Perkiomen's John Garrett, playing on defense, makes a tackle on the George School ball carrier during play in Saturday's home game.
Make no mistake about it; Perkiomen School’s Bruce Brittingham likes to carry the football.
The Panther senior has demonstrated that in the first two games of the season as he has provided the workhorse role for the Perkiomen offense. It’s a duty Brittingham relishes, but one he also realizes paints a bull’s-eye on his back for opposing defenses.
So as odd as it may seem, Brittingham was perhaps the most pleased after Saturday’s 34-17 home victory against George School – a game in which the Panthers had four different running backs score touchdowns.
“All of the other backs stepped up, and the offensive line blocked well and made perfect blocks at times,” Brittingham said. “Everybody just came together, it was definitely our best game, and we played hard to the end.”
While Brittingham may have shared the spotlight, he still managed to share a big hand in the win. He led all rushers with 15 carries for 77 yards and a score, returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and broke up two passes on defense.
Brittingham’s supporting cast included fellow running backs John Williams, John Garrett and Chris Slattery. Williams opened the scoring as he took Perk’s first offensive play 42 yards to the end zone off the right side. He finished with six carries for 45 yards and a score.
After the Cougars (0-3) answered Williams’ score with their first of the season, Garrett and company came right back. This time it took two carries from Brittingham and one from Garrett before the latter ripped off a 21-yard score off the left side to put Perk (2-1) ahead, 12-7. Not to be outdone, Brittingham fumbled the ball away on Perk’s next offensive series, then made good for it by scampering for a 58-yard punt return to put Perk in front 20-14 at the half. He added a 16-yard run off right tackle to paydirt early in the fourth quarter as he ran over a pair of George defenders.
Slattery took his turn in the spotlight in the fourth quarter. A series after Brittingham’s punishing touchdown run, Slattery provided his own version of the ground and pound. He got all five of his carries in the drive, basically on the same play, as he capped off the effort with a four-yard score, dragging defenders with him on every touch. Slattery finished with five carries for 33 yards and one score.
“Bruce has been very good so far this season, but the other running backs really picked it up this week,” said Perkiomen head coach Tom Calvario. “Today, they hit the holes the way the plays were designed. And then Slattery took over and the offensive line went to business in that last series.”
Brittingham and Slattery were quick to attribute their success to the efforts of the offensive line up front. Center Benjamin Jaindl, guards Mark Fisher and Oliver Joseph, tackles Alexander Williams and Arnaldo Contreras and tight end Paul Csordas opened up holes all day long against the Cougars, helping Perk rack up 203 yards of their 261-yard total on the ground.
“We were just hitting the holes hard and it just worked,” Slattery said, who notched his first career interception on defense to close out the victory with less than a minute left. “We just came together.”
While Perk’s running backs garnered the attention, its defense wasn’t too shabby, either. Perk held the Cougars to just 34 rushing yards, all of which came in the first half as George mustered minus-seven yards in the second half.
Slattery and Williams both came up with interceptions, Guangehen Zhang added a sack and Garrett, Joseph and Sean Printz all had tackles for a loss. The Cougars were able to move the ball in the air, racking up 193 passing yards on 36 attempts, but couldn’t convert on an aerial touchdown.
“I expected a tight game like this, they’re a good team for us to compete against,” Calvario said. “We were able to control the tempo of the game on the ground. And as a team, this was the best we’ve played as a unit all year.”