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Garnet Valley’s rampaging defense, ground game bury CB West

CONCORD >> Garnet Valley’s defense was buzzing Friday night.

Poised to give what coach Mike Ricci labeled a complete performance, the Jaguars made life miserable for the ball-carriers of 14th-seeded Central Bucks West in a District 1 Class 6A first-round playoff matchup at Moe DeFrank Stadium.

GV’s defense posted eight tackles for a loss, including six sacks, en route to a 32-13 shellacking of the visiting Bucks. The third-seeded Jaguars return home next Friday for a date with No. 6 North Penn, which disposed of No. 11 Haverford, 41-26.

“All of the coaches had a great scheme coming into this game,” defensive lineman Josh Ciarrocchi said. “We knew CB West was a very physical football team and we knew we had to give it our best. The coaches drew up a great scheme and it ended up working for us. We were able to execute.”

Garnet Valley (10-1) held CB West (6-5) to three first downs in the first half. With a shutout brewing into the fourth quarter, the Bucks scored a pair of meaningless touchdowns against GV’s second and third teamers.

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA Garnet Valley quarterback Ryan Gallagher runs for a first down in the final seconds of the first half against Central Bucks West. THe play set up a field goal as the Jaguars went on to a 21-13 victory in the first round of District 1 Class 6A playoffs.

Ciarrocchi, Cade Brennan and Griffin Salus flourished on the D-line. Salus notched two sacks of CB West quarterback Joshua Crecca in the first half. The linebacker unit, paced by Zach Shankle, Mark Moriarty and Ryan Williams, also had a big night disrupting CB West’s power-running approach. The Bucks were limited to 80 yards on 34 carries as the Jags forced them into several long-distance downs.

“Our defense has been getting better and better every week,” Ricci said. “We’ve had some spurts where we’ve played great defense, but I think this was our most complete game — total — in all parts of the game tonight that we’ve had all year.

“(CB West) has some great skill players. I like their quarterback, I like their tailbacks, their receivers are good and they play great defense. We were very concerned about that coming in and we just wanted to make sure that we were fundamentally sound and stayed home when we needed to. I thought our guys did a great job.”

Jake Reichwein, the Bucks’ 6-4, 225-pound running back, was one player that Garnet Valley focused on containing. Playing with a banged-up elbow, Reichwein totaled 40 yards on 10 carries.

“They’re a very good team. We knew they would be tough,” Reichwein said. “I had an awesome time playing with my team. We had a great season.”

Garnet Valley’s offense was missing starting guard Ryan Shomo, but his absence didn’t make a difference. The Jags dominated on offense from the outset. After the Bucks went three-and-out on the game’s first series, the Jags marched 90 yards on 14 plays. Running backs Matt Lassik and Danny Guy did most of the damage, with assistance from backups Colin Robinson and Austin Patton. Guy’s two-yard touchdown scamper put the Jags on the board with four minutes left in the opening quarter.

It would be a long night for the CB West defense, which was no match for the Jags’ big guys up front. GV ran the ball 53 times for 331 yards and four TDs. Guy had three scores and 98 yards, while Lassik finished with 101 yards on 19 carries.

“We stayed focus and repeated everything in practice this week. It was all about repetition,” Guy said. “They were a strong and physical team, but we came out and played our game.”

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Gallagher continued to impress his teammates and coaching staff. Despite injuries to starter Ryan Hamby and backup Cole Palis, the offense hasn’t missed a beat with Gallagher behind center.

Gallagher, whose 12-yard scoring run gave GV a 32-0 advantage late in the third quarter, rushed for 53 yards on seven attempts. He completed two passes for 30 yards, including a 22-yard screen pass to Colin Robinson, which helped set up Jason Rose’s impressive 42-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

“He’s filled right in and he was literally the next man up,” Guy said of Gallagher.

“He stepped up big this week when we needed him,” Salus said. “With two guys down, he really played well. We’re proud of him.”

Crecca’s quarterback sneak with three minutes to go spoiled GV’s shutout bid. The Bucks recovered an onside kick and scored a second touchdown thanks to a 24-yard pass-and-catch from Crecca to Ricardo Washington. Crecca was 12-for-20 through the air with 150 yards and Washington led all CB West receivers in receptions (five) and yards (59).

Garnet Valley turns the page to North Penn for a rematch of last season’s District 1 Class 6A championship game. While the notion of revenge is sweet, the Jags realize that what happened last fall is in the rear-view mirror.

This is a different Garnet Valley team, poised to make its own history.

“We all remember what happened last season. We really started to click in the playoffs,” Ciarrocchi said. “But that was last season. We’re not thinking about that. We’ve got a lot of new guys in and we’re clicking at the right time now. As long as we keep playing like we did tonight, and keep doing our job, it’s going to come together the way we want it to.”


Top photo:  Garnet Valley defenders (51) Zack Shankle, (54)Mark Moriarty and (33) Dan Bradley tackle Central Bucks West running back (33) Jack Reichwein in the third quarter as the Jaguars went on to a  21-13 victory in the first round of District 1 Class 6A playoffs. (PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA)  

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