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Sports Article
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Upper Perk Downs PJP for Homecoming Victory
Written by Staff Report

Upper Perk running back Tyrese Reid weaves throught the Pope John Paul II defense as he carries the ball in Friday night's home game.

        When it came time for Upper Perkiomen head football coach Tom Hontz to reflect back on Friday night's 32-13 victory over Pope John Paul II, there wasn't much he wasn't happy about.

        For starters, his offense piled up the school's fifth highest total ever in a 517-yard outing. It included 285 yards through air and 232 on the ground in a balanced attack against a PJP defense that came into the contest second-best in the league in yards-per-game.

        On the other side of the ball, Upper Perk's defense, which has admittedly had its share of lapses, pitched a shutout for the first three quarters as it kept the Golden Panthers under 273 yards and forced two interceptions.

        And to round it out, Upper Perk's special teams benefitted from not having to send out the punt team once. Not bad.

        The usual suspects for the Indians (3-1, 4-4) on offense were productive yet again. Quarterback Zeke Hallman finished 16 of 21 for 285 yards, threw four scores, and rushed five times for 41. He also made a cameo at cornerback. Ryan Kendra led all receivers with six catches for 98 yards and a pair of leaping touchdown catches, and Tyler Keyser had two grabs for 54 yards – a score that was equally as impressive.

        On the ground, Tyler Whary rushed 24 times for 127 yards and a score, and caught a pass for another 42 yards in a very physical outing. Austin Tutolo rounded out the effort at fullback with 66 yards on 11 carries and five catches for 78 yards and a score.

        While very productive, Hontz was quick to point the praise up front, where center Nico Liguoro, guards Cole Fryer and Jaadon Kennedy, tackles Josh Engdahl and Logan Hollingsworth and end Trevor Stephen did the heavy-lifting and grunt-work to pave the way for the offense.

        "Credit should go to the guys up front, the line did some nice things," Hontz said. "Trevor Stephen only had one catch, but had one of his better nights blocking for us, as did Keyser and Kendra, who made some great downfield blocks to spring some big plays."

        Defensively, Hontz said a couple of changes paid off dividends. To gain some ground in the height department, Kendra and Hallman played corner, as speedy freshman Tyrese Reid got the nod at safety. Linebackers were also substituted as a platoon, which kept fresh bodies on the field.

        "That's a credit to coach (Brian) Peoples and coach (Jake) Engle," Hontz said. "It really helped our pass defense. Tutolo and Whary are playing very well, and again, up front – Fryer, (Dalton) Fabiani and Hollingsworth are all doing a nice job."

        Upper Perk opened the scoring on its first offensive drive as Whary ran over a defender for a 3-yard score off the right side four minutes into the first quarter. Kendra's first of two picks on the night set up the Indians' second score, as he set the table for himself on a back-shoulder throw to the end zone to make it 13-0.

        Kendra's second interception right before the half looked like it would materialize into points again, especially after a 33-yard pass to Keyser, but Upper Perk ran out of time and saw the drive end at the PJP 1.

        In the second half, Kendra snuck through the PJP (2-2, 3-5) secondary and went over a defender to grab a 35-yard touchdown pass to make it 19-0 with 3:29 left in the third. The Panthers answered with a score on the next drive, only to have Upper Perk follow it up with a 34-yard play-action pass to a wide-open Keyser on a wheel route. Tutolo capped the scoring as he rumbled for 40 yards and made a great cut to find his way across the goal line with four minutes left in the fourth.

        The defense also was bolstered by a pair of key pass break-ups by corner Bo Duka, a batted-ball on fourth-down from Ryan Kendra and a near interception by Fryer.

        "We are as healthy as we've been all season," Hontz said. "We are using our best athletes at all times; so some guys are playing both ways, plus special teams. The season is winding down, so all-hands-on-deck, we have to utilize everyone and anyone who can help us win a ball game."

        Upper Perk will close out the Frontier Division portion of its PAC schedule Saturday afternoon at Pottstown. The Trojans are 1-3, 2-6 overall after a 20-6 victory at Upper Merion last week. Isaiah Mayes is the Trojans' leading threat on the ground as is the league's fifth-leading rusher with 588 yards on 113 carries and seven scores. Pottstown's offense is 12th in the league, averaging 182 yards a game, but its defense is ranked sixth, yielding an average of 280 – 201 on the ground and 79 in the air. Last season, the Trojans defeated the Indians, 21-13, in Pottstown.

        "We just want to keep playing well and working on the little things that help you to win games," Hontz said. "A win Saturday puts us over .500 for the first time in a very long time, that's all that matters – keep building and gaining confidence."






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