Lower Merion wins latest gridiron test against Harriton

A positive attitude, hard work and competitiveness is the message both Harriton head coach Justin Mellor and Lower Merion head mentor Bryan Scopelliti try to preach to their respective football teams every day.

While most fans only see what takes place between the white lines, what they do not see is the hard work that takes place in practice due to key senior leadership that is important for both programs that feature their share of younger players gaining valuable experience.

“Bryan (Scopelletti) and I speak often,” Mellor said. “I think one of the biggest things is keeping things in perspective and trying to instill a positive football experience. The kids come out and work hard every day. It can be tough when you are not winning but the kids remain positive and I think that’s huge. I have a great amount of respect for the job Bryan has done at Lower Merion.”

Friday night, the community came out to support the two teams who have battled the bigger schools in the Central League all season for the latest installment of a game that has taken on new meaning since Harriton joined the Central League in 2008. After a scoreless first half, Lower Merion exploded for 41 points and a 41-20 victory.

While the results may not have been a reflection of what takes place in practice, the coaches are grateful the kids continue to battle and work hard each and every day. For 24 minutes that hard work came to forefront with the defenses of both teams taking center stage coming up with big plays at key spots on the field. When the halftime horn sounded, the teams headed into their respective locker room the same way they took the field for the opening kickoff.

When it looked like points would be a premium, the two teams emerged from the locker room and combined to put up 42 points with the Aces leading 22-20 after three quarters. In the final stanza, Lower Merion put two more scores on the board while holding Harriton’s offense at bay to earn the hard fought 41-20 win.

“Wins are generally hard to come by so it was great feeling for the coaches to be able to see our players experience success,” said Scopelliti. “Anytime [Harriton quarterback] Patrick Stewart takes the field you are in danger of giving up a lot of points. I have huge respect for the job Justin has done. We are in similar boats and I respect the job he has done at Harriton.”

“This win is really important,” said Lower Merion senior Mike Berg (seven catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns; two carries for 26 yards and one touchdown). ”We have a mutual respect for each other. Both programs are working hard to get to the level of the some of the bigger Central League schools.”

Following the a scoreless first half, the Aces cracked the scoreboard first when senior Brandon Jones hooked up with Berg on a 62 yard pass and catch. Harriton responded with an eight-play, 64-yard drive capped off with a one-yard TD run by Will Thomas. Highlighting the drive was Patrick Stewart hooking up with Czar Czworkowski, Jake Smolenski and Tajie Wright-Rooney to keep the dive alive allowing Harriton to methodically move down the field to knot the score setting off a flurry of points.


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