By Austin Hertzog
The PAC is back.
Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford made waves in the District 1 Class 6A playoffs while Pottsgrove’s Class 4A title and runs by Upper Perkiomen and Pope John Paul II proved that the PAC should no longer be an afterthought in the district conversation.
Stellar careers came to an end, while promising careers began to shine.
All-in-all, 2016 will be one remembered for the record-breaking, the surprising upsets, and the deep district runs.
Here’s a look back on the Mercury-area season from A to Z.
A is for Adeboboye: Hill School’s Daniel Adeboboye started his Hill School career in fine fashion, rushing for more than 250 yards in the team’s 2-0 start, its best start since the 2009 season. The Hill finished with a 3-6 record.
B is for Bettering the mark: Spring-Ford senior wide receiver Stone Scarcelle finished tied for most career touchdown receptions in Rams history, his 20 touchdown receptions tying Andrew Scanlan (now at Northwestern), who graduated in 2011. Scarcelle’s 13 receiving touchdowns in 2016 was a Spring-Ford record.
C is for Courage: Look no further than Perkiomen Valley’s Chris Jimenez and mother Jaime Kline. Kline, suffering from breast cancer for the past six years, has been battling the disease and continues to do so even with her recent Stage 4 diagnosis. Jimenez, a senior Temple commit, leaned on football as therapy amid the tribulation and was a huge piece to the Vikings’ undefeated regular season and PAC title run.
D is for Defense: Spring-Ford’s defense was by far the best in the PAC, averaging only 12.5 points per game — nearly six points better than PAC’s second-best in Perkiomen Valley. The Rams also led the PAC in rushing yards allowed per game (94.4) and total yards allowed per game (236.8). The team finished with 31 sacks and 14 interceptions.
E is for Ellen: Always a good PAC season when Ellen DeGeneres gets a mention in the A to Z review. Pottstown’s own Marvin Pearson was given a $10,000 scholarship to a college of his choice and was given a chance to fly to New Orleans to meet Drew Brees on “The Ellen Show” in November. More on Pearson shortly.
F is for Faison: During preseason camp it was instantly recognizable the talent that the Rahsul Faison, an Archbishop Carroll transfer, would bring to Pottsgrove. Faison rushed for a PAC best 2,093 yards — the first 2,000-plus effort since OJR’s Ryan Brumfield in 2010 — as the Falcons won its first District 1 championship since 2011, beating Interboro in comeback fashion in the Class 4A title game.
G is for Garcia: It wasn’t the best season for Phoenixville, but senior running back Matt Garcia made it memorable. Garcia shattered the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,507 yards set by Jimmy Johnson in 1966, finishing with 1,820 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 10 games.
H is for Honoring the Military: Pottsgrove and Phoenixville both honored the military with annual Military Appreciation nights.
I is for Interceptions: Five players led the PAC with five interceptions in 2016: Koran Butler (Norristown), Jake Bildstein (Pope John Paul II), Matt Ford-Bey (Perkiomen Valley), Ryan Kendra (Upper Perkiomen) and Dan Cassidy (Spring-Ford).
J is for Jaworski: Perkiomen Valley’s Justin Jaworski broke his own record for most receiving yards in a season, finishing with 1,396 yards receiving with 14 touchdowns, all while missing some of the season with a MCL injury. Jaworski, who returned during the Vikings’ victory over Spring-Ford in Week 7, shattered the PAC career mark for receiving yards in Week 3, besting the mark set by Upper Perkiomen’s Ronnie Gillespie in 2011 (2,147 yards). Jaworski finished his career with 3,270 career yards.
K is for Kickers: Whether it be Perkiomen Valley’s Garrett Patla, or Spring-Ford’s Erick Rodriguez, this year was definitely the Year of the Kicker. Patla finished with a PAC record 85 points, including nine field goals (one a 49-yarder in the District 1 Class 6A quarterfinals). Rodriguez broke Spring-Ford’s single-season record for most points of 70 set by Ryan O’Hara in 2011. Rodriguez finished with 76 points.
L is for Liberty: The Liberty Division made easy work of its Frontier Division opponents in the Week 10 crossover matchups. Highlighted by Perkiomen Valley’s 28-14 victory over Pottsgrove in the PAC Championship, the Liberty Division went 6-0 in the Week 10 crossovers.
M is for Marvin: Pottstown’s Marvin Pearson scored his first varsity touchdown in the Trojans’ 48-8 loss to Pottsgrove in October. Pearson, blind since the age of 10 and deaf a short time after, came back to Pottstown for his senior season and made memories along the way.
N is for Newcomers: Norristown and Upper Merion’s first season in the PAC could have been better (teams combined to go 3-6 in the conference), but the two finished off the season with an epic clash in their annual Thanksgiving Day game.
O is for Okuniewski: Daniel Boone’s Ryan Okuniewski finished with a team-best 836 receiving yards on 41 receptions. His totals are No. 2 in Berks, behind only Exeter’s Gabe Schappell (47-908).
P is for Pope John Paul II: Whether it be its first three-game winning streak since 2011, or its first victory over Pottsgrove in school history, the Golden Panthers’ season was a surprise to many, especially after a winless 2015. PJP junior quarterback Matt DeLaurentis fared extremely well in his first year starting, finishing with 2,307 passing yards, while the defense finished fifth in the PAC with 267.3 yards per game.
Q is for Quarterbacks: Three quarterbacks finished with more than 2,000 yards passing (PV’s Stephen Sturm, SF’s TJ Pergine and PJP’s Matt DeLaurentis).
R is for Romano: Spring-Ford’s Tanner Romano bettered his brother’s school record for most tackles for loss in a season, his 23 TFL four better than Mason’s mark set in 2012. Mason, however, holds the mark for most career tackles for loss with 40.
S is for Stephen Sturm: Perkiomen Valley’s Stephen Sturm wrapped up the best career of any District 1 quarterback at the largest classification, passing for a PAC-record 3,438 yards with 42 touchdowns opposed to just nine interceptions. Sturm, who set the District 1 single-season mark for passing yards in a season for a week before North Penn’s Reece Udinksi bettered it in the district title game, passed Downingtown East’s Pat Develin (2006) for most career passing yards with 8,554 yards. His 94 career passing touchdowns tied Manheim Township’s Pat Bostick (2003-2006) career mark.sturm1
T is for TJ Pergine: Spring-Ford’s TJ Pergine Spring-Ford single season record for passing yards in a season, finishing with 2,275 yards, a new single-season record for passing yards.
U is for Undefeated: Perkiomen Valley completed its first undefeated regular season in school history.
V is for Victory: The Perkiomen School finished the year with six wins, finishing the year with a 54-6 victory over St. Andrew’s School.
W is for Wilson: Game of the Year goes to Spring-Ford and Wilson in Week 3. The much-hyped matchup that pitted Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker against his former school (Brubaker spent 12 years as an assistant coach for the perennial state powerhouse, the last four as the offensive coordinator under head coach Doug Dahms), went in Wilson’s favor in a double-overtime thriller that saw the Bulldog defense stuff Stone Scarcelle one inch shy of the goal line on a two-point conversion. Wilson won 41-40 and most recently won the District 3 Class 6A championship.
X is for X-Factor: Every team had one, whether it be PJP’s Dan Cirino, Upper Perkiomen’s Tyler Whary, Phoenixville’s Nasir Green, Perkiomen Valley’s Sean Owens or Spring-Ford’s Selwyn Simpson.
Y is for Yazujian: He isn’t in high school anymore, but that’s OK. Tyler Yazujian, Penn State’s longsnapper, was part of what many media members are calling the story of the year: the Penn State 2016 team that earned a Big Ten East title and will vie for the conference championship Saturday in Indianapolis.
Z is for Zeke: Upper Perkiomen advanced to the District 1 Class 4A playoffs this season in large part due to the play of senior quarterback Zeke Hallman, who cleaned up his play from 2015. Hallman finished with a career-best 1,938 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions as the Indians finished the year 5-6 (4-1 PAC). Hallman’s season totals for yards and touchdowns were bests for in Upper Perkiomen history.