Line helps Garnet Valley Ace Lower Merion’s test

CONCORD >> For some teams, breaking routine to play on a Thursday night might have been a struggle. It was evident early that Garnet Valley was not going to be one of those squads.

The Jaguars used a dominant first half to quickly dispose of Central League foe Lower Merion, 55-0.

“We wanted to come into the game and control it,” said Jaguars coach Mike Ricci, who saw his team improve to 3-1. “We really focus on our execution. We ran the ball, protected well, and threw the ball when we had to. We were on-point with everything that we did. Lower Merion is an up-and-coming team and I think their coaching staff does a great job. Their players are really buying in. They moved the ball well early with some of their good athletes, but I was pleased with the way our defense settled down.”

After three tough weeks against the likes of Unionville, Bonner-Prendergast, and Ridley, the Jaguars were poised to get off to a fast start and put the Aces away early. The Garnet Valley offensive line was a big part of that effort.

“We’re really starting to come together as a unit,” said junior Alex Yao. “We’re getting to know our tendencies at practice and our coaches get us really prepared. Our scout team really gave us a good look this week. We didn’t face any unexpected blitzes or anything like that, so we were ready.”

Yao attributed the Jaguars rugged early season schedule for getting Garnet Valley battle-tested.

“I think right after the loss to Unionville, we didn’t get down on ourselves and we knew we had to get ready to work,” Yao said.

Leading the charge was electrifying junior wideout Jacob Buttermore who had 86 rushing yards, three catches for 58 yards, and three touchdowns — including two in a 17 second span — in the first half.

“It all really starts with our o-line,” said Buttermore. “They’re like the guys that no one knows about, but they really make our offense work. We just really executed well tonight. Our offense played well, our defense played well.”
Each time Buttermore touched the ball he seemed to get more explosive and thrash the Aces’ defense.

“I just wanted to run hard when I got the ball and if anyone got in front of me, I wanted to try and run them over,” said Buttermore.

Supporting Buttermore on offense was quarterback Matt Hamby and running back Derrick West. Hamby rushed for 24 yards and a touchdown, while also completing five of six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. West, the Jaguars steady option at running back, had 101 yards on 13 carries for two scores. Shane Glackin and Nicholas Juliano also contributed rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, the Jaguars were equally as effective as their potent offense. Brendan Granahan had two sacks and a forced fumble, while Rob Monachello contributed two sacks.

Granahan’s forced fumble was recovered by Joseph Thomas and led to West’s second touchdown.

“Our theme for tonight was ‘Do what you’re supposed to do’ and I thought we did exactly that,” said Granahan. “Everyone handled their own responsibility and we executed really well.”

Granahan thought Garnet Valley’s ability to fend off the Aces early could be attributed to the unit’s resiliency.

“We had to respond to that, and I think we did a great job of doing that that,” Granahan said. “I thought everyone really stuck together and responded well.”

For Lower Merion it was a disheartening loss against a team that used its size, physicality, speed, and depth to wear down the Aces, who dropped to 1-3.

“We set goals as a program and talk about where we want to be in the future,” Aces coach Bryan Scopelliti said. “If nothing else, we can look across the sidelines and see what we want to be. They flat out out-played us. We have to finish drives. We can even go back to last week and previous weeks where we move the ball, but make a mistake and kill a drive. We need to fix that and that’s our job as coaches.”

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