Another Michaels making his mark at Pottsgrove

Senior quarterback Riley Michaels has led Pottsgrove to a 10-0 record.
Senior quarterback Riley Michaels has led Pottsgrove to a 10-0 record. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 08, 2013

Considering how passionate most of Riley Michaels' family is about football, it's surprising to hear him say that he nearly gave up the sport two years ago.

"I just didn't know if I had the same love for it," the Pottsgrove senior said. "My brother Danny kind of dragged me to practices, wouldn't allow me to quit. Looking back on it, I'm glad he did."

With Michaels making key contributions as a quarterback and strong safety, the Falcons are 10-0 and set to make a run at their third PIAA District 1 Class AAA championship in the last five seasons.

"I'm happy I stuck it out," Michaels said. "You're part of a family. And the support the football team gets from the school and the community, it's pretty amazing. It's a phenomenal feeling."

Michaels is the fourth in his family to play for Pottsgrove. The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder was preceded by brothers Ryan (Class of 2006), Matt (2008), and Danny (2013). Their father, Fred, was a fullback at William Allen in Allentown.

Riley Michaels is a first-year starter at quarterback. The tricaptain directs the Falcons' veer-option offense, which is averaging 43.7 points.

"I struggled a bit at the beginning of the season with making the right reads," he said. "With each game, you get a better feel for it. A big thing for me is watching film. I try to spend an hour a day on it."

Michaels, a second-year starter at strong safety, has carried the ball 51 times for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He has completed 16 of 32 passes for 488 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"If there's an opportunity for us to throw, I think the coaches are confident with me doing that," he said. "Having some success in the passing game keeps defenses honest. They have to protect against more than just the run."

Pottsgrove's run-oriented attack is spurred by Marquis Barefield. The senior tailback has rushed 136 times for 1,380 yards and 19 TDs. He ran for 294 yards and four scores in Friday's 62-29 romp over Boyertown.

"He sees the field really well, better than any player I've seen," Michaels said. "When he makes a cut, he doesn't lose any speed."

The Falcons, who went 9-0 en route to the Pioneer Athletic Conference title, are seeded No. 1 in the district playoffs. They will host No. 8 seed and PAC-10 rival Phoenixville (4-6, 4-4) in a first-round game at 7 p.m. Friday.

Pottsgrove's defense, allowing only 11 points per game, is headed by end Patrick Finn, tackle Anthony Pond, middle guard Nico Demetrio, and inside linebackers Jeff Adams and Tyrone Parker.

"I like playing defense," said Michaels, also a midfielder in lacrosse. "You don't do as much thinking as you do at quarterback. It's nice to go out there and play with your hair on fire."

Rick Pennypacker's squad won district crowns in 2009 and 2011. Last year, it advanced to the semifinals before losing to West Chester Henderson, 31-28.

"We all took that loss pretty hard," Michaels said. "It's kind of what drives us this season. We want to get back on top."

Michaels, who has a 3.8 grade-point average and takes honors classes in English and trigonometry, plans to major in computer science in college.


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