Hatboro-Horsham tops Upper Moreland in Thanksgiving Day game.
Hatters brave cold for win over Upper Moreland
HORSHAM >> To those outside the Hatboro-Horsham and Upper Moreland football programs, the idea may seem crazy.
Neither team made the District 1 playoffs, but their seasons didn’t end in Week 10. Instead, for nearly every day of the last four weeks, the Hatters and Golden Bears have been plugging away, practicing and working even as temperatures dropped and the sun began to set earlier and earlier.
Thursday, they got the payoff when the teams met for the 86th edition of their Thanksgiving football series with the Hatters riding a huge day by Jordan Collazo to a 28-12 win.
“For this, it’s basically the love of the game,” Hatboro-Horsham linebacker/safety Patrick Chapman, the Defensive Player of the Game, said. “You have to love the game that much to push out the cold and push out the weather and all that.”
The teams met during the regular season, with the Hatters edging out a 14-8 win over the Golden Bears. While both teams were disappointed to not reach the postseason, their Thursday morning clash still means a lot to both programs and the people who support them.
Even with temperatures floating around 23 degrees at first kick, both marching bands performed, both schools’ cheerleading squads stayed on the sidelines and a good share of alumni and fans rooted themselves in the seats.
Those who did come out saw quite a show by Collazo, the Hatters’ junior tailback who won the team’s Offensive Player of the Game honors. After starting the season as a blocking fullback, the coaching staff moved Collazo to running back and he took off from there.
“I have to give thanks to the o-line, they were the ones blocking for me and giving me the holes and space to cut up,” Collazo said. “They were all blocking the right assignments and picking up blitzers.
“At the end of October, we were all thinking ‘it’s going to be cold, this isn’t worth it,’ but we came together. We were here until six at night working on our plays, conditioning and came out today to get the win.”
His first carry Thursday went for 17 yards and the 5-foot-11, 195-pound runner finished his day with 212 yards and two touchdowns. A late run put Collazo over the 1,000-yard mark on the season, a statistic he took great pride in after the game.
“Rushing over 1,000 yards, it’s special for me,” Collazo said. “They switched me over and let me have a lot of work in practice getting handoffs, reading blocks and all that so I feel as though I was getting better all the time.”
Thursday was also special for Collazo, who plays defensive tackle as well, because it was his last time going up against Upper Moreland senior Caleb Mead. As kids, Collazo and Mead grew up playing for the same Warminster youth team and they’ve been close friends for years.
Mead, who was named the Bears’ Offensive Player of the Game, rushed for 114 yards and two scores himself as he surpassed 1,650 yards on the season to cap a standout career. The senior, who has an offer from New Hampshire and is drawing interest from several other schools, was a leader for a young Bears squad that had a first-year coaching staff.
Thursday, Mead took a lot of solace in the way his team competed even in a setback.
“We wanted to finish the season off strong, that’s not what happened but we’re a young team and we progressed even as the game went on,” Mead said. “I loved the way we fought today. We were down a couple touchdowns, scored a few. I love my team.”
Collazo gave HatboroHorsham a 7-0 lead on a two-yard first quarter run and the score remained that way through the half.
The Hatters went up 14-0 on the first drive of the third quarter when Ryley Robinson ran in from seven yards out. Collazo picked up most of the yards on the ground but quarterback Will Riemenschneider had the biggest carry with a 19-yard pick up. The junior injured his knee at the end of the run, sidelining him for the rest of the game and putting Chapman in under center.
“Will had an injury in the middle of the season, so I stepped up there a little bit,” Chapman said. “It really wasn’t that terrifying.”
A poor punt gave Upper Moreland good field position and the Bears capitalized when Mead ran in from three yards out.
The very next play, Collazo ran untouched for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Hatters back up 21-6.
“Running up the middle, I just followed all the blocks and was able to light it up,” Collazo said. “They blocked their assignments and did what they had to do. It’s what we practiced for those three weeks, four weeks, whatever it was.”
Upper Moreland got a four-yard run from Mead to pull within 21-12 where the scored stayed following a testy third quarter that saw both teams flagged for a couple of personal fouls.
While the Bears senior had more than 100 yards, he didn’t have any of the huge game-breaking runs he’s thrived on the past two seasons. Chapman said that was due to the containment he and the rest of the Hatters defense played. The Hatters had plenty of respect for Mead, especially in space so they felt the best way to defend the UM runner was to not let him get into space.
Chapman, who played linebacker in base sets and moved to safety in covertwo packages, was also extra motivated to keep the Defensive Player of the Game trophy in the family. Older brother Nick won the award last year, so Patrick was on his game from the start.
“I was working really hard for it, I can tell you that,” Chapman said. “I want to thank all my coaches for pushing me, how hard my brothers pushed me and my parents for supporting me and everyone else that was a part of this.”
Hatboro-Horsham put the game away on a 17-yard run from Amir Bookard.
“We got a big boost from everyone in the stands, the fans, the band, cheerleaders, even the people standing on the sideline cheering us on,” Collazo said. “They gave us something to go off of.”
Hatboro-Horsham’s Jordan Collazo (24) rushes into the end zone for Hatboro’s first score of the day in a game against Upper Moreland on Thanksgiving Day.
Upper Moreland receiver Jahaire Johnson (11) makes a big catch downfield to set up UM for their second touchdown of the day against Hatboro Horsham from Thanksgiving Day.
Hatboro Horsham N’Gianni Cerisier (13) celebrates with teammates after Amir Bookard (5) scored a touchdown to put Hatboro up 28-12 over Upper Moreland late in the fourth quarter in a game from Thanksgiving Day.