Unionville dominates Sun Valley, one win from 3rd straight league title

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Unionville’s Dante Graham paced a powerful running game, rushing for 150 yards on 14 carries against Sun Valley.

By Al Tustin, Staff Writer, The Times

ASTON — One step at a time.

Using a workman-like effort, Unionville returned to its run-game roots, thoroughly dominating Sun Valley, 42-14, Friday night to come within one win of locking up its third straight Ches Mont American Division title.

If West Chester Rustin beats Great Valley Saturday afternoon, the Indians will have clinched at least a tie for the league title. With Unionville hosting the Patriots next Friday in the regular season finale, it can lock up sole possession of the league title with a win. A win would also help them lock down the No. 3 seed in District One, 5A — likely meaning that the Indians would be able to host at least two home games in the district playoffs.

“We’re going to be really focused to win a championship outright next week,” Unionville Head Coach Pat Clark said.

While all of that is in the future, Unionville’s game — and mindset — was very clearly focused on Sun Valley, Friday night. Although it wasn’t a perfect performance, the Indians (8-1, 5-0) never let off the throttle and were clearly locked in on the task at hand. The Vanguards (4-5, 2-4) struggled to maintain a running game on offense and were plagued by errors on special teams.

Unionville’s Joe zubillaga closes in on Sun Valley’s Julz Kelly. The Indians’ defense continues to improve as the season wears on.

“We ran the ball a little bit,” Clark said. “Last week, one of the things we felt we didn’t do well was running the football. But we had balance, too, we had a couple of TD passes, we moved the chains.”

And while Unionville’s deep running game gave Sun Valley fits — Dante Graham powered for 150 yards on just 14 carries — it was the team’s defense, which continues to show growth week-to-week, that doomed the Vanguards. It limited dangerous offensive players such as running back/Wildcat Julz Kelly, QB Anthony Ellis and running back Charlie Wendling to little more than brief bursts and little in the way of sustained drives.

An early miscue, a botched snap, on a punt attempt by Sun Valley gave Unionville the ball on the Vanguards’ 24, a little more than a minute into the game. Not wasting the opportunity, the Indians scored quickly, with Joe Zubillaga running it in from 11 yards out on the third play of the drive.

After the Vanguards saw another drive stall out at midfield, Unionville embarked on a clock-eating 11-play 81 yard drive, capped by Alex Gorgone’s 18 yard pass to JT Hower, to make it 14-0, after Dominic Braithwaite’s extra point kick.

Unionville’s Joe Hagen leaps to try and block a pass from Sun Valley’s Anthony Ellis.

Another punting miscue — this time when Unionville’s Alijah Woodall blocked and recovered a punt on the Sun Valley 20. Once again, the Indians didn’t mess around, scoring three plays later on Graham’s one-yard run to make it 21-0.

Sun Valley managed to mount a drive to end the half, going 64 yards on 13 plays, killing off the final six minutes of the half — scoring on Kelly’s 6-yard run to make it 21-6 at the half.

The second half was more of the same, and if anything, Unionville was even more all business.

Although a long drive ended on Gorgone being picked off by Lance Stone in the end zone, the defense stepped up, stopped the Vanguards in their tracks and got the ball back on the Sun Valley 40. Five running plays later, Jack Adams scored from five yards out to make the score 28-6.

After another defensive stop, Unionville again scored quickly. Taking the ball over at their own 45, the Indians needed all of four plays to score again, with Zubillaga running it from 11 to make it 35-6.

The Vanguards tried a fake punt — and failed, once again giving Unionville the ball on its own 45. Again, the Indians scored quickly — Gorgone hitting Nick Schnaars from 17 yards to make it 42-6.

Sun Valley did mount a final drive as both teams transitioned to their junior varsity players, with Ellis hitting Dayon Belgrave for a late 34-yard TD pass. With a two-point run by Kelly, that left the final score 42-14.

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