FOOTBALL: Rams resilience led to repeat

Senior+Nick+Teets+scored+two+touchdowns+in+Spring-Ford%27s+27-13+victory+over+Perkiomen+Valley+on+Sept.+25.+

Eshika Seth / Photography Editor

Senior Nick Teets scored two touchdowns in Spring-Ford’s 27-13 victory over Perkiomen Valley on Sept. 25.

John Zawislak, Sports Editor

After taking home the Pioneer Athletic Conference title last year, the Rams looked to repeat as champs for the first time since the 1994-1995 seasons.

They were able to do just that behind a perfect 5-0 campaign in the PAC.

Spring-Ford showed perseverance and determination through these unprecedented COVID-19 times, all throughout the season that saw the Rams go 6-1 and reach the District One semifinals.

The journey to the PAC crown and district playoffs was not easy.

In past years, the team was able to have a ton of practice time, and other team bonding to really mesh together as a group, but due to the pandemic the Rams missed out on almost all of their spring and summer practices.

“We missed spring practice, most of our summer, team camp, and other interaction,” head coach Chad Brubaker said. “In fact, our first interaction with another team was our opening game vs. (Perkiomen Valley), so it was difficult.”

Missing out on all of these practices and team bonding exercises is tough, but Brubaker told the team to stay ready because everyone else was going through the same problems,

“Everyone was in the same position, though, so it was just a matter of squeezing in as much learning as we could in the time that we had,” Brubaker said.

Although there were doubts about the possibility of staging a season early in the summer, the Rams stayed positive and continued to train safely in the offseason.

“From the first day, despite all of the impending negativity, I remained positive about having some semblance of a season and tried to communicate that to the players,” Brubaker said. “Our guys bought in and did a tremendous job of staying positive in a climate of uncertainty.”

The Rams opened against PAC rival Perkiomen Valley. Typically a matchup saved for the end of the season, both coaches consulted their players and felt it was integral to get this game in with the uncertainty of the season.

“We kept that as the opening game knowing that if something went wrong down the road, at least we would have played that game,” Brubaker said.

In the highly anticipated opener, the Rams were able to dominate, especially on the defensive side in a 27-13 triumph. On the defensive line, junior Donnie Nicoline and senior DJ Francis led the way. Coming up with huge plays to stall the Vikings’ offense, the two upperclassmen foreshadowed the enormous impact they would have on the season in its entirety after their strong performances in this opener. Offensively, the Rams’ leaned on junior running back Harry Adieyefeh, who rushed for 184 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams would go on to win their next four games defeating Boyertown 49-13, Upper Perk 55-0, Methacton 21-0, and Owen J. 28-0 to clinch their second straight PAC Championship. Winning back-to-back championships is tough in any division, but in the PAC it is especially tough because of the many high-stake rivalries. Winning back-to-back championships was something Brubaker really stressed.

“It is the first back-to-back league titles for Spring-Ford since 94-95,” he said. “It is not easy to win league titles, so it is special.”

Spring-Ford was limited to only one non-conference game this year against Cumberland Valley. This was an incredibly large game for the Rams and the players were well aware of the stakes.  With a win, they would be 6-0 and secure their place in the reduced four-team district tournament. With a loss, they would lose their control of their own destiny and be counting on other teams’ results. Spring-Ford played a hard-fought game and was able to come out on top, 20-14, to clinch a spot in the district semifinals.

At districts, second-seeded Spring-Ford faced the third-seeded Souderton in the semifinals, a game where the Rams seemed to be out of it at halftime. They were able to climb all the way back, though, thanks to a blocked punt touchdown, a Gage Swanger kickoff return touchdown, and a receiving touchdown by Zach Zollers. But it simply wasn’t enough as Rams lost 27-24 to end their exciting season.

This season is one that many of the players and coaches will not forget. The senior class kept their heads held high and stayed positive to keep everyone on track to achieve the goals.

“Our senior class did an excellent job of staying positive and leading players, especially about things that extended beyond football,” Brubaker said. “Collectively, they were able to keep the underclassmen on track and keep forging ahead. Players always remember their senior year and this season will be one that they’ll have a lot to talk about at their future reunions.”