Indians can clinch league title win with against Sun Valley
By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — It was probably the most frustrated a team could be after a fairly lopsided victory.
Unionville High School’s football team was clearly not happy with its effort, despite a solid 25-7 win over Octorara, Friday night.
Despite possibly clinching a share of the Ches Mont American Division title, the 6-3, 5-0 Indians’ players clearly were disappointed in how they played against the 1-8, 0-5 Braves. In fairness, Octorara played very well, but the Unionville offensive and defensive lines struggled at times to win in the trenches. Still stout linebacker play kept Octorara off the scoreboard until the closing minute, when it scored against a JV Indian defense.
“Our defense was lights out,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said. “We had great special team, we scored a touchdown and at times, we were efficient on offense.”
Still, the win means Unionville can win the Ches Mont American outright with a win next Friday at Sun Valley. The Vanguards (6-3, 3-2) were blown out Friday night by West Chester Rustin, 42-7 — to drop to two conference losses, eliminating them from league title contention. Rustin still has just one loss and has completed its conference schedule — and faces powerhouse Coatesville Friday night. Although Unionville beat Rustin earlier this year — it is unclear whether that would be the tiebreaker, or whether the teams would share the title in the event of an Indians’ loss.
Even if some of his players were less than happy with the effort, Clark said they did enough to win, which is the key takeaway.
“I’m not upset,” he said. “It’s week nine, we’re 6-3 and have a chance to win the league, and get a home playoff game. I’m thrilled with our kids’ effort.”
The win also put the Indians likely in the District One 5A playoffs. A win against Sun Valley would also mean the Indians, tied for the sixth seed before this week’s play, would host an opening round game. With teams above them losing, Unionville could rise as high as fourth seed this week.
While Unionville’s stellar senior linebacking corps of James Watson, Jesse Gill and Trevor Gardiner harassed the Braves’ offense — spending copious amounts of time in the offensive backfield — it was able to keep Octorara off the scoreboard.
The defensive effort was a key thing, too, as the offense struggled to get untracked — even though running backs Jack Adams — two TDs rushing — and Dante Graham had solid nights. It was an 32-yard Adams’ run that gave the Indians their first score, to give them a 7-0 led in the first quarter. A Matt Mainwaring 30-yard field goal — after a drive bogged down — gave Unionville a 10-0 halftime lead.
In the third, Adams’ scored again, this time on a dancing, shifting 40-yard run, to boost the lead to 17-0.
Unionville seemingly had a chance to put the game away after a Braves’ punt attempt was botched and the Indians recovered the ball at the Octorara 12. Although they managed to push the ball down to the 3, the Indians again stalled thanks to a combination of miscues and penalties. Minutes later, though, J.T. Hower redeemed them by racing 66 yards with a punt return for a score. Chris D’Amico scored a two-point run when the snap on the kick attempt went bad, to make it 25-0 in the fourth quarter.
And that leaves the big contest against Sun Valley.
“They’re a good football team,” Clark said, noting he’d gone through a half dozen of the Vanguards’ games this season already. “Ishy Ahmad is probably the best receiver we’ll face all year.”