WHITEMARSH >> Entering Week 7 of the high school football season, Plymouth Whitemarsh, Upper Dublin and Hatboro-Horsham were all 3-0 in Suburban One League American Conference play.
Week 8 is now in the books and only Plymouth Whitemarsh remains unbeaten at 5-0.
The Colonials beat Upper Dublin, 24-21, last week and Hatboro-Horsham, 35-13, Friday night.
“The last two weeks were good ones for us,” PW coach Dan Chang said. “I’m proud of how our guys responded after last week. I wouldn’t call it a trap game because (Hatboro) is very good, but just coming into another big game and another hard opponent after last week. I’m proud of how these guys came out firing right from the start.”
The only things separating PW from an SOL American title are games against Cheltenham and Quakertown, two middling teams in the league.
Cheltenham is up next at home. The Colonials could potentially be in for a trap game after beating the league’s two best teams, but the Panthers come to town on homecoming, which could help the team focus.
“Homecoming can be a blessing and a distraction at the same time,” Chang said. “We’ll be excited but there will be so many things going on that week. We’re going to have to make sure we keep focused and remind our guys what we need to do.”
The regular season finale is Oct. 28 at Quakertown, where the Colonials hope to be putting the finishing touches on a championship season.
Setting the tone
There was a trend to PW’s start against Hatboro Friday night.
Blaise Gravinese four-yard run. Khan Jamal eight-yard run. Jamal eight-yard run. Joe Stoberl 13-yard run…
The Colonials received the ball to start the game and went on a 12-play, 81-yard touchdown drive — all running plays.
“We like to run the ball a lot,” Gravinese said. “We like asserting our power over the teams. We’re really a running team.”
After forcing a three-and-out, the trend continued. Four plays. Four runs. Seven points.
Hatboro followed with a two-play drive that ended on an interception.
Six plays. Six runs. Plymouth Whitemarsh leads 21-0 with 11:16 remaining in the second quarter.
Plymouth Whitemarsh finished the game rushing 45 times for 275 yards. Gravinese led the way with 12 carries for 112 yards. Dontae Wilson added 59 yards, Jamal 55 and Stoberl 49.
“We wanted to run the ball,” Chang said. “We wanted to be physical up front. We’ve got some good backs who can run and control the clock. We wanted to keep the ball out of their hands because they’ve got some big playmakers. I’m going to have to watch the film, but I think our offensive line must have played pretty well.”
The Hatters — a team that usually has an effective running game — totalled 30 carries for 111 yards. Adam Suder led the way with eight carries for 67 yards — 43 of which came on one run in the fourth quarter.
“Of all the factors in the game, the line play was probably the biggest factor tonight,” Hatboro coach Mike Kapusta said.
“You can’t dig yourself in a hole like that (21-0). We were just having trouble getting things right up front. Defensively, (PW) really ran the ball to start the game and kind of got us reeling there. Then offensively we couldn’t get the run established and that makes you one dimensional. It was tough to rebound.”
Back at it
Hatboro no longer controls its own destiny in the conference title race. It will need to win its remaining two games and hope that Cheltenham or Quakertown can knock off PW.
It doesn’t get much easier for the Hatters. They come back next week against Upper Dublin.
“The goal is to finish this season strong,” Kapusta said. “We still have a big opportunity to have a signature win and at least stay in the possibility of a conversation about a playoff berth. That’s what we’re hoping. We have to lick our wounds and come back ready to work on Monday and get it right.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh had a strong game from its secondary — especially Jair Ross and Jamal.
Ross set PW up for its third touchdown and 21-0 lead by grabbing a diving interception at the Hatters 33-yard line.
In the fourth quarter, Ross made a huge, clean hit on a third-and-seven to force an incompletion.
“(Ross is) a guy who started getting that full-time spot a couple weeks ago,” Chang said, “and has really been developing every week and getting better every week. The one thing he could always do was hit. He showed it tonight. That was a great play.”
Jamal made his defensive presence felt with four minutes left in the game. He read an out-route, leaped for an interception and raced 20 yards for a touchdown to put PW ahead, 35-6.
“That was a great play,” Chang said. “He jumped that thing and he jumped higher than I’ve ever seen him jump. He snatched that and took off. It was great.”
Top Photo: Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Khan Jamal gains a first down as Hatboro-Horsham’s Ben Ejimonyeugwo reaches out to make the tackle during their game on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)