Great Valley’s win is special delivery from Adderley

WHITEMARSH — For Springfield, the plan on special teams was simple. Whatever happens, don’t let Nasir Adderley make plays.

In the District One Class AAA championship game Friday night at Plymouth-Whitemarsh, Springfield felt strongly that it could keep pace with Great Valley’s up-tempo, spread attack. With a defense that ranks tops in Delco in points and yardage allowed, the Cougars figured that All-Delco linebacker Adam Krauter and Co. could keep them in the game. As it turns out, Springfield’s defense was up to the task.

However, special teams proved to be the backbreaker for the Cougars. The 6-0, 180-pound Adderley put the Patriots on his back with two punt returns for touchdowns. One was fielded on a bounce that required a few broken tackles, and another was a direct kick to him. It wasn’t how the Cougars drew it up, but they had to live with consequences.

“We were trying to kick away from him, but every once in a while, one gets away,’ first-year Springfield coach Chris Britton said. “The rest of the punts were great. You try to put the heat on them and every once in a while it gets away.’

It was two game-defining plays by Adderley that propelled Great Valley to a 21-0 victory. The Cougars, in their bid to claim the program’s first District One title, fell short in large part because Adderley was too hard to handle.

“He’s a great player,’ defensive back Lucas Spence said. “It’s football. You have to plan on scoring on any play. It happens. ”

Springfield ended its memorable season with a 12-1 record. Winners of its first district championship, Great Valley plays Imhotep Charter or Archbishop Wood in the quarterfinal round of states next week.

“It’s an amazing feeling, to do this with all my boys,’ said Adderley, who had four catches for 37 yards and added 70 yards on the ground. Adderley used his tremendous speed and athleticism to shimmy out of would-be tackles on his first first touchdown, which gave the Patriots a 7-0 advantage midway through the second quarter.

“I’ve got to thank my blockers,’ he said. “They did a lot to help me.’

Despite Adderley’s heroics, Springfield was able to hang around in the second half because of its defense, which has been excellent all year. But the Cougars offense had a tough time getting started. Also, Great Valley’s defense was simply better. Senior quarterback Brian Allen was hurried often and took four sacks. He had trouble finding the open target, and when he was able to get the ball out to a receiver, it was either airmailed or dropped.

Springfield’s offense had sputtered in recent weeks against Interboro and Pottsgrove. The unfortunate trend continued Friday night.

The Patriots defense, led by 6-6, 235-pound Penn State commit Ryan Buchholz, held the Cougars to 182 yards of total offense.

“They sent the heat a lot and they blitzed like seven or eight guys on mostly every play,’ said Allen, who completed 6 of 18 pass attempts for 63 yards. “The offensive line gave it everything they got, but it’s hard when you have seven or eight guys blitzing and coming right at you. It’s hard to have any time to step up and throw. ”

The Cougars had a chance to even the score with time winding down in the second quarter. Allen scrambled out of the pocket and threw a strike to wide receiver James Harris at the Great Valley 5-yard line. Harris juked, but was gang tackled a yard shy of the end zone. Springfield ran out of time and trailed at halftime, 7-0.

The Cougars had the ball first to begin the second half, but were unable to produce. That was the case the entire way. Joe Davis punted away 10 times, averaging 31.8 yards per boot.

“I think Great Valley had a good scheme and they were doing some stuff that was making it hard on us,’ Britton said. “My hat’s off to them. They were well-coached and had a great game plan.’

Great Valley (12-1) first-year head coach Dan Ellis, who was at the Springfield helm from 2008-10, wasn’t surprised by how well his defense performed. It was expected.

“We’ve played really good defense all year, except for one game,’ Ellis said. “I’m not surprised by the way our guys played. I think they pose problems to teams. We were aggressive and knew what we wanted to do. We know that you can’t sit back on a guy like Allen because he’ll hurt you. ‘

Ellis was confident his team had the upper hand on special team. Great Valley entered with 15 non-offensive touchdowns and five on special teams. Adderley has a total of five kick/punt returns for TDs this season.

“(Adderley) is a man child. He put this team on his back when we really needed him to,’ Ellis said. “They weren’t trying to kick the ball to him, you could tell. There’s only so much you can do. ”

Running back River Johnson sealed the win with a 1-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter. Brad Murphy, starting in place of leading rusher Colin Braconnier (knee), amassed a game-high 47 yards rushing for Springfield. Allen added 29 yards and eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau on the season.

Springfield’s senior class can take pride in knowing that it made history at the school, becoming the first team to win a Central League title in 20 years.

Yet, the Cougars wish they had a little more.

“I can’t be more proud of my team,’ Britton said. “This has been an amazing year and everyone gave it all that they had. You can’t ask for nothing more. I wish the outcome was different, but (Great Valley) came out and played hard and they deserved the win.’

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