Norristown, Plymouth Whitemarsh matchup about more than playmakers

WHITEMARSH >> It’s being billed as a battle between two of the area’s most dynamic playmakers — Plymouth Whitemarsh running back Nafeese Nasir and Norristown wideout/running back Khalif Sinclair.

And unquestionably, those two young men will have a bearing on the outcome when the Eagles and Colonials renew acquaintances Friday night (7:00) at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.

But while the fans would like nothing better than to see these two human highlight reels trade big plays for four quarters, the coaches of both programs believe the game will be decided in the trenches.

“I think it’s going to be a hard-hitting game,” said Eagles head coach Jason Powel, whose Eagles put their early 2-0 record on the line against the similarly 2-0 Colonials. “We have to get in there and mix it up.”

Ironically, the Eagles want to spread the field and get PW’s defense to guard their playmakers in space. The Colonials, meanwhile, would like nothing more than to grind it out with their power running game. And while Nasir is the focal point of that attack, he’s not the only capable back PW features.

Nasir, who handles most of the snaps in what could loosely be called a wildcat formation, has the option of giving the ball to running back Jake Winterbottom or fullback Blaise Gravinese, who both proved effective in last week’s win over Abington.

But allowing that backfield to flourish this year has been an offensive line, that while relatively new to varsity football, has been as physical as it’s been effective.

“Our offensive line did a real good job against Abington,” said PW head coach Dan Chang, “and hopefully that group will continue to get better.

“Because of the skill players we had coming back this year, I was optimistic. But the offensive line had to play well. And so far, they have. The key to a good offensive line is in the details, and that’s what they’ve been very good absorbing.”

Still, while the Colonials offensive line has been physical, those details of which Chang spoke have been key. Their play looks punishing, but it’s also intricate, and the Eagles defense has to be diligent about carrying out its assignments.

“It’s a very balanced offense,” Powel said. “We have to be disciplined. To me, they look as good as they were last year. They’re not the biggest guys in the world, and their technique is very good.”

While the Colonials defense has been solid in the team’s first two games, this week they’ll have to deal with an Eagles offense that wants to spread the field, get a a dangerous matchup in space, and exploit it.

While it’s unlikely the Colonials will single cover Sinclair too often, it’s the Eagles desire to use their stable of speedsters to shake loose a Sinclair, or a Corey Davenport or a Derik Cross, and have quarterback Diavante Lloyd get them the ball.

“I would hope we can spread the field and make them play our kids in space,” Powel said. “We want to get them to move around a little bit.

“We’ve told Khalif that just him being on the field makes our other players better,” Powel said. “A lot of defensive eyes are on him, and he takes a lot of defenders with him wherever he goes, and that can open things up somewhere else on the field.”

Will the play favor the intricate power game of the Colonials or the get-a-speedster-in-space attack of the Eagles?

The final score should tell the tale.

If the score resembles the digits seen on a pinball machine, favor the Eagles.

If not, it’s to the Colonials advantage.

And it should be a lot of fun either way.


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