They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice.
Try telling that to Pioneer Athletic Conference football coaches who have faced Pottsgrove this season.
Falcons opponents have not only been zapped by the playmaking prowess of cornerback/wide receiver Michael Fowler, but they've also been struck by the big-play ability of tailback/defensive back Marquis Barefield.
The duo is a big reason Pottsgrove is off to a 5-0 start (4-0 in the PAC-10), with Fowler and Barefield each playing prominent roles in Friday's 14-7 victory over Spring-Ford.
Fowler, a 6-foot, 171-pound junior, caught the go-ahead touchdown pass in the third quarter and also provided blanket coverage on Spring-Ford receiving target Gary Hopkins.
Fowler held Hopkins to just two grabs for 10 yards and provided one of the plays of the game when he batted down a pass in the end zone intended for Hopkins on a third down play in the final minute of the third quarter.
"I was prepared for 7 (Hopkins),' Fowler said. "I knew they were going to go to him, and he's probably the best wide receiver I'm going to stick this year.'
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Barefield, meanwhile, ran for a team-high 88 yards and also collected an interception — his third of the season, which shares the league lead.
Fowler and Barefield have been doing that kind of thing all season, composing a daily double that's paid off in a big way for Pottsgrove coach Rick Pennypacker.
Fowler has earned an reputation as the area's top shut-down corner, and spearheads a Falcons secondary that's allowing an average of just 53 yards per game.
"Michael is just a talented football player,' Pennypacker said. "He has all the skills to be a great one. He is very strong, has good vision, quick feet and very strong hands. Not many teams have challenged him this year, and we were very confident he could play Hopkins man-to-man. His strength and quick hands allow him to press cover and disrupt the patterns of the other team.'
But Fowler's contributions aren't limited to the defensive side of the ball. Though the Falcons put the ball in the air sparingly, Fowler has racked up four touchdown grabs among his five total catches. He is also a dangerous return man — amassing 95 yards on five touches in a 28-7 Week 4 victory over Methacton — and handles the squad's punting chores as well.
"I just try tor work hard at practice and do the same thing in games that I do in practice,' Fowler said.
Barefield, a senior, is also a key ingredient in the Pottsgrove secondary, but his main contributions have come as a running back. He leads the squad with 546 yards, third in the PAC-10.
Though Barefield might not have the size of Pottsgrove's former stalwart tailbacks — guys like Brent Carter, Mark Dukes, Maika Polamalu and Brent Steinmetz — his on-field instincts and ability to change direction have made him a dangerous weapon when he shoots through the holes opened up by linemen Pat Finn, Anthony Pond, Tommy Sephakis, Max Wickward, Jeremy Cuadrada, Jeff Adams and Matt Faulkner and fullback Sene Polamalu.
"Marquis is very quick,' Pennypacker said. "There are many kids who are fast, but Marquis is fast and quick. He has an innate ability to cut and read the blocks of the offensive line and get into the second level of the defense quickly.
"He's shifty, and he's able to break or cut without losing much speed. He also has very good hands. We've designed some plays to utilize his cutback ability.'
Barefield has also shown an ability to take it to the house in many different ways, including an 82-yard fumble return against Souderton, an interception return score against Pope John Paul II and a punt return TD against Upper Perkiomen.
"I try to provide anything my team's going to need at any point of the game,' Barefield said. "I try to play good defense, and on offense run hard and get what I can get and do what I can do for the team.'
And, along with Fowler, round out perhaps the best one-two playmaking duo in the PAC-10.
AROUND THE AREA
The 351 passing yards Hill School quarterback Matt Foltz put up in Saturday's 35-25 loss to Springside Chestnut Hill was unofficially the top total in the state, according to Pennsylvania Football News. ... Bill Furlong will be back at the helm for Phoenixville for Friday's game at Perkiomen Valley after sitting out a two-game suspension over a procedural matter. The Phantoms (3-0, 3-2) have won three straight since an 0-2 start and are seeking to make it four in a row for the first time since starting the 2011 campaign 4-0. ... Methacton's 56-20 victory over Upper Perkiomen Saturday was the Warriors' highest point total since a 51-14 victory over Kennedy-Kenrick in the 2001 season finale.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
Despite losing star running back Craig Reynolds to a knee injury, Abington gutted out a 19-13 victory over Bensalem to improve to 5-0. ... Lansdale Catholic is 5-0 after Saturday's 36-13 win over Neumann-Goretti in which the Crusaders got 127 rushing yards from sophomore Ryan Quigley while limiting the Saints to zero rushing yards. ... Terry Loper ran for 149 yards to help Bayard Rustin (5-0) turn back Great Valley 20-7 and notch its 15th straight home Ches-Mont American Division victory, a streak that dates back to 2007.
West Mifflin senior James Wheeler has rushed for 1,312 yards on the season after going off for 366 yards in Friday's 42-28 win over Ringgold. ... Emmaus used a hard-nosed defensive effort capped by a sack from Qantre Menzel on the game's final play to knock off Easton (ranked 10th in the state in Class AAAA by Pennsylvania Football News) 14-7. ... Upper St. Clair, ranked third in the Class AAAA by PFN, has allowed 10 points all season, a state-low.
Oconomowoc (Wis.) defeated Wisconsin Lutheran 84-82 Friday, with Canton Larson rushing for 198 yards and four TDs while throwing for 295 yards and four scores. ... Regency (Iowa) and Ithaca (Mich.) share the country's longest current winning streak at 47 games. ... Jeremiah Crowley of Montville (Conn.) set a state record with 526 yards rushing in a 49-37 win over Stonington.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Conner Derrickson, Methacton
Junior quarterback threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more to spark the Warriors to a 56-20 victory over Upper Perkiomen Saturday. Derrickson was 6-for-9 for 143 yards through the air, while running for 128 yards on 13 carries.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Rick Pennypacker, Pottsgrove
Guided the Falcons to a 14-7 victory over Spring-Ford at Coach McNelly Stadium Friday. Defending league champ Pottsgrove rallied from a 7-6 halftime deficit and got a go-ahead Riley Michaels-to-Mike Fowler 6-yard TD pass in the third quarter in running its PAC-10 regular season win streak to 18 games.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.