When it comes to football, a lot of times teams are extensions of their head coaches.
Some are offensive wizards, while others are defensive disciples.
Pottsgrove's Rick Pennypacker and Boyertown's Mark Scisly, meanwhile, are a couple of veritable lords of the line.
Pennypacker (West Virginia) and Scisly (Ursinus) each battled in the offensive line trenches during their playing days, and their devotion to the precepts of strong line play has been readily apparent in their respective programs.
The Falcons and Bears feature arguably the top two O-lines in the Pioneer Athletic Conference, with both units on display Friday as Pottsgrove plays host to Boyertown in a PAC-10 finale.
With a win, Pottsgrove (8-0 PAC-10, 9-0 overall) can wrap up its second straight outright league championship and cement its standing as the top seed in the District 1-AAA Tournament, which begins next Friday.
The Bears (5-3, 6-3) don't appear to be headed to districts, even with a win, as they currently stand tied for 27th in the District 1-AAAA power ratings. But they've given the Falcons all they can handle in several of the meetings during Scisly's six-year tenure — including a 34-28 win in 2010, one of only three PAC-10 losses by Pottsgrove since 2008.
Pottsgrove has won 22 straight league games, and is coming off a 23-12 victory over title contender Perkiomen Valley in which the Falcons' guys up front shone brightly.
With tackles Patrick Finn and Max Wickward, guards Anthony Pond and Jeremy Cuadrado, center Tom Sephakis and tight end Jeff Adams paving the way (along with Matt Faulkner, who stepped in when Pond left with an injury), Pottsgrove piled up 355 rushing yards against a PV defense that had allowed an average of just 4.3 points per game to that point.
"As good a line as we've had in a while at Pottsgrove,' Pennypacker said. "The thing that people don't realize is how strong they are and how hard they work. I know coaches throw this benchmark out all the time, but Pond, Finn, Sephakis and Wickward have all posted 300-pound benches. They are strong and they work in the offseason like you wouldn't believe. The culmination of their hard work is why we're playing well right now.'
Finn, a 6-foot-3, 251-pound junior, had his best two-way performance of the year last week, according to Pennypacker. The 6-1, 305-pound Wickward missed several games early in the year with a hamstring problem, but is rounding into form. Pond, deceptively strong for his 5-11, 200-pound frame, has been a rock of consistency. Sephakis, a 5-10, 255-pound senior, has made a smooth transition to guard from center. The 5-8, 250-pound Cuadrado, the 6-3, 205-pound Adams and the 5-8, 240-pound Faulkner (who filled the void when Wickward was out) round out a road-grading unit that's made things easier for backs Marquis Barefield and Sene Polamalu and kept quarterback Riley Michaels out of harm's way.
The Falcons' line has also been very studious when it comes to technique, something Pennypacker drills into them with a zealot-like fervor.
"They're just hard workers,' Pennypacker said. "They're all pretty quiet. They don't talk much. But they're a strong-knit group of guys. What you see on Friday night is all about what they do prior to the game all week with their preparation and work ethic.'
At Boyertown, Scisly oversees a senior-laden unit that's been a big reason why the Bears have been putting up record-breaking yardage figures this fall.
Kyle Schutt and Austin Jacobs compose an intimidating pair of 6-4, 290-pound tackles, with 6-4, 220-pound David Pettine and 6-3, 210-pound Aaron Boyer lining up at the guard spots. Brock Johnson, at 5-10 and 210 pounds, is the man in the middle, while 6-4, 220-pound Tyler Zilen mans the tight end spot.
"They've had a very good year,' Scisly said. "They've worked hard to improve the last three years, and done a great job.
"We're not a team built around speed, and that should tell you something right there about the job our O-line has done getting holes for our guys to get all of that yardage.'
Jacobs, Zilen, Pettine and Schutt all missed time due to injury during the middle part of the season, but the line has been intact down the stretch as the Bears have won 4-of-5 since a 2-2 start.
Schutt, has been the most consistent performer of a group that features four three-year starters, according to Scisly.
"It's going to be hard to replace them,' Scisly said.
As it will be for Pennypacker when he has to bid farewell to the five seniors on his line.
Then again, holding the line has become somewhat of an annual trend for both the Falcons and Bears under their respective coaches.
"It all comes down to who blocks and tackles better,' Pennypacker said. "That's what wins football games.'
Spring-Ford's Senior Night game against Pottstown will have an even deeper meaning as the Rams honor the memory of former teammate Brian Clarke, who passed away in the summer of 2013. The game captains will carry Clarke's No. 44 jersey out for the coin toss and the Rams will start with 10 players on the field for their first play from scrimmage.
AROUND THE AREA
Daniel Boone is 3-1 since a 1-4 start, and currently stands at 16th in the District 3-AAA power ratings. The Blazers will likely have to take down neighboring Exeter in Friday's Pig Iron Trophy rivalry game to hold that spot and qualify for the district tourney. ... Spring-Ford's Jarred Jones enters Friday's action with 3,662 career rushing yards. ... Pottsgrove can become the first PAC-10 team to record back-to-back unbeaten league campaigns since 2009, when the Falcons accomplished the feat. ... Methacton can clinch its third straight winning season with a win over Phoenixville Saturday.
DISTRICT 1 DOINGS
Coatesville star running back Daquan Worley, a Penn State recruit, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during last Friday's win over West Chester East. ... In key games around the district tonight, Neshaminy (9-0) visits Pennsbury (8-1), Coatesville (9-0) makes the trek to Downingtown West (7-2), Oxford (7-2) is at Unionville (7-2) and Upper Darby (7-2) travels to Penncrest (7-2). ... The 16-team District 1-AAAA and eight-team 1-AAA tournaments get underway next weekend.
A week after taking down Archbishop Wood (the top-ranked Class AAA team in the state), 22-7, Archbishop Ryan was at it again last Saturday, knocking off St. Joseph's Prep (the top-ranked AAAA squad) 27-14. ... Wilson's 21-14 victory over Penn Manor last week wrapped up the sixth straight Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 title for the Bulldogs, who have won 42 straight league games (second only to Manheim Central's 52 in a row from 1999-2006). ... Clarion recorded its sixth consecutive shutout (and seventh of the season) in last week's 55-0 rout of Allegheny-Clarion Valley.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.