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Upper Perk Falls in Lackluster Loss to OJR, Prepares for Playoffs
Written by Jake Hallman, Correspondent
2017-11-01

            If nothing else, Upper Perk's football team got a chance to see exactly how it stacked up against one of the bigger teams in the Pioneer Athletic Conference as it

traveled to Owen J. Roberts last Friday.

            The final league game serves as a crossover matchup between the smaller Frontier Division, paired against the bigger-school Liberty Division. By virtue of its second-place finish in the Frontier Division, Upper Perk earned a trip to tangle with OJR, the No. 2 squad in the Liberty Division.

            It was a matchup of an OJR defense ranked tops in the league stopping the run, allowing an average of just 75 yards per game and only one, 100-yard rusher. On the opposite side is the three-headed UP running back attack of Tyler Whary, Tyler Reid and Austin Tutolo, who all came into the game ranked in the top 10 of league rushers.

            In the end, though, it was the Wildcats' defense who won the battle, taking advantage of Upper Perk's miscues to grind out a 31-6 victory.

            "We had our moments and should have had several others," Upper Perk head coach Tom Hontz said. "But mental errors caused us to fail to really cash in. Their scheme had us confused at times, which led to some errors. We were not prepared well enough, I guess, and that falls on the coaches."

            Upper Perk started off the game by fumbling the opening kickoff, which led to the Wildcats' (8-2) first score. The Indians (6-4) would turn the ball over three times after that, with a pair of fumbles and an interception OJR used to post 14 points.

            Despite the loss, Upper Perk's playoff hopes are still alive. The team will enter the District 1 4A playoffs as the No. 3 seed behind league runner-up Pottsgrove and second-seeded Pope John Paul II. The Indians will face the Panthers Saturday in Conshohocken in a week 8 match-up against PJP. In that game, Upper Perk pinned a 41-14 loss on the then-unbeaten Panthers in the squad's most solid all-around game.

            "We have to approach this as though it's a totally new game," Hontz said of facing PJP for a second time. "They have shown some different looks the last few weeks and I'm sure they are going to try to do everything they can to win this game. We have to be prepared and have the same attitude in regard to pulling out all the stops in order to win this game.

            "It's been 20 years since UP won a playoff game. It's our No. 1 goal to get that win on Saturday."

            While Upper Perk wasn't at its best against OJR, the team still had its share of highlights. Whary, who led all rushers with 19 carries for 119 yards – the most the Wildcats' defense has allowed to a single rusher – also rumbled for a 53-yard score in the third quarter as he started off the left side, bounced outside, and then turned on the jets across the goal line. In the air, Bo Duka and Ryan Kendra both pulled in three passes each, as quarterback Tyler Keyser was 9 of 19 for 78 yards.

            Defensively, Upper Perk was bolstered by a touchback interception from Brandon Martin early in the fourth quarter. Tyler Whary also notched a sack after bowling over a would-be blocker to go along with a tackle for a loss. Brother Luke Whary also recorded a tackle for a loss from his spot at linebacker.

            "Unfortunately, we had the mental and physical errors that you cannot allow to happen against a quality team like OJR," Hontz said. "I was disappointed, but you also have to tip your hat to the opponent for their athleticism and scheme. To open the game with a turnover and to follow up with another fumble a series later really hurt us as OJR dominated the field position all night. Defensively, I thought we played well and continued to show improvement, but offensively and on special teams we took a step back."


 

 

 

 

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