During training camp back in August, Spring-Ford football coach Chad Brubaker felt pretty strongly that his team's performance over the first three weeks would provide a good barometer what kind of season it would be for the Rams.
"I thought we needed to come out of it at least 2-1,' he said.
That goal appeared to be in jeopardy after Spring-Ford stumbled out of the gate in a 38-21 loss at Whitehall, but back-to-back victories — highlighted by last week's breakout 14-7 win over highly touted Perkiomen Valley — look to have the Rams back on track.
Boyertown coach Mark Scisly, meanwhile, almost assuredly would have taken a 2-1 start as well, given the fact the Bears won just three games all of last year.
Tonight, the Rams and Bears clash at BASH Memorial Stadium in an intriguing Pioneer Athletic Conference matchup.
Spring-Ford (1-0, 2-1) will try and continue to build on its momentum, while Boyertown (1-1, 2-1) hopes to bounce back from a 48-10 thrashing at the hands of Methacton last week.
The Rams — who face defending league champ Pottsgrove next week — can't afford to be looking past the Bears, according to Brubaker.
"Boyertown has some imposing linemen, and we're not very big up front,' Brubaker said. "It's going to be a challenge for us. We have to go there, and that's a tough place to play. We have to be focused.'
Adding to Brubaker's concerns is the fact the Rams will have to make due without one of his top offensive weapons, versatile senior Tate Carter, likely out for the rest of the season after Carter suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of last week's game.
"First and foremost you feel bad for the kids when that happens,' said Brubaker, who lost two-way line stalwart Zach Dorsey to a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. "I'm most disappointed for Tate, and it's the same with Zach. They both put a lot of time in during the offseason, and were really looking forward to this season. We have to have guys that can step up (to fill those voids) and we're going to try to figure it out.'
Despite some lineup shuffling, the Rams have been able to figure out things pretty well defensively. Alec Vagnozzi moved from linebacker to defensive end to tackle, and picked up two sacks in last week's victory. Matt Daywalt, who shifted from linebacker to defensive end, recovered a game-sealing fumble late in the fourth quarter. And Jake Leahy (defensive end to linebacker) and Connor Murphy (safety to linebacker) have also made quick position transitions.
"Defensively, we've learned a lot about our kids,' Brubaker said.
On the other side of the ball, Brubaker is still seeking a few answers. Though feature back Jarred Jones has been the real deal (rushing for 302 yards and four TDs in two games) and wide receiver Gary Hopkins is developing as a big-play target, the quarterback situation is still in flux. Brubaker said he will start junior Brandon Leacraft at QB against the Bears.
"I had hoped we'd be settled on the quarterback situation by now,' Brubaker said. "Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy because no one that's played there has done well enough for me to say, ' This is his job.'
"We need to start jelling offensively and get the ball to the right people offensively. And we have to improve on the offensive line, which was a big problem last week.'
The Bears had some big problems of their own last week, most notably in the defense, turnover and penalty departments. They allowed a Methacton squad that had averaged just 6.5 points over its first two games to erupt for its highest scoring output in five years while committing four turnovers.
"We didn't come to play and it showed,' Scisly said. "Methacton had a lot to do with that, but we've got to play better and more physical and come ready to play.'
Boyertown features the area's top rusher in 6-foot, 190-pound senior Cody Richmond, who has amassed 427 yards and five TDs. Last week, Richmond toted the ball 35 times for 158 yards, though Scisly said he would like to see a more balanced effort offensively.
"We need some guys to step up and take the pressure off Cody,' Scisly said. "We need other people to step up and make plays.'
Quarterback Griffin Pasik has thrown for 383 yards and three TDs while running for 165 yards and three more scores; running back Eric Heller has 243 rushing yards and five TDs; and wideout Nick Brough has nine receptions for 180 yards and one TD for the Bears, who racked up a combined 107 points in victories over C.B. East and Upper Perkiomen over the first two weeks.
"They did a lot of good things over the first two weeks,' Brubaker said of the Bears. "And that Methacton game was a little closer than the score indicated.'
For his part, Scisly hopes last week was more of an aberration.
"We need to limit big plays,' said Scisly. "They killed us in the first half last week.
"Offensively, we're going to have to move the ball and be physical up front.'
Whatever the case, someone will improve to 3-1 as either the Rams maintain their surge or the Bears rebound.
AROUND THE AREA
It will be Military Appreciation Night tonight at Pottsgrove, where the Falcons play host to Methacton. Veterans and service members receive free admission. Phoenixville will hold its Military Appreciation Night next Friday when the Phantoms play host to Pope John Paul II. ... Pottsgrove's average of 52.3 points per game ranks first in all of District 1 and fifth in the state. ... Spring-Ford's Jarred Jones is 263 rushing yards shy of 3,000 for his career.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
Bristol rolled up 652 yards of total offense Sunday night against New Hope-Solebury — and still lost 35-32. ... There will be "Friday Night Lights' at Lower Merion's Arnold Field for just the second time in more than a half-century tonight when the Aces play host to Penncrest. The lone other Friday night game at Lower Merion (the only school in the Central League that doesn't host night contests) came in 2007 against Harriton. ... In a couple of battles between unbeatens tonight, Abington visits Council Rock North and Pennridge travels to Academy Park.
Wilson will seek its 500th victory in program history tonight against McCaskey. The Bulldogs, who began playing football in 1945, have the second-longest active streak of consecutive non-losing seasons in a row (beginning in 1964). Only Ridley has a longer streak (which began in 1955). ... York, which faces Northeastern tonight, is also one win shy of 500. ... Archbishop Wood and West Catholic square off tonight in a high-profile battle of 3-0 squads. Wood is ranked No. 2 in the Pennsylvania Football News Class AAA state poll; West Catholic is ranked fourth in Class AA.
Danikeei Hollowell of Escambia (Fla.) High ran for 446 yards and five TDs in a 70-54 victory over Rutherford last week to set a school record. Escambia is the alma mater of Emmitt Smith and Trent Richardson. ... Landon North of Riverton (Kan.) broke the state single-game receiving yardage record with 326 yards in a loss to Girard. ... Brendan Finch of Swartz Creek (Mich.) set a state single-game passing yardage mark with 606 yards against Kearsley.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD