CONCORD >> For as much as Garnet Valley football might seem like a “new school” program with its state of the art scoreboard, turf, and in-stadium experience, the Jaguars are still an old school team at heart.
With a rushing attack that racked up 261 yards on 41 carries, Garnet Valley sprinted away from West Chester Rustin for a 19-7 victory that displayed exactly why there is still a place among the area elites for a team that is reliant on the rush.
“I’m most happy with our energy, our enthusiasm, and the physical way we played tonight,” Jaguars coach Mike Ricci said. “We were a little sloppy, but I like the fact that when we had to make plays, we made them.”
Matthew Lassik battered Rustin for 169 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown to decimate the Golden Knights defense.
“It was a great atmosphere and I’m thankful for the guys up front, because they really opened it up for me,” Lassik said. “We’ve got a lot of good running backs and I know that if I’m winded or if I’m hurt there is someone there who can do just as good a job.”
When Garnet Valley needed a confidence boost in the first half, it was Lassik who stepped up. After tight end Jon Ricci hauled in a 14-yard pass on third down to sustain a drive, Lassik capitalized with a 40-yard scoring run and 7-0 Garnet Valley lead.
Jon Ricci, however, was not to be outdone. The 6-3, 215 pound tight end proved to be a bad matchup for the Rustin defense and snared a 19-yard scoring pass from Ryan Hamby just before halftime to give Garnet Valley a 13-0 lead.
“We have an outstanding play-caller in Coach (Rich) Boyd,” said Ricci, who finished with two catches for 33 yards. “He sits up in the box and can see the whole field. He saw that opportunity to make that call and we got a good play out of it.”
Despite the success through the air, the younger Ricci acknowledged that the Jaguars’ bread and butter is still on the ground.
“Everyone is expecting us to run and even though they know it’s coming, we’re still able to pound the ball,” Ricci said. “We’ve got a lot of good backs, who can get the ball down the field.”
Garnet Valley separates itself from other traditional running teams with a break-neck, no-huddle pace that constantly kept Rustin on its heels. It is no surprise or secret on what is coming, but the combination of strong backs, a rugged offensive line, and that aforementioned speed of play that ensures plenty of rushing yardage for the Jaguars.
“With Matt Lassik and Danny Guy we feel like we have one of the top backfields around,” Mike Ricci said. “They’re both fast and shifty; and they both work extremely hard.”
The Jaguars defense, while frustrated at times, proved to be too strong for the Golden Knights. Led by Adam Oldrati, Griffin Salus, Mark Moriarty, and Cole Palis, among others, the Jaguars combined for six sacks and a pass break up to stifle the Rustin offense.
“Our defense got better as the game went on,” Mike Ricci said. “Rustin did some nice things early, but I like the adjustments that we made.”
In addition, Moriarty chipped in with a blocked field goal attempt which Dan Bradley scooped up for a recovery.
“We started off a little slow, but we were able to shorten each drive,” Oldrati said. “Coach (Jeff) Hill got on us all week to make sure that we did what we were supposed to do and he told us to stick together as a unit to get the job done. We focused on playing fast and firing off the ball to get the quarterback.”