Rick O'Brien: Gozur makes big contributions on offense and defense for North Penn

North Penn's Steve Gozur jukes past a fallen Wood defender as he heads for the end zone. (Elizabeth V. Robertson/Staff Photographer)

The broken thumb that Steve Gozur suffered in a summer passing league hindered the possibility of his playing quarterback for North Penn this season.

"I still got reps all the way through two-a-days," said the 6-foot, 200-pound senior, who was the junior-varsity squad's signal-caller as a sophomore.

Gozur, who since has settled in nicely as a fullback/wingback on offense, admits he wasn't exactly thrilled with the prospect of lining up under center. "It was more a case of wanting to do whatever I could to help the team," he said.

In a steady rain Saturday night, with the erstwhile QB providing stellar two-way contributions, the visiting Knights rallied for a 24-10 victory over Archbishop Wood in a nonleague showdown at William Tennent.

In the second quarter, with Wood ahead by 10-0 and closing in on another score, Gozur, at outside linebacker, and end George Shipp stood up fullback Josh Messina at the 5-yard line. While the two were pushing Messina backward, Gozur stripped him of the ball and raced 96 yards for a momentum-shifting score.

Said Gozur: "The coaches always tell us, 'If you're the second man in, try to rip the ball out.' I did that, took off, and, fortunately, I had a few blockers come with me."

Before Saturday, his last defensive touchdown had come while playing for Pennfield Middle School. "I think I was in ninth grade at the time," he said. "It was a 95-yard pick-six."

In helping North Penn snap Wood's 15-game winning streak, Gozur, a second-year starter, notched a team-high 10 tackles, including five solos.

On offense, with fullback Luke Berry sidelined by an ankle injury, Gozur, moving over from wingback, carried 11 times for 55 yards.

At the start of the second half, his gains of 12 and 6 yards helped set up Brandon Mandes' tying field goal. In the fourth quarter, his carries for 4, 7, and 3 yards preceded Kyle Mayfield's 40-yard TD burst.

"Coach [Dick] Beck told me on Friday that he was going to get me 20 carries," Gozur said. "I was kind of excited to hear that. I like being in the mix as much as possible."

After barely touching the ball in the first half, the Knights netted 169 rushing yards on 32 attempts in the second. Overall, Mayfield, a senior tailback, carried 24 times for 135 yards and two scores.

North Penn, in scoring 24 unanswered points vs. the Vikings, rebounded from a 20-7 home loss to La Salle. "We really needed this one," Gozur said.

Gozur, of Hatfield, played youth football for the Lansdale Cannoneers. He plays basketball in the winter, as part of the Towamencin Youth Association.

The highlight of the 17-year-old's junior season came in a PIAA Class AAAA state semifinal playoff against La Salle. He made a last-minute interception to clinch a 21-14 win. "Nothing will ever compare to that play," he said.

New in charge. Leo Plenski is Bristol's first-year head coach, replacing 22-year boss George Gatto.

In 2004, as a 6-5, 280-pound two-way tackle and third-year starter, Plenski helped the Warriors go 8-3 and claim the Bicentennial Athletic League title. He went on to play at Lafayette as an offensive tackle and long snapper.

The 25-year-old spent the last two seasons as Gatto's defensive coordinator. "Anyone who plays high school football dreams of coming back and coaching his alma mater," he said.

Bristol, with about 35 players, opened with a 38-12 loss to Communications Tech. It was awarded a Week 2 forfeit win, as Calvary Christian Academy is not fielding a varsity squad this season.

The Warriors' headliners include sophomore halfback Donte Simmons, junior quarterback Trevor Leone, two-way tackle Shane Adamson, and wide receiver/defensive back Sean Coughlin.

North Penn-Wood. In addition to Gozur, the Knights' defensive leaders were Shipp (six tackles, including four solos), linemen Derek Brandt (eight, three) and Jesse Cook (seven, five), and linebacker Nick Wright (seven, three). . . . Wood ran 38 plays from scrimmage in the first half compared to North Penn's nine. In the second half, the Knights had a 33-16 advantage. . . . Gozur, Wright, cornerback Mike Isabella, and end Ray Kulp made fumble recoveries for the Knights. Kulp made a fourth-quarter recovery caused by free safety Lewis Dickinson's hit on LaQuille Nesbitt (17 carries for 97 yards). . . . In the first half, Messina gained 98 yards on 15 tries. He has been filling in at fullback for Andrew Guckin (appendicitis). . . . North Penn's offensive line in the second half was made up of center Chris Zanoni, guards Brandt and Khalil Littlejohn, tackles Trevor Price and Frank Tranzilli, and rotating tight ends Shipp and Mike Berstecher. The 6-4, 200-pound Berstecher, who battled for the starting QB job in training camp, made a pair of big blocks. On Mayfield's 13-yard TD run in the third quarter, he took out end Benji Abercrombie. On Mayfield's 40-yard score around the right corner in the fourth, he sealed off Abercrombie and then wiped out tackle Shane Neher.

Wood's Nafeez Brown-Carter recovered a pair of fumbled kickoff returns in the first 13 minutes. Placekicker Nick Visco's strip of Kris Akins caused the second. . . . For the Vikings, free safety Jarrett McClenton and linebacker Jake Cooper (four solos) were both involved in seven tackles. Abercrombie, with six, was next in line.


Rick O'Brien: The Inquirer TOP 10



Team Record

Records through Sunday. Last week's ranking in parentheses.

  1. La Salle (1) 2-0

2. Downingtown East (2) 2-0

3. North Penn (4) 1-1

4. Neshaminy (7) 2-0

5. St. Joseph's Prep (9) 2-0

6. Archbishop Wood (3) 1-1

7. Garnet Valley (8) 2-0

8. Ridley (10) 2-0

9. Roman Catholic (5) 1-1

10. Malvern Prep (NR) 1-1

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Central Bucks South (2-0), Coatesville (1-1), Imhotep Charter (2-0), Pennsbury (1-1), Spring-Ford (2-0), Unionville (2-0).

- Rick O'Brien

Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ozoneinq. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone