Looking Back at Sixty-Five Seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football (Part 26 of 30)
“Here’s a look back at 65 – seasons of Pennsylvania High School Football through the eyes of Kmac”
Monday, June 23, 2014, I took in my first-ever 7 on 7 at Council Rock North at 6:00 PM. A three-way round-robin among CR North, Father Judge, and Harry S. Truman was the slate. Of course these are all passing plays for both QB and receiver development and on defense – coverage practice. CR North’s McIlwain, junior QB, certainly stood out among the QBs; Judge showed good fundamentals needed for the tough PCL. Overall size looked small without pads and padded pants, and Truman looked very small. I saw Judge versus Truman O and D; and Rock North versus Judge O and D; but left before the Truman-CR North matches.
Saturday, August 16, 2014, I made the Pennridge at Council Rock North scrimmage for 10:00 AM. It was good to see teams in full uniforms and playing for real at least for one quarter when I left. After running 10 or 12 plays each per first O and D’s; the second O and D’s got a chance for 10 or 12 plays. Then it was about five kickoffs per team. Next it was six or so punts per team. Then it was on to six or seven PAT’s and FG’s per team. All of this took about 55 minutes. Then the officiated, down and distance “game” began, probably for two quarters; I left after they called one quarter. Rock’s McIlwain was sharp in the air with pinpoint long passes his forte. Defensively, the Rock had trouble stopping the double-wing O of the Rams. Rock also did not look overly big player-wise; the Rams looked bulkier overall. The Rams’ QB looked inexperienced but capable. It was 7-0 at the end of the quarter on a fine McIlwain toss to the corner of the end zone at the closed end of the field. The Rams were driving the same way on the ground when I left in the second quarter. Size and defense will have to be watched for Rock.
Such was my pre-season activity for 2014 as written on computerized notes for the beginning of the season.
The lure of seeing a new team, and what a team, took me to Tennent on Friday 8/29 for DeMatha (MD) at Archbishop Wood. The Stags brought considerable size, speed and tradition but Wood was up to the task. The Wood D held the Stags’ speed mostly in check. DeMatha received the opening kickoff and had some success but were held from scoring. Later in the first quarter a Wood drive resulted in a McClenton TD of 1-yard and McDonald kick to take the 7-0 lead after one quarter of play. The second quarter saw more Wood solid defense and steady offense resulting in another McClenton TD and McDonald kick and it was 14-0 halftime lead for Wood.
The Vikings received to start the second half and the steady beat continued. Junior QB Russo took it in from the 1 and dependable McDonald added his third PAT and it was 21-0 Vikings. DeMatha’s speed got untracked a bit for some long gains and McFarland scored on a 1-yard bolt. The PAT kick was good and it was 21-7 Wood. Wood’s McClenton answered with a beautiful twisting, cutting, multiple-direction changing 42-yard TD run and McDonald PAT, 28-7 Wood.
That was the end of three quarters and I had gone at halftime to my car for a sweatshirt as an unexpected cool, damp breeze chilled the Tennent air and I watched the third quarter from outside the stadium. I now departed. The teams’ traded 4th quarter TDs to make the final 34-13 Wood as their PAT try was blocked and DeMatha went for two and missed. The discipline of Wood football looked great, two flags for 10 yards total.
The next night the Bensalem Owls were at Truman in what I expected might be a good game. But it seemed that the Tigers and Owls were now on different levels in their programs. Truman unveiled some speed and a good QB in Mark Lopez-Shefczyk, a junior. Mark had 118 yards on the ground and three TDs. He also completed 2 of 7 passes for 61 yards and included a 42-yard pass/run TD. Senior RB Trystan Hunt had 111 yards rushing and a TD; a 75 yard dash was in those 111 yards. The Tigers led 20-0 at the first quarter. Each team had a second quarter TD and missed PAT 26-6 Truman at the half.
The Owls scored first in the second half, on a 37-yard O’Connell to Moore pass; Riley PAT kick, making it 26-13 Tigers. But the Tigers answered on a Lopez-Shefczyk 29-yard keeper. A pass for a 2-point PAT was good and the score climbed to 34-13. I left after three quarters; my seemingly new departure time; and only missed one more Truman score and blocked PAT; final 40-13 Tigers.
Leaving the first two games after three quarters in 2014 was another shortening of my game stays. The “beat the crowd leaving” started years ago, usually about the 4 minutes left in the game mark. Then it crept up to half of the fourth quarter, 6 minutes remaining. Now it was three quarters of the game.
My logic was that, “I see so much high school football” (Bensalem-Truman was game #878); and I root for no one in particular and do not care who wins; why not? This was Saturday night, but the lure of getting home on Friday night to catch up with scores from around the whole state, and complete my logs for the District One 44 AAAA teams also beckoned.
Computerizing my records allowed many things to be broken out from them, and over the course of 65 seasons, Pennsbury became the team I have seen the most times, 202 times through 2015. This makes the team a de facto favorite, while I do not root for them necessarily. I merely go and watch the games since about the mid-1990s.
That being said, I think the 2014 Pennsbury team was their best since the 1985 undefeated squad, and close with the 2006 Eastern finalist team. Both the 2006 and 2014 teams finished 13-2; both were District One Champions. The 1985 squad was 10-0 before state championship playoffs.
On Friday 9/5 I caught the Falcon’s opener at home with Frankford. Junior QB Egan transfer Mike Alley threw 6 times and connected 3 times for 56 yards and two TDs. RB Charlie Snorweah was moved to fullback for the first time and had 66 yards and three TDs. Midway in the first, Alley hit Vinnie Ratamoss for a 27-yard gain to the Pioneers two.
Two plays later Snorweah cracked the two yards and (now senior) Josh Leon kicked the PAT, 7-0 Falcons. Late in the first Alley hit Victor Delgado with a 3-yard TD pass, Leon kick 14-0 Falcons. In the second quarter Alley ran a QB sneak for an 11-yard TD. Added in the second quarter were a Snorweah 4-yard run; Alley 26-yard TD to Tom Augustin; and Snorweah 8-yard run. Leon hit all 6 PAT kicks and it was 42-0 and mercy rule Falcons at the half.
The Falcon reserves then got some action; Cody Tabeek had a 4-yard TD run; and Hartman kicked the PAT; 49-0 Falcons. Early in the fourth quarter the Pioneers scored on the Falcons second defense and with a 2-pt PAT it was 49-8. I left after that point in the game. More Falcon reserves scored the last TD – Harrah 2-yard run, and Geary PAT, final 56-8 Pennsbury.
On 9/12 I trekked to Council Rock North and I sat with Tom Adams, of Bensalem history, and he introduced me to his friend, who was Pancho Micir who had quarterbacked the Bishop Egan Eagles. He led Egan to the 1966 PCL and City Championships. It was 2-0 Pennsbury at the 2-0 Rock. Again the massive Falcon’s O dominated and it was a 57-20 victory with 440 yards rushing and Alley throwing just enough to keep defenses honest (2 for 6, one TD). This was a fun offense to watch, rugged backs, big QB, and massive O line to operate behind.
I decided to see the D’Andre Pollard show for Friday 9/19. The Abington Ghosts were in town and these two clubs have had some classics in the past. A good one was expected once again. I met the Abington cameraman for some pre-game discussion and asked him to introduce me to Mr. Kretschman, the father of the good Ghosts QB, this year a junior. I was introduced and thanked this fine gentleman for the kind comments he had for me for an article I wrote for easternPAfootball. I then sat with a knowledgeable high school football Ghost fan and had a most pleasant game. It inspired me to plan my first trip to Abington’s new stadium (opened 2005 I believe) for the Falcons visit the following week, but that did not happen.
On the first Redskin possession, Pollard did a nice spin-move and burst around left end 32 yards to paydirt. McDonald made the kick PAT and it was 7-0 Skins. The Ghosts answered with a 69-yard drive capped by a Kretschman 20-yard swing pass to Daron Boone for a TD. Bevilaqua kicked the PAT and it was 7-7. The Ghosts then forced a Neshaminy punt, but a Kretschman pass was picked and juggled; but returned for a 22-yard TD by the Skins Stephens. With the McDonald PAT it was 14-7 Neshaminy after one quarter. The Skins sophomore QB Mason Jones hit several receivers in the ensuing drive, capped by a Dogba (sophomore) 1-yard plunge; 21-7 Skins. The Ghosts then got their possession down to the Skins 11-yard line and near stalled. Ghosts HC Sorber let the clock wind down to 3.3 seconds, called TO, and went for a 32-yard field goal. Bevilaqua hit it and the half ended 21-10 Neshaminy.
While there was no scoring in the third quarter, Neshaminy had the ball most of it, had a field goal attempt blocked, and picked off another Ghosts aerial. I missed only one 4th quarter Ghost score and 2-point PAT to make the final 21-18 Neshaminy.
Age ailments caused my planned trip to Abington the following Saturday to be abandoned.
But I was ok the Friday night before to visit Tennent for Archbishop Ryan at Archbishop Wood. Wood was anxious to avenge their 2013 loss to Ryan and uncharacteristically had three false start penalties on their first drive. Forced into a punt formation, the snap was to an up-back Cooper who lofted a pass to a wide-open Gianni Cruel for a 48-yard pass/run TD; McDonald PAT 7-0 Vikings. Both Neshaminy and Wood kickers were “McDonald”. I had met Cruel’s father at the Pennsbury-Wood scrimmage in 2013, very nice gentleman. Later in the first quarter QB Russo hit Cooper for a 38-yard strike and with McDonald PAT it went to 14-0 Vikings. Then Cruel got his only carry of the day and made it count, an 8-yard sweep TD. End of one quarter it was 21-0 Vikings. In the 2nd quarter Russo hit Bensalem-transfer Alex Archangeli with a 12-yard pass, and it went to 28-0 Wood. Ryan then finally got their fine RB Shamir Bullock some space to run and it became 28-7 after his 1-yard plunge and the PAT. Penalties again stalled the Vikings and a punt attempt snap went over the head of the kicker who scooped it up, ran to his right and attempted a soccer kick, but it was blocked by Smith and scooted 22 yards to the Vikings end zone where Smith recovered it, TD Ryan. Stock kicked another PAT and it was 28-14. But now McClenton answered with a 40-yard run, and so it was 35-14 Wood at the half.
McClenton also got the only third quarter score, a 22-yard run and a 2-point conversion try failed to make it 41-14 Vikings. I made my usual 3rd quarter exit and missed only a Thompson TD for Wood, a 25-yard run; the PAT failed and the final was 47-14 Wood. I was psyched for LaSalle-Wood the following Friday.
Meanwhile the Jewish Holiday Thursday scheduling had some choices for the second of October. I passed on my usual Falcon Field haunt as the Bensalem matchup was thought ahead to be a blow out. It was: 56-0. I opted instead for Quakertown (5-0) at an improving Harry S. Truman (3-2). One first quarter Quakertown TD, a 49-yard scamper by RB Nick Bonomo, and Soriano kick PAT made it 7-0 Panthers after one. The Panthers increased their lead in the second quarter on a Rob Burns 12-yard run and PAT 14-0. Truman then answered on a Lopez-Shefcyk 44-yard aerial to Hunt. A pass PAT attempt failed and it was 14-6. Before the half ended the Panthers Soriano hit a 26-yard field goal to make it 17-6 Quakertown at the half.
I saw no scoring in the third quarter and made my usual departure. Early in the fourth the fine Truman QB hit Justin Fant with a 26-yard strike. A Breece kick PAT made it 17-13. The Panthers answered with a drive and 1-yard Bonomo plunge, Soriano PAT to make it 24-13. The Tigers McCloud finished scoring with a 7-yard run and Breece kick PAT would make the final 24-20 Quakertown, a good one.
I did get to Tennent Friday 10/3 for LaSalle and Wood. Again this was two potential state champions in Classes 4A and 3A meeting; just as St Joes and Wood in 2013. I knew that Mark Schmidt, former HC of Neshaminy was now with LaSalle and hoped to talk with him briefly pre-game. I did get to speak with him briefly as the linemen and coaches headed down the long slope from locker rooms to field at Tennent. Of course, this is one that my leaving after three quarters cost me seeing a lot of football.
Both teams did what they do – Wood ran (McClenton 293 yards); LaSalle threw (Shurmur 263 yards); and the part I did see was beautiful to see. I did not get the recap of this one, but constructed a few notes from memory. Wood mishandled the opening kickoff and it popped out of bounds at their own one yard line. But I believe that they were undaunted and put on a 99-yard drive to score and go up 7-0. They mostly controlled the ball and clock on the ground and kept the ball from the LaSalle explosive O. But when LaSalle had it mostly with aerials it was soon tied at 7. The Vikings scored again to go up 14-7. With scant time left in the half, Shurmur hit their great receiver Herron from 8 yards and the game was knotted at 14 with not much time until the half. But with long runs, McClenton got the Vikings to the Explorers 32-yard line with one second left in the half and a Wood timeout. The Vikings McDonald then kicked a 49-yard field goal which hit the crossbar of the goal posts and bounced over – good! It was Wood 17-14 at the half.
Wood owned the third quarter. LaSalle ran just 9 plays and resulted in two short punts that resulted in the Vikes’ getting the ball on the Explorers side of the field. First, 4 plays resulted in a 30-yard Russo to Cooper strike and McDonald PAT, 24-14 Vikings. Then again it was just 4 plays when McClenton finished a short drive with an 8-yard dash, McDonald good, 31-14 Vikings. LaSalle was punting again as I began my long walk to a new spot I parked in that was in front of the school. The ball bounced off of an unsuspecting Wood player whose back was to the ball and it was recovered by the Explorers. It took 10 plays, but on the first play of the 4th quarter Shurmur hit WR Herron on a 12-yard screen left; with PAT 31-21 Vikings. The ensuing Vikings possession saw one first down gained, and then a punt; their first of the night. With about 5:48 remaining in the game, Shurmur again hit Herron for a 5-yard TD and it was the n 31-28 Vikings. On Wood’s first play after the kickoff, McClenton burst one for 20 yards, but lost a fumble at the end of the run at the LaSalle 44. In only two plays Shurmur hit Herron for a 45-yard pass/run TD; 35-31 LaSalle with time left 4:50.
Wood had time for a couple of first downs, and then the ball went over on 5 consecutive Russo incompletions. A couple of LaSalle kneel downs ended the great ball game.
On Friday October 10 I ran into one of those “good game” categories, when one was not expected. William Tennent (2-4) was at Council Rock South (3-3). I met a few nice Tennent folks, including Tennent HC Rosenberger’s father in the stands.
Rock South’s Alimenti opened scoring on a 27-yard dash; Patterson kicked the PAT and it was 7-0 CRS. But the Panthers answered on a Banks to Ryan 12-yard TD pass; Mannon kick PAT 7-7. CRS then made a sustained drive capped by a Patterson 2-yard run, but the PAT missed and it was 13-7 CRS. Tennent’s Banks got loose for a 65 yard run and Mannon converted and it was 14-13 Tennent at the end of one quarter. In the second Alimenti sprung one for 88-yards; and then ran in a 2-pt PAT and it was 21-14 CRS. Tennent again answered with a drive and Finley 1-yard plunge; Mannon PAT and it was 21-all. Alimenti after a drive got one more, a 1-yard plunge; Patterson PAT and CRS took a 28-21 lead into the locker room at the half.
William Tennent received the second half KO and sustained another drive capped by a Finley 6-yard plunge; Mannon PAT and it was knotted again; at 28-all. The Golden Hawks’ Patterson then sprinted 37 yards for a TD, but as when he scored before, he missed the PAT 34-28 CRS. Scrappy Tennent QB Banks then hit Ichabone with a 69 yard strike and Mannon’s PAT gave the Panthers the lead back 35-34. But Alimenti took it in again from 14 yards out; and a run 2-pt PAT failed making the score 40-35 Golden Hawks at the end of three quarters.
I took my departure and watched some fourth quarter from the fence but saw no more scoring. But Banks again hit Ryan for an 11-yard score, and a pass PAT attempt failed making it 41-40 Tennent. But the panthers D just could not hold and Alimenti got his 5th TD of the game to make the final CRS 46-41. Alimenti had 219 yards rushing and it was a 63-yard drive for his last score with just 40.2 seconds left in the game for the win.
The next night was homecoming Saturday night at Falcon Field and I caught the Falcons win over the Pennridge Rams 41-14.
The following Friday it was CB West at Council Rock North. Here I sat next to and met the very successful girls basketball coach for CB West. Of all things, I later found out he was also my Bud 2’s dentist by trade. Yet another stranger-than-fiction event in the long history of my high school football hobby. The Indians received the kickoff and sustained a drive with a Choi 3-yard plunge finishing it. Chris Welde then ran the PAT and it was quickly 8-0 Rock North. But Rock opened it up in the second quarter. McIlwain hit a 61-yard dart to Nowmos; McMullen PAT 15-0 Rock. The Indians’ Welde then ran for a 62-yard score; McMullen PAT 22-0 Rock. A little later Welde again got loose, for 29-yards and a TD; McMullen good 29-0 Rock. As the half was ending, McMullen hit a 33-yard field goal to make it 32-0 CRN at the half.
CB West was not without offense, but could not sustain a drive long enough for a score in the first half. In the third quarter McIlwain hit Bibbens for 28 yards and a TD; McMullen kick and it was 39-0 and fast clock time. The third quarter ended that way and I began to exit and stopped to talk with Rick Lee along the way. Rock’s subs got the action and yielded two Bucks’ TDs – a 7-yard Shields to Kilkenny pass; Shields running the PAT for 39-8; and a Reichwein 5-yard run; run PAT failed to make the final 39-14 CRN.
I was now ready for a big National Conference matchup with CB South (7-1) at Pennsbury (7-1) at Falcon Field on Friday October 24th. I will start part 27 with that event.
Sources: Ted Silary website – Huck Palmer account of Wood-LaSalle game.
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