Plymouth Whitemarsh runs over Cheltenham

CHELTENHAM >> For a few years now, Plymouth Whitemarsh coach Dan Chang has found a great deal of success running the football.

So, why would their road tilt against the Cheltenham Panthers be much different? The Colonials rumbled their way to 250 yards on the ground in their 35-14 late-season, conference win.

“We get some good backs around here,” PW coach Dan Chang said. This year’s crop features a handful that get regular touches: Nafeese Nasir, Christian Jones, and Jake Winterbottom.

“We pride ourselves on our run game and our offensive line being able to block and control the line of scrimmage,” Change said. “We like having that combination of power and speed, and I feel like we have a few guys that can do both of those things.”

Nasir led the way on the ground with 120 yards and three scores on 16 carries, while Jones finished close behind with 113 on 13. Jones led the Colonials in yards from scrimmage however, as his 33-yard touchdown reception gave him 146 on 14 total touches.

PW needed what it could get from that crew early, because in the second half, it struggled. The Colonials marched out to a 28-0 nothing lead early in the third, only to let Cheltenham crawl back in.

It wound up being for naught, but the scores they gave up in the second half did expose some things that Plymouth Whitemarsh needs to work on with its eyes on a District One playoff birth.

“Cheltenham made some nice adjustments,” Chang said. “We made some silly errors. Penalties slowed our drives, and we can’t do those things and expect to score.”

Helming the offense, Cheltenham quarterback and Temple-bound senior Brandon Mack showed little more than flashes behind a porous offensive line. He took five sacks, but still finished with 144 through the air and 19 on the ground. Yasin Abdul-Haqq, just a freshman, was the Panthers’ lone other bright spot—he finished with 138 yards from scrimmage, combining 97 through the air and 41 on the ground, on just 13 touches.

“We continued to make a lot of mistakes that you certainly can’t make against Plymouth Whitemarsh,” Panthers head coach Joe Gro said.

“Brandon was getting about 1.5 seconds each time he dropped back,” Gro said, “and that’s not acceptable. I don’t care if they’re bringing nine guys—and they weren’t.”

“We’ve got to work on a better scheme,” he went on. “Because we’ve got to be better than what we were.”

Cheltenham, now 3-4 in the league, has little left to play for than pride. Plymouth Whitemarsh, on the other hand, is 5-2 in the league and 7-2 overall, and remains just on the right side of the District One playoff bubble.

“If we take care of business, I’m hoping that we’ll sneak in,” Chang said. The Colonials will take on Springfield Township at home to close out their regular-season slate.

“I think we’re projected to be at the 15 spot,” he went on. Sixteen teams make the District One playoffs, seeded based on a power-rankings formula. As of last week, the Colonials were tied for the 14 spot with Garnet Valley.

“We’re fighters,” Chang said, “without a doubt. These guys battle until the end. Whether we’re really struggling in a game, or having a lot of success, they play hard every play.”

“That’s something that great teams do.”


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