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Sports Article
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Pottstown Overcomes Tough UP Defense for Win
Written by Staff Report

Upper Perk's Austin Tutolo rushes with the ball as Dylan Croissette provides a block for the run in Saturday's game played at Pottstown.

        There are times when numbers don't always tell the whole story.

        Take, for instance, Upper Perkiomen's football game at Pottstown last Saturday afternoon.

        The statistics showed a mismatch as the Trojans, which boast the Pioneer Athletic Conference's best rushing game, paired up against an Upper Perk defense that came into the game ranked eighth overall.

        But when it came down to it, Indians defensive coordinator Brian Peoples had his crew ready for the challenge. Upper Perk's defense didn't waste any time showing it, either, turning away Pottstown's first two offensive drives deep in Indian territory on four downs.

        In the second quarter, the defense came up clutch again in the red zone, and a fumbled snap on an attempted field goal helped keep the game 7-0 in the first quarter. Pottstown would add two touchdowns in the second half to account for the 21-13 final, but Upper Perk head coach Tom Hontz was quick to point out the way his team battled throughout.

        "There was much improvement from the defense," Hontz said. "We were able to, for the most part, hem in the really dangerous Pottstown athletes."

        Up front, Hontz cited the play of seniors Mahlon Schaffer and Dylan Croissette, who bolstered the line. Schaffer, who returned to action on defense after a shoulder injury, racked up four tackles, and one for a loss. Croissette was also a force as he tallied 14 tackles to go along with one for a loss.

        At ends, Jake Votta (12 tackles) demonstrated the continual improvement he's been making throughout his senior season, and Austin Tutolo did his part keeping the Trojans from getting the edge. Senior linebacker Tyler Smith, filling in for Kevin Loose (concussion), led the defense with 17 tackles in what Hontz deemed "emotional play." Austin Bittenbender tallied 11 tackles and picked off a pass on a fake punt to set up Upper Perk's first score, and Michael Felix had nine tackles, as did inside linebacker Dylan Reinford.

        Upper Perk's defense kept Pottstown in check from its usual offensive output, holding Pottstown to 229 rushing yards, nearly 40 yards shy of their per-game average.

        "I was concerned with our lack of emotion heading out to the field, and after the opening turnover, I was very worried, but the early defensive stand seemed to bring a spark and that emotion continued to grow throughout the game," Hontz said.

        Upper Perk's offense, meanwhile, turned the ball over (one of its four on the afternoon) on the Trojans' 2-yard-line early, but made good on its next trip to the red zone as Ryan Kendra pulled in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Zeke Hallman to even things up, 7-7, at half. Kendra led all receivers as he pulled in eight passes for 77 yards.

        With Felix delegated to defense-only against Pottstown while on the mend from injury, Tyler Whary saw most of the action. The sophomore finished with 32 of Upper Perk's 48 rushing yards on 10 carries, and turned in a six-tackle effort with a sack on the defensive side.

        In the second half, Pottstown went right to work, using an eight-minute scoring drive to take a 14-7 lead. Upper Perk answered back on its next touch, using a key fourth-down pass to Bittenbender to set up a five-yard touchdown pass to Whary early in the fourth quarter to make it a 14-13 game. Pottstown, though, got a decisive rushing touchdown later in the frame; a score which Upper Perk couldn't answer.

        With the loss, but moral victory as far as the defense is concerned, Upper Perk will set its collective sights on tomorrow night's homecoming match-up against Pope John Paul II. The Panthers are 0-6, 0-7 overall but feature the league's third highest-rated quarterback and second top receiver. Senior Matt Duff has completed 77 of 142 attempts for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns. His favorite target, Jared Johns-Lupold, has pulled in 24 passes for 401 yards and four scores, which averages out to 16.7 yards-per-catch. PJP fell to Phoenixville, 10-7, last Saturday in a homecoming heartbreaker.

        "PJP will be a challenge due to a strong passing game," Hontz said. "We must pressure the quarterback. Likewise, we must eliminate the turnovers in order to prevail on Friday night."






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