Sun Valley can’t slow down Rustin in setback

Aston — West Chester Rustin may have been without one of its best running backs, but it didn’t slow the Golden Knights down one bit as they piled on the touchdowns for a 42-6 win over Sun Valley Friday night.

In the absence of injured Terry Loper, seniors Mike McKnight and Dominic Simpkins stepped up to provide two of the touchdowns for Rustin (3-0, 6-1) and 95 of its yards.

“We have guys that can pick up the slack when (Loper)’s not in there,’ said Rustin head coach Mike St. Clair. “We do miss Loper and are hoping for a speedy recovery, but we have some other kids that can step up like Dom Simpkins and Mike McKnight that really run the ball well.’

On top of them, junior Steve Franks also ran the ball for 78 yards and two touchdowns.

But on the other side of the ball, Sun Valley (1-2, 2-5) was also battling through some injuries to its top players.

“We had some kids in the game that never played before and that’s going to be valuable down the line,’ said Sun Valley head coach Ray Gionta. “We had some kids in there going both ways and they never played before. At one time, we had six or seven freshmen and sophomores on the defense.’

It was a hard task with such a young defense to slow down Rustin, who scored a touchdown on six of its eight possessions in the first half, giving them a dominating 42-0 lead at halftime.

“Sun Valley had a lot of kids hurt, so I think that had a lot to do with them being limited with what they could do,’ St. Clair said. “They played as tough as they could. We just had a few more horses up front and were able to control the ball and get a nice win.’

Not only did the offense pile up the yards and points, but Rustin’s defense also stepped up, limiting Sun Valley to zero first downs and just 13 yards total in the first half.

“They’re a good football team,’ Gionta said. “They’re well-coached, they have good players and they executed tonight and they came to play football. It’s tough playing a team like that, but this is where we aspire to be. It’s somewhere for us to shoot for.’

Despite the overwhelming odds, Gionta wanted his team to continue to fight.

The Vanguards were able to move the ball down the field more, compiling 79 yards and five first downs, capped off with a touchdown on a nine-yard run from sophomore Jon Kester.

“That (touchdown) was big,’ Gionta said. “We told the kids at halftime we wanted to come out, we wanted to win the second half and we wanted them to play hard. They did all those things. They’ve done that all along. They play hard each and every week and they’re out here practicing hard and doing everything we ask them to do.’

For Rustin, the game marked the third big win in a row for them after it suffered a loss to Downingtown East Sept. 19.

Against Great Valley, Oxford and now Sun Valley, Rustin has outscored its opponents, 141-19.

“We’ve been playing pretty consistent all year,’ St. Clair said. “We’ve had some very tough games against some very good competition and we’re looking forward to whatever happens the rest of the season.’

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