Gra­ham ready to start va­ca­tion the right way

The Phoenix - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @bob­grotz on Twit­ter

The United King­dom is in­fin­itely less ex­otic than Bora Bora, where Ea­gles vet­eran Bran­don Gra­ham and his wife hon­ey­mooned.

Af­ter the Ea­gles take on the Jack­sonville Jaguars Sun­day at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, the Gra­hams will be able to rate the UK as an in­sea­son get­away des­ti­na­tion.

“Yeah, I’m stay­ing there for the week,” Gra­ham said. “I’m go­ing to be there for the bye. I’m just go­ing to en­joy ev­ery­thing, go to dif­fer­ent lit­tle cities while I’m out there. The wife has our itin­er­ary al­ready. I’m look­ing for­ward to it. I haven’t looked at it. I’m just wor­ried about this game. I’ll worry about all the other stuff later.”

Gra­ham is so fo­cused on the Jaguars game (9:30 a.m. Philly time, Chan­nel 6 and WIP 94.1-FM), he’s ig­nored the rest of the trip. The game is crit­i­cal for the Ea­gles (3-4), who need a win to stay within shout­ing dis­tance of the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins (4-2), the only team in the NFC East with a win­ning record.

What’s trou­bling to Gra­ham and the Ea­gles is los­ing two games over the last four weeks de­spite build­ing sec­ond-half leads of 14 or more points, in­clud­ing a 21-17 set­back this past Sun­day to the Carolina Pan­thers. For now, the vibe in the locker room is that the slide is cor­rectable.

“I don’t think no­body is pan­ick­ing right now,” Gra­ham said. “That’s usu­ally when things change, when peo­ple panic. We know what we did. We know what we gave up. We let two games slip, Ten­nessee and this past game. We went up, we got a lead and we blew it at the end. Coaches want us to fin­ish and play a col­lec­tive game like we did against the Gi­ants in all phases – spe­cial teams, of­fense, de­fense – and just keep build­ing off it. And the big­gest thing is not al­low­ing the out­side world to kind of break us up.”

Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son cre­ated plenty of fuel to stoke his charges into an us-against-the-me­dia frenzy by com­ing across as goofy with ex­pla­na­tions about how the last loss has taken the pres­sure off his play­ers.

Ped­er­son didn’t sound like a Su­per Bowl win­ning coach with his strange an­swers to ques­tions through­out the week. And this is the week­end his Jaguars coun­ter­part, Doug Mar­rone, can gain a mea­sure of re­venge for be­ing por­trayed in an un­flat­ter­ing light in Ped­er­son’s bi­og­ra­phy, re­leased dur­ing the off­sea­son.

Au­thor Dougie por­trayed Mar­rone as a cat who was coach­ing not to lose in the AFC ti­tle game against the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots last Jan­uary.

The con­cern for Gra­ham and the Ea­gles is the Jaguars are mak­ing their sixth straight ap­pear­ance in Lon­don, sup­ply­ing them with con­sid­er­ably more ex­pe­ri­ence in terms of what it takes to com­pete five time zones away from home. Last year the Jaguars, who weren’t sup­posed to be great, em­bar­rassed the Bal­ti­more Ravens, who were un­beaten, 44-7 at Wem­b­ley. Blake Bor­tles threw four touch­down passes and Leonard Four­nette, now side­lined with a ham­string in­jury, rushed for a score.

Bor­tles has been so turnover-prone this year he was re­placed by Cody Kessler last week. Bor­tles will start again this week. And he’ll have newly ac­quired run­ning back Car­los Hyde in his arse­nal.

“I see a com­peti­tor,” Gra­ham said of Bor­tles. “He hasn’t had his run­ning back, Four­nette, and I think they play well to­gether. Be­ing able to run the ball in the early part of the sea­son was good for him. But now that they’ve lost Four­nette, it’s a lot dif­fer­ent. With Bor­tles, I just think he’s just try­ing to find him­self. It’s sim­i­lar to how Dak (Prescott) was when he lost Ezekiel El­liott. They both play well to­gether. So, I think once he lost him he was try­ing to find his way.

“We’ve got to make sure they don’t get that run­ning game started.”

To ac­com­plish that. Gra­ham would be happy play­ing more snaps in the wake of the sea­son-end­ing loss of Derek Bar­nett. Rookie Josh Sweat will work into the ro­ta­tion at de­fen­sive end. Though Gra­ham thinks Sweat is a ca­pa­ble re­place­ment, the game is a Spar­ta­cus mo­ment for the Ea­gles, who need a vic­tory badly.

A win sure would make the rest of Gra­ham’s trip fun. For now, the fa­vorite stamp on his pass­port is Bora Bora, even if he did have to make din­ner reser­va­tions the night be­fore be­cause of the ge­og­ra­phy. In terms of wa­ter and pure beauty, it doesn’t get much bet­ter.

“It was pretty cool,” Gra­ham said. “If I had to do it again we would go with a whole bunch of cou­ples. It was one of those things where you kind of do the same things over and over but it’s fun when you’ve got other peo­ple around too.”

For Gra­ham, what would make ‘UK’ a stamp to re­mem­ber on the pass­port is a ‘WIN.’

The Perkiomen Val­ley girls vol­ley­ball team opened up the Dis­trict One Class 4A play­offs on Tues­day with a 3-0 sweep of Cen­tral Bucks South.

The No. 11-seeded Vik­ings won by set scores of 25-15, 25-14 and 25-13 over No. 22 South.

Lia Tor­rillo had three aces and 12 kills for Perk Val­ley while Sarah Straub racked up three aces, 10 kills and a pair of blocks. Grace Her­bein added two aces, four kills, 19 as­sists and nine digs while Liz Caruso had two aces and 17 digs.

The Golden Pan­thers opened play in the Dis­trict 1-3A play­offs by sweep­ing the Phan­toms. Sec­ond-seeded PJP won the pair­ing of Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence pro­grams by set scores of 27-25, 25-16 and 25-20.

The sev­enth-seeded Phan­toms’ sta­tis­ti­cal lead­ers were Keara Hen­nessey (one ace, 16 as­sists, 11 digs), Kayla Gram­mer­storf (three aces, seven kills, 10 digs) and Rom­ina Broglia (one ace, five kills, 12 digs).

Boys soc­cer

Jake Per­illo scored the game-win­ner as the No. 5 seed Phan­toms dropped No. 4 Lower More­land in a Dis­trict 1 Class 3A first round game.

Doug Smith as­sisted Per­illo’s win­ner. Per­illo scored Phoenixville’s goal in reg­u­la­tion as well. Gavin Per­illo had five saves in goal.

Phoenixville ad­vances to meet No. 1 Holy Ghost Prep — a 5-1 win­ner over Bishop Shana­han Wed­nes­day — on Mon­day, Oct. 29.

The in­di­vid­ual portion of the PIAA Class AAA Golf Cham­pi­onship wrapped up on Tues­day af­ter­noon at Her­itage Hills Golf Re­sort in York, PA.

Franklin Re­gional se­nior Palmer Jack­son used a stel­lar sec­ond day to claim the ti­tle at 4-un­der 140.

He opened up the tour­na­ment with a 2-over 73 on Mon­day be­fore back­ing it up with a 4-un­der 67 on Tues­day in a round that fea­tured six birdies and a pair of bo­geys.

Be­hind Jack­son, Cen­tral Catholic’s Jimmy Mey­ers fin­ished in sec­ond at 2-over 144 ahead of Holy Ghost Prep’s Liam Hart and Patrick Shee­han, who both fin­ished up at 4-over 146 in a tie for third place. Fox Chapel’s Gre­gor Meyer rounded out the top five with a 5-over 147.

Nor­ris­town se­nior Caleb Ryan fin­ished tied for sixth with Unionville’s Con­nor Ben­nink at 7-over 149.

Ryan opened up the tour­na­ment with a 6-over 77 be­fore fol­low­ing it up with a 1-over 72 Tues­day in a round that was high­lighted by two birdies and an ea­gle.

Younger brother Josh Ryan, a sopho­more with Nor­ris­town, fin­ished tied for 19th over­all at 16-over 158.

He fired a 78 on the open­ing day and wrapped up with an 80 to close out the tour­na­ment.

Else­where from the Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, Spring-Ford se­nior Axel Kal­bach fin­ished at 26-over 168.

Af­ter start­ing out 17-over on the open­ing round, he set­tled on Day Two on the way to a 9-over 80.

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