Pow­er­ful packs on the rise

The Colonial - - OPINION - By Kev Hunter

khunter@there­porteron­line.

com Area cross coun­try teams hit the course this week as they be­gin their push for both in­di­vid­ual and team suc­cess.

A loaded Subur­ban One League Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence in­cludes state-cal­iber run­ners like Pen­nridge’s Marissa Sheva and Cen­tral Bucks West’s Mad­die Vil­lalba while peren­nial power North Penn toes the start­ing line with strong packs on both the boys and girls side.

“We have high ex­pec­ta­tions for the reg­u­lar sea­son and post­sea­son,” Bucks coach Kiki Bell said, “so the girls are putting in the work and miles to get there.”

Soud­er­ton Area has a big group to build around as the In­di­ans aim for con­tin­ued im­prove­ment and a solid show­ing in the post­sea­son.

“There will be no breaks once the team be­gins its reg­u­lar sea­son in the su­per com­pet­i­tive Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence,” Big Red girls coach Jim O’Neill said. “There is some ex­pe­ri­ence on this team and hope­fully the large team size will cre­ate some healthy com­pe­ti­tion, which pushes ev­ery­one for­ward. There should be a great deal of im­prove­ment through­out the sea­son.”

Sev­eral teams, like Methac­ton, hit the course hop­ing to find that new No. 1 runner.

“This is year one of R.W.O.K.A. - run­ning with­out Kara Steinke,” War­riors coach Steve Ma­han said. “This team has to learn how to race with­out Kara at the top spot. We have kid­dingly said, ‘We are small in num­ber but mighty in spirit.’

“They are learn­ing how to step out of their crosscoun­try com­fort zone. They are learn­ing how to run with a small team - there are 15 healthy run­ners on this sea­son’s squad.”

Fol­low­ing is a team-byteam look at the area.

Coach: Greg Wet­zel (fifth sea­son)

Last year’s record: 2-5; fourth at SOL Con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence meet

Key performers lost: Ben Aunins

Key re­turn­ers: Rock Fortna Jr.; Brian Iatarola, Jr.; Ian Davies, Sr.; Matt Bowen, Sr.; Brian Mass, So.; De­clan McDon­ald, Jr.; Trevor Beld­ing, Sr.

Oth­ers to watch: Ben Smullen, So.; An­drew Baker, Sr.; Beck­ett Wil­son, Sr.; Lo­gan Mazullo, Jr.; Carter Zer­weck, Jr.; Alec Hofer, So.; Tea­gan Fortna, So.; Mark McCle­na­han, So.

Coach Wet­zel says: “This year will be ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive, as it is ev­ery year in the SOL Con­ti­nen­tal. Our ath­letes have put in the work and are ex­cited to show what they can do. If we can run as a team, we will be as good as any­one.”

Home course: Lake Galena at Peace Val­ley Park

Open­ing meet: Arch­bish­opWood In­vite

Coach: Tom Sex­ton (49th sea­son) Last year’s record: 5-4 Key re­turn­ers: Mar­ley Marc, Sr.; Aaron Ngo, Jr.; Andy Rutkowski, So.; Wil­liam Ford, Sr.; Charles Grif­fith, So.; Wolf­gang Schan­bacher, Jr.; C.J. Young, Jr.; Hunter Lan­don, Sr.; Will Chris­tensen, So.; Sean Mon­a­han, So.; Em­mett Deitcher, So.

Oth­ers to watch: Will Grif­fen, So.; Liam Brown, Fr.; Tom Sul­li­van, Sr.; Rob Wil­man, Jr.

Coach Sex­ton says: “Even though we are young, I think we could be very good this year. I am ex­cited about coach­ing this year’s team as they are a very com­pet­i­tive group. If we stay healthy and con­tinue to de­velop, we could do very well. It should be fun.”

Open­ing meet: Sept. 17th against PW and Up­per Me­rion

Coach: Justin (fifth sea­son)

Last year’s record: 7-5 over­all, 6-2 in the Bi­cen­ten­nial Ath­letic League; sec­ond in BAL Con­sti­tu­tion Di­vi­sion; third in District One Class 2A

Key performers lost: Jonathan Capps; Don­ald Roessler

Key re­turn­ers: Michael Gun­den, Jr.; Joseph Thomp­son, Jr.; Kevin Wang, Jr.; Tim Ken­nel, Fr.; Ian An­der­son, Fr.; Isaiha Den­linger, Fr.

Coach Wik­erd says: “This is a very hard-work­ing and de­ter­mined group of run­ners.”

Home Course: Christo­pher Dock High School

Wik­erd stalled 3-5 align­ment.

“It’s pretty much the same thing as last year,” Lee said, “but now I’m more re­spon­si­ble for con­tain­ment, for turn­ing plays back in­side.”

Like Thomp­son, Lee pointed to lead­er­ship as a key to the year’s suc­cess.

“We have the play­ers and we have the skill to be good,” Lee said. “But we need peo­ple to show us the way.”

Lee said he’s upped his ef­forts at lead­er­ship this year. “I’m not a vo­cal leader,” he said. “I’ve tried to lead by ex­am­ple. But this year I’ve tried to step it up vo­cally.” ••• Of course it’s dif­fi­cult to talk about Up­per Dublin foot­ball with­out look­ing ahead to the team’s trip to Florida to play its sea­son opener.

The Car­di­nals will de­part at 4 a.m. Aug. 28 and will play Florida-based Co­conut Creek on the even­ing of Aug. 29 at the Dis­ney Sports Com­plex in Or­lando.

“We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to the trip,” Thomp­son said, “and we’re ex­cited play­ing against a good team.”

“They’re good and they’re fast,” Stover said of Co­conut Creek, “but that’s not a sur­prise.”

Foot­ball, nat­u­rally, isn’t the only part of the trip the Cards are look­ing for­ward to.

“We get a cou­ple of days in the park,” Thomp­son said, re­fer­ring to the Dis­ney World fa­cil­ity.

And are the re­quests for “Frozen” sou­venirs rolling in yet?

“Not yet,” Lee said. “My fam­ily’s been to Dis­ney World a few times, so I’m hop­ing to spend my money on me.” ••• As for the var­sity scrim­mage, the teams only played one half, and Methac­ton scored the game’s lone touch­down, on the fi­nal play, with quar­ter­back Con­ner Der­rick­son loft­ing a per­fect pass to AkeemWal­cott, who made a jug­gling catch in the back of the left cor­ner of the end zone.

The drive was set up by an end-zone in­ter­cep­tion by Louis Cot­teta af­ter Up­per Dublin had driven in­side the War­riors 10-yard line. ••• While Methac­ton head coach Paul Lepre isn’t thrilled with the War­riors’ ros­ter size, which num­bers in the low 40’s, he said Methac­ton isn’t alone among Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence schools star­ing at dis­ap­point­ing turnouts for foot­ball.

“From what I’ve heard there are a few schools hurt­ing for kids,” Lepre said. “I’ve heard Phoenixville, Up­per Perkiomen, Pope John Paul and even Owen J. Roberts did not get the num­ber of kids they were hop­ing for.”

One of those schools not hurt­ing for num­bers is Perkiomen Val­ley, a pro­gram that lost a ton of qual­ity se­niors af­ter last year’s in­cred­i­ble post­sea­son run.

But Lepre said not to shed any tears for the War­riors’ Bat­tle Axe foes.

“I saw them scrim­mage Spring­field Delco and they looked good,” Lepre said. “If any­thing, it looks like their line­men are big­ger than they were last year, so they’ve added some size to go along with that speed.” ••• By now, area foot­ball fans have long been aware of Methac­ton’s frus­trat­ing at­tempts to in­stall lights at the lo­ca­tion of the school’s foot­ball field, at­tempts that have thus far been squelched by area res­i­dents.

While there is no good news on that front, it is said the school is ex­am­in­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of in­stalling turf on its grid­iron, turn­ing the field into a multi-pur­pose fa­cil­ity.

Up­per Dublin’s turf field is presently un­der con­struc­tion and is ex­pected to be ready for the Car­di­nals foot­ball team’s Sept. 19 home opener vs. Chel­tenham.

MARK C. PSORAS/THE RE­PORTER

North Penn’s Ali Valenti, cen­ter, along with team­mates and Pen­nridge com­peti­tors launch for a 800 me­ter event dur­ing their meet at Pen­nridge High School.

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