ASTON >> With a second straight Ches-Mont American title in as the reward for beating host Sun Valley, Unionville scored the first time it had the ball and rolled to a 42-17 victory Friday evening.
It’s the fifth win in a row for the Indians, and the 42 points are Unionville’s highest point production of the season.
Unionville head coach Pat Clark praised his offensive line, particularly seniors Matt Dauphin (center), Nick Pileggi (guard) and Robbie Maxwell (tackle).
“I think tonight was the best game we [the offensive line] have had,” said Dauphin, a third-year starter on the offensive line, “We’ve been rising to the occasion when it really matters, when being the league champion and getting a home [district] playoff game is at stake. Our [linemen] were all picking up their assignments on every play, and it’s a great way to segue into the [district] playoffs. Our [team’s] toughness shone through.”
Unionville came out smoking on its first drive of the game, going 45 yards for a touchdown on six consecutive running plays, with QB Joe Zubillaga and running backs Jack Adams and Chris D’Amico sharing the rushing load.
Sun Valley, playing at home on Senior Night, gave the Indians some trouble early. Senior kicker Brendan Skwirut booted a 40-yard field goal midway through the second quarter (it was the Vanguards’ first FG attempt of the season) to cut Unionville’s lead to 7-3.
Two plays later, Sun Valley recovered a Unionville fumble, and on the following play, Vanguard senior quarterback Gabe Boccella hit a wide-open James Gines for a 47-yard touchdown pass that gave the hosts a 10-7 lead. Sun Valley went to the air a little more than Unionville did Friday night, and Boccella hit several of his receivers for nice gains in the first half.
Unionville wasn’t trailing for long. The Indians came right back to score in just four plays — a long kickoff return by Adams to the Sun Valley 40 yard line, a 14-yard run by Zubillaga, a 21-yard scamper to the right by Adams, and a five-yard inside run to paydirt by D’Amico. With 6:12 to go before halftime, Unionville had a 14-10 lead — and the Indians scored the next 28 points.
With 58 seconds to go before halftime, Unionville wide receiver JT Hower got wide open deep, caught a long pass from quarterback Alex Gorgone (who shared the QB spot with Zubillaga Friday evening) and ran all the way to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown that gave the Indians a 21-10 halftime lead.
“I told our team after the game that I was proud of their effort — they played extremely hard tonight,” said Sun Valley head coach Ray Gionta. “Offensively, we played well in spurts, but Unionville has a good offensive line and a good defense, and we did the best we could under the circumstances.”
Unionville took the second half kickoff and drove 63 yards on seven running plays for another touchdown. Five of the carries, including a 36-yard gain, were by RB Dante Graham, who had not carried the ball even once in the first half.
Clark reflected on the Indians’ sharing the wealth Friday night in the air and on the ground: “We’ve really been a team on offense, it’s been a team effort. We’ve got two backs, Dante [Graham] and Jack [Adams], who have been sharing the load for us, and [Zubillaga and Gorgone] have been sharing time at quarterback.”
Defensively, the Indians held Sun Valley scoreless from the middle of the second quarter until the final minute, when the Vanguards scored with 48 seconds to play.
Clark praised his front four – defensive tackles Mike Cresta and Henry Goodier, and defensive ends Bryce McManus and Zach Lawrence – as well as interior linebackers Trevor Gardiner and Jesse Gill.
“We’ve had good senior leadership this season,” said Clark. “We lost a lot of good seniors [to graduation] after last year, and we’ve had a lot of kids [injured] this season, but to come back and be league champions for the second year in a row really means something and really [reflects well] on these players.”