Garnet Valley goes to the ground game to pound out victory

CONCORD >> It was not all that long ago that Garnet Valley was considered the new kid on the block fighting to be recognized as one of Delco’s elite football programs. While the Jaguars were successful in cementing their position as a local power, Garnet Valley is now in the position of having to fend off other programs seeking to make the same move.

Marple Newtown, under the guidance of school legend Chris Gicking, is one of those programs targeting a leap into the upper stratosphere of Delco football and entered Friday night’s Central League game against the Jaguars taking direct aim at Garnet Valley.

The Jaguars, however, were not about to cede any positioning to the Tigers as Garnet Valley used a punishing running attack to secure a 40-17 victory. Running backs Derrick West (143 yards) and Danny Guy (61 yards) teamed with quarterback Matt Hamby (117 yards) to batter the Tigers defense.

The theme of the first half for Garnet Valley was clearly to control the game by dominating both the ball and the clock with its formidable running game.

“We knew that Marple was having a great year and playing great on both sides of the ball and also that number 7 (Abel Hoff) is a terrific player who can make some plays for them,” said Jaguars coach Mike Ricci. “Harry Gicking, their defensive coordinator, always does a great job and we knew we would have to execute. Our goal was to come out and execute and try to keep it out of their offense’s hands.”

One of the offensive lineman helping execute the Jaguars game plan to punish the Tigers defensive front was Ted Field. Field, a 6-5 320-pound guard, helped pave the way for the Jaguars to control the pace of the game and help Garnet Valley dominate the ball.

“When we play together and we get to run down the field like that, it’s awesome,” said Field. “I give great credit to our quarterback and running backs. Our quarterback was making great reads and finding the holes. We just have to keep playing Garnet Valley football and practicing hard.”

West, Guy, and Hamby accounted for 321 yards rushing, including 240 rushing yards in the first half. West tallied four touchdown runs, while Hamby and Guy each added one score for the Jaguars.

“(Hamby) is a great leader and one of the hardest workers that we’ve ever had here at Garnet Valley,” said Ricci of his quarterback. “The improvement that he’s made since his freshman year has been tremendous. It’s all because of his single-minded focus, working hard with his teammates, expecting to do well, pushing himself in practice, and doing all of the things that you need to do to improve. It doesn’t surprise me at all because that’s the kind of kid he is.”

For Marple Newtown, the game was another lesson learned and another stepping stone on pushing its program to be competitive with the upper-echelon teams in the county.

“When we have the community support that we have and with the kids buying in it’s helping us get to the level where we want to be,” said Gicking. “To have the support of the community and of the administration is great. Our short-term goal is just to get better and we’ll continue with that in the morning.”

With the Marple Newtown defense was struggling to thwart the Garnet Valley attack, the offense was battling a strong pass rush from the Jaguars.

“Garnet Valley’s a very good team and we knew we were in for a very tough game,” Gicking said. “All credit goes to them. We made some adjustments at halftime and I think we showed that Marple Newtown will not stop and we’ll battle until the last whistle. That’s what this team is about and that’s what our community is about. We might have lost tonight, but we’re going to get better and get better for next week.”

Tigers quarterback Anthony Paoletti showed tremendous poise, but was often scrambling or throwing on the run to avoid the Garnet Valley pass rush. Paoletti completed 18 of 47 passes for 322 yards and was effective at spreading the ball around to his talented core of receivers. Hoff had six catches for 28 yards, while Marcus Weather (five catches for 63 yards, touchdown) and Chris Rufo were also effective. Rufo finished with three catches for 102 yards and added the Tigers’ second score.

Jaguars’ defensive lineman Tim Bradley’s effort in tormenting Paoletti paid off when he hauled in a deflected ball for an interception. The pick was one of three — along with Zach Conner and Shane Donegan — that the Jaguars had.

“The rest of the D-line did all of the work,” said Bradley. downplaying his effort on his interception. “(Joseph) Thomas did all the work for that. I give him all the credit. We’ve got to help our secondary out there and that comes from the front seven. We’ve got to give a push for them and it turned out that we got a couple of interceptions.”

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