Pic­ture Per­fect

Perkiomen Val­ley com­pletes quest with take­down of Potts­grove for third straight PAC cham­pi­onship

The Phoenix - - SPORTS - By Thomas Nash tnash@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Thomas_Nash10 on Twit­ter

One thing was miss­ing as Ethan Kohler was pos­ing for pic­tures with his of­fen­sive line and the Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence plaque: the one who got them there.

“Hey, get one with Cole,” Perkiomen Val­ley’s backup quar­ter­back Kohler told his line, duck­ing out of the pic­ture so starter Cole Peter­lin had the spot­light. “He’s the one who got us here.”

With Peter­lin side­lined by an in­jury for the sec­ond straight game, Kohler has stepped up and filled in ad­mirably in his place. The fresh­man de­liv­ered Perkiomen Val­ley its third straight PAC cham­pi­onship Fri­day night with a 35-17 win over Potts­grove at Pen­ny­packer Field.

“Our con­fi­dence from last week re­ally car­ried into this week­end,” said Kohler, ref­er­enc­ing last week’s come-from-be­hind 27-20 win over Spring-Ford. “Our of­fen­sive line did a great job up front, our re­ceivers made plays and we moved the ball well the en­tire game.”

Up against the league’s most dom­i­nant de­fense — which had al­lowed just seven points against per game on the sea­son — Kohler looked plenty up for the chal­lenge be­hind cen­ter for Perk Val­ley (5-0 PAC Lib­erty; 8-2 over­all). The Vik­ings’ 35 points was the most a Potts­grove (5-0 PAC Fron­tier; 9-1 over­all) team had let up since the state play­offs last fall.

The fresh­man Kohler stood tall in the pocket and racked up 143 pass­ing yards and a pair of pass­ing touch­downs while com­plet­ing five of 11 at­tempts on the night.

Af­ter Potts­grove opened the game with a me­thod­i­cal, 8-play 57-yard drive end­ing with quar­ter­back Jay Sisko hit­ting Jadore Col­bert in the end zone, Kohler and the Vik­ings were quick to re­spond.

The Vik­ings uti­lized big scor­ing plays on their first two drives, Kohler hit­ting run­ning back Jon Moc­cia for a 57-yard touch­down be­fore con­nect­ing with Austin Row­ley for a 37yard touch­down strike on 4th down on their next drive to give the Vik­ings a 14-7 lead in the first quar­ter.

“He’s play­ing within him­self,” Perkiomen Val­ley head coach Rob Heist said of Kohler. “The kids are mak­ing plays around him, we’re block­ing well up front. All around, I thought this was the most com­plete game that we’ve played all year.”

Moc­cia racked up 160 to­tal yards on the night with a sea­son-high 98 yards rush­ing. The ju­nior ar­guably had the play of the night. With the score tied at 14-14 and less than a minute re­main­ing in the first half, Moc­cia burst through the mid­dle of his line and broke loose for an 85-yard touch­down, giv­ing the Vik­ings a 21-14 ad­van­tage and a lead they’d never again let go.

“I put it all on my of­fen­sive line,” said Moc­cia, who rushed for a sea­son-high 98 yards on the night. “I told my guys on the line, I’m gonna buy them all pizza if we win. They cre­ated every hole. It was all them.”

Bet­ter get that check book ready. “That run right be­fore the half was big,” said Potts­grove head coach Bill Hawthorne. “You give a great player a lit­tle crease, he took it and he went with it.”

Af­ter the game, Heist vowed that the Vik­ings weren’t play­ing to run the clock out, rather try and set some­thing up.

“That’s not re­ally our style,” said Heist. “We call a play, we’re try­ing to ex­e­cute it. They ex­e­cuted that play per­fectly and it worked out great. Def­i­nitely a good way to go into the half.”

Perkiomen Val­ley’s de­fense stepped it up in the sec­ond half, lim­it­ing Potts­grove to just 108 to­tal yards and forc­ing three in­ter­cep­tions.

But it was the spe­cial teams that then came through when it was needed most.

Af­ter a 23-yard field goal from Potts­grove kicker Mike Sereny made it 21-17, Perk Val­ley’s Isa­iah Domine an­swered right back when he busted loose for a 94-yard kick­off re­turn to make it 28-17.

The se­nior fielded the kick, crossed paths with Randy Wash­ing­ton be­tween the hash marks and pre­tended to pitch his team­mate the ball be­fore break­ing loose up the left side­line send­ing the Perk Val­ley faith­ful into an up­roar.

Kohler then ended the scor­ing with a 6-yard keeper late in the fourth, giv­ing the game its fi­nal score at 35-17.

There was a time this fall where Perk Val­ley was 0-2 on the sea­son and looked to be com­ing down from its perch.

“We came into the sea­son with two losses,” said Moc­cia. “At least one starter was out every game, but we kept push­ing. Peo­ple kept fill­ing in do­ing a great job step­ping in. It’s been a team ef­fort every sin­gle game.

“We knew the first four games would be tough games. But we were in that po­si­tion be­fore. We fo­cused in prac­tice 100 per­cent, we were in the film room every week. We earned this.”

For Heist, the win marked a third straight PAC cham­pi­onship for the thirdyear head coach.

“Talk about a dream start to your ca­reer,” said Heist with a smile. “For our staff and for our kids, it’s been a bless­ing. I’m very thank­ful to be a part of this pro­gram. We’ve got great peo­ple around here.”

A win for Potts­grove would have been a dream start for first-year head coach Hawthorne.

With an un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son and a Fron­tier Divi­sion ti­tle to his credit, the first-year head coach now shifts his fo­cus to the District One Class 4A play­offs.

“We’ve got to do our best and see what hap­pens,” he said.

Sisko racked up 74 yards rush­ing and a touch­down on 15 car­ries while fresh­man run­ning back Kay­den White had 103 yards on 22 car­ries.

AUSTIN HERTZOG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

The Perkiomen Val­ley foot­ball team cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning its third straight PAC cham­pi­onship with a 35-17 win over Potts­grove.

THOMAS NASH - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Top, Perkiomen Val­ley’s Austin Row­ley (23) is con­grat­u­lated by Zach Lomonaco (39) af­ter scor­ing a touch­down in the first half of the PAC cham­pi­onship game against Potts­grove. Bot­tom, Perkiomen Val­ley quar­ter­back Ethan Kohler (8) looks to pass amid pres­sure from Potts­grove’s Bryce Kennedy.

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