By Jake Hallman
RED HILL — There was no new offensive scheme to learn, and nothing out of the ordinary to expect from Upper Perkiomen’s defense. But for some reason, Phoenixville quarterback Chris Demey said he felt added pressure heading into Friday night’s Pioneer Athletic Conference game at Upper Perk.
Maybe it had something to do with the extra attention the senior has been garnering as the league’s most efficient quarterback, or the two wins he helped guide his team to before last Friday night.
Whatever the case, those additional nerves didn’t seem to bother the 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior. No, Demey looked calm and collective as he guided the Phantoms to a 49-20 victory over the Indians to keep his team in the District 1-AAA playoff hunt.
Mind you, Demey’s numbers weren’t all the gaudy, but his efficient 12 of 18 passing for 105 yards was a big key to Phoenixville’s 23 first downs, and a balanced catalyst to offset a ground game that racked up 360 yards.
“I really didn’t feel any extra pressure from the coaches or anything, but I was more nervous because of the attention I got this week,” Demey said. “But it was just a normal game. My confidence level has been getting higher each week and the coaching staff has more confidence in me.”
Demey helped out on the ground as he rushed seven times for 63 yards, including a three-yard touchdown that gave the Phantoms a 14-0 edge in the first quarter.
“Chris is playing better each week. He makes good decisions,” said Phantoms head coach Bill Furlong. “And I like that he’s conservative, he doesn’t go for the big plays unless they’re there, he doesn’t force things and plays within himself.”
Demey and company needed a level approach as the Phantoms (5-2, 6-3) took a slim, 14-7 lead into halftime against a determined Tribe (0-8, 0-9). But the Phantoms rebounded quite nicely in the second half thanks to some good field position as they rattled off 29 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters before Upper Perk added a score with 16 ticks left.
Ryan Yenchick (16 carries, 117 yards, 3 TDs) shared a big hand in that flurry as two of his scores came in the second half. Rahim Beasley added a 32-yard reverse for a score, Ryan Pannella added a one-yard romp and Brian Madden scored from 21 yards out to put the Phantoms ahead 49-13 with five minutes left in regulation.
“Our defense had some nice plays, a couple of times we didn’t but that’s a credit to coach Moyer and Upper Perk,” Furlong said. “They’re fighters and scrappy, we didn’t expect them to give up after watching film of them and they certainly didn’t tonight.”
Upper Perk got a monster game out of Mr. Reliable Aidan Schaffer. The junior running back turned in his best effort of the season as he rushed 16 times for 249 yards and a score in just three quarters of action as cramps kept him sidelined in the final quarter. His first carry went for 73 yards as he later added a 76-yard score on a counter in the third quarter.
The Indians also got a big effort from Travis Kline, who pulled in three passes, two of which went for scores, for 103 yards. Senior quarterback Dylan Wesley finished 10 of 21 for 170 yards and two scores.
“We played well the first half, but in the second half we just started to fall apart,” said head coach Steve Moyer. “But the kids played hard in the first half; in the second half you could see we started to run out of gas as some of our kids got cramps and we were forced to put some young guys on the field. But we will have one more shot at it next week.”
Yenchick opened the scoring with a one-yard run on the Phantoms’ first drive, and Demey added a three-yard score of his own on the Phantoms’ next touch. Upper Perk responded before the half as Kline pulled down a Wesley pass and raced 64 yards to the end zone untouched to cut the deficit in half.
The Phantoms went back to work in the second half as a bad snap gave them the ball on the Upper Perk 9 to set up Yenchick’s second score. Schaffer answered with his 76-yard scamper to make it 20-7, but touchdowns from Beasly, Yenchick, Pannella and Madden put things out of reach for Upper Perk. Kline helped close the gap as he scored on a fade from Wesley for a 35-yard score with 16 seconds left and the mercy clock running.
The Phantoms’ defense got a boost with picks from Beasley and Sean Hesser, as well as a sack from Tom White and tackles for a loss from Madden and Pannella. Upper Perk’s defense was paced by Dan Heinrichs and Justin Crossley, who each had a tackle for a loss.
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Photos: 2012 BMI Country Awards
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