UPPER CHICHESTER >> If there was one team equipped to battle in the slippery, muddy conditions at Apichella Field Friday night, it was Interboro.
The Bucs pride themselves on being able to play a rugged style and used that grit to pound out a 28-0 victory over Chichester in a Del Val League matchup.
Behind a stalwart performance from its offensive line, Interboro (5-1, 1-0) saw running back Chris Thomas grind his way to 150 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
“I always trust my line,” said Thomas. “They are my guys and I can always count on them.”
Chichester (2-3, 0-1) struggled with its consistency in the loss. The Eagles offense could not muster a regular threat, while its defense had trouble countering Interboro’s staunch running attack.
Thomas got it going early with a pair of one-yard touchdown runs before Interboro pulled away behind its special teams. Chichester punted to the Bucs’ 31, but Interboro used some trickery as Connor Adams took a handoff from Kalie Kuyateh and raced to the end zone for a 69-yard punt return touchdown.
“I was a little nervous (on the punt return) because it was a wet night,” said Adams. “I call the plays when we are back there and I had confidence that (Kuyateh) would make the catch. Everybody made their blocks and it ended up being a big play.”
Adams was not done there. Later in the second quarter the senior wideout took a reverse on offense and went 31 yards for a score. Adams’ second touchdown put the Bucs up 28-0 with 47 seconds remaining in the first half and left Interboro firmly in control.
If the punt return was a momentum-changer for the Bucs, Adams’ second touchdown was the play that effectively took the Eagles out of the game.
“The line was tremendous,” said Adams, who finished with 38 yards on three rushes. “They took care of business all night. There really wasn’t much more to it. I didn’t have to do much else at that point. As long as we work hard, we can make these big plays. We know how we can perform and last week we didn’t do it. This week we really came out and executed.”
Defensively, the Bucs were superb. Interboro limited the Eagles to just 57 yards passing, but more impressively stifled Chichester’s ground game. The Eagles managed just 76 yards on 36 carries for 2.1 yards per carry against defensive coordinator Mike D’Esposito’s troops.
D’Esposito, the last defensive coordinator at St. James before its closing in 1993, devised a game plan and made in-game adjustments that subdued the Eagles.
“We stay together as a team and we know that if we won’t break apart, than nobody will beat us,” said Thomas, who doubles as a linebacker for the Bucs. “We’re always ready to play.”
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Bucs’ loss to Penn Charter last week probably left Interboro a little more edgy than usual.
“Last week we struggled and had a bad game, but this week we had a pretty good effort,” said Interboro defensive lineman Brett McLaughlin, who registered a sack in an impressive overall game. “The defensive line did great, the pass coverage was there, and everything was just clicking today. We played some hard teams before this game and I think last week was a wake-up call for us. We’re looking forward to the rest of the Del Val.”
Chichester was moving the ball but encountered bad luck with an inadvertent whistle, which came at an inopportune time as the Eagles were driving. The Chichester offense was frustrated and seemed to unravel after that point.
The Eagles ran effectively at times with Ishaad Maultsby (58 yards). But in the end, Interboro was just too strong.
“We just need to practice harder and bounce back against Penn Wood,” said Maultsby. “We need to get our momentum back and focus on playing as a team and on the games.”