PENNSBURG — The Perkiomen School coaching staff's main message to its players during Friday afternoon's halftime talk was pretty simple ... that they were better than they had shown in the first half that ended with a 28-point deficit at the hands of Tower Hill School from Wilmington, Del.
And it didn't take long for the Panthers to prove that they were indeed better as they took the second half kickoff and drove 75 yards for a touchdown and blanked the Hillers in the second half of a 28-12 setback.
Isaiah Smith scored both touchdowns for Perkiomen (1-1) on runs of five and 30 yards and led the offense on the day with 59 yards on seven carries and two catches for a total of 15 yards.
"We challenged them at halftime ... start showing us you're better than you showed in the first half, offensively and defensively,' said Panther coach Tom Calvario.
Tower Hill (2-0) opened the scoring on a 71-yard drive midway through the first half, topped off by an 18-yard run into the end zone by Grier Wakefield. Then the Panthers fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and Matthew Smith hit Peter Smith on a 30-yard scoring pass on the next play.
Another Perk School fumble late in the first quarter gave the Hillers good field position again and Cole Wenzel ran in from 12 yards out for a 21-0 advantage. It was 28-0 by the half with the visitors holding a 247-57 margin in total yards.
"We didn't block well at all in the first half,' said Calvario. "We lacked mental focus in the first half. We're playing 15 guys, tops. We've got to do a better job of coaching them up.'
But the Panthers looked like a different team after the break as Derek Fosbenner carried the ball six times for 28 yards on a 13-play drive that took 5½ minutes off the clock and ended with a five-yard burst up the middle by Smith.
Smith's 30-yard score in the fourth quarter was a case of too little, too late, as it came with just over three minutes remaining.
"We're not a team that can start slow and pick up momentum,' said Calvario. "We've got to start fast, and we didn't do that.'
But Perk School certainly showed an ability to move the wall with 162 second-half yards.
"We sustained blocks longer,' said Calvario. "We want to hold blocks for six seconds. They didn't come to six seconds, but they did better and we blocked better.
"Take nothing away from Tower Hill. They have a very good team. And they run a very good system and they block on the offensive line. I want our offensive line to aspire to the way they block. They were knocking us seven or eight yards off the line.'
Next for the Perkiomen will be a night contest next Friday against George School at Upper Perkiomen High School.
"It's got to be a first for Perkiomen School to play a (home) game under the lights,' said Calvario. "And George School is going to be much improved. I was pleased with the second half ... absolutely. We've got to play a better game next Friday.'
Grant Briddell added 55 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Patrick Scotto 37 on nine attempts for the Panthers, who totaled 196 yards on the ground. ... Twelve players carried the ball for the visitors, with Jermaine Knotts leading the way with 61 yards on five tries.
Tower Hill 28
Perkiomen School 12
Tower Hill 21 7 0 0 — 28
Perkiomen School 0 0 6 6 — 12
TH-Wakefield 18 run (Miller kick)
TH-P Smith 30 pass from M Smith (Miller kick)
TH-Wenzel 12 run (Miller kick)
TH-Smalls 10 run (Miller kick)
PS-I Smith 5 run (kick failed)
PS-I Smith 30 run (kick failed)
First Downs 18 13
Rushing yards 288 196
Passing yards 42 23
Total yards 330 219
Passes C-A-I 2-5-0 3-12-0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-Yards 6-60 1-5
Punts-Avg. 8-30.5 3-26.3
Tower Hill: Knotts 5-61; M Smith 7-50; Cucuzzella 10-45; Thomas 5-37; Neville 5-27; Wakefield 3-22, 1 TD; Wenzel 1-12, 1 TD.
Perkiomen School: I Smith 7-59, 2 TD's; Briddell 13-55; Scotto 9-37; Fosbenner 7-35; Aaron 2-10.
Tower Hill: M Smith 2-5-42, 1 TD.
Perkiomen School: Scotto 3-12-23.
Tower Hill: P Smith 1-30, 1 TD; Kelly 1-12.
Perkiomen School: I Smith 2-15; Hampton 1-8.
Sacks: Tower Hill School-Guan.