SCHUYLKILL - Multiple awards were presented during the annual Phoenixville Area High School football luncheon Sunday, Jan. 27, at Calvary Bible Church.
The Phantoms reflected on their 7-5 season overall that included a second straight trip to the District 1-AAA playoffs. Phoenixville finished at 6-3 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference under head coach Bill Furlong, who marked his 10th year with the Phantoms.
Furlong was assisted in 2012 by Don Jackson, Jamie “Bubba” Gray, Nick Rotondo, Bill Thornton, Joe Bogus, Gary Rhodenbaugh, who were in attendance, as well as Dave Nester, Anthony Stavenski III, Ryan Howard, Nestor Acosta and Mark Ferko.
The 54-man roster included 13 senior players, 11 juniors, 17 sophomores and 13 freshmen.
Outgoing Parents Association president Chrissie Pannella gave the welcome. Dr. Craig Parkinson, Phoenixville High School principal, delivered remarks.
Versatile senior running back and defensive back Ryan Yenchick received the Most Valuable Player award as well as the Offensive Player of the Year for his 1,000-yard rushing season.
Senior inside linebacker Ryan Pannella received the Defensive Player of the Year award for the second straight season. Pannella, who was named PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year earlier, also received the Executioner Award for most tackles with 195 hits.
Special Teams award went to senior placekicker and punter Ian Harrigan, who became a first-team all-league selection in both football and soccer this fall.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award went to senior defensive lineman Kajhnel Norwood. The award for job well-done on at least 80 percent of plays ended in a tie between senior linemen Tom White and Brian Hyland. The Scout Team award went to sophomore Jason Waltman. The Knockdown Award belonged to White.
Sophomore outside linebacker Zack Gallow took home the Sack Award while two-way tackle Hyland received the Most Outstanding Lineman award. Paul Hossler, a junior offensive guard/defensive tackle, received the Most Improved Player award.
Brian Madden, an inside linebacker and fullback, earned the outstanding senior award. Cole Luzins, a wide receiver and defensive back, received the top junior honor, and Gallow was honored among sophomores. Matt Palubinsky represented the freshman class as a running back who Furlong said also played a big role as a scout team player during practice sessions for the varsity team.
Voting for awards was done by Phantom teammates.
The varsity players received letters while the junior varsity members received certificates of recognition. Gift jerseys and sweatshirts were presented to Phantom players.
Furlong praised the Phoenixville Parents Association for assuming numerous duties and expanding its involvement during his 10-year tenurse thus far.
“The interest has built,” said Furlong. “It is the reason we have built, and we have become a beacon for other teams to come and watch what we do. We don’t always agree at meetings, but we have always come together.
“The kids have worked really hard and the team has come a long way. These seniors had just three wins as sophomores. Many of them were called up to play as sophomores and took some lumps. We still have hills to climb, but we have become a district qualifier, which is hard to do, the most times in the PAC-10 behind only Pottsgrove.”
Furlong pointed out that this group finished undefeated as a ninth grade team. However, many members of that squad did not become members as seniors three years later.
“Some guys who did not play much on that team became two-way starters for us,” said Furlong. “They never gave up and stuck with it, and we made the playoffs for the second year in a row. Through football we learn lessons in life. Our theme this year was practice with a purpose and play with passion.”
Gift bags were presented to the coaches’ wives. ... Hyland, Pannella and Yenchick, the team’s captains, gave remarks and offered gag gifts to the coaches. ... Don Carter gave the invocations with Foresta’s Market providing the food. ... A highlight video was shown following the luncheon.