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Delco Football Notebook: Chi takes well-earned break after 3-1 start

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Chichester coach Ryan Smith prefers to keep an open date on his team’s schedule. To be precise, it’s the fifth week of the high school football season when Smith allows his players to take a proverbial breather, regroup and get ready for the stretch run. Del Val play opens  next week and Smith wants his guys to be fully prepared and healthy.

In recent years the Eagles have fared well against teams from outside the Del Val. Since 2014, Chi has a combined 10-6 record in out-of-conference, regular season games, including a 3-1 mark in 2018.

“We know that our toughest games lie ahead of us,” Smith said.

If you’re a Chichester football fan, you are encouraged by the early returns. Nate Decenzi, a junior, has been arguably the top passer in Delco. He leads the county with 795 passing yards and a 64.1 completion percentage. In Chi’s 20-9 win over Phoenixville last week, Decenzi was 13 of 13 for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s kind of got that ice in his veins, he’s got that poise and that moxie,” Smith said. “My biggest concern, coming into the year, was what was going on between his ears. … He’s making big plays. He’s got a lot of confidence.”

It helps, for Decenzi, to be flanked by athletic wide receivers Damian Thompson and Jamese Lundy-Byrd, who rank among the top-10 in receiving yards. Thompson has 18 catches for 365 yards and three touchdowns, while Lundy-Byrd has 12 catches for 241 yards and three scores.

Defensively, Smith has been very happy with the development of senior Nate Resine, who has excelled at multiple positions and starts at middle linebacker. In general Chi’s defense has been tough and is holding opposing rushers to just 2.2 yards per carry.

“He’s really been a breath of fresh air,” Smith said Resine. “He’s kid who was a safety and outside linebacker for us, but due to circumstances we had to move him inside. He said, ‘whatever you need.’ He’s getting good at it and Nate’s been a great kid for our defense to lean on.”

• • •

Academy Park welcomes Martinsburg (W.Va.) to Knight Park Friday night. It’s an intriguing matchup of unbeatens and a good challenge for Jason Vosheski’s team.

“Skill-wise, they look a lot like us,” the AP coach said. “They’re not super big, but they have good size and some athletes. They’re fundamental, crisp.”

In four games the Bulldogs are outscoring their opponents, 207-18. They have won six of the last eight West Virginia 3A titles and are currently ranked No. 1 in the state, according to MaxPreps.com.

“They contacted me, probably after Thanksgiving last year,” said Vosheski, who is also the athletic director at Academy Park. “Trust me, I’d rather play a team from around here, but they contacted me and they were willing to come up here and play us.

“The worst thing that can happen to us is we win by 40. That’ll just inflate our egos. If we win, great. If we lose, well, sometimes you learn more if you don’t win. As long as it’s a good game, we’ll learn from it.”

Vosheski said, for now, this is a one-and-done scheduling agreement. But he’s not ruling out the possibility of making the trip to West Virginia come next fall.

“I actually think it would be good for our kids,” he said. “They need to get out of Sharon Hill, Collingdale, out of the area.”

• • •

Del Val League coaches announced Week 4 players of the week at their Monday night meeting at Barnaby’s of America in Havertown, 

Denczi was named Most Valuable Player and quarterback of the week.

Other weekly honors went to Academy Park’s Darren Gibli (running back) and Malik Johnson (defensive back), Chichester’s Brandon Jessup (offensive line), Interboro’s Jared Dellipriscoli (Interboro), and Penn Wood’s Kennedy Poles (receiver), Dashawn Brickle (defensive line) and Aliyoh Turay (linebacker).

• • •

Interboro’s scheduled nonleague game at Lower Moreland Saturday afternoon was cancelled earlier in the week.

Bucs coach Steve Lennox was informed Monday afternoon that Lower Moreland is unable to field an adequate roster due to injuries. The Lions have played just one game, a 14-6 loss to Jenkintown last Friday. Their MaxPreps page lists 41 players on the roster.

The game is officially a forfeit for Lower Moreland (0-2) and a win for Interboro (2-3).

• • •

DISTRICT PLAYOFF RANKINGS >> It’s never too early to look at the District 1 playoff standings. If the season ended today, Garnet Valley (4-0) would be the No. 4 seed in Class 6A. Haverford (3-1) and Upper Darby (3-1) are 11th and 13th, respectively. The top-16 teams qualify for the postseason.

Penn Wood (4-0) is sits in first place in Class 5A. The Patriots are one of nine Delco squads in the top-16. Radnor (4-0) is in fourth place, followed by Academy Park (4-0) in fifth. Chichester (3-1), Sun Valley (3-1) and Strath Haven (3-1) occupy ninth, 10th and 11th places. Marple Newtown (2-2) is 15th and Interboro is 16th.

• • •

MOVING THE CHAINS >> Archbishop Carroll quarterback Russell Minor-Shaw is the first player in school history to throw at least three touchdown passes in three straight games. Minor-Shaw is tied with Springfield’s Jack Psenicska for the county lead in TD passes with nine…Radnor ball carriers averaged 10.7 yards per carry in last week’s 63-21 thumping of Ridley. Junior tailback Matt Cohen leads the county in rushing with 605 yards on 84 carries (7.2 ypc) and six touchdowns … Sun Valley’s Julz Kelly now has 15 touchdowns (13 rushing, one kick return, one punt return). That is, by far, the most TDs in the county for one player.

To contact Matt Smith, email msmith@delcotimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith.

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