West Grove – After giving up 31 points to undefeated Bishop Shanahan last week, West Chester East’s defense shut down host Avon Grove Saturday afternoon for a 21-3 victory.
“Our defense stepped up today, played really well,” said West Chester East head coach Dave Guereria. “We knew we had to stop [Avon Grove running back] Nate Jones – he’s really explosive; give him a good seam and he’s gone.”
The Vikings allowed the hosts some yardage between the 20 yard lines, but West Chester East stiffened every time the Red Devils approached the red zone.
Guereria said, “Our defensive line, JD Carroll, Tom Silva, Chuck Jacobs and Steve Hocker, did a great job of stopping them. Matt Erfle, our inside linebacker, was an absolute warrior today, he must have had 15 tackles. And Scott Taylor, our defensive coordinator, came up with a good game plan.”
West Chester East pretty much stayed with a ground game Saturday, and junior running back Jared Cooper (21 carries for 221 yards) scored on three long touchdown runs. The first TD was a 20-yard run on a pitchout to the right, with some help from senior wide receiver Alex Hirsch.
Cooper said, “Alex made a great block on that play, containing two kids, so a hole opened up for me.”
Avon Grove, whose fans celebrated Homecoming Day with a plethora of activities before the game, hung tough in the first half. Following Cooper’s first touchdown, the Red Devils came right back on the next series, getting a couple of nice runs from quarterback Joey Borcky. When the drive stalled at the 10-yard line, Kevin Sheehan come in to boot a 26-yard field goal.
Avon Grove head coach Harry O’Neill said, “We moved the ball well today, but we need to finish our drives – we haven’t scored a touchdown in three weeks. We ran the ball a lot today because we’re having issues with pass protection, but teams are loading the box on us every week.”
In this run-filled contest (both teams combined to run the ball 76 times), the score remained 7-3 deep into the third quarter. With 4:46 left in the third period, on second and 10 from their own 31-yard line, the Vikings gave the ball to Cooper, who found a hole in the middle and ran past several Red Devils for a 69-yard touchdown.
Cooper said, “At halftime, we made a few adjustments, changed who the guards would be blocking, and [on the 69-yard run] they opened up a big hole for me.”
Guereria said, “We thought we could run inside against Avon Grove, and I thought our whole offensive line did a good job today – [senior center] Efrain Rivera, [senior right guard] Austin Pitt, [senior left tackle] Adam Wang, [senior left guard] Joey Sivo and [senior left tackle] Tom Silva.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Avon Grove lost a fumble at the West Chester East 38-yard line. Two plays later, Cooper broke several tackles for a 51-yard touchdown run to make it 21-3.
“I thought I was surrounded by tacklers on that play,” said Cooper. “But I kept my legs moving and was able to break free.”
On the following series, Shane Wolford came in at quarterback for the Red Devils, and completed four passes totalling 62 yards to four different receivers, but the Vikings stiffened at the West Chester East 20, and the hosts had to turn the ball over on downs.