UPPER CHICHESTER >> It’s been a few years since Kwyon Adams and Shane Fraser were too big to play football.
The Penn Wood offensive linemen both “couldn’t make weight” when they wanted to play youth football, so they didn’t get to put a uniform on until they were in middle school.
They’ve gone from not being able to make weight to making the grade with one of the top teams in the Del Val League. Left guard Adams and left tackle Fraser helped the Patriots to 261 yards on the ground and 106 through the air as Penn Wood set up next weekend’s showdown with defending Del Val champion Academy Park by earning a 45-22 decision over Chichester at Anthony Apichella Memorial Field Friday night.
The Pats’ lead was 26-14 after a 37-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Rodriguez to Omar Smith for Chichester with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Penn Wood scored twice on the ground and on a 61-yard kickoff return by Michael Dargan in the fourth quarter to finish off the host Eagles.
“We ran the ball well,” Pats head coach Nick Lincoln said. “We’ve got a young quarterback who is still learning, but he’s getting a lot of experience. And our line played well. Remember, we’re still learning how to win and how to stay focused. We’re trying hard to get this team to be playing an 11th game this season.”
If Adams and Fraser have their way, that will happen before they turn their attention to the wrestling room in the winter.
“The coaches told us at halftime that we had to keep making plays and finish the game,” Fraser said.
The halftime break was very different as the teams were sent to the locker rooms with 46 seconds left in the second quarter while the Chichester medical staff waited for the ambulance, which had been called away from the stadium, to return so that an injured player could be helped off the field.
When play resumed after the intermission, Chi (2-4, 0-2) got the ball to the PW 18 before Fatin Cooper’s interception kept the score after two quarters at 26-0.
“If they had scored then, it could have been a lot different, because they scored the first two times they got the ball in the second half,” Lincoln said.
Answered Gleplay (9 carries, 164 yards) ran 45 yards for the first six points in the opening minute of play, then QB Desman Johnson Jr. tossed a pair of scoring passes and Gleplay added a 52-yard TD run in the second quarter for the Patriots.
Chichester (6-1, 2-0) got a touchdown pass from Damian Thompson to Smith on its first possession of the second half, then had former starting QB Rodriguez team up with Smith for 37 yards on a reverse pass play.
A 39-yard touchdown run by Gleplay put a halt to Chi’s momentum, and Tyreem Welton ran 15 yards for six points for the visitors. After Ish Maultsby (19 carries, 94 yards) ran for Chichester’s final TD, Dargan fielded the Eagles’ short kickoff and raced to the end zone.
“Our style is to block hard because we have aggressive backs who make plays,” Adams said. “The thing is to keep going fast.”
Chichester coach Ryan Smith saw enough from his players to be cautiously optimistic about the second half of the season.
“Their grit level went up out there tonight,” Smith said. “If we can make some of the plays like we did and clean up some things I told them we have games left to play that we will win.”