By Rick Fortenbaugh
Updated: September 12, 2015
WHITEMARSH >> Some losses hurt more than others and this was one of those times where it really wasn’t that painful at all.
Although the Pennsbury High football team (1-1) suffered its first loss of the year last night when it fell by La Salle by the score of 14-0, when you look at the big picture there’s no reason for the Falcons to feel all that depressed.
For openers it’s become very rare when any public school team in Pennsylvania beats one of the three big boys in the Philadelphia Catholic League of a group that consists of St. Joe’s Prep, La Salle and Archbishop Wood.
As such, it’s entirely possible La Salle (2-0) is the best team Pennsbury may very well play during the regular season. La Salle also beat Pennsbury’s Suburban One National rival North Penn last week.
Furthermore, Pennsbury’s defense was outstanding last night, especially when you consider it received very little help from the offense and both of La Salle’s touchdowns came off a short field.
Coming off a tight season-opening 13-6 win over Council Rock South, it’s the Pennsbury offense that once again struggled. But even here it figured it would take some time for this unit to come around as a rebuilt line gets it together and the team must learn to compensate for the loss of graduated home-run hitter Charles Snorweah.
Playing at the Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School, Pennsbury stopped La Salle the first three times the Explorers had the ball and looked to be in business when it recovered a fumble on its own 42 yard line. Three running plays and a Mike Alley bomb that was nearly caught came up empty, however, and from there La Salle was able to take the lead on a 50-yard drive capped by a 18-yard pass from Chris Ferguson to Nick Rinella.
Pennsbury actually looked pretty good throwing the ball at times and nearly struck right before the half when Alley hooked up with tight end Vinnie Ratamess on a 46-yard pass to the La Salle 15.
But once again Pennsbury came up empty with the clock running down late in the second quarter and its best chance to score was gone.
The insurance touchdown came in the third quarter and once again La Salle needed to go only 50 yards to score. This time La Salle got the ball off a fumble and six plays later Sy Madden reached the end zone on a 6-yard burst up the middle.
La Salle nearly got a third touchdown, but Pennsbury’s defense continued to play with pride and produced a goal line stand at the end of the third quarter. With Alley completing three passes, Pennsbury then put together a long drive into La Salle territory before once again stalling out in the final two minutes.
It was a loss, but a very respectable one in a game few people expected Pennsbury to win in the first place.
LaSalle 14, Pennsbury 0
(Sept. 11 at Plymouth-Whitemarsh)
Pennsbury (1-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
LaSalle (2-0) 0 7 7 0 – 14
L-Rinella 18 pass from Ferguson (Savage kick)
L-Madden 6 run (Savage kick)
By RICK FORTENBAUGH
@RickFort7 on Twitter
FAIRLESS HILLS – It was flat-out ugly at times, but there was certainly no shortage of high drama in Friday night’s season opener between the Council Rock South and Pennsbury football teams
Playing in front of a huge opening-night crowd at Falcon Field, Pennsbury just held off Rock South, 13-6, with the help of two goal line stands.
One came at the end of the first half and the other came at the end of the fourth quarter after Vince Bedesem’s gutsy Golden Hawks had seemed finished just a minute earlier.
Both teams came out of this one contemplating their many mistakes, but for Pennsbury, the bottom line is it picked up a crucial win when you consider it will face a very difficult task when it travels to LaSalle next Friday night. Throw in the treacherous waters that await in the Suburban One National League and the last thing any of its teams can afford is an 0-2 start.
Two things were apparent throughout the evening.
One is the points are not going to come as easily for Pennsbury this year following an incredible season that produced a 13-2 record, a third straight league title and a district championship.
Not that it was any great secret, but the other is Council Rock South is the real deal.
In fact, in some ways, you could say Pennsbury was more lucky than good because it was Rock South that had the better of the play for much of the evening.
The bad breaks for the Hawks started right away as they opened the game with a drive into Falcon territory, only to turn it over on the first of their many fumbles. Pennsbury took advantage right away when scat-back Zeek Kershaw scored his first varsity TD on a 24-yard sprint around right end.
Rock South replied with its only touchdown of the game by roaring down the field and reaching the end zone on a 5-yard run by Brendan Patterson. The key play in this drive was a fourth-down, hook-and-lateral play that went 20 yards.
In the second quarter, Rock South self destructed once again by fumbling the ball on its 43. Once again, Pennsbury cashed in as Rob Daly was just able to extend the ball into the corner of the end zone on a 7-yard run.
Although nobody could have realized it at the time, that was the end of the offense, for both teams. You can credit the lack of scoring to both defenses for really stepping up and both offenses for continuing to make mistakes.
The first half ended with the first Pennsbury goal line stand after a Rock South drive that started at its own 13 yard line reached the Falcon 1-yard line. Four straight running plays, however, failed to get it done as Pennsbury jubilantly ran off the field as time expired,
The third quarter was a mess as Rock South again fumbled while Pennsbury fumbled itself and also then hiked a snap way over punter Mike Alley’s head. Set up at the Pennsbury 21, Rock South once again came up short and was sacked twice.
Led by the hard running of bruising fullback Chris Rupprecht, who finished with over 100 yards, Pennsbury put together an 87-yard drive that chewed up nearly the entire fourth quarter. But this time it was Rock South that produced the goal line stand, giving the Hawks the ball on their own 6 yard line with a little over three minutes remaining.
Amazingly, Rock South quarterback Shaun Stackhouse hit five straight passes as his team moved the ball to the Pennsbury 7-yard line in less than a minute. At this point, it surely seemed Rock South would reach the end zone.
Guess again. Pennsbury’s defense again came up huge and the Falcons had survived their long-standing tradition of not playing well offensively on opening night.
Pennsbury 13, Council Rock South 6
(Sept. 4 at Pennsbury)
CR South (0-1) 6 0 0 0 — 6
Pennsbury (1-0) 6 7 0 0 — 13
P — Kershaw 24 run (kick failed)
CRS — Patterson 5 run (kick failed)
P — Daly 7 run (Sanelli kick)