TOWAMENCIN >> The North Penn offense deserves a lot of credit for the team’s 48-38 District 1 Class-6A championship win over Garnet Valley Friday night at Crawford Stadium, but don’t overlook what the defense accomplished.
The Knights haven’t faced a triple option attack since the first round of the playoffs in 2013 against West Chester Henderson.
Garnet Valley’s offense entered the district title game on a roll, totaling more than 400 yards on the ground in its semifinal win over Perk Valley last week.
The defense stood its ground and held the Jaguars rushing attack to 180 yards on 42 carries – a 4.2 average.
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“It’s something you don’t see all the time so you’re not prepared for it,” head coach Dick Beck said. “It’s hard to prepare in a week for something like that, but I thought we did a decent job tonight.”
“That was the first time we saw an offense like that all year,” senior captain and linebacker Dan Drop said. “We just watched film on them and saw their tendencies – what they did. Everyone just did their job and we stopped them.
“Stay disciplined,” Drop continued about the defensive strategy. “Everyone has to do their job. If you do your job, they can’t do anything. As you saw we stuffed them a lot, got our defense off and our offense went on.”
Drop and Matt Bevan were in the thick of things all game.
Drop set the tone for the defense early. On Garnet Valley’s first possession of the game it faced a third-and-three – trailing 7-0 – at the North Penn 40-yard line. The Jaguars gave it to Matt Lassik – just as they did on the first four plays of the drive – and Drop burst through the line to blow the play up for a two-yard loss.
“I just did my job,” Drop said. “Went through the gap that was assigned, came through and he had the ball. I just stopped him. Then everybody swarmed to the ball. It wasn’t just me, it was a full team defensive play.”
Garnet Valley punted and North Penn scored on the first play of the ensuing possession for a 14-0 lead.
The Knights held Lassik to 65 rushing yards, running backs Jacob Buttermore to 50 and Danny Guy to 40 and quarterback Nick Juliano to 25.
Through the air, the North Penn defense allowed Juliano to complete five of 10 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
“We keyed on the run so much,” Drop said. “So when they did have a play action, our corners had to stay disciplined and stay on their man.”
Defensive back Justis Henley grabbed an interception to set up the Knights third touchdown and 21-0 lead.
There were two instances where that North Penn didn’t react correctly to the triple option look and both resulted in touchdowns. The first was a 27-yard score by Buttermore and the second a 34-yard keeper for Juliano.
“I thought for the most part we did well,” Beck said. “We gave them the two long runs on missed assignments. If you take away those missed assignments, I think we were in pretty good shape. On both of their touchdown runs we had a guy chasing the wrong person. We can’t do that against them.”
The defense was responsible for 24 of the 38 points. Garnet Valley scored defensive touchdowns on an interception return and a fumble return.
North Penn limited the Jaguars attack despite missing starting linebacker Owen Thomas.
“Owen got hurt, but our ‘next guy up’ mentality here at North Penn,” Drop said. “Matt Bevan came in and he made stops. We have a lot of hands on deck and he just stepped up big tonight.”