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The PAC Senior Bowl provided some lasting memories for those playing the final time

Written by: on Tuesday, June 4th, 2024. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


Photo courtesy of Rick Martin

COLLEGEVILLE, PA — Bryce Caffrey stood stunned for a moment. The diminutive Pottsgrove running back/defensive back had to think about it for a minute. The youngest of six, he had been playing football since he was six. The game had been a part of his life, what drove him to sweat in the summer heat to improve.

Now, it seemed, in a blink it was over.

“I love playing football, and I’ll probably play in some adult flag-football league, and go into the work force,” he said. “I was always active and began playing football probably before I was even able to walk. It hit me today that this was it. I had fun playing with my friends this one last time. This was it. No more football.”

Caffrey at least has some memories. He caught a 67-yard touchdown pass and had an interception in helping Team Independence to a 20-0 victory over Team Freedom on Monday night in the Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC) Football Coaches Association Senior Bowl at Perkiomen Valley’s Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.

What is unique about this all-star game is that it is played with a running clock, except for the last two minutes of each quarter, and it is comprised of teams that are drafted by the coaches, not broken down by league or region. So, Caffrey was playing against some Pottsgrove teammates on Team Freedom. Just like Team Independence quarterback Derek Hinrichs, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. During the game, he was sacked by one of his OJ Roberts’ teammates, Colin King.

Like Caffrey, this game may be Hinrichs’ last. He is going to James Madison to major in biology.

“This may be my last game, and I may think about trying to walk on at James Madison,” he said. “It is a little weird thinking about, since I have been playing football my whole life. It was hot and I was surprised I made it through the game. I have not run since the (high school football) season ended. This was fun. This game is different. I was sacked by Colin King, who’s on my OJ Roberts team. He was talking smack. It was funny. I got back him by throwing a touchdown. The last game of my high school season it hit me that it was my last year.

“I will see how I feel. I think I can definitely do it and walk on at James Madison. It is a nice way to go out. I had a good time.”

So, too, did Norristown’s Jonathan Hedgepath, who will be heading to Delaware Valley College to play football. Playing for Team Freedom, Hedgepath had four sacks and was all over the field.

“This felt great playing in my last game,” Hedgepath said. “This was tough playing against other great players in the PAC. Playing against my Norristown guys, they are like brothers to me. It was fun going up against those guys. I probably lost about 10 pounds playing today.”

As in all-star games, there was not rhythm to the offenses. There were a lot of second-and-16s, third-and-18s, and tackles by No. 9, since there were three No. 9s on one of the teams. But there was also some talent that surfaced. Team Freedom’s Tyler Birch, from Pottsgrove, stopped a Team Independence score with a fumble recovery at the 1. Team Freedom then fumbled the ball back at the 1, and Hinrichs plunged in for the first score of the game. Hinrichs, who played quarterback for the first time this past season at OJR, then hit Caffrey for a 67-yard TD, and finished the scoring with a 33-yard strike Norristown’s Jayden Byrd.

“It was a good time doing this bringing everyone together in the PAC one last time,” Caffrey said. “I go out with a pick, a TD and a win. That’s always nice.”

Scoring Summary

Team Independence 6 7 0 7-20

Team Freedom 0 0 0 0-0

1st Quarter

Ind. – Derek Hinrichs (OJ Roberts) 1 run (Kick failed), 3:26

2nd Quarter

Ind. – Bryce Caffrey (Pottsgrove) 67 pass from Hinrichs (Mia Pettine (Methacton) kick), 2:38

4th Quarter

Ind. – Jayden Byrd (Norristown) 33 pass from Hinrichs (Pettine kick), 11:33

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito.

Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball

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