Pennsbury eyeing SOL National crown
There is no doubt that PENNSBrRv is setting the bar high for 2012.
After a memorable 2011 that brought a run into the District I Class AAAA playoffs, the Falcons have most of the pieces in place to go even further. ves, there are still questions and concerns, but as long as Pennsbury is able to answer them, there is no reason to think more can’t be done once the season gets underway this Friday night.
“We can go pretty far,” said senior wide receiver Anthony Bullaro. “We have a lot of returning players who have experience, so the more experience, the better.”
The Falcons look to be well stocked when it comes to all aspects of the game, but that may be especially true of the defense. That is because eight players with at least some starting experience are back to lead that unit, which gave up less than 16 points per game and KHOG fiYH RSSRnHnWV, LnFOuGing Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference co-champion Council Rock South, to 10 point or less in 2011.
The place of biggest uncertainty in terms of stopping other teams is the sec- ondary, where the Falcons lost two reliable players in strong safety Ethan Paraboschi and cornerback Adam Lewis, who also played at running back. Bullaro will help with the unit, as he started at safety last year but has been moved to corner to replace Lewis. Opposite of him will be classmate Ryan Muse, while fellow senior Bobby Walls will man the strong safety spot.
The free safety position is led by Anthony Donovan, another senior who needs to stay healthy since he is also slated to start at quarterback IRU WKH fiUVW WLPH. 8S unWLO this season, he had been primarily a defensive player since Bruce Campbell was under center in 2011. He fared well in that regard, DV KH OHG WKH WHDP wLWK fiYH interceptions and added 27 tackles.
Campbell has since graduated, so the reins now fall in Donovan’s hands, and they are fairly big ones at that. Campbell managed the Falcons’ triple-wing, “ground-and-pound” offense and contributed over 400 passing yards, nearly the same number of rushing yards and a total of nine touchdowns in the process.
“I’m trying to be able to be a dual-threat quarter-
back,” said Donovan.
If he can do so, it would likely take some pressure off the unit with the most question marks going into this campaign, namely the offensive line. Gone from last year is arguably one of the Falcons’ best lineman in recent memory, J.J. Denman. His 6-7, 300-plus pound frame drew interest from several FBS colleges, and ultimately, Denman opted for Rutgers rniversity.
Denman is not the only lineman to depart the ranks of the orange and black as Jake Andrassy, Mike Reynolds, Alex Mollohan and Dylan Pepper have also graduated. While this seasRn’s unLW Ls fiOOHG SULPDUily with juniors and seniors, only center Jack Meehan is back from last year’s starting core. To his right, fellow senior hyle Potcuk will start at tackle, while junior Mycah Mollohan is slated at guard. Senior John Later is the likely starter at left guard, while sophomore Austin O’Neill will break in at left tackle.
“It’s a work in progress right now, but every game, we get better,” said Donovan about the line. “Every snap, we get better.”
If that trend continues, the Falcons should be in good shape. In terms of the defense, there are fewer questions when it comes to the front seven. Junior Blake hovin heads up one of the defensive tackle spots, while ends Brandon Lee and converted split end/defensive back Chad Hensor look to become mainstays. This unit also appears very deep, as returning starters Luke Johnson and Sykeem Stewart are also part of the URWDWLRn WKDW sDw sLJnLfiFDnW time in a scrimmage against LaSalle Aug. 24.
Then there are the linebackers, who have three key starters back in seniors Tommy Hose, Shawn Pepper and Charlie Fisher. They were among the biggest contributors defensively last year, as Hose led Pennsbury with 112 tackles and 11 tackles for loss, including four sacks. Pepper was the top man in terms of sacks with six, while Fisher had 94 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
In the LaSalle scrimmage, the defense fared well, as it stopped the Explorers, a Class AAAA state semifinDOLsW ODsW sHDsRn, Rn DOO but one drive. That, though, was enough scoring for LaSalle to win by a 7-0 score in what was a two-quarter, 24-minute contest.
Donovan nearly completed a touchdown pass to Bullaro in the second quarter that could have changed the game. That play followed a nice run by Shawn Pepper, who also plays wing back and will have a much more sLJnLfiFDnW UROH Ln WKH UusKing attack without Lewis or DDvLG *UDy Ln WKH EDFNfiHOG. Lewis’ 604 yards on the ground were second on the team last year, and he was also a threat receiving wise thanks to a 19.3 yard average in that regard.
Pepper did see 35 carries last year and had two touchdowns, but those numbers fiJuUH WR LnFUHDsH TuLFNOy. Beside him will be Chuck Snorweah, who stood out as a freshman in 2011, thanks to his 5.6 yards per carry average and 478 yards rushing.
fast and real speedy,” said Pepper, adding that he’s more the prototypical power back.
Both Pepper and Snorweah, as well as Donovan, wLOO EHnHfiW Ln WKH UusKLnJ and option schemes if 6-1, 245-pound senior fullback Daquan Mack can continue his pace from last year. Both his 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns led Pennsbury, as did his 194 attempts.
While Mack was nursing an injury and missed the LaSalle scrimmage, he is expected to be ready for the Aug. 31 opener at Easton. In his absence, Brandon *DUUHWW WRRN WKH fiHOG.
It appears the Falcons should be able to keep defenses honest, as well, due to a group of wideouts including Bullaro, Dan Chaudri and Mike Harrah. All of them have at least 6-0 frames, while Eliot Muka adds a capable target at tight end.
Special teams wise, senior Mikhail hniaziewicz is back to handle kicking duties and can also punt. That said, if Donovan and the line jells, the offense KDs HnRuJK fiUHSRwHU WR improve on its 23 point av- erage from last year. While Pennsbury reached the 40-point plateau four times, including a second round playoff win over Coatesville, it was also shutout once and scored a combined 17 points in its four losses. One of those setbacks was a 27-3 defeat to North Penn Ln WKH GLsWULFW sHPLfinDOs, which ended the Falcons season at 9-4 overall. They were also 5-2 in the SOL National and avenged one of those losses with a 35-24 playoff win over Abington Ln WKH fiUsW URunG.
This year’s slate could be even tougher, though. The
Photos by Gregg Slaboda
Pennsbury tackler Tommy Hose has Rovers’ RB James Middleton in the grasp in last year’s opener. The Falcons open Friday night at Easton.
CRUSA’s Kayla Nitka wins the fight for a 50-50 ball.