Bucks County Herald

All-around good guys receive their due

DON LEYPOLDT




There is no shortage of bad sports news.

Golf fans have learned the difference between a DUI and a DWI. Football fans debate whether a player’s criminal record removes him from their team’s draft board.

In today’s Twitterverse, men behaving badly generates instant national headlines. And athletes sometimes behave badly.

But anyone who follows high school sports knows that the “good guys” far and away outnumber the bad apples. As this school year closes, the Herald salutes three area standouts who shine brighter off the field than on it.

And they’re pretty good on the field ...

The leader

Junior Oliver Jervis helped to anchor the Pennridge defensive line. The 6’6”, 250-pounder recorded five sacks last fall on a defense that yielded just 82 points in its six wins.

Jervis did not get a sack when visiting Pennridge nearly upset Neshaminy in the first round of the district playoffs. Instead, Jervis threw for 191 yards and a touchdown as the Rams’ quarterback. He will start behind center in 2017.

“It wasn’t too difficult learning both sides of the ball,” Jervis explained. “Once I memorized the plays, they are there for whenever coach needs them. Defensive line was a little different since I hadn’t played it since seventh grade. That was the first time I was hitting somebody in four years.”

Jervis also started at first base and pitched for the Rams baseball team. But on the night before Pennridge’s baseball opener, Jervis was not on a field. He was at the National Constitution Center receiving a high school leadership award from Widener University.

“I’m one of the leaders of our Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Jervis said humbly.

He is also a leader in Best Buddies, Pennridge’s outreach to students with special needs.

The award “honors the region’s best and brightest future leaders who consistently stand up for what is right, find ways to address a wrong and make a difference in a significant way within their community.”

Jervis credits his faith as the catalyst for his service.

“I grew a lot in my faith after my sophomore year,” he said. “I never really did volunteer work. I wouldn’t say I was selfish, but I was self-focused. But I found my faith and realized that I needed to start to help people and to focus on those people around me since those relationships are what is going to last.”

“Oliver has demonstrated character and leadership qualities beyond his years,” Pennridge head football coach Jeff Hollenbach wrote. “In the areas of respect, integrity and care for others, Oliver is among the elite of the students I’ve had the privilege to teach and coach over 38 years. I am looking forward to hearing how his future unfolds. It is a promising one.”

The leader has two leadership role models: receivers coach Dave Allem and Jervis’ father.
“Coach Allem is so humble and I just try to follow his lead,” Jervis said. “He showed me that a good leader isn’t someone who showboats, but one who points to his team first. It has to do with other people and not yourself.

“I know it sounds cliché, but the other would be my dad,” Jervis continued. “He is quiet, but he has a hard work ethic and just does what has to be done.”

Much like Oliver Jervis himself.

The servant


Sophomore Kristopher Taylor, like Jervis, is literally a Big Man on Campus. Taylor stands 6’8”. He was an all-league lineman for the 9-2 New Hope-Solebury football team last fall. The Lions ran the table in the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL).

“The whole team likes to pass, so we probably practice a lot more passing sets than most schools do,” Taylor explained. “We have to work on all of our fundamentals across the board and really build that up.”

Yet Taylor’s future likely lies in basketball, where he was a second-team all-BAL honoree. Taylor scored 37 points in New Hope’s two-game sweep in the Over the River tournament, and the center led the Lions in postseason scoring.

“We really needed that inside presence, so all through spring league and open gyms we focused on post work, post defending, offense, making moves, turning around and facing the basket,” Taylor said. “We ran an offense that took pressure off the guards and made them collapse on me to give the guards more space to do what they want.”

“He had more confidence with the ball,” New Hope head coach Rick Fedele said. “He’s a wonderful kid and I can’t speak enough about him. He’s a very humble young man. He works hard every day in practice. He keeps a busy schedule and he balances it well along with his academics.”

What does Taylor do with his busy schedule? He helps free car wreck victims and fight fires. He has been late for school because he was assisting a cardiac arrest victim with CPR.

Taylor is a junior lieutenant with the Eagle Volunteer Fire Company. He volunteers eight to 12 hours a week and has done so for three years. Prudential recently honored Taylor with its President’s Volunteer Service Award.

“It’s very enjoyable, the stuff we get to do and the impact that we have on the community,” Taylor described. “In the winter months, we were busy. Right after our Morrisville game, I couldn’t stay with the team. I ran out because there was a house fire I had to go to.”

“The thing that strikes you about Topher is that he has incredible poise,” Eagle Chief Matt Taylor (no relation) said. “You quickly forget that he is 16 or 17. He is someone who can speak to adults and immediately have a rapport and develop a level of trust. He is incredibly motivated to learn and to get better.”

Topher can’t enter a “hot zone” until he is 18. But the support he provides firemen in that zone is invaluable.

“He does it with affection and diligence, so you know it’s going to get done well. He has no ego,” the chief continued. “He will do whatever it takes and it doesn’t matter if it is the least sexy thing that has to get done – he knows it has to get done for us to work effectively.”

The scholar

The Central Bucks West basketball team went 15-8 this winter. The Bucks earned the fifth-best conference record in the 22-team Suburban One League (SOL).

All successful teams have good guard play. Someone had to distribute the ball to first-team all-conference forward Collin MacAdams and his sniper teammates.

“It’s a four-year process of learning how to be a point guard in [head coach Adam Sherman’s] system,” starting point guard Jack Traina noted.

“The biggest thing he drilled into us is being a captain on the floor, being able to make sure that everybody else knows what’s going on, is on their spot and that you’re the one guy that everyone can turn to,” Traina continued.

CB West’s motion offense and tough defense enabled it to win one game scoring 72 points and win another game by scoring just 37.

“[Sherman] wants point guards who know what to do next on defense and offense. It’s quite an honor to be a point guard on his team,” Traina said. “We’re not necessarily the most flashy player, but I really appreciate being able to flip to guys and get them the ball. I got in trouble a couple of times for not shooting.”

Sherman didn’t yell at Traina much.

“Jack is one of the most amazing people who I have coached here at West, and I’ve been here 16 years,” Sherman emailed. “Our staff always joked that if he ran in the past presidential election, we would vote for him without hesitation.

“Even though he was an outstanding student at West, I was even more impressed with the type of human being he was,” Sherman continued. “I can’t wait to see what he does in this world.”

Traina was one of six students in the entire Central Bucks School District to earn a National Merit Scholarship. Less than .5 percent of students who take the PSAT earn the scholarship.

You don’t need to be a Harvard grad to appreciate the prestige of that award. Yet the odds are excellent that in four years, Traina will be ... a Harvard grad. He matriculates in Cambridge this fall, where he is leaning toward a government or neuroscience major.

Communication is the biggest basketball lesson that Traina applied to his life.
“I need to be able to communicate with everyone equally and understand everybody,” he noted.

Traina also actively volunteers. He has spent the last two years in patient transport at Doylestown Hospital. “I pick up patients from their different procedures and move them back to their rooms,” he explained. “It’s a great opportunity to engage with the patient. I love the opportunity to reach out to them.”

All three students recognized but chuckled at the enormity of their schedules. All three have made immense sacrifices to achieve excellence in the community and in their sport. None of the three would change anything.

Sherman closed talking about Traina, but his statement could also apply to Jervis and Taylor.

“He is destined for greatness in this world,” Sherman wrote. “I could talk about this kid forever.”

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