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Loss to ‘great football team’ doesn’t dim Ricci’s pride in Garnet Valley players

Garnet Valley quarterback Cole Palis is upended in the first half Friday night against Coatesville. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

CALN — Mike Ricci and his coaching staff at Garnet Valley said their thank yous and goodbyes Friday night. It’s an end-of-year process that goes on for about 20-25 minutes.

It takes some time for everyone to say what’s on their mind. In particular, the Jaguars’ coaches wanted to salute the class of 2018. The season included a Central League title for the first time in five years, and another trip to the final four of the District 1 Class 6A tournament.

The ending, a 42-7 defeat to Coastesville, was a shock to everyone’s system. Coatesville was the favorite, but no one thought the Red Raiders could cruise so easily past the vaunted, previously unbeaten Jags.

Averaging 46.5 points per game at the start of the night, Coatesville is the best team in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Next week it will play top-seeded North Penn for the district championship.

Adam Oldrati had Garnet Valley’s only points as host Coatesville won 42-7 Friday night in the District 1 Class 6A semifinals. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

Garnet Valley could only hang on. But the Jags never quit, even when trailing 28-0 at halftime.

“We stuck together,” senior quarterback Cole Palis said. “We handled adversity all year and have been in many close games. This one didn’t go our way. They’re a great team. You just have to learn from this one.”

One year ago, the Jaguars gave the Red Raiders all they could handle in the district final. A pick-six by Avery Young in the final seconds of regulation lifted Coatesville to victory.

There would be no drama this time.

Another Young — Avery — came back to haunt the third-seeded Jags (12-1). The all-purpose standout ran for 228 yards and three touchdowns to lead the No. 2 Red Raiders (13-0) back to the final.

“Last year we knew that we didn’t run that much against them,” Young said. “We wanted to prove that we could this year and we did exactly that. Our O-line produced and I produced. We took what was given to us.”

Buoyed by the massive 6-5, 330-pound tackle Ricky Santiago, Coatesville’s offensive line had no trouble opening running lanes for Young. And when there was little there, Young made a few jukes and took off. He’s the most explosive running back the Jags game-planned against all year.

“(Young) is a great back,” Ricci said. “We knew they were explosive and so we knew that we had to play close to mistake-free football if we had a chance. Unfortunately, we weren’t mistake-free and they capitalized. My hat’s off to them. That’s a great football team we lost to … but I’m extremely proud of our guys.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Garnet Valley vs. Coatesville

Garnet Valley’s tremendous defensive front was overwhelmed. Young and star quarterback Ricky Ortega were unstoppable. Ortega amassed 93 yards and two scores on the ground.

Coatesville ran for 321 yards on 34 carries.

“They do a great job,” said Cade Brennan, Garnet Valley’s All-Delco defensive end. “It came down to just a couple of big plays there where we made mistakes and they capitalized. Credit to them, they’re a great football team, but we definitely didn’t display all of what we got and are made of tonight.”

Ortega is such a weapon with his arm and legs, and GV’s defense had to be leery of his ability to throw the football. Maybe the Jags weren’t quite expecting the dynamic Young to get the ball out of the backfield as many times as he did. By halftime, Young had gained 165 yards on 15 totes.

Garnet Valley running back Colin Robinson is stopped by Coatesville defenders Frankie De Los Santos and Malachi Harris in the first half Friday night. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

“They were trying to take away the pass by dropping back all of their linebackers,” said Ortega, who completed three passes to Dapree Bryant for 39 yards. “So we just fed the ball to Aaron and kept running the ball. They didn’t change it up on defense, so we kept going with that and it was working for us.”

GV’s defense thwarted Coatesville’s opening possession. Adam Oldrati sacked Ortega and the Jags forced a turnover on downs, but Garnet’s offense was out of sync at the start. A three-and-out gave the Red Raiders the ball back. Young then ran for a 14-yard score and on Coatesville’s next possession hit the hole and darted 70 yards to the end zone untouched.

Trailing 21-0, GV showed life with another long drive in the second period. But on the 14th play, Palis underthrew his intended receiver and Bryant was there for the interception. He sprinted 94 yards to the end zone to give Coatesville a 28-0 advantage.

That was dagger. No last-second magic by the Red Raiders would be required this year.

Palis hooked up with Oldrati in the end zone for GV’s lone touchdown in the third quarter. GV’s county-leading rushing attack was limited to 197 yards. Palis ran for a team-high 52 yards.

For Garnet Valley, one loss won’t define what was another outstanding season for Delaware County’s No. 1 team.

Maybe next year, the Jags can avoid playing mighty Coatesville.

“This program, it means everything to me,” Palis said, fighting tears. “It’s never about the wins and losses. We’re all about family and that’s what matters most.”



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