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Indians Rally for Heinrichs’ First Victory
Written by Staff Report
2023-09-13

            It certainly looked like it was going to be a "here we go again scenario" for Upper Perkiomen's football team this past Friday night at home against Fleetwood.

            In week one, the Indians saw a late third-quarter lead slip in a seven-point loss

Brody Weiss and Micah Renzi team up to tackle 

Fleetwood running back Brody Nowatarski.

to Boyertown. Six days later, Upper Perk led the majority of the contest against Schuylkill Valley but fell in the final minute by three points.

            And most recently down 10 points in the third quarter against the Tigers, the game was playing out like another competitive effort for the Indians that was going to come up short.

            But this past Friday night was different.

            Rather than give up, the Indians (1-2) used some timely defense coupled with big plays on offense to post a pair of fourth-quarter scores to rally the team to a 28-24 victory.

            The win was the first of the season for the Tribe, as well as for first-year head coach Dan Heinrichs, who was showered with a Gatorade bath after the win.

            "Personally, the win is everything," he said. "Changing culture and getting the players to buy in is a day-to-day process and seeing the product we want is crucial. As a team, it's proof of where we can be in the future and upcoming weeks and brings a new sense of energy to our approach."

            Upper Perk, which didn't lead the game until the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, mounted its comeback after Fleetwood took a 24-14 advantage late in the third quarter. 

            The Indians answered as Zack Schwartz (22 carries, 57 yards, 2 TDs) capped off a 50-yard drive as he burst off left tackle for a seven-yard score. The drive was boosted by a 13-yard Kane Krier reception on third-and-7 and a pair of runs from Schwartz that spanned 16 and 8 yards to set up his score.

            On Fleetwood's next offensive series, Upper Perk's defense responded with a key stuff of running back Czion Brickle (24 carries, 197 yards, 2 TDs) on second down thanks to linebackers Jayden White (three tackles, pass break-up) and Brody Weiss (nine tackles, three for a loss).

            Schwartz fielded the ensuing punt and absorbed a late hit out of bounds that advanced the ball to the Fleetwood 15.

            But the next two Indian runs went backwards, setting up third-and-15 at the 20. 

            That's when sophomore quarterback Logan O'Donnell stepped up. After escaping a near sack out of a two-back shotgun formation, he stepped up in the pocket and ran off the left side untouched for a 20-yard scramble that gave Upper Perk the lead, 28-24, with 7:32 left in regulation.

            When the Tigers got the ball back, Weiss and Estrela Kubola had tackles for a loss, and Matt Delzingaro pounced on a Tigers fumble to end the threat.

            "The key for keeping the lead was our motto all week...put the nail in the coffin," Heinricks said. "Our story has been better...we are better than better and we finally showed who we can be."

            Upper Perk also showed its resiliency as two-way players Ethan Scharneck (knee, four tackles), John Strohl (groin, five tackles) and Tice Hallman (ankle, tackle for a loss) went down with injuries, the latter two of whom returned to the game. In their stead, freshmen Nate Schramm (QB hurry), Kubola and Dylan Marshall all got a taste of varsity action.

            Though citing a total team effort, Heinrichs lauded the play of Aiden Void, who led both teams in receiving with two catches for 93 yards and was a staple in the Indians' secondary. He also had high praise for O'Donnell, who he said played like an experienced quarterback. 

            Defensively, safety Zane Saeger was involved in seven tackles, Maddux Diaz had three solo and one tackle for a loss and Dylan Bieber had three stops.

            Behind 7-0 after the Tigers scored on their first drive, Upper Perk tied it up in the second quarter as Brody Weiss ran off left guard for a one-yard score on fourth-and-goal. After another Fleetwood score, Upper Perk knotted it up again, 14-14, as an 80-yard post to Void set the table for a Schwartz five-yard scoring run before half.

            The Indians will travel to Methacton tomorrow night. The Warriors are 2-1 overall and defeated an 0-4 Radnor squad, 22-19, last Friday night in Radnor. Methacton previously defeated Pottsgrove, 16-13, to go along with a 35-0 loss to Plymouth Whitemarsh.

            "Methacton is a new week, we have to be 1-0 and make them one-dimensional," Heinrichs said. "We look forward to carrying our expectation into every week, regardless of who shows up on a Friday night."


 

 

 

 

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