The Central League title picture began to crystalize last weekend.
With Garnet Valley’s 28-13 triumph over Haverford, the Jags handed the Fords their first defeat of 2017, while improving to 6-0 overall and 5-0 in conference play.
Garnet Valley and Springfield (6-0, 5-0) are the last unbeaten teams in Delaware County. If you’re looking for a Delaware County game of the year candidate, circle your calendars for Oct. 20 when the Jaguars and Cougars clash at Moe DeFrank Stadium.
In the interim, GV hosts Marple Newtown (4-2, 4-1) Friday night, followed by an away game with Harriton (1-5, 0-5). The Jags are heavy favorites to win both contests.
Springfield also plays Harriton and Marple Newtown in the next two weeks. This is a key two-week stretch for Marple, which could use a win against a legit conference foe. MN defeated a struggling Ridley (2-4, 1-4) earlier this year, but the Tigers can put themselves in good shape to earn a high seed in the District 1 Class 5A playoffs with an upset of Garnet Valley or Springfield.
Speaking of Marple Newtown, All-Delco quarterback Anthony Paoletti is within striking distance of becoming the career passing leader in Delaware County history. The University of Delaware commit needs 44 yards to break the 22-year-old record, which is held by his head coach and former Marple Newtown great Chris Gicking, who threw for 5,897 yards from 1993-95.
Paoletti bounced back from the worst game of his sensational career, connecting on 20 of 29 attempts for 231 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers downed Lower Merion, 44-13, last Friday.
Episcopal Academy coach Todd Fairlie is confident that someone on the offensive side of the ball will emerge as a complement to junior DeeWil Barlee, who has accounted for 725 of the Churchmen’s 1,174 yards of total offense. Moreover, Barlee is responsible for 64.7 percent of EA’s touchdowns this season. Barlee has been a workhorse at running back and in the secondary, and never misses a play.
“We need someone to step up and make some plays, because we’re pretty predictable with what’s going on right now,” Fairlie said following EA’s first loss of the season last Saturday, a 13-10 home defeat to Blair (N.J.) Academy. “We’ve got kids that will, too. We have talented kids who will come around. Outside of (Barlee), no one has any real experience from the skill positions coming into the year. We lot everyone except for DeeWil. These are really valuable games for them.”
In terms of pass efficiency rating, the top quarterback in Delco is Penn Wood’s Desman Johnson Jr.
The big sophomore, listed at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, has been nothing short of stellar for the surging Patriots (4-2, 1-0). He has gone 54-for-97 for 1,003 yards and 12 scores for a rating of 175.10. Springfield’s Jack Psenicska (67-for-105, 957 yards, 11 TDs) is second in Delco with a 169.22 rating.
Thanks to a 16-14 win at Interboro last weekend, the Patriots established themselves as a Del Val League contender. Junior wide receiver/defensive back Kennedy Poles caught two touchdown pases from Johnson Jr., and sealed the win with a pass breakup in the end zone as time expired in regulation.
Winners of four in a row, first-year head coach Ato Troops leads his squad into Glen Mills Friday night. The Bulls are coming off a 22-0 rout of Chester.
Bonner & Prendergast’s 20-16 decision over Bishop McDevitt last Saturday was a game of firsts for the Friars, who notched their first victory of the season.
B&P got its first touchdown run of 2017 when wide receiver Kyrin Jackson found paydirt with 32 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Shon Nelson, who hooked up with Jackson (four catches, 130 yards) on Bonner’s first TD pass, threw for 152 yards, which marked the first time a B&P quarterback has passed for 150 or more yards.
Jackson’s second TD reception — an 85-yarder — gave the Friars their first lead of the game and season. It was the first time in 2017 that B&P had scored more than two TDs in a game.
Bonner’s defense, which recorded a season-high five takeaways, held a team to less than 220 yards of total offense for the first time this year. And now … Bonner & Prendie will try for its first home win Friday night when Neumann-Goretti comes to town.
Six weeks into the regular season, Springfield’s Ja’Den McKenzie is proving to be one of the best all-around players in the county. You could make an argument that he is the leading candidate for Daily Times Player of the Year.
McKenzie has produced an excellent season in all facets of the game. He is among the top five in the county in rushing yardage with 715. He has totaled a county-leading 16 touchdowns, 10 via run, two by way of reception, and four on defense. He had five of those scores, including his fourth on defense, in last week’s 42-7 pummeling of Ridley.
To contact Matt Smith, email email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith
Top photo: Garnet Valley fullback Matt Lassik, right, runs through the tackle of Ridley’s Joseph Spillman in the second half of a 24-14 Garnet Valley win. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)