bud 2 who frequented North Penn practices and games, and he sure did.
An early interception put the Knights in business and Hudimac bolted for 25 yards and a Knights 6-0 advantage. The Knights again had a fine place kicker in Amendola who booted the PAT and placed kickoffs in the end zone all night. The Bucks started at their own 20, but speedy Truman transfer Marvin Todd bolted 80 yards off-tackle and it was quickly 7-7. The Knights also had some speed and sophomore Nyfease West went 23 yards and a 14-7 Knights lead resulted. The Knight’s QB Shearer had a 9-yard TD, and it was 21-7 North Penn at the end of the first quarter. But West came back again with Todd earning a 3-yard TD, and it was 21-14 early in the second and the kind of game expected. But as it turned out, from then on it was all North Penn. Nyfease West got a short run TD and when the Bucks’ defense jumped on the PAT try, Nyfease ran in a two-pointer making it 29-14 Knights. Getting the ball back, the Knights’ QB Shearer threw a backwards pass to Akins, who then lofted a long, high arcing pass to a wide open Wright for another NP TD; 36-14 Knights. With the half winding down the Knights ran an excellent 2-minute drill with short passes and runs to the sidelines. It ended with a Shearer to Hudimac 10-yard pass; Amendola stayed perfect, 43-14 Knights at the half.
Hudimac returned the second half kickoff to the CB West 17 and it took one play for Nyfease West to run the 17 yards and PAT kick made it 50-14 and fast clock time. I did not stay long in fast clock time and missed nothing as there was no further scoring.
The crowd was estimated at about 7,000 for the annual Neshaminy (at) Pennsbury clash this season. I had not seen this one since 2005; at 8 years, probably my longest break from this one ever. Because aisle-jamming was anathema to me I picked the extra small bleachers – visitor’s side away from the scoreboard end. They would be jammed, but only about 5-high, I could climb out of them if necessary. A very close, low scoring game was anticipated and the Skins came in 9-0 while the Falcons were 8-1.
The Falcons Daly picked off a Skins Wombough pass and returned it 44 yards to the entrance end of the field end zone, right past our bleachers. Leon kick made it 7-0 with less than three minutes elapsed in the game. The Neshaminy offense never gained a sustaining rhythm.
But for most of the rest of the first quarter the Neshaminy defense looked like it would stifle the Falcons vaunted O. Still in the first the Skins’ good kicker McDonald hit a 22-yard field goal and the first quarter ended 7-3 Falcons. Both scores had been at my end of the field which was nice. In the second quarter the Falcons started to find some gaps and Snorweah bolted 17 yards for a TD; Leon PAT 14-3 Falcons. The Falcons fine kicker Josh Leon had missed a FG attempt in the second but when he got a second try later he hit it from the 25 and the Falcons took a 17-3 lead into their field house. Every score had been at our end of the field, which somewhat justified my choice of seating.
The Falcons took the second half kickoff and drove 66 yards, eating up half the 3rd quarter and QB Breon Clark plunged in from the one to finish the drive. Leo stayed perfect on PATs for the game 24-3 Falcons. The third ended that way and I was sure the Skins were not coming back this night, and made my usual early fourth quarter departure. The Falcons Ronquay Smith had an 18-yard run; Leon PAT to make the final score 31-3 Pennsbury.
I now had a satisfactory dilemma facing me – Neshaminy, Pennsbury, and CB West would all have home playoff games the following week.
I scanned the three opponents and had seen all of the teams play before. I chose what had practically become my “home” field over the last few years – Falcon Field. The Upper Darby Royals would be coming in. The Falcons would be facing a good QB in Chris Rossiter; he could scramble, was fast if he got loose, and had a strong pinpoint arm when letting it fly. The Falcons received and on the first play from scrimmage QB Breon Clark broke it for a 65-yard score. The Leon PAT made it 7-0 Falcons about 10 seconds into the game. But Rossiter found a receiver for a 22-yard scoring strike and then kicked the PAT, 7-7. The Royals did not have an answer for the Falcons ground and pound. A drive was capped by a Snorweah 8-yard scamper; Leon good, 14-7. But, evading a strong Falcon rush, Rossiter again hit receiver White for a 39-yard wide-open score. The QB-kicker again booted the PAT; 14-14 and a potential barnburner in the works.
The Falcons stepped it up in the second and a bunch of Royals’ penalties did not help their cause. Smith ran 5 yards; Snorweah 31 yards, and Smith 5 yards; Leon hit all 3 PAT’s and the Falcons had a comfortable 35-14 halftime bulge. But they had to kickoff in the second half. And the Royals scored first in the second half – a Rossiter to Vendetti 55-yard pass/run made it 35-20, the PAT was missed. The Falcons answered with two more 3rd quarter scores – Smith 18 yard run, and Snorweah 56-yard run. One of the two PATs was missed, and after three quarters the score was 48-20 Falcons. I moved to the sideline fence for 4 minutes of the last quarter before leaving. I missed a last Falcon score, a Thompson 1-yard plunge to make the final 55-20 Pennsbury. The Falcons amassed 530 yards rushing and the ground and pound could not be stopped. Both teams got “chippy” and there were 21 flags, 11 on UD and 10 on Pennsbury, including more than 10 total unsportsmanlike and personal fouls. But they didn’t slow the game, nor either offense, as most times the good offenses made up the lost penalty yards.
The November 15th weekend I had a family wedding in Connecticut to attend. It was a moot point, but I don’t know whether I would have seen Spring Ford at Neshaminy or Perk Valley at CB West if the wedding wasn’t that weekend.
The wedding weekend (15th) before the next weekend (22nd) broke the momentum of the season and I did not go to Neshaminy for Abington Friday night the 22nd. I listened to that game on WBCB computer radio.
Thanksgiving 2013 was bright, but windy and cold, for the 3rd annual “battle of the bridge” between South Hunterdon and New Hope-Solebury. Both teams were solid this year, both had lost in their respective playoffs and the Eagles from NJ came in 8-1 while the home team Lions was 8-3. A defensive battle marred by early flags ensued. This led to a 0-0 first quarter. In the second quarter the Lions gradually won the battle of field position with trading punts throughout and a brutal wind factor favoring the Lions’ kicks. This led to the Lions trying and making a 30-yard field goal by Danny Sutton with the wind at his back. At the half it was 3-0 New Hope-Solebury.
South Hunterdon received the second half kickoff and used the whole quarter before scoring a short running TD just as the third quarter ended. The PAT was no good and it stood at 6-3 after three. About then Bud 3 and I began to leave. Of course we had talked to many folks at the game, including Bud 2, who said this was the only game he had seen this season. He too, just as Bud 3, was down to T-day games only. The game ended 6-3 South Hunterdon continuing the tradition that the visitor always won this game since its young establishment three years’ prior.
My 63rd season was in the books.
I had made 21 games; the most since the 23 in 2010; and that was the only season since 2004 that I had so many games.
My notes at seasons’ end indicated that I thought I had shaken the past finally and was at last mentally resolved to find a new delight in high school football. I noted; “No season in history was so planned, and the plan executed week to week to provide the greatest, most enjoyable season in years; and a prototype for the future seasons.”
And again it was my wife attending 3 of the first 4; and 4 of the first 7 games with me that led to my enjoying high school football again and not lamenting all that was not there anymore.
I got back to Neshaminy for the first time in 8 years. I got back to Bensalem for the first time in 6 years, the first time since I lost long time friend Bud 1 who was always there. A great number and variety of teams were seen – 26 different teams. Of the 19 teams that I followed in my written records, I saw 17 of them. I saw the eventual state 4A and 3A champs play – each other. It was the only time I ever saw two (future) state champs play each other in the same season.
I once again thought about how to maximize my future seasons.
I recast my priorities and listed first the categories that I could control. The number of games per season was always first since I began attending games in 1951. It is controllable as to scheduling, but weather, illnesses, and family priorities can alter it in progress. I always like seeing new teams, and I can switch a game choice here and there to accommodate seeing a new team, but the more years pass, the less “new” teams there tend to be.
The number of local teams with good season records is a must; I want to see the good teams at least once a year. This requires schedule adjusting as the season progresses and records dictate game choices. Seeing the teams with highly-rated or touted athletes is desired. Most teams end up having all star choices, but there are all-state and national attention athletes too; and those I would like to try to see each season.
Then there are the “good games” that I can list, a number per year hopefully. Any two teams, good records or poor, can have a good game. Certainly close and even is one type of “good”. Another is active scoring without going overboard, ala a 41-39 game. Back and forth, winner uncertain until the final whistle is a good game. There are many ways each person can judge their good games.
Getting to PIAA playoff games is very desirable, but only do-able for me anymore if a local team permits close by home games.
But I put 2013 to bed with a new good feeling about enjoying high school football again.
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