Phantoms beat Exeter for first grid victory

PHOENIXVILLE - Scholastic football is loaded with players who make up for a lack of physical size with their extensive heart, toughness and desire to play the game.

Phoenixville features a couple of players who fill that job description perfectly. Senior Sean Hesser, who played along the defensive line last year, is now starting at running back and defensive back. He stands 5-foot-7 and is listed at 155 pounds.

Phantom senior teammate Brian Madden plays fullback and inside linebacker as a 5-7, 145-pounder. He also saw a lot of playing time last year as the Phantoms made their run to the District 1-AAA championship game.

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Hesser and Madden were two of the Phantoms many standout players during Friday nights 28-20 non-league victory over Exeter from the Berks County League as Phoenixville celebrated Military Appreciation Night.

Phoenixville (1-1) scored at the end of the first half to go into intermission with a 14-14 tie against the Eagles and then went ahead in the third period on a 62-yard touchdown pass and run from Chris Demey to Ryan Yenchick off a fake punt call. Hesser scored two touchdowns on the night on runs of 7 and 47 yards and and closed the evening with 91 yards on just five carries.

It feels great, said Hesser, who also had a tackle for loss on defense. We came out and played real hard. We all put a lot of effort into it. This was a game for the community and we had to do it big.

Phoenixville quarterback Chris Demey completed all six of his pass attempts for 168 yards, including a 76-yarder to tight end Ryan Pannella to put the Phantoms on the scoreboard first on their second play from scrimmage. Demey also showed he could run the football as he picked up 46 yards on 13 tries.

Pannella caught three passes for 102 yards and also made 10 tackles on defense from his inside linebacker position. Justin McDougal saw his first rushing action of the season and picked up 45 yards on 12 attempts as the Phantoms finished with 213 yards rushing and 381 yards of total offense with the help of solid blocking of their offensive line of center Tom White, tackles Brian Hyland and Ryan Gyuris and guards Paul Hossler and Colin Mea.

Exeter (1-1) stayed in the game with the running of senior quarterback Kyle Yocum, a 6-4, 220-pound Delaware recruit, who rushed 18 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Matt Connelly added 118 yards on 11 plays, including a 61-yard TD run on a pitch around the right side with 5:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. The placement failed, leaving the Phantoms with a 21-20 lead at that point in the contest.

We knew going in at halftime tied that we had a little bit of momentum, said Hesser. We had to keep up the great blocking and keep it up running it down their throats.

It is tough being a two-way starter for the first year, said Hesser. I give it my all. I do it for my team. I cant let them down. I keep my pace up and keep going hard.

I have been a running back all my life. In PMYC (Phoenixville Marian Youth Club) my coaches told me to run low because I am not that big. I continue to run hard. That is how I have played all my life. I know that I am a small kid, but I play big like a big kid.

It was a good game, said Phoenixville coach Bill Furlong. The kids played very hard. They played with a lot of enthusiasm and passion. I thought that was one of the key differences.

Furlong also praised the Eagles for a solid effort as well as many of his own players. Hossler, for instance, is a 6-1, 210-pound junior who saw little time last year but has now worked his way up to a two-way starter at left guard offense and at defensive tackle.

Demey did a great job, Furlong continued. He is really developing. We knew he could pass the ball, but he helped us running the ball. He kept us going on drives and did a nice job.

Yocum talked about his Exeter ballclub that won its opener 42-0 over Ephrata while the Phantoms fell to Great Valley, 26-13.

They (Phantoms) just outplayed us on every snap, said Yocum. They played like they wanted to win and we didnt do that. Next week we have to crawl out and back up and play where we were as a county championship team. We got complacement and you cant do that against this football team. Our heads were high and they had had a chip on their shoulder after losing last week. They wanted it more than we did.

NOTES

Phoenixville defensive back Kyle Karkoska intercepted a pass on the final play of the first half. ... Phantom sophomore outside linebacker Zack Gallow made six tackles, teaming with Hesser on one for a loss. ... Phoenixville started PAC-10 play next Friday night at home against Methacton.