Over the first few weeks of the season, offensive inconsistency plagued both the Spring-Ford and Methacton football teams.
Lately, however, the Rams and Warriors have both seemed to hit their strides as far as moving the chains, conjuring up big plays and putting points on the scoreboard.
Each Pioneer Athletic Conference squad hopes to continue that trend Saturday, when Spring-Ford plays host to Methacton in a Homecoming contest at Coach McNelly Stadium (2 p.m. start).
The Rams (3-1 PAC-10, 4-2 overall) are coming off a, what coach Chad Brubaker called their most balanced offensive effort, 47-0 rout over Upper Perkiomen.
The Warriors (3-2, 3-3), meanwhile, have racked up 104 points over the past two weeks in victories over Upper Perkiomen (56-20) and Pope John Paul II (48-14).
Methacton has also gained a reputation as a strong second-half squad — having outscored its opposition 109-34 over the final two quarters.
"They've been a strange team in that they've haven't had great first halves, but have had excellent second halves,' Brubaker said. "They play for 48 minutes, and that's something we're going to have to be prepared for. When they're on defensively, they are really tough, and I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to come in here on Homecoming and beat us.'
Spring-Ford got a season-high 204 passing yards and three TD passes from junior quarterback Brandon Leacraft last week, while four players — Jake Leahy, Zac Demedio, Brandon Barone and Jon Traywick — scored their first varsity touchdowns.
That's a theme Brubaker would like to see over the second half of the season, as the Rams try to grow other options besides feature running back Jarred Jones.
"We were trying to give Brandon (Leacraft) some confidence,' Brubaker said. "With the first five weeks of the season, we didn't have any easy games, so it was hard to do that.'
"Our goal and philosophy is to try and get different kids the ball, put themselves in situations they can be the most successful and let them go. We'd been struggling to be able to do that, so it was nice to see a lot of guys involved.'
The most involved continues to be Jones (614 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and the Rams defense — led by the front of Mason Romano, Robbie Varner, Alec Vagnozzi and Matt Daywalt. That unit has allowed just 253 combined yards over the past two weeks.
"Their defense is very fast and physical,' Methacton coach Paul Lepre said. "They play their first two levels very close to the line of scrimmage. They come up and shed blockers real well and run to the ball. My concern is what things we can do to breach the line of scrimmage, move the sticks and maintain control of the football.'
Lepre and Co. also need to reverse their recent motif of starting slow. In Week 2, they fell behind Perkiomen Valley 37-0 at the half. And in Week 4, they trailed defending league champ Pottsgrove 21-0 at the break.
Last week, the Warriors were tied with the Golden Panthers, 14-14, at intermission before reeling off 34 unanswered points.
"I compare them (the Rams) a lot to Pottsgrove,' Lepre said. "We're not going to be able to spot a team like that points early and expect to play catch-up. We need to come out and go toe to toe with them right from the kickoff, and we can't spend too much time on the field defensively.'
Since an 0-2 start, Methacton has won 3-of-4 games thanks to a much-improved offense led by the skill quintet of quarterback Conner Derrickson, fullback Mike Cassidy, wide receiver Dillon Alderfer and slotbacks Kyle Lowery and Akeem Walcott.
Derrickson, who took over as a starter in Week 3, has thrown for six TDs and run for six more; Cassidy has gained the hard yards inside; Alderfer has 20 receptions (four for TDs); Lowery has two long scoring catches over the past two weeks and Walcott is coming off a career-best 120-yard, two-TD rushing effort.
"I think you have to stop 36 (Cassidy),' Brubaker said. "What's really helped them is the quarterback's more of a dual threat, and it puts some added pressure on you defensively to handle those kids.'
Walcott (four interceptions), Cassidy and Alderfer (two defensive scores) are also key elements of the Warriors' defense, which will face one of its stiffest tests in trying to contain Jones and the evolving Rams attack.
"First off, we can't allow them to get a push up front,' Lepre said. "We need to fill gaps and make (Jones) run laterally instead of downhill. We have to make him make moves in the backfield instead of him getting through the line of scrimmage and then being able to run.'
How well the Warriors can carry out that plan — as well as how effective they can be on offense — will go a long way in determining whether they can take down the Rams for the first time since 2010, when Brubaker and Lepre were both rookie head coaches.
"We like being in the role of underdog,' Lepre said. "I think our kids are working hard at executing what it is we want to do, and hopefully that continues and gives us a chance.'
The area scene is chock full with Homecoming games Friday and Saturday, with Perkiomen Valley (vs. Pope John Paul II), Pottstown (vs. Pottsgrove) and Owen J. Roberts (vs. Upper Perkiomen) celebrating Homecoming tonight and Spring-Ford (vs. Methacton), Phoenixville (vs. Boyertown) and Perkiomen School (vs. Academy of the New Church) following suit Saturday.
Former Pottstown great Aaron Beasley will be honored before the Trojans' game and also be donating a jersey to the school.
Spring-Ford will induct Jim Haldeman, Merrill Bainbridge and Greg Faulkner into its Wall of Fame Saturday. There will also be a reception, sponsored by the Spring-Ford Touchdown Club, for alumni and parents of alumni to unveil the Almuni Hall at 11 a.m. at the school's 1012 Wrestling Room.
Phoenixville will induct 18 former athletes, coaches and contributors into its third Sports Hall of Fame class, including Charles "Art' Faddis, Chris Minor, John W. "Willie' Stevens, Kuhrt Wieneke, Amara (Thornton) Brown, Barb DiArcangelo, Lori (Way) Gulati, Laurie (McAvoy) Hissey, Barbara A. Isanski, Ashley MacLelland, Tim McAvoy, Jason Meister, Tara (Kramer) Rosenbaum, Carlos Garcia Samuels, Nick Sutyak, William Louis "Bill' Thornton, Greg Tull and Robert Vance. A morning luncheon and program will be held at the Phoenixville Middle School.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
Bayard Rustin (6-0) tops the latest District 1-AAAA power rankings with 790 points, with fellow unbeatens Garnet Valley (760), Neshaminy (750), Coatesville (740) and Upper Dublin (730) rounding out the top five. Spring-Ford ranks 10th with 630 points and Perkiomen Valley is 13th with 600. Pottsgrove is first in 1-AAA with 780 points, while Phoenixville is tied for eighth with 470 points. ... Since the start of the 2004 season, Garnet Valley has gone 90-21. ... Upper Darby's 21-14 win over Ridley last week was the Royals' first over the Green Raiders in 11 seasons.
AROUND THE STATE
Episcopal Academy (which defeated the Hill School 29-9 in Week 2) saw its 15-game winning streak halted in a 48-47 loss to Lawrenceville (N.J.) Academy Saturday. ... In a big-time Class AAAA clash Friday, St. Joseph's Prep (4-1), ranked first in the state by Pennylvania Football News, takes on sixth-ranked La Salle College High (5-1). ... Steel-High and Susquenita each received forfeit losses after Friday's game was marred by a brawl — forcing the officials to eject nine players and eventually suspend the game with the Rollers up 25-0 late in the first half.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.