Newlon, Strath Haven close out on high note

NETHER PROVIDENCE >> With a brisk chill in the air and the weight of an arduous season on the shoulder pads of both teams, Strath Haven hosted Phoenixville in a non-league contest that was more about closing one chapter and moving on to the next for each squad.

Friday night at George L. King Field gave each program’s outgoing senior one last chance to live the high school football experience, while also allowing the underclassmen a chance to build a foundation for the 2016 season.

Given the chance to play out 48 more minutes of this campaign, the Panthers seized the opportunity and captured a 48-13 victory to finish with a 2-9 record.

“Basically, for the last game of the season it comes down to how you end everything for this season and how you lead into next year,” said Strath Haven fullback Zach Newlon. “We had a lot of sophomores playing tonight and a lot of prospects playing that really stepped up and filled the shoes of the seniors for next season.”

Strath Haven used a potent mix of rugged inside running by Elijah Crew and Newlon, along with the perimeter running of Mekhi Hill to batter the Phantoms defense.

Crew, who left the game in the first quarter with an undisclosed leg injury, racked up 95 yards on eight carries. Six of Crew’s runs were good for a first down and he also had a 20-yard scoring run before exiting the game.

“I felt bad for my teammate (Crew) because he’s a senior and it was the last game of the year, but I knew I would have to step up and run the ball hard,” said Newlon, a junior. “Our line blocked phenomenal tonight and the seniors played their heart out. I just couldn’t be more happy or grateful that they went out with a win.”

When Crew left, Newlon and Hill stepped up to carry the offensive load. Newlon finished with 238 yards on 23 carries for three touchdowns, while Hill had 21 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown.

“We practiced hard all week, the line blocked great, and everyone did their job today,” said Hill. “This win was dedicated to the seniors.”

When Crew went down early, Hill realized his workload might increase and the talented junior was up to the task.

“Coach started feeding me and (Newlon) the ball more and we just wanted to keep moving the chains,” Hill said.

As if the running game was not doing enough damage, the Panthers used the live arm of quarterback Colton Haywood to put Phoenixville into a deeper hole heading into halftime.

Haywood hit tight end Kyree Fuller with a 17-yard scoring pass just nine seconds before the first half ended to give the Panthers a commanding 28-7 lead.

Newlon added two more touchdowns after halftime, while Jon Morris added another for Strath Haven. Matt Garcia had a 12-yard scoring run for the Phantoms.

For Phoenixville, it was a tough ending to the season. The Phantoms found out Friday they would be without quarterback Troy Rossman and tight end Durron Johnson, who were involved in a car accident Thursday and unavailable to play. In addition, the Phantoms were missing their top offensive lineman Jon Miller, who sat out after being ejected last week.

Despite the major wrench in the game plan, Phoenixville was strong early before being derailed by the Panthers staunch offensive effort and stingy defense. After Garcia’s 31-yard scoring run in the first quarter, the Phantoms were largely held in check.

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