ROYERSFORD - Spring-Ford enjoyed a fantastic football season last fall under head coach Chad Brubaker.
The Rams advanced all the way to the District 1 Class AAAA finals before succumbing to former Ches-Mont League rival Coatesville, which wound up as the state runner-up to North Allegheny.
Now, six of those Rams who received numerous accolades and helped make all the achievements possible have announced they will be playing at the next level in college.
Tight end Zameer McDowell, defensive end RJ Sheldon, offensive lineman Mike Gilmore, quarterback Hank Coyne, running back Yousef Lundi and offensive lineman Justin Meals will be playing in the collegiate ranks.
McDowell will be lining up for California (Pa.), Sheldon at Bucknell, Gilmore at Kutztown, Coyne at Juniata, Lundi at Millersville and Meals at Wesley (Del.).
The Ram gridders announced their choices during a press briefing last Wednesday evening at the senior high school. Parents and other family members were on hand for the selections.
McDowell, a 6-5, 220-pounder, starred at tight end and defensive end for the Rams. He will be playing offense in college. McDowell also starred for the Spring-Ford boys basketball team during his career and finished his years as a 1,000-point scorer on the court. McDowell established a Spring-Ford school record in basketball by scoring 44 points in a contest against Phoenixville.
“It was how the season went really well,” McDowell said of which sport to pursue. “I thought I would probably do better with football.”
McDowell made honorable mention All-State as well as first team All-Pioneer Athletic Conference as a defensive end and second team All-PAC-10 as a tight end.
“I liked most about the football program was that over time we were pretty good,” said McDowell. “We won a lot of games.”
McDowell plans to study business management.
He feels catching the ball in traffic with his good hands is his biggest asset as a football player.
“I liked how whenever we went out to play, we were expected to win,” said McDowell. “It was a fun experience to make it to the (district) championship game, even though we didn’t win.”
McDowell also considered Bloomsburg and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) as possible colleges.
McDowell said the skills he developed in basketball as a rebounder going for the ball also assisted him in making difficult receptions during football season. However, the transition from football season to basketball season, he said, was difficult because he was out of conditioning shape to run up and down the floor for hoops.
Sheldon, a 6-3, 205-pounder, has been an exceptional football player, swimmer and baseball player at Spring-Ford, which is a unique combination for any student-athlete. Also outstanding in the classroom, Sheldon felt Bucknell in Lewisburg, Pa., was the right fit for him. He plans to major in engineering.
RJ is the son of Sue and Rich Sheldon.
“Obviously, academics were my main priority,” said Sheldon. “Bucknell definitely has that. I also felt at home there. I liked it when I went up there and felt it was the right fit for me.”
Sheldon was a tight end, defensive end and punter for the Rams, and he will be playing defense for the Bison. Sheldon earned third team All-State honors as well as first team all-league honors at defensive end as well as the PAC-10’s Joseph Edwards Scholarship Award.
Defensively this past fall, Sheldon made 41 tackles with 11 hurries, three fumbles cause and three fumbles recoverede as well as a league-high seven sacks. On offense, Sheldon had 23 catches for 359 yards and three touchdowns.
He said he will not be joining the swim team at Bucknell, but offered that the team does utilize swimming in some of its workouts.
“It’s really been a good accomplishment,” Sheldon said. “The work definitely paid off for four years. We did what no team has ever done and showed that we could compete out of the league. We beat outside teams. We showed we could this year.”
Sheldon also looked at smaller schools in making his decision, but he made the decision to attend a bigger site like Bucknell about a month ago.
Sheldon is a Spring-Ford school record-holder in two events in swimming. He has played infield and pitched for the baseball team. He had bigger numbers during summer Senior American Legion baseball for the Chester County League’s Spring City Red Sox, where he posted a 4-0 mound record in 21 innings pitched with a 1.71 earned run average, 27 strikeouts and limited batters to a .162 on-base average.
Gilmore, a 6-3, 245-pound lineman, has been a letterwinner in football and track & field for the Rams. He was a first team all-league offensive lineman.
“I love the campus,” said Gilmore about Kutztown. “It was the kind of school where I left I felt it was the place where I like it here. That was a big factor.
“The previous year we won, and I had a great time in the program. I lked the way we turned things around.”
Gilmore plans to focus on biology or psychology in college.
He thinks he may have to bulk up in order to play offensive tackle in college so he may have to start out at guard until he adds some more weight to his frame with weightlifting.
“It (success) really reflects the hard work we put in and I did more to help us win,” said Gilmore. “It was a great way to end it. We got close to something.”
Gilmore has participated for two years at Spring-Ford after the family moved here from the southern Wisconsin area.
Mike is the son of Robert and Celeste Gilmore.
Coyne, a 6-2, 180-pounder, was the PAC-10’s first team quarterback as a senior and was voted Offensive MVP for his record-setting passing statistics while directing the Rams to the district finals. Coyne set records for touchdown passes and passing yards for the Rams and was named Opposing Player of the Year.
He received all-state recognition, was a Mini-Maxwell Award winner and Touchdown Club winner as well as a varsity team captain.
Hank is the son of Hank and Linda Coyne. The younger Coyne is also a baseball player at Spring-Ford and also played basketball as a freshman. Coyne guided the Rams to the PAC-10 football title as a junior while garnering more honors.
He feels his passing abilities will continue for Juniata’s offense, where Will Lawing is the offensive coordinator. Juniata runs a similar offense to SF, which should enhance Coyne’s skills.
“I fell in love with the campus,” said Coyne. “It is a tight-knit community so there is a comfort level. I liked what the coaches had to offer. They didn’t beat around the bushes. I want to play all four years. I have that opportunity to compete.”
Juniata has not had much success on the gridiron in recent years, but Coyne hopes to be part of a turnabout, the way he was under Brubaker at Spring-Ford.
Coyne plans to study biness and Spanish in college.
Hank’s father, the offensive line coach at Owen J. Roberts, also attended Juniata. There are relatives some 90 minutes away, too, so he figures he will feel right at home.
Lundi, a 6-0, 20-pounder, picked Millersville for academics with his plans to study nursing. He also looked at IUP and Albright.
“It is a very nice campus, a nice place to be, not too close and not too far,” said Lundi.
Millersville is in a building process and Lundi wants to be part of that growth.
Running track has enabled Lundi to stay in shape year-round and accelerate his speed and quickness.
“I keep my feet up and that helps my foot speed,” he said.
Meals, a 6-2, 270-pounder, will continue his blocking in the offensive line at Wesley.
“It is a small-school environment and the football team has definitely had success in the last 10 years,” said Meals. “I like the environment around there a lot.”
Meals plans to study business and figures he will be playing an offensive guard position.
He also looked at Albright and Delaware Valley.
Wesley utilizes the run and pass so Meals figures he will be in much of the same blocking schemes he was at Spring-Ford.
“They run a lot of shotgun,” said Meals.
“We did a lot. We set standards for years to come for other teams. We let people know who we are outside the PAC-10. We proved them wrong and beat those teams.”