UPPER PROVIDENCE — Pottsgrove’s football team had a number of special honorees after recording an undefeated record in the Pioneer Athletic Conference this past fall.
The Falcons featured a number of all-league players on offense and defense as part of the 27th Annual All-Pioneer Athletic Conference Banquet by the Football Coaches Association Sunday afternoon at the RiverCrest Golf Club.
As it turns out, the Falcons also received another of the special awards that were presented.
Dan Harp received the prestigious David L. Freed Award for team sportsmanship.
“It is really an honor,” said Harp. “I was really shocked when I got it. Coach (Rick) Pennypacker pulled me aside a couple weeks ago and told me to be at this banquet because I was going to be getting this. I am really honored to get it.”
Harp played on the special teams for Pottsgrove. But he was honored for qualities such as dedication, continuous self-improvement, team success over individual statistics, self-discipline, coachability, loyalty to coaches and teammates and unquestioning faith.
The Freed Award is presented in memory of a former Spring-Ford lineman who died from injuries suffered in a practice machine incident back in 1975. Spring-Ford athletic director Mickey McDaniel talked about Freed before Pottsgrove athletic director Gary DeRenzo spoke about Harp’s resume.
“He put team goals ahead of individual goals in everything he did for us,” said Pennypacker. “He is a hard worker and has all the qualities of David Freed.”
“Mostly I was a team player and we played as a team,” said Harp. “I was shocked. I just go out and practice when I need to and try to get better every day.”
Harp is also a top student in the classroom and remains active at his church, New Hanover United Methodist in Gilbertsville. He also takes part on missions to assist underprivileged people in areas such as West Virginia, Long Beach Island in New Jersey and this summer he is headed for Rhode Island. He attended the Harvey Cedars Bible College Conference this past weekend.
Harp plans to attend Millersville University to study meteorology and mathematics and will continue to do youth work on the side. At Pottsgrove, Harp takes several Advanced Placement courses such as chemistry, calculus and physics.
“I like the challenge,” he said. “I don’t like to take the easy way out.”
Harp lined up as a wide receiver and linebacker at times during his career with the Falcons. But mostly he spent time on all four kick return teams to start the 2012 season and by the end he was a member of the punt return and kick return teams only.
“He never complained, never sulked and never once did he question his coaches for their decisions,” read DeRenzo on behalf of Pennypacker. “In fact, he did just the opposite. He was always positive, jumped on to every scout team, either offense or defense. He was the last senior on the field every night after practice putting away the bags into the field shed.”
Pottsgrove had its cast of stars this year with quarterback Tory Hudgins, running back Mark Dukes and lineman Madison O’Connor.
“But if you would ask any one of our assistant coaches, Dan Harp is as valuable to our team as any starter,” DeRenzo continued.
Other special award recipients were: Joseph Edwards Scholarship, Spring-Ford’s R.J. Sheldon; Bill Rogers Lineman of the Year, Pottsgrove’s Madison O’Connor; Offensive Player of the Year, Spring-Ford quarterback Hank Coyne; Defensive Player of the Year, Phoenixville linebacker Ryan Pannella; Two-Way Player of the Year, Perkiomen Valley quarterback/defensive back Rasaan Stewart; and Most Valuable Player, Pottsgrove quarterback Tory Hudgins.
Spring-Ford coach Chad Brubaker talked about Sheldon, who doubled as a defensive end and tight end for the Rams, who advanced to the District 1-AAAA finals before falling to eventual state runner-up Coatesville. Sheldon is also a three-sport student athlete in football, swimming and baseball. He has been a District 1 swimming qualifier for three years. He ranks 67th in a senior class of 572 students at Spring-Ford this year and also scored 1,240 on his SAT.
Sheldon plans to study engineering in college. He also serves as a volunteer in swimming, football and baseball, was a Limerick mentor and was also voted Homecoming King by his classmates.
Rogers, who is fighting cancer, has been coaching football for 55 years at various schools in the area. Before that, he was a standout lineman for the old Royersford High School under the legendary Robert “Coach” McNelly before advancing to play at Ursinus College.
Rogers served as a head coach for 16 years and an assistant for 39 at Pottstown and the former St. Pius X and was an assistant at Daniel Boone, Valley Forge and Exeter.
“For the last four years, he has coached our quarterbacks,” said Pottstown coach Brett Myers. “He loved the game and kids.”
Rogers was represented by his wife, Norma Jean, and four children, Drew, Doug, Dean and Allison.
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Boyertown, Matthew Moccia; Methacton, Chris He; Owen J. Roberts, Paul Perreault; Perkiomen Valley, Robert Thacker; Phoenixville, Brian Hyland; Pope John Paul II, Chris DiLeva; Pottsgrove, Zach Birch; Pottstown, Andrew Gazzillo; Spring-Ford, Benjamin Schein; and Upper Perkiomen, Quinn Perlstein.