Garnet Valley has Faith in its standout linebacker

Garnet Valley coach Mike Ricci feels strongly that his team is playing its best football of the season.

It’s easy to see why.

The Jaguars disposed of Central Bucks South, 35-15, in the opening round of the District One Class AAAA playoffs. The No. 7 Jags (9-2) now have the difficult task of playing at No. 2 Pennsbury (10-1), which put up 63 points in a wild shootout win over Downingtown West.

Buoyed by dual-threat quarterback Steve Flanagan, 1,000-yard rusher Derrick West, a steady offensive line and a defense that has allowed two touchdowns or less in all but two games this year, Garnet Valley is in a good spot to pull off the upset Friday night.

“I’m thrilled with where our team is right now,’ Ricci said. “I think we played our best game of the year last week against C.B. South and we continue to get better and better each week. We’re a much better team right now than even a couple of weeks ago. I’m so proud of the effort and the focus our guys have to continually try to get better. Our execution on both sides of the ball was really big for us last week.’

Defensively, one player who has continued to impress Ricci is senior linebacker Connor Faith, a three-year starter with the program. A huge reason for the Jags’ success on defense has been the play of Faith, who excels at both stopping the run and in pass coverage.

“His instincts are as good as anybody we’ve ever had here,’ Ricci said. “He’s a physically strong, fast player. He plays outside linebacker for us and he’s a force on the run. He’s a great blitzer and does a little bit of everything. He’s a complete player.’

Faith and the Jaguars defense will try to contain explosive running back Charles Snorweah, who rushed the ball 29 times for 429 yards and seven touchdowns last week. Pennsbury switched from its traditional Wing-T offense to an I-formation due to injuries on its offensive line. The change of offensive formation paid great dividends against Downingtown West. Ricci said his team is preparing for Pennsbury to provide both looks Friday night.

“The running back is spectacular,’ Ricci said of Snorweah, a Rutgers commit. “He’s probably only about 175 pounds and is very fast and has great vision. He makes people miss all the time and is just a very, very good back.’

Snorweah has 23 touchdowns and nearly 1,500 yards this season.

Ricci also mentioned that Pennsbury’s defense, despite allowing 55 points in the first round, is solid. The Falcons allowed just 10 points per game through the first 10 weeks before last week’s meltdown.

Academy Park’s season ended with a 13-12 loss at Pottsgrove in the District One Class AAA quarterfinals. In the game, the Knights were whistled for 14 penalties against Pottsgrove’s one.

That doesn’t seem right.

Knights coach Jason Vosheski admitted that his team hurt itself, but didn’t hold back his feelings about the officiating, which left much to be desired.

“They had two penalties called and they were both on the same play. One was a hold and one was an intentional grounding,’ Vosheski said. “We did jump offsides a bunch, and you can’t debate them. It’s undisciplined on our part, offense and defense. But I think we had five penalties that were either a block in the back or a hold that probably negated at least 80 yards total. I haven’t seen all of them on film. One was legit on a punt return, but two were absolute (crap). I knew this was going to be the outcome with the officials before we even started the game and I saw who they were. I know the guy on the Pottsgrove sideline did games in our county and the umpire, the only games he did of ours was our playoff game last year (at Pottsgrove) or our Pennridge game when we were away three years ago. To put it nicely, he didn’t help us at all.’

The Knights defense held the Falcons to minus-nine yards rushing on 25 carries. Pottsgrove scored both of its touchdowns through the air.

Vosheski was looking forward to the opportunity of playing No. 1 Springfield (11-0) in an all-Delco semifinal. He believes the Cougars will handle Pottsgrove in this week’s semifinal.

“I think Springfield dodged a bullet by not playing us, but I absolutely think they beat Pottsgrove,’ he said. “Unless for some reason their offense sputters like ours and they can’t get into the end zone, I don’t see Springfield losing. Our two teams are almost identical — very good defense and an offense that can explode at times and implode at other times.’

Springfield running back Colin Braconnier thanked his offensive linemen for the holes they created in the Cougars’ quarterfinal victory against Interboro.

Following the lead of Matt Cella, Charlie Carbin, Brian Layden and Josh Sweeney, Braconnier rushed for a season-high 144 yards. Braconnier is an old-school style of back who likes to run straight through the defense.

“I’m not into the whole zig-zag or I’m going to shake it off to the outside,’ he said. “I like going north and south because going east and west, you’re just tiring yourself out. That’s not what I do.’

Harriton junior quarterback Patrick Stewart broke the Central League’s single-season passing record in the Rams’ loss to Sun Valley last week. Stewart ended the year with 2,758 yards, ending Ridley coach Dennis Decker’s 24-year reign. In 1990, Decker set the mark at Ridley by throwing for 2,737 yards. Despite Stewart’s accomplishment, the good news for Decker is he still holds the county record.

With Interboro and Haverford eliminated from the District One playoffs, all three of Delco’s long-running Thanksgiving games are set: Interboro-Ridley, Haverford-Upper Darby and Sun Valley-Chichester.

The Radnor-Lower Merion game last Saturday was part of the Great American Rivalry Series, created by iHigh Inc. to recognize the best high school football rivalries in the nation.

While the Raiders and Aces have struggled to remain competitive for a long time, their rivalry is one of the oldest in the nation. Radnor won in a rout, 34-0, to end its season with a 4-7 record, its best single-season mark since 2010 (5-6).

To contact Matt Smith, email or follow him on Twitter @DTMattSmith. For stats, standings and more high school football coverage, visit


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