STORY WRITTEN BY EVAN WHEATON, THE MERCURY - SEPT. 9, 2023
POTTSTOWN >> As Pennsylvanians braced for inclement weather all over the state, Germantown Academy brewed some thunder of its own on Friday.
Behind 31 first-half points, the Patriots unleashed a storm on Hill School, 45-21 in the debut of the Rams’ new Madden Stadium.
“I give it all to my guys. My line kept me clean today, and I give it to my receivers who make the plays and get the ball when I throw it up to them,” Germantown Academy quarterback Xavier Stearn said.
Stearn had lightning in his hands, zapping the length of the field with 254 passing yards on 15-of-25 throws, four touchdowns and one interception as he commanded the Patriots’ motion offense.
His first jolt came in the first quarter with the game tied 7-7. With 6:25 to go in the frame, the 6-foot-5, 190-pound sophomore signal caller floated a 25-yard pass to a wide-open George Arendt to take what became a permanent lead, 14-7.
The Patriots initially got on the board after recovering their own punt on the Blues’ 36-yard line after the initial series, and Anthony Lara (15 rushes, 90 yards) ran it in from there for the initial score. Hill (0-1) responded immediately with Charlie Hewitt bursting for a 75-yard QB keeper to the house to knot things up, 7-7.
Unflinching, Germantown Academy responded with 24 unanswered points, storming ahead with a 31-7 halftime lead.
“Beat them with tempo,” Stearn said.
AJ Towsen (five catches, 78 yards, 2 TD) intercepted Hewitt at midfield, returning the ball all the way to Hill’s 1-yard line where Seamus Knox (eight rushes, 28 yards) punched it in to balloon ahead 21-7 through the first quarter.
With 5:57 before the break, Towsen hauled in a 40-yard bomb from Stearn – the latter going over 100 passing yards on the play – to pull away even further. Jared Smith then booted a 38-yard field goal on the following drive, creating the 24-point hole for the Blues.
“Xavier’s my guy. We’ve been working together for a few years now working on our connection,” Towsen said. “We’re good friends on and off the field.”
The Blues put together their best drive of the night to start the third quarter. Hill picked up multiple first downs as Hewitt marched his quarterback-read offense deep into Germantown Academy’s territory.
Showing urgency to put something on the board for their efforts, Zak Zindle capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The PAT was missed, the Blues chipping into their deficit 31-13 to begin the second half.
“We challenged our guys to be more physical, to do their job and try to win those one-on-one battles,” said Mike Boyer, who took over as Hill’s head coach after joining as an offensive coordinator last year. “I think we did a much better job coming out (of halftime) and they answered the call.
“We were out of it at halftime, but they kept fighting and they did a great job, put a great drive together and we finished.”
But Towsen – a 6-foot-2, 205-pound Inter-Ac second team All-League receiver – clapped back with an 8-yard reception in the back of the end zone on the following series to take a 38-13 advantage into the fourth quarter. One minute into the final frame, Stearn found Josh Cain for a 32-yard score.
In a 50-28 victory over Simon Gratz Charter in Ocean City, N.J., last week, Towsen and Arendt both caught two touchdowns apiece while Stearn completed 75 percent of his passes.
That bell continued to ring at Madden.
“We’ve put up a lot of points in our last two games,” Towsen said. “We’re really excited for the rest of the season.”
Hill School put up one last successful effort late. With four minutes left, Henry Ritts jumped out for a 25-yard rushing touchdown. With the missed PAT earlier, Hewitt once again created points with his legs, running in for a two-point conversion.
Hewitt rushed for 107 yards on the night, the bulk of which came on his 75-yard scoring run.
“He’s very athletic, he does a nice job. He’s deceptively a good runner, falls forward usually almost all the time,” Boyer said of Hewitt. “Makes good decisions, he’s a big, physical kid. Obviously we don’t want him to run as much as we would like, but he does when he has to and part of our offense is that quarterback read.”
Hill School outgained Germantown Academy on the ground, 244 rushing yards to the Patriots’ 196. But behind Stearn’s prolific night through the air, the Blues were held to just 65 passing yards on the night.
“Our offense is rolling, but defense will win us more games,” Stearn said. “We know the Inter-Ac is going to be tough, so we’re staying humble.”
Germantown Academy 45, Hill School 21
Germantown Academy 21 10 7 7 — 0
Hill School 7 0 6 8 — 21
GA – Lara 36 run (Smith kick), 9:18
H – Hewitt 75 run (Hewitt kick), 8:27
GA – Arendt 25 pass from Stearn (Smith kick), 6:25
GA – Knox 1 run (Smith kick), 5:22
GA – Towsen 40 pass from Stearn (Smith kick), 5:57
GA – Smith 38 field goal, 1:54
H – Zindle 1 run (kick failed), 5:01
GA – Towsen 8 pass from Stearn (Smith kick), 1:11
GA – Cain 32 pass from Stearn (Smith kick), 11:02
H – Ritts 25 run (Hewitt run), 4:02
First downs 11 15
Rushes-Yards 36-244 32-196
Passing yards 65 254
Total yards 309 450
Passes C-A-I 6-17-2 15-25-1
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards 3-25 5-40
Punts 4 1
Germantown Academy — Lara 15-90, TD; Stearn 3-0; Knox 8-28, TD; McKee 2-29; Durkin 4-30; Hadlock 1-19.
Hill School — Vennera 14-45; Hewitt 7-107, TD; Zindle 7-26, TD; Ritts 8-66, TD.
Germantown Academy — Stearn 15-25, 254 yard, 4 TD, 1 INT.
Hill School — Hewitt 6-17, 65 yards, 2 INT.
Germantown Academy — Towsen 5-78, 2 TD; Arendt 5-67, TD; Cain 1-32, TD; Lara 1-15; McKee 2-58; Langsfield 1-4.
Hill School — Reynolds 3-27; McCusker 1-11; Heck 1-19; Cobb 1-8.
Sacks: GA 1 (Wanner).
Interceptions: H 1 (Cobb); GA 2 (Towsen, McKee).