UPPER DUBLIN >> Before they dominated the field, they were shoveling it.
Their home turf unplowed after Thursday’s snowfall, the Upper Dublin coaching staff and a few faithful others took matters into their own hands, shoveling snow and clearing the way for Saturday’s District 1-5A semifinal with Unionville.
“Those kids play for the community because the community came out and backed them,” Cardinals coach Bret Stover said of his squad. “That was part of the reason we came out on fire.”
Lucas Roselli ran halfway to Ambler on his second carry of the game, his 88-yard touchdown sprint sending Upper Dublin on its way.
“I thought we were gonna pass a lot, and when I saw the second play of the game was a run, I kind of got excited,” Roselli said. “And there was a big hole so that kinda worked out.”
“That really set the tone for our offense,” said 6-foot-5, 260-pound tackle Quinton Derr, who helped pry open such holes all afternoon. “We got the momentum shifted in our direction.”
And the Cardinals never lost it, scoring touchdowns on all four of their first-half possessions to go rocking into their second district final in four years (4A in 2015) with a 40-7 victory over the Indians. Next up is a home game against No. 5 West Chester Rustin, which knocked off top-seeded Penn Wood 10-8 in the other semifinal Saturday night.
“We want it bad,” said Roselli, who, along with Derr, was on the freshman team when the Cardinals claimed the 2015 trophy — he and Derr watched the game from the stands. “We’re coming for it.”
“We’re getting better every single game,” Derr said. “It’s really exciting to see.”
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Roselli exploited holes, slipped out of tackles and showed a tremendous burst in breaking away to a game-high 145 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a 60-yard touchdown reception.
“That was a check at the line,” he said, “so we were originally gonna run a different play but then (quarterback Mike) Slivka checked to something. And I kinda just ran a seam and he threw it up there.”
Roselli made the grab, managed to stay upright and then pulled away from a defender before darting into the corner of the end zone, making it a 33-0 margin at the break. Upper Dublin (11-1) had also scored on a bullish, five-yard run by Mason Novak, a one-yard sneak by Slivka and Jason Scott’s 13-yard return of a blocked punt by John Kohlbrenner.
A remarkable postseason run by the 11th-seeded Indians (6-7) came to a stop against No. 2 Upper Dublin.
“This game, we just ended up hitting a team that capitalized on every single mistake we made,” said Unionville coach Pat Clark, who guided the Indians to the district title just a season ago. “That’s a good team down there and we got beat today. We pinned (UD) back but then we missed the blitz (on Roselli’s 88-yarder) and they got momentum early. They had a big pass play to set up a second touchdown and then they get the blocked punt. It just kept snowballing and we couldn’t put the brakes on it.
“Overall, I think our kids who are inexperienced know what it means to compete now. They know the level of effort and expectations that exist in our program. I think this group gave as much as they could give.”
Roselli’s eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter stretched the lead to 40-0 and enforced a running clock. Connor Schilling (124 yards), who ran hard all day for the Indians, broke the shutout in the fourth with a 39-yard TD.
For the Cardinals, the district final awaits.
Said Stover: “I was actually texting with my son (Ryan, now at Towson) this week and he was really pulling for us to get back there. He said what a cool memory it was for he and his teammates. All the guys that were here in ‘15, it’s still a part of their lives.
“And they’re pulling for us, which is really cool.”