Philadelphia High School Football
A Look at
Brian McCloskey's 14-Year Coaching
(1992, 1995-2007) at William Penn Charter School
page includes stories, special lists, record breakdown, recaps of championship
thumbnail sketches of championship teams and the names of All-Inter-Ac/All-City honorees
during Coach McCloskey's 14 seasons.
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Brian McCloskey, an alumnus, coached Penn Charter for 14 seasons (1992, 1995-2007), winning 80 games and seven Inter-Ac League championships (four outright, three shared). He won his first crown in his first season and a triumph over Episcopal was crucial. Here is that story . . .
By Ted Silary
Samuel family was pretty good to Frankford High football.
SEASON BY SEASON
toughness have enabled him to become a factor on triple options in PC's
one-back set. It helps, of course, that Batts, a
senior slotback and wideout, is the city's best athlete and that junior Brandon Shepherdson is also a running-receiving stalwart.
"Teams pay so much attention to Courtney," Samuel said. "They have to honor 'Shep,' too. If they bite on Shep through the
line and they're still worried about Courtney (who often goes in motion and trails Samuel), it gives me an alley."
Samuel's 51-yard touchdown pass to Shepherdson, followed by a conversion pass from Batts to McGivern, gave the Quakers
a 17-3 lead with 8:05 left in the third quarter. Steigerwalt's 7-yard touchdown run drew Episcopal closer, then the home fans
went wild midway through the fourth quarter when Mike Abate (8-for-22, 121 yards) hit Ernie Lowe with an 18-yard TD pass.
One problem. Abate was clearly beyond the line of scrimmage. After a 5-yard penalty, Sposato applied fierce pressure and
Vokolos made an interception.
As PC played keepaway, Samuel came up with clutch keepers on successive third-down plays. Batts then swooshed for a
46-yard score on another reverse with 1:52 -- and next-to-no daylight -- left.
"I enjoy running the ball," Samuel said. "Any way we can gain yardage . . . I'm out there to win."
This story was written after Brian coached PC to the 1998 Inter-Ac crown . . .
By Ted Silary
It was the spring of 1995 and James Berry, star running back for a Frankford Chargers pound team, lifelong fan of
Frankford High football, was deciding where to go for high school.
He chose . . .
"At Frankford, [franchise halfback] Eddie Gaskins was already a star and had [three seasons] to go,'' Berry said. "If I'd
gone there, I wouldn't have gotten a chance to run the ball until this year.
"Eddie was the motivation for me to go to another school. To make a name somewhere else.''
These days, James Berry is making a name for himself at a high school other than Northeast, where he only spent one
year. Saturday, he added bold, italic type and even capital letters.
As visiting Penn Charter trampled Germantown Academy, 48-27, to win an outright Inter-Ac League title for the first
time since 1993 and raise its edge in the series to 70-31-11, JAMES BERRY rushed 27 times for 346 yards and five
Berry's yardage total ranks No. 2 in city-leagues history, trailing only a 379-yard effort by Cardinal Dougherty's Lawrence
Reid in 1975. The Inter-Ac record had belonged to PC's Brandon Shepherdson - 344 vs. GA in '93.
Berry, a 5-6, 165-pound speedster, added 36 yards on two returns. He played 3 1/2 quarters before being yanked by PC
coach Brian McCloskey.
"Quickly. A passing thought,'' McCloskey said, when asked whether he considered letting Berry finish the game. ``If he
gets the record when it's still a game, great. The game was over. There was no need to put him back in there.''
Said Berry: "I'm not disappointed about missing the record. Not at all. I just wanted to win the game, win the
Berry's scores covered 17, 77, 84, 86 and 5 yards, and he was touched (briefly, at that) on only one of them. PC's line
included center T.J. Mullineaux (son of Frankford coach Tom Mullineaux), guards Pat Gallagher and Tom Reilly, tackles
Chris Hatcher-McMullen and Kyle ``Slice'' Chaffin and tight end Tom Pomrink. Fullback Joe Nejman added 70 yards and
a TD on 12 carries while Chris Glowacki scored on a flanker reverse.
"I owe it all to the linemen,'' Berry said. "Most of those long runs came on tosses where I could sweep or cut it inside.
Their blocking made things easy.''
While attending Northeast in the 1995-96 school year, Berry played football for the nationally famous Little Quakers
"I didn't know anything about Penn Charter,'' he said. "But some of the Little Quakers coaches are also Penn Charter
coaches. They talked to me about coming to Penn Charter and getting me set up for financial aid. Coming from a public
school, everything was different - kids, teachers, workload. But I've worked and gotten help and I've taken advantage of
the opportunity. Repeating ninth grade helped me for football, too.''
After receiving the Geis Memorial Award (game MVP) in a midfield ceremony, Berry was swarmed by his mother,
Carol Leaks, and his uncle and grandfather, both named John Berry. James's uncle, Eric Leaks, was a first team Daily
News All-City lineman in 1980 for - you got it, Frankford.
Today at school, meanwhile, Berry expects his linemen will be looking for a reward.
"Whatever they ask for, I almost gotta get it,'' he said, smiling.
This story was written in 2002 after Brian
claimed another title with a future NFL
star as his quarterback . . .
By Ted Silary
Just once this season, did Matt Ryan feel like asking permission to fire the football 30 to 40 times?
"Surprisingly not," he said with a laugh.
When people know a quarterback has accepted a Division I-A scholarship even before his senior season, they expect
him to ring up big numbers.
Ryan could have, but he was more focused on earning a ring.
The 6-5, 205-pound Ryan is bound for Boston College. He'll go there as a champion.
Saturday, visiting Penn Charter (8-1 overall) dumped Germantown Academy, 35-21, to capture the Inter-Ac League
title at 4-0 and raise its edge in the nation's oldest continuous scholastic football rivalry to 72-33-11.
Ryan was not exactly busy. He wasn't even overly productive, passing 7-for-11 for 34 yards.
All he mostly did was hand off to senior tailback Tony McDevitt, then marvel and applaud.
Ryan was satisfied, even ecstatic, as a bit player - a shade beneath his usual status as one of the guys - in his final
game. That spoke volumes.
"It's nice to put up big numbers, don't get me wrong, but it's more important to win," Ryan said. "I love to win. I find
that much more enjoyable than worrying about statistics.
"How can I complain? We're 8-1. We're the Inter-Ac champs. We showed great balance on offense and look what it
got us. "
Ryan finished the season 64-for-125 for 1,048 yards and 12 touchdowns. Given the chance to be pass-happy, he might
have doubled that output. Junior wideout Sean Singletary radiates special. Receivers John Samuel and Rob Hitschler
also have talent.
"Matt is so unselfish," said coach Brian McCloskey, a former star QB at PC and Ursinus. "He's not concerned with
numbers. He just wants to win.
"Maybe I'm too conservative. In my early days, I had a strong belief that if you had a great quarterback and one great
receiver, hey, you couldn't be stopped."
He laughed. "Maybe I got influenced too much by Bill Gallagher [PC's ex-coach, later McCloskey's assistant and a
running back in his playing days]."
McDevitt, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior headed to Duke for lacrosse (and maybe football), scorched GA's defense early
and often, carrying 26 times for 328 yards and four TDs (of 61, 38, 48 and 22 yards). He lost a fifth when the referees
ruled he fumbled just before reaching the end zone.
It was the third time in 10 years a PC runner joined the 300-Yard Club against GA. Brandon Shepherdson (344 in '93)
and James Berry (346 in '98) were the first two to frolic.
The grunts: center Colin Hitschler, guards Chris "Chips" Johnson and Jarrod Williams, rotating tackles Mike Boles,
Eric Feinschil and Richard Bryan. The fullback was Paul Sweeney.
"We knew we'd come out and use the run, maybe to set up the pass," McDevitt said. "But if the run keeps working,
you've got to stick with it.
"Having Matt Ryan back there is such a big deal. Teams can't put eight, nine people in the box. He'll throw the lights out."
Ryan said of McDevitt: "It's unbelievable to see the moves he makes and how hard he runs. It's like he refuses to go
Committing early, Ryan said, gave him an opportunity to relieve pressure and focus solely on PC's season. He had
wonderful QB tutoring from McCloskey and assistant Mike Samuel, a former PC and Wisconsin star. McCloskey's
brother, Chuck, another aide, was also a QB (at North Catholic.)
Ryan's uncle, John Loughery, also a PC whiz, played QB at Boston College just before Doug Flutie.
Then there's Mike Ryan, Matt's brother. He was Malvern Prep's QB in '98 and '99.
"He wanted to come to PC, but wound up there," said Ryan, who lives in Exton and is also a vital cog in basketball
(forward) and baseball (shortstop). "As soon as he got out of Malvern, he gave me permission to try to beat them."
In three starting seasons, Ryan went 204-for-408 for 2,984 yards and 22 TDs.
"I feel like I have tons of room to improve, but that I've made good strides," he said. "Definitely so in the leadership
area. Like coach says, games have peaks and valleys. As the QB, you have to take the team through that."
And pursue a letter (W) more than numbers.
Below are the players who earned first team Coaches' All-Inter-Ac honors during
Brian McCloskey's 14 seasons as the coach at Penn Charter.
Recaps of Championship
Thumbnail Sketches of Championship Teams
Andrew Martina, L
Courtney Batts, Rec.
Mike Samuel, QB
Brandon Shepherdson, RB
Bill Brightcliffe, DL
Mike Sposato, DL
George Vokolos, LB
Angelo Vicoli, L
Harold "Hap" Gottehrer, L
Pat Larkin, RB
John Daly, LB
Brendan Moore, DB
Chris Hatcher-McMullen, L
James Berry, RB
Joe Nejman, RB
Kyle "Slice" Chaffin, DL
Pat Gallagher, DL
Tom Reilly, LB
Chris Glowacki, DB
Barry Mahabee, DB
Colin Hitschler, L
Sean Singletary, Rec.
Matt Ryan, QB
Tony McDevitt, RB
Mike Boles, DL
Jarrod Williams, DL
John Samuel, LB
Rob Hitschler, B
Eric Feinschil, L
Biff Gottehrer, L
R.J. Hollinshead, Rec.
Zack Zeglinski, RB
Colin Hitschler, DL
Kamal Marell, DB
Ryan Nanni, Rec.
R.J. Hollinshead, Rec.
Paul Sweeney, RB
Colin Hitschler, DL
Joe Rauchut, LB
Eddie Bambino, Rec.
Sean McNally, RB-LB
Eric Muller, P
Richard "Biggins" White, DL
Drew Fullen, DL
Ryan McGarvey, DL
Joe Rauchut, LB