CHESTER >> The contingent of coaches and players who lined Chester’s sideline did what they could to emulate the mood of the oft-played pump-up music that reverberated around the Clippers’ athletic complex Saturday.
Even on Homecoming Day, it wasn’t easy.
As the Clippers were worn down from a bruising Academy Park rushing attack that amassed 300 yards on 46 carries en route to a 28-6 Knights victory in a Del Val League matchup, Chester was without the player coach Tony Beaty dubbed its “biggest emotional leader.”
A Chester student identified as a member of the football team was one of two male victims involved in a shooting that occurred Friday afternoon in Chester’s William Penn housing development. Both victims were taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where the condition of the student is unknown.
Police said Friday that the second victim, whose name has not yet been released, was pronounced dead in the emergency room. The Daily Times is not releasing the names of the shooting victims out of respect for their families.
“It’s always tough because we missed a whole day of practice,” Beaty said. “It happened right before practice (Friday) and we had to go see him. … Just not having him, you don’t know what you’re going to get, if it’s going to rise us as a team or if we’re going to play down. I kind of thought we played in the middle.”
As the homecoming festivities were under way at halftime, a moment of prayer was held for the Clippers’ missing
emotional leader. Those involved with the ceremonies did their best to keep the mood light, but competing with unbeaten Academy Park (9-0, 4-0) on this day was a big ask for the Chester players.
“They’re very disheartened,” said Chester Upland School District Superintendent Gregory Shannon, who took in Saturday’s game from the sideline. “A group of them and myself were at the hospital yesterday evening and they’re all very concerned. Our thoughts and our prayers and well-wishes go out to him, and we’ll be out to see him as soon as the game is over.”
On the field, the Clippers (2-6, 2-2) hung tough in the first half of a physical, ground-and-pound contest, but allowed the Knights’ Deandre Covert to score on a 3-yard end-around play, and an early-second-quarter 1-yard score for Jawan Collins on a toss to the right.
Academy Park senior running back Jermaine Wesley turned on the jets in the second half, logging respective 1- and 16-yard rushing scores in the third and fourth quarters to seal it. Wesley, the county’s No. 2 rusher entering the weekend, added to his total with 148 yards on 27 carries, while senior Jeremy Dembry added 90 yards on 12 carries.
Wesley credited another productive contest on the ground to his blockers and gushed about a stingy Knights defense that stalled the Clippers for most of the afternoon.
“Our defense is pretty good,” he said. “We’re the No. 1 defense in the state.”
The county’s interceptions leader, Clarence Buchanan, picked off Clippers quarterback Jamir Green in both halves,
while Chester’s three lost fumbles added to its problems in sustaining drives. Overall, the Knights held the Clippers to 77 yards passing and six on the ground, although the latter figure took a heavy hit after four Academy Park takedowns of Green deep in the Clippers’ backfield.
“It’s all about competition,” said Buchanan, a senior. “We always go hard in practice and play each other hard. If somebody’s down, we pick them up and make sure they’re going as hard as they can. We don’t let anybody fall behind.”
With less than six minutes left in the final quarter, Clippers senior Ed Nelson Jr. punched in a 1-yard consolation score that followed a 26-yard strike from Green to Jaquan Flood.
In the end, however, the Clippers took their sixth loss on a trying afternoon as Knights coach Jason Vosheski’s group kept rolling ahead of a Friday night date with Interboro (8-1, 4-0) that will ultimately determine Del Val title rights.
Though it didn’t impact the score line much, Vosheski said his players aren’t accustomed to high-noon Saturday affairs. They’re not used to losing, either, and they don’t intend to start anytime soon.
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