SPORTSfever's 2014 FOOTBALL FEVER PREVIEW--Pioneer Athletic Conference

Pioneer Athletic Conference
2103 Standings
Team League Overall
Pottsgrove 9-0 11-1
Spring-Ford 8-1 10-3
Perkiomen Valley 7-2 10-3
Methacton 6-3 7-4
Boyertown 5-4 7-4
Phoenixville 4-5 4-9
Owen J. Roberts 3-6 3-9
Pope John Paul II 1-8 1-9
Pottstown 1-8 1-11
Upper Perkiomen 1-8 1-9

PAC-10 11
OL/DL Patrick Finn Pottsgrove
DB Michael Fowler Pottsgrove
OL/DL Seth Jonassen Perkiomen Valley
WR Taiyir Wilson Perkiomen Valley
QB Conner Derrickson Methacton
Slot/DB Akeem Walcott Methacton
WR/DB Matt Palubinsky Phoenixville
QB/DB Gary Wise Pottstown
QB/S Mitch Bradford Owen J. Roberts
QB/WR/FS Matt Mesaros Pope John Paul II
QB Brandon Leacroft Spring-Ford


Scouting Report
Pottsgrove, which has won the last two PAC-10 championships (four since 2008) and has qualified for the PIAA District 1 playoffs eight straight years, has gone it alone when carrying the league banner into the post season--where the Falcons have built a dangerous reputation with the top AAA teams in SE PA. At last, Pottsgrove now has company. In 2012, Spring-Ford was the first PAC-10 AAAA team to win a District 1 playoff game. The Fords won three playoff games and then lost the district final to Coatesville in 2012. Then Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford had first-round playoff wins last season over Ches-Mont teams. PV also won its quarterfinal before losing the semifinal to North Penn. From no victories to six the past two seasons. The PAC-10 stock is up for the AAAA teams but Pottsgrove is still the kingpin to win its third PAC-10 title in a row. Spring-Ford, Perkiomen Valley and Methacton are the challengers. There’s a wild card that could impact who’s left standing. “The league had such a turnover of seniors,” says Perkiomen Valley head coach Scott Reed. “Our league in general is starting over. We have to replace nine on defense. Pottsgrove replaces 10 on defense. Spring-Ford replaces all 11 on defense. And there’s four new coaches.” Linemen are expected to make the biggest impact this season in the conference. Pottsgrove OL/DL Patrick Finn and Perkiomen Valley OL/DL Seth Jonassen are major college football recruits.

Around the PAC-10
Pottsgrove has won 25 straight PAC-10 league games and no PAC-10 opponent appears able stop the Falcons’ roll. “Over the past seven or eight years,” says Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker, “this is the best football we’ve had.” The Falcons often have size on the line of scrimmage and their trademark speed on offense and defense. They have been the dominant team in the PAC-10 because the Falcons most often own the edge in critical matchups. Despite just three returning starters each on offense and defense, this year’s team is no different. Returning are Finn (6-4, 250, Sr.), DB Michael Fowler (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR Wyatt Porter (6-0, 190, Jr.) and TB Devon Fink (5-8, 160, Sr.). Fink rushed for 503 yards and returned two kickoffs for TDs last season. Finn is a two-way workhorse on the line of scrimmage who has scholarship offers from Navy, Villanova and Delaware. He is flanked on the OL by four juniors including Jake Adams (6-3, 280). Pennypacker says Fowler is the best skill player in the conference. Pennypacker doesn’t shy away from using the word “rebuild” for this season but he also is confident that the Falcons will fill the mold of recent successful Pottsgrove teams that pile up rushing yards and shut down opponent offenses with a quick, physical defense. “That’s our brand of football,” says Pennypacker. “We’ll just continue to do the things we do.” And he says they plan to add a new wrinkle this season. Troin Verdone (6-0, 170, Sr.) and Dyon Doctor (6-1, 165, Jr.) are in the mix at QB. “They are more athletic and better passers than we’ve had at quarterback,” says Pennypacker. “We’re looking to throw more than we have.” They will have a lot to live up to. Terrell Chestnut (2007-2010) and Tory Hudgins (2011-2012) quarterbacked the Falcons from 2007 through 2012. Chestnut produced more than 5,000 yards offense and Hudgins generated more than 4,000 total yards. “We had to replace our quarterback, running back and fullback going into last season,” says Pennypacker. “Everybody thought we’d take 10 steps back.” That’s not how it works at Pottsgrove.

QB Conner Derrickson (5-9, 170, Sr.), Slotback/DB Akeem Walcott (5-10, 190, Sr.) and Slotback/S Louis Cotetta (5-8, 175, Sr.) return to give Methacton tested firepower on offense. And the Indians have a veteran-dominated group of linemen. OL Justin Bossard (6-1, 195, Sr.), Jake Keim (5-11, 225, Sr.), Ryan Huhl (6-2, 190, Sr.) and Luke Miller (5-10, 215, Sr.) return. There are six starters returning on offense and five on defense. “We need to rely heavily on our offensive and defensive lines,” says head coach Paul Lepre. “Offensively, we have decent speed in the slot positions.” A dual-threat at the controls of fast-paced spread offense, Derrickson rushed for more than 600 yards and passed for more than 400 yards and had a hand in 24 TDs in just eight starts last season. Nick Nwankwo (6-2, 200, Sr.) and Jimmy Keenan (5-10, 185, Jr.) are the FBs. “We have more speed on the edge than we’ve had,” says Lepre. With visions of qualifying for the district playoffs, the Indians, who were 6-5 in 2012 and 7-4 last season, want to avoid the slow starts of the last two seasons. “We finished strong the last two seasons,” says Lepre. “We want to start in mid-season form at the beginning of the year. We’re sitting right in the middle of the PAC. That’s a good position to be in, being the chaser and being chased.”

Spring Ford, which does not have a returning starter on defense but has depth at the skill positions, has stepped up its game under head coach Chad Brubaker. “We always expect to compete for a PAC-10 championship,” says Brubaker. QB Brandon Leacraft (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR/DB Brandon Barone ( 5-8, 150, Sr.), WR/DB Danny Matthews (5-10, 175, Sr.) and OL/DL Zach Dorsey (6-2, 275, Sr.) return for the Rams. Leacraft, who was one of four different QBs to play last season, passed for 751 yards and seven TDs in seven games. Barone caught three passes for 71 yards and one TD and Matthew caught 13 passes for 170 yards and one TD.

OL/DL Jonassen (6-3, 285, Sr.), WR/LB Taiyir Wilson (6-2, 21, Sr.), RB/LB Ryan O’Donnell (5-10, 175, Sr.) and RB/DB David Williams (5-10, 160, Soph.) return for Perkiomen Valley. Stephen Sturm (5-11 165, Soph.) and Bobby Pagel (6-2, 180, Sr.) are in the mix at QB. Towson is close to giving a scholarship offer to Jonaseen. Wilson has committed to Temple. Indians head coach Scoot Reed expects Williams to emerge as an impact playmaker. The Indians’ strength is at OL and RB but the lineup is dominated by first-year starters. They are hard-pressed to recover the near-7,400 yards of total offense generated the past two seasons by QB Rasaan Stewart, who graduated. “We are starting over again it is very difficult to project expectations,” says Reed.

Former Pequea Valley head coach Evan Breisblatt replaces Bill Furlong as head coach at Phoenixville. RB/LB Zack Gallo (6-2, 230, Sr.), OL/DL Jason Waltman (5-8, 210, Sr.), OL/DL Dave Rosati (6-0, 275, Sr.), WR/DB Matt Palubinsky (6-3, 200, Jr.) and QB/DB Ian Brown (5-9, 160, Jr.) are returning starters. Brown and Palubinsky are the playmakers on offense. The Phantoms must adapt to a new staff and new system. “We want to keep the winning tradition going,” says Breisblatt. “It’s going to take time to implement the no-huddle spread offense. We need numbers and we need athletes.”

With an offensive unit dominated by returning starters in the backfield and on the line of scrimmage, Pottstown head coach Don Grinstead expects the Trojans to make dramatic improvement over a challenging one-win season in 2013. QB/DB Gary Wise (6-1, 190, Sr.), RB/S Brandon Tinson (5-10, 175, Jr.), OL/DE Alex Hummas (5-9, 220, Sr.) and TE/LB Vaughn Bertoti (6-0, 180, Sr.) are the top players for Pottstown. “Our running game will be our strength,” says Grinstead. “We believe we have a shot to be a winning team this year.” A dual-threat, Wise had more than 800 yards passing and more than 500 yards rushing last season. Bertoti and Tinson, who had three interceptions last season, are playmakers on defense.

Owen J. Roberts has the multi-threat, veteran offensive combo of QB/S Mitch Bradford (5-10, 175, Jr.) and WR/RB Brad Kinthner (5-11, 170, Sr.) to torment defenses this season. “We’ll focus on Bradford,” says Wildcats coach Tom Barr. “He’s elusive.” Also returning are C Kolten Hainsey (6-3, 285, Sr.), a three-year starter, and DE William Dawson (6-0, 220, Sr.) who lead what Barr calls “a good group of juniors and seniors.”

George Parkinson replaces Mark Scisly as head coach of Boyertown. QB/DB Lawrence Garnett (6-2, 180, Jr.), RB/LB Will School (6-0, 210k Sr.) and DB/WR Justin Siejk (6-1, 175, Sr.) are the top players for the Bears.

Rory Graver replaces Mike Santillo as head coach of Pope John Paul II. Returning for the Golden Panthers are QB/WR/FS Matt Mesaros (6-3, 190, Sr.),who has 1,182 yards passing the past two seasons, RB/LB Tyler Nugent (5-10, 175, Sr.), WR/C Jared Lupold (5-10, 175, Jr.) and OL/DL Darren Gregory (6-2, 230, Sr.). Graver expects the Panthers to improve. On offense, there’s veterans on the offensive line and depth at wide receiver. On defense, there’s depth at LB and experience in the secondary. “We should have the opportunity for a successful season,” he says.

Upper Perkiomen hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 and won just one game over the past two seasons. New head coach Tom Hontz, the longtime Upper Perk wrestling coach who replaces Steve Moyer, knows the athletes and says the Indians have the players to quickly turn it around. RB/S Mike Felix (5-10, 165, Jr.), RB Sonky Akoponuno (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR Wyatt Brumm (6-0, 180, Sr.), OG/DL Mahlon Schaffer (6-0, 240, Sr.), OT/DL Mitch Fretz (6-2, 240, Sr.), LB Jake Pirri (5-10, 185, Sr.) and LB Dylan Croissette (6-1, 200, Jr.) are the top players. Jake Bryer (6-1, 190, Jr.) and Zeke Hallman (6-1, 175, Soph.) are in the mix at QB. And there’s talent joining in, says Hontz, who coached the 9-0 eighth-grade team last season. He expects that freshmen will be starters this season in a number of positions. “Don’t be surprised if we win three or four ballgames,” he says.