Steve Cherrybon, using a blueprint from his old coach, is creating a winning tradition with the Panthers.
...Quakertown football coach Steve CherrybonQuakertown football coach Steve Cherrybon (Catherine Meredith/TMC)
Porrino made a point to comb the hallways for athletes, and one of his first recruits was baseball pitcher Steve Cherrybon
would go on to pitch at Temple University
, but not before becoming part of a special rebuilding process in football.
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The team got a defensive end/tight end/punter in Cherrybon
"There was a new coaching staff," remembers Cherrybon
."There were athletes in the school, but the athletes weren't playing football."Cherrybon
was among the many to accept the invitation.
That first team went 8-2 during Cherrybon's junior year.And the program has been winning since, including an 8-0 mark this year.
"I don't think they've had a losing season in 25 years since," said Cherrybon
The formula for a winning program - one that could sustain itself - was hatched.Cherrybon, 46, thought back to that moment when he became the Quakertown Community High School head coach in 1998.
Mission No. 1: Comb the hallways for athletes.
In four years, the roster numbers have almost doubled.This summer, the Panthers saw 84 players sign up.
"There's more competition for positions, which means kids have to work harder to win the job," explains Cherrybon
The results have been spectacular at a school where football was not capitalizing on its Friday night appeal at Alumni Field.
philosophy after Joe Paterno's Penn State teams.
"I believe in having an outstanding defense with a ball-control offense and a sound kicking game," said Cherrybon
, whose kickers both made all-league last year."When those three phases are clicking, that's given us the formula to win football games."
The defense has limited foes to 91 points in eight games.The opportunistic unit has intercepted 14 passes and recovered seven fumbles.
The ball-control offense has been punishing behind a solid, hefty line that returned only one starter.
"The next year we won those close games," Cherrybon
The signature win came in 1999 when the Panthers downed Hatboro, 18-13.
"That was the first quality team we beat," Cherrybon
said."And we won that game; it wasn't handed to us."
In 2000, the team lost its starting quarterback and three other starters to suspensions for violating school rules.
built a foundation for success that can be sustained, judging from the success at the lower levels.
This run appears to be more than a cycle.
Though Norristown and P-W won't stay down long, they have work to do to catch the school on the north end of Bucks County, the one that features more blue-collar power reminiscent of Lehigh Valley programs than the speed and finesse of the Philadelphia suburbanites
This Panther group looks more like the rough-and-ready coal miners from Cherrybon's youth.