Golden Hawks stop Potts­grove

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Rob Se­nior

KINTNERSVILLE >> A few min­utes af­ter his Fal­cons’ sea­son came to an end at the hands of Beth­le­hem Catholic Fri­day night, Potts­grove’s first-year head coach Bill Hawthorne stood on the field at Pal­isades High School and con­tem­plated the past nine months since he was named head coach.

“What sticks with me,” he said, “are the mem­o­ries, work­ing with a great group of kids and the sup­port from the com­mu­nity. All those things mat­ter in the end.”

While Fri­day night’s 5820 loss to the Golden Hawks won’t be among the coach’s fond­est mem­o­ries, he ad­mits it will be just as im­por­tant as brighter mo­ments like win­ning Potts­grove’s third con­sec­u­tive District 1 ti­tle and win­ning the first state play­off game in school his­tory last week against District 4 cham­pion Jer­sey Shore.

“Com­pet­i­tively it’s im­por­tant to com­pare our­selves to Beth­le­hem Catholic, and that wasn’t a 58-20 game from that stand­point,” said Hawthorne. “We laid it all on the line, and we weren’t in­tim­i­dated at all.”

“But I have to give credit to Beth­le­hem Catholic — that’s a very good foot­ball team.”

Tavion Banks had 167 yards on the ground to go along with five scores, while Za­mar Brake passed for 253 yards in lead­ing Beth­le­hem Catholic’s (Beca) pro­lific of­fense. Potts­grove had dropped the state play­off opener to Beth­le­hem Catholic the past two years in fairly one-sided con­tests. While the matchup didn’t oc­cur un­til the quar­ter­fi­nals this year, and while the first three quar­ters were fiercely con­tested be­tween two sides who’ve moved closer in terms of com­pet­i­tive­ness, the Golden Hawks (11-3) made it clear that the fi­nal out­come would re­main in their fa­vor.

The Golden Hawks got the ball and wasted no time in es­tab­lish­ing the ground game on a seven-play, 81yard drive that fea­tured 65 rush­ing yards by Banks, in­clud­ing a 20-yard TD run to make it a 7-0 Beca lead.

The en­su­ing drive saw the Fal­cons gain a cou­ple first downs, but dis­as­ter struck as a snap flew over the head of punter Michael Sereny who had lit­tle choice but to play the ball through the end zone for a safety, widen­ing the Beca lead to 9-0. Af­ter a free kick, a 56yard pass by Brake to Nick Lu­cien set up Banks’ sec­ond TD and a 16-0 Beca lead.

Af­ter that point, Potts­grove evened out play for the re­main­der of the half, as quar­ter­back Jay Sisko kept the Fal­cons alive with his legs and arm, find­ing Ryan Bodo­lus for a sev­en­yard score to cut the lead to 16-7. Ji­mai Spring­field went 96 yards with a kick­off re­turn af­ter Banks’ third TD to keep the deficit at nine, and just be­fore half­time, a Sereny 27-yard field goal was cou­pled with Potts­grove’s first de­fen­sive stop. Af­ter all the ac­tion, the Fal­cons went to the locker room down only 30-17, and ready to re­ceive the sec­ond half kick­off.

Sereny nailed an­other field goal af­ter the break to cut the lead to 30-20, and the Fal­cons again stymied the Golden Hawks of­fense to take over on their own 40 half­way through the third.

But af­ter a three-and-out, Za­heer Seabrooks car­ried for his sec­ond TD to widen Beca’s lead to 37-20. The en­su­ing Potts­grove pos­ses­sion ended in a turnover as a cou­ple key in­juries be­gan to com­pro­mise the Fal­cons’ of­fense.

The vic­to­ri­ous Golden Hawks would add a few late touch­downs to make the fi­nal score some­what mislead­ing, but make no mis­take — they are a com­plete team, one that will be a for­mi­da­ble foe for any po­ten­tial op­po­nent over the next week or two.

“We take it one step at a time, and we have all our goals in front of us,” said Brake.

For Potts­grove (12-2), it was an all-too-fa­mil­iar con­clu­sion for a pro­gram that’s now seen three con­sec­u­tive District 1 cham­pi­onship sea­son end at the hands of the Golden Hawks. Asked whether the re­peated strug­gles against their District 11 ad­ver­saries cause to re­con­sider or reeval­u­ate the pro­gram’s goals, Hawthorne re­mained stead­fast in his com­mit­ment.

“What I, and my pro­gram, pride our­selves on is the fact that we’re gonna get right back to work—we’re gonna get big­ger, faster, and do it the right way. That’s what Potts­grove foot­ball is.”

Beth­le­hem Catholic moves onto the state semi­fi­nals where they’ll at­tempt to ex­or­cise some demons of their own against District 12’s Imhotep Char­ter, a team that’s bested the Golden Hawks at this stage the past two sea­sons. For the Fal­cons, it’s the end of a sea­son that be­longs in any con­ver­sa­tion about the school’s all-time best cam­paigns, but only the be­gin­ning for a coach and pro­gram fo­cused on main­tain­ing their sta­tus as District 1’s dom­i­nant Class 4A power.

THOMAS NASH - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Beth­le­hem Catholic’s Zac­cheus Brake (11) cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter tack­ling a Potts­grove ball car­rier dur­ing the third quar­ter of Fri­day night’s PIAA-4A play­off game.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Potts­grove’s Isa­iah Glover (5), Mar­lon Glaze (31) and Ryan Bodo­lus team up to tackle a Beth­le­hem Catholic rusher.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Potts­grove’s Ji­mai Spring­field (1) is sand­wiched be­tween a pair of Beth­le­hem Catholic de­fen­sive backs on an in­com­plete pass in the end zone.

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