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Pottsgrove Uses Fast Start to Rout Upper Perk
Written by Staff Report

Sophomore receiver Ryan Kendra, rushing with the ball on a kick return, looks to avoid a tackle attempt by the Falcon defense in Friday night's game at Pottsgrove. Kendra led Upper Perk with four catches for 34 yards.

                At first glance, one wouldn't think there would be a whole lot to glean from Upper Perkiomen's 47-6 setback at Pottsgrove last Friday night.

                The Falcons, one of the perennial powerhouses of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, showed their prowess on offense, defense and special teams as they stormed out to a 27-0 first-quarter lead. Along the way, Pottsgrove piled up 347 rushing yards, a characteristic 0 passing yards, and held Upper Perk to 159 total yards of offense.

                All that to say there wasn't a full reel of highlights as a result of Upper Perk's trip to Lower Pottsgrove.

                And while Indians head coach Tom Hontz easily could have spent time breaking down the film and take a position-by-position assessment of what needs to be fixed, the second-year head man took a different approach.

                "We want to look at the Pottsgrove film as a teaching opportunity," Hontz said. "The Pottsgrove players have the aggressive, physical toughness we want our players to develop. They don't do anything fancy; they just do it right. We hope that we can learn that lesson from this game and truly implement it into our practice habits."

                Pottsgrove wasted little time in setting the tone, forcing Upper Perk to a three-and-out on its first offensive series, and then scoring on every one of its first-half possessions. Upper Perk, meanwhile, saw six of its eight offensive possessions end in three-and-outs.

                To its credit, Upper Perk (1-4) got on the scoreboard late in the third quarter as Zeke Hallman connected with senior tight end Kevin Loose, who then scampered 32 yards for a score after picking up a key block from Dylan Croissette. The bulk of the Indians' 159 total yards came through the air (101 passing, 58 rushing) as Hallman finished seven of 20 for 91 yards. Sophomore receiver Ryan Kendra led Upper Perk with four catches for 34 yards, Loose pulled in three passes for 50 yards and a score, and Austin Bittenbender had one catch for 17 yards.

                On the ground, Mike Felix paced Upper Perk with 27 yards on 12 carries, Austin Tutolo had 12 yards on four carries and Tyler Keyser ran six times for 15 yards.

                Defensively, the Indians got solid play from Bittenbender and Felix at safety, as well as from inside linebackers Dylan Reinford and Croissette. Senior linebacker Tyler Smith had six tackles, and freshman Ben Houseknecht had five tackles and one sack.

                The good news for Upper Perk is that, with two of the league's three contenders out of the way, the team can focus on a string of competitive opponents. The Indians' remaining schedule features Owen J. Roberts, Pottstown, Pope John Paul, Perk Valley and Phoenixville, whose combined records are 12-13. Take Pottstown and Perk Valley out of the mix, and that record drops to 3-12.

                "The rest of the season has some opportunities to be competitive," Hontz said. "It will be interesting to see whether we step up and compete or fall by the wayside. I believe we have the ability to finish out strong; the goal now is a .500 season, but it certainly will not be easy as each of these teams we face in the coming weeks have greatly improved."

                Up next for the Indians is a home showdown against Owen J. Roberts. The Wildcats are 2-3 and off a 28-10 win over Phoenixville last week. Quarterback Mitch Bradford is the team's leading rusher with 317 yards on 58 carries and seven touchdowns, but the team has a stable of running backs that it has leaned on so far this season.

                As a team, both Upper Perk and OJR are similar: the Wildcats are ranked fifth defensively in the league, yielding an average of 270 yards a game, while the Indians are ninth with a yards-per-game average of 363. Upper Perk holds a slim advantage offensively, with a 246-233 per-game average.

                Last season, Upper Perk held on for a 27-20 win for Hontz's first career win after a fourth-quarter comeback.

                "OJR has a new staff and a different approach," Hontz said. "It should be interesting to see how we match up. We need to play mistake free football if we want to repeat the results from last year."






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