NEWTOWN – Every team awaits their gridiron opener. With offseason training and grueling two-a-day practices behind them, the players finally get a chance to test their worth. The Council Rock South team definitely got a high passing grade in their opener as they soundly thumped Cheltenham 28-0 Aug. 25 at Walt Snyder Stadium.
Not surprisingly, it took the Golden Hawks – who are coming off a 2-8 campaign in 2016 – a few minutes to get rid of their first game jitters and find their offensive timing. On their first offensive drive, a holding penalty and a botched lateral play forced them to punt the ball away.
Fortunately, the Hawks’ aggressive defense proved daunting as they totally shut down Cheltenham’s running and passing game. A bad punt off the side of the Panther kicker’s foot gave Vince Bedesem’s charges excellent field position on Cheltenham’s 20 yard line but once again, the offense could not capitalize.
After the defense held again, forcing another bad punt, the Hawks took possession on their opponent’s 25 yard line. This time, they were not to be denied. Four straight runs by Sammy Vaniver, Chase Patterson, Christian Jabbar and Jake Diaz netted a first down. Two plays later, Diaz bolted four yards off left tackle for the first touchdown of the 2017 season.
The defense, led by Vaniver, T.J. Pritz and Tony Cattolico, continued to dominate. With 10:47 left in the second quarter, they drove Cheltenham backward to its own three yard line. On fourth down, Bradley Kraut and Matt Checchia broke through the line and blocked Justin Grady’s punt, giving the Hawks excellent position on the Cheltenham two. Patterson scored easily on the next play, putting South ahead 14-0.
For the night, the Hawk defenders allowed 107 total yards. In the first half, the Panthers’ quarterback Jordan Gyabaah, completed only one pass and that was an interception by Patterson for CR South’s cause. Constantly pressured by the relentless Hawk defensive line and linebackers, Gyabaah would complete only two passes in the second half for a mere 25 yards. The Panthers did not cross midfield until only eight minutes were left in the second quarter.
By then, the Hawks offense was clicking. After taking over on their own 14 yard line, South’s senior quarterback Christian Jabbar showed that last year’s learning period had really paid off. He hit Andrew Vera with a quick out pass to move the chains. He then connected with Nick Gallo on a flair pass to the left flat. Going right back to Vera, Jabbar threw a short bullet that his wide receiver pulled in and raced 65 yards for a touchdown.
Vera would lead all receivers with five receptions, good for 91yards and a touchdown. Gallo was close behind with four catches for 59 yards and a tally. Jabbar completed 12 of 16 passes for 161 yards.
Gallo’s touchdown came on a picture perfect slant pass from Jabbar on the Golden Hawks’ second possession of the second half. After the defense once again stymied Cheltenham’s offensive attempt, South took over on the Panthers’ 30 yard line. Jabbar took the snap in the shotgun and hit Gallo in full stride. Andrew Witten’s fourth successful extra point kick put South ahead, 28-0.
Cheltenham managed to stage a drive late in the third period. Runs by Josh Joachim and Gyabaah moved the ball deep into Hawk territory. An 11-yard pass to Joachim and a facemask penalty moved the ball to the 13 yard line. Once again, the defense rose to the occasion as sacks by Vaniver and Diaz ended the Panther’s drive.
Starting on their own 20, the Golden Hawks methodically ate up the clock with a nicely orchestrated running game. The hard running of Patterson and Diaz moved the ball across the 50 yard line and brought in the second team, which marched to Cheltenham’s three before being held.
Relentless defense, a sharp passing game, and hard running should prove a winning formula for this year’s Golden Hawks.
TOP PHOTO: Andrew Vera, left, led all receivers for Council Rock South with five receptions, good for 91 yards and a touchdown. (JOHN GLEESON/21st-CENTURY MEDIA)
Council Rock South 28, Cheltenham 0
(Aug. 25 at CR North)
CHELTENHAM (0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
CR SOUTH (1-0) 7 14 7 0 – 28
CRS – Nick Gallo 30 from Christian Jabbar (Andy Witten kick)
CRS – Jake Diaz 4 run (Witten kick)
CRS – Chase Patterson 2 run (Witten run)
CRS – Andrew Vera 65 pass from Jabbar (Witten kick)