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Upper Perk Football Looking for Respect in 2014
Written by Town and Country Staff Report

Upper Perk junior running back Michael Felix takes off with the ball with Tyler Whary in tow for protection in Saturday's scrimmage against Council Rock South. Felix rushed for 307 yards on 54 carries last season. 

                Tom Hontz isn't quite ready to jot down league championships and playoff berths on his short list of goals for the 2014 season.

                To put it simply, the first-year Upper Perkiomen football coach is just looking for a little respect. Hontz has inherited a team that has gone 1-19 the past two seasons, with the lone win coming against Pope John Paul II last year.

                It's a scenario very similar to 20-plus years ago, when Hontz took over the wrestling program at Upper Perk that had one win to its credit the previous year.

                "The overall mindset is to just try to get some confidence and to try to generate some excitement in Upper Perk football," Hontz said. "We want to put a product out on the field that will represent the community in a positive way."

                Hontz said his 2014 squad might not be ready to be mentioned in the same sentence as Pioneer Athletic Conference contenders Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley, but he hopes to change all that.

                "If we can get some wins and change the attitude, we can hopefully start to build toward competing with the big teams of the PAC-10 in the future," Hontz said.

                Upper Perk doesn't feature any particular standout talent, but Hontz is hoping to cash in on a stable of hard-working and committed players. Gone is league-leading receiver Travis Kline, along with 1,000-yard rusher Aidan Schaffer, both lost to graduation.

                The team does, though, expect big things out of junior running back Michael Felix, who rushed for 307 yards on 54 carries last season. Senior Somky Akpanonu is also expected to make an impact in the backfield, with the team bolstered up front by three-year starter Mahlon Schaffer, senior Mitch Fretz and Dylan Croissette.

                At quarterback, Hontz said he's happy with the depth. Sophomore Zeke Hallman has seized the starting job, but junior Jacob Breyer is also a viable option, evidenced by his 745 yards he threw for last season, completing 44 of his 109 passes. Freshman Tyler Keyser has also shown promise in the early goings of the season.

                "We're not the most athletic, we're not the biggest, we're not the fastest, but it's our hope that we will be disciplined, work hard and compete on every down," Hontz said. "So far the guys have really bought into our work ethic and a scrappy, can-do attitude."

                Defensively, the Tribe will rely on Felix at strong safety, and Croissette at middle linebacker. The team also expects big things from linebackers Jake Pirri, Jake Votta and Owen Leister. Fretz, Schaffer and Sylvester Inyang, meanwhile will provide some size up front.

                 Hontz, who is entering his 25th year as a social studies teacher at Upper Perk High School, installed a rigorous offseason conditioning program this spring and summer. It paid dividends in the Indians' scrimmage at home this past Saturday against Council Rock South, as Upper Perk's conditioning was evident.

                "All the preseason workouts and tough conditioning does not guarantee anything once the real games start," Hontz said, who has been a football coach in some capacity at Upper Perk for the past 17 seasons. "I'm excited to see what we can accomplish."

                Upper Perk's next test comes tonight in a tri-scrimmage at Palisades with William Allen at 6 p.m. that will serve as the last tune-up before the season opener at Quakertown Aug. 29. Upper Perk will kick off the PAC-10 season at rival Boyertown the following Friday, Sept. 5. The Bears are led by first-year head coach George Parkinson, who was the former head man at St. Pius X.

                "It's our goal to obviously chalk up a few more wins then the one win we've had in the past two years," Hontz said. "But my biggest goal is to have the opposing teams walk away from a game with us and respect us as a tough, scrappy, well-conditioned team. We don't want to be pushed around and blown out as we've been the past few years."





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