Pennridge finds itself along atop the SOL Continental Conference standings after an unforgettable string of wins over Souderton, CB South and North Penn.
The scene was an unforgettable one.
Pennridge players, their uniforms covered with mud from head to toe, were swallowed up in a sea of pink on Poppy Yoder Field after last Friday night’s heart-stopping 28-21 win over North Penn.
“This is high school football at its finest,” senior Jeremy Xander said as he soaked in the scene.
The Rams had just made a run through ‘murder’s row’ without a loss, first defeating Souderton 45-35, then upending previously undefeated Central Bucks South 21-10 and capping the treacherous three-game stretch with a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it win over the Knights in front of a packed house.
“This stretch of games really tested us,” Xander said. “We started out with Souderton, and we beat them. We beat CB South, we beat North Penn, and it tested everything we stood for.
“We worked hard in the summer, we worked hard for everything. It just shows the heart of the team.”
Credit the Rams’ heart, credit their hard work or credit their talent. Whatever the choice, one fact is unmistakable – the Rams have found a way to capture magic in a bottle this season.
If there was any doubt, that fact was confirmed in one unforgettable moment that Ram fans will replay for a lifetime when somehow, someway Kyle Bigam hauled in an Alex Krivda pass with a dazzling one-handed catch and took it home for the game-winning touchdown in the game’s final minute, propelling the Rams to the electrifying win.
“We were tied with 25 seconds left, and Bigam caught that touchdown,” Xander said of a play that will forever be known simply as ‘the catch.’ “We don’t quit, we don’t quit, and that’s what we preach.
“People were saying we might be run out, but we have so much heart on this team. We’re family.”
Xander went on to list some of the team’s lesser-known players, beginning with the players who comprise the offensive line who might well be the unsung heroes of the Rams’ season.
“It’s a group effort,” Xander said. “It took a huge effort from everyone.”
Talk to any of the players, and there’s a recurring them.
“Everyone on this team – we’re like brothers out there,” said senior Cory Blaser, a member of the Rams’ O-line. “We play as a team, and we win as a team.
“After every game, it’s just an out-of-body experience. I can’t describe it. It’s great.”
While the Rams never doubted they could succeed, they knew they were in a minority.
“The expectations were normal Pennridge football – all defense, no offense, average record of 5-5,” Blaser said. “We wanted to prove a lot of people wrong, and I think we did.”
According to coach Randy Cuthbert, the groundwork for this season was laid last year.
“We went through a process where we had some issues with some attitudes,” the Rams’ coach said. “Some guys left the team, and once that happened, we had a younger group of guys.
“They had good attitudes, they worked really hard, and they played well together. They finished the season strong, and that was really the start of it. They started learning how to win and playing together.
“We had a lot of guys back from last year’s team, and we were expecting to have a big year. The way it has worked out - they’ve hit the field running, and after the Bensalem loss, they’ve gone to work and gotten better every week, and they’re beating some really, really good football teams.”
To give perspective to the Rams’ run through Souderton, CB South and North Penn this season, consider only that Pennridge’s record against those three teams over the past three years was a combined 2-7 with their lone wins over Souderton in 2011 and over CB South in 2010.
“We looked at the schedule this year and said, ‘Wow, we’re going to find out how good we are,’ with Souderton, CB South and North Penn all in a row,” Cuthbert said.
The Rams own sole possession of the top spot in the Continental Conference with two regular season games remaining. It’s a spot they’re not expected to relinquish.
“I don’t feel like it’s against all odds,” said senior Mike Sollazzo, who anchors the Rams’ offensive line at center. “We wanted to be here, we wanted to be undefeated at this point, so we’re doing all we can.
“This is our season, this is what we want to do, and we want to keep winning. Honestly, it’s great because maybe we’ll get some respect after this.”
Hard-earned respect that the Rams have certainly earned.
“It really doesn’t get any better than this,” Sollazzo said.