HARLEYSVILLE - Before the beginning of the summer, Perkiomen Valley golf coach Doug Simonds was hoping that his team could just make this season's Pioneer Athletic Conference Final Four playoffs.
Then he found out that five or six of his players had joined Ravens Claw golf course, the site for the Vikings' home matches, and suddenly there was reason for optimism.
As it turned out, Perk Valley easily made the league playoffs - losing only to Boyertown on the road during the regular schedule - and the Vikings topped off an improbable rise to the championship Thursday afternoon with a 242-244 victory over Boyertown at Lederach Golf Club. The match was shortened to 11 holes, instead of the scheduled 12, due to darkness.
Alex Patterson turned in the best score for the winners with a two-over par total of 46 and all of the five scoring players for PV shot 50 or less. The Bears were not without their bright spots as Mike Heidler turned in the low score of the day with a 42, and Zach McCormick shot a hole-in-one on the 151-yard seventh hole.
"I'm so impressed with these guys," said Simonds, who thought he'd be in for a tough road after his team graduated five starting players from last year's squad that missed out on the playoffs on a tie-breaker. "Honestly, I thought before the summer I was just hoping we would make the playoffs. When summer came and I found out we had five or six players who joined Ravens Claw, my hopes went up."
Alex Patterson said that J.D. Cooney joined Ravens Claw first, then he joined and several other players followed suit.
"That was a lot of help," sophomore Patterson said. "We were undefeated at home, so it was smart."
The Vikings' only loss during the regular season was by seven strokes on the undefeated Bears' home course at Twin Ponds, so there was certainly a feeling on the part of the Perk Valley players and coaches that they at least had a shot at taking the title.
"We lost a close match at Twin Ponds," said Simonds. "I thought at a neutral site, we had a shot. They came off a 236 at Twin Ponds (in Tuesday's semifinals), and we played awful against Upper Perk. But being at a neutral site, if the guys were on their game, we had a chance."
"At their course, we lost, but this is a neutral course," said Alex Patterson. "I just wanted to play my best, and I thought we could probably beat them by two to five. I was putting well, striking my irons well. I didn't really have any faults in my game today. What really boosted me was I had an eagle on three."
The championship loss was the second straight close one for the Bears, who dropped a one-stroke decision to Owen J. Roberts last year.
"I think Boyertown has handled themselves with class all year long," said Simonds. "The kids are super. We've had good matches with them. They've been very collegial."
Boyertown coach Mark Takacs was understandably disappointed by the tough loss, and not really happy with having to play the championship round at Lederach.
"I just feel sorry for the kids," he said. "I knew coming in that this was not the venue for the PAC-10 championships. Hats off to Perk Valley. They had some great scores. But I'm disappointed for the kids. We went 30-6 and have nothing to show for it. You want to take the course aspect out of play."
Takacs said he had found out just a week ago that the final would be at Lederach, instead of last year's site at Blackwood or Gilbertsville, the home of the league's individual championships.
"That (the championship course) should have been etched in stone," he said. "If you walk this course and actually play this course, it's not a venue for high school kids."
NOTES ... Some of the Boyertown players had practiced at Lederach on Wednesday. ... The Vikings (12-2) had lost a non-league, nine-hole match by two strokes to host Souderton there earlier in the season. ... Patterson eagled the par-five, 558-yard third hole. ... Some of the players had started the par-five, 628-yard 12th hole when play was halted at around 6:30 p.m.