SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TOP 10
1. LaSalle College (Wyndmoor)
(3-1: Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 1.)
2. Ridley (Folsom)
(4-0: Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 2.)
3. Archbishop Wood (Warminster)
(4-0: Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 3.)
4. North Penn (Lansdale)
(3-1: Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 7.)
5. Neshaminy (Langhorne)
(4-0: Weeks rated: 1. Last Week: Unrated.)
6. Cardinal O'Hara (Springfield)
(4-0: Weeks rated: 3. Last Week: 9.)
7. West Catholic (Philadelphia)
(2-2. Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 10.)
8. Council Rock South (Holland)
(4-0. Weeks rated: 1. Last Week: Unrated.)
(4-0. Weeks rated: 1. Last Week: Unrated.)
(3-1: Weeks rated: 4. Last Week: 6.)
Excuse the quiet, subtle grin on Mark Scisly's face these days. It’s about the only thing revealing about the confidence the Boyertown coach has in his team.
That's because Scisly doesn't want his players to lose their grip on the larger picture — and Pioneer Athletic Conference (referred to as the PAC-10) championship.
Just three years ago, Boyertown, a 50-minute drive west of Philadelphia, was a program mired in a funk before Scisly arrived. The Bears were coming off a 1-11 season with what looked like dismal trails for the foreseeable future. Enter Scisly, who incorporated a stringent off-season program, made a major youth movement, and slowly built the Bears back toward respectability.
Boyertown was 5-7 in Scisly's first season as head coach in 2008 (losing their four league games by a combined 24 points), and the Bears went 6-6 last year. Now here they stand, 4-0, with their best start in school history since 1991, handing area power Pottsgrove its first PAC-10 defeat in three years, 34-28, on Sept. 17 after overcoming three deficits (7-0, 14-7, 21-14) to do so.
The Bears are large — actually very large — aggressive, fast and poised. Led by senior quarterback Dylan Pasik
, Boyertown has outscored its opponents 160-53, averaging 40 points a game. Pasik has been very efficient, throwing eight touchdown passes without an interception. Led by senior defensive back Tyler Mauger
, an all-PAC selection, the Bears' defense is giving up 13.2 points a game. They've caused seven turnovers (the Bears are a plus-four in that category), and they kept a highly explosive Pottsgrove team in check.
"I have a great group of kids," Scisly said. "We knew we had a good team coming in this year. We thought we matched up well with Pottsgrove and beating them was very big."
But Scisly also learned something valuable about the 2010 Boyertown Bears. "They don’t give up, they fight back," the coach said. "We were down 7-0, down 14-7, down 21-14 and we kept fighting back and fighting back. That's what I've been most impressed with. This team showed they have a lot of fight in them. But we can't get too caught up with Pottsgrove. We still have work to do. Our motto is to maintain focus and take it one game at a time. To win this league, it's going to take a lot of work. They're all gunning for us now."
But it seems as if the Bears are ready for it. In recent years, Boyertown was a team that would hang around, and depending on which Bears team showed up, Boyertown was capable of beating anyone. But it was always that little something, that impromtu penalty or missed assigment that always seemed to come back and bite them.
This Bears team is biting back.
"We all know the history," Mauger said. "I just feel that our attitude is so much better and we know that we can do things, both our offense and defense is very good. I don’t think people knew what we could do until we beat Pottsgrove. We shocked everyone, except ourselves. We have a lot of confidence right now and we've earned more respect. We've shown we can play."
Especially when you're working behind a lot of mass, like the Bears. Consider their offensive line: 6-6, 295-pound junior right guard Chris Muller
, who's already received offers from Pitt, Rutgers and Temple, as well as 6-2, 300-pound senior right tackle Jake Semple
, 6-9, 220-pound senior tight end Jake McKee
, 5-7, 230-pound senior center Tyler Bogert
, 5-11, 240-pound left guard Zach Paskel
and 6-1, 275-pound junior left tackle Tyler Boggs
Then tack on the speed of junior tailback Jared Von Dohren
(who averages 14 yards per carry), along with junior Jon Neiman
and senior Tom Froehlich
, and the Bears have a formidable offense that could send them to the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA playoffs for the second time in school history (the first time was in 2006, when the Bears lost in the first round).
"The last few years we were very close, we suffered a lot of close losses; and injuries really hurt us last year,” Scisly said. "This group knows the season has only begun. The PAC-10 is a tough league, and we still have a lot of good teams to play. But no one picked us to win the league, and the kids know that. They’re out to prove a lot of people wrong, I think. We beat Pottsgrove and we still may have some doubters out there. We'll just have to prove them wrong."
One month into the season and the Bears have sure scored well on the proving scale. In the meantime, Scisly will maintain his knowing grin — knowing just how good his team is and how much better they can be.Joseph Santoliquito covers high schools for the Philadelphia Daily News and is a contributor to MaxPreps.com. He can be contacted at JSantoliquito@yahoo.com.