Samuel fels takes loss to Abington in stride


It wasn’t a win, but it could have been.

Most coaches are not in­ter­ested in the words “could have” and “should have.” However, they ac­cur­ately ap­plied to Samuel Fels High School’s sea­son-open­ing, 24-8 non-league foot­ball loss to Abing­ton High School on Fri­day morn­ing at North­east’s Charles Mar­tin Me­mori­al Sta­di­um.

“We did some good things,” Fels coach Bill Har­rigan said.

This cer­tainly rings true, es­pe­cially in the early go­ing. Abing­ton, hav­ing won 20 games and two Sub­urb­an One League cham­pi­on­ships the past two sea­sons, entered the con­test as a heavy fa­vor­ite. However, Fels stunned the Gal­lop­ing Ghosts halfway through the first quarter when seni­or do-it-all play­maker Jam­iel Hines took a han­doff and raced 59 yards for a touch­down. Fol­low­ing a two-point con­ver­sion run, the Pan­thers led, 8-0.

While sev­er­al Abing­ton play­ers later at­trib­uted their slow start and sub­sequent up-and-down per­form­ance to be­ing un­ac­cus­tomed to play­ing so early in the morn­ing on a week­day, sev­er­al Fels play­ers said there was more to it than that. 

In fact, they said, al­though Abing­ton even­tu­ally forged ahead with two touch­downs and a field goal in the second quarter and an in­sur­ance tally in the third, it could be ar­gued that Fels met Abing­ton pound for pound.

So why did Fels lose?

“We turned the ball over too much,” Hines said. “It made a big dif­fer­ence.”

In­deed. When the game clock fi­nally showed zer­oes on a beau­ti­ful but hot and muggy Fri­day af­ter­noon, the Pan­thers had com­mit­ted five turnovers, two of them costly. Com­bined with some un­timely pen­al­ties, the un­der­dog Pan­thers were un­able to emerge vic­tori­ous des­pite hav­ing out­gained the Ghosts, 286 yards to 194, and for­cing five punts while at­tempt­ing only two of their own.

Abing­ton coach Tim Sorber was ex­tremely com­pli­ment­ary of Fels, typ­ic­ally a Pub­lic League Gold Di­vi­sion bot­tom-dwell­er, but this year a team of con­fid­ence after bring­ing back 19 starters in the sev­enth year of the school’s foot­ball pro­gram.

“They are a very fast team,” Sorber said. “They jumped on us pretty good and we had to ad­just.”

Al­though the Ghosts did even­tu­ally ad­just, Fels made it easy for them to do so. The Pan­thers threw three in­ter­cep­tions, lost a fumble at their own 21-yard line that im­me­di­ately led to a field goal and Abing­ton’s first lead, shanked a two-yard punt that res­ul­ted in the back-break­ing touch­down that fin­ished the scor­ing and were un­able to cor­ral a sure-fire touch­down re­cep­tion.

Sorber ad­mit­ted that Abing­ton dodged the pro­ver­bi­al bul­let.

   “They did enough to win the game,” he said. “They made some mis­takes and we were able to take ad­vant­age of them. But they should be a good team. They don’t have a whole lot of depth and I think we just kind of wore them down a little bit.”

The one play­er who gave Abing­ton fits was Hines. Nor­mally known for his feisty ag­gress­ive­ness as a highly re­cruited corner­back, Hines battled through oc­ca­sion­al cramps to fin­ish with 94 yards on six car­ries along with two re­cep­tions for 43 yards.

Com­ing off a sea­son that in­cluded sev­en touch­downs (two on de­fense), Hines’ rush­ing num­bers nearly equaled last year’s total (126 yards on 42 tries for the en­tire 2011 sea­son) on 34 few­er car­ries. In ad­di­tion to his status as a blanket de­fens­ive back, Hines will get plenty of touches as both a run­ning back and wide re­ceiv­er for the Pan­thers.

It was Hines’ 59-yard scor­ing scamper that ended up be­ing the game’s high­light, much like his 102-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn in last year’s open­er. But last year’s res­ult — a 26-6 vic­tory over Ben Frank­lin High School — was not mirrored on Fri­day.

“There were a lot of good blocks,” Hines said about the touch­down. “Any time a play­er scores on a long touch­down, there are a lot of people who do their jobs.”

Fels’ seni­or quar­ter­back Isai­ah Brinkley com­pleted 10 of his 20 passes for 140 yards, four of which were grabbed by seni­or Nadir Hud­son (52 yards). Sopho­more Wes­ley White gained 41 yards on 14 car­ries, while Brinkley ad­ded 29 on nine. Seni­or Jy­lil Reed­er caught one pass for 17 yards and grabbed an in­ter­cep­tion.

These were among the many “good things” that Har­rigan re­ferred to, and that opin­ion was cer­tainly sup­por­ted by a highly re­spec­ted op­pon­ent.

All in all, it was not a bad sea­son premiere for a Fels team that should be much im­proved in 2012. However, just be­ing good enough is no longer ac­cept­able for this evolving pro­gram, and the team will con­tin­ue to work out the kinks against non-league Penn Charter and Tru­man.

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